A few months ago, I downloaded the PDF version of Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” screenplay from the Focus Features website. When I saw that it was only a 44 page download, I had assumed that it was either a teaser or a short version of the script.
An hour later after reading it, and then going to the theater, I had realized that the 44-pager that I had downloaded was indeed the real thing. Even now, after owning the DVD, I’m amazed that she managed to turn a 43-44 page script into a 97 min movie.
As a screenwriter, with no aspirations of getting behind the camera, how hard is it, or would it be to sell a spec script, that could possibly be a 100-110 min movie, but only a 65-70 page script? Understanding that execution is key, is it even possible to get your screenplay looked at, with it being so short?
No one would take you seriously.
With Somewhere, Sofia Coppola had already made three well-received and languorously-paced features. So a producer or studio can read her very short script with the expectation that (a) not very much will happen, and (b) what does happen will take a while. So 44 pages feels less crazy than it otherwise would.
Coppola has her style and her fans. I’m one of them. But without her credits, there’s no way that the Somewhere script would make sense in a spec situation. You have to understand her as a filmmaker when reading it.
Almost all feature scripts are over 100 pages.1 The only live-action screenplay I ever turned in that was shorter was the rewrite of a yet-unproduced fable with giant set pieces. It was 91 pages, but if/when it gets made, I think it will still be a nearly two-hour movie. Describing those set pieces in the script took a lot less page length than the corresponding time in the movie. (e.g. Gone with the Wind: “Atlanta burns.”)
- Animation is often shorter; Corpse Bride is 67 pages. ↩