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Format for a Montage in Your Screenplay

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

Here is a quick guide for how to format a montage sequence in your screenplay.

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    Show Me the Montage

    Montage sequences are almost essential to modern filmmaking. These are used for a variety of different purposes depending on the intent of the filmmaker, especially as it concerns their style and how they see the progression of events. Often times they are meant to show changes in characters and the passage of time, comparisons between conflicting imagery, or even add an alternative narrative thread. On their most basic and generic level they are a number of non-synced sound images that are strung together with energy and emotion taking importance over temporal reality. This means that writing this out cannot be exactly the same as a regular master or secondary scene because it does not follow the same rules.

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    To begin this you need to provide a montage with a proper montage heading. This should state that it is a montage immediately and then give a title for said montage. Like all scene headings this should be in all caps.


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    Line Format

    From here you provide a list of descriptive sentences separated like bullet points. This is usually done with either one or a pair of hyphens followed by one or two sentences describing the shot. These can be as descriptive as you want, but they should be sufficiently vague so that it can be interpreted by the director. In these lines you may want to list the characters involved, the actions that take place, and possibly even the location, though this does not always have to be true.

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    Paragraph Format

    If it is a really short montage you can try to just give it a simple heading without a proper title and then write it as a paragraph. This could then just start with a heading of MONTAGE: and then the following paragraph. You should still follow some type of progression in your imagery in this paragraph and make sure that is does not go more than four or five sentences. If it is longer then you should try for the bullet point format.

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    When you are finished with the montage you should make sure there is a proper closing. Usually END OF MONTAGE will be sufficient for most readers. If it is in the middle of a scene then you can just say RETURN TO MAIN SCENE.