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09/08/2001 - Teleplay Format

Teleplay Tips & Tricks

Teleplay Format

For all practical purposes, teleplays come in three formats. There's one-hour film, half-hour film, and half-hour tape.

The hour film format is used for dramas, action shows, and primetime soaps. It looks a lot like typical screenplay format. Most hour dramas run about 55 pages long. They start with a three page "Teaser," which is followed by four "Act" and, sometimes, a one page "Tag." Sometimes the teaser is actually part of the first act. And sometimes the tag is actually part of the fourth act. The first act is usually longest, with each succeeding act a little shorter than the one before it. Often, the last act is just the "chase," or climactic sequence.

The half hour film format is for sitcoms. It too looks like typical screenplay format, except that the scripts run about 40 pages long. These teleplays also usually start with a three page teaser and end with a short tag, but in between those two book ends are only two acts.

The half hour tape format is also for sitcoms. It looks a lot like stageplay format, including double-spaced dialog and uppercase stage directions. Tape format shows run about 45 pages in length and also have short teasers and tags and two acts.

Well, what're you sitting there for? Now that you've got the format...start writing!


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