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Script Lengths


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#1 Richard Boddington

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 01:16 PM

Hi,

For those of you that have done long format work, ie features or one hour episodic TV, how many pages of script do you typically see? I realize this can vary quite a bit for features that only have a target area for length.

However, one hour episodic scripts for shows like Law and Order should be about the same number of pages each time to equal the 48 or 50 minutes of finished program, should they not?

Do those shows use scripts that are 50 pages? Less 40-45 pages? Or more 50-60 pages?

For features how often do you see the one page per minute scenario actually equal that amount of time in the end? ie 100 pages equals a 100 minute movie.

Thanks
R,
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#2 Gordon Highland

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 02:33 PM

Eh, after looking at these over time, I think it tends to be more like 50 seconds per page. Features, i mean. As you said, though, some variace depending on dialogue versus action and the writer's economy of language. I'm sure on episodic TV with staff writers and not spec, they can predict these things with a much greater degree of accuracy. There's also less exposition; we know what the main characters and locations look like from week to week.
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#3 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 12:04 AM

There are many 1 hour episodics that have scripts in the 70-80 page range, but I would guess that most of them are in the 55-65 page range.
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#4 rik carter

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 07:51 PM

Most hour long programs are 44 minutes and some-odd seconds. But most scripts are five to ten pages longer, because the "page a minute" average isn't as accurate on scripts half as long as a feature. It works for features, because that's how it works itself out. Television actually averages closer to 1.2 or 1.25 pages per minute.
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#5 Alex Ellerman

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 08:52 PM

I'm not a television guy, but i believe the tv scripts are formatted differently, ie, the dialogue blocks are parallel. that could vary by program, or style...

James and Thomas walk into the room.

JAMES THOMAS
What were you thinking? I'm sorry.

Or something like that...

Best,
ae
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#6 Alex Ellerman

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 12:21 PM

Hey - this thing changed my formatting... i put long spaces in there between the dialogue blocks...

oh, forget it... the preview function and the final post in this case are NOT the same... pull up some tv scripts and you'll see what i'm talking about... ae

Edited by theturnaround, 21 April 2006 - 12:22 PM.

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#7 Bob Hayes

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 12:32 PM

I usually figure about 1 page a minute but it?s probably more like 1.25. That?s a pretty good guide. Also in most features and television they cut out about 5% of what you shoot because scenes don?t work or don?t fit into the final cut. It?s always better to come in a little long and be able to trim. Also there are often line cuts inside scenes and sometimes you?ll really cut scenes very tightly to keep the pace up. Action is notoriously difficult to estimate. The classic ?Rome takes Carthage? can be a thousand shots and take weeks to film. Action can also takes weeks to film and be a very short amount of screen time. When I write my scripts I try to imagine in my head how long the action scene will play on the screen. Maybe it?s a two minute car chase. Then I will write enough action slug lines to fill two pages of script. I also try to get enough slug lines in so everyone has an idea how complex the action scene is.
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#8 Richard Boddington

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 03:37 PM

Really Bob, 1.25? I hope you're right. The script is right now 90 pages and I'm worried I'll be light.

There are bunch of chase/action scenes in there though that take up about half a page of script, but in reality they'll be 2-3 minutes of screen time, so I should make up some time there.

We roll cameras October 2nd, shall I book you a hotel room?

R,
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#9 Alex Ellerman

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:17 PM

Richard - comedies run shorter, generally under 100 pages... big dramas, historical epics run longer, 120-140... but the biggest concern, for me, on a script under 100 pages is:

Have you (exhausted) exploited all the dramatic possibilities?

In the hands of a novice writer, this is the question.

Best,
ae
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#10 Hal Smith

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:45 PM

Hey - this thing changed my formatting... i put long spaces in there between the dialogue blocks...

oh, forget it... the preview function and the final post in this case are NOT the same... pull up some tv scripts and you'll see what i'm talking about... ae


Maybe someday Tim will figure out some way of letting us post in script formats. I guess one could print a script out of Final Draft, etc. and then attach a .jpg scan. Wouldn't it be simpler if there was a control code within whatever forum program the Forum uses that would force tabs? I fought this problem with my profile signature and just gave up and let the program left justify ELWOOD and JAKE - as if anything really could JUSTIFY Jake and Elwood!
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#11 Bob Hayes

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 07:38 AM

Really Bob, 1.25? I hope you're right. The script is right now 90 pages and I'm worried I'll be light.

There are bunch of chase/action scenes in there though that take up about half a page of script, but in reality they'll be 2-3 minutes of screen time, so I should make up some time there.

We roll cameras October 2nd, shall I book you a hotel room?

R,


That's 1.25 Pages per minute. So at 90 pages you are pretty close to being short.
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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 11:15 AM

"That's 1.25 Pages per minute. So at 90 pages you are pretty close to being short."

Ah right, well I've been meaning to add some new stuff in.

R,
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#13 Paul Bruening

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 05:04 AM

Hello fellas,

Remember, as well, a professionally written TV script will be designed for the cutters. It is made with filler and sacrifice lines and scenes so the cutters can make it fit in between the ads. Movie scripts go as long as they go. The scripting formats were worked out in the early talkie days so that one page made roughly one minute (action and visual only scenes work out a little differently).

TV is about advertising first. The creativity has to mold itself around that. The scripts must read-timing longer than the final cut.
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