Like any other craft, the best way to learn is to see the work of others. More and more screenplays are being made available online. Here’s a list to get you started! It may help to focus on screenplays in your genre of choice. The script for a sci-fi action movie may be less helpful if you’re working on a period drama.
Some caveats about reading screenplays: There are two primary kinds of scripts: spec scripts and shooting scripts. A shooting script will include scene numbers, camera angles and other details, but what we are writing – spec scripts – do not. You can still learn plenty from a shooting script, but just be aware it’s a different animal.
Also, the rules that apply to Tarantino do not apply to us, so don’t assume you can apply whatever techniques he uses. Rely on the Screenwriter’s Bible, your screenwriting software, and other sources to ensure you’re following “the rules.”
Lists of scripts to download:
- 2013 Award Contending Scripts from BlueCat
- Gravity, Prisoners, Fruitvale Station, and more
- A list of 2013 Academy Award Nominees including Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and lots more.
- Internet Movie Script Database
- Daily Script.com
- Read Watch Write – Script Share
- Screenplays for You (Thanks, Dennis!)
- Simply Scripts (Thanks, Genevieve!)
A few selected scripts:
- Dallas Buyers Club (direct link to PDF)
- Argo, Winner, Best Adapted Screenplay, Chris Terrio
- Breaking Bad and Mad Men TV scripts
- Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols
- Rian Johnson, of Brick and Looper