Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Alli Unger

How To Format Your Screenplay : Spec Scripts Vs. Shooting Scripts

As an aspiring screenwriter trying to "make it" in Hollywood, it is important to know and understand the different types of scripts used in the industry.

You only have one chance to make a good first impression--so make sure it's the best it can be by using the proper screenplay formatting!

The large majority all of the scripts written each year are spec scripts. That script that you have tucked away in your drawer? Spec script. That script you wrote and passed along to your friend to read? Spec script. That script you took with you to last year's PitchFest? You guessed it, spec script! Spec scripts, as defined by Wikipedia, are "non-commissioned, unsolicited screenplays usually written by screenwriters with the hopes that they will someday have the script optioned and eventually purchased by a producer or production company/studio." A spec script is written specifically for a reader, rather than a director. The main goal of a spec script is to get the reader's attention with your story and spark enough interest for them to push to represent you or option your script. 

A shooting script, on the other hand, is "the version of a screenplay used during production of a motion picture." This version of the script is the blueprint for the making of the movie. It includes information that is not included in the spec script, such as camera directions and film crew instructions.

Format Your Screenplay: Spec vs. Shooting Scripts

Make sure to know the differences between a spec and shooting script!

You only have one chance to make a good first impression, so make sure it's the best it can be by using the proper formatting.

Spec Scripts

  • No Contracts or Purchase Agreements

    A spec script is written without any contracts or purchase agreements. 

  • Written for the Reader

    A spec script is written for the reader (a producer or agent). It should be easy to read and focus on the story rather than the cinematography. 

  • The Goal is to Intrigue

    The goal is to intrigue the reader enough that they will want to represent you (agents) or buy your script (producers). 

  • The Title Page Should Include:
    • The title of the movie.
    • The author's name.
    • Contact information for the author or agent. 
  • Unlike a Shooting Script, a Spec Script Should NOT Include:
    • Revision or draft dates. 
    • Statements of copyright.

Shooting Scripts

  • Already Approved for Production

    A shooting script is written for a movie or show that has already been approved for production. 

  • Written for the Director/Production Staff

    A shooting script is written for the director and all production staff. It serves as the blue print for the whole project.

  • Guide the Production Team

    The goal is to clearly outline all of the camera shots and script revisions to guide the entire production team. 

  • The Title Page Should Include:
    • The title of the movie. 
    • All authors' names. 
    • Contact information for the studio and/or producer. 
    • Revision or draft dates. 
    • Statements of copyright.
  • Unlike a Spec Script, the Shooting Script Will Also Include: 
    • Scene numbers.
    • Camera angles. 
    • Title and credit shots.

Want to know more?

Check out some of these other great resources! 

Thanks for reading! Happy Writing!

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