Reformatting from left-justified

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  • #31
    Re: Reformatting from left-justified

    I was glad to hear that you enjoy Fade In. It is definitely the screenwriting application for any serious writer. (Yeah, yeah, I know all about "You've got to use Final Draft, because it's the standard," etc., but if you actually sell anything and somebody insists that you use Final Draft, you can then fork out the money for that overpriced program). By the way, Final Draft is really a file format, when you get right down to it, and Fade In can import and save files in Final Draft .fdx file format; I have traded files back and forth with Final Draft users with no problem. The price is only $80, and you can use it on all your personal computers.


    As for margins ...


    Look, every professional who has ever posted here says not to tinker with margins to try to fool anybody about number of pages. Use standard margins.


    Now, having said that, I will add that there is no strict standard for margins. Final Draft itself, which is often used as the standard for everything, includes several screenplay templates, and they do not have the same margins (at least not all of them).


    In my opinion, the Final Draft margins make the dialogue column too narrow by one or two characters. You end up with a lot of very short lines, because long words at the end of a line (if they do not fit) wrap to the next line.


    You ought to read my articles on Fade In, available here. You can also download my Bells-and-Whistles template for Fade In. That is what I use. It is very similar to the Final Draft template in terms of margins, except that I use a slightly wider dialogue column (two characters, I think).


    Seriously, read the articles and my Quick Start. The Quick Start is out of date, because I wrote it a few years ago, but it still gets you going. The articles cover some really great features of Fade In.


    The default Fade In screenwriting template is good except that it uses a left margin (the page margin) that is smaller than the more standard 1.5". The programmer, Kent Tessman, may have done this to accommodate A4 paper. I do not know. I am used to thinking in terms of US Letter paper (8.5 x 11").


    Good luck, and let us know how things go!

    EDIT TO ADD:
    When you are finally through, and if you have a Fade In script with the watermarks, you are welcome to send it to me. I will open it in Fade In, save it, and return it to you. I will also make a PDF for you.

    But you really ought to get Fade In if you are serious about screenwriting and you do not want to go the Final Draft route.

    "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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    • #32
      Re: Reformatting from left-justified

      Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
      You ought to read my articles on Fade In, available here. You can also download my Bells-and-Whistles template for Fade In. That is what I use. It is very similar to the Final Draft template in terms of margins, except that I use a slightly wider dialogue column (two characters, I think).
      You can also download extra templates from Fade In's site. One of those templates is Final Draft — and that can be made your default template on startup (if that's what you want). (Fade In also offers Warner and Cole & Haag templates.) Of course these can all be tweaked even more.

      https://www.fadeinpro.com/page.pl?content=download

      I think I'll take a look ComicBent's Bells-and-Whistles.
      STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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      • #33
        Re: Reformatting from left-justified

        Originally posted by Merrick View Post
        My film has a large amount of dialogue, a good portion of it meant to be spoken quickly. So I don't think it's fudging that it would come out around 3 hours or just below.

        I don't want to freak anyone out with page counts. I started doing even further editing in Fade In and already got rid of 1 page by page 10. At that rate, I can get to around 167.
        First, I applaud everyone in this thread so far for being helpful to Merrick/you. But I'm going to have to be a little bit of the dissenting voice in all this. I thought I would at least wait until you ran your script through an actual script program before I finally noted anything. You seem like a decent, earnest person, so I'm noting the following to try to help.

        I wouldn't suggest anyone send out even a 167 page script. This is your first script and you've never done this before. There is little to no doubt in my mind it needs to be trimmed considerably and probably rewritten a few more times.

        I'm not saying it needs to be 120 pages because of this or that rule. Not at all. But 167 pages is not going to go over well with people. And before anyone comes up with the "one in a million" exceptions or notes that Tarantino does this or Cameron does that or Sorkin and (Eric) Roth did it, please don't. You should at the very least cut your script down to closer to 130 pages or so. Get good feedback on it from people who really know what they are talking about it. It can be trimmed and polished. Think about it. Who makes three hours movies? Very, very, very, very few have ever been made in the whole history of film. Again, not saying you follow some formula, but be smart about it. Don't rush. In pretty much every case, you get one shot at people reading your script.

