by Michael Chasin Screenwriting Mentor, IAFT/Miami
A screenplay can serve many purposes.
It can be the entry into a screenwriting contest or festival—that launches a career.
It can be the pages that the screenwriter sells—for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It can attract elements—such as actor or director—to green-light the project.
It can attract the $20 million—needed for production.
And it will ultimately serve—as the blueprint for cast and crew.
Whatever the screenplay’s purpose, its pages—must be perfect.
Perfect—as in free of grammar, capitalization, spelling, and screenplay format errors.
Along with adversely affecting your credibility, errors—of any kind—will have the worst ultimate effect—distracting the reader—and emotionally taking them out of your story.
As practical matters, consider:
- Would it be reasonable for cast and crew to spend months—if not years of their lives—filming your screenplay—if it had spelling errors?
- Would it be reasonable for an entity to invest $20 million in producing your screenplay—if it didn’t conform to industry format?
As for look and feel—each page should have lots—of white space.
While not a rule—the three-line rule—is good to follow—never more than three lines of continuous description or dialogue.
The read of a screenplay should be as a movie is viewed—quick, easy, and always moving forward.
So more than make it right.
Make it—perfect pages.