Screenwriter Questions: Page Length

How long can a script be?

It’s a rule of thumb that any screenplay script is about 90 to 120 pages. However, the question is why are these numbers specified? Well, the answer is that a 120 paged script was a set standard. In the past, more writers preferred 120 pages but now 90 pages are termed as an ideal length. Movies with a 90 paged script do much better at the box office. With passing time the attention span of people is decreasing. Writers and readers both cannot concentrate on long scripts. Even shooting a 120-page script is time taking and expensive. Whereas 90 pages are easier to write and execute. An additional 30 pages aren’t easy to complete so more writers go for a lesser number.

As told earlier, shooting a 120-page script isn’t budget-friendly. Even if it’s just one location, it’s going to cost a lot. It takes almost a day to cover 5 to 6 pages and that is really stressful. Additional weeks shooting cost includes paying actors, team members, installing cameras, and much more. With a shorter script, the chances of errors also reduce.

There was a time when the first act was dedicated to 25 pages. Then the second act to 50 and the last part comprised of another 25 pages. Nowadays, writers are scaling back to 23 pages per act. So the composition would be like 23 for the first act, 46 for the second, and 23 for the conclusion.

What to do in case writers have enough budget?

Budget is the prime concern of every writer and producer. If writers have enough resources, they can write longer film script formats. When production cost isn’t difficult to manage then go for it. However, some readers speculate that whether a 150-page story regardless of the budget concern is good enough or not. To be honest, anything below a 90 or above 120 would be just as fine. At the end of the day, entertaining the audience is the main goal of the writer. Whether the movie is ninety minutes long or three hours, doesn’t matter. What matters is that the audience enjoys the writer’s work.

Still, a three-hour movie doesn’t sound much attractive. Most people would prefer to spend less time in the theatre. These days’ people prefer a short 60-second video on Instagram. In such circumstances taking out time for a 3-hour long film doesn’t seem possible. At this point in time, most users just scroll through social media apps all day long. Entertainment is flash entertainment. The millennial of this age who work all day long is less likely to sit for even 2 & ½ hours to finish a film. No matter how great of a script outline it might be, spending more than an hour isn’t preferred.

What effect does the culture of binging have?

Most individuals might not prefer watching a 2 to 3-hour long film but binge-watch an entire season. The reason being that they can fast forward those episodes. Moreover, with each new episode, there is a new narrative that excites the users. A film is linked and to understand the later parts, readers need to have a sound knowledge of the previous ones. It is possible that viewers lose interest in the middle but they don’t have another choice.

On the other hand, if viewers are hooked on a certain season, they might even watch 15 episodes. It’s similar to watching short content. Each episode can stand alone, it satisfies the viewer’s needs and has its own start and end. Little by little, viewers complete an entire season just like eating the entire sleeve of cookies. Being small in size, these episodes are easy to digest and people watch more content.

All technological advances are there to save the time of people. Providing entertainment at viewer convenience is the aim of the technological revolution. Every person tries opting for activities that take less time but provide more satisfaction. In a movie, writers are selling an emotion and an experience. When viewers can get that experience within 30 minutes, why would someone spend hours for the same thing? After all, sitting at one place for hours isn’t easy.

Having an interesting narrative

An entertaining narrative accounts for everything. People can sit through 2 hours or even more if the storyline is appealing. At the end of movies like the matrix or dark Knight, hardly any person would feel bored. Ignoring everything else, new writers should focus on writing scripts that help generate finances. Many people want their projects to be produced and enter screenwriting programs to get their work refined. A quality short script significantly increases the odds of getting a script outline produced. Exciting the producers is the only way to achieve your goal. For a read, writers need to put in all that they can and a 90 paged script surely impresses independent producers.

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