A spec script, also known as a speculative screenplay, is a non-commissioned and unsolicited screenplay. It is usually written by a screenwriter who hopes to have the script optioned and eventually purchased by a producer, production company, or studio.
Spec scripts which have gone on to win Academy Awards include Thelma & Louise (sold by Callie Khouri to MGM for US$500,000 in 1990), Good Will Hunting (sold by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to Miramax Films for US$675,000 in 1994) and American Beauty (sold by Alan Ball to DreamWorks SKG for US$250,000 in 1998).
A spec script reads differently from a shooting script or a production script in that there is more focus on the story itself while the focus on camera movements and other directing aspects should be rarely if ever, used. Camera directions and technical directions are often added in the later drafts. The sole purpose of a spec script, also known as the selling script, is to showcase a screenwriter's talent at telling a story through action and dialogue.
Spec scripts are often written by unknown screenwriters looking to prove their storytelling ability and make a name for themselves in the film industry.