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Ergocinema / Screenplay

What’s a Screenplay?

A screenplay or a movie script is a functional text for a film production. It simply serves as a blueprint for all departments involved in the creation of the movie and therefore can’t stand on its own. However, the majority of all screenplays remain unproduced.

Screenplays can take on various forms, depending on the purpose they serve. In the English-speaking world, two main forms can be distinguished:

  1. Shooting Scripts
  2. Spec Scripts

Shooting scripts are screenplays that are created as a part of an ongoing production. You can typically recognize them by their scene numbers. In contrast, spec scripts are screenplays that a writer writes independently, hoping to sell them to a production company.

In countries outside the United States, completed scripts are much less common than treatments and screenplay outlines.

Screenplay definition

What makes a screenplay?

The screenplay should never be confused with the movie. Very different movies can be created from the same script. In addition, it’s not always possible to draw conclusions about the template from the finished movie (and vice versa).

In order to read screenplays you have to understand that they are not literary texts. While the novel hooks the reader from beginning to end, a screenplay is made up of small units that contain many technical terms. After all, the text is intended for implementation, not for private consumption.

How does a screenplay look like?

There’s a standardized industry screenplay format so that every reader from every department understands the same and the production runs as smoothly as possible. If you want to write a screenplay yourself, there are good programs like Final Draft, Celtx or Dramaqueen, that already do most of the formatting work for you.

In the Video: Sven Eric explains how a screenplay looks like.

Camera shots

Sometimes the script uses CAPITAL LETTERS to mark the behavior of the camera, for example when the focus should be on a specific detail (CLOSE-UP, SHOT, or the like). As a rule, however, this is to be avoided, since the translation of the scenes into camera settings should be the cameraman’s job.

Directing on the page

In the case of dialog, stage directions are sometimes shown as parenthetical inserts. Most of the time they are superfluous, since the context makes it clear how the scene can be acted out. Everything else lies in the interpretation of the director and his actors.



I know what you mean.

How does a screenplay page look like?

The most important unit for the screenplay is the page, because here the writer can use all the means at his disposal and create images in the mind of the reader.

As a rule of thumb, one page of script equals one minute of film. However, that is only half the truth. In reality, it’s the screenwriter’s job to ensure that one page equals one minute. This has a lot to do with the pacing of the story, its plot and the scenes.

The screenplay scene

Screenplays are sequential. This means that one scene follows another. Each scene has the same elements:
A scene title, a description and optionally a dialogue. The title begins with the specification INT. or EXT. (for inside or outside). This is followed by the place where the scene takes place. At the end the time of day is given – either DAY or NIGHT. Dialog are centered in the middle. For example like this:


The only source of light is the moon, which throws its bluish light through the bedroom window. The bed for two neatly made, but the rest of the room untidy.

Florian and Jenny enter the room kissing. With a swing he grabs her and throws her onto the bed. He follows and expertly unbuttons her blouse.


We shouldn’t do that


Yes … we … really
… shouldn’t …

He takes off her blouse.

Screenplay examples to download

If you are looking for script examples online, you’ll mostly find scripts in English. As a concrete example for a page, you can download the following script excerpt as a PDF (from my own German script GLÜCKSKINDER):

Screenplay example as PDF