What is a pre-lap?

A pre-lap is when the dialogue (or any sound) from the next scene starts before we cut away from the previous scene. They are a common and useful transition.

Pre-laps are often inserted in editing, but they can also be written into scripts.

Dialogue pre-laps are indicated with the parenthetical “(PRE-LAP)” next to the character’s name — not below it — and in all caps:

EVAN (PRE-LAP)

Oh man, that looks good.

INT. A LOTTA GELATO – DAY

Evan watches as Adam eats.

EVAN (CONT’D)

Stupid fluoride.

If the sound is something other than dialogue, it can be set off like this:

ADAM

How bad can it be?

PRE-LAP: A drill BUZZES.

INT. THE OFFICE OF DR. BOLSKI, DDS – DAY

Adam watches as Evan writhes in pain under the dentist’s tool.