        And don't send U.S. producers a PDF in A4 format. Though most will simply read the PDF, I've never had A4 paper in any offices I worked in and wouldn't even know how to get it. Send it in standard US letter/8 1/2 x 11 format. Don't give people any additional reasons to be thrown off or to mentally ding your script. If you send it to UK/European producers, then absolutely use A4, so it's something they are used to. If you get lucky enough to get someone to take a submission from you, make it as easy as possible for them to say, "Yes, we like it."
        Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 08-13-2019, 07:44 PM.
        Will
        Done Deal Pro
        www.donedealpro.com

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        • #34
          Re: Reformatting from left-justified

          Thank you all, and I understand your words Will.

          The difference is as I mentioned - I'm not seeking first and foremost to make this a career. So, I wrote what I wanted in the length I wanted. Hacking it down has actually been more about tightening the dialogue and descriptions so it flows more quickly.

          Will a long script turn some people off? Definitely. Will it prevent the film from being made? Possibly.

          But, I'm not interested in changing what I wrote just to fit a page count.

          If it makes it into the hands of seasoned professionals who like it but see ways around its length, I would be very open to convincing arguments. As mentioned, I did a beta read round with 10 individuals of different backgrounds and tried to implement fixes for all their major concerns, even rewriting a major supporting character.

          I spent 1 1/2 years on it and four drafts. At some point, you have to say "this is done," otherwise it will never be.

          If this is my one shot and the US studio system ignores or rejects it, that is fine. I still have the European market, private investors, crowdfunding, etc.

          You could be 100% right, but I don't want to be discouraged by numbers or staring at page count. I'm trying to get it as lean as possible to make it as attractive as possible. But hacking it down that short could mean cutting some major supporting scenes that would change the overall meaning. I'm trying to be ruthless as I go through.

          It's unfortunate that films are bound by such numbers. Books can be 50-1000 pages, so it's strange to say a story cannot be told in 80 or 300 pages. I understand in the latter case, most of them are not interesting. But it is possible to do so.

          I appreciate the feedback, and you could be right. Perhaps I'll keep my modified margins but change to Letter. It added 10 pages, sadly ... but at least it should be formatted for US printing.

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          • #35
            Re: Reformatting from left-justified

            Whelp...

            Im'a agree with Will.

            How can I say this with ettiequte?: IN AMERICA 167 PAGES = FUKKING DEATH TO YOUR SCRIPT!!!

            Why not have an "American draft" if you're playing in the American marketplace? I don't believe (and you don't care, I get it) that this can't be cut to 120.

            Having said that, Jewerl Ross read a super fukkin long script he dug. So????? But did he sell it as written? I don't know that part of the story.

            Just, your odds go way down for people actually READING it.

            Also, in the Jewerl Ross scenario, someone he TRUSTED swore the script was great.

            Do you have this ally to speak for you? That matters. A lot!

            As for margins. Dude, I fukk with them every time. This is a dumb note (not trying to pick on Will, specifically, I mean industry wide it's a dumb note).

            Here's why: You ever been in post?

            You'll learn in post that page count is fukking irrelevant. As an ex-composer. DUDE... the scenes went from, like, 7 minutes, to 3 minutes. I'm talking scenes they swore to me were locked. "Here's the locked scene, score it." Cool. "Never mind made some edits, change EVERYTHING."

            Seriously, I wonder if studio execs even understand what timecode IS? Seems like, no.

            Idk why this margin sh!t matters to people. When I hear that gripe my immediate thought is... "Bruh, you ever fukked around in post production? You sure you get what this is [MAKING a movie]? You get how many edits are made at the very end that change timecode, constantly (i.e. page count) it's fukking drastic in the editing bay." That's FOR REAL where the movie is MADE. The script? Meh... it's just a THING to kinda consider.

            (Not a slam on Will, nor his good advice, general comment on the industry)
            Bruh, fukkin *smooches*! Feel me? Ha!

