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Old 08-09-2005, 12:30 PM   #1
AaronB
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Default Script length?

Hi, all.

I just got my first zoetrope review, and I'm kind of stuck on the cusp between taking the reviewer's advice and taking the reviewer for a fool.

I'm not entirely certain he read the whole screenplay in any case, or he would have known that it's not an action/adventure. That aside, he wrote the following:

"To begin, your script is too short. The recommended length of a feature screenplay is 110 – 120 pages. However, for fast paced epics studios normally demand 140 – 160 pages of constant action."

My screenplay, which has about five pages of action at each end bookending 90 pages of drama, comes in at 101 pages overall. I don't think I'm going to lengthen it on this person's say-so, but what say you?
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Old 08-09-2005, 12:38 PM   #2
Joe Unidos
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Default Re: Script length?

Methink your reviewer is a foolish newbie, fresh to the game and drunk on the "facts" he or she has been able to glean in one or two months of being a internet "screenwriter."

Or the person is writing their review from 1990, via a time machine. That might explain the out-dated 120pg "requirement."

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Old 08-09-2005, 12:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: Script length?

I would say get more feedback from other sources before you make the changes. If it's patently clear that he didn't read the whole thing, I would say definately disregard his/her feedback.
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Old 08-09-2005, 12:44 PM   #4
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Default Re: Script length?

Never add length for the sake of length, unless you aspire to be a porn actor.



110 pages is a good mark to aim for.

Anytime you are significantly off that mark you can look at it is a good indicator that you may need to mine and explore your story and characters - or trim and focus so you more efficiently mine your story and characters.

It's all about developing your stories and characters.

101 pages could be symptomatic of underdeveloped plots and characters.

121 pages could be symptomatic of unfocused and ineffectively developed plots and characters.


EDIT TO ADD:

Don't be so quick to dismiss the reviewer's comments just because of the page count comments.

Look at what he/she had to say with an open mind and seriously consider anything that has a sound dramaturgical basis.

Although it may not come across very clearly in his/her comments, the reference to your page could actually be an attempt to articulate a dramaturgical problem of underdevelopment and unexploited dramatic potential.

It's an easy knee-jerk defensive reaction to dismiss a reviewer because of how you interpret their comments.

I think considering the comments and the underlying rationale for them with an open mind is good practice and will develop the skills you need for dealing with notes like a professional.

You will get all kinds of notes from your agent, producers, DEs, and talent. Learning how to deal with them is a necessary skill every professional writer must have.
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Last edited by Deus Ex Machine : 08-09-2005 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 08-09-2005, 12:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: Script length?

Well, there are a few sequences in the script that don't have any dialogue. Those sequences tend to run longer than one minute per page, and so tend to skew the run length upward for a given page count. I was shooting for the low side of 110 for that reason.
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Old 08-09-2005, 01:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: Script length?

Hi,

Mine is 111 pages, I spent 2 months working on the step outline, and reading 50 scripts before I stareting writing.

Then spent a month banging out a first draft. I've now into my third edit and still hanging around 111 pages even when cutting and adding stuff. I think my structure is good, but the writing needs a lot of work. Help.

It takes me 1 hour to edit 10 pages. Kite.
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Old 08-09-2005, 04:18 PM   #7
joe9alt
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Default Re: Script length?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deus Ex Machine
110 pages is a good mark to aim for.

Anytime you are significantly off that mark you can look at it is a good indicator that you may need to mine and explore your story and characters - or trim and focus so you more efficiently mine your story and characters.

It's all about developing your stories and characters.

101 pages could be symptomatic of underdeveloped plots and characters.
Deus, I've read your posts for awhile now both here and on two adverbs...i know you know the game. If 110 is the magic number why do industry professionals say 90 to 120 pages is a feature length script? I've actually always been told 90-120...the shorter the better. If the number to hit is 110 then why aren't these people saying 110-120?
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Old 08-09-2005, 04:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: Script length?

I can only tell you what I've been told and what my experiences have taught me.

90-120 is a good range. There is nothing wrong with it.


But 110 is the sweet spot.

Other's may have completely different advice and experiences.
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Old 08-09-2005, 04:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Script length?

Quote:
My screenplay, which has about five pages of action at each end bookending 90 pages of drama, comes in at 101 pages overall. I don't think I'm going to lengthen it on this person's say-so, but what say you?
Maybe what happen is that your opening set the wrong tone. If I was reading a script that started with a strong action beat, I would suspect that the rest of the screenplay would be action and I'd be looking for those beats every ten to fifteen pages.

As to your reader's point about what the studio wants, the only time I've read scripts over 120 pages usually is an adaptation of a book. Most action scripts I've read clock in way under 120....
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Old 08-09-2005, 04:56 PM   #10
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Default Re: Script length?

Quote:
Maybe what happen is that your opening set the wrong tone. If I was reading a script that started with a strong action beat, I would suspect that the rest of the screenplay would be action and I'd be looking for those beats every ten to fifteen pages.
I was thinking the same thing.

It doesn't seem like your reviewer was able to grasp the tone you are trying to convey. I guess that could, of course, be the fault of a brain dead reviewer, but it is at least something you should look strongly consider during revisions. IMO, that is the best piece of information the reviewer provided--even though he/she didn't intentionally provide it.
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