Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Alli Unger

How To Format A Phone Call In Traditional Screenwriting: Scenario Three

You guessed it, we are back for Scenario 3--our final post in the "How To Format A Phone Call in Traditional Screenwriting" series. If you've missed either Scenario 1 or Scenario 2, we encourage you to check them out so you can be sure to get the full scoop on formatting a phone call in your screenplay. 

  • Scenario 1

    Only one character is seen and heard.

  • Scenario 2

    Both characters are heard, but only one is seen.

  • Scenario 3

    Both characters are seen and heard.

So, without further ado...

Format a Phone Call in Traditional Screenwriting

Both characters are seen and heard.

For a phone conversation where both characters are seen AND heard, use the "INTERCUT" tool.

The intercut tool is helpful in explaining the back and forth between two separate locations to readers and eliminates the use of extra space that would result from including a master scene heading between each character's dialogue.

Script Snippet

Int. - Johnathon's Apartment - Night

JOHNATHON nervously pull his CELL PHONE out of his pocket and dials SHELLY. The phone RINGS.

Int. - Shelly's House - Night
Shelly

Hello?

Intercut - Johnathon's Apartment/Shelly's House
Johnathon

Hey Shelly! It's Johnathon. How's it going?

Shelly

Hey, Johnathon. I'm so glad you called. Everything is good here. I just got home from work.

Johnathon

How about that for timing? Hey, so I was wondering if you might like to grab a cup of coffee sometime?

Shelly

I would Love to!

Dictionary.com defines intercutting as "cut(ting) from one type of shot to another." 

The beauty of this tool is that it eliminates the extra time and space that you and readers would use writing or reading master scene headings. By using an "INTERCUT" slug line, you are also letting the reader know that you are going to be moving quickly back and forth between multiple locations. 

As shown in the example above, you will need to first introduce each of the two scene locations with a master scene heading. Once both locations are introduced, write out the intercut slug line. The following are some acceptable variations:

  • INTERCUT 'CHARACTER 1 NAME' / 'CHARACTER 2 NAME'

  • INTERCUT 'CHARACTER 1 LOCATION' / 'CHARACTER 2 LOCATION' (shown in the example above)

  • INTERCUT PHONE CONVERSATION

Once you have included the intercut slug line, continue on with the dialogue as you would for a normal scene in which both characters are in the same location.

Pretty simple, right?

Now that you are equipped with the proper tools, head back over to your computer and start perfecting that phone call scene in your screenplay! ;)

We hope you have enjoyed this blog post series! If you did, be sure to follow our blog and social media pages for more SoCreate "How To's" and company updates!

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