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            • #36
              Re: Reformatting from left-justified

              I understand very well. I'm going out first round with trusted friends and allies and hoping it speaks to some of them, who will help me champion it with a wider group of industry pros. In my beta round, included was an actor and editor, and they were two of the biggest champions of it. At an even greater length than it is now.

              This next round will go to a wider group of pros and see what happens from there.

              I should state that in my other career, I have something of a fanbase and could crowdfund a decent portion of this. Just at the mere mention of the project, I had someone willing to donate a few thousand bucks sight unseen, just a fan.

              That is irrelevant at the moment, as I want to write and make the best film possible and have it actually distributed, even in limited release.

              It is first and foremost a human drama, and I think even a pro production of this wouldn't exceed 10 mil. Probably 5 if it was handled smartly.

              So, yes it's long. But it's not an overly expensive project, considering.

              I have no track record in features, however. So, I understand still there is no comparison with Tarantino, Sorkin, Roth.

              I don't want to hack it down to gut the meaning or the atmosphere. Perhaps it would get financed at 120, but it wouldn't be the film I would want to make.

              That said, so it sounds like messing with the margins is fine. But what is your take on A4 vs. Letter? So far Will says it matters, but does it not? If I go out with A4, it will take off 10 pages.

              I'm now editing the final script in-line, and hacking out as many lines as possible. It's down to 190 Letter, 180 A4. I'm on page 35 and taking out 1 page per 10 as I go through. I still feel confident I can get it down to around 165 A4.

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              • #37
                Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                Gee, there are times when I really, really wish that Jeff Lowell and Craig Mazin were here.

                Everything that Will said is true.

                I do not intend to repeat and discuss everything that other people and I have already said. I am only going to mention a couple of things.

                You are not going to solve your basic problem by tinkering with margins and, even worse, formatting for A4 paper.

                For those who do not know, A4 paper is 8.3 x 11.7" in size. The width is almost the same as US Letter paper, which is 8.5 x 11" in size, but the slightly longer page means that a couple of extra lines can be squeezed in.

                You need to cut the script as much as you can, and then you need to format it for US Letter paper, with "standard" margins (i.e., something close to the Final Draft template margins).

                Then you can get some people who know what they are doing to read the script. If you are really serious about this, get someone like The Screenplay Mechanic (he has a sticky thread in one of our forums) to read it. He has a very reasonable fee for reading scripts, and he is very good. He will give you the unvarnished truth.

                Happy writing!

                "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                  Gotcha, that's what I'm aiming for. Sadly, it will get me around 170 pages.

                  Yes, I am well-aware of common wisdom. I'm not interested in hitting a page number just for a commercial sale. I understand where that puts me, don't worry.

                  I'm very sure someone could look at it and say "hack this and this." But I'm not looking to make a snappy film that goes a zillion miles an hour. I like some of those kinds of films. But that's not what this is and in my mind would degrade it.

                  Again, I understand common wisdom. Just understand that people are trying to tell me to hit a page number without having a hint of what my film's about.

                  So, just think about which of those sounds crazier? Or do they both sound equally crazy.

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                  • #39
                    Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                    Originally posted by GucciGhostXXX View Post
                    As for margins. Dude, I fukk with them every time. This is a dumb note (not trying to pick on Will, specifically, I mean industry wide it's a dumb note).

                    Here's why: You ever been in post?

                    You'll learn in post that page count is fukking irrelevant. As an ex-composer. DUDE... the scenes went from, like, 7 minutes, to 3 minutes. I'm talking scenes they swore to me were locked. "Here's the locked scene, score it." Cool. "Never mind made some edits, change EVERYTHING."

                    Seriously, I wonder if studio execs even understand what timecode IS? Seems like, no.

                    Idk why this margin sh!t matters to people. When I hear that gripe my immediate thought is... "Bruh, you ever fukked around in post production? You sure you get what this is [MAKING a movie]? You get how many edits are made at the very end that change timecode, constantly (i.e. page count) it's fukking drastic in the editing bay." That's FOR REAL where the movie is MADE. The script? Meh... it's just a THING to kinda consider.

