Screenwriting 101: Kevin Smith

January 1st, 2013 by

“The first draft of Clerks was 164 pages. The first draft of Mallrats was 136 pages. The first couple of drafts of Chasing Amy were 136 pages. They just shrunk from there. And, you know, I’m lazy, so I’d love to shoot the first one, but there’s always somebody with notes. Chiefly, the person I listen to most is Scott Mosier, my producer. He has the best advice, and really has great insight into the stuff I write. So I’ll write a draft, hand it off to Scott, and then tinker with it based on what he sees in it. I tend to write very large and then rein it back in. I never use Final Draft or one of those screenwriting programs, I just use Microsoft Word, and then I make my own margins and stuff. When I print up the script, I shrink it down to 80%, so I can fit more on a page than normally [laughs]. You know, which is kind of wrong! I always get blasted by the production staff because they’re like, “Your 120-page script is really a 150-page script,” because it’s printed small. So the whole page-a-minute ratio doesn’t quite work for me. It worked on Clerks because the dialogue was delivered so quickly, but it took me five films in addition to that to realize, “Maybe I should I stop printing it at 80%.” So basically, my first drafts come in really long, and Mosier is kind of the editing knife, he hands me back the draft with a bunch of cut suggestions. So the next draft is usually the one I hand in, and then you start dealing with notes on the studio side.”

— Kevin Smith from “Creative Screenwriting” [March/April 2004]

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