History of Screenwriting
What it is
In the dictionary, a screenplay is defined as “the written form of a movie that also includes instructions on how it is to be acted and filmed: the script for a movie.” Screenplays serve as the basic backbone of a movie, from which the actors, directors, cinematographers, editors, and more get the information they need to create the world of the film.
The first true screenplay is thought to be from George Melies' film A Trip to the Moon in 1902. The movie is silent, but the screenplay still contains specific descriptions and action lines that resemble a modern day script. The 1903 film The Great Train Robbery contained a script similar to Melies', but was ten minutes long. As time went on and films became longer and more complex, the need for a screenplay became more prominent in the industry. The introduction of movie theaters also impacted the development of screenplays, as audiences became more widespread and sophisticated, so the stories had to be as well. Once the first non-silent movie was released in 1927, screenwriting became a hugely important position within Hollywood. The "studio system" of the 1930s only heightened this importance, as studio heads wanted productivity. Thus, having the "blueprint" (continuity screenplay) of the film beforehand became extremely optimal. Around 1970, the "spec script" was first created, and changed the industry for writers forever. Now, screenwriting for television (teleplays) is considered as difficult and competitive as writing is for feature films.