A screenplay is a written work for films, television shows and other types of media that narrates anything related to characters, such as dialogues and actions. They are essential for the final product and is analogous to a blueprint. Without it, different groups of people are unable to fulfil their part of the job.
Screenplays are slightly different in that they are written following a specific format and style. A screenplay has multiple basic elements that will be elaborated on in this article.
Elements of a Screenplay
The elements of a screenplay come together to ensure there is a smooth progress from start to the end of a project. They also work in a specific format. Listed below are the different elements:
- Scene Headings
- Action Lines
- Character Names
Format and Style of Screenplays
The format of a screenplay allows for one to equate one page of script to one minute of screen time. However, this is just a rough gauge that those in the industry use as an estimate.
The standard font is a 12 point, 10 pitch Courier Typeface.
Interestingly, there are different formats of screenplays in the different countries.
- Screenplays are printed on a single side on three-hold punched paper (standard American letter size of 8.5 X 11 inch).
- The screenplay is then bound together with two brass fasteners through the top and bottom hole, leaving the middle untouched for ease of reading.
- Screenplays are printed on double-hole-punched A4 paper, which is narrower and taller than USA’s letter size.
- Many screenwriters will follow USA’s format, especially when the screenplay is to be read by American producers.
- The screenplay is bound by a single brass fastener at the top left corner for ease of flipping through during meetings; and have a cover showing the company’s logo of an agency or production company.
However, many are sending their screenplays through emails since it also allows for easier copyright registration.
Types of Screenplays
Feature films have a running time between 75 and 210 minutes and are essentially full-length films. Think movies in our current times, they are mainly feature films.
Screenplays of these films have to follow a studio format which dictates how elements such as headings, characters and actions lines should be like. This is because of the notion that one page of script is equivalent to one minute of screen time. Doing so, it will aid in the process of writing and shooting a feature film.
TV shows are slightly different from feature films in that they have act breaks. However, shows that use multi-cameras to film or variety shows have their own specific format to follow.
For instance, the sound effects and scene headings are capitalized and underlined, which is not the case for feature films.
Screenplays for documentaries are also different in that they use a two-column format, something that isn’t seen in feature films or television shows.
Examples of Screenplays
- Forrest Grump. Screenplay by Eric Roth
- 300. Screenplay by Michael Gordon, Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad
- Shutter Island. Screenplay by Laeta Kalogridis
- Us. Screenplay by Jordan Peele
These are great examples of screenplays from various genres such as comedy and horror.
With many different types of formats that one has to follow based on the type of end product, screenwriting software comes in handy.
Examples include Final Draft and Scrivener. These software not only offer templates for the various types of screenplays, they are also simple to use once you get the hang of it.
Jotterpad is another example of a great screenwriting software. It’s clean and simple interface, coupled with Fountain, makes writing fuss-free, and it can also transform your script into a professional screenplay when exported.
Screenplays are thus essential for any film project, it is the backbone that everyone falls back on when in doubt. Hence, finding and utilizing a dependable and good screenwriting software for your screenplay is equally important!