Beat Definition in Drama

D

Digigenic

Guest
Beating it...

Beating it...

Beat simply emphasizes a pause, shift, or break in action to cut away, cut to, and/or resume dialogue and/or actions within a particular sequence of events.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense used it, and I remember thinking the same thing, “what the hell is up with all of the beats?” I guess it's found more often within drama or suspense thriller screenplays to help string the reader along?
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
the word "beat"

the word "beat"

I was reading the script for "A Beautiful Mind" by Akiva Goldman. the word "beat" is used in it over and over. I will pay closer attention when reading scripts to see how it may pertain to a cut.
 
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Steven Jackson

New member
Beats...

Beats...

You rarely see Beats used in the scripts written by the writer. The writer is suppose to tell his or her story. A beat is also a directed action performed by the actor/actress and is mostly seen in the director's script copy. Correct me if, I'm wrong.
 
T

themovieman

Guest
Okay a beat is rarely used in stage direction and more in dialog.

You use a beat for instance

BOB
Um I dunno what to do
(beat)
What should I do?

ROB
Well just do it then.
(beat)
but remember the consequences

These are used quite sparingly.

But that should give you a general idea.
 

Tyler Emerson

New member
Beat, beat, beat...

NEVER USE "BEAT" ANYWHERE IN YOUR SCREENPLAY! As has been said earlier, a beat is a DIRECTED action. It should be left up to the director and actors where the beats come in. If you want to imply a pause, fade in dialogue, or stop in action, use an ellipsis for fades (..., as was used at the beginning of this message), and use a double hyphen for an interruption (but--).
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
UP To The Artist

UP To The Artist

The screen writer for”Beautiful Mind” used the word "beat." I think these things are up to the writer. I know I have heard cinematographers say they will place the camera and they don’t need a writer doing it but again I think this is something the writer can put in as a suggestion and it is up to the writer as an artist to make such suggestions. “The “Beautiful Mind” did very well I believe.

Kim
 

MarkG

New member
The screen writer for”Beautiful Mind” used the word "beat."
But according to IMDB, they'd written seven produced feature scripts beforehand (amazingly, they apparently wrote 'Batman and Robin', and 'Lost in Space', and still got writing work afterwards!). There's a difference between being an established writer and writing something on spec with no track record.
 
D

DerekEastham

Guest
"BEAT"
isn't something to be affraid of using.

First you need to think about where your script is going... if you're writing for yourself... don't be affraid to use it.

If you are writing somthing you intend to sell to hollywood... then you'll want to seriously consider not using it...

However, when you do not use the word... will it change the way your script reads? if it's imperative to read the script properly & attain the proper feel, then it's something to seriously consider.
 

shozbot

New member
Beat

Beat

Beat is an acting term. It was actually coined by people who studied early on with Stanislovsky. He'd say to an actor something like, "Wait for a 'beat' here." or "Take a "beat" before you do that." He was actually saying "Wait a bit" But because his accent was so thick, people thought he was saying "beat." And the mispronunciation became a term of art.

And, no, ideally it does not belong in your script. But often you will read scripts by writers who expect their work to be produced, and given the need for scripts to be so economical, they take shortcuts. If you're not those people, find a more evocative way to connote that pause.
 

FilmGrad001

New member
Isn't there another meaning for the word "beat" when it comes to screenplay writing? I always understood it to be the differential between cause and result - when an expected response is replaced by an unexpected reaction. At least, that's how I think McKee describes it. The progression of story through the opening of gaps. I could be completely wrong though. I've seen it used in the other context hundreds of times in screenplays, and I've also been told hundreds of times to never, under any circumstances, use direction cues when writing a script. Even though I, personally, would never do that, I've seen professionals do it quite often. There's a lot of contradiction to weed through when studying screenwriting it seems.

(Great bit of trivia there, shozbot. I'll have to remember that.)
 

Tyler Emerson

New member
Beat is used almost solely for acting. Any time a beat is put into a script is usually ONLY in the shooting script for the director and actor to reference. Don't write beats into your spec script. Save that for after the financing comes in.
 
N

Nietzsche

Guest
i count 5 to 3 in favor of using beats if desired.

me, it sounds like it would really throw a wrench in the dialouge while writing it.

but what do i know
 
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