Screenwriters Beginners,  Screenwriting Basics

The Difference Between Scene And Sequence In A Film

Welcome to a new section by Scriptwriting tips: it’s the screenwriting basics! With the Screenwriting Basics we ’re going to cover mostly basic knowledge about screenwriting, so feel free to ask any question you want, no matter how simple you think it is, in the comment section below.
For our first post in this section we’re going to find out the difference between Scene and Sequence in a film.

I know it seems as a basic thing, but there are many people out there trying to work in the film industry that don’t really know what’s a sequence. In order to clarify that, I feel I must explain first the concept of scene.


In a screenplay, a scene is a continuous action in place and time. Whenever there is a change of place or a change of time, there is also a change of scene.

You can see scene examples in a movie in the video link I have added below, at the end of this post.

When we’re writing a scene in a screenplay, we always add a title that includes the following information:

A scene is usually just a part of a Sequence.
  • Where and
  • When
  1. First we establish whether we are inside or outside a place and we use int. for interior and ext. for exterior
  2. Then we mention what is this place e.g. house, office, tennis court etc.
  3. And then what time of day it is. We don’t want to tell the exact time, but we are mostly interested in the light of the day. This is going to help, later, the crew to prepare the lights for shooting. So we just add descriptions like day or night or if we want to be more specific, dawn or afternoon etc.


The sequence, on the other hand, is like a short story, a mini story. A sequence can be consisted of one or more scenes with the same goal or the same topic or idea or sometimes scenes that have either the unity of time or the unity of location.

For example, in a wedding sequence we may have scenes of the bride and groom getting dressed, scenes of the ceremony and even scenes of the wedding party that follows.

1.Photo by Bryan Schneider from Pexels
2.Wedding photo created by freepic.diller -
3.Photo via Good Free Photos
4.Photo by Douglas Gianini from Pexels

Movies are mostly consisted of sequences. Let’s see for example some of the sequences we can find in the movie “Back to the future”:

  1. The time travelling invention sequence
  2. The time travelling to the past
  3. The reuniting of parents
  4. The prom sequence (this one is also part of the bigger sequence called “the reuniting of parents”)
  5. The travelling back to the future sequence

Many times we can separate a bigger sequence into smaller ones, so don’t be alarmed if you find that to be the case. It’s fine.

Just remember that a sequence is like a short story, a short movie, which also has its own beginning, middle and end. That means that most of the times, 3 act structure applies in sequences as well.

I hope this helps and you can now discern a scene from a sequence! You can also watch the relevant episode by Scriptwriting tips Scene vs. Sequence.

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