TV Show Scripts vs. Movie Scripts

Between movie scripts and scripts for television shows, there are more examples of the latter rather than the former. Both types have a lot in common, but there are also fundamental differences between the two. In order to be able to be a successful script writer for either type, you must understand what differentiates the two from each other and other types of scripts.


One essential difference is the format in relation to the placement of commercials. In movies, the entire film is played with the commercials placed right before it starts. On the other hand, television shows have commercial breaks every few minutes, breaking the episode into several parts, and making the length of the episode shorter than it really should.

Television shows fill in 30 minute or 1 hour timeslots. However, with the breaks incorporated, the final length of the episode becomes much shorter. Scripts intended for use with television shows must incorporate a number of these commercial breaks, making them a natural part of the flow of the dialogue or scene. At times, the breaks in television shows are strategically located so that they add emphasis to a particular scene or dialogue.

Script Length

Another significant difference is the length of the script. Television scripts are strict when it comes to the length of the script in comparison with the finished length of the episode. It requires a continuous dialogue between the actors in order to tell the story. With television shows, one page should equate to a minute of airtime. In a movie, the length of the script is no indication of how long the movie will end up. In terms of the length, a script for a television show can be compared to a short story while movie scripts are like full novels.

In most cases, movies are longer allowing more liberties. With television scripts, each episode must provide an important part of the story. This means that each new scene or change in the dialogue should provide some action. For instance, with movies, it is possible to include segments or shots where there is no dialogue for added emphasis or emotion. Symbolism through non-verbal cues can be incorporated in movies, but this is not allowed when it comes to television scripts.


Budget is another distinguishing factor between the two types of scripts. Movies often have more resources, and bigger budgets available for use. This allows movies more leeway in terms of scenes, special effects and the amount of time for production. With a limited budget, there will be fewer drastic scene changes and effects. The budget should also reflect in the script.

Breaking into the Industry

There are two types of movie scripts, the shooting and the spec script. Members of the technical crew read the shooting script as it includes instructions on camera shots and angles. For independent filmmakers, a shooting movie script is essential as it is more detailed.

Although there is a greater range of budget and resources allowed for a movie, the industry allows for more independent filmmakers and scriptwriters to break through. Events such as the Sundance Film Festival and websites such as YouTube are places where even low budget movies can shine.

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