How Long Does It Take To Write A Movie Script? With Examples.

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On average, professional screenwriters can write a draft of a feature-length script (75-110 pages) in a period of two to three months or a period of 60 to 90 days. However, successful movie scripts have been written in a few days.

Rewrites are usually finished in 30 days or less.

You can write the first screenplay draft at the pace of 5 pages per day to finish in less than 30 days, but only if you’ve outlined it.

If we take the outline into account, then the development process for a professional writer could take longer, anywhere between six months to a year.

How long it takes, on average, to write a script for a 2-hour movie

In the film industry, one page of a screenplay is considered equal to one minute of screen time.

That means that to write a two-hour movie, you need to write roughly 120 pages.

If you write one page a day, that’s 120 days. If you average 3 to 5 pages a day, this could be as short as 24 days or as long as 40 days. 

That said, most movies don’t have to be two hours, let alone 120 pages.

The ideal length to shoot for is between 75 to 110 pages. If it’s any more than 110, you better have a good reason. 

The 12-week Professional Contract

Any professional movie script contract typically gives a writer 12 weeks for a draft.

However, professional writers should be able to write a feature film in 8 weeks.

While the whole 12 weeks is to write the script from page 1, the script must be rewritten and polished before being handed over. 

This timeline doesn’t account for outline time.

A professional writer might take anywhere from two to six weeks to outline a paid assignment before they enter the actual writing portion of the contract.

Spec script writing time varies

When you write on spec, it’s much more variable, but if you’re a professional, you are probably juggling multiple spec outlines in various stages at any given time.

Also, many producers could work with first-time writers to flesh out an outline for months before they commit actually to option the film. 

After the first draft is handed over, there will be another 8-week rewrite period followed by a 6-week polish period.

There can be (and frequently are) multiple “mini-rewrites” between these official passes as both sides, the producers and the writer, want to make the script as good as possible without adding new terms to the contract.

Keep this in mind and be prepared for multiple unpaid “tweaks.” Just make sure to keep track of them!

How long does it take to write an episode of TV?

how long does it take to write a screenplay for a movie

Writing for TV is unique because you work with a team of writers for four to six weeks as part of a writer’s room, where the team “breaks” the story of the entire season and every individual episode.

After a story comes “off the board”, the writers assigned to each story will go off and write their episodes for a period of two to three weeks.

This includes two days or so to flesh out the story, one week to write the outline, and after revisions are made, sometimes a writer has less than a week to write the full episode.

This type of timeline is common and will be expected of any professional writer, so it’s good to condition yourself to write fast and on the fly with your work.

On Spec TV pilots

As for a Spec TV pilot, you write on your own, take as long as you need on the first one, and be prepared to rewrite it a lot.

Once you’ve got it in a place you’re happy with, you should move on to the next project and write that, only this time on a faster timeline.

Original pilots take approximately the same time to write as a feature film since it will take a ton of rewrites to make an original pilot great.

Remember that a pilot will likely be used as a writing sample to get you staffed and likely won’t be sold outright until you have some credits under your name.

Examples of Movie Scripts that didn’t take long to Write.

One of the fastest screenplays ever written, if not the fastest screenplay ever written, was The Breakfast Club which John Hughes wrote in two days.

A former advertising copywriter, Hughes was known for writing screenplays in twenty-hour binges over the weekend in his prime. 

While this is not recommended, writing a first draft in two, three, or even four days with a strong outline and incredible focus is possible.

Some writers lock themselves in a room for a few days up to a few weeks to concentrate and finish a screenplay. 

Remember you’ll still have to rewrite your script many times once you finish the first draft. But it’s 110 times easier to edit the first draft of a done screenplay than write 110 pages of a nonexistent screenplay.

Here is a list that Screencraft put together (curated by writer Shanee Edwards) of the top 10 fastest movies ever written:

Movie nameScreenplay production time
Breakfast Club2 days
Scream3 days
Cabin the Woods3 days
Rocky3½ days
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off4 days
Sex, lies and videotape8 days
Swingers10 days
Taxi Driver10 days
Do the Right Thing14 days
Barton Fink21 days

Outlining a screenplay can take a long time

Some writers take multiple years in the outline stage before they finally sit down to write. 

For example, Jordan Peele outlined the script for his directorial horror movie debut, Get Out, for about five years before he wrote the whole thing.

By the time he sat down to actually write the screenplay, it took him less than a couple of months to write the actual screenplay pages and get them ready to shoot.

Read more on how to use the Save the Cat beatsheet to create an outline for your script.

For his next film, he had less than a year between Get Out’s release and the February 2018 announcement of his next film, Us. This means Peele likely wrote the film’s script in six to nine months.

While this was a much faster turnaround, he revealed in an interview that he had the idea of an evil doppelganger since he was a teenager taking the train home, so it had been brewing in his brain for years.


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  • Grant Harvey

    Grant Harvey is a freelance writer, screenwriter, and filmmaker based out of Los Angeles. When he’s not working on his own feature-length screenplays and television pilots, Grant uses his passion and experience in film and videography to help others learn the tools, strategies, and equipment needed to create high-quality videos as a filmmaker of any skill level.

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