Where to start?
There are no hard and fast rules to this.
But if I had to do it again.
This is probably a route I would consider taking.
If you have all this, that's great. Now you need to structure everything into a story and put it into screenplay format. But you've never done this before. You have no idea where to start.
Before you get started:
Read 20 produced screenplays. Ones that are in the same genre as the one you want to write. If you want to write a horror. Read horror. If you want to write a comedy, read comedies.
Then watch the movies and see how things translate from the page onto the screen. Have a look at how they do it. When do things happen to the main characters? At what point does the main character's life change? When does the protagonist leave their comfort zone?
These are the types of things you need to be looking for.
After you've done this. Reread the screenplay.
Now you need to join a peer review site where you can read amateur screenplays. Out of all the ones on the web, my favorite one is Trigger Street Labs.
Lots of information.
And the best thing. It's all free.
You need to start reviewing screenplays. If you've never done this before. It can take a bit of getting used to. Especially if you don't actually know what you're looking for because you're just starting out yourself.
So before you do your first review of a screenplay. You need to go to the forum and check out how the spotlighted reviewers do their reviews. Find out how they review and evaluate a screenplay.
This is one of the best ways to learn how to structure a screenplay.
You now need to start reviewing and giving feedback.
It doesn't matter what genre you get. You're here to read and give an honest evaluation of the screenplays you read.
Before you even consider even writing that first screenplay.
You will need to read and evaluate around 20-30 screenplays to start. You'll find that the more amateur screenplays you read , the better your feedback will get. You'll start noticing things and trends that will help when you come to writing and structuring the story of that first screenplay.
While you're doing this, you should be coming up with plenty of ideas for your screenplay. The more you have, the easier it will be to structure your story.
Once you've done this. You need to start structuring your story.
Setting up your main characters.
What does your main character want and need?
What are their internal and external goals?
Probably the toughest of the acts to write.
What's the main plot?
What are the secondary plots?
Does the main plot cross the secondary plot?
This is where you get the ups and downs of the story.
Does the guy win the girl?
Does the good guy defeat the bad guy?
Usually the ending is the opposite of the start?
Not all the time. But usually it's the opposite.
The above is pretty simplistic. But it gives you a rough idea as to what should happen.
I wouldn't buy any books at this stage either.
You pretty much want to write this on your own, under your own steam with no one else's influence.
You now need to write it.
Give yourself a deadline. Twelve weeks should be enough. Especially if you've planned and outlined it well.
Once you've written it. You need to put it away for a couple of weeks. While it's sitting in a drawer. Come up with other ideas for other projects.
After two weeks, come back to it and go through it.
Rewrite scenes if you need to. Change dialogue etc.
Now you need to upload that sucker onto Trigger Street Labs and get some feedback. This can be quite daunting and you need to grow a thick skin. Because some reviews will get under your skin. But remember, this is for a good cause. This is to improve your story in the long run.
While reviews are coming in. You should continue reviewing.
You'll probably want around 10 to 20 reviews.
Make sure you print off the reviews before taking down your screenplay.
Put it away for a week and come back to it and the reviews with an open mind and fresh eyes. As writers, we can get too close to our work.
Look for common areas and problems that have been brought up.
Perhaps ACT 1 is too slow.
Maybe you have a couple of characters that could be combined into one.
Maybe you need to cut pages because it's too long. Ideally 85 – 115 pages or less.
Then the rewriting starts after this.
A few notes I made during the session with Simon Beaufoy at the London Screenwriters' Festival 2012.
Sometimes it's good to write what you know.
It can be equally as good to write about what you don't know.
In order to have a clear vision of the world you want to create. You need to do the RESEARCH.
No need to add specific music to a screenplay.
Being able to take notes and understand problem areas within a screenplay.
BE OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS!
Keep REFINING & TIGHTENING YOUR WORK.
Layer your scenes -- Make them rich.
What do I need my CHARACTERS to do within the context of the STORY?
What would they do in the situation and circumstances they find themselves in?
Character ACTIONS & CHOICES must be believable.
TRUST YOUR VOICE and the IDEAS in your HEAD.
No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.
Notes taken from Luke Ryan's session at London Screenwriters' Festival 2012
Most Important Things
Know and understand who you're pitching and querying to.
Writers earn a living by writing.
As a writer you should be easy to work with.
And have excellent ideas for projects.
PURPOSE OF PITCH
To make the person you're pitching to say:
"I have to READ/BUY that!"
Using as few words as possible.
CONFLICT most important component of STORY.
CONCEPT and PREMISE
Concept = BIG IDEA
Premise = The way into the BIG IDEA.
Ideally the story needs to be:
A Good logline:
Captures the most interesting ideas in the story within one or two sentences.
Gives us a clear idea of character, tone and stakes.
Two vital parts
The BUT and the MUST.
GIVES US A
A (CHARACTER) sets out to (ACHIEVE A GOAL), but (RUNS INTO AN UNEXPECTED & SOMETIMES IRONIC OBSTACLE) and must (GROW IN A WAY TO TRIUMPH OR FACE CERTAIN DOOM).
Is this something other people want to see?
Is this something I can write the hell out of?
ALWAYS REMEMBER TO WORK THE ASSISTANTS
Find out who writes like/similar to you?
Actually do a proper letter rather than email.
A few notes I took from Kate Leys' session.
The central character must want something. They have a goal to achieve.
What are the stakes? They must be important to the main character.
Conflict -- As the story progresses, make things worse for the protagonist.
Take them out of their comfort zone.
How does the ending play out? Make sure it's an emotional ending and satisfying to the audience. Chances are the audience will remember the ending if it's good.
