How Much is a Script Worth: Rate Insights

How Much is a Script Worth: Rate Insights

As a screenwriter, your ultimate aim is to turn your passion into a profession and earn a living from your craft. In other words, it’s about the money. So, when you find yourself fortunate enough to be hired for screenwriting work, a crucial question arises: How much should you charge? In this article, we will provide answers tailored to freelance screenwriters, those without agents or managers, who need to gauge their fees in relation to the industry’s standards.

We will cover how much you should charge for different types of screenwriting work, including:

  • Feature film scripts
  • TV scripts
  • Short film scripts
  • Screenplay rewrites

How Much to Charge for a Screenplay?

For a feature-length screenplay, the average rate typically hovers around $4,000. However, this figure can vary based on two key factors:

  1. Experience in the Industry: Seasoned freelance screenwriters with over a decade of experience, who have worked at renowned Hollywood studios, production companies, or have received awards for their screenplays, can command fees ranging from $10,000 to $15,000. On the other hand, novice screenwriters with only a couple of feature scripts to their name may charge between $500 and $1,000. In our research involving 30 professionals, the average rate stood at approximately $4,000.
  2. History of Completed Projects: A screenwriter’s track record of successfully completed projects also influences their fee. Those with a portfolio of accomplishments can justify higher rates, while newcomers may start at a more modest level.

Screenwriting Rates by Type of Project

Let’s explore the price ranges for different types of screenplay writing work:

  • Freelance Feature Script: $1,000 – $15,000
  • Freelance TV Script: $2,000 – $4,000
  • Freelance Short Film Script: $100 – $1,000
  • Freelance Script Rewrites: $600 – $3,500

As you can see, the price range for screenwriting varies considerably, and it’s crucial to consider your experience, the scope of the project, and the client’s budget when determining your fee.

Screenwriting Rates for Union Writers

It’s important to note that the rates listed above differ significantly from the minimum prices established by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) for its union writers. The WGA sets official minimum rates for its members. Here are some examples from the WGA’s 2020 Schedule of Minimums:

  • WGA Feature Films: $77,495 – $145,469
  • WGA TV Scripts: $5,052 – $57,480
  • WGA Script Rewrites: $25,424 – $38,759

WGA members’ compensation is subject to different, official, and often negotiated rates, typically facilitated by agents or managers. However, if you are not part of the WGA and lack representation, you can use the information provided in this article as a reference point to determine your fees as a freelance screenwriter.

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Pricing for Different Types of Screenplays

Here’s a breakdown of how to charge for various screenplay types:

Writing a Feature Screenplay

For a feature screenplay, which typically spans 90 to 120 minutes of screen time, the standard rate ranges from $1,000 to $15,000. The most common price falls between $3,000 and $5,000. Factors affecting your rate include your experience, qualifications, whether the screenplay is original or non-original, and whether payment is divided into installments based on milestones.

  • Beginner screenwriters with limited experience may charge between $1,000 and $3,000.
  • Experienced screenwriters who offer multiple revisions and work with clients with larger budgets can command fees toward the upper end of the range.

Writing a TV Script

For freelance screenwriters, TV script rates typically range from $2,000 to $4,000. However, the length of the script plays a significant role in pricing, as television scripts can vary from 15 pages to 90 pages or more. The standard rate applies to scripts of 30 or 60 pages. Deviations from this length may result in adjusted rates. Pilot episodes, the first episodes of TV series, often command about 50% more than subsequent episodes.

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Writing a Short Film

Short film scripts typically merit charges of $100 to $1,000. Factors to consider when determining rates for short films include script length and the film’s budget. Short films are often produced on limited budgets, which may impact the screenwriter’s compensation.

Script Rewrites

For screenplay rewrites, screenwriters typically charge between $600 and $3,500. The fee depends on the extent of the rewrites and the script’s length. Quick revisions to short scripts may warrant lower fees, while comprehensive rewrites of feature films justify higher rates.

In conclusion, even as a freelance screenwriter, your work holds value, and you deserve fair compensation. The rates you charge should reflect your experience, the scope of the project, and industry standards. Determining how much to charge for your screenwriting services is a crucial step toward achieving your goal of making a living from your craft.

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