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Screenwriting - A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

Coming up with movie idea and writing a script treatment are what I like to call the honeymoon phase of screenwriting. You’re excited with the newness of the story you want to tell. That newness slowly begins to fade as you prepare to dig in to write. If you’re a newcomer to screenwriting it’s like your first marriage. How do I make it through this?

Formatting Your Script

First off your movie script should look like a real movie script. If you can afford screenwriting software get it before you put one word to paper. All the formatting is done for you freeing up your mind to focus on writing a script instead of dealing with formatting issues. I currently use Final Draft 7 and love it. If you’re going to run a marathon you would buy cool running shoes. Same thing with writing a script. Get cool screenwriting software because writing a script is a marathon. Moving on from formatting.

There Is No Right Or Wrong Way To Work On Your Script

I like to work alone without a writing partner. If you’re going solo writing your script, prepare yourself for a lot of late nights inside your own head. No one will be there to brainstorm with or motivate you. If you do not see yourself as the self-motivated type look into finding a writing partner to work with. It’s like a marriage, so make sure it’s the right person or you’ll drive each other crazy. Remember it’s thin line between love and hate when writing.

Some screenwriters like to schedule a block of time each day to work on their script. Some lock themselves in a room weeks on end. There’s no right or wrong way to work on a script in my opinion as long as you are making progress and are happy with what’s being written on the page.

When I get into writing a script I can write 10 hours or more a day losing track of time. I don’t have a set writing schedule. I work hard when I feel the story flowing, pull back when I hit a block, and sometimes don’t touch the script for a few days. Your life situation will often dictate how you work on your script. I know writers that work on their scripts before going to work or after the kids have gone to bed. What you feel works best for you is the path to follow. Creativity can be found anywhere when you’re in the right frame of mind to write.

Hitting The Wall

Marathon runners sometimes experience fatigue where they feel like they can’t go any further. It’s called “hitting the wall.” Sometimes screenwriters experience “hitting the wall” on a mental level. The newness of the script has worn off. You’re feed up with your story, what you’ve written, and tired of looking at this script that never seems to be what you want it to be. Maybe you could have been more prepared before coming? Maybe there is something else you can do as a writer to save your relationship with your script? Or do you walk away?

Hopefully you found this article useful. If you want to read more about one filmmaker’s story making movies please pick up my new book. The First Movie Is The Toughest by Sid Kali is packed with no nonsense advice, help, and entertaining stories about making movies outside of Hollywood on limited budgets. This book is for aspiring Screenwriters, Directors, and Producers along with the casual movie viewer with their own great story idea for a movie. No hype. No bull.

Posted in Film, Film Maker, Film Making, Filmmaker, Filmmaking, Films, Movie, Movie Making, Movies, Screenwriting by KeyserSoze : May 16, 2009 - 5:00pm


Top 5 Ways to Become a Pretentious Auteur Filmmaker

Ever wondered what it takes to become a truly pretentious, so-far-up-yourself-you-could-cry, auteur filmmaker? You’ve seen them; either in Hollywood or the independent sector - film directors who think they’re God. Film directors who think they’re conducting work that will change the world as we know it. Danny De Vito once quoted an often heard saying in the industry, “the reason why you become a director is because the position of God has already been filled!”

Today, I’m here to share with you my experience with an absolute insane auteur film director simply called ‘Sputnik’. Filmmakers with one name are always strange enigmas worthy of report somewhere; especially ones named after a Russian space probe. Sputnik has managed to drive everyone he’s worked with totally mad despite his ‘artistic’ achievements. The legend began with his first masterpiece, the five minute opus simply titled “SHORT FILM”.

I had the chance to catch up with Sputnik recently and he provided me with some tips for what he thought would make a great film director like him. And rather than paraphrase, I’ve decided to list his top 5 tips in his own words:

1. “It really is all about the film” – And by extension, it’s about my vision. Every film has to have a vision and everyone who works on the film is serving the director’s vision. If you want to make it in this industry, you have to be prepared to serve the director’s vision. If not, you can go back to your garage with your little handheld camera making movies and distributing them on some cheap internet site. Being a director is not a popularity contest. Some times you have to push people to get the best, and if that means stepping on a few toes along the way, so be it. As long as the results are up there on the screen. I don’t care if they don’t like me! Neither should you!

2. “Actors are window dressing” – Actors have this misconception that they are important to film. What they don’t realise is that they’re just providing elements of a performance to be manipulated later in the editing room. That’s why when you hear famous actors talk about quitting film, it means that they’ve learnt that they’re not the centre of the universe, which is a disturbing thought for most actors leaving their fragile egos crushed in a frenzy of sobbing. Remember, it’s all about the film not all about the actors. Better still, when any actor says a director is a self-absorbed, egotistical wannabe, it means that the director has changed the actor’s performance in editing despite what they discussed on set, and they feel violated. Too bad. It’s not the end of the world. They can always go back to the theatre.

3. “Pick a good title” – The title must encapsulate everything to do with the film. Take my first masterpiece; it really was all about the film. So my first thought was to simply call it, “FILM”. Works well, yes? But then I realised it was only five minutes long, so I decided to call it, “SHORT FILM”. Make sense?

4. “Be dedicated” – You know, most people can’t get off their sorry asses for even two seconds to concentrate and do something worthwhile. When I made “SHORT FILM”, I concentrated for four days to make that film. FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT! And sometimes, I even worked up to seven hours in a day! It was intense, but I was up to it. And that’s why I’m such a brilliant director.

5. “Digital is evil” – I’m stating the word ‘digital’ on this one occasion only because I want filmmakers to understand; ‘digital’ is the tool of the devil. Films are made on film! All these pathetic little upstarts with their whiz-bang digital amateur cameras and their supposedly powerful computers thinking they can break through in to the industry with their backyard prowess. Let me tell you something now: you’re setting yourself up to fail. If you haven’t listened to anything I’ve told you, make sure you listen to this: Films are made on Film. Look at Spielberg, he knows what I’m talking about. Not like his buddy Lucas. Those ‘Star Wars’ films were just great weren’t they?

There you have it. In Sputnik’s own words, what it takes to get yourself to the top of the industry. Sputnik is currently working on a number of projects including his debut feature masterpiece, “Feature Film”. If my experience with him is anything to go by, the behind the scenes footage from the making of that film could potentially be as fascinating as the film itself. Only time will tell!

Author: Todd Murphy

Posted in Auteur, Cinema, Director, Entertainment, Film, Film Maker, Film Making, Filmmaker, Filmmaking, Films, Hollywood, Movie, Movies by KeyserSoze : May 16, 2008 - 9:01pm


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