Writing Plays/Screenwriting/"OVER" and "UNDER"



What do "OVER" and "UNDER" mean here?
The others all raise their glasses


         To nailing it, and-

         DAVID (OVER)
         To nailing it.

         BRANDON (UNDER)
         To nailing it.

         Success. Yes. Cheers.

ALL down their shots

"Shame" script

It must be something obvious:-)


Hi Jerry,

There are various ways of spelling out interrupted or overlapping speeches.

Three dots in in middle of a piece of dialogue indicates that the character has interrupted his or her own dialogue for some reason, such as:
"I always thought that...oh, never mind, it doesn't matter any more."

Four dots at the end of a speech indicates that the character is not going to finish the sentence, for example:
"I'd like to stay, but I just don't know how to...."

A dash in an unfinished piece of dialogue indicates that the speaker has been interrupted, or "spoken over,"  as in your example:

        To nailing it, and-

The instruction OVER beside the character name DAVID indicates that the actor playing David is intended to break in loudly over Elizabeth's line.

The word UNDER, on the other hand means that the writer is suggesting that the character speak "sotto voce" or "under his breath," ergo the word UNDER.

As a writer you may put such indications in your script, but be aware that the director and/or the talent is likely change the way you imagined it would be spoken.

One thing a writer must avoid, if he or she wants to maintain the respect and trust of the actors, is any instruction that commits the artistic crime of "telling the actor how to act." Especially avoid "wrylies." These are usually found in parentheticals and end with -ly, such as in:

         (ironically, impetuously,
         mournfully, wistfully,
         pickily, precisely,
         etceterally, etceterally)

This type of interference with the actors' creative process indicates that the writer does not trust his fellow artists, and therefore is not being  professional.  

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Barry Pearson


I`m a credited writer on nine feature films. My latest movie, IRON ROAD, which stars Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill, opened as feature, then aired as a four-hour miniseries on network television. Sun Li, the Chinese star, won the best actress award at the Roma Fiction Fest recently. www.ironroadthemovie.com) I’ve produced more than 300 episodes of television drama, including 13 episodes of Deepwater Black, and 106 episodes of Katts & Dog (Rin-Tin-Tin, K-9 Cop in the U.S.). I've answered over 1200 All Experts questions!


I've been in the business of writing and producing feature films, television series, and MOW's for over 20 years. You can check me out at this URL http://www.createyourscreenplay.com/aboutbp.htm

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Among my awards are Best Screenplay, Best Picture, at the International Film & Television Festival of New York for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDWIN ALONZO BOYD, Best Screenplay, Feature Film, at the 12th International Film Festival in Sitges, Spain for PLAGUE, and a Special Jury Award, Feature Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival for PLAGUE.

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