June 28

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

QUESTION

I’m writing a movie musical and am using sort of a jury-rigged version of the standard stage musical format: songs stand on their own as one uninterrupted stream of lyrics. Is there a better way to do this, to include action? A standard way for films? I can’t find online versions of scripts for films with musical numbers in them (except Moulin Rouge, which seemed like a bad scenario, very cutty).
Any advice?
thanks!
Erik from Seattle

I have no experience writing musicals. However, after making a number of inquiries, I have concluded that there is probably no longer a standard format for musicals. I received two important suggestions which may help:

1. Since the thirties, songs in movie musicals have not been uninterrupted events. Rather, the songs themselves advance the action of the story. As such, it is unlikely that the songs will be represented in the script by an uninterrupted block of lyrics. You will likely have action interwoven with the songs.

2. Some of the animated musicals (e.g. Lion King or The Little Mermaid) might be written in an acceptable format. I could not find any of them downloadable on line, but you might check with script companies like Script City to see if you can order a hard copy.

If someone reading this has more experience in this area, help….




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Posted June 28, 2005 by TW in category "The Craft

5 COMMENTS :

  1. By David Chandler on

    I don’t have any personal experience, but the South Park screenplay (for the movie, of course) is up over on Drew’s Script-o-Rama, and if I remember correctly it had the lyrics as regular dialogue… maybe in italics, I really don’t remember. AND, I am too lazy to simply click over and look. But, it’s a musical and should be what you’re looking for.

    It’s the 8th draft of that script or sumthin’. It’s the only online example of a musical in screenplay form I can think of…

    The formatting didn’t seem too different though. I hope this helps!

    PS: I got unlazy and looked at the script; the songs were done as dialogue but written like lyrics, and in bold. Easy enough!

  2. By David Chandler on

    Further helpfulness:

    http://home.online.no/~bhundlan/scripts/Newsies.pdf

    I perused Script-o-Rama a bit more and found the PDF of Newsies, which might be an even better example for ya. Looks like a shooting script, but I hardly glanced at it.

    I hated Newsies when I was little, I wonder if I’d like it now…

  3. By TW (Post author) on

    David:

    Good suggestions and links. Each script presents a different but easily readable format. In both cases, the action is interwoven with the lyrics.

  4. By Erik on

    Hey, thanks for the tips folks — I found Rocky Horror as well, but that looks like it was adapted freehand from the original stage play.
    best regards
    Erik

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