Locations

Easily the most important piece of information in any Scene Heading is the Location of the scene.

Here is a simple Scene Heading example located in a BAR:

Scene locations always directly follow the INT., EXT., or INT./EXT. call-out.

Notice the punctuation and spacing:

INT.: [space]BAR[space; hyphen; space]DAY

After the INT., the rest of the items in the Scene Heading are separated by hyphens.

General to Specific:

Probably the single most important rule to remember when writing Location is that the items of the Location MUST be arranged from General to Specific.

Look at the three examples below. The first one is correct. The other two are not:

In the first Scene Heading above, the order is correct as the Location moves from the HOUSE in general, then more specifically to the MASTER BATHROOM, and even more specifically, to the SHOWER inside the MASTER BATHROOM.

The other two Scene Heading examples are WRONG because the Location order is wrong. MASTER BATHROOM should be placed after HOUSE, and ROOF should be after SKYSCAPER.

Think of Location writing as an Inverted Triangle:

As you move down through the Location call-out, your Location should get smaller and smaller.

Indicating City Name:

If the city in which the scene takes place is important, then you'll want to say so in the Scene Heading.

In an Exterior scene, this is done easily enough:

The only thing weird about that is that people are actually in Central Park at night. Other than that, the Scene Heading tells us what we need to know as far as the city is concerned.

I could have also said NEW YORK'S CENTRAL PARK or BOSTON BRIDGE or LAS VEGAS STRIP and dispensed with the extra hyphen by doing so.

Of course, since most people know where Central Park is, or if most or all of my screenplay takes place in New York, likely EXT. CENTRAL PARK - PARK BENCH - NIGHT would suffice.

But what if you have an Interior location, and the city is still important. Then you can indicate the city in a Specific Notation by using Parentheses, like this:

Location Details or Description:

There's nothing wrong with including a FEW details in the Location call-out, but Scene Headings are supposed to be simple and to-the-point.

But let's say your location is a gas station bathroom, and you want to be sure the director doesn't make it a large bathroom with several stalls and urinals. You could indicate the Location like this:

Had you simply said BATHROOM, you'd have been giving the director creative license to do whatever he wanted with the location. But by adding CRAMPED, you've indicated the size and feel of the location.

If there is more that needs to be added to set the mood, such as litter, gang markings on the walls, or overall nastiness of the facilities, save it for the Direction paragraph following the Scene Heading.

Character's Property:

If a Scene Heading is set at a main character's home or car or some other property, be sure to indicate it in the Scene Heading, even if that character hasn't been introduced yet (hopefully this is the scene where he/she will be introduced):

If you don't, then if we come back to this location later in the film, and you wait till then to say whose house it is, the reader will think the location is new to the screenplay.

If the owner of the home were not important to the film, then we wouldn't worry about who the house belongs to. HOUSE would suffice.