Screenwriting : Length by Steve Hayes

Steve Hayes


How crucial is it for a feature to hit the 90 page mark? I'm curious to get some feedback on this. I've heard the "page a minute" rule and all that but with streaming content these days I'm wondering if length is that important for feature consideration

Jose Eduardo Penedo

Steve Hayes I think it really depends on the genre and, later, on the director that gets attached to it. For example, horror, family and comedy scripts tend to be shorter whereas dramas and thrillers tend to be longer.

Also, about the director thing, Aaron Sorkin's script for The Social Network clocked at 162 pages, but both Sorkin and Fincher made a 120-minute film out of it without cutting scenes.

Personally, since I direct what I write, I know my dialogues tend to be fast-paced and my scripts tend to be dialogue-heavy, so I usually write 10% more pages than what I should. A 132-page script written by me turns into a 120-minute film.

But try reading your script out loud as you imagine it playing out and time it. See how it feels.

Hope this helped!

Pidge Jobst

Some readers will have no problem with it, while with others your lean script may send up smoke signals that it may be short on running time, especially with new writers. Not so with veterans. If you're concerned, so might others be. Why not get it into the 90-118 page range and rid yourself of the worry?

Doug Nelson

That 90 page RULE is the absolute law and violators are subject to immediate fines and imprisonment

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

Bring it in between 90 and 120, or Doug will visit you.

Craig D Griffiths

If streaming is your target customer? Write to what they want.

I would say 90 is a good target but less than 120. Dunkirk of 68, I a line that reads, men rush forward trampling each other, one line, two minutes on screen.

Is there near two hours of story? Is that what you are aiming for?

Rohit Kumar

Do write as you feel the right tempo of the story flow. If it's small make it fulfilling and not hurried up, if it's extends longer than make sure it's enough engaging and entertaining. After writing, one can think of whether it works for OTT or film or short film, till than just go with the flow. Who knows, you might write the next Pirates of Caribbean series.

Kiril Maksimoski

Read scripts below 90. See how they made it. "All is lost" is only freaking 20 something pages long...

Phil Clarke

Hitting a page count of 90 isn't crucial. You shouldn't be worrying if your script comes in a little under or a little over this. Concern should exist, however, if you've got a draft of 120+. In over 20 years working in the industry, many of which were spent working closely with scripts and story, I have rarely seen a draft of 120+ pages that truly needed to be this long and that couldn't be fairly easily streamlined without losing any of the good stuff.

CJ Walley

The more experience you have with production, the more you see how page count and screen time can vary but, to be frank, that's a bit of an aside. The 1min per page theory mostly holds up.

Page count does have a significant impact on reading opportunities though and that impact is felt more by amateur screenwriters than anybody else. It's all about having benefit of doubt which we gain by proving ourselves as writers. Established writers have tremendous benefit of doubt from peers and thus, if they hand in something outside of the norm, people will suspend their scepticism until proven otherwise.

Generally speaking, the shorter the script, the more appealing the read. A 120pp script is 33% longer than 90pp script. That's huge, especially to someone who reads lots of scripts while also trying to suspend doubt to give a new writer a chance.

That said, there is obviously going to be a lower cut-off point where someone doesn't feel there's going to be enough meat on the bone to shoot a full length feature film and that's important to people because the markets they are ultimately selling to can require very strict run-times.

If there's any flexibility, it's on the leaner side of things. I have specs of 84, 85, and 89pp and have no fears about how that looks. If anything, I feel it gives me an edge.

This all said, any writer should easily be able to gain or lose pages if they need a script to be a certain length, either for their own peace of mind or an industry member's.

As ever, no writer should be led by a highly specific page count. That's letting the tail wag the dog.

Dan MaxXx

In general, scripts have decreased from 120 to 110 pgs. (here in the USA/Hollywood market).

Famous produced short scripts - All is Lost, The Artist, Dunkirk, A Quiet Place - all of them bring more to the buyer's table than just pages.

Your own senses will tell you what's right or wrong on the page - page count, formatting, margin space. That's experience.

Claude Gagne

When I write a screenplay, I place the audience first. They have to plunk their behinds there and watch, and not only that, you have to keep their attention, which is the hard part. When I first started writing I had the power of the gab. Now, I condense it and make it as lean as possible. I'm rewriting my first scripts and find it's not an easy task to shorten a one hundred and sixteen-page count. I write tight now and off the nose. I would say, eighty-five to a one hundred page count is a good range. I think genres determine the range though!

Barry John Terblanche

Doug... That 90 page RULE is the absolute law and violators are subject to immediate fines and imprisonment ~ You crack me up :-) The script police.

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