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Hollywood Jargon – Ampersands and Ands

Did you read the trades and stumble upon a word that isn’t in Webster’s? In a meeting with a producer and was too embarrassed to ask what the hell kind of language he was speaking? Each week, we address a prodigious member of the urban slang of Hollywood. Build your vocabulary, it won’t help your Scrabble game – but you’ll have a better idea of the lingo.

ampersand

Ampersands (&) and Ands

You’re most likely to see this conjunction in co-written screenplays. It may look something like this:

Written by:

Oswald Cobblepot and Riddler

OR…. If using the ampersand, it may look like this:

Written by:

Abraham Lincoln & Ned Flanders

What’s the difference?

In the first example, the “And” conjunction infers that Mr. Cobblepot and Riddler are not a writing team, and wrote separate drafts. Mr. Cobblepot wrote one draft, and then – the studio or Batman or whoever hired Riddler to come onto the project and he independently wrote the second draft.

In the second example, the “&” conjunction infers that Abraham Lincoln and Ned Flanders are a writing team – that is, both writers worked side-by-side on the drafts. According to WGA rules, team “ampersand” is treated as one person, while team “and” is treated as two different people, working on the script at different times. In the latter, the order of writers’ names can be arbitrated. The writer who contributed most will earn a first position credit. If there isn’t an agreement between the writers as to order of names, then the WGA Arbitration Committee determines each writers’ contribution, and orders the names chronologically.

& there you have it! Ampersands and ands.

Written by: Mich Medvedoff

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