Click here for Done Deal Pro home page

Done Deal Pro Home Page

Loading

Go Back   Done Deal Pro Forums > About the Craft > Screenwriting
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-16-2019, 07:53 AM   #1
catcon
Member
 
catcon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: London, Canada
Posts: 1,891
Default SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

There are a million variables, but as an aid to the newcomers here how about we post the page length of our first SPEC scripts. Maybe also include how many pages they ended up becoming after polishes.

With minimal research, those who're new to screenwriting already know that 90-100 pages is the new norm. It was probably up to 120 back in the 1990s, and 110 in the noughties. The reasons for this decline are many, and nobody's going to turn down that PERFECT script that's a bit outside the range.

But no matter, let me start by disclosing my own stats:

Script #1: 110 pages out for first read; present version at 105

(You can also tell a bit of story about the evolution your script went through, if it's relevant and, hopefully, interesting!)

_______________________________________________

Since I have a detailed database and can generate numbers on almost any metric, I'll also say that the average of the first third of my scripts was 110 (this included a few 125-page epics), the middle third came in at 105, and the most recent third of my output's been 95.

Some of you know that I'm the guy that keeps editing/polishing my own old stuff, so the fact that my average is still dropping precipitously must mean that my older stuff is just plain overwritten. I've used every trick in the book to shorten these older scripts, but they're still coming 10+ pages longer than my newer stuff. What's the difference? Genre? Too talky? Dunno.

I do know that the pre-writing outlining stage for my first script was a whopping 8-page outline. I remember at the time thinking, "What a waste of time; oh well." But I learned quickly. By the mid-third of my screenwriting output, my outlines were coming in at about 40-50 pages. I've attested many times to the fact that a detailed outline (for me) makes writing the final script a lot easier. Perhaps they help make for tighter writing? Probably.

So, let's see what everybody's first SPEC script was, eh?
catcon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 09:12 AM   #2
finalact4
Member
 
finalact4's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,164
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

i think anything under 120 is still acceptable.

there are some genres that are generally longer because the tech set up and world building require more detail: epics, sci-fi, action, some thrillers.

rom-coms, comedies, dramas and horror are typically shorter to support less complicated plots. they're also typically lower budgets. 90 pages seems to be the sweet spot, though there are exceptions.

there is also a difference between writing styles; some writers present scripts with a spartan style and lots of white space while other have dense action lines.
finalact4 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 09:23 AM   #3
Merrick
User
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 62
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

166. I know, I was already boiled, basted, flame thrown, chopped, and served in several other threads here about it.

But I have no interest in changing it at this moment. I polished it seven different ways, and that's what came out. I am proud of it.

Last edited by Merrick : 08-17-2019 at 01:18 PM.
Merrick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 10:43 AM   #4
Bono
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,659
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

I remember I was the opposite -- my early stuff was almost too short. I feel like I had 87 pages for my first one I wrote.... I was never a 120 page guy.

I think 93 minutes is the perfect runtime for a movie. Maybe 110 minutes for a tense thriller / horror movie, but in general. And yes there are plenty of movies I love that are longer...

You know what it truly is? Some short movies feel like weeks and some long movies feel like seconds. But we won't know that until we read the script or see the movie.

Jaws is a long movie at 2 hours 10 minutes, but it feels the perfect length watching it. So that's 130 pages if it's page per minute. But Something tells me the script was shorter.

I remember Braveheart script I got was so much shorter than movie because the action scenes said stuff like THEY FIGHT basically as he knew he was directing it.
Bono is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 10:54 AM   #5
lostfootage
Regular
 
lostfootage's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 397
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

My first script was a romantic comedy that came in at 155 pages. The first doorstop. That particular script I knew was just an exercise and I never went back to pare it down. I've written a couple rough drafts of other scripts that have an initial draft in the 130-140 page range and I get it down to 110 pages. The last draft of a feature I wrote was something like 105 pages?

I've been reading a number of the recent, shorter scripts and now have my own fantasy of writing a 90-page script.

But I still want to feel like a full movie. I recently read the script that had the bidding war called DON'T WORRY DARLING -- clocks in a 95 pages. Compared to THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, which had a draft at 103 pages and then the "for your consideration" draft at 85 pages.

