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zaoshang
March 10th, 2005, 04:15 AM
I wrote a script and it's 47 page long. I'm so tired of it I feel I couldn't bloat it, and I'm afraid it's too long for a short script. Or is it not? Any advice?

Ozmandius
March 10th, 2005, 01:53 PM
47 pages is way too long for a short script. Normally it should never be longer than 30 pages and preferably under 20.

Oz

mammamaia
March 10th, 2005, 05:09 PM
sorry, but that's not so, oz... 45 min is the upper limit for most shorts competitions/festivals, but many short films are that length and some have been longer and even won prizes...

zao...
if you've a good enough plot premise, expand the story line, add some characters, and bring it up to full feature length... if not, you can probably lose a few pages by just tightening up your writing and getting rid of all the directing stuff that shouldn't be in there anyway...

hugs, maia

Ozmandius
March 10th, 2005, 11:34 PM
sorry, but that's not so, oz... 45 min is the upper limit for most shorts competitions/festivals, but many short films are that length and some have been longer and even won prizes...

In the past, yes, short films were given a wide berth on their time limits because they were only seen at festivals. But cable TV and the web has widened the audiences for short films and thus enforced new time requirements.

5 to 10 minutes has become the norm for short pieces, and longer scripts are kept to 27 minutes to allow them to be shown in a traditional half-hour television slot.

Now these are not hard rules, but the guidelines good writers pay attention to because it gives their work a better chance at being shown. A 5 minute piece can be downloaded easily on the web, whereas a 27 minute film will fit easily into the schedule for indy channels like Sundance and others. But a 45 minute piece has almost no venue outside of film festivals. It's too long for TV and too short for a feature.

And these are very important trends to keep track of since the web and indy cable channels have opened up the markets for small production companies. The short films we make don't have to be just festival fodder, but now have a chance to be seen by thousands, if not millions.

Trust me on this. I literally just came back from a production meeting where we talked about this very thing this morning. Our makeup guy showed me a short he did that was part of a new competition. The rules were: 5 minutes long and on 500 dollars. They placed second in the professional category and got to hobknob with the execs from Lionsgate and Miramax. And the word is: short gets seen. Long gets ignored.

Oz

zaoshang
March 11th, 2005, 12:48 AM
Many thanks Oz and Maia for your advice, that really helps. I understand it's better for a script to be put in a marketable length and shape. I'll probably make a full feature length script from it eventually. (I think I was just too lazy and too impatient to see my script done...) Add more characters - that's a great idea; funny it didn't occur to me :D

Thanks again! I love it here :)

deafmute
March 11th, 2005, 02:26 AM
If you're tired of your script like you say, I would suggest cutting it down. I agree with Oz: 47 pages is a lot, even for short film.

1)Think lean and mean. Narrow your idea down to the essentials. On paper your film may work well, but par it down (to be cliche) what you want to say. I have read and seen a lot of short films. Some of the shortest ones had been honed so much and so well, that they are the most memorable. They packed punch.

2)Think of selling it to a group of people who are going to do hard labor for you. People who will work for 15 hour days on your film. Are those 10 lines really necessary? What do the extra 20 pages add to your film other than 20 extra pages? How many scenes and different scene changes are there? What do you accomplish by each and every scene, each and every line?

and zao is right to a point. go ahead and expand on your idea, but keep in mind that you shouldn't write to time. Don't try and write to 120 pages. Features don't rely on length, they rely on a well written story.

Grain of salt: I am not a produced screenwriter. I am a lowly film student gone awry. Good luck and keep writing.

zaoshang
March 11th, 2005, 04:12 AM
Cheers, DM! Cutting it down is definitely an easier job (or so I guess). So yeah, it's worth giving it a try. And if it doesn't work, I can try to expand it instead.


People who will work for 15 hour days on your film.

Whoa. That's a good picture to have in mind when writing a script. I presume few screenwriters are aware of this side of the things.

I feel less tired about that script now :)

Ozmandius
March 11th, 2005, 04:16 AM
go ahead and expand on your idea, but keep in mind that you shouldn't write to time. Don't try and write to 120 pages. Features don't rely on length, they rely on a well written story.

I have to respectfully disagree with this. Having spent five years in a newsroom, the necessity for writing to time was pounded into me. And when I transferred to film I learned that this skill was overwhelmingly favored by producers, even to the exclusion of story. Their veiwpoint is that you can have the most beautiful and poingnant story imaginable, but if it isn't saleable, it's worthless. Or to put it another way; they would rather have a good or even mediocre script of marketable length rather than a fantastic script of unmarketable length. It's an odd concept for a writer to grasp, I know, but it is how the money people think. And when the jobs get handed out, they are the ones who sign the paychecks.

Yes, big, three hour scripts get made and are fantastic. But they aren't made by newbies or relative unknowns. Those projects rely on the proven track record of a director and/or actors to sell them. You have to have a good reputation before they will spend that kind of money on your script. And it is little things like being able to write to time that helps build that reputation.

We all like to imagine the movie business as being driven by talent. Only the best and the brightest see their work on screen. But any stop at the local cineplex will tell you that is not the case. Hollywood churns out crap faster than an all-night Taco Bell burrito binge. And the reason for this is that reliability is considered more important than talent in this business. The writers that prove themselves flexible and easy to work with are the ones that get work. How good the script is matters frighteningly little to producers. All they really care about is: Will it make money?

Now all of this is not saying to put time above quality. Just because producers are idiots, doesn't mean that we have to be. But every edge in this business counts, and paying attention to time is one edge that too many writers ignore.

Oz

Ozmandius
March 11th, 2005, 04:25 AM
Just a funny little aside cause I felt like sharing...

Next week I have to make a stunt dummy frame for getting tossed off buildings and stuff. The dummy frame is an internal skeleton that we attach padding and costuming to so that it will look human. The trick is that they specified that they wanted it in wood and that it has to be able to withstand fire. Also it has to alternate between fixed poses and flopping around in a realistic manner (hit with car). Going to be an interesting week.

Oz

deafmute
March 11th, 2005, 01:34 PM
:shock: wood, withstand fire, get hit by a car, and be posable. good luck! lol

Oz: Good point. I agree with you that writing a particular length SP may be necessary, especially if you are on a project or have a goal in mind. I was basically saying "write to the story" to avoid filler and fluff. Not to mention that it is very possible to write a 100 *or* a 160 page screenplay that comes out to approximately 2 hours.

Write to fit your story. If you determine you need more time when you've reached a stopping point, go back and pinpoint the weak areas. Expand and strengthen then or add scenes that reinforce the story or characters.

I can't argue with you on the nature of Hollywood. Money talks. A lot of productions suck....but why did you have to bring beloved Taco Bell into this?!? T_T

zaoshang
March 12th, 2005, 01:44 AM
wood, withstand fire, get hit by a car, and be posable.

-and make tea for crew in break time :lol: