Here’s How to Write a Montage in a Script
Before actors sign on to a movie, the lights come on, or the cameras start rolling, a script is written. Screenwriting is a process in itself that comes with many guidelines and techniques to create a strong story. Besides writing a tale with a characterized location, one technique often used in screenwriting is the montage. No doubt you’ve seen dozens of examples in films because it is a useful tool to get your story from point A to B.
When it comes to filmmaking, Peerspace understands and supports your dedication to building a strong story, and that is why we host thousands of location possibilities for your story. With that said, we’ll discuss how to write a montage in a script — it isn’t as difficult as you might think.
What is a montage?
A montage is a sequence of short scenes put together to show the passage of time that impacts the character’s position in the story. An effective montage will affect the story and character’s arc, as well as support the theme of the story. Montages are useful to express what happens to a character in either a short or long span of time, conveying a lot of information about how a character chooses to react to a situation.
In addition, a montage can help move the story along past a necessary point that isn’t the main point, as well as be an interesting way to introduce a character to an audience or portray a relationship. Whatever the case, montages show a large amount of visual information in a quick and efficient way.
Some of the most famous montages include the Rocky training montage, the opening married life montage from Disney and Pixar’s Up, and the ending death montage from American Beauty. Each of these montages is a key part of the story. Without them, the stories are significantly weaker.
How to write a montage
Screenwriting is like any other art form — once you know the rules, you can bend them. As far as writing montages go, there are no hard and fast rules to follow. Every screenwriter will write it a different way. What matters is that the writing is understandable and translates your visuals well.
An important factor to keep in mind is the heading. For example, a heading for the beginning of the scene might look like this:
INT. MILLENIUM FALCON – NIGHT
So, now if your montage takes place entirely in one location, you might add to that header, “MONTAGE,” like so:
INT. MILLENIUM FALCON – MONTAGE
If it takes place in multiple locations, then it might be best to have a clear heading that the montage is beginning and a clear marker that the montage has ended. This way, the locations and scenes can stand out as part of a sequence. Then you can start listing off your series of shots with bullet points, hyphens, numbers, the alphabet, or whatever you think looks cleanest with what you’ve written.
Toy Story montage sequence with a single location
Here is an example of these montage writing rules from a sequence in Toy Story:
Now here’s the montage in the movie, so you can see how seamlessly the words transition onto the screen.
That Toy Story montage was one location. With this example, it doesn’t begin with a header, but rather just jumps right in with the location and keeps going. Note how it ends with a “Fade to Black.”
Up montage sequence with multiple locations
Here is an example of a montage from Up that involves multiple locations.
And here’s the final version of the sequence from the movie to which to compare the screenplay.
When you are figuring out how to add a montage into your script, remember that a good montage will read cleanly, remain a significant part of a character’s arc, and speak on the themes of the movie. In the end, the best way to write it is exactly the way you see it in your head.