Posted by: steveonfilm | December 17, 2012

How The Pros Sometimes Do It

I’m reading through a copy of The Bourne Identity screenplay by Tony Gilroy as research for a project I’m brainstorming.

The script I got my hands on was in a text file, and I’ve been going through the process of importing it into Final Draft and doing some formatting so it looks right. When I’m done i’ll export to PDF and read the whole thing.

While doing my formatting I’m skimming through the pages and getting a real sense of how Gilroy writes. It’s been an interesting process to say the least.

Tonight I got to a sequence toward the end of the script that isn’t written, or at least wasn’t in the draft of the script I’ve got. Instead, there is a “placeholder” of several notes on how the scene should play out, and a few plot points that need to be covered.

Mind you, this isn’t a scene that will be ad libbed. This appears to be the screenwriter simply leaving a note on the main beats of a scene and then moving on with his writing. I could be wrong, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

Here’s the section in the script I’m talking about:


It’s a shootout.

The Professor is infinitely more talented at this than the bodyguards.

Bourne needs to get out of there — without looking wimpy —

No children are harmed.

As the Professor rallies — he will shoot Wombosi — he will find Bourne’s jacket left on the floor (in which later he will find a clue leading him to Belleville) and last but hardly least, he will take a parting shot at the bomb still sitting there on the throne.

There will be a huge, trailer-worthy explosion.

This might not want to be very long. There is an extensive action sequence just around the corner.

So Bourne escapes. Physically he’s just weary. Emotionally he’s fucked.

All of that happens and we cut to —

And then the script just carried on as if the scene itself exists. This was REALLY cool to see. If anything, it’s a neat method for how to keep moving forward with your writing when you hit a scene you either can’t write, or aren’t sure how to write, though you know what things will happen.

I especially like the use of “trailer-worthy explosion.”

Keep writing,


  1. I’ve done this occasionally. There’s no need to stop writing just because the specific scene in question is hard, I figure.

Leave a Reply to spookymilk Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: