View Full Version : Script or Storyboard? Length?

03 March 2005, 07:23 PM
Hi everyone,

I've been developping a script for a TV show for some time now and i have a few questions that i can't find anything about... Keep in mind that the questions are based on the very hypothetical idea that my script will get someone interested in the first place!

1) Should i be sending in a script or do a short presentation with a storyboard? Why should i choose one over the other? Ideally, i'd like to direct the show myself and be in charge of its production rather than submit a script for a network to buy from me (or however it works).

2) How long does a TV show script need to be, per episode? Film needs to be 120 from what i've read, but there's nothing about TV scripts...

Thanks in advance!


03 March 2005, 06:41 AM
Hey Raji, I'm not sure if I could answer #1 but #2 would depend on the length of your TV episode. From what I've learned in my script writing class 1 page is 1 minutes. So a 60 minutes show is 60 pages. Hence the 120 page for movies because they're about 2 hours. Keep in mind it's a general guideline, a page might have 30 seconds worth of action or 2 minutes of dialogue. But overall the entire script is 1pg:1min

As for #1, I think you'll have to send in your script and if they like it you go in and "sell" your script the way you see it in those infomercials. You'll try to show off your story to get them to buy into it. What I don't know is how to sell it AND be a director of it. Someone else would probably answer this better than me.

Hope that helps a little.

03 March 2005, 03:49 PM
thanks for your help, SirRon. I was reading on that "script writing secrets" website that yeah, 1 page = 1 minute. That works fine for film because there are no commercials... but don't TV shows have to be like 18-20 minutes? It makes the length issue that much more confusing for me:shrug:

As for sending in the script first, then pitching the idea with a storyboard, that makes sense to me. Thanks! Any other input is welcome of course.

03 March 2005, 04:51 PM

I'd focus more on developping your story and making it excellent before you worry about the page count.

You need to know about character development, structural theories, diving up scenes and acts and all the rest. Some good books to read are Screenplay by Syd Field and Lew Hunters Screen Writing 434. Start with these and THEN write your story of you're just going to set yourself up for a very difficult road and disappointment.

In an interview with Simon Moore (The Quick and the Dead) he says you have to write a million words of crap before any of its starts to become good. I've written a feature, co-writen 2 features, written 3 shorts and am currently also developping a tv series. To be honest with you my past work is all quite poor, but there are good moments and I'm getting better.

So my advice to you is write for yourself now, and to sell later. Most screenwriters that get a film made from their scripts probably have 10 older ones locked up at home that are dire. It's really 10% inspiration and 90% persperation mate.

Unless you have previous directing experience you are very unlikely to get a chance to direct. Less so in TV than film.

I hope this is helpul, I'm not trying to put you down or put you off. I know the above and it's not put me off (though I don't really want to be a writer as my main vocation).

(also check out the Quenta Silmarillion thread in this forum for a short film script I wrote yesterday).

I'll be happy to answer any more questions but for now if you are serious about this, get those books.

03 March 2005, 07:50 PM
Benork, thanks for your reply! I've been using this website ( as my source for knowledge so far, but i probably need to find as many more as possible. I'd rather find resources online than pay for them :D

Like you though, i'd rather not make writing my main vocation. I'm a 3d character animator first. I just got an idea to write a script i thought would be fun and could eventually become something. Speaking of which, the script i'm writing is intended for animation. That's why i brought up the directing issue. Is it impossible for me to direct a TV series even if i have a strong background in character animation?

I'd like to share the story online but i'm still mortally afraid of being robbed! hehe. It's probably not a good enough story for someone to want to steal it, but at the same time i do need some feedback and i'm kind of proud of the idea... so i really don't want it stolen... I'd like to get an idea of whether or not the story is any good... you seem to have quite a bit of experience. Care to take a look at what i've got so far?

03 March 2005, 09:34 PM
I'd be more than happy to have a look at your idea. Email me at

If you are afraid of your idea being robbed you can register your idea/concept/script with the Writers Guild of America at the cost of $20. You can do it online and i think the url is (but you can always do a google search). It provides legal protection you can use in court if anyone steals your idea.

Again I stress the need to read those books, even if you don't want this to be your main vocation they are a must if you want to take this seriously. They are worth their weight in gold and definatley worth the cost.

For some reasons I can't access that site right now as my internet connection is playing up. I'll try again later.


04 April 2005, 01:09 PM
I just happened by this thread today, and I wanted to add:

Most hour-long shows run for an actual 40-ish minutes (by my reckoning between 42 and 48). Don't forget that TV shows have to be written with commercials in mind. I can't remember how long a half-hour show actually is, but I'd assume around 25 or so minutes with titles.

