Writing Plays/Screenwriting/Formatting Question

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Question
Hello. In my screenplay, the story begins with an old man having a nightmare in which he dreams of a WW 2 battle in Italy that he was involved in. He then sits up in bed screaming. Should this be formatted as a flashback, or is there a better way to format this scene. Also should flashbacks end with something like "END FLASHBACK" to indicate when the flashback actually ends. Thank you for your answer.

Answer
Dave,

What you are asking about is not flashback but a dream sequence. Basically, they are formatted the same.  For example, you can start with a slugline like -

EXT. ITALIAN FRONT (DREAM SEQUENCE) - DAY

Action -

And end the sequence with a slugline -

INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

Sam wakes up in sweat.

If you want further detail, refer to Dave Trottier's Screenwriters Bible.

The question I have for you is why?  A dream sequence, or flashback, should add to the story and not be used as exposition.  In Flags of Our Fathers, Bill Broyles uses a real moment event with the old man to explain what went on at Iwo Jima instead of relying on a dream sequence which he could have done.

My suggestion would be that you consider starting the feature with WWII and then move it to the present or use some other mechanism (see Titantic) to move the story back and forth.

Good luck.  

Writing Plays/Screenwriting

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John M. Lovett

Expertise

I answer questions regarding film production and screenwriting. I will answer questions dealing with screenwriting style, ideas, film production, format, and agents.

Experience

Sixteen years working in the motion picture and television industries as a screenwriter, producer, and military technical advisor. Have two produced movies TWO WEEKS and CATHY MORGAN. Worked with Digital Ranch Productions, Warriors Inc, and Nichols Productions.

Education/Credentials
CSUF, BA, 1980 UCLA, Certificate in Screenwriting, 2009

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Warriors, Inc.
Dreamworks Interactive
Legacy Interactive
Silvertouch Pictures
Synergy Group
Nichols Productions

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