View Full Version : Script pages vs. Actual Screen time

Glenn Gipson
July 7th, 2004, 03:08 AM
I'm about to do my first feature film (feels like I've been saying this forever) and I wanted to know just how many script pages would I need for 80 minutes of screen time? I've heard that it is a minute per page, but when I did my short film the total length came up longer then a minute per page (I think my short script was about 26 pages, and the final length was something like 32 minutes of screen time.) Thanks in advance.

Rob Lohman
July 7th, 2004, 03:27 AM
That is the rule indeed. One minute is one page. BUT, it depends
ofcourse on the margins, font size and the type of scenes
described. Keep in mind that if you write (for example):

Joshua attacks and kills his victim

Could take 5 minutes of screen time. So you probably have not
written it out enough. This is especially hard to do with action
scenes like above.

I think the rule is most accurate with dialog heavy pages. So if
you have quite a lot of action you might want to factor in a longer
time, indeed.

Are you also using the standard margins and font sizes for scripts?

I know that FinalDraft comes with a special font to get as close
to the way of doing things as possible.

Federico Dib
July 7th, 2004, 04:55 AM
That font is most likely Courier 10pts. About margins and line space... dont remember right now.. but I use some Word Template I downloaded a few years ago.. and It works wonders.

About the 1 minute 1 page thing, for me it has worked pretty well.

But there are two things to consider, like Rob said, the amount of detail you put to describe the action, and also the way the movie is directed and edited.

Ive seen average dialogues (1 page) become very looooooong and boring on screen (3 minutes or so)... Ive done that "mistake" in the past.

I also had transformed 5 pages of a running chase and fight, into a 2 minutes secuence at the editing room.

So if I were you, Id try to have a bit more than 80 pages, this way you might have more material to work with at the editing room, and if needed you can add a DELETED SCENES extra on the DVD :)

Richard Alvarez
July 7th, 2004, 06:10 AM
Standard script font is courrier 12 pts. The "average" of one minute a page works for feature length scripts. Obviously, the more pages, the more accurate the "average" is. Short scripts will be more likely to be off because there are fewer pages/scenes to average.

Glenn Gipson
July 7th, 2004, 06:18 AM
I have a llloooottt of action, and minimal dialogue (it's a comedy.) My script is coming out to a 70 page max right now. And the 80 minutes would also include beginning and ending tittles. I guess I should at LEAST try to make 75 pages, huh? Or do you guys think I could get away with just 70 pages? Originally my script was 88 pages, but then I did a rewrite, and it came up way short! So now I have to add scenes just to make it to 70 pages :( Oh well. I had always figured that 70 pages would come to 80 minutes of actual screen time, with beginning and ending tittles, no? But I guess it's like Rob said, it depends on how direct and edit the action.

Dylan Couper
July 7th, 2004, 12:41 PM
I usualy time myself reading the script, when I get to an action spot, I visualize the action, then keep reading. I find this is the only way that gets me even close to a good estimate.

Most stuff I write and shoot works out to about a minute and a half per page.

Keith Loh
July 7th, 2004, 12:56 PM
The most useful exercise I've participated in since I decided to give screenwriting a try was to have my script workshopped by professional actors. It was a really really good experience and aside from actually filming the script, gave me the best idea yet about timing and rhythm. I highly recommend you try and get this done somehow. Even the narrator tried to keep the pace going by paraphrasing action description.

By the way, there is a Courier font called Courier Final Draft that you can find. It is thinner and slightly smaller than regular Courier.

The standard for scripts is 92 pages though I've also heard of 110 and 90. Basically, 90 pages = 90 minutes which is an average-length movie. Kids movies can be shorter.

Keith Loh
July 7th, 2004, 01:01 PM
Here is a Word template that I developed ( I used it to write two feature screenplays, one of which won me a national contest, so no one blinked at my tools :)

Rob Belics
July 7th, 2004, 03:12 PM
The standard script should be 120 pages. One minute per page. If you are new, you could get funny looks if it's short of that but many scripts are only 95 to 110.

Whatever you do, don't go much over 120 and don't "fudge" it. You will get caught and rejected for it.

70 pages will get you rejected outright. Too short. 80 minutes is too long and short for festivals, too. Too long to fit it in and too short to "feature" it.

Glenn Gipson
July 8th, 2004, 06:50 PM
Actually, the IFFM desginates 79 minutes as minimal feature length . And I've seen features that are between 80 and 90 minutes. 120 minutes is two hours, that's VERY long, just shy of an epic (to be slightly extreme.) Like Keith said, 90 minutes is average length.

Jaime Valles
July 10th, 2004, 08:39 AM

Your best bet is to write a few more pages. Something that complicates the funny circumstances of the comedy even more. You can always edit them out if necessary, but it's much easier to film more and cut later than to have to do reshoots because your feature ended up at 63 minutes.

Best of luck!

Federico Dib
July 10th, 2004, 11:17 AM
A good story should last what the story needs to last... but unfortunately the real world requieres different.

I agree with Jaime.. If you dont have the extra footage.. and you end up short of material.. you might be tempted to extend some shots... and might slow down the pace with unnecesary extra seconds of "nothingness".

Of course extra pages could also ruin the story.. but you can cut those out.

But then again, if this your first feature and you are not going for massive distribution.. Id say.. make it last what it needs to last...

Richard Alvarez
July 10th, 2004, 04:21 PM
I'd just like to jump in here, and reiterate that adding and removing "pages" is more complicated then saying "Okay, I need 15 more pages" - and coming up with a longer ending. The pacing and flow of the script has to be maintained, whether you are cutting or adding. Even as you are concerned with "quantity" - screen time which is dictated by market demands - you must be true to the pacing of the story, and make sure that additions and subtractions are improvements in "Quality". If you find yourself seriously short of screen time, you need to examine whether

a) You have a short film that is running long... in which case cut, cut, cut untill it's all meat, and no fat. Come in late and leave early in every scene.

b)You have a feature length script, that is missing a major part of the structure. (Sub plot development perhaps.)

Pay attention to internal pacing.

Glenn Gipson
July 10th, 2004, 06:09 PM
Thanks everyone, I think I have come up with a solution. If all goes well, I should be shooting by early October.

Rob Belics
July 10th, 2004, 06:59 PM
Don't confuse the running time in theatres to the length of a submitted script. Aim for 120 pages.

These are the words of a writer friend of mine who currently writes for Paramount and Disney.

Glenn Gipson
July 11th, 2004, 12:03 PM
I hear you Rob, and I'm grateful for your advice. The only problem is, when you're on a no budget you can't really afford to shoot extra scenes just for the safety of doing it. Extra scenes mean extra crew, cast, location, prop, catering, and transportation cost. I'm already stretched just to shoot an 85 minute movie as it is now. Then, as was mention previously, there is also the issue of unnecessary scenes dragging down a plot. My plot definitely doesn't lean itself towards going over 90 minutes. Also, your friend at Disney is probably speaking from the perspective of someone who submits scripts to major studios, that's a different animal right there. Studios have tons of loot so that they can just afford to shoot whole scenes and just cut them out in the editing room, I cant. Nonetheless, I'm certain that 72 pages will end up being over 80 minutes when its all said and done. This movie is for the DVD/Cable market, so I'll be fine. Thanks for the suggestion though! I do appreciate it.