Notes on Screenwriting from Script Magazine-2
17. Script- J/f-2002. 20 William Martel,“ jump start your career”
1. Make a plan: real/unreal
2. One page a day script- one good page- 3 scripts a year
3. send out five query letters a week- cost 1.70
4. don’t need an agent to make a sale- need a good script
5. send out five query letters a week to producers- list of fifty- each will see your name 5 times a year…
6. read trades on line for free at Yahoo!- read them!
7. know what sold- go to web at Done Deal- keep a record
8. Start Idea book- already got it! Dialogue ideas! An idea a day!
9. Make producer flash cards from the trades
10. see a movie a week- be part of an audience-
11. send directors fan mail-new movie- Yeah! New deal-Yeah!
12. Go to a film festival- meet people
13. Discover an image that fits me- a logo?
14. Greeting cards-send to your favorite producers-
15. make a film or a picture film
16. find a mentor-www.wordplayer.com….www.scriptsecret.net
17. send out junk mail about yourself and your scripts-
18. make a film for public access? Put it on!
19. form a support group of people – actors- etc.
20. enter contests!
21. work for the local film commission as a liaison
22. write for the local newspaper- film critic
23. make a short film
24. write thank you notes
25. never give up- never surrender!!
18. Script: j/f-2002-Try the spine- Peter Lower
1. Spine is a coherent and focused storyline
2. Spine is the dramatic core extended from the beginning to the end
3. It is created scene to scene and drives the story forward
4. It is the path along which the energy flows
5. The river is the spine that advances characters and theme in Apocalypse Now
6. Dramatic Premise: sets the story in motion
7. it is something “out of joint” and requires it to “be set right”
8. always involves the main character- facing a set of circumstances
9. extended it draws in the audience to give them that what’s going to happen next feeling
10. Run Lola Run- twenty minutes to raise money to save her boy friend- dramatic premise starts the film and drives it forward- obstacles in place- seemingly insurmountable- goals are clear-
11. Dramatic premise(spine)- fleshed by character, form from plot and structure, spine becomes the backbone of any successful screenplay-
12. The Perfect Storm fails to find a dramatic premise for the film- looks to character instead. Lots of action and special effects- life and death struggle- the captain remains one dimensional throughout and leaves us on the outside uninvolved and unmoved.
13. There is no defining moment early in the film that places Tyne at the center of a personalized and dramatically charged situation that demands action- a moment that creates a powerful connection to the inner life of this character-
14. good will hunting grabs the audience early and doesn’t let go- it allows room for some of the problems- a genius janitor- it is built on a solid dramatic premise with a huge supply of energy to power the script.
15. two step set up- a self –destructive impulses lands him in trouble- then in steps the professor to save the day- answer is found in the character as he is driven forward to finally make peace with himself as a result of the help he receives-
20. Writer Mag. March 2002- Tips on outlines.
Alex Straus- use colored cards for different kinds of scenes.
Syd Field- perfect outline from 2 to 4 pages. Basic information. Include 2 to 4 obstacles that the character will confront. Start by describing the beginning and end to the story.
The each act.
Richard Krevolin. Perfect outline is from 10 to 20 pages long that includes it all- plots points, moment, turning points, etc. The outline is only a guide- do not become its slave or let it bring you down.
21. Script- Vol. 8, No. 4- Producer Meg LeFauve-
42. don’t have a first act that’s back story
43. start the movie right away
44. hero takes charge at least have way through-
45. best characters- acts out of internal as well as external
46. connect them metaphorically-
47. forge a sound cause and effect story
48. don’t string events for convenience’s sake
49. events should directly influence the plot and character
50. the plots needs the character, the character needs the plot
51. main character should not be able to turn away from the goal
52. the audience will sense that the characters
53. put yourself into the movie- don’t write what you think Hollywood wants-
54. key questions: What’s the main character’s external and internal goal.
55. What characters constitute the main or essential
56. What’s the tone of your story?
57. What are you act breaks? Spot them, point them out easily.
58. What’s the stories climax?
59. Who’s the audience for this movie?
22. Script- V 6,#8 p.72- Staton Rabin- Screenplay Disasters.
1. Never: In action lines never write anything that calls attention to the fact that you are writing a movie. This will break the reader’s mood. Your goal is to make the reader forget he is doing a job- but rather enjoy the story.
2. Never put in camera angles or editorialize in descriptions.
3. Don’t insult the reader with statements like” can you see the payoff ?”
4. When describing a character do not editorialize- stick to the facts.
5. Give them some description of character, not physical- “ rock and roll arsonist”- Long descriptions of detailed looks don’t work.
6. Be careful about using the word “thinking” in the descriptive- action lines. The actor should say what’s on his mind, or gesture to indicate his feelings.
7. Pick one emotion at a time for the character.
8. Don’t tell us the character can charm the feathers off a duck, show us.
9. Never describe what a character is about to do, thinking to do or trying to do.
10. Make good choices on what to describe- not the food – but the detail in the fight scene.
11. Only in rare situations is it necessary to tell the reader something about the story so as they get it.
23. Script: Vol.9, No.1- Power Revision” by Robert E. Byrd
1. redrafting can be a serious of pass through the script
2. By working in layers, we are chargin our subconscious minds so the mstickal stuff can happen later.
3. first question of concern- the dramatic question? The bedrock of the script-
4. have you chosen the right protagonist?
5. Do the acts have unity?
6. What is the catalyst- inciting incident?
7. The climax is the event that puts characters on the road heading to the answer to the dramatic question.
8. focus on the subplots- especially in act two
9. each subplot should have its own dramatic question- three acts- resolution
10. the subplot should have the purpose of providing additional insight into the main character
11. Next pass: Scene structure- are the scenes right and necessary?
12. Does each scene create a change and also raise questions in the audiences mind?
13. cut it if it does not
14. every scene should also contain a surprise
15. each scene should have subtext
16. Next pass: Visuals- look for recurrent visuals- symbol systems
17. can dialogue be replaced with a visual?
18. Next pass: dialogue-last concern-
19. don’t give actors words when gestures can do-
20. if possible have dialogue to where the audience will wonder over the answer
21. actors should say it in one breath
22. Pass through the script and make it as neutral as possible- movie should become transparent-
23. Have some one read it- pay for an analysis- then rewrite it
24. layer your career.
24. Script- Vol 9, No. 2. Ten things I figured Out in Hollywood- Margaret South
1. Get a job and work hard to establish that you can do what you are asked in a pleasant way.
2. Float around- meet people. You never know who you will meet or what you might learn from them.
3. Listen! Listen!
4. Keep writing and producing completed scripts. Let you personal library grow.
5. Write other things! Be the creative artist that you are! Have fun with it.
6. Never give up!
7. Get a balance on life, and live life while you wait for the dream to happen during working hours.
8. Forgive. Don’t allow yourself to grow into an arrogant, bitter person simple because a reader does not share your vision.
9. Make a movie with a small video camera.
10. Get to know writers- perhaps a mentor- send fan mail- you never know.
11. DON’T BE STUPID! BE NICE TO THE PRODUCTION COMPANY ASSITANT!
25. Script-V9,#2- Hollywood and Originality by John Hill
The statement,” It’s like nothing anyone has ever seen before!” isn’t a positive. It’s the kiss of death. Rather that something completely off the wall original, what a producer/ investor wants is something close to a proven idea but flavored and disquised with freshness. Acceptable and desired “originality” to the movie studios is a fresh spin or version of a proven, recently-profitable movie.”
26. Script- V7,#1 “Act Turns Giving you a Turn?” – Robert E. Byrd-
1. most books do not explain the nuts and bolts of act turns
2. Syd Field, Linda Seger, Robert Mckee talk about them
3. They say it spins the plot into a new direction
4. Seger says that the first turn forcefully raises the dramatic question
5. BERNARD Grebanier- 1950 professor- and William T. Price- contributed more specific detail to the subject
6. Limit the action to three characters- (some are composite)_
7. Primary, secondary, and tertiary- primary character drives the plot- secondary character has the most important plot relation to the primary- the third is a plot device.
8. act one- static but unstable- then something happens- an event that breaks the status quo- “condition of action”
9. this catalysis leads to “the event” that happens at the end of act one- it must always involve the primary character with the secondary character- raising the dramatic question
10. witness- a good example
11. Grebanier calls the turn at act two the climax- leading the story to its resolution.
27. Script-V7, #1-“The Proper Villain”- William C. Martel
1. The antagonist provides the conflict- makes him the most important character in the screenplay.
2. that conflict must be strong enough to go 110 pages-
3. it should take the protagonist the entire film to solve the problem
4. the antagonist is not just a speed bump but a towering brick wall-
5. Ron Bass- Best Friends Wedding- Diaz is the perfect antagonist because she is perfect- witty- beautiful-making Julia Robert’s goal nearly impossible.
6. The conflict of the antagonist must escalate-
7. things will have to get worse of your story will flat-line
8. the antagonist does not have to be bad
9. the antagonist motivation must make sense to the audience
10. a good villain is smart and cunning
11. in action genres the villain’s plan drives the story-
12. the antagonist does not have to be a person
13. perfect storm- the weather is the antagonist
14. the conflict from the antagonist has to be something that can be visibly expressed.
