5 Things to Remember Before You Write Your First Screenplay

November 22, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Writing Method

November 22, 2011

Q: What should you keep in mind before writing your first screenplay?

Question from EYESthatHEAR on Facebook

1. Screenwriting is a marathon, not a sprint. Sure, there are some prodigies who can whip out a perfectly formed first draft, but most professional writers will spend months or even years on a script before they plug every plot hole, smooth every character arc and crystallize every line. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul.

2. You are writing a character’s story, not your story. Even if you are writing a story based on your life or the life of someone you know, you will need to give your character their own existence. They shouldn’t do, feel, think or say things simply because you do, feel, think or say those things. Your character needs their own motivations, reactions, faults and desires.

Even stories about famous people are rewritten for dramatic effect. Most people’s lives don’t naturally fit into a three-act structure, so even if you’re basing the story on a personal story, you will have to embellish or even create some details to make a story work.

3. Structure supports your story. Songwriters need to understand music theory to make songs work. Car designers need to understand engine mechanics so they make sure there’s room for one in their latest concept vehicle. Architects need to understand structural principals so that their buildings don’t fall down. Surgeons need to understand how cells interact with each other so they don’t kill their patients.

The same concept goes for screenwriting. In order to make a story work, you have to understand what the parts of a story are, how they work together, where they should fall and why they’re important. Otherwise, you may have a whole bunch of scenes, but not necessarily a working screenplay.

4. Writing a screenplay, selling a screenplay and producing a screenplay are very different things, so know what your end goal is. If you just want to write for the joy of writing, then have at it. If you want to sell your screenplay, finishing the script is only about 50% of the work—because next you’ll have to make and nurture the connections that will lead to a sale. If you want to produce your screenplay, you should make sure that what you’re writing is within your production capabilities—i.e. unless you have access to lots and lots of capital, maybe figure out another way to do that explosion on the moon sequence.

5. You’re in good company. Writing a screenplay is difficult work, but the good news is that lots of people have done it before you. There are plenty of blogs and websites (like this one) that can give you good, solid advice. There are produced writers (like this one) who can mentor you along the way. And there are hundreds of thousands of movies to watch to keep you inspired and writing!

Episode Eighty-One: Writing with Todd Berger

July 27, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

We wrap up our month of writing with writer Todd Berger. Todd has been a working writer in Los Angeles for ten years. He talks about everything from writing original scripts to pitching ideas to executives and working through multi-hour note sessions with producers. Writer Aydrea Walden joins the discussion as well.

Todd Berger- Writer/Director

Todd is an experienced writer/director who has been making films since he was a teenager. He received a film degree from The University of Texas at Austin where he wrote and directed the nationally syndicated television show The Campus Loop. He recently wrote and directed the the feature film The Scenesters, which played over 30 film festivals and took home Most Interesting Film from The Slamdance Film Festival, Best Screenplay from The Phoenix Film Festival, and Best Director from The Edmonton International Film Festival.  His feature-length documentary Don’t Eat The Baby: Adventures at post-Katrina Mardi Gras was chosen as the closing night film of the 2007 New Orleans Film Festival. He works as a screenwriter and actor in Los Angeles, with scripts currently in development at DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures, Jim Henson Productions, and The Disney Channel. In 2006, his script Chasing Christmas was turned into an ABC Family original movie starring Tom Arnold.  On screen, Todd has appeared in many recent commercials as well as an episode of the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation.

The Scenesters Movie
Todd’s Website

Aydrea Walden- Writer

Aydrea has written for The Seattle Times, the Now Write! Screenwriting book series, The Second City Los Angeles, iO West, Hawaii Film Partners, NBC/Universal, Highlander Films, Nickelodeon, and Disney. She also runs the satirical blog, The Oreo Experience–My Life and Times as a Super White Black Person. For more information about Aydrea or to contact her please visit her website at www.theoreoexperience.com

Jenna Edwards- Producer, Film Method Co-Host

For more information about Jenna Edwards please visit the About page. To contact Jenna you can email her at info@film-method.com

Lynda Lopez- Producer

Lynda Lopez started her career in film as a Production Designer working on student films with friends from art school where she was a Graphic Design major. She then went on to assist some very talented Production Designers on studio films while still working in various capacities on short films and indie films. Due to her fascination for all aspects of filmmaking, she has become more involved with the Production side of things working as a Director’s Assistant and Producer.

Lynda is currently working on a charity project for All Hands Volunteers, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on assistance to survivors of natural disasters around the world. For more information about Lynda’s project to help this organization please visit www.hands.org

Episode Seventy-Nine: Writing with Barri Evins

July 13, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

Our month on writing continues with producer and screenwriting teacher Barri Evins. Barri approaches writing from the producers standpoint: what stories work and what will ultimately sell. Barri discusses having that “big idea” and gives 7 helpful pointers on pitching your idea. Writer Aydrea Walden joins us for the month as well!

Barri Evins- Producer/Screenwriting Teacher

Barri Evins is a successful film producer and a sought after screenwriting teacher.  As a producer, she has sold pitches and specs to Warner Bros., Universal, Fox, Nickelodeon, New Line and HBO.  Barri created BIG IDEAS to give new screenwriters what it takes to achieve their dreams by teaching them techniques she uses with highly paid professionals on big league projects.  The Big Ideas Screenwriting Seminar teaches writers to create ideas that ignite industry interest and gives writers revolutionary tools for completing a successful screenplay faster than ever before.  The seminar also includes Barri’s mentorship for a year.  Learn about upcoming seminars, bringing the Big Ideas Seminar to your hometown or get a free thumbs up or down on your next idea at www.bigbigideas.com.  Find tips and updates at BIG IDEAS for Screenwriters on Facebook.  A BIG IDEAS books is in the works.

Barri’s Website-www.bigbigideas.com

Big Ideas for Screenwriters Facebook Page

Aydrea Walden- Writer

Aydrea has written for The Seattle Times, the Now Write! Screenwriting book series, The Second City Los Angeles, iO West, Hawaii Film Partners, NBC/Universal, Highlander Films, Nickelodeon, and Disney. She also runs the satirical blog, The Oreo Experience–My Life and Times as a Super White Black Person. For more information about Aydrea or to contact her please visit her website at www.theoreoexperience.com

Jenna Edwards- Producer, Film Method Co-Host

For more information about Jenna Edwards please visit the About page. To contact Jenna you can email her at info@film-method.com

Lynda Lopez- Producer

Lynda Lopez started her career in film as a Production Designer working on student films with friends from art school where she was a Graphic Design major. She then went on to assist some very talented Production Designers on studio films while still working in various capacities on short films and indie films. Due to her fascination for all aspects of filmmaking, she has become more involved with the Production side of things working as a Director’s Assistant and Producer.

Lynda is currently working