While everyone who writes a screenplay, quickly discovers how obsessive the industry is about proper formatting, it takes a little longer to realize that the proper formatting of your title page, alone, can determine whether your story gets read or rejected before the first page is turned.
Like many of the other idiosyncrasies that seem so unfair governing this industry, there actually is some logic behind it and it is mainly created by the sheer volume of properties arriving on agents, producers, and studio desks.
Here is what readers look for to determine if your screenplay is going to be one of the small percentage that actually gets read.
A script must be held together by two brads. (a brad is a brass fastener that folds open to hold a script together); three is worse than one. People who bind their scripts using three brads, even if a three hole punch was used, are considered to be amateurs whose screenplays are probably unshootable. "Next script, please."
Covers should be single sheet, single color, if you use a cover at all. Many veteran writers demonstrate their coolness and savvy by sending out their scripts with title page only. A rule of thumb for your whole submission is that it should not contain anything that cannot be translated to the screen.
When creating your title page choose Final Draft Courier or 12 point Courier as your font. No colors, other than black, should be used.
The title should be about a third of the way down the page, all uppercase and it can be underlined. Under that, double spaced and centered, should be "by" or "written by," upper and lower case. Below that, double spaced and centered, should be the author's name in upper and lower case.
If your script is based on a book or some other
source, you can write, double spaced, "Based on" or "from a (work)" beneath your name, then (single spaced),
followed by the title of that work.If there are two or more authors they should be listed in alphabetical order and separated by an ampersand, (&). If they are not in alphabetical order, it is assumed that one author considers him or herself to have a larger contribution which can lead to lawsuits down the road. Studios try to avoid lawsuits whenever possible.
If an "a-n-d" is used, rather than an ampersand, it indicates that a screenplay had problems because one author wrote it and another author was hired to fix it. Studios, as a rule, do not want problems at the beginning because plenty are likely to occur down the road. Therefore, always select an ampersand when creating your multiple author title page.
Contact information; your agent's name, phone number and email, should be lower down on the page and close to the left margin, while still being easily read. Your agent may or may not want their address published so check with them on that.
If you have a manager they should also be there. If you have neither at this stage, your own name and contact info should go there in place of them. Contact information should be single spaced.
On the right-hand side of the page opposite the email address should be your Writers Guild Registration number. Never write "copyright" because all screenplays are automatically copyrighted and if you state it, you will appear to be an amateur.
Deviating from any of the above could get your script rejected and it's the easiest part of anything you'll do, so why set yourself up?
A word about copyright:
It is very important to register your script with the Guild so you can prove the ideas were yours if a problem crops up but in a arbitration or court situation, you will only be able to recover Guild minimum as a settlement.
If, however, you register with the Library of Congress you will be able to collect actual losses in a settlement which could be a huge amount of money. Titles are not copyrightable so use a working title until you are actually ready to produce your epic.
The copyright rules above are for United States only but you can use them as guides when applying for copyright in your own country.
I hope that well help anyone wondering why their blockbuster never even got read and make sure it's not your title page that bites you!
Why only two brads not three? i can only surmise that scripts have to be pulled apart many times to make copies of certain scenes for certain departments making 3 brads unnecessary work for the reader but it's possible no-one knows for sure.
There's an old writers joke in Hollywood that goes like this:
How many development people does it take to screw in a light bulb?
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