It has been interesting reading about the history of screenwriting this week, with particular consideration about how screenplays (or ‘scenarios’, as they were previously called) were constructed. Melie’s use of a list of scene headings, with little substance behind them, used as a blueprint for what he wanted to film, is a similar technique to that which is still used by some writers, especially if they plan on using improvisation and directing the film themselves. Of course, if you are writing a screenplay for other stakeholders of some description (agent, producer, director), a list of scenes is of little use to anyone and highly unlikely to get you any work.
The current ‘accepted’ screenplay format hasn’t particularly changed in quite some time now, though more experimental, independent writer/directors use different techniques, such as prose outlines and scenarios as described above. Going forward, though, I can imagine that technology will play a more important role, particularly for independent productions or those where the writer will also be a director.
I think it is highly likely that the whole of a film will be previsualised in software, with ‘moving storyboards’, so that the whole film can be planned out upfront. I’m sure this is currently used by some people, but generally mostly when a lot of visual effects need to be considered. However, a more visual representation could be a great selling point for any script, rather than the traditional black Courier font on white paper.