Screenplay

A screenplay, or script, is a written work by screenwriters for a film, television program or video game. These screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression and dialogues of the characters are also narrated. A screenplay written for television is also known as a teleplay.

Screenplay example
Sample from a screenplay, showing dialogue and action descriptions

Format and style

The format is structured so that one page equates to roughly one minute of screen time, though this is only used as a ballpark estimate and often bears little resemblance to the running time of the final movie.[1] The standard font is 12 point, 10 pitch Courier Typeface.[2]

The major components are action (sometimes called "screen direction") and dialogue. The action is written in the present tense and is limited to what can be heard or seen by the audience, for example descriptions of settings, character movements, or sound effects. The dialogue is the words the characters speak, and is written in a center column.

Unique to the screenplay (as opposed to a stage play) is the use of slug lines. A slug line, also called a master scene heading, occurs at the start of every scene and typically contains three pieces of information: whether the scene is set inside (interior/INT.) or outside (exterior/EXT.), the specific location, and the time of day. Each slug line begins a new scene. In a "shooting script" the slug lines are numbered consecutively for ease of reference.

Physical format

American screenplays are printed single-sided on three-hole-punched paper using the standard American letter size (8.5 x 11 inch). They are then held together with two brass brads in the top and bottom hole. The middle hole is left empty as it would otherwise make it harder to quickly read the script.

In the United Kingdom, double-hole-punched A4 paper is normally used, which is slightly taller and narrower than US letter size. Some UK writers format the scripts for use in the US letter size, especially when their scripts are to be read by American producers, since the pages would otherwise be cropped when printed on US paper. Because each country's standard paper size is difficult to obtain in the other country, British writers often send an electronic copy to American producers, or crop the A4 size to US letter.

A British script may be bound by a single brad at the top left hand side of the page, making flicking through the paper easier during script meetings. Screenplays are usually bound with a light card stock cover and back page, often showing the logo of the production company or agency submitting the script, covers are there to protect the script during handling which can reduce the strength of the paper. This is especially important if the script is likely to pass through the hands of several people or through the post.

Increasingly, reading copies of screenplays (that is, those distributed by producers and agencies in the hope of attracting finance or talent) are distributed printed on both sides of the paper (often professionally bound) to reduce paper waste. Occasionally they are reduced to half-size to make a small book which is convenient to read or put in a pocket; this is generally for use by the director or production crew during shooting.

Although most writing contracts continue to stipulate physical delivery of three or more copies of a finished script, it is common for scripts to be delivered electronically via email.

Screenplay formats

Screenplays and teleplays use a set of standardizations, beginning with proper formatting. These rules are in part to serve the practical purpose of making scripts uniformly readable "blueprints" of movies, and also to serve as a way of distinguishing a professional from an amateur.

Feature film

The Godfather Screenplay
Screenplay for The Godfather Part II, Turin, Italy

Motion picture screenplays intended for submission to mainstream studios, whether in the US or elsewhere in the world, are expected to conform to a standard typographical style known widely as the studio format which stipulates how elements of the screenplay such as scene headings, action, transitions, dialog, character names, shots and parenthetical matter should be presented on the page, as well as font size and line spacing.

One reason for this is that, when rendered in studio format, most screenplays will transfer onto the screen at the rate of approximately one page per minute. This rule of thumb is widely contested — a page of dialogue usually occupies less screen time than a page of action, for example, and it depends enormously on the literary style of the writer — and yet it continues to hold sway in modern Hollywood.

There is no single standard for studio format. Some studios have definitions of the required format written into the rubric of their writer's contract. The Nicholl Fellowship, a screenwriting competition run under the auspices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has a guide to screenplay format.[3] A more detailed reference is The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats.[4]

Spec screenplay

A "spec script" or speculative screenplay is a script written to be sold on the open market with no upfront payment, or promise of payment. The content is usually invented solely by the screenwriter, though spec screenplays can also be based on established works, or real people and events.[5]

Television

For American TV shows, the format rules for hour-long dramas and single-camera sitcoms are essentially the same as for motion pictures. The main difference is that TV scripts have act breaks. Multi-camera sitcoms use a different, specialized format that derives from stage plays and radio. In this format, dialogue is double-spaced, action lines are capitalized, and scene headings, character entrances and exits, and sound effects are capitalized and underlined.

