From ArticleWorld

A screenplay is the action plan for producing a motion picture. It is also commonly referred to as a script. Screenplays can be original work, or they can be created from a previous work (like a novel, a play or a short story).


Awards for screenplays

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hands out Oscars each year for original and adapted screenplays. In a union production in the United States, the Writers Guild of America has final say in who may be awarded credit. The Nicholl Fellowship is a screenwriting competition run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Other terminology

A television program script is sometimes called a teleplay. A screenwriter is someone who writes screenplays. Screenwriting is the art of screenplay.

Types of screenplays

  • Motion picture screenplays are created with the intent that they will be submitted to studios and should conform to the studio format (which dictates the way headings, action, transitions and must be formatted). In studio format, most screenplays read at one page per minute. These should be about 90-120 pages long; comedies and children’s movies are at the low end of the spectrum, while executives will worry if they see pages more than 120 pages.
  • Television screenplays for hour-long dramas and single-camera sitcoms often follow the same rules as motion picture screenplays. Those for multi-camera sitcoms use a different format that has roots in radio and stage play.
  • Documentaries and audio-visual presentations use a two-column format that is often difficult to accomplish using standard word processors, especially when editing is required.


Once a script has been purchased or commissioned it goes through revisions and rewritings until everyone involved in the production is ready to proceed. At times, the original writer will be replaced, and the replacement replaced and so on until a rewrite satisfies all parties. If the studio decides to not proceed with production, it enters turnaround, where another studio may purchase the script, but must cover the development costs that the original studio has incurred.

If all parties reach agreement and a script is ready to be filmed, a shooting script is created. This is the script from which the movie is shot. A shooting script includes camera angles and director notes and is often seriously marked up.

Screenplay vs. transcript

A screenplay differs from a transcript in that a transcript is the copy of the dialogue that finally appears onscreen. It doesn’t cover the original script or include stage directions and action. Transcripts and screenplays, at times, differ radically. This is because of scenes that are deleted or reordered during the editing process.