And it’s no wonder; we see the end result of screenplays all the time on TV, at the movie theater and when we rent a DVD, but very few people have actually READ a screenplay. And frankly that is where every aspiring screenwriter should begin; by reading.
The best way to go about this is to visit a website like www.dailyscript.com or www.simplyscipts.com and download the scripts for a couple of mainstream movies. Then read them from cover to cover.
Now go to your local video store and rent the DVD of the scripts you just read. With script in hand, put the disc in to play and STUDY the first 10-15 minutes of the film. Actively compare it to the script. Pay particular attention to the opening image that sets the story in motion or signals ground zero for the storyline.
The next thing you should really examine is the way the script moves the action from scene to scene. NOTICE the slug lines (INT: APARTMENT - DAY) and the often ‘brief’ descriptive text that follows it. Pay attention to the DIALOGUE as it’s delivered by the actors - and as it’s written. How much direction is in the text and how much seems to be the result of collaboration between actors and the director? And finally, pay attention to PACING - how quickly the film & script move the action along as they ‘set up’ the story and the main character’s quest.
The more screenplays you read the more comfortable you will find yourself with the strict formatting structure once you sit down to put you own great idea to paper.
Good luck with it - and let me know when you’ve completed your script. I’d love to read your work!