What's the central idea that holds the story together?
Who's story is this?
What do they want?
Why can't they have it?
What do they need in order to understand?
What does the protagonist get at the end that they did not have at the start?
10 things that can go wrong while writing a story.
I jotted down a few lines during this session.
Hope that makes sense.
N.B. If you're returning next year. Well worth going to if your schedule allows it.
Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there.
It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It
doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely
will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?
Then who the hell else are you talking... you talking to
me? Well I'm the only one here. Who the fuck do you
think you're talking to? Oh yeah? OK.
If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan
never told you what happened to your father.
He told me enough! He told me *you* killed him!
No. *I* am your father.
LITTLE BILL DAGGETT
I don't deserve this... to die like this. I was building a house.
Deserve's got nothin' to do with it.
LITTLE BILL DAGGETT
I'll see you in hell, William Munny.
John August and Craig Mazin discuss Frankenweenie and Superhero. And other things related to writing.
I was thinking of all the shows on TV that I've enjoyed watching over the last 17 years or so over the weekend.
I'm sure there are others that I've forgotten.
So it was nice to see two new series pop up on the small screen over the last two years.
It's not often you get two shows coming along at once on TV that are good. That have a good cast, good production values and are well written with characters that you can go on a journey with. In my opinion, TV is a lot different to movies.
I really want to see a lot of character development with good story lines and good production values. All too often I'll start watching a series on TV, only to be disappointed by the lack of character development. With very poor production values. No effort put into the show at all.
In regard to character development in a movie. Again this depends on the genre of the movie. Not every movie needs strong character development, but it does need to be entertaining, and logical to some degree. But I'm going off on a tangent.
I decided to treat myself over the weekend to the entire series of Game of Thrones (2011). I'd been hearing a lot of good things about it. And I have to say, that's one heck of series. I'm unfamiliar with the source material so I can't comment on how closely the TV series follows it.
But as far as entertainment goes, it certainly scores a 10/10. In a way it reminded me of the first series of ROME, except this has the fantasy element in it which I'm partial to. Nothing like a bit of sorcery. But that side of it doesn't come into play until the second series. And I'm hoping this aspect will play strong in future series. I know there are five novels written so far by George R. R. Martin. So there's plenty of material to dig into and work from, which I'm looking forward to.
The other series that I've been following is The Walking Dead based on the black and white comics created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore (who was later replaced by Charlie Adlard).
I know some will say that the second series sucked because it was set in one location and that not much happened, but I think this was because of budget constraints etc. You can only do what the budget allows.
In my opinion both shows are pretty damn good. Good cast, great writing and good production values.
Hopefully in time and with no future cuts to budgets, both these shows will progress and grow even bigger.
They both have a wealth of source material to work from, only time will tell.
As far as the list above.
I wish they'd bring back:
Going off on a tangent here.
But it would also be great to see these two shows revived at some point:
Two favorites of mine.
Mustn't forget Downton Abbey. Great cast. Well written. Great production values.
Look, I don't know shit about shit
but I know right from wrong!
A nice little article on what a reader does and how they go about evaluating a screenplay.
Kissing requires a total of 34 facial muscles, and
112 postural muscles. The most important muscle
involved is the orbicularis oris muscle, because it
is used to pucker the lips.
John August and Craig Mazin discuss what makes an idea a movie idea.
There are movies that set a benchmark for others to follow.
This is Blue Leader to Blue Bikes. Run these guys into your jet walls.
BLUE BIKE #1
Copy Blue Leader.
BLUE BIKE #2
Copy Blue Leader.
This is Gold-1 to Gold-2 and 3. Split up.
Take them one-on-one.
Watch it! Watch it!
BLUE BIKE #1
(Tron corners him between a light wall and his own trail)
I'm taking him into the maze.
This is it. Come on. Gold-3 to Gold-2 and 1. I'm
getting out of here right now, and you guys are invited.
So long, suckers.
Video game warriors escaping game grid. This
is an illegal exit. You must return to game grid.
Repeat! This is an illegal exit. You must return to the grid.
Although I do think they made a mistake when they got rid of Richard Donner.
So when I heard about Man of Steel I was extremely pleased.
Superman Returns had all the elements, but it seemed to miss the mark and was basically going over ground that had already been covered.
I know Zack Snyder received some flack over Watchmen and Sucker Punch, but I thought they were pretty good. A little dark perhaps, but I thought they were pretty entertaining. I'm hoping Man of Steel won't be too dark. The character of Superman is not Batman, but we'll have to wait and see.
He also did a remarkable job on the Dawn of the Dead remake.
My only gripe at this time. Is the lack of a good trailer. I really think the studio could put together a better 2 minute clip than the one that is presently available. It's all right, but it's not exactly riveting or exciting. And we are in October now.
Also if they are rebooting the Superman franchise, they should seriously consider setting up the characters and laying down a strong foundation for a Justice League movie. It seems to be taking a very long time.
Anyway, looking forward to it.
Frodo's fate is no longer in our hands.
Then it has all been in vain ... the
Fellowship has failed.
Not if we hold true to each other. We
will not abandon Merry and Pippin to
torment and death, not while we have
ARAGORN pulls a HUNTING KNIFE out of his pack and straps it on.
Leave all that can be spared behind.
CLOSE ON: ARAGORN ... a steely light in his eye.
We travel light. Let’s hunt some Orc.
Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd
like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me! They
need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast
you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code,
it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're
only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you.
When the chips are down, these... these civilized people,
they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just
ahead of the curve.
Welcome to Russell’s website. A storyteller who enjoys writing screenplays for movies. Even though the process is hard. It keeps his imagination working overtime.
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