Somewhere out there in the world, there’s an ultimate feature screenplay format sheet. I know that Warner Brothers has one, but that’s just them. I’ve seen a few in books here and there, but where did they get their numbers?
And why the hell do any of us care?
It’s really a matter of money. If we do our jobs well, someone is going to have to take our script and break it down into budgetable eighths of a page. They’ll have to create a schedule, where each day is no more than a certain amount of pages. Given that, regulating exactly how much shootable material there is per page would be nice. After all, how much shooting time does one page of nothing but two people talking in a restaurant cost?
Depends on your margins. Your font. Your line spacing.
Because professional screenwriters and amateur screenwriters all delight in masturbatory procrastination (including actual masturbation, henceforth to be known as “procrasturbation”), here’s my format sheet, approved by a real live 1st A.D. who employs this for all of the features he works on. Use it happily, knowing that your 105 page comedy really is a 105 page comedy, and not a 149 page time bomb.
With this format, you should achieve an approximate count of 50 lines per page.
Font: Courier New, 12 pt.
Top Margin: .6 inches Bottom Margin: 1.4 inches
Scene Headings (Slug Lines): Left Margin – 1.3 inches, Right Margin – 1 inch. One blank line before. Single-spaced.
Action Lines: Left Margin – 1.3 inches, Right Margin – 1.2 inches. One blank line before. Single-spaced.
Character Names: Left Margin – 3.3 inches, Right Margin – 1.0 inches. One blank line before. Single-spaced.
Dialogue: Left Margin – 2.3 inches, Right Margin – 2.7 inches. Single-spaced. (You hear me? SINGLE spaced. Not half-spaced. No one likes a cheater.)
Parentheticals (“Wrylies”): Left Margin – 2.8 inches, Right Margin – 3.5 inches. Single-spaced.
Transitions (e.g. “CUT TO:): Flush Right. Left Margin – 1.5 inches, Right Margin – 1 inch. One blank line before. Single-spaced.
Bottom “Continued”: Left Margin – 5.5 inches
Now go! Gaze upon the bloated monstrosities that were your once-slender screenplays! Cut! Cut! Cut!