Screenwriting : Resource for scripts? by Melanie Collup

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Melanie Collup

Resource for scripts?

Reading scripts for produced films and television is such a helpful tool for improving my own screenwriting but all the scripts I have found online are final/shooting scripts. I've been told that the conventions when writing a spec script are a little bit different from what we see in the shooting script (i.e camera directions). Does anyone know of a good resource for good spec scripts or even early versions of produced scripts?

Derek Reid

I haven't written them much differently for spec-features compared to the final-examples I've liked, tho final scripts sometimes could include stated camera angles, etc or number their scenes that one might not put in a spec script.

Craig D Griffiths

Hi Melanie, don’t read them for formatting. That stuff is easy to fix. Look at them with regard to the economy of words. How action informs story. How the story is driven by the characters actions and not the characters actions driven by the story.

How you call out a shot will become part of your style. For me I hint at a shot. I don’t write “close in on a cup landing in water”. I just write “the cups splashes into the water”. Subconsciously we all know that will be a close up. I have only used a “ultra close on a set of woman’s eyes. They snap open”, once. It was for effect and was no other way around it.

I use the following if I want to read a specific script.

I am a huge fan of “Hell or High Water” as a great script to learn from.

Stacey Simmons

I'd offer you don't want the "spec" script, you want the approved or production script. A spec script is one that was written without a contract, and therefore is NOT the one that gets shot. Be wary of "transcripts" being sold or promoted as scripts as well, these are mostly just the dialog and do not contain the writer's intentions, or the descriptions of place and character.

Kiril Maksimoski

I don't believe any producer or writer would just slam freshly bought early draft spec over the net...that's why NDA's exist in first place...what you can do is go over script hosting sites (like this one) do exchange with peers or become a reader (if you wanna improve other skills too)

Dan MaxXx

get your hands on the annual black list's best unproduced spec scripts. released every december. thats the next generation of break out screenwriters; there are always a few nobodies on the list backed by rockstar agencies and reps. (Read if you're chasing a Hollywood paycheck).

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

As Dan said, check the 'Blacklist' ... you can also go here for scripts. Don't know which drafts are posted:

Melanie Collup

Thanks, everyone for your comments. You've confirmed some things that I already "thought" I knew, as well as given me some great new information. I will definitely check out the resources you have suggested. This is such a wonderful, supportive community! Thanks for the input!

Rutger Oosterhoff

There are many, but I agree with Craig. I would use Simply Scripts. Personally, I learned a lot there.Talking scripts. I would read "Interview with the Vampire". Playful, but still depicts the old screenwriting rules described in "The Hollywood Standard". If produced screenplay, in whatever stage, have no Continued on bottom and top of the pages, and no screen numbers (i hate them while reading screenplays (kills the flow) , for me, they read like specs.

Doug Nelson

True that reading other's scripts can be a learning asset for sure. There are very few worthy true spec scripts available in the open market space. The best learning and reference that I've found is Dave Trottier's 'The Screenwriter's Bible'. Read it and refer to it often as you write your own script. In other words - learn by doing.

Monica Mansy

Hi, Melanie Collup I noticed many already mentioned Simply Scripts. That's a go-to for me and also, although I'll be honest, I'm not sure what stages all the different scripts are in, but just in case you wanted to check it out!

Bill Costantini

Hi Melanie,

Indie Film Hustle is also a great site, and has many different groupings - from Oscar contenders to specific writers. There's also a link to a lot of TV/cable pilots. Some of the links may be disabled, though. Here's the main link:

Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Melanie, and stay safe!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hi, Melanie. There really isn’t that much difference between a shooting script and a spec, depending, of course, on the project. The difference is mostly some formatting and/or production notes. Also, be informed about a script, its background, and the circumstances surrounding a project you are studying, if written by a writer/director or has been rewritten by different writers, etc. For me, I’ve gotten my hands on earlier drafts through contacts, or as Dan M suggests, utilize the Annual Black List that takes a survey of what is circulating within the industry (not the general listing website) for current spec examples. Otherwise, I find most script PDFs that I’m interested in reading via Google search. ;)

James Welday is my favorite resource.

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