Steven Spielberg's "Duel" | Writing An Action Screenplay

I was always taught that reading film and TV scripts is very important if you want to make films. It teaches you how a script is written, how good plots are structured and how what's in your head should look on the page. 

Reading a script while watching the final film is even better, in my opinion. Not only does it teach you about structure, format and style, but you can also see how things are changed and ask yourself why? Why did something that read well need to be changed at all? Why did the director choose to visualise that scene this way instead of another. 

A while ago I watched Steven Spielberg's 1971 TV thriller, written by Richard Matheson and starring Dennis Weaver. I loved this film. It was so exciting, so intriguing. It left me feeling that something like that could actually happen to me and sure enough the next time I drove down a motorway after watching it I couldn't help but feel threatened by any car or van that angrily overtook me. 

I was so intrigued that I sought out the script and began to read it. On page, I was surprised to find that it was equally thrilling. 

I then sat down again with the script and watched the film again, reading along with the script in front of me. 

This was a fascinating exercise that taught me a lot about screenwriting and directing and it's something I talk about in this video, where you will find a link to the film and the script if you want to try this exercise for yourself. 


My name is Jay, I am a freelance filmmaker you can find more from me at The Director's Logbook and follow me on twitter xx