Cuts

Easily the most common Transition found in screenplays is CUT TO:.

DO NOT use it.

One of the easiest ways to spot an amateur screenplay is with an over-abundant use of CUT TO:. Often amateur writers will place CUT TO: before each and every new Master Scene Heading. I'll admit, I was guilty of this when I wrote my first screenplay.

Most of the time, the fact one scene "cuts to" the next is obvious and understood in the absense of another Transition indicating otherwise, which is why the use of CUT TO: has declined into near extinction.

Still, every once in a long while, a writer may come across a situation when the cut isn't obvious. Other times a writer may use CUT TO: to indicate the end of a major shift in the film, such as the end of Act breaks or the end of the Climax.

But the best writers don't use it at all.

Other Common Cuts:

Here are some other ways of indicating a Cut from one scene to the next:

A Time Cut is one where some time passes between the scenes. While time usually passes between scenes with or without the TIME CUT TO: Transition, this Cut is usually reserved for times when the film fast forwards a little bit into the same scene.

For instance, the parents of a college student may be out of town, which means he needs to throw a party. One scene may show the house intact right before the party starts. Then the writer may quickly TIME CUT TO: the next scene, which is the same house, but six hours later. Now the house is in total disarray and disrepair, with drunken college students passed out all over the place.

A Smash Cut is also called a Hard Cut and represents a Transition that is heart-pounding and jarring to the audience.

There might be a scene with a little girl snuggling up with her favorite teddy bear as she is tucked into bed. SMASH CUT TO: a gun firing or a car exploding. The Smash Cut attacks the audience's senses just as it has been lulled into a state of calm.

The Quick Cut isn't a cut that happens faster than the normal Cut. After all, all Cuts are pretty much immediate. A Quick Cut is one that happens before the audience expects it to.

Let's say a phone is ringing and Julie leans over to pick it up. We expect a telephone conversation to ensue. At the very least, we'll see her pick up the phone and say, "Hello."

But as she is reaching for the phone... QUICK CUT TO:. Suddenly, Julie is in an office sitting across from an editor who is considering publishing her manuscript. The Quick Cut cut off the scene before the audience could see what it was sure was coming next.