Information about American Film Scripts Online
Release 8
1. About the Database - a description of the contents of the database and its purpose.
2. Editorial Criteria - detailed criteria used in selecting materials.
3. Release Notes - discussion of current and future releases.
4. Errata - known typographical and software errors to be fixed next release.
5. Acknowledgements - thanks to our partners!
6. The Writers Guild Foundation - a note about their role in the project.
7. Software Requirements - notes on which browsers are supported.
8. Technical Support - whom to contact for technical support.
9. Subscription and Free Trial Information - how to get a subscription or a trial.
10. License Agreement - licensing terms and conditions.
11. How to Contribute Materials or Comments - how to contribute materials.
12. Copyright and Performance Permission Statement - copyright terms and conditions.
13. Archiving - how this material is preserved for the future.
14. Cataloging Records - what kind of MARC records will be available for this collection.

1.   About American Film Scripts Online

American Film Scripts Online (AFSO) was conceived as a project to digitize and thoroughly index 1,000 film scripts.  The rationale behind this is not only to provide access to many previously unpublished screenplays, it is to allow scripts to become part of the established corpus of literary works.  Legal, authoritative versions of these screenplays will, we hope, be consulted by a wide range of scholars, including historians, sociologists, and those who study literature.

Our research with historians and sociologists indicated that they wished to examine particular scenes and characters within a defined corpus of films.  For example, they wished to view all scenes of domestic violence in films from the 1980s.  The database has therefore been engineered to provide access at the scene or character level.   It is possible, for example, to find more than 100 criminal characters in the database and view the scenes they appear in.  It is equally possible to find all interior scenes in urban settings in the 1950s.  These and countless other topics for further research can quickly be identified.

The primary focus of the database is the written work, rather than the film itself.  It allows users to see and understand the structure of films, character development, beginnings and endings, plot points and scenes.  It lets scholars see, for example, how derivative scripts are developed.  (There are three versions of A Star is Born and two versions of Little Women.)   

Each script has been painstakingly licensed from the appropriate rights holders, so providing an authoritative source for these materials.  Our thanks to the Writers Guild Foundation, Warner Bros. and many other organizations and individuals for granting us permissions and for giving us permission to make copies.

Back to Top

2.   Editorial Criteria

The scripts within AFSO have been chosen by the following criteria:

  • The film or screenplay won a major award.
  • The film was critically acclaimed.
  • The screenplay has historical or sociological significance.  For example, the writer was expressing a minority viewpoint or if a film is particularly representative of a movement, a time period or a minority group.
  • Within these criteria we are building specific clusters based around genres.  For example, the collection will be built around Film Noir, Silent Movies of the 1920's, and key writers such as Paul Schrader.
  • Our goal has been to include the shooting script wherever possible.  In some circumstances we have been unable to do this - typically because of licensing reasons - in which case we have included the draft script.  

Such criteria are inevitably subjective, so to assist us in making selections we rely on the advice of our editorial board which includes:

  • Pamela Bloom - New York University, Librarian for Performing Arts
  • Nancy Friedland - Columbia University, Media Services Librarian
  • Lisa Kernan - UCLA, Librarian for Film, Television and Theatre
  • Pat McGilligan - Marquette University, Professor, Film Studies; Editor of the University of Wisconsin Press Screenplay series

Back to Top

3.   Release Notes

This final release contains 1,009 scripts by 1,062 writers. It also contains facsimilie images for more than 500 of these screenplays. Most of the scripts have never been published before, and nowhere else are they available online. We have developed the database through arrangements with Warner Bros., Sony, MGM, and with the writers themselves, including Paul Schrader, Lawrence Kasdan, John Sayles, Gus Van Sant, Oliver Stone, and many others. There are scripts that fall into the previously unpublished category, including Bringing up Baby, Drugstore Cowboy, The Lady from Shanghai, Suspicion, Out of the Past, From Here to Eternity, and Notorious. We also have included important published works from Faber & Faber, Newmarket Press, Penguin Putnam, and Vintage Anchor, including The Shawshank Redemption, In the Company of Men, Network, My Own Private Idaho, and The Last Detail.

Script formatting is in the conventional screenplay format wherever it exists in the original - the preferred format for scholars who teach screenwriting and for many historians. For the occasional writer who did not conform to screenplay conventions (Gus Van Sant, for example), we stay true to the original.

Back to Top

4.   Errata

It is our goal to have no errors in this database. Below are known errors in this release of the database which will be rectified in the next release.

