1. The Piper

    The Piper Contributor Contributor

    Dec 28, 2016
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    Screenwriting Scriptwriting Questions

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by The Piper, Mar 6, 2018.

    Hi everyone,

    Giving screenplays another go (amongst 1200 other projects, I'm sure we all know that feeling!) and as some of you may have seen before I'm not the best at this. But I've come up with a (horror) idea that I want to try as a script rather than a novel, and had a few questions about the actual technicalities of scriptwriting.

    1. Obviously horror movies rely on sound a lot - is this something that I include in the script, or does the director/whoever look at the script and decide what kind of music to use where? And if it's down to me, how exactly do I write it?

    2. Page count - I tend to notice that most horror movies are around 90 minutes, rather than a standard 2 hour film. (I know times differ through every genre, but as a generalisation they seem to be shorter). Would it be advisable to write based on the shorter 90 minute time (and therefore roughly 90 pages of script) or aim for a higher run time?

    3. Twists - obviously in some cases a big plot twist is hinted at throughout the film. Any "clues" would obviously need to be clear in the script to whoever's producing it, but do I need to explain (in the script) why they are there?

    4. Sound effects - do I use the tag "SFX" to prefix these, or do I just describe sounds in the action text?

    Any help with these questions would be greatly appreciated. As well as that, if anyone has any general advice for this sort of thing, I'd love to hear it!!

    Thank you,
  2. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Jul 24, 2017
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    The great white north.
    Here's a link to an early draft of the Alien script. If you read through it you can see how music and sound effects are handled. As for length, if you're planning on selling the script, then I'd say go with the more saleable run time. If 90 minutes are what seems to be selling in that genre, then clean and polished 90 page (within a margin of error) script is probably your best bet. If you're working on the film yourself or closely related to the crew and director doing so, then actual page length is probably less of issue and taking cues from them is likely more important.
  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

    Jan 8, 2017
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    Rhode Island
    No, I wouldn't unless it's something important to the stage direction. Like if a character hears a monster screaming in the next room or something. But if it's just the typical jump-scares the ominous sound effect will be implied.

    Most the generic horror movies tend to stick to 90 minutes, which would equate to 90 pages. My theory with that is most horror movies are downright awful and holding even an adolescent's attention span for 90 minutes of horror-schlock is problematic enough. However, if it's a more high-concept piece that happens to involve horror elements, you can probably push it up to 120 pages, but I wouldn't go any longer than that.

    Haha, no. You don't need to tell anyone you're twisting the plot before it twists. Including a footnote or something (*this scene is setting up a plot twist later) will likely get you laughed from the proverbial building.

    I've never seen the "SFX" prompt, but it's been a while since I've read any scripts. Usually the effect is capped like GUNSHOT, TIRES SQUEALING, or TREES CRASHING or something. Again, these are only important as far as stage direction and character interaction is concerned.

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