04 April 2005, 03:00 PM
A half hour episode is actually about 22-24 minutes in length. They are also usually written in "acts" because you have two commercial breaks in between. Unless you're talking about Japan where it seems like they only have the one commercial break. Also please keep in mind you're losing about 30 seconds from the "top" and "bottom" of your show because of the opening and closing credits, so it's more accurate to say 21-23 minutes in length with two commercial breaks in between.

Also, the usual number of episodes for an entire series runs at either 13 or 26 episodes. For an animated series, play it safe and assume 26, because most broadcasters are going to be pretty iffy about running only a 13 episode "season."

The "safest" way to sell your show (And even with this there are no guarantees) is to produce a pilot episodes that you can actually let potential buyers view. Rarely will a broadcaster take a chance on a total unknown who comes in and says "I have this great idea for a show, here's the script!"

They normally prefer some kind of presentation, where you show the concept, present a synopsis of the pilot, have an outline of subsequent episodes and finally view the pilot itself, or some other kind of demo to show that this thing CAN actually be produced.

Hope this helps...

04 April 2005, 10:50 AM
Hi, there's a great book called Animation development and writing by JEan Ann Wright. I reviewed it at ( if you want to take a look. I have done hte same of you. It took me three years to develop an animation concept for tv only for it to turn into a concept for the cinema. I guess that's what they call development! There's some great work on writing also there's a book by a guy called Jeffrey Scott that's supposed to be pretty good.

06 June 2005, 03:30 AM
Just so you not be sending ANYONE or any network a copy of your script! If you want your idea stolen instantly...sending it without copywriting it and without having the person you want to read fill out a non-disclosure form is the fastest way of giving your ideas away...and there's nothing you can do after the fact! No matter how nice anyone is to you here on this site..don't be sending your script without a non-disclosure form! I realize this info may be way too late, as I see the date you posted this question...To quickly protect your idea...though not the totally legitimate way, is to have a printed copy of your idea put into an envelope, then register mail it to yourself, requiring your signature, and then DO NOT EVER OPEN IT!!! Stick it in a file somewhere. The registration process will date and code it, so you have proof of it being in your possession prior to anyone else receiving a copy of if you're taken to court you have some sort of proof by the date stamp...however, if you open the package, that nullifies whatever was in it so make sure someone else doesn't accidentally open it fact tape some sort of note on top of it reminding you not to open without a judge present!
As for producing or directing your own idea..that's never going to happen unless you've established yourself...however, if you get the money to make it yourself and then sell it...problem solved. If you can make a pilot yourself, it is possible that you'll have proven yourself capable of directing it yourself...though don't completely count on it...a network may look at your demo and find faults in the way you've directed it and may decide to do it differently, with their own director. In fact, you may end up with only the core of your idea still intact with so much changed you won't really recognize it as your own...networks have a "vision" which may or may not be a good one...but hey...they have the's their decision! I don't mean to rain on your parade..but thought you should be prepared for what you're up against so you can try to get your foot firmly in the door, knowing in advance how they may try to remove you as much as possible from your own idea! That having been's always possible to blow their socks off and all of this would be moot! Good luck!

06 June 2005, 04:50 AM
dwarren, thanks for all the advice. I've been tempted to send the script to others, but after consulting some close friends, i decided not to do it. Your advice obviously points in the same direction, so thanks! Everything else you wrote was of great help!

06 June 2005, 06:50 PM
Hello Raji,

dwarren_home is absolutly right. Always protect yourself from fraudulent use. Some people are sneaky and are reading forums like this one to get ideas.

Always try to mmet them in person to make them sign the non-disclosure form instead of sending it by mail. It's harder, but hey! It's worthy!
A 30 minutes episode would be 22 minutes. A 60 minutes one, 44 minutes, but the market is a lot smaller and producers don't really like 60 minutes show.

If I might say, write your idea, write your charracter's bible, write a few episodes, not the entire season, if the producers want to see more it means you have to charge them for your work.

Try to get a hand on someone to help you to design your characters, an envorinement and try do the a book of it. Producers always like that... well, most if them.

But like dwarren_home said, don't expect to direct it if it's your first TV work. Sell your idea, make money and a name of of this and then work on other projects and THEN you might have a shot at directing your own project.

Good luck dude!

06 June 2005, 05:16 PM
i would definitely take that advice and make the pilot episode on your own or with a few collaborators outside the big studio environment. it will take longer but if you put the work into it you'll have a polished piece of animation that will show the potential that your idea holds. if nothing else you'll be able to put your directing stamp on a finished piece of work and who knows from there. if you do choose to work with others, think about nondisclosure statements from them too. just because they're working next to you doesn't mean they won't consider taking your idea or even making some spin-off once your project is finished.

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