Script Types: The Complete Guide to Scriptwriting

In the vast expanse of the film and entertainment industry, scripts are the bedrock of storytelling, offering varied forms and styles for different mediums and purposes. Whether you’re an aspiring screenwriter or a seasoned professional, understanding the diverse types of scripts is crucial for navigating the field and expanding your creative horizons.

The Script Spectrum

The script universe is populated with an array of formats, each with its unique characteristics and applications:

Original Script

An original script is a screenwriter’s personal vision, untethered from existing intellectual property. These scripts are pure products of imagination, offering fresh stories to the cinematic landscape. While the market has shifted towards adaptations, original scripts remain vital, bringing new and diverse voices to the forefront of filmmaking.

Adapted Script

In contrast to original scripts, adapted scripts re-envision existing works—from novels to plays—into cinematic narratives. These adaptations require legal permissions and present an opportunity for writers to reinterpret well-loved stories for the screen.

Spec Script

A spec script is a speculative project, crafted without the promise of payment or production. These scripts serve as a testament to a writer’s creativity and skill, often opening doors to representation and employment in the industry.

Commissioned Script

Commissioned scripts are tailor-made for production companies, often based on specific assignments or intellectual properties. While they provide writers with financial support and industry credibility, they also demand adherence to predefined creative boundaries.

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Shooting Script

The shooting script is the blueprint for production, meticulously detailing scenes, camera directions, and technical notes. It’s the final iteration that guides the entire crew through the filming process.

Pitch Script

Often a treatment or outline, the pitch script is a persuasive tool used to sell a story idea. It provides a skeletal overview of the narrative, focusing on the structure rather than the full screenplay.

Storyboard

A storyboard is a visual script, often employed in animation, where drawings and sketches map out the narrative, providing a preliminary look at how the story will unfold on screen.

Film Script

A film script, or feature screenplay, spans various genres, from action to romance, and can be crafted for either live-action or animated films. It’s a full-fledged script that guides the making of a feature-length movie.

TV Pilot Scripts

TV pilot scripts introduce the concept and characters of a television series, setting the stage for episodic storytelling. They are classified into drama and comedy, each with specific page count expectations.

Short Film Script

Short film scripts are concise yet complete narratives that often hinge on a powerful twist. They’re a perfect medium for storytellers to craft impactful stories within a limited timeframe.

Documentary Script

Contrary to popular belief, documentaries rely on scripts too. These scripts outline the envisioned story, which is then adapted and restructured throughout the filming and editing processes.

Plays

Play scripts are written for the theater and adhere to a traditional three-act structure. They’re designed for live performance, devoid of any camera directions.

Video Game Script

The burgeoning field of video game writing involves crafting complex, interactive narratives that respond to player choices. Screenwriters collaborate with game designers to create immersive story experiences.

FAQs

What is the most common script type for new writers?

New writers typically start with original scripts, as they offer a canvas to present their unique voice and storytelling abilities.

Can an original script be adapted from a short film?

Yes, many successful features began as short films, which helped them garner attention and eventually transition into full-length movies.

Is it necessary to secure rights for an adapted script?

Absolutely, to legally develop an adapted screenplay, writers must obtain the rights from the original creators.

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