For 'Get Out' And 'A Quiet Place,' Silence Is Cinematic Gold

The original screenplay for "A Quiet Place" had only one line of dialogue.

For 'Get Out' And 'A Quiet Place,' Silence Is Cinematic Gold
Paramount Pictures / "A Quiet Place"

The critically acclaimed film "A Quiet Place" has a simple premise: "If you make a sound, you will die."

But that simplicity can lead to some challenges — specifically, in the writing. How do you write and sell a screenplay with almost no dialogue?

One answer is "action lines." Those are how a script lays out what the audience will see on screen.

Daniel Kaluuya in

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Jordan Peele's film "Get Out" won the 2018 Oscar for best original screenplay. One scene in particular, where the main character is told to "get out" of the house, is a good indication of its merit. Instead of relying on the dialogue of its script, it used action lines to communicate the characters' fear and dread.

"The whole trick that all of us are trying to do is bring the audience into that protagonist eyes. Behind their eyes," Peele told The Hollywood Reporter. "Not tell somebody — you have to feel for somebody else — but make somebody feel, because they're experiencing it through entertainment."

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With even less dialogue than "Get Out," the original screenplay for "A Quiet Place" is almost entirely action lines — and some "unorthodox" additions.

Screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods edited images and set pieces into the script, as well as dedicated entire pages to single phrases and words. Neither of those things are really common in screenplays, but it helped make an almost completely silent film seem more cinematic on page.

That strategy to disregard traditional formatting worked. Beck and Woods didn't expect anyone in Hollywood would actually take it, but producer Michael Bay and studio Paramount Pictures did. It was given a production budget of $17 million, and it made an estimated $4.3 million ahead of its April 6 wide release.