DWD was overwritten at the scene level. Lots of distracting actor direction throughout. Take that out, and you're probably down to 65 pages of story. It felt thin. Good story there, but it does need some fleshing out. It doesn't really have full subplots. Just a singular problem.

THREE BILLBOARDS had much more development of the main story and the subplots. He gets a lot of story mileage from a minimal number of words. It felt like it had twice as much story as DWD.

So, I'd love to write a short feature that has a lot of story mileage. Not something that is short and feels under-baked.
lostfootage is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 01:33 PM   #6
GucciGhostXXX
Member
 
GucciGhostXXX's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 917
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

Quote:
Originally Posted by finalact4 View Post
i think anything under 120 is still acceptable.

there are some genres that are generally longer because the tech set up and world building require more detail: epics, sci-fi, action, some thrillers.

rom-coms, comedies, dramas and horror are typically shorter to support less complicated plots. they're also typically lower budgets. 90 pages seems to be the sweet spot, though there are exceptions.

there is also a difference between writing styles; some writers present scripts with a spartan style and lots of white space while other have dense action lines.
Agreed. I forget where I read you talking about how world building in sci-fi eats up hella page count. FUKKIN AGREED! I'd project that world building in sci-fi adds around 20 pages that take away from character building. Character building becomes WAY harder when you gotta explain how a, dumb example: a bed functions in the future.

In a drama you just say: Dude flops onto the bed, turns toward the LA skyline. We get it. In sci-fi it's: Dude flops onto a bed, diodes illuminate at the presence of skin. (then you gotta explain why, takes time on the page), then when he turns to face the skyline, what does that sh!t look like, function like, how is it smart and different. What's ironic about it? Sci-fi is FUKKIN HARD! Agreed!

Those pages you read were sci-fi. First draft (after hella cuts/rewrites) came in at 144? Got it down to 126 and was stuck. That's when I finally sent it to manager. With manager's help we got it to like 121, then 119, 117, then finally 115. And that's what finally went out.

Last feature was 113. Horror. I kinda liked the number "13" for personal reasons.

Oddly two of my pilots both came in at 67 pages. Both went into development, one sold. No one ever mentioned page count. I theorize that TV doesn't care about page count as much as the feature world, because they assume it's gonna get longer. But I wouldn't recommend 67 pages. 55 is the sweet spot IMO.

I think the new one is 57 pages?

OOPS... didn't answer the main question: First spec 110. Dark family drama.

Last edited by GucciGhostXXX : 08-16-2019 at 01:44 PM.
GucciGhostXXX is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 02:55 PM   #7
finalact4
Member
 
finalact4's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,164
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

just finished Wasteland's rewrite. was 128, got it down to 118 and even able to add prolly 5+ pages of clarity and character building.

this was the longest one i've ever written.

tracker was originally 117 i think, but then i reworked the beginning which sets up the science and the premise of actually experiencing a killers memory. the opening pages are all form the KILLER'S POV:. as if we are the killer. provocative imagery. dark. original.

all others are usually between 106 - 116 there abouts. sometimes it's a matter of deleting a subplot.
finalact4 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 06:58 PM   #8
Friday
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 494
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

Then there are the scripts that might be 110 pages, but seem to take forever to read. I think some times writers squeeze in more words on a page to make a 120 pages look like 110. So, you look at the clock and realize that you've only gotten to page 30, when normally you should be on page 50 by now.
Friday is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 07:57 PM   #9
catcon
Member
 
catcon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: London, Canada
Posts: 1,891
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

Well, you could be talking about a boring script that's 85 pages that seems like 125, but maybe also talking 'white space' that gives your eyes a break.

Time for a screensnap. I've used it before, to promote aggressive widow-orphan bashing, but it's also a macro look at white space in a script: White Space or Not

I go into preview mode, then shrink the pages way, way down so that big black blocks of text jump out pretty quickly. You just press the down arrow and surf through your scripts really fast, to see.

Anybody else ever tried this?
catcon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2019, 08:27 PM   #10
Friday
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 494
Default Re: SCRIPT LENGTH: let's take a poll

I heard an interview where a manager (can't remember who) who said they hate it when writers try to fudge the page count and squeeze a 130 page script into 110 pages. He said he feels frustrated when he realizes he only got through a few pages and it's taken up a huge chunk of time.
Friday is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:40 PM.


Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Done Deal Pro

eXTReMe Tracker