The new face of Spec Screenplays

March 9th, 2011 by Ron
The Script Blogger 

The new face of Spec Screenplays. 


Many of you may know about the so called New Style for Spec Screenplays heralded by the formatting guidelines for the PAGE International Screenwriting Award competition.


No don’t panic!


Most of the suggestions probably came about because of the number of submissions they received each year that incorporated the new suggestions already.

No doubt included by writers who didn’t know better in the first place?

Basically, the major change is the acceptance of BOLD, UNDERSCORE and ITALIC text, but like before, this is not an invitation for a TEXT freeforall.

The new parameters limit the use of such radical text to Primary Scene Headings, Secondary Scene Headings and Technical Direction. Please note this is not an invitation for Directional Instructions, Camera Movements, Shot Selection or any of the other grey areas amateur writers insist on using.

Technical Direction is information such as SUPER, MONTAGE or FLASHBACK.

The changes are also acceptable for information in the narrative, such as a News Headlines or a Name on a Sign or Building.

Please note there are no suggestions to change the font size or type, Courier 12 is still the accepted face of a screenplay, but a colon is acceptable after a special heading as opposed to a dash.

I doubt if the changes will improve the quality of many screenplays and I can hear the dismay amongst professional readers already, but as with every industry some changes do creep in occasionally and become tradition, as much as the traditions they replace.

Personally I would like to include scene numbers in spec screenplays, simply because when discussing the script over the phone it is easy and quick to identify the scene to discuss.

But as I don’t enter the PAGE International Screenwriting Award competition, that wish will probably never happen.



3 responses to “The new face of Spec Screenplays”

  1. Susi says:

    hi there, excellent blog site, and decent to understand! one for my bookmarks.

  2. Hi Ron

    I agree with most of what you say but from the point of view of a director (and producer) I don’t agree with putting scene numbers on spec scripts.

    The reason is simple: the moment you put in page numbers some idiot in the company will start breaking the script down using them, and when you next submit a redraft with different numbers all hell will break out.

    Believe me, I’ve been there and it ain’t pretty.

    Once you have numbers, you absolutely have to lock those numbers down. Deleted scenes become, eg, 1 – SCENE DELETED, new scenes become 1A, 1B, 1AA, etc. You want to get into that as late as possible, ie when green-lit.

    Best wishes and keep up the blogging.

  3. Mark Gilvary says:

    Agree with your point about scene numbers Ron!

    Good Post.