How long is too long?

Wed, Aug 2 2017 11:10am IST 1
falcieri
falcieri
66 Posts
I know this is a ridiculous question. How long is a piece of string? You could have pages of nothing but head to head dialogue. You could have ten pages of action with no dialogue at all. So, what, within reason, constitutes an hour of air time on the page? I read conflicting messages on the internet.

I find myself constantly asking this as I write and as the pages grow. I don't want to worry about the length for now, when I'm still creating the action. That's for the redraft. I don't want to stunt potential scenes based on my concern about page numbers. But I've gone from writing a single screenplay to what may become a six part tv adaptation.

So how do you gauge the real time length of your script or do you not worry about it?
Sun, Aug 20 2017 10:25pm IST 2
KallieRosa
KallieRosa
18 Posts
I see you have no comments on this... so thought I'd answer the question I believe you are asking.. In screenwriting technically one page of script is equal to one minute. So 30 pages would be an half hour show.

I suppose in the initital writing phase it's best to get it out and then after you can chop and edit to what scenes you really need.

The writer only has to write the essential skeleton, the story, it will then be down to the director and the production to create and edit the actual show of which the writer tends to have nothing to do with at that stage.

Hope this helps.
Mon, Aug 21 2017 11:32am IST 3
falcieri
falcieri
66 Posts
Thank you KallieRosa. I knew someone would answer eventually. I thought it was about 1 page for 1 minute but as a general rule so thanks for the clarification. Interesting comments about the post writing process. I guess that's why some writers can become distanced from their projects once they are handed over. What if a director changes the whole context of the film? This of course happens a lot with factual stories where it becomes about sales rather than the honest truth. I'd find it really hard to hand over something which was factually and chronologically correct knowing there would be a good chance the director would hack it to pieces for the sake of the bottom line. Many 'true stories' that make it to Hollywood (or even the BBC) are terribly inaccurate because of this sacrifice. My recent favourite was Genius but I dont know how accurate it is because I'm no Einstein expert. If I watch something factually based I always go and look for the true story afterwards to find out what really happened.
Wed, Dec 13 2017 04:51pm GMT 4
Dedicated Procrastinator
Dedicated Procrastinator
1 Posts
Good practice! Sadly tv and film producers never feel the need to deal with the facts of any case - it's totally the wrong medium to go to if you are looking for the truth. I could think of a dozen examples, but that wasn't your question. As for pages to screen time, yes it's about one page per minute but of course you mention the difference between dialogue and action. Action has wider margins and therefore more words, so I used to think: Surely action is different.
A friend of mine says he always mentally charges himself £1 per word in describing action for two reasons. First - it's a standard article of faith to directors and actors that nobody reads the stage directions anyway. Second - The image is a very concise way of relaying complex messages, the writer would do well to try and compress what they are saying so that the screenplay desribes only the core meaning rather than, like a novel; attempting to paint a whole picture.
(My friend has a BAFTA so he seems to know what he's doing)
Sure enough, in successful screenplays I have read, the description of action takes the same amount of reading time as the events take to play on screen - just like dialogue. Reading action should be like audio description for a visually impaired audience. Directors and editors seem to trust it when it's like that.

Please login or sign up to post on this network.
Click here to sign up.