Back to Top

5.   Acknowledgements

Many individuals and organizations have assisted us in the creation of this database.  In particular I'd like to thank Eric Schwartz, Roger Mayer and our friends at Warner Bros. for their early support of the project.

  • Staff at Warner Bros, especially Melanie, Carolyn, Kevin and Steve.
  • Staff of the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room at the Library of Congress
  • Ned Comstock - Cinema/Television Library, University of Southern California
  • Ben Brewster and Dorinda Hartmann - Wisconsin Center for Film and Theatre Research, Wisconsin Historical Society
  • Ron Magliozzi - Celeste Bartos International Film Study Center, Museum of Modern Art
  • Pat Cummings - Writers Guild of America
  • Linda Mehr - Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Karen Pedersen, Librarian, The Webb Memorial Library, Writers Guild Foundation
  • Matthew J. Bruccoli, Jefferies Professor of English, University of South Carolina.
  • Staff at Alexander Street - especially John Sciarretto, Will Whalen, John O'Keefe, Michelle Eldridge, Milena Gruwell, Mike Kangal, Nazar Sharunenko, John Cicero, Graham Dimmock, and Pat Carlson.

Back to Top

6.   The Writers Guild Foundation

American Film Scripts Online has been produced with the approval of The Writers Guild Foundation.  The foundation has provided us with access to their library, assistance in determining copyright status and advice on how to contact writers.  A portion of the revenues generated by AFSO goes to the foundation.

Back to Top

7.   Software Requirements

American Film Scripts Online works is optimized to operate with Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher, and Firefox 3.0. (We are aware that the "select terms" feature of our Find and Search is not performing well in Firefox 3.5.2. Upgrading to the latest version of Firefox will resolve this issue.)

Back to Top

8.   Technical Support

You can contact us by:

When reporting a problem please include your customer name, e-mail address, phone number, domain name or IP address and that of your web proxy server if used.

Back to Top

9.   Subscription and Free Trial Information

is available for one-time purchase of perpetual access, or as an annual subscription. Please contact us at if you wish to begin a subscription or to request a free 30-day trial

Back to Top

10.   License Agreement

Terms of Use

Back to Top

11.   How to Contribute Materials or Comments

Our goal is to create a unique archive of Film Scripts according to the editorial criteria expressed above. We welcome contributions from organizations and individuals, especially if you have materials that are unpublished or of unique interest. Submitting materials to our editors is easy and without obligation on your part. If you have collections of substantial value, we may be able to pay you a royalty in return for the rights to use them.

  • If you are a commercial publisher who would like to discuss licensing materials for inclusion in the database, please contact the Editor at or 1-800-889-5937 or 1-703-212-8522.
  • To report factual errors or to suggest improvements, please email us at Please include the writer, the document, and the page number. Please also include your email address, so that we can let you know the status of your correction.

Back to Top

12.   Copyright and Performance Rights

Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that script and materials in this database are fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and all other countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the British Commonwealth and Canada), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright Convention, and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations.  All rights, including but not limited to professional, amateur, motion pictures, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, including information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

Scripts from this collection may not be performed without securing permission from the appropriate copyright holders, as listed in the bibliographic display for each play..  Particular emphasis is laid upon the question of readings, permission for which must be secured in writing.  All production rights reserved.  Under no circumstances may any electronic form (CD-ROM, online, or other local storage medium) be used to create production copies of the play. 

Specific performance rights information for each play can be found in the bibliographic detail display for that play.  Alexander Street Press makes no guarantee that this information is correct.  For plays where no performance rights information is listed Alexander Street Press does not warrant that no performance rights exist. 

We are eager to hear from any rights owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future. Please e-mail the editor at the address below.

Back to Top

13.   Archiving

Texts produced for American Film Scripts Online are considered research materials and receive the same level of stewardship as books, paper documents, and photographs. Once complete, copies of the database will be given to all purchasing institutions, so ensuring that the materials are available to subsequent generations.

Back to Top

14.   Cataloging Records

MARC records are available for this collection.

Each play has its own MARC record to allow linking from the OPAC to the individual item.
This will enable patrons to link directly from a publish access catalog to all documents pertaining to that author.
To retrieve these records, please see our site at and select the records for American Film Scripts Online.


Produced in collaboration with the University of Chicago.
Send mail to  with questions or comments about this web site.
Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy
/ Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database
Copyright © 2003- Alexander Street Press, L.L.C. and partners.  All rights reserved.
PhiloLogic Software, Copyright © The University of Chicago.