                    (Not a slam on Will, nor his good advice, general comment on the industry)
                    I don't understand how any of this relates to what I noted; and I've read it three times now.

                    I didn't say any thing about margins in any way. Right? Though I wouldn't recommend fudging with them too much. The script will most likely get reformatted at the very least by the POC since they will manage the revision pages, etc.. But more importantly than that, before things even get really rolling, someone will bring in a pro to "time" the script -- usually a script supervisor -- so they really have a better idea of how it is playing in a "truer" sense than just page count. Even though that can and usually does change too during shooting.

                    I've worked all the way through on four studio feature films including posts: assemble edits, rough cuts, re-cutting, spotting, scoring, etc. I've been through it on two indie films as a producer -- nothing to brag about but I've been through it. I've also cut films myself and yes, things change quite a bit in post. As it's been said, the film/script is rewritten in post. That's where it truly comes together in so many ways. I've given quite a few notes on cuts of films for filmmakers too. (Did it twice for films my wife wrote for a cable network.)

                    And I know what time code is. Heck, I cut projects using edge code on 16 mm. That's how old I am.
                    Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 08-14-2019, 07:41 AM.
                    Will
                    Done Deal Pro
                    www.donedealpro.com

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                      Originally posted by Merrick View Post
                      Again, I understand common wisdom. Just understand that people are trying to tell me to hit a page number without having a hint of what my film's about.

                      So, just think about which of those sounds crazier? Or do they both sound equally crazy.
                      They are not equally crazy. Just for the record, I'm not telling you to hit an exact page account. I'm just saying you should look through all a few more times to be safe.

                      You should absolutely do whatever you want. It's your script. It's your life.

                      But please understand, I've (professionally) read, covered and done notes on I don't even know how many scripts at this point. I've written scripts (nothing great). I've re-written & polished scripts (nothing big). I've worked on movies. And I've read queries, received & read countless submissions, etc. from all levels of writers. You get a very innate sense about things at a certain point.

                      All the best to you on this. Truly.
                      Will
                      Done Deal Pro
                      www.donedealpro.com

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                        Thank you very much. Trust me, I understand. And I might be completely nuts and eat my words later.

                        I just did a round of edits in OOO and now I'm finishing a round of edits in Fade In. I think I literally managed to hack out 40 pages.

                        It still puts me around 170.

                        Shrug.

                        Honestly, I wish it hit 120. Would make my life easier. But I'm not looking to sacrifice story and tone for a page number. For me, it's the narrative that comes first.

                        In a total pull the rip cord scenario, I could crowdfund the whole thing and make it ultra low budget. But that would only be after exhausting all options.

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                        • #42
                          Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                          Originally posted by Done Deal Pro View Post
                          I don't understand how any of this relates to what I noted; and I've read it three times now.

                          I didn't say any thing about margins in any way. Right? Though I wouldn't recommend fudging with them too much. The script will most likely get reformatted at the very least by the POC since they will manage the revision pages, etc.. But more importantly than that, before things even get really rolling, someone will bring in a pro to "time" the script -- usually a script supervisor -- so they really have a much better idea of how it is playing in a more "true" time sort of way. Even though that can change to during shooting.

                          I've worked all the way through on four studio feature films including posts: assemble edits, rough cuts, re-cutting, spotting, scoring, etc. I've been through it on two indie films as a producer -- nothing to brag about but I've been through it. I've also cut films myself and yes, things change quite a bit in post. As it's been said, the film/script is rewritten in post. That's where it truly comes together in so many ways. I've given quite a few notes on cuts of films for filmmakers too. (Did it twice for films my wife wrote for a cable network.)

                          And I know what time code is. Heck, I cut projects using edge code on 16 mm. That's how old I am.
                          Ha! No worries. It was my mini-rant on "perfect" margins. Didn't the OP mention margins? Maybe I imagined it. Wasn't disagreeing with anything you said. All sound advice. Nor assuming that you didn't understand what timecode was.

