How Many Scenes Are in a Movie?
when you sit down to write a movie or even cut one, how do you know how many scenes are in a normal movie?
and beyond this question, how many scenes in a movie are long? How many scenes in a movie are those little ones that barely last a page?
How many scenes in a feature film are about as long as they were written?
You could really get lost in these types of questions and get out of the writing zone. so if you’re just starting out, forget all these questions, keep writing, and come back to this page when you’re rewriting.
ok, are you back? Now is when these things really start to matter.
Today we’re going to go over the average length of a scene, the number of scenes, and talk about how this will affect your script.
take out your stopwatch (just kidding).
how many scenes are there usually in a movie?
Look, I get it. you want to finish writing and hope you can skip writing a certain number of scenes. but that’s not really how the story goes. you have as many scenes as you need.
If you want some reference numbers, here you go: The expected average would be a 120-page script with about 2-3 pages per scene, resulting in about 40-60 scenes. hold on, though.
I’m here to tell you that that sucks.
most scenes take about a page. maybe less. I took out my film, shovel companions. the blacklisted version of the script is 91 pages long and has 74 scenes.
yes, I know my movie is not citizen kane.
but the script got me reps, a sale and has made me a paid screenwriter for the last five years. so I think the lesson applies here. which is: writing scenes that matter.
Using spademates, let’s take a look at…
how long should a scene be?
look, this is script writing. so you know there’s only one rule, and other than that, it’s kind of a dice game. each movie is made up of a series of scenes that build on top of each other. I’m not going to sit here and pretend there’s a magic number of pages for the length of a scene, but I have lots of suggestions on scene writing that can help.
Generally, you don’t want your scene to be longer than four to seven pages.
what is the longest scene in shovel buddies?
It’s closer to eight, but it’s seven. it’s one of the first scenes of the movie and we meet a bunch of characters, we reveal the plot of the movie, and it’s probably still a little too long. but we couldn’t afford a lot of locations, so it all worked out in the end.
take a look:
Where did I come up with those numbers?
Mainly through my own experience.
I think a lot about movies and if you watch enough, you’ll see that every scene has a dramatic arc. people walk in with a goal and walk out with what they want, new information, or both. sometimes that can take longer than anticipated and sometimes the scene contains some action or scenes that can extend the length of the page.
Another interesting rule of thumb for a scene is that it should be about needs and obstacles. if there is no need to start and there is a bump in the road, then you don’t have a scene worth writing.
Generally speaking, you don’t want your scenes to intensify the point. if you’re writing a script that’s about 110-120 pages long, you might need around 100 scenes. some of these will be establishing shots and montages, but they still count.
write as many scenes as you need and rewrite it until it’s perfect.
what’s next? learn to write a scene!
If you want to learn how to write a scene, you’ve come to the right place. sitting down to write a script can be a daunting task. that’s part of the reason we started our free online screenwriting course. but really, at the core, each script is just a series of interlocking scenes that build a narrative. what if you don’t know how to write a scene?
Click the link for more information.