Recommended Screenplays

Following is a list of recommended screenplays; scripts I reference in the tutorial are marked with an asterisk (*). Whenever possible, I have found these works in PDF format, as correct page count is an essential measure of structure, thus important to an understanding of screenplay format. For this reason, it is a good guideline to try to avoid reading scripts that are not properly formatted. This isn’t always an available choice; if you can at least find a correctly formatted online version (for example, as HTML), and you also own screenwriting software, such as Final Draft, you can create a correctly paginated version with a little work. Just paste the script into a blank screenplay document, and go through the result by hand to correct any formatting errors. It takes some time, but the result is excellent.

Obviously, you should watch the finished film of any script you read. It is a very useful exercise to read a script before you watch its filmed version. This allows you to analyze the process of how scripts are turned into movies, and also permits you to note any changes made so that you can think about why the director chose to depart from the source material. In the hands of a smart, experienced director, such changes are usually a good choice. Personally, I’m often not a fan of longer “director’s cuts” of movies, as they inevitably add in material that was cut with good reason.

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