                          Agreed! I wouldn't do anything drastic with margin fudging. Also, wasn't meaning to imply that fooling with margins is a way to cut a 170 page script to a readable length. I'd aim for 2-3 pages at most with margin fussing (I do it for "widows" hate 'em). Personally, I think anything over 120 and people are gonna assume it's bloated. 110 is the magic number in my mind. That's 60 pages over.

                          Okay, 16mm, you're legit old-school! Thumbs up!

                          Jokes aside, I get that creatives get what timecode and post is like. I'm saying the suits (particularly agents) often have no idea how that world works. So for them to be so nit picky about margins and page count, I don't think they even understand why it doesn't super matter (within reason).

                          To get back to Merrick's page count problem: I agree with everyone else that 170 pages is WAY too long, from a budget standpoint alone. But, I'm beginning to wonder if maybe he's right that nothing can be cut from his EPIC MASTERPIECE. Reason being, my manager got my last script at 135 pages. I was like "dude... I honestly don't know what to cut. Help!" He's like "Because this felt rushed at the end and should probably be longer... as in TV show. How do you feel about repurposing it as a TV show?" So that's what we did.

                          Maybe Merrick is trying to stuff a TV show [limited series perhaps?] into a film format. If that's the case it could be longer. I'd seriously consider whether or not it was written in the wrong format (TV v Film). Have you thought of that, Merrick?

                          It's not an easy transition to reformat. It's not cut n' paste. It's hard. Then you gotta make a show bible too. More time. But maybe that's your problem???

                          Who knows when it's sight unseen.
                          Last edited by GucciGhostXXX; 08-14-2019, 08:13 AM.
                          Bruh, fukkin *smooches*! Feel me? Ha!

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                            It has aspects of a series to it, but it's a feature. It's not episodic. Maybe your script needs to be 170?

                            I'm just saying.

                            I've seen 90 minute movies that are way too long and 120 minute movies that are too short.

                            I rewatched History of Violence the other night. That film is too short. It built this great world and didn't take the time to explore it.

                            I could be deluding myself that I'm a good writer, no doubt about that. But a story should be as long as it needs to be. That is true.

                            I'm assuming that most screenwriters who go above 120 just don't know how to tell a tight story, but that's not my case here.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                              Originally posted by Merrick View Post
                              It has aspects of a series to it, but it's a feature. It's not episodic. Maybe your script needs to be 170?

                              I'm just saying.

                              I've seen 90 minute movies that are way too long and 120 minute movies that are too short.

                              I rewatched History of Violence the other night. That film is too short. It built this great world and didn't take the time to explore it.

                              I could be deluding myself that I'm a good writer, no doubt about that. But a story should be as long as it needs to be. That is true.

                              I'm assuming that most screenwriters who go above 120 just don't know how to tell a tight story, but that's not my case here.

                              Mine could have absolutely gone to 170. One problem. Nobody would have read it at 170. At least not in Hollywood. But, my first problem would have been that there's no way in hell my manager would have sent it out at 170. I'm not even sure he'd read it at 170.

                              Repurposing it into TV allowed the story to breathe. It just wasn't gonna work as a film without me feeling like I was cutting into bone. I was attached to direct if it was a film. But, even as the writer/director even if I got it greenlit at 135 pages, I would have wanted to cut it to around 110. Which would mean I'd have to kill off the B-story and make it 100% about the A-story. Making it a TV show meant I got to keep everything and add more (at least in bible form). The 1st act became the pilot. Thus, I added 25 pages to the first act in order for it to work as an arcing pilot that FELT like a pilot and not just drag and drop of the 1st act.

                              If yours HAS to be a movie (in your mind). I dunno, man, you may have to crowd fund it. You're gonna have an incredibly difficult time getting anyone in Hollywood to read it. That's just the reality of page count.


                              Good luck!
                              Bruh, fukkin *smooches*! Feel me? Ha!

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                                Originally posted by Merrick View Post
                                Thank you very much. Trust me, I understand. And I might be completely nuts and eat my words later.
                                Sounds like you've accomplished what you set out to do at the beginning of this thread. Now the thread has gone another direction (which happens a lot here).

                                Best of luck.
                                STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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