15. it must be recorded on film
16. Sleepless in Seattle- the antagonist is the distance of the entire country
17. Adventure films- man against nature-vertical limits
18. there must be a fight to the death-
19. who will pay to see your conflict?
20. the audience must want the protagonist to win
21. double crossing lying back stabbing friends work
22. don’t have too many antagonists-
28. Script- V7, #2- “Meet the Reader”-Ray Morton
1. a reader evaluates a screenplay- prepares a one or tow page smynopsis-
2. writes a shore evaluation of the premise, plot, characters, dialogue, writing quality-commercial and artistic
3. he makes a cover sheet- spaces for the reader to indentify the genre, setting,time period, likely budget
5. Most are Pass!
6. It is not a reader conspiracy that most do not get recommended
7. most are too poorly conceived or executed-too small or too big-too weird-
8. One of the most vital factors of a reader is to filter out 90% of the scripts so the development people can focus on the 10% left
9. being a reader is now a freelance gig
10. the reader gets between 45 to 75 per script
11. most are aspiring or underemployed writers
12. some companies have their development assistants or interns read for them
13. most readers are sincere about their work
14. How do you get to be a reader?
15. you get to be a reader through contacts-
16. send out a resume from the creative Directory
17. make contact- get hired- audition coverage- a script the assistant has already read and formed an opinion on-
18. read in two or three days—average industry turn around-
19. the question: can you get the job done and do you have a similar taste to the producer or assistant
20. you are the persons serrate eyes
21. each company has its own way of reading- go once a week to get a batch of three scripts-
22. what does a reader look for? A good script1
23. each company is interested in something different
24. part of the readers job is to know what his client is looking for
25. a client can shift his interests-
26. you might just strike oil as a reader-
27. you meet the right people
28. most readers are really good people who know what they are doing
29. Script: V7,# 4- Marc Hernandez- “The Tenpercentury Turnoffs”
1. there are major turnoffs that will cause the reader to pass on your script
2. He will not pass it upstream to the story editor, who will send it to the creative executive, who will sent it to the Senior vice President, to the executive vice president, to the head of production who only has the right to greenlight a movie.
3. Turnoff number one: a story has no hook!
4. Hook- engage the reader at once- sell them from page one onward
5. Use a new setting
6. Create an identifiable or believable conflict- this is a critical component-
7. follow the structure- have it there- three act
8. Use enough character description to help the reader “see” him
9. Give your character a sir name- develop him properly\
10. Create new- original characters- instead of a beat cop
11. Write the dialogue the way real people speak- not in complete sentences- use slang
12. make the dialogue unique to each character
13. predictable- on the nose-lack of subtext- let the dialogue filter through the characters in a way that the reader can not detect
14. let the reader be entertained by the mind and personality of your characters
15. Use good clarity
16. keep writing lean- cut extraneous words- convey what will happen on the screne-
17. Do not lose your reader as a result of your wordiness
18. Typos, misspelling, incorrect grammar. Check every word over and over again.
19. Overused punctuation- use of exclamation points-use sparingly
20. Have a range of scripts
21. writers that do not collaboratively
30. Script: V7, #4- Ray Morton- “How Not to Annoy a Reader- Part Two”
1. The gap between intention and perception fascinates –Why does the writer and the reader sometimes see tings so differently- the answer is in the isolation pursuit-
2. the writer develops a great love affair with his script as he shuts out the outside world.
3. a writer needs outside reactions or he will lose his way
4. get another pair of eyes and listen
5. don’t let time- fears of rejection- ego- get in the way of doing your – just because you think your script is perfect, does not mean it is so
6. you never get a second chance to make a first impression-
7. if you let the professional reader be the first to read and reject it- you will not be able to change it or fix it-
8. find someone who will be honest to you- choose someone whose opinion you respect-
9. another way- a professional service- but be careful
10. another way is to hold a formal reading of your script
11. writers are notorious for reacting poorly to feedback
12. it is because they have spent months on their baby and get confused between how hard they have worked for the final product, and don’t mistake intention for result.
13. listen to your and make changes-
31. Script: Vol.7, No. 5-“Negogtiating Feature Writer Employment Agreements” by Dina Appleton and Daniel M. Yanklevits when you get there.
32. Script: Vol.7, No. 5-“How Not to Annony a Reader-Part Three” by Ray Morton
1. Hits highlights of past suggestions but then get serious.
2. Learn to write- take a course- read a book- learn the basics- don’t bore the reader with your lack of professionalism