Drama series and sitcoms are no longer the only formats that require the skills of a writer. With reality-based programming crossing genres to create various hybrid programs, many of the so-called "reality" programs are in a large part scripted in format. That is, the overall skeleton of the show and its episodes are written to dictate the content and direction of the program. The Writers Guild of America has identified this as a legitimate writer's medium, so much so that they have lobbied to impose jurisdiction over writers and producers who "format" reality-based productions. Creating reality show formats involves storytelling structure similar to screenwriting, but much more condensed and boiled down to specific plot points or actions related to the overall concept and story.

Documentaries

The script format for documentaries and audio-visual presentations which consist largely of voice-over matched to still or moving pictures is different again and uses a two-column format which can be particularly difficult to achieve in standard word processors, at least when it comes to editing or rewriting. Many script-editing software programs include templates for documentary formats.

Screenwriting software

Various screenwriting software packages are available to help screenwriters adhere to the strict formatting conventions. Detailed computer programs are designed specifically to format screenplays, teleplays, and stage plays. Such packages include BPC-Screenplay, Celtx, Fade In, Final Draft, FiveSprockets, Montage, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Movie Outline 3.0, Scrivener, Movie Draft SE and Zhura. Software is also available as web applications, accessible from any computer, and on mobile devices, such as Fade In Mobile and Scripts Pro.

The first screenwriting software was SmartKey, a macro program that sent strings of commands to existing word processing programs, such as WordStar, WordPerfect and Microsoft Word. SmartKey was popular with screenwriters from 1982 to 1987, after which word processing programs had their own macro features.

Script coverage

Script coverage is a filmmaking term for the analysis and grading of screenplays, often within the script-development department of a production company. While coverage may remain entirely verbal, it usually takes the form of a written report, guided by a rubric that varies from company to company. The original idea behind coverage was that a producer's assistant could read a script and then give their producer a breakdown of the project and suggest whether they should consider producing the screenplay or not.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ JohnAugust.com "How accurate is the page-per-minute rule?
  2. ^ JohnAugust.com "Hollywood Standard Formatting"
  3. ^ Guide to screenplay format from the website of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  4. ^ The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats (2002) Cole and Haag, SCB Distributors, ISBN 0-929583-00-0.
  5. ^ "Spec Script". Act Four Screenplays. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  6. ^ "What is Script Coverage?". WeScreenplay. Retrieved 5 July 2016.

Further reading

  • David Trottier (1998). The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script. Silman-James Press. ISBN 1-879505-44-4. - Paperback
  • Yves Lavandier (2005). Writing Drama, A Comprehensive Guide for Playwrights and Scritpwriters. Le Clown & l'Enfant. ISBN 2-910606-04-X. - Paperback
  • Judith H. Haag, Hillis R. Cole (1980). The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats: The Screenplay. CMC Publishing. ISBN 0-929583-00-0. - Paperback
  • Jami Bernard (1995). Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies. HarperCollins publishers. ISBN 0-00-255644-8. - Paperback
  • Luca Bandirali, Enrico Terrone (2009), Il sistema sceneggiatura. Scrivere e descrivere i film, Turin (Italy): Lindau. ISBN 978-88-7180-831-4.
  • Riley, C. (2005) The Hollywood Standard: the complete and authoritative guide to script format and style. Michael Weise Productions. Sheridan Press. ISBN 0-941188-94-9.

