Based on years of input, your script should follow predetermined industry standards. The fact that you are writing an independent film means some of those standards do not apply. We will touch on a few of them.

First, what is an independent film? It is a film written and produced by individuals without the help of major Hollywood studios.

The write program

The two professional writers use most is Final Draft and Movie Magic. Both will remove confusion about formatting because they are programmed to do the formatting for you. An alternative choice is Celtx. You can download it for free via the Internet. A second alternative is Microsoft Word. Using Word will require you to program the software to handle the formatting.

Types of screenplays

Both independent films and Hollywood pictures have two major types of screenplays. They are written first as a Spec Script. This screenplay is the basics of a script (see Elements below) and do not contain director camera angles, or transitions. The second type is a Shooting Script. This screenplay will contain all camera angles, transitions and directors notes.

As the writer and director your script can contain any and all director elements as needed.


Basic structure for any screenplay is the three ACT structure.

ACT I will give you the setup of the protagonist and introduce the first plot point.
ACT II will push the conflict forward and is the largest portion of the screenplay.
ACT III will have the almost unbeatable conflict and will contain the climax.

In a 120-page screenplay the standard breaks down like this:

ACT I – 30 pages
ACT II – 60 pages
ACT III – 30 pages

Please remember these are only guides and may not pertain to your script. Do realize however, the page count is very important in that it allows you to figure budget because 1 page = 1 minute on screen.


Elements of a script

Each screenplay will contain a variety of the following script elements.

  • Scene Heading
  • Action
  • Character Name
  • Dialogue
  • Parenthetical
  • Extension
  • Transition (Shooting Script)
  • Shot

After the first draft

A number of things must happen in order to get your screenplay to film. Those things include rewrites, securing funding and finding distribution.

Good luck in all your endeavors.

“Be yourself – relish in your accomplishments and enjoy what you have yet to become.” – M. Stalvey