Some Expo Convention Notes
Creative Screenwriter Expo Convention Notes-1
Karl Iglesias- Evoking Emotions
Keep reading interesting scripts- 6,000 scripts in development in Hollywood
Emotion is evoked by concept, style, dynamics, and theme.
Every “act” of a character has an “affect” on the audience
How? Find out what evokes your emotions, and then write it.
Mark sections in scripts that move you.
“No tears in the writer- no tears in the reader.”
Avoid adverbs Ex. Strongly poisonous replace with venomous
Instead of saying he starts to walk- say he walks.
Instead of “car” say a “ shinny BMW.”
Use names of things that can be experienced or felt.
Shawshank- “ his wing-tipped shoes crunch on the gravel”
Production designer like these kind of specific images
Image provoking words- gloomy, shadows, creaks- air sucked around the body- the champagne bottle falls on the ground and explodes like a torpedo”
Dynamic verbs- the bell rings- the bell clangs
The woman cries- the woman sobs
Constant vivid movements- sand “blasts”- don’t describe things, but rather what is happening.
Use words that sound like a sound- smash- squish- wheezes-
Tick, tick, tick
Crash of thunder- pain pelts against the window- rain lashes the streets-
Simile- eyes are the window to the soul- eyes are like the window to the soul
A smile that could sale ice to an Eskimo-
Ron Bass- short sentences, silent,
WRITE THE STORY FIRST BEFORE EDITING IT
“She turns with a look that would turn anyone to stone and a will that is not to be fucked with”
Most new writers let their characters talk too much. Use “tags” to make characters different. If the dialogue is predictable then fix it.
Ex: Do you want to go out tonight?
Woman: She picks up the phone, dials a number and says- “ I can’t make it tonight”
While the man who asked her listens.
Use opposites, use humor, use opposites- “ instead of I never forget a face- say: I never forget an ass hole-
PUSH BUTTON DIALOGUE- Have you ever been mistaken for a man- No, have you.
Next class: Seducing the Reader- Robert Flaxman
Rule one: Don’t piss off the studio reader.
Blank paper as an image- the writer starts with it- the reader starts with it also- he has not seen the movie-
Sometimes there is a gap between what you intended to say and what you are saying-
Don’t send anything out until it is ready
Keep the reader in your creative reality from the 1st page to the last-
If there is a sudden change in location- it may throw the reader out of the world you have created- the reality of the moment is lost- a reader WANTS to get lost in the story.
Most scripts lose the reader 15 or 20 times during the reading-
Readers want to see things we are familiar with- A reader picks up a script of a movie he has not seen
Why does a reader recommend a script: 1. The Read 2. The Story
He should be able to read from page one to the end without stopping.
Title page- 1st impression- do not say “screenplay by” just say “by”
When you write use visual things that make the movie move and flow.
A reader can not read your mind-
Int. Jim-day Int. High school Jim- Day
Be as specific as you can.
Int. Wedding reception- day Int. Hilton Hotel Ballroom-day
Ext. Ice cream shop- day Ext. Ice cream service window- day
Ext. Video store-day Ext. Mini mall video story- day
Int. Susan’s apt. door- day Int. Susan apt. building hallway
Int. Hospital Int. Hospital waiting room
Once its “day” you don’t need to say it over and over again-
Once “inside” a mansion- just day the room instead of the complete setting
Int. Mansion- Day
Int. Street – night Ext. Hollywood Blvd. night
Inside the limo….
Slow your film down in your rewrites- make everything visual to yourself and on paper.
Don’t repeat slug line information in the action line below it.
Keep the readers energy focused on the main characters
( do not add superficial information like- the soldiers have caps)
Use chronology in a scene- don’t say “Jack jumps when the phone rings”
Instead- “ the phone rings- Jack jumps up.”
Introduce important characters in a proper way- not too many at one time- do not use similar names as it can confuse the reader-
Have a separate line for each character-
Last person introduced is the first to speak in dialogue
Introduce the names as neatly as possible
First write- fill your script with your ideas- then go back and fix it in the rewrite
Keep the number of characters to just the min. necessary.
Keep characters and locations consistent
No x-ray scenes: Lucky carries a briefcase full of explosives- HOW CAN WE TELL WHAT IS IN THE BRIEFCASE UNLESS WE SEE IT OR HEAR ABOUT IT
READER IS A VIEWER OF THE FILM
Dave, a hairdresser, leans against a bar. ( How do we know he is a hairdresser?)
THE READER CAN NOT KNOW MORE THAN THE VIEWER OF THE FILM
No psych scenes- “ John realizes his whole life has been a lie”
No contoured faces- keep emotions to one- no re-visualizing- meaning have the reader see everything he should see when he should see it ( clown nose illustration)
Avoid- Sally is speechless (well)
Sally remains quite (well)
We see John turn and run
Use “beat” and “pause” sparingly
No continued at bottom of the page
At bottom break in a speech type (more) then at the top of the next page (cont.)
No “continued” anymore
No re-visualizations in your script. “Clown nose” scene where everyone see a guy with a funny nose on except the reader- he must visit the entire scene again after he finds out-
NO- Ext. Outside Ben’s house- day (ext- outside are the same)
Sally is speechless (well?), Sally remains quite ( well?) no we see-
In a crowd of characters use their names- not pronouns
Don’t use meaningless action- Ben gets busy- rushes to Sarah’s aid.
