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How To Write A Vision In A Screenplay

Adam Scott

The key to having any kind of hallucination in your film, but especially in your movie about children and the supernatural, is to show that these things are possible. You don't want to reveal this as a secret to the characters or the audience, but it's important to show it to the viewer.

If you want a child's dream to come true, you don't have to show them actually getting this. Make it seem like a possibility that you, as the director, can make this happen.

How to show that your vision is possible

There are two ways to go about making a hallucination seem possible.

You can show the audience that it is. This will be your obvious way into the film and so it's what you're likely to see.

Or you can place this in a scene that the audience doesn't know is possible. Then show them that it is possible, and they can't help but applaud.

This is how this scene works as a whole. You know that the audience knows what the child is imagining is impossible.

They know that it's just a dream because it has been explained to them. So in some sense, they know this.

How to choose the momentSilhouette of 2 person standing in front of white and black stripe wall

To decide when you want to place this hallucination into your film, you'll have to look at your entire movie and decide where it fits in and what your overall goal is.

For example, if you're doing a horror film, it's not going to work to put this hallucination as a dream. That would completely undermine the horror genre and go against everything you've worked so hard to portray.

There's no way you could make a horror film about the paranormal if the audience is wondering why the heck the killer can't see it too.

However, if you're doing a romantic comedy, the audience might want to go along with the audience. Thus, you could drop a dream into a scene where the audience already thinks they're in a dream.

This can be very humorous.

Other than that, you have to make your hallucination a believable possibility and not too convenient. It should make the audience pause and think.

Then they have to find a way to accept this dream into their minds and realize that this isn't a dream but something that's happening in the real world. If you put it into a scene where the audience doesn't know, it feels convenient, like this is what they already wanted to happen.

If they thought they were in a dream, they'd probably go along with it. So make it happen in a scene where the audience is expecting something to happen.

How to show that the children are in danger

When this scene is in the film, then your audience will get that the children are in danger, and they'll be terrified. This is why this scene works.

You need to show the audience that there's a good chance that these children could die. You also need to show that the threat could be quite real.

This is also a scene that has to be shot out of sequence. If you try to show this hallucination during the scene of the children playing happily, then you won't have the audience's attention.

You'll have a scene where nothing is happening. Then suddenly, one of the children has a mysterious dream about these children.

Then they start to act on this hallucination. The audience will then get confused about what's going on.

Then the scene ends and the movie continues as usual.

Make sure to also include a scene where these children are safe and in another room. This is a good way to show that the children were not in danger in the real world.

An example of the scenes you could film with this sceneLight fashion man people

This scene is easy to imagine, even if you've never made a movie before. The following examples are examples of the sorts of scenes that could be filmed with a sequence like this:

  • The detective goes into a dark room and is attacked by a ghoul. The scene changes, and we see the children playing happily in a living room.
  • The detective says that the children are in danger, but he doesn't know what the danger is. We then see the detective entering the living room, only to be attacked by a ghoul.

The movie version of the flashback sequence

This is a common technique in movies. The flashback in Raiders of the Lost Ark is a perfect example.

What happens in the sequence is that Indy sees a small group of children playing and he gets spooked, so he leaves. This part of the sequence is a dream sequence.

Then we see a scene where a group of children are playing. Indy then says that the children are in danger and are attacked by the ghoul.

When the flashback sequence is shown in front of a mirror, it shows Indy's memory of the encounter in the mirror.

What does the flashback do in the context of the entire story?

This is a scene that needs to be in the movie because it's a key part of the story.

The flashback shows the backstory of Indy and why he became a pirate.

The flashback also shows Indy's parents and why they were killed.

What do you do with your flashbacks?

In the context of the movie, you need to have a strong sense of time and place.

  • What time period is this?
  • What does the mood of this moment look like?
  • What type of thing is going on?
  • This flashback scene needs to be a memory, not a dream. You can't have Indy fighting monsters.

You can't have Indy being bitten by a vampire.

You can't have Indiana Jones have this hallucination while sitting in a dark room.

What are some general guidelines for this type of scene?Light man people woman

If the flashback is a memory, then there are specific rules that need to be followed. If the flashback is in the past, then it's not going to show the current action.

You'll need to have a sequence where the children are playing and have Indy get spooked.

One rule to remember is that you can't move forward in time within the flashback. You can't have the flashback in the flashback, because that wouldn't be effective.

The flashback needs to be firmly in the past, or else it doesn't have enough impact.

Also, make sure to have the flashback work in the context of the scene. If the flashback fits into a scene, then you can use it.

If not, then skip the flashback and keep the sequence simple.

What is the best way to fit a flashback into a scene?

A lot of scripts call for flashbacks in order to connect the movie to the book. This is probably the wrong way to use them.

What you really want to do is use the flashback to tie together the movie into a coherent whole.

Don't get sucked into having every scene have a flashback. These scenes are all too common.


While the content of the article might seem to confuse you as the reader, given that the title talks about visions in a screenplay, all these tie together how a vision should be directed.

Sometimes, people pertain to visions as a hallucination - something unbelievable and impossible. Thus, flashbacks, on the other hand, strive to solidify one's vision by providing an interesting backstory.

Many scriptwriters struggle with this part of the story, but mastery is important to provide the readers and audience the best story possible. The goal here is to drive them to continue watching the film until the very end.


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