Clear Information to Help Writers Understand the Entertainment Industry
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
IT’S HOW MANY PAGES??????????
Last night I was reading an indy comedy. The script was great. It was funny and sweet and original and the writer had a strong voice. The only problem….. its 124 pages long. You can’t have too mush of a good thing right? Well actually in this case, yeah you can. You see if a company makes this, it’s going to be on a shoe string budget and every page in the script is more money the story takes to shoot, so at 124 pages producers will either Pass or say “cut 34 pages from the script.” My advice, cut them off at the pass. Cut the number of pages down to whatever it should be in the first place before sending it out. And make sure that as you do you maintain the script's appropriate structural balance. If you’re not sure how long your script should be, make a list of the three films made within the last ten years that are most like your movie in terms of cast, genre and size/scope (budget). Now look up how long they are on IMDB, take the average. Remember it's one page per minute. That’s how long your screenplay can be. Not a single page more. This is one more little thing that communicates to the reader you’re a professional. If I was designing a car, I wouldn’t give Toyota plans for a 21 foot long midsize car, or a subcompact that cost the consumer $100k. The same is true of your screenplay. In a marketplace where people will pass for just about any reason… don’t give them one. And don’t spit in the wind, don’t tug on Superman’s cape, don’t check into a hotel with Angela Lansbury, don’t wear a red shirt on Star Trek, don’t pull a gun on Little Joe (yes that’s some Old School TV), and never ever be so bold as to ask anyone on Lost to completely explain anything.