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A screenplay, or script, is a written work by
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. ...
s for a
film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through the use of moving images. These image ...

film
,
television program upright=1.35, A live television show set and cameras A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set which can be broadcast via over-the-air, satellite, cable, - excluding breaking news, advertise ...
, or
video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, controller, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generate visual feedback for a player. This feedback is shown on a video ...
. These screenplays can be original works or
adaptations In biology, adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits organisms to their environment, enhancing their evolutionary fitness. Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that pr ...
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 A teleplay is a screenplay or script used in the production of a scripted television program or series. In general usage, the term is most commonly seen in reference to a standalone production, such as a television film, a television play, or an ep ...
.


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. The standard font is 12 point, 10 pitch
Courier A courier is a company, an employee of that company or a person who delivers a message, package or letter from one place or person to another place or person. Duties and functions Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail services by feature ...
Typeface. The major components are action (sometimes called "screen direction") and
dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English) is a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people, and a literary and theatrical form that depicts such an exchange. As a philosophical or didactic device, it is chief ...
. The action is written in the
present tense The present tense (abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense whose principal function is to locate a situation or event in the present time. The present tense is used for actions which are happening now. In order to explain and understand present ten ...
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 each scene and typically contains 3 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 A shooting script is the version of a screenplay used during the production of a motion picture. Shooting scripts are distinct from spec scripts in that they make use of scene numbers (along with certain other formatting conventions described below ...
" 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. Electronic copies allow easier
copyright registration The purpose of copyright registration is to place on record a verifiable account of the date and content of the work in question, so that in the event of a legal claim, or case of infringement or plagiarism, the copyright owner can produce a copy ...
and also documenting "authorship on a given date". Authors can register works with the WGA's Registry, and even television formats using the FRAPA's system.Alt URL
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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

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 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that are stored in the type case shown below it Typography is the art and technique of typesetting, arranging type to make written language legibility, legible, rea ...
style known widely as the ''studio format'' which stipulates how elements of the screenplay such as scene headings, action, transitions, dialogue, 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 Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the U.S. film industry and the people associated with it. Many of its studios such as Disney, Paramount Pictures, ...
. 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 FellowshipThe Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting is a fellowship program founded in 1986 to aid screenwriters. It is administered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. History Gee Nicholl, widow of producer Don Nicholl, worked wit ...
, a screenwriting competition run under the auspices of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS, often pronounced ; also known as simply the Academy or the Motion Picture Academy) is a professional honorary organization with the stated goal of advancing the arts and sciences of motion ...
, has a guide to screenplay format. A more detailed reference is ''The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats''.


Spec screenplay

A "
spec script A spec script, also known as a speculative screenplay, is a non-commissioned and unsolicited screenplay. It is usually written by a screenwriter who hopes to have the script optioned and eventually purchased by a producer, production company, or stu ...
" 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.


Television

For American TV shows, the format rules for hour-long dramas and
single-camera Diagram showing a single-camera setup. The single-camera setup, or single-camera mode of production, also known as portable single camera, is a method of filmmaking and video production. The single-camera setup originally developed during the birt ...
sitcoms are essentially the same as for motion pictures. The main difference is that TV scripts have act breaks.
Multi-camera The multiple-camera setup, multiple-camera mode of production, multi-camera or simply multicam is a method of filmmaking and video production. Several cameras—either film or professional video cameras—are employed on the set and simultaneousl ...
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 Screenwriting software are word processors specialized to the task of writing screenplays. Overview Features While add-ins and macros for word processors, such as Script Wizard for Microsoft Word, can be used to write screenplays, the need for d ...
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 Celtx () is media pre-production software, designed for creating and organizing media projects like screenplays, films, videos, stageplays, documentaries, machinima, games, and podcasts. History Celtx originates from desktop software built on op ...
, Fade In, Final Draft, FiveSprockets,
Montage Montage may refer to: Arts and entertainment Filmmaking and films * Montage (filmmaking), a technique in film editing * Soviet montage theory, an approach to cinema that relies heavily on editing * ''Montage'' (2013 film), a South Korean film P ...
,
Movie Magic Screenwriter Movie Magic Screenwriter is a word processing program sold by Write Brothers to format screenplays, teleplays and novels. History Stephen Greenfield and Chris Huntley created Scriptor, one of the earliest screenplay writing programs, that worke ...
,
Movie Outline Movie Outline is a word processing program to step outline a cinematic story and format a screenplay. It was created by Dan Bronzite, a produced UK screenwriter. It was released in 2004 as an outliner but has expanded its features in later releas ...
3.0,
Scrivener A scrivener (or scribe) was a person who could read and write or who wrote letters to court and legal documents. Scriveners were people who made their living by writing or copying written material. This usually indicated secretarial and administr ...
, Movie Draft SE and
Zhura 260px, Script elements as described on the Zhura help pages. Zhura ( ), merged with screenwriting competitor Scripped as of March 28, 2010, is a free web-based screenwriting software application for writing and formatting screenplays to the film i ...
. Software is also available as
web applications A web application (or web app) is application software that runs on a web server, unlike computer-based software programs that are run locally on the operating system (OS) of the device. Web applications are accessed by the user through a web brow ...
, accessible from any computer, and on
mobile devices A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer small enough to hold and operate in the hand. Typically, any handheld computer device will have an LCD or OLED flatscreen interface, providing a touchscreen interface with digital buttons and k ...

mobile devices
, such as Fade In Mobile and Scripts Pro. The first screenwriting software was
SmartKey SmartKey was the first macro processing program of its type, and the first TSR or ''terminate and stay resident'' program for PCs and CP/M microcomputers, their eight bit predecessors. Smartkey's "keyboard definitions" were first used with the ear ...
, a macro program that sent strings of commands to existing word processing programs, such as
WordStar#REDIRECT WordStar {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
,
WordPerfect WordPerfect (WP) is a word processing application, now owned by Corel, with a long history on multiple personal computer platforms. At the height of its popularity in the 1980s and early 1990s, it was the dominant player in the word processor mark ...
and
Microsoft Word Microsoft Word is developed by Microsoft. It was first released on October 25, 1983, under the name ''Multi-Tool Word'' for Xenix systems. Subsequent versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS (1983), ...
. 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.


See also

* Closet screenplay * Dreams on Spec *
List of film topics The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to film: Film – refers to motion pictures as individual projects and to the field in general. The name came from the fact that photographic film (also called filmstock) ...
* List of screenwriting awards for film * Screenwriter's salary * Scriptment * Storyboard


References


Further reading

* - Paperback * - Paperback * - Paperback * - Paperback * Luca Bandirali, Enrico Terrone (2009), ''Il sistema sceneggiatura. Scrivere e descrivere i film'', Turin (Italy): Lindau. . *Riley, C. (2005) ''The Hollywood Standard: the complete and authoritative guide to script format and style.'' Michael Weise Productions. Sheridan Press. .


External links

*Wikibooks:Writing movies, Writing section from the Wikibooks:Movie Making Manual, MovieMakingManual (MMM) Wikibook, especially on Wikibooks:Movie Making Manual/Screenplay Format, formatting. *
American Screenwriters Association
*
All Movie Scripts on IMSDb (A-Z)
''imsdb.com'' {{Authority control Fiction Fiction forms Film Film and video terminology Filmmaking Film production Screenwriting Television terminology Screenplays,