Film Scripts Online: Database Review
Film Scripts Online, Volumes 1 and 2
The Film Scripts Online Series is an Alexander Street database, which is part of Proquest. Describing itself as a “highly structured archive,” Film Scripts Online contains 1500 full-text authorized versions of copyrighted screenplays, as well as biographical information about directors and writers. Most of the scripts have never been published before and are not available elsewhere.
Volume 1 includes over 1000 screenplays to classic American movies, while Volume 2 adds 500 scripts of contemporary American films and international films. Most of the scripts are transcriptions that have been reproduced in a uniform style, typed and with identical formatting. Some scripts are instead facisimile images reproduced from the original. There appears to be no easy search mechanism to identify which scripts can be viewed in their original form. Each script can be viewed with a list of scenes on the right side, so that the user can easily jump to a particular scene in the screenplay. Scripts are not downloadable, although they can be printed in their entirety.
The scripts are full-text searchable. You can also search by title, subject, genre, director/producer, performers, characters, scriptwriter, publisher, and year published. While there are numerous online sites that offer copies of film scripts, those freely available online are searchable only by title or genre. Film Scripts Online offers the ability to search in many different ways. It clearly identifies whether each script is a draft script, continuity, or shooting script, and each item also includes a small image, typically from the film poster.
Volume 2 of the database also includes 37 short digitized books from the British Film Institute’s Film Classics monograph series, each of which focuses on a single film that is included in the database.
Date Range: 1903-2015
Publisher: Alexander Street (Proquest)
Publisher About Page: https://search-alexanderstreet-com.mutex.gmu.edu/about
Object type: Scripts
Location of Original Materials: Film Studios (Warner Bros, SONY, RKO, MGM); Rights holders such as Faber & Faber, Newmarket Press, Penguin Putnam, StudioCanal, Vintage Anchor; collections of individual righters
Exportable image: No
Facsimile image: Some
Full text searchable: Yes, full-text searchable using their Semantic Indexing technology
Titles list links: https://search-alexanderstreet-com.mutex.gmu.edu/afso/browse/title?ff%5B0%5D=document_type_facet%3AScript. A bibliography of both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the database is available as an excel spreadsheet on the company’s page about the product[https://alexanderstreet.com/products/film-scripts-online-series]
HISTORY: Alexander Street was founded in 2000 “with the goal of publishing large-scale digital collections of exceptional quality in the humanities and social sciences.” [from https://search-alexanderstreet-com.mutex.gmu.edu/about]. Their products contain both in-copyright material and never before published materials. Their collections span a dozen fields, although they have particular strengths in film streaming, music collections, and the performing arts. The company began working on Volume 1 of Film Scripts online in the early 2000s. It added Volume 2 in 2015 (for the press release announcing the new database, see here). Film Scripts Online seeks to make it easier for researchers to explore popular culture, the evolution of cinema, and the structure of scripts.
Original Catalogue: no previous collection, presented with agreement from individual and corporate owners of the material
Digitized from Microfilm: No
Original Sources: Film Scripts held by corporate or private owners
Reviews: None Found
Access: The Alexander Street Databases are available at some libraries; its use requires an institutional subscription. Higher education faculty can get temporary access to the database by signing up for a free trial.
Other: The “Details” section for each script clearly states the copyright status and rights holders. There is also a tab for “Related Items” that brings up other materials from the Alexander Street collections that have some kind of connection to the script. These connections are loose and imaginative; the database has, in effect, built in a tool that can allow for some serendipitous searching.
Citing: Film Scripts Online includes a helpful “Cite” button in the top toolbar that allows users to send themselves citations for any script in a variety of different formats (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc). Lists of sources can be exported, emailed, uploaded to different social media sites, or saved in a “Playlist” within the database. An example citation, in Chicago format, is:
- Hawks, Howard, Dudley Nichols, and Hagar Wilde. Bringing Up Baby (1938): Shooting Script. Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street, 1938. https://search.alexanderstreet.com/view/work/bibliographic_entity%7Cbibliographic_details%7C2928966.