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Screenwriting

Learn screenplay writing from the best

Once you've learned the basics of screenplay writing the best way for a filmmaker to polish his/her craft is by writing as often as possible, and by reading the best of other writers. Try to read one a screenplay a week.

Some movies have become popular teaching examples in film schools because their screenplays are such perfect examples of how a screenplay should be written, and the execution of the screenplay into the film was outstanding.

On this page I list some of the greatest films ever made in various genres along with a link to the original screenplay for downloading (where available). At the bottom of this page are links to sites where you can download lots of other original screenplays.

These movies are all highly entertaining (assuming you like the genres) and are worth owning because they are good on so many levels. You will learn a lot about filmmaking by studying any of these films.

A good way to study a film is as follows:

  1. Read the screenplay.
  1. Watch the film for emotional impact on the first viewing. Just watch it and observe how and and what points it effects you emotionally.
  2. Watch the film again observing the structure. How/when is the world of the film is introduced? How/when are the characters introduced? Who is the hero/villain? What is the conflict and how and when does it play out?
  3. Watch the film for the character arc (how do the characters change during the film). Do they all change?
  4. Watch again trying to pick out any themes (repeated elements).
  5. Watch again paying close attention to dialog. Does it sound real. How much talking is there compared to the amount of action. Could you understand the story if you turned off the sound?
  6. Watch again paying close attention to the lighting. Pause the film from time to time and try to figure out how they got the effect. What elements of the story are being emphasized by the lighting in each scene?
  7. Watch again paying close attention to the visual composition. Pause the film on each shot and see how the elements in the frame are placed. Where are the characters in the frame. What direction is the action going. Could you do it better?
  8. Watch again paying close attention to the pacing. How fast does the story move? Does it drag at some points? Does every scene serve a purpose? Is every scene just as long as it needs to be?
  9. Watch again paying close attention to the sound effects and music. Do they add or annoy?
  10. Watch again paying close attention to the makeup, costumes, sets and locations.

By the time you've watched a great film ten times you will have learned a tremendous amount about filmmaking. This exercise is worth more toward being a great filmmaker than a year at film school.

I suggest you start with just one of these, first reading the screenplay, then watching the movie, to see how the screenplay was brought to life. Pick one of your favorites, or a movie you've always wanted to see, and really get to know it.


Action Adventure

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Must Have!
Must Have!
Get the screenplay
Must Have!
Get the screenplay

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.


Westerns

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some products I recommend and may receive some compensation if you buy them through my links. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally reviewed and/or own and believe them to be worthy of your consideration.
Must Have!
Must Have!
Get the screenplay

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.


Horror

Product Reviews
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some products I recommend and may receive some compensation if you buy them through my links. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally reviewed and/or own and believe them to be worthy of your consideration.
Must Have!
Get the screenplay
Must Have!
Get the screenplay

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.


Thriller

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some products I recommend and may receive some compensation if you buy them through my links. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally reviewed and/or own and believe them to be worthy of your consideration.
Must Have!
Get the screenplay
Must Have!
Get the screenplay

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.


Drama

Product Reviews
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some products I recommend and may receive some compensation if you buy them through my links. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally reviewed and/or own and believe them to be worthy of your consideration.
Must Have!
Get the screenplay
Must Have!
Get the screenplay

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.


Romance

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some products I recommend and may receive some compensation if you buy them through my links. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally reviewed and/or own and believe them to be worthy of your consideration.
Must Have!
Get the screenplay
Must Have!
Get the screenplay

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.


Romantic Comedy

Product Reviews
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some products I recommend and may receive some compensation if you buy them through my links. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally reviewed and/or own and believe them to be worthy of your consideration.
Must Have!
Get the screenplay
Must Have!
Get the screenplay

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.


Comedy

Product Reviews
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some products I recommend and may receive some compensation if you buy them through my links. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally reviewed and/or own and believe them to be worthy of your consideration.
Must Have!
Get the screenplay
Must Have!

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.







Fantasy

Product Reviews
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some products I recommend and may receive some compensation if you buy them through my links. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally reviewed and/or own and believe them to be worthy of your consideration.
Must Have!
Get the screenplay

The Filmmaker's Basic Library has all the top-rated filmmaking resources.


Where to find screenplays on the web

Drew's Script-O-Rama is the original site for finding movie screenplays on the web. You need to read good screenplays and unless you live in L.A. you won't have access to libraries of the real thing. Script-O-Rama is the next best thing. Don't buy commercial books of screenplays because they generally aren't correctly formatted.

Simply Scripts, however, seems to currently be the biggest and best site for free screenplays.


Looking for more screenplays? Dozens of additional sources, mostly free, are included on the downloadable ebook version of this site.

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