Writing a script for a movie isn’t easy. But this guide is meant to help you.
Below, we will tell you how to write a script for a movie without a hassle, cover basic rules and requirements, and break down a great script example from True Conviction PBS.
Movie Script Definition
A movie script or a screenplay is a document, typically between 70 and 180 pages long, that serves as the base for a film’s production and describes each scene and dialogue in detail.
If you are writing a movie script for college, you can handle this task using a trusted write my essay service. But if you decide to do it yourself, further we will cover the basic details!
Movie Script Format
Before writing a script for a movie, you need to know how to format this document properly.
Here are the standard formatting rules you should follow:
- Courier font set at 12-point size;
- Left-side margin - 1.5 inches;
- Right-side, top, and bottom margins - all 1 inch;
- Every dialogue block should start with a 2.5-inch indent from the left side;
- Names of characters have to be typed with uppercase letters and placed with a 3.7-inch indent from the left side;
- The document must have page numbers located at the upper right corner with a 0.5-inch margin from the top, and each number should be followed by a period (except the first page that remains unnumbered);
- The document must have around 55 lines per page.
These are the general rules to follow. Now let’s break down a standard movie script format into specific page elements:
- Fade In - The first element on the page, located in the upper right corner above the scene number and used for marking the start of the screenplay.
- Scene number - Right under the Fade In element follows the scene number. It is only used in the shooting script.
- Scene heading - In the upper left part of the page, under the scene number, a writer must provide a one-line description of the scene, including the location and time of the day.
- Action - Under the scene heading follows a brief description of the things taking place in the scene.
- Transition - Located on the left side of the page, this element is used to provide transitional instructions.
After these elements, follows the script’s body, with all characters, dialogue, subheadings, intercuts, extensions, etc. All these extras are added to provide additional instructions.
So this is how you should typically format your screenplay to make it look great.
Movie Script Fonts & Margins
On the one hand, it can feel like the content and provided remarks are the most important things in a script. It is true. But in the professional movie industry, formatting plays a no less crucial role. This is why it’s pivotal to use the right fonts and margins throughout the entire document.
As mentioned earlier, Courier 12pt is the standard font for writing movie scripts. This font is perfect for this kind of document as it creates the right page-to-screen ratio (1:1). This ratio is important because one screenplay page has to translate into one minute of screen time.
As for margins, we shared the standard rules earlier. Writers must set 1-inch margins on the right side, top, and bottom of the page. On the left side, the margin should be set to 1.5 inches to provide additional punch-hole space.
When discovering how to write a movie script step by step, you might first feel a little confused about the document’s structure. But the truth is that it’s not too hard to format screenplays. You just need to get used to the rules, and you will easily stick to them in the future.
Movie Script Structure
The structure of a movie script is a rather complex subject. So, before you start writing movie scripts yourself, you need to study and understand different structures.
The traditional script structure consists of three acts:
- Set-up - This part creates the background and sets the tone for the screenplay. It involves the introduction of the characters and the world they live in. Then follows an “inciting incident” that propels the audience into the second act. In a movie, the set-up act would take approximately 20-30 minutes.
- Conflict - The heart of the plot and its largest part is where you describe the conflict or challenge facing your characters, which often leads to the worst possible outcomes for them. It is a part of the screenplay where your major task is to make the audience keep watching.
- Resolution - This is the end of the plot that brings a solution or catharsis to the problem stated in the conflict act.
This standard three-act structure is often a go-to option for most screenwriters, especially beginners. But, of course, there are also other, more tangled structures. But unless you hire an expert essay writer to handle this task, you may want to start with the basics.
Movie Script Title Page
Every script begins with a title page. It is one of the most interesting parts if you plan to sell your screenplay because this page would be the first thing potential partners will see. So let’s briefly discuss how to make a movie script title page.
In the past, screenwriters used to add their contact info to this page, along with the piece’s title and name. It is still done today, but we recommend adding more technology to it. For example, instead of adding your home address, put a professional email address and links to social media.
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“True Conviction” As An Example Of Good Movie Script Writing
Crafting scripts for documentaries is harder than for any other movie genre. Thus, True Conviction PBS is a great example to look at.
True Conviction is a 2017 documentary film that tells the story of three exonerated men who now run a detective agency in Dallas. All three men were wrongfully convicted of serious crimes and spent decades behind bars until justice prevailed. After getting out of prison, the main characters decided to start their own detective agency to help other innocent victims of wrongful convictions win their legal battles.
The maker of True Conviction is Jamie Meltzer, a rather popular American movie and documentary film director. His brilliant documentaries have been broadcast on PBS, and he also screened at multiple international film festivals. For True Conviction, Meltzer was awarded a Special Jury Mention in the Best Documentary category. The True Conviction price is unknown, but we know that this film was created in co-production with ITVS and received MacArthur and Sundance Institute grants.
This film is worth mentioning in our how to write a good movie script guide because it is brilliant. First and foremost, the topic selected for this documentary isn’t only engaging but also very acute. False convictions are real, and it’s a huge problem not only in the US but in many other countries too. So there is no wonder why this film is so popular.
Also, the script is written in such a way that it makes documentaries look interesting. It has a dynamic and interesting plot with a very logical flow that makes the film easy to watch and understand. Another specific thing worth noting is a good introduction of every character with a brief but snappy background story. And there is a very deep emotional background, so this film can’t leave anyone indifferent.
Everything in this film looks very harmonious, from the dialogue to every shot. It makes it not only a great movie script example but also a movie worth watching. Without any doubt, seeing it as a beginner scriptwriter will help you hone your skills and find inspiration for your own work. And if you are just a student assigned to write a screenplay, you can, of course, delegate this task to a professional do my essay writing service to ensure a high grade. But True Conviction is still a documentary worth watching for everyone!
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