External links

1999 in film

The year 1999 in film included Stanley Kubrick's final film Eyes Wide Shut, Pedro Almodóvar's first Oscar-winning film All About My Mother, the science-fiction hit The Matrix, the Deep Canvas-pioneering Disney animated feature Tarzan and Best Picture-winner American Beauty and the well-received The Green Mile, as well as the animated works The Iron Giant, Toy Story 2, Stuart Little and South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Other noteworthy releases included Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman's breakout film Being John Malkovich and M. Night Shyamalan's breakout film The Sixth Sense, the controversial Fight Club and Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia. The year also featured George Lucas' top-grossing Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer celebrated their 75th anniversaries in 1999.

2004 in film

This article recounts films that were released in 2004, indicates which films were major award winners and top grossers, and documents important events from the film industry that happened during the year.

2005 in film

The year 2005 saw the release of many significant and successful films. The highest-grossing films of this year are listed below, as well as a complete list of every film released this year.

2006 in film

The following is an overview of events in 2006, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies and festivals, a list of films released and notable deaths.

2011 in film

The following is an overview of the events of 2011 in film, including the highest-grossing films, film festivals, award ceremonies and a list of films released and notable deaths.

More film sequels were released in 2011 than any other year before it, with 28 sequels released. Film critic Scout Tafoya considers 2011 as the best year for cinema, countering the notion of 1939 being film's best year overall and citing important developments in cinematic expression during 2011.

2012 in film

The following tables list films released in 2012. Most notably, the two oldest surviving American film studios, Universal and Paramount both celebrated their centennial anniversaries, marking the first time that two major film studios celebrate 100 years, and the Dolby Atmos sound format was launched for the premiere of Brave. The James Bond film series celebrated its 50th anniversary and released its 23rd film, Skyfall. Six box-office blockbusters from previous years (Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Titanic, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.) were re-released in 3D and IMAX. Also 2012 in film marked the debut for high frame rate technology. The first film using 48 fps, a higher frame rate than the film industry standard 24 fps, was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

2014 in film

The following is an overview of the events of 2014 in film, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies, festivals, and a list of films released and notable deaths.

2015 in film

2015 in film is an overview of events, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies, festivals, and a list of films released and notable deaths.

2016 in film

2016 in film is an overview of events, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies, festivals, and a list of films released and deaths.

2017 in film

2017 in film is an overview of events, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies, festivals, a list of films released, and notable deaths in 2017.

2018 in film

2018 in film is an overview of events, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies, critics' lists of the best films of 2018, festivals, a list of films released and notable deaths.

2019 in film

2019 in film is an overview of events, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies, critics' lists of the best films of 2018, festivals, a list of films released and notable deaths.

Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay

The Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source (usually a novel, play, short story, TV series, or even another film). All sequels are automatically considered adaptations by this standard (since the sequel must be based on the original story).

See also the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, a similar award for screenplays that are not adaptations.

Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay

The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best screenplay not based upon previously published material. It was created in 1940 as a separate writing award from the Academy Award for Best Story. Beginning with the Oscars for 1957, the two categories were combined to honor only the screenplay.

See also the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a similar award for screenplays that are adaptations.

Coen brothers

Joel Coen (born November 29, 1954) and Ethan Coen (born September 21, 1957), collectively referred to as the Coen brothers (), are American filmmakers. Their films span many genres and styles, which they frequently subvert or parody. Their most acclaimed works include Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), No Country for Old Men (2007), True Grit (2010), and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018).

The brothers write, direct and produce their films jointly, although until The Ladykillers (2004) Joel received sole credit for directing and Ethan for producing. They often alternate top billing for their screenplays while sharing editing credits under the alias Roderick Jaynes. They have been nominated for 13 Academy Awards together, and individually for one award each, winning Best Original Screenplay for Fargo and Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for No Country for Old Men. The duo also won the Palme d'Or for Barton Fink (1991).

The Coens have written a number of films they did not direct, including the biographical war drama Unbroken (2014), the historical legal thriller Bridge of Spies (2015), and lesser-known, commercially unsuccessful comedies such as Crimewave (1985), The Naked Man (1998) and Gambit (2012). Ethan is also a writer of short stories, theater and poetry.

Known for many distinctive stylistic trademarks including genre hybridity, the brothers' films No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and Inside Llewyn Davis have been ranked in the BBC's 2016 poll of the greatest motion pictures since 2000.

Jordan Peele

Jordan Haworth Peele (born February 21, 1979) is an American filmmaker, comedian, and actor. He is best known for his film and television work in the comedy and horror genres.Peele's breakout role came in 2003, when he was hired as a cast member on the Fox sketch comedy series Mad TV, where he spent five seasons, leaving the show in 2008. In the following years, he and his frequent Mad TV collaborator, Keegan-Michael Key, created and starred in their own Comedy Central sketch comedy series Key & Peele (2012–2015). In 2014, they recurred together playing FBI agents in season one of FX's anthology series Fargo. He co-created the TBS comedy series The Last O.G. (2018–present) and the YouTube Premium comedy series Weird City (2019–present). He has also served as the host and producer of the CBS All Access revival of the anthology series The Twilight Zone (2019–present).

In film, Peele co-wrote and starred in Keanu (2016), and has provided his voice to the animated films Storks (2016) and Toy Story 4 (2019). His 2017 directorial debut, the horror film Get Out, was a critical and box office success. He received numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, along with nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. He received his second Academy Award nomination for Best Picture for producing Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman (2018). He then directed, wrote, and produced the acclaimed horror film Us (2019).

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Jerome Tarantino (; born March 27, 1963) is an American filmmaker and actor. His films are characterized by nonlinear storylines, satirical subject matter, an aestheticization of violence, extended scenes of dialogue, ensemble casts consisting of established and lesser-known performers, references to popular culture and a wide variety of other films, soundtracks primarily containing songs and score pieces from the 1960s to the 1980s, and features of neo-noir film.

In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with the release of Reservoir Dogs in 1992, which was funded by money from the sale of his script True Romance. Empire deemed Reservoir Dogs the "Greatest Independent Film of All Time". Its popularity was boosted by his second film, Pulp Fiction (1994), a black comedy crime film that was a major success both among critics and audiences. For his next effort, Tarantino paid homage to the blaxploitation films of the 1970s with Jackie Brown (1997), an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch.

Kill Bill, a highly stylized "revenge flick" in the cinematic traditions of Kung fu films, Japanese martial arts, Spaghetti Westerns and Italian horror, followed six years later, and was released as two films: Volume 1 in 2003 and Volume 2 in 2004. Tarantino next directed Death Proof in 2007, as part of a double feature with Robert Rodriguez, under the collective title Grindhouse. His long-postponed Inglourious Basterds, which tells an alternate history of Nazi Germany, was released in 2009 to positive reviews. After that came critically acclaimed Django Unchained (2012), a Western film set in the Antebellum South. His eighth film, The Hateful Eight (2015), was released in its roadshow version in 70 mm film format, with opening "overture" and halfway-point intermission. His ninth film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is scheduled to be released July 26th, 2019.

Tarantino's films have garnered both critical and commercial success. He has received many industry awards, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards and the Palme d'Or, and has been nominated for an Emmy and a Grammy. In 2005, he was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. Filmmaker and historian Peter Bogdanovich has called him "the single most influential director of his generation". In December 2015, Tarantino received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry.

Screenwriter

A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based.

Wes Anderson

Wesley Wales Anderson (born May 1, 1969) is an American filmmaker. His films are known for their distinctive visual and narrative styles. Anderson is regarded by many as a modern-day example of the auteur. He has received consistent praise from critics for his work, and three of his films—The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel—appeared in BBC's 2016 poll of the greatest films since 2000.Anderson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001, Moonrise Kingdom in 2012 and The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014, as well as the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2009 and Isle of Dogs in 2018. He received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Director and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014. He also received the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2015. He currently runs production company American Empirical Pictures, which he founded in 1998. Anderson won the Silver Bear for Best Director for the stop-motion animated film Isle of Dogs in 2018.

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