Can you specify how to use transitions while writing a screenplay? I’m referring to all those "cut to"-s and other transitions. I never know if I should actually use one, or just move to the next scene.
In most situations, you don’t need to use CUT TO: or any other transition at the end of a scene. When readers hit a new scene header (i.e. INT. HOUSE – DAY), they inherently understands that the old scene is over, and we’ve cut to a new one. The CUT TO: is just filler.
However, CUT TO: can still be useful. The most common situation is when you’re ending a scene abruptly for dramatic or comedic effect (usually the latter):
Okay. Maybe just one drink.
INT. BAR – LATER
Barbara pours a pitcher of beer over herself. She then continues a sassy bar-top shimmy that’s got the whole CROWD worked up.
The second most common use for CUT TO: is when you’re moving between parallel action. If the hero is fighting his way to the back of the train while the heroine is trying to defuse the bomb in the caboose, you’ll probably use CUT TO: to switch back and forth between their situations. While you’re following your hero from car to car, it’;s therefore better to not use a CUT TO:, in order to make it more clear to the readers that we’re following one continuous action.
The final case you’ll find yourself using CUT TO: is when inserting titles over black, Law and Order-style. The CUT TO: makes it clear you’re not printing on top of the scene that follows.