TO CUT OR NOT TO CUT IS RARELY A QUESTION WHEN EDITING A SCREENPLAY IS CONCERNED
YOU USE THE KNIFE
Having been on the receiving end all too often where books are concerned, I truly hate the automatic tendency of editors to cut.
Many seem to feel editing is cutting—and it isn’t. Editing is helping the writer to be as good as he can be—and that is a very complex process which has, arguably, more to do with empathy than anything else.
Where a screenplay is involved, the ground rules are different. Here length is critical with a page of screenplay per minute of screen-time being the industry standard. Maximum normal length is 120 minutes so your screenplay has to come in at close to that. It can overshoot a little, but not by much.
Why so? Well, apart from anything else, the kind of people you want to attract to what is a collaborative process tend not to read overly long screenplays. They are regarded as the mark of an amateur.
Unfair? Quite possibly—but competition is intense and the winnowing process is not subtle.
The screenplay I am working on started off at 200 pages. I have no choice but to cut.