The title says it all. I'm talking about a feature-length film here, although I'm sure the techniques are universal.

3 Answers 3


1 page = 1 minute

That's the reason that all screenplays are written in 12pt courier font and the margins and spacing are strictly adhered to, you can tell how long a film will (probably) be at a glance.


As said, 1 page (standard format) is estimated at one minute.

If you are worried and want a more detailed answer: If your dialogue is particularly dense or complicated, read it aloud with a stop watch, as you are intending it to be spoken.

Note that dialogue instruction (tone, volume, accompanying physicality) will take up room on the page that happens simultaneously with dialogue; and some action scenes ("they struggle for the gun", or "they fight"), for which you leave the choreography out, may take longer than the single line or two of action suggests.

Reading all the dialogue aloud is always a good idea anyway; it is surprising (to me) how often I write something that sounds good in my head but I stumble over when speaking it aloud; or it sounds "written" instead of spontaneously spoken. If you are saying it aloud anyway, you might as well be timing it too.

For action scenes like a fight, you can (outside the screen play) imagine your own basic blocking, act out the fight, and use that as your timing guess. But keep in mind the director will likely want incidental fighting short (not "set piece" finale fights, or early character motivation fights; but e.g. proving that a character can fight, or taking out a gatekeeper at the door to a club). I recently re-watched Jack Reacher on basic cable and in his "proof" fight he beats down five bar fighters in about ten seconds and walks away unscathed. That's really all you need to say in a script (except perhaps exactly how their leader was injured, because you want to show his bandaged face later). Choreography is a job for a pro, but if you've seen enough shows you can imagine a good substitute fight.

Just don't watch a movie without a stop watch! Unless your spouse insists you put it away. Then, you know, count beats in your head.


The standard for a script is to estimate that one page equals one minute.

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