It can take years to make a movie. And just like any other big project, it has to start with an idea. If a movie is like a building, then the screenwriter is the architect. “A movie script is the framework of the building,” says screenwriter Steven Bernstein. “It is your blueprint. It is your plan. All movies, from blockbuster feature films to film school short films, begin with a screenplay, and it’s the single most important document you’ll produce in the entire filmmaking process.”
Script writing is an industry as much as an art or craft. Professional screenwriters are expected to adhere to formatting conventions and industry standards. A member of a production company should be able to pick up a screenplay and immediately know where to find basic things like the title page, name of the screenwriter, and their Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) membership number. They should also be able to easily find a synopsis of the story, the main character, and genre.
Here are the basic elements of screenplays, according to Hollywood pros.