Movie Scripts Buying Guide

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Movie Scripts Buying Guide

Movie scripts allow a unique perspective into the process of filmmaking that few other movie-related objects can provide. A script is the backbone of a film's story on which all other elements, like motion, lighting, sound, and special effects are built. The movie scripts available for buyers can come in several different forms and conditions, so buyers should learn a little bit about what's available on the market before making their purchasing decisions. Additionally, to get the most out of their script, buyers should understand the format and basic technical directions some scripts contain which can provide an insightful look into how a film is ultimately rendered on the screen. Fortunately for buyers, there are many purchasing options they can utilize to find the scripts they find most interesting, both locally and online at marketplaces like eBay.

Movie Script Market

Buyers interested in movie scripts include movie fans, entertainment memorabilia collectors, and novice screenwriters. Movie scripts can be either original scripts, which were used by film crews and cast members during the production of a film, or reproduction scripts, which were released by a film studio after a movie wrapped production. Original film scripts offer entertainment memorabilia collectors and film fans an affordable item to add to their movie collections, because original scripts are often undervalued on the collectors' market in comparison to other film-related items, like props and costumes. Buyers should be aware that original scripts will be valued higher than reproductions, particularly if the original features annotations from a legendary film director or actor.

Original Scripts

The condition of an original script does not affect its value as much as other print collectibles like books which are evaluated strongly on their condition. This is because original scripts were intended to be used daily and are not strongly bound or protected with a hard cover. Authentic, original scripts should show evidence of everyday wear, and buyers should be wary of the authenticity of any original scripts which are in pristine condition.

Original Script Supply and Demand

On the collectors' market, the value of an original script is established by the supply and demand for a particular film. Classic movies, like "Gone with the Wind," will have a premium price because of their well-established fan bases. Additionally, original scripts, which are intended only for a film's production crew and cast, are produced in very limited quantities, thereby increasing their rarity. Buyers should fully assess the perceived market value of an original script and its provenance before buying to ensure that the value attached to the script by a seller is justified by the collectors' market.

Reproductions

Movie script reproductions come in many styles. Some are manufactured to replicate the style of original scripts, with plain, soft-cover bindings, while others are constructed with colorful, hardbound covers. Signed movie scripts are available, but most contain copies of autographs of cast and crew members from a film. If buyers are purchasing a signed script for investment purposes, they should make sure that all autographs are originals, not copies, to get the best appreciation prospects from the script.

Types of Scripts

A script's main purpose is to tell a story which includes characters, settings, themes, and dialogue, all centered on a plot. A script will go through numerous changes as it is transformed from a story on the written page into a film which combines motion and sound. Because of this, there are several different types of scripts that exist which are geared to serve various functions, depending on the stage of development of the script.

Type of script

Description

Spec script

Includes the basic story with little directorial details

Draft script

Shows the changes made to an original script in line with suggestions from the film studio

Shooting script

Expands on the basic story by providing production notes and directorial details

Continuity script

Provides a script for older films that no longer have an original script available

Each type of script offers a different look at the filmmaking process. For film fans, having multiple versions of a certain film's script helps to create a more comprehensive movie collection. For novice writers, each style of a script presents a new insight into the screenwriting method which could help writers perfect their craft.

Spec Scripts

A spec (or speculative) script is an original screenplay that was written without a commission from a movie studio or film production company. The main purpose of a spec script is to draw readers into the story, so spec scripts include little or no references to production-related terms, such as "fade in," "fade out," "pan," or "dolly."

Draft Scripts

After a script is purchased, or optioned, by a film studio, a writer is frequently asked by the film's director or the production company to edit the story. Draft scripts are the versions of the script that the screenwriter produces during the editing process. The higher the draft number, the more similar the script will be to the finished film if multiple revisions of the script were required.

Shooting Scripts

Shooting scripts are written by a film director after a screenwriter has finalized a screenplay. In a shooting script, the story elements supplied by the screenwriter, like dialogue, action, plot, and setting, are supplemented with detailed information that is relevant to the film crew and post-production teams. Within a shooting script, each scene is divided into shots which will include information for the cinematographer, such as "close-up," "medium shot," or "tracking shot." While the director plans the shooting schedule before principal photography begins, the shooting script is separated into dates which establish when each scene will be shot.

