Using INT. and EXT. (Camera Placement)

Let's look at proper use of INT. and EXT., when to use BOTH, plus a few examples of when which one to use might get a little confusing.

First look at the example below and note the THREE ALWAYS involved in every INT. or EXT. indicator:

ALWAYS:

  • Capitalize INT. or EXT.
  • Follow it with a period (NEVER a hyphen)
  • Follow it with the scene's location, in this case WAREHOUSE.

INT. or EXT.?:

Most of the time the choice is pretty simple. INT. stands for "Interior" and is used when the following scene will take place indoors. EXT. stands for "Exterior" and is used when the scene that follows takes place outdoors.

Both INT. and EXT.:

Sometimes a location may be BOTH INT. and EXT., such as when a scene takes place in a car or a helicopter. In these situations, much of the scene may be filmed from either inside or outside, characters may get in or out of vehicles, or two characters may be conversing with one of them in the car and the other outside the car.

Here are two correct ways to indicate both INT. and EXT. at the same time:

By the way, the EXT. and INT. are interchangeable. I could have said INT./EXT. JACK'S CAR or INT. JACK'S CAR/EXT. CITY STREET.

Also, note the punctuation and spacing: EXT[period; slash]INT[period]. Both end with a period and there are NO SPACES before or after the slash.

In the past, screenwriters have been able to shorten INT./EXT. even further with I/E.. Final Draft even still offers it as a possibility. But in my research, I haven't found a single modern leading authority who discusses I/E. at all, let alone says it is correct usage. So, until something changes, consider the following example dead and incorrect:

Which is it?:

Sometimes it might be confusing as to when you should use INT., EXT., or Both. Here are some of the more confusing location possibilities and the correct way to indicate each:

Vehicles:

  • car - use INT./EXT.
  • helicopter - use INT./EXT.
  • inside a train - use INT.
  • boat - use INT. in the interior of the boat, such as in the galley, but EXT. on the deck of the boat
  • plane - commercial airliners or small planes with room to move around use INT.. For fighter jets, use INT./EXT.. But for small bi-planes with open cockpits use EXT.
  • van - from front seats use INT./EXT.. But if entire scene takes place in the back of the van, use INT.
  • large police or military transports - if the entire scene takes place in the back among the people being transported, use INT. (unless the loading doors are open. Then use INT./EXT.)
  • ambulances - from the front seats, use INT./EXT.. But if the entire scene is in the back of the ambulance use INT.. However, if the back door is open, use INT./EXT.

Locations:

  • doorways - use INT./EXT.
  • porches - if the porch is open use EXT.. If it is semi-enclosed, such as a screened-in porch, use INT.. But if two characters are talking from the screened-in porch and one is on the lawn, use INT./EXT.
  • stadiums - if it is an open-air stadium (no roof) use EXT., but if it is a domed or roofed stadium, it is INT.
  • parking garages - use INT.
  • house garages - even if the garage door is open use INT.
  • construction sites - if the site is just a frame of a building and open to the elements, use EXT.. However, if it has been "dried in" so that there is a roof and maybe even finished walls, use INT.
  • house or building with no roof - you may have a tornado come through and take a house's roof, and then have characters going through the house's remains. Use EXT.
  • greenhouses - use INT.

A note on parking or house garages: this is the rare situation where you may have two INT. locations in the same Scene Heading, so you could see a heading that looks something like this: