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Old 07-29-2004, 03:58 PM   #1
Explorer
 
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Default Average Number of Scenes in a Screenplay

I recently read in a book about film budgeting and scheduling that the average number of scenes in a typical 100 - 120 page screenplay is btw. 150 - 200 scenes. This is factoring 'scene within a scene' situations that would require an AD or production manager to divide a particular part of a script written as 1 scene into 2 or more scenes for scheduling purposes.

After reading this, I became a little concerned because my recently completed script has about 80 - 85 scenes, even after breaking out 'scene within a scene' situations.

Is my script 'light' in terms of number of scenes? Does it matter?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-29-2004, 04:38 PM   #2
Writer1
 
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50-60 sounds more like a correct number of scenes. Are you sure you're not confusing scenes with shots?
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Old 07-29-2004, 04:40 PM   #3
Roscoe P
 
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I think KILL BILL VOL. 1 had about 5 scenes. Obviously I'm kidding, but there weren't many.

I'm not a pro, but I think if your story keeps everyone's interest, it probably doesn't matter exactly how many scenes or scenes within scenes you have.
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Old 07-29-2004, 05:12 PM   #4
Explorer
 
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I went back and read it and it definitely said 150 - 200 scenes. The paragraph was talking about breakdown sheets that the AD/production manager has to do before making the production schedule; each scene is given its own breakdown sheet. As an extreme example, it mentioned that "The Conversation" with Gene Hackman had 500 scenes. For an AD/production manager, a scene is a single location at a particular time (i.e. day or night) with more or less a consistent number of principal actors. For them, a scene is less about the narrative and more about the number of set ups they have to do during filming.

I'm relieved that you said 50 - 60 scenes. Mine's around 70, but if you break apart the scene within a scene situations, the number goes up to about 85 or so.

An example of a scene within a scene - let's say the scene is a party with many guests. However, as the party winds down, only two guests are remaining and we focus on their conversation. For an AD/production manager, that's considered 2 scenes even though it may be written as one.
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Old 07-29-2004, 05:23 PM   #5
niklash
 
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I don't get this discussion. A scene is a scene heading, right? For example: INT. BEDROOM - DAY, that's a scene heading and that's a scene. A sequence is something else, it's a couple of scene headings in a row, connected to each other, like going from the outside of the house to the inside, and then out again. That's a sequence. I've done some counting myself of famous, produced hollywood scripts. One of the lowest number of scene headings I could find was pulp fiction, it was something like 100. The highest was Godzilla, like 280 or something, it might've included shots. Okay, but the number of scene headings I could find on most movies was something like 120-190, with something like 170 as average. I've also read about the average 40-50 scenes in a movie, but I don't get it, they must be talking about scene sequences?
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Old 07-29-2004, 08:30 PM   #6
BetterThanNormal
 
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Ya know I don't mean to rag on anyone but I wish people would stop worrying about things like scene/page count. None of this matters if your script is a great story, well told. Page count might be an issue, but scene count? Never. Besides you can always alter the page count later by cheating your script when it's finished. So stop worrying about the little sh1t and just write!

BTN
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Old 07-29-2004, 08:48 PM   #7
filmcarver
 
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Five hundred scenes is most likely 500 camera angles/shots within those scenes.

A scene is a from a location, and there may be multilple INT and EXT shots within each location.

Understanding what elements besides talent can run costs up or down is not a bad thing, particularly when writing indie type works. A great, terse story combined with lower budget options for shooting can be attractive, leaving more funds for post production and above the line talent.

All said, tell the best story possible.
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Old 07-29-2004, 09:35 PM   #8
BetterThanNormal
 
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Understanding all of the elements that can influence the production costs of a screenplay is not a bad thing but it's not something that screenwriters, particularly new ones should be overly concerned with. Asking any writer to take into consideration such obscure things as post production and "above the line talent" costs can be inhibiting and distracting to the creative process. Having an understanding of the basic requirements and limitations of the genre and/or production level you are writing for is sufficient. Sitting there with a calculator and worrying about how many scenes to leave out to help pay for craft services is ridiculous. That's what producers and production managers are for.

BTN
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Old 07-30-2004, 02:45 AM   #9
niklash
 
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Default Know everything...

I personally think a screenwriter should optimize his/hers knowledge of the craft in every way possible. Knowing the deal about number of scene headings is one of them. You should f*ing know the average number of words in a screenpay. No surprises here. You want to minimize the numbers of situations where you can say: "Oh, I didn't know that." From the common advice like show don't tell, less is more, have an active Protagonist.... down to smaller and lesser and not as important things like having two spaces before a scene heading or having a wild, serious discussion about if you're going to use Acco brads. No 5 or 6. Know everything to the bone is my motto.
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Old 07-30-2004, 11:46 AM   #10
Deus Ex Machine
 
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Default Re: Know everything...

The average length of a scene is two pages. The average length of a script is 115 pages. The average number of scenes in a script is 57.5.

This of course means nothing.
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