Instead: Jack pushes Sarah away from an oncoming car
She cries………..she does not “begin to cry”
She gets up…….she does not “start” to get up
No directions- North, south, etc.
You can say- he points to the Rockies- no POV or Shots
Use active verbs- Jim sits at desk- rather Jim watches Julie from the desk
PUT THINGS IN ORDER in a town so the reader can follow the action-
Know the difference between- Lye and lay- as well as other words
Nods “yes”- shakes head “no”
A writer has not opinion in his script- he must show it
Each link must be strong- each scene
A perfect screenplay is a house of cards- take one scene out and it all falls down.
KARL INGLESIAS- HABBITS
A Screenwriter is highly disciplined
Have a reason to write- let the flame burn bright inside of you
WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE
Serious writers study great scripts
Set a high standard- no mistakes in your script
Write “universal scripts”- nothing wrong with writing for people
Set a quota for yourself for each day- week- etc.
Set goals- Do it because you love it
Evoke emotions in the reader- a movie always becomes an emotional experience
WHAT DOES MY CHARACTER FEEL AT THIS MOMENT?
Be open to feedback-
Be a game player- Hollywood only exists to make money
Know the rules and follow them
Skip Press- Skippress @earthlink.net
The shaping force of a good screenplay
It happens HALF WAY THROUGH THE FIRST ACT
It has a HINT in the first few pages
Many stories start good- but have no spine
Mid- second act the protagonist must start to change
Tom Hanks transformed half way after he takes care of his tooth
Plot points are still there at the end of the first and third acts, but add more- the spine-
HAVE A BIG OPENING
The shaping force should be around page six-
LINDA SEGER- ADVANCED SCREENWRITING- ACADEMY AWARD WINNING
Twenty types of scenes you will use in a movie
1. Establishing scene: set-up of movie, creates the world of the movie, first three minutes of the Silence of the Lambs, Wall street, As good as it gets – good examples
Sometimes writers MISS THE OPORTUNITY TO TELL US GREAT THINGS-in the first scenes and descriptions-
- don’t talk about some character we have not met if possible
- jaws did it right in the opening with kids on the beach- establishing the villain
2. Exposition Scene: Hard to write but it tells us what we need to know before the story begins- example- Silence of the Lambs- Clorese’s boss tells her “ don’t let that guy into your head” . She calls him “Hannibal and Cannibal” setting up his character.- Keep exposition scenes simple-
- Turning point scenes
- Mid- turning point scenes
- Climax scene- goals achieved
- Denouement scene- ties up the loose ends or a resolution
Development scenes- establishing Characters, story
- Love scene- any scene designed to establish a relationship- the glue that holds them together- dynamics of their relationship- put it in a cute format like what people really do- betrayal
- Montage- usually in love scenes- developed visually with little dialogue- moving locations- falling in love scenes- it works well if it has an emotional component- like the training scene in the Rookie (music) , Ghost Buster, Big, A few good men is the best as it has one break for dialogue.
10. Confrontation Scene- explains the real problem of the movie- American Beauty- “ when did you become so joyless?”- In Tootsie- Robin Williams asks his agent-“Why didn’t you put me up?” His agent says- “ no one will put you up- no one wants to work with you- you are too difficult- get some help”
11. Resolution scene- Usually at the end- loose ends are tied up- sub-plots. Fugitive- “I know it Richard- I know it.”
12. Reconciliation Scene- this is a “relationship” scene- Magnolia- at the end
Linking Series of scenes
15. Acting on it
These four work together as a sequence- in the Witness when Harrison Ford goes up the ladder of the silo he thinks the bad guy below is sure to shot him- he freezes, but is not seen, he sees the level to the corn silo, decides to pull it, does, the corn barriers the bad guy- These are great moments in film- it is wonderful when the actor gets it- ah ha!
It can come in as twist
Movies are made of action
17. Transformational scenes: Dead Poets Society where the kid writes a poem
18. Flash back scenes- works well when there is a relationship between the past and the present
19. Frame- a frame that starts the movie- flash back story- back to opening frame to end.
20. Revelation- moment the person gets it
21. Reflection- trying to figure it out- Fugitive- chains-
22. Epiphany- moment of awakening, moment of insight, spiritual moments
23. Magic and wonder scenes- Flight of Lois in Superman
24. Show stoppers- Usually in first act- Big ( piano playing scene in story)
HOW CAN I LET THE AUDIENCE KNOW WHAT THE CHARATER IS THINKING OR FELLING WITHOUT SAYING IT?
On the nose dialogue: When a character tells us what he is feeling- audience would rather figure it out-
ACTION IS A FORM OF DIALOGUE
Seen by a cover up of feelings- no big deal!
Ironic: You lost your job? Response: No big deal.
LOOK FOR ON THE NOSE DIALOGUE IN THE SECOND DRAFT
Love- affect, hate, anger- ex: I hate you ( on the nose)
I love you ( on the nose)
In action movies there is less room for dialogue- read scripts- thirty something is a good example
CHARACTERS CAN WRESTLE WITH THE WRONG ISSUES
EX. Good will hunting- last fight- energy into a fake issue before you get to the real one.
Craft in a long pause as a form of Dialogue
Use colorful verbs in dialogue
Ambivalence: Tone of Voice, Action, Words
Words vs. words- change from positive to negative
Words vs. body language
Body both positive and negative
Word yes while body says no
Words vs. tone of voice
Tentative speech- Yeah, sure, why not.