Difference between "script by" and "teleplay by" in TV credits?


As I understand it, a teleplay, like a screenplay, is a presentation of the story and dialogue. A script is more technical, describing camera angles and shots in addition to the story and dialogue.

What I’ve noticed is that in TV credits there’s either one or more persons with a “script by” (or “written by”) credit, or there’s credits for both “teleplay by” and “story by” split between various people. For example, here’s the writting credits for the show Veronica Mars. For most of the episodes there’s a writter or writers listed, but for a few there’s a seperate credit for teleplay and story, or, say, two people are credited for the story but only one for the teleplay, and so on. So, I assume this happens when a writer contributes enough to the plotting of an episode to get credit but doesn’t write the actual script. I don’t know how it’s determined on a TV show what’s enough for a “story by” credit to be given when all of the staff writers may have some input into the plotting of an episode.

Askia, where did you see the “script by” credit. I’ve never seen it in the mainstream US TV and film industry. The terms in the credits are usually, “screenplay”( for films), “written by” or “teleplay” (for TV), and “story” (for both media).

In theory, the “story” (or “story by”) credit should go to the person who created the original idea in a fully developed form, for example, the author of the novel, short story, play, or biography on which the film was based. The “screenplay” credit would then go to the writer who did the most work in creating the script for the film in its final form. This assumes, of course, that the script in question is not originated entirely by the screenwriter. Some scripts are, most are not. (The academy awards now have separate awards for original screenplay and screenplay adapted from some other work)

In practice, the screenplay credit and the story credit aren’t just designations of creative responsibility. The credits mean money, power, status, and even fame, in a minor way (we are talking about screenwriters, after all). The assignation of credits is strictly regulated by the Writers Guild of America, the union to which almost all professional screenwriters for fi

Belowjob2.0. Superhero animated cartoons, mostly – Justice League Unlimited and other WB cartoons.

It looks like your last post was unfinished.


… film and TV must belong. Here’s a short explanation from a John August, screenwriter of Big Fish: http://www.imdb.com/Indie/Ask/20010824.html

In today’s Hollywood, the script for a given movie will often pass through the hands of several writers before it finally gets made. Ten or twelve writers in all is not that unusual. Each writer will be paid handsomely to give his or her special take on the story. Each power player - star actors, star directors, powerful producers, powerful studio execs, has the option of bringing in their favorite writer. As power players sign on and drop out of a given film, the writing assignment can and does change accordingly.

If the film gets made, the issue of credit will be settled by combination of negotiation with the writers and other players and the WGA’s formal arbitration process. A committe made up of WGA members, that is other writers, examines drafts of the script, and compares one writer’s contribution versus another in attempt to figure out who really did what. A lot of people, writers and others in the industry, see this as a very flawed process. No one seems to be able to come up with a better process though.

There’s also a fair amount of hostility between the directors, and their union, the DGA and the writers in the WGA over the question of authorship. Directors will often try to take credit for writing the film, downplaying or denying the contributions of the actual writer(s), because it adds to their auteur mystique (and thusly their paycheck, fame, and sexual opportunities).

I also believe there’s a difference between “and” and “&” in screenwriting credits- one of them (I forget which) actually means the two people worked together, which is why you will often see both “and” and “&” in credits of more than two writers.

Okay. That explains it. Animation is different. On some animated shows, like The Simpsons and Family Guy, the writers are WGA members covered by all the standard regulations. Most Saturday morning kid shows aren’t covered by those regulations, though. They’re non signatories. There’s nothing to stop the owners or managers of those productions from assigning credit to whomever they see fit, though one assumes their professional ethics would discourage this.

Now sitcoms and hour dramas on the networks and cable are covered by the WGA rules, but TV shows are mostly written by teams of writers under the guidance of the head writer-executive producer, AKA the showrunner. The showrunner assigns the writing of a script for a given episode to one of the staff writers. She may have originated the idea for the script herself, or it may have started with one of the other writers or the showrunner himself.

The assigned writer, the showrunner, and perhaps some of the other writers talk about what they expect from the script. They give and get notes. Based on the discussion and notes, the writer does a several page prose summary of the intended script, and then makes a scene by scene outline. The showrunner makes changes, approves the outline, and then sends the writer off to write the final script.

If the script is good, and finished on time (god help the writer who doesn’t finish on time, but sometimes they don’t), the showrunner usually gives the writer the credit for the teleplay, “written by”, in US TV. He may give “story by” credit to himself or whovever came up with the idea. Sometimes showrunners are A-holes, control freaks, liars etc. who insist on rewriting every script themselves, or steal credit for scripts they made no contribution to. Writers who file formal complaints with the union over this will usually find themselves unemployed and unemployable.

Basically it works like this:

“Story by” is usually the people who came up with the story concept (1 or more people).
“Written by” is usually the person (or people) that took the concept, however fleshed-out, and wrote the full-fledged version that was taken as a basis for making the show/movie - often it will change along the way to your TV or cinema screen depending on things like the length of the finished product, whether scenes come across or are too vague or confusing and need to be re-shot, etc. etc.
“Teleplay by” is the same as written by, in that the one(s) responsible have fleshed the concept out to a version that can be taken to production. The difference here, though, is that teleplays are closer to stage plays in the way they are written, with dialogue and action being key and artistic shots or effects being left up to those filming and editing, etc.

Also; the difference between “and”/"&" in the above refers to drafts a script or teleplay went through. For example, if you see the following “written by Bill and Bob & Jimmy”, you’ll usually find the “& Jimmy” on a different line to the other two. This just means that Bill and Bob wrote the first draft and Jimmy wrote the second draft. (Though sometimes productions just use “and” then place the writers on different lines to make this distinction.)

Hope this helps.

Ain’t going to help the OP. He died a few years back.

Hope this doesn’t add to your stress, chrisisstressed.

Re: “and” vs. “&”. The Ampersand denotes a writing team who are being credited together. The word “and” indicates the people worked on two different drafts and are otherwise unrelated.

ETA: did not notice this was a Zombie.

Welcome to the SDMB, chrisisstressed! This is a thread that’s been inactive for a while, or, as we call such threads, a zombie. (Which we started calling them even before zombies dethroned vampires as the quintessential pop culture creatures.)

There’s no rule against reviving them – and obviously no way you’d know that the person who originally asked the question is, well [not gonna make a tasteless joke, because he really was a cool guy], no longer with us – so you haven’t done anything wrong by posting in this thread, esp. with such useful information.

Hope you’ll stick around and find other conversations to participate in.

twickster, Cafe Society moderator