ASK DR. FORMAT: How to Format a Zoom Conversation

Dave Trottier, Dr. Format, shares advice on how to format your screenplay to show a Zoom or Skype conversation.
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How to Format a Zoom Conversation

QUESTION

I want to show a Zoom conversation of two or more people on screen in individual webcam boxes simultaneously while they converse back and forth. In this scene, Henry wants to find a book and so we cut to him in his room searching for the book and then come back to the Zoom platform.

ANSWER

This is a timely question, since Zoom and similar platforms are used a lot in our current pandemic.

The short answer is this: Zoom and Skype and other platforms are handled just like a TV set in the room. Since we see everyone who appears on the screen, they are “in the scene.” That means you do not need to label their dialogue as “voice over” (V.O.).

However, if a character in the scene leaves her computer for a moment, but she can still hear the voices from her computer, those speeches would be marked “off screen” (O.S.). The characters are there in the scene, but are off screen (we can’t see them). For example:

zoom 1

Now, if you want to feature the computer screen so that it’s the only thing we see (in other words, the computer screen becomes the movie screen), then write:

zoom 2

Or, if you prefer:

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And then when you want to break away from the screen back to Peggy’s room so that the audience can see Peggy again, just write:

zoom 4

Or:

zoom 5

Finally, to answer your specific question, let’s have Henry retrieve a book.

zoom 6

And now write out their conversation. You already know how to break away from the computer monitor if you want to. Incidentally, you don’t need to describe every change on the computer screen.

Finally, I used the term CONTINUOUS in the above scene to show that the scenes are continuous (one after the other with no jump in time); however, since that is already obvious, you could omit CONTINUOUS if you prefer. Just keep writing!

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