Page count – Size matters and matters of size.

The Rule:

Scripts for shows must be under 30 pages in length.

The Spirit:

This one’s got layers. And we like layers.

There is discipline and creativity in the challenge of telling a solid, well-crafted story in a limited page count for writers.  We don’t constrain character count, but that, too, is a great exercise. That discipline and creativity bleed into more extensive works, giving you space to do more with less.  

However, the major reasons are downstream in the production process.  Productions get more technical and time-consuming the further downstream in the process you are.  Consider:

1) Actors need to familiarize themselves with scripts and develop a character that conveys the writing.

2) Directors need to break down scenes and get a strong vision of directing the cast and coordinating with cast members, answering questions, and determining the proper mixture of the cast’s chemistry.

3) The recordist needs to set up, record, maintain and track files.  Typically the length of the project doesn’t change the scope, but it is more of that person’s time/focus, especially if that person is not solely responsible for recording.

4) The dialogue editor needs time to pulls everything apart and put it back together again. For interview and audiobook editing, that process takes about three minutes per one minute of material for detailed editing, including cleanup, pacing adjustments, and Eq’ing vocals.  Multiply that by the number of characters in your script, and you’ll have an idea how much time goes into editing dialogue for a trained and seasoned dialogue editor.  Have mercy on your dialogue editor.  They can make or break your story.  Let them breathe.

5) The sound designer, especially the Foley editor, is responsible for embodying every character in that script to keep them from sounding like floating heads.  There are tools like Edward Foley Instruments that simplify this process, but to nail it, we have to think about blocking for a scene we have no visual reference for and try to embody the character. Each character.  Foley is probably the longest process for most sound designers.  Builds come next for all those unique sound cues that need layers to sound good.  After those, there’s still mixing and mastering and endlessly finessing the EQ and reverb to get the good quality out of the explosion because damn it, it’s just not right yet.  [pant, pant]

6) The producer has to coordinate this three-ring circus and ensure all the packaging and documentation are in order. Many producers wear several other of these hats.

I guess the point is to look out for your team so they have the time they need to make your script as excellent as written.

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