120 pgs is now taboo for new writers unless you have a script that just reeks of "Blockbuster hit" The preferred unwritten standard is Horror - 80/ 110 pgs Thriller, Romance, Comedy, Fantasy 105/110 pgs...like I said, if you have a script that is the next big thing...with pg after pg of mindblowing story telling, then who cares if its 120 pgs +
About a year and half ago, I started this "Great Adventure" known as screen writing. A "Newbee" now, with seven scripts in the "Dun" column... I still don't have the answer of the ages. What should count is structure, story depth, interesting characters, and a feel for how an audience will most likely respond to your "Master piece." I have seen a lot of good, and many more movies, that are structural disasters. A page count, determine the context type? There is NO solid rational for this. I have seen movies as short as 63 minutes, defy Time after time ... "The Norm" regarding certain page counts, relating to genre. I say write bold, do your best... skip over the "so called experts" ....I am now in the casting phase for not one, but four screen plays. I am also the producer and director. M.Nickellls
It does depend on the genre. I would suggest that you put yourself in the shoes of a reader at one of these companies, who are charged with reading X amount of screenplays per day. You have 6 screenplays in front you that are between 90-110 pages and 1 that is 120 pages plus. Which screenplays would you read first? Which screenplays would you likely read last? Also, you have to realize that there are two sets of rules for those who are already in the industry versus a writer trying to get in. Remember the golden rule of writing. Less is always better. The average movie lasts about 1hr. 1/2 to 1hr. and 45 minutes. That's a minute per page. You can get away with 120 pages, but every page better be necessary. Really that's the case for any page count. If you can tell the story in 90 minutes, why drag it on longer than need be? If you are going to produce and shoot this yourself, all of what I've said goes out of the window. Just remember, people's attention spans aren't the way they used to be. You don't want to lose your audience with a two-hour story that could have been easily told in an hour and forty-five minutes or less.
How long should a man's legs be? Long enough to reach the ground.
How long should a screenplay be? Long enough to tell the story.
Then take off 10 pages. :)
Good advice above.
I personally don't subscribe to the 'genre specific' page counts shown above. A minute a page, with the understanding that action scripts (meaning any script with action) may run longer due to passages that explain action sequences that in fact will run faster than minute-per-page.
I'd agree though with DD that a spec script clocking in at 120 pages better really need that page count and be a tentpole to boot. Otherwise, I see it as a sign of someone who doesn't know how to edit. Look for 80-110ish.
You hit it on the head, Chip...I salute you honestly, really think about...do you want to write for hollywood or for indepedent or just as a hobbyist - that is the first and foremost question ..if for hollywood, there is a certain criteria you have to follow. There is a formula that hollywood doesn't stray to far away from - sometimes an occassional hiccup (pulp fiction, crash, etc.) sneaks in ...but let's face it ..it's about high concept --dollars at the box office. So to break in hollywood style - Write a powerful story outline first. Then flesh out your story with beats or if you are a gifted writer with wordplay and a little bit of prose thrown in (but brevity is the key here)... yes if the story is off the chain (can't put the script down) with a fast read, well written - high concept. They will overlook the pg count, cause Hollywood usually gets another experience well-known writer to redraft it anyway. So to end this endless babble of mine... write it short and sweet (knock em dead with the story) final judgement - 80/ 110 pg count
ps ..if you plan on having any powerhouse literay agency take you seriously ..you better stick within a pg count range and tell a great story at the same time..this is called separating the amateurs from the pros. Just ask Evan Daugherty "snow white and the huntsman" 3 million dollars for his spec script!!
I recently read an article where the author suggested that unproduced writers keep the count at around 100 pages. As with most of the rules of screenwriting, established writers have earned the right to break a few them, while unproduced writers are held to a higher standard. A spec screenplay should never reach over 110 pages. Shooting scripts generally run that long. Always remember the golden rule of screenwriting, as well as effective writing: Less is better!