1. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    Screenwriting Script writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by the1, Jan 2, 2014.

    I sort of understand the difference between a spec script and a shooting script, in the sense that the shooting script includes numbering and small directions for use by the production team. However, I am a little unclear of exactly how a spec script should be formatted.

    I have never written a screenplay before however I intend to dabble in that area soon and would like to know the proper etiquette in terms on the formatting. I have searched for a few scripts online and they all seem to be the shooting script which is not completely helpful.

    My main question is how should scenes be written in a spec script. I have been told not to include numbering in the spec script so in terms of writing a scene, do I write the whole scene and then move onto the next one? Or to be clearer, say there are two scenes happening simultaneously, and I would like to cut between them. Is it okay to alternate between the two different scenes a number of times (or would this be considered the job of the shooting script?) Am I simply meant to write out the two scenes in their entirety separately?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    unfortunately, spec scripts are hard to impossible to find, but i mentor screenwriters and will be happy to show you examples of specs and help you learn the craft, if you want to email me with your questions...

    meanwhile, here are just a few of the basics re a spec script:

    format is exactly the same as a shooting or director's script... only difference is the lack of certain technical details:

    no scene #s
    no camera directions [e.g. pan/close-up]
    no editing directions [e.g. dissolve/fade to]
    no editing directions that should be left up to the director

    scenes are headed with a 'slug line' [scene heading] just as you see in the shooting scripts, but without the #... and you go from one scene to another simply with a new slug line...

    if two scenes are happening at the same time and you want to intercut, all you need do is add 'AT THE SAME TIME' to the end of the slug line... decision to intercut them is the director's province, not the writer's... when/if you get to where you've a couple of gold guys hanging out on your bookshelf, then you can add all the stuff like that you want and may get away with it... but not now...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  3. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I need to get my lazy bum into gear writing a screenplay I told someone I would write. That aside, said someone sent me some links I thought I would share in the event you find them useful:

    http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/screenplay-format-a-guide-to-industry-standard-script-formatting.html

    http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/a-glossary-of-screenwriting-terms-and-filmmaking-definitions.html

    http://www.writersstore.com/how-to-write-a-screenplay-a-guide-to-scriptwriting/
     
  4. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    Thank you for the advice @mammamaia that certainly helps be a lot. I will send you an email as I would love to read a few examples of spec scripts if at all possible.

    @heal41hp thanks for those links I will give them a read as well :)
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    unfortunately, the examples heal linked to above do not reflect spec script mandates...

    they include things you should not be putting in a spec, such as transitions and camera directions...
     
  6. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Suggest you hang around sites like donedealpro.com which focus on screenwriting. You'll pick it up quickly.

    This is incorrect.
     
  7. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    Oops. My bad. Sorry! I'll leave responses up to those who can tell their behinds from a hole in the ground.
     
  8. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I've been told also that for spec scripts, you should not have any transitions, camera directions, etc. Only slugs, action and dialog. At least for unknown script writers.

    In fact, I've been told that by people here, but I've seen transitions used sparingly in first drafts, so I question the mindless adherence to that rule.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i beg to differ... what makes you think it is?

    of course it does not apply to established screenwriters who are known to the industry... but my comments were in reference to spec scripts by unknown new writers only... which i thought would be obvious, since the op fits that description...
     
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  10. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    You should question it. It's a myth propagated by people who know little better. There are plenty of discussions about this around the net.

    Nobody will reject your script because you've got FADE TO etc in there.

    They'll reject it if your story is terrible.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014
  11. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    I have another question which I thought I might throw out there. In terms of practicing screenwriting of course I would love to have a go at writing my own original story. But I am just wondering what I should know in terms of writing a screenplay for a great novel I just read. The main purpose of this would be for me to practice writing in screenplay form however, in terms of selling a screenplay adaptation would this be at all possible? Obviously permissions would need to be sought for it to actually be made, but is there anything stopping me from writing it for practice and if I am happy with what has been produced to then send it to an agent?
     
  12. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    No. It would be rejected at the door. They probably won't even give you a critique. It would be fine to practice, but in reality, you'll need to have permission before you even submit it.

    Hollywood wants to own anything and everything. I'm working on a story I refuse to sell the rights to, so I will probably have a very hard time getting it produced, but I don't care. I'm not selling the rights to the story and characters. I'll take it to my grave before I give it up.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    robert is right in re submitting an adaptation you had no permission from the novel's author to write...

    and if you write it for practice, don't let anyone see it, till you have written permission from the author, if you don't want to find yourself in legal hot water...
     
  14. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    That's what you do when you sell a screenplay. You sell the rights.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. The rights remain yours. You lease use of your product under specific conditions for a specified period, in exchange for contracted payment or other considerations.
     
  16. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    Thanks for the responses everyone, I thought as much :)
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...actually, cog, screenwriters often do sell all rights to their work... here's an explanation [bolded by me] from:
    http://voices.yahoo.com/deciding-between-script-option-script-purchase-6833888.html
    ----------------------------------------------
    Script or Screenplay PURCHASE

    A purchase involves your sale of the script to another party. It's really simple but there are certain nuances. These nuances are called rights. Typically when a producer buys your script he/she buys (or wants to buy) all rights to it. This means that the benefits of ownership of the screenplay transfer to the buyer from the seller. If a producer buys all rights to the screenplay they can do whatever they want with the story. It can be made into a movie, a book, a made-for-TV movie, a comic book, a web series -- whatever.

    If you sell all rights to your screenplay and it becomes a monster blockbuster hit with merchandising, toys, graphic novel etc, you get none of the money. Your money came from the sale of the screenplay.

    However, rights can be negotiated separately as part of the overall screenplay sale. For example, you can sell all rights to the screenplay with a contract clause that a percentage of all licensing income be paid to you. If you've written a story like Toy Story and there are obvious merchandising opportunities, it's to your benefit to add the clause or rider for merchandising -- or you can basically increase your price. For example, instead of $300k plus 10% of all merchandising, you can sell the script for $600k. This way you take the money and run, instead of waiting to be paid quarterly.
    ----------------------------------------------------

    ...newbies will often sell all rights just to make a sale... it gives them 'street cred' to have a script produced, so it makes good sense to do it, from a career pov... and even if the producer goes on to make big bucks on tv spinoffs, or whatever, the screenwriter will still be getting on-screen and in-print credit for his/her original work, so it's not a major sacrifice...
     
  18. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I'd be willing to take less money up front in favor of keeping the story to develop. As it is, there is 12,000 years of back story and only an infinitesimal amount will show up in the feature scripts. Additionally, the time lapse between second and third is anywhere from 300-500 years, so there is a large chunk of stories that could be written about it. I would also be very offended if they did to my story what they did to Star Trek or Superman.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    one famous screenwriter once disclosed in an interview that after he'd sold a script he'd slaved over and loved dearly, it went through so many rewrites that when he saw the final product [a box office hit, btw], only one of his original scenes had remained intact...

    when the interviewer asked him how he felt about his 'baby' having been killed off, he made that most telling of all cliched comebacks, 'I cried all the way to the bank!'

    this is the practical attitude most pros take, since they're writing for a living... and it's a fact of life in the biz, that scripts will almost never [if not actually never] be produced exactly as written...
     
  20. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    You will get the opportunity to develop it. Beyond your contractual rewrite obligations, you'll probably do free rewrites.

    But if they don't like what you do, they'll just get another writer.

    You're not even guaranteed a screenwriting credit.
     
  21. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Not just newbs. The rights go to the buyer nearly all the time.

    I'm talking about original specs in the US.
     

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