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American Film Scripts Online

Scan of the original publicity poster for King Kong (1933).  The UCI Libraries has recently licensed American Film Scripts Online (AFSO). This database contains 1,009 full text film scripts, over half of which have never been published. Film scripts are often difficult to acquire due to copyright and permission clauses. AFSO is a digital archive that allows scholars to easily access film scripts in one place. Most of these scripts are accompanied by PDF’s of the original version.

Multiple versions of screenplays are included so that scholars can analyze derivative scripts. This feature is also useful for comparing the writer’s vision with the producer’s and director’s interpretation.

The collection scope extends back to the earliest silent films and progresses to the present. Scripts included in the collection have been selected using the following criteria:

  • The film or screenplay won a major award.
  • The film was critically acclaimed.
  • The screenplay has historical or sociological significance.

Within these criteria ASFO contains specific groupings of screenplays based around genres. For example, the collection is searchable by film genres such “Film Noir” or “Silent Movies.” The screenplays are also searchable by screenwriters, so that it is possible for students to identify and compare multiple screenplays generated by one author such as Paul Schrader.

The database vendor, Alexander Street Press, produced the database in collaboration with the University of Chicago. Their collaboration yielded in the development of Semantic Indexing™ a database feature in ASFO that enables users to search by several criteria such as character, scene, race, nationality, age, subject, genre, year of writing, and other elements within the scripts. ASFO also provides short bibliographic and biographical entries on related directors, producers, and writers.

American Film Scripts Online has created a guided tour to help you get started using this resource.

For more information, contact Virginia Allison, Research Librarian for Visual Arts (v.allison@uci.edu or x40360).

Above right: Scan of the original publicity poster for King Kong (1933).

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