Screenwriting : Formatting - where can I see or buy a script? by Lyle Deixler

Lyle Deixler

Formatting - where can I see or buy a script?

Does anyone know where, if possible online, I can look at a script to see how it's formatted, how stage directions appear, etc. Or is it easier to buy a script to look at it? And re: timing in a script, I once heard somewhere that one page of a script is equal to one minute of time for the movie. Is that accurate? Thanks!

Pierre Langenegger

Lyle, buy the book The Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier, it will tell you everything you need to know about formatting. Also read lots and lots of screenplays, there are many sites you can get them for free such as

Lyle Deixler

Super, thanks again Pierre and Laura, this is all great info!!!

Lisa Clemens has many to read and learn from as well.

John Etterlee

Are you talking about the script version or the director's version? Because when writing a screenplay you don't add camera angles, etc. Directors and producers hate to be told how to shoot by the screenwriter. And yes, the one minute thing is a rough estimate, but is also affected by action. Final Draft is an awesome, auto format program.

Steve Cleary

You're welcome to look over any of my scripts. I feel pretty confident that they're formatted to industry standard, though written in Celtx:

John Etterlee

you can google images of certain scripts to see formatting

PJ Edwards the imdb for movie scripts

Debbie Croysdale

Join Script Revolution, there are many examples including Screenwriters here because it was an idea from a member Stage 32. Once you get the gist, enter a few of your own stories.

Phillip "No Parenthetical" Hardy

Lyle: Try looking at some famous screenplays for films or television pilots. Always good to see how pros do it or certainly something that got made into a successful film was formatted. However, be sure you understand the difference between spec scripts and shooting scripts. Here is a link to a good article about that topic and I've also attached a link where you can look at famous screenplays o' plenty.

Nikolas Aberle

Hello Lyle, two situational tips. If you're in or near LA go to the Writers Guild Library and you can see and read hundreds of scripts. It was one of the best experiences of my life even though I was only in town for a day. Second, if you have an iPhone you can download Wknd Read. It's an app developed by John August and around Academy Award time they usually upload all the nominated scripts, it's fun to read them before watching the movie. Unfortunately the app isn't available on Android.

Lyle Deixler

Wow, thank you so much everyone, this is all great info! And Byron I'm talking about the script version but thanks for bringing up the director's version, I wasn't aware of that. And one more question, regarding screenwriting software: I'm on a Mac. I've heard Storyist is good and someone here recommended Celtx. Does anyone have any thoughts on Storyist? Or what's best for a Mac? Thanks again! Lyle

Dawn Brown

Internet Movie Script Database

Lyle Deixler

And Uncle Phil I just finished reading Why Spec Scripts Fail from and thanks, great article!

Phillip "No Parenthetical" Hardy

Lyle: You are most welcome.

Nikolas Aberle

Regarding writing on a Mac, I prefer writing in Highland. It has a super clean UI, and you can write in plain text before clicking a single button to convert to standard screenwriting format. It can export as PDF and FDX, in addition to a few others. If you're only writing and don't need to worry about scene numbering or shot breakdowns, I can't recommend it enough.

Richard Rose

almost from any large book store

Lyle Deixler

Thanks Mark, Dawn and Richard! And yup, I got the Screenwriter's Bible and it's great. And thanks Nikolas, I'll check out Highland.

Gene Cartwright

You can actually search and find free downloads of Oscar nominated/winning screenplays. Google : (sample OSCAR screenplays) and you will get tons of resources and free pdf downloads.

Matt Bailey
Lyle Deixler

Thanks Gene and Matt!

Eric Paul Chapman

Hi, Lyle. In my two micro-budget features, a page of script generally worked out to a minute of screen time - but not always.

Lyle Deixler

Ok Eric, thanks!

Lyle Deixler

Nikolas, with Highland, have you gotten good support with it? I've emailed Highland twice over the past 2-3 days with some questions about their software and they haven't gotten back to me yet. Thanks.

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