Meet the Reader: Length Does Matter

Script Reader Ray Morton explains why the length is still an important measuring stick for spec scripts

Ruler

The issue is the long-standing industry “rule” that a spec script should never be more than 120 pages in length (which should probably be amended to 110 pages, since that is the length preferred by most execs these days). I happen to agree completely with this notion, but whenever I say this, I get a lot of complaints – many I assume from spec script writers who have had their overlong pieces rejected.

As objectors to this rule often do, these complainers will cite as exceptions a number of wonderful movies that run longer than two hours and so, given the old rule of thumb that one page of script equals one minute of script time (which is, by the way, pretty darn accurate), must have had screenplays longer than 120 pages: The GodfatherThe Dark KnightDjango Unchained, and so on. These objectors are correct – all of these examples are great movies whose screenplays were much longer than the accepted norm. However, they have overlooked one very important point — none of these films began life as a spec.

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