Continuity Scripts

Continuity scripts are composed by a writer after the writer has watched a film that no longer has a script available. This practice is generally applied to older films when original scripts of the film have been lost.

Movie Script Format

Movie scripts have developed into a standard format that was established to mimic the pacing of a film. Each standardized script page roughly equals one minute of screen time, so most feature length film scripts will be between 105 and 130 pages long. The cover of an original script, or a reproduction based on an original, will simply state the title of the script, the writer, and any reference to source material if the film is an adaptation. Unlike plays, film scripts do not contain a cast of characters on the first page of the script, and instead start off directly with the setting description or the action.

Abbreviations Used in Scripts

Scripts often contain a number of specialized abbreviations that could be difficult to decipher for people not accustomed to the standardized script format. Luckily for readers of scripts, these abbreviations remain constant throughout all scripts, so once the reader understands the meaning, they will be able to apply that knowledge to all the scripts they read.

Abbreviation

Term

Meaning

EXT.

Exterior

Action of the scene will take place in an outside setting

INT.

Interior

Action of the scene will take place in an interior setting

I/E

Interior/Exterior

Action will move between interior and exterior settings during a scene

O.S.

Off-screen

Action or sound is happening outside of the frame of the camera

POV

Point of view

Camera angle mimics what would be seen from the eyes of a character

V.O.

Voice over

A character will be narrating the scene

f.g.

Foreground

Describes action taking place in the foreground of a shot

b.g.

Background

Describes action taking place in the background of a shot

CGI

Computer-generated image

Denotes that computers will be used in post-production to create something within the shot

The number of abbreviations used in a script depends on the type of script that is being read. Spec scripts will have the least amount of technical abbreviations, while shooting scripts will use directorial abbreviations liberally.

Buying Movie Scripts

Buyers can take a number of different approaches when buying movie scripts, depending on the buyer's primary purchasing motivation. Entertainment memorabilia collectors will be mostly concerned with the authenticity of original scripts and should do as much research as possible to make sure that their purchases are originals. Movie fans who have a collection of articles related to a certain film might be interested in buying a number of different script formats for the film to extend their collection. For burgeoning screenwriters, buying duplicate scripts can be a great way to study the screenwriting craft. Having two versions of the same script allows screenwriters to take the scripts apart, rearrange certain story elements, markup as needed, and make notes in the margins of the script. Original movie scripts are often found through entertainment memorabilia stores, auction houses, and private collectors, while reproduction scripts are available in bookstores and shops dealing specifically with movie-related items. eBay is a great source for all types of movie script buyers who can find original and reproduction scripts though eBay's global network of sellers.

Buying Movie Scripts on eBay

eBay's Movie Memorabilia section allows buyers to browse movie scripts in both original and reproduction formats. To narrow searches, buyers can also use keywords to help define the parameters of their search. Once a promising script is found, buyers can register to create an account and place a bid on the script or use the Buy it Now option if available.

eBay Tools

eBay provides a number of helpful tools for buyers to use during the purchasing process. To evaluate a seller's customer service and past performance, buyers can use the eBay Feedback Rating system. To keep communications flowing freely, buyers can correspond with sellers directly using the "Ask a question" option from both their home computers and mobile devices with eBay ' s mobile apps.

Secure Transactions with eBay

eBay is committed to providing a secure platform for all transactions performed through its marketplace. To learn how to increase the security of accounts, visit the eBay Security Center to see details on the best practices users can employ for their own protection. If a problem arises with a transaction, users should follow the recommendations outlined on the eBay Buyer Protection page to reach a fast and satisfactory resolution.

Conclusion

Movie scripts provide a rare glimpse into the magic that is moviemaking and help fans have a token from their favorite films. The movie script marketplace is varied both in terms of buyers' motivations and the types of scripts available. For buyers to get the most satisfaction from their purchases, they should do some research into the different scripts that are sold on the market and determine which type, original or reproduction, best fits their goals. Understanding how a script is formatted also enhances the value buyers can receive from their acquisition. Once buyers are aware of their options, they can find scripts easily through a variety of sales channels including online marketplaces like eBay.

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