Ask the Expert: INTERCUT - Conversations and Actions

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QUESTION #1 – PHONE CONVERSATIONS

What is the best way to cross cut a telephone conversation that cuts back and forth between two characters.

ANSWER

Simply establish the two locations and write out the telephone conversation as follows:

INT. MARY’S KITCHEN - NIGHT

Mary paces nervously, then punches numbers on her phone.

INT. DARIN’S CAR - SAME

Darin drives through the rain, looking depressed. His cell phone rings.

INTERCUT - TELEPHONE CONVERSATION

MARY

Come back.

DARIN

What? Now?

MARY

Yes. Please.

DARIN

Give me one good reason.

MARY

You forgot your casserole bowl.

DARIN

I’ll be right there.

Here’s an alternate way to handle this.

INTERCUT – MARY’S KITCHEN/DARIN’S CAR

Mary paces nervously, then punches numbers on her phone.

Darin drives through the rain, looking depressed. His cell phone rings.

And then write out the dialogue.

QUESTION #2 – ACTION

In my screenplay I have two scenes that take place at the same time but in different locations, and I switch back and forth between settings. Should I just keep switching back and forth between the locations, or should I type the following:

INTERCUT BETWEEN FOOTBALL FIELD AND HOSPITAL OPERATING ROOM

ANSWER

Use the INTERCUT only if you’re sure the reader will not get confused. The following is correct format:

INTERCUT – FOOTBALL FIELD/HOSPITAL OR

The players huddle on the field

Surgeons huddle around the operating table

If these are quick shots, consider using a MONTAGE instead

MONTAGE – FOOTBALL GAME/SURGERY

FOOTBALL FIELD – The players huddle on the field.

HOSPITAL – Surgeons huddle around the operating table.

If neither the MONTAGE nor the INTERCUT seem appropriate, just cross-cut between scene headings:

EXT. FOOTBALL FIELD – DAY

The players huddle on the field

INT. HOSPITAL OR – SAME

Surgeons huddle around the operating table.