Spec script
A spec script, also known as a speculative screenplay, is a non-commissioned unsolicited screenplay
A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

. It is usually written by a screenwriter who hopes to have the script optioned and eventually purchased by a producer
Film producer
A film producer oversees and delivers a film project to all relevant parties while preserving the integrity, voice and vision of the film. They will also often take on some financial risk by using their own money, especially during the pre-production period, before a film is fully financed.The...

, production
Filmmaking is the process of making a film, from an initial story, idea, or commission, through scriptwriting, casting, shooting, directing, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a theatrical release or television program...

 company, or studio
Movie studio
A movie studio is a term used to describe a major entertainment company or production company that has its own privately owned studio facility or facilities that are used to film movies...


Interest in originals

Spec scripts have not always held as much cachet in the business as they do now. Ernest Lehman
Ernest Lehman
Ernest Lehman was an American screenwriter. He received 6 Academy Award nominations during his screenwriting career...

 describes how his original script for North by Northwest
North by Northwest
North by Northwest is a 1959 American thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason, and featuring Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau...

was unusual at that point in his career:

Attracting producers

If the writer of a spec script has an agent, the agent will identify a number of prospective buyers who may range from small independent producers to executives working in the major studios, and attempt to build up 'heat' under the script. The script is sent out simultaneously to all the prospective buyers in the hope of attracting a bidding war.

If the script sells, the writer may receive a payment of anything from a few tens of thousands of dollars to several million. If not, the script is sometimes dead in the water because it is now in the databases of the studios and development executives, and has been marked as having been 'passed' on.

Most of the tens of thousands of spec scripts penned each year are written by unknown or amateur screenwriters. (See the screenwriting documentary Dreams on Spec
Dreams on Spec
Dreams on Spec is a 2007 American documentary film that profiles the struggles and triumphs of emerging Hollywood screenwriters. It was written and directed by Daniel J...


Most often if they are unique in content and concept, they are purchased based on the speculated end result of entertainment (and assuming rewrites by studio-hired screenwriters, if needed).

If a spec script is not picked up, but the script is good, the screenwriter is usually offered another writing assignment. Spec scripts are often written by unknown professional screenwriters looking to prove their storytelling ability and make a name for themselves in the film industry.

Sample script

Sample scripts are not intended for production but are used for showcase purposes only. Unsold or unproduced screenplays often go on to be sample scripts.
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