Movie Scripts

In the film industry, movie scripts are one of the two major types of fictional scripts you can write. Of course, these are scripts intended to be for big-screen (later DVD). Movie Scripts for feature films are usually from 90 to 150 minutes long, which works out to between 90 to 120 Pages of script.

Even though they may get shown on TV later on, they were never written "for" TV.

It's important to know, not only about the technical aspects of writing scripts, but also their intention. The basic difference between the movie television program scriptwriting is that movies have more "space" in them.

Movies are not intended to continuously take commercial breaks as TV programs are. In addition, movies usually have larger budgets than television shows, and therefore can show a lot more through scenery, images, and soundtrack than most television shows can.

Then there's the fact that movies are longer than television shows. Even a relatively short movie still has about 90 minutes of action, while even a 2-hour television show has so many commercial breaks that the real action time still falls short of 90 minutes for that "long" TV show.

There are low-budget independent movies like the ones shown at the Sundance Film Festival, of course, and there are made-for-TV movies. But, despite marginal amounts of crossover here, the fundamental differences are still the same.

The most outstanding difference between movie scripts and TV program scripts is found in the dialogue. Movies almost always have much more in the way of non-verbal scenes and events than TV scripts do, unless you're talking about a specialized movie like "My Dinner With Andre" where the entire movie IS a conversation.

Television programs need to "fill in the gaps" with a constant stream of dialogue because of their limitations with scope and amount of time compared with movies.

So, when you write a movie script, while the dialogue is certainly very important, you can take far more liberties with its appearances in scenes.

A movie's non-verbal introduction can be very long compared to a television program's. Movies can get away with long periods of silence (with respect to speech).

There are two types of fictional movie scripts--the "spec script" and the "shooting script". The shooting script is what the technical crew reads as it includes detailed camera directions, etc.

The producers and actors do NOT read that script. If you're making your own independent movie that you're going to shoot yourself, you can just write the shooting script.

One thing you'll include in your script are slug lines. An example of these are the directions "EXT" and "INT", meaning the scene is showing a perspective looking at the outside of a setting or the inside of a setting, respectively. So EXT could indicate the street outside of a hotel, while INT could indicate the hotel lobby inside.

There's quite a lot that goes into a correctly-written movie script, but the basics are:

*Type the script in 12-point Courier or Prestige Pica. *Scripts should be typed on one side of the paper only.*Use double spacing between lines and lots of border around the script's words to make it easy to read and easy to hand-write notes on for readers.

Here's an excerpt from the movie script for AFTER THE TRUTH by Christopher and Kathleen Riley:


The rain has intensified. The courthouse doors swing

open and the angry Prosecutor emerges, raises his

umbrella and marches down the steps. The doors open

again and the Vashisthas appear -- the baby asleep in

her tearful mother's arms. They descend the steps.

Once more the doors open and Peter and Hillmann emerge.

They pause as Hillmann raises his umbrella. Peter

watches his departing clients with satisfaction.


(an axiom)

Always tell the truth, Felix.

It's the greatest freedom we



Bet they didn't teach you that in

law school.

Peter tucks his own umbrella beneath his arm and strides

into the rain, face skyward, getting happily drenched.


Cigarette smoke and shadows. A bulging manila folder

lies open on the desk, full of handwritten pages. Bony

fingers dial a rotary telephone, number after number.

Not a local call. The voice of the caller is heard, an

aged man:


Ja. It's me... How are you


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