questionmarkThanks for posting the script to The Nines. In it, you give some dialogue a “(PRE-LAP)” extension. This dialogue begins in V.O., bridges us to the next scene, and continues onscreen. Obviously, it’s a useful and commonly used device.

The term “Pre-Lap” makes obvious technical sense, but is it common enough for us unknowns to use in our scripts? I’ve seen some scripts that use “(BRIDGING)” or “(BRIDGE)” – or even put some explanation in action paragraphs. I’d hate to adopt “PRE-LAP” only to find that low-level readers think I’m making up my own neologisms, or using obsolete technical terms like SFX or M.O.S.

What would you recommend?

–bagadonuts

Pre-lapping is when dialogue begins before we’ve cut to the scene in which it’s spoken. Here’s an example from The Nines:

He turns his back to the foyer, listening to the instructions on the phone.

GARY

Nine leopards run through the jungle.

(listening)

I bought two cakes at the store.

His identity evidently confirmed, he hangs up. He looks back into the foyer.

GARY (PRE-LAP) (CONT’D)

The house is haunted. There’s a zeitgeist, or something.


EXT. UPSTAIRS DECK – DAY

Margaret has brought coffee and pastries from Susina.

MARGARET

Poltergeist, and no. Maybe they were rats. L.A. is teeming with rats. They live in the palm trees.

Often, it’s a choice made editorially, during post-production, but you can also write it in if it helps sell a joke or moment. It’s common enough — and simple enough — that I think most readers will understand it in context, even if they’re unfamiliar with the term.

You should know that some readers despise pre-laps, despite their usefulness. If you use them, you need to have a vigilant script supervisor, because these dangling lines of dialogue can find themselves forgotten in the rush of production.