Stop using “Continuous” as a slugline extension. You’re doing it all wrong.
Seriously, stop it. You think you’re doing it right because you’ve seen others doing it incorrectly.
Here, take my hand as I walk you through this. And stop whining, you stubborn little child.
Marty lets me do as many takes as I want.
The first thing you need to understand is that a script is not just a creative piece of prose. It is, in fact, a production document—as much a data worksheet as a schedule, one-liner, call sheet, day-out-of-days or budget (feel free to consult Wikipedia if I’ve lost you).
After the script is greenlit and goes into preproduction, the Assistant Director will begin to break down the script and create a schedule. He’ll take into consideration a number of logistical factors including locations, actors’ availabilities, permits, and a whole host of other elements you can’t even begin to understand. And suddenly your linear script will be rearranged scene-by-scene and shot in a seemingly random, nonlinear order.
The other factor which is taken into consideration is whether any given scene takes place at DAY, or NIGHT. There is only DAY or NIGHT when the schedule is being created. Not SUNRISE, MAGIC HOUR, DUSK, MID DAY, or even CONTINUOUS.
Day. Or Night.
See how that works?
But wait, you’ve decided (in your infinite wisdom) to use “Continuous” to reflect continuing action in your script. But it’s not continuous when you’re shooting on set.
You still don’t understand, do you?
Okay, let’s use this as an example:
EXT. HOUSE – DAY
John runs up to the front door and hurries inside.
INT. HOUSE – DAY
John runs through the foyer and upstairs.
You may be tempted to use Continuous because it’s one action—John running through the door and inside. But, in fact, when these scenes are shot they might require two different setups—one inside and one outside. They might be shot out of order. They might even be shot at opposite ends of the schedule. They might be shot in two different locations—one or both may even be on a stage. And, in fact, you may be shooting Day for Night, or shooting interiors at night that are supposed to be Day.
So when the crew shows up on a stage to shoot the Interior portion on day 32 of the schedule, they won’t know whether it’s supposed to be Day or Night because you’ve decided to write Continuous, you inconsiderate ass (this is why writers aren’t invited on set).
And if you’ve used Continuous for the past five scenes, you’ve made more work for the entire crew as they backtrack through their non-linear schedule to see whether the originating scene was Day, or Night.
So why is Continuous even an option? I’m going to tell you, but I urge you not to use it because it reflects how the Director will shoot a particular sequence. And newsflash: you’re not the Director. It’s not your call how it will be shot.
Let's assume a director wanted to shoot a sequence in one take. He might start outside of a location, follow his actors with the camera as they enter the location, and maybe even follow them from interior room to interior room.
This will be shot in… wait for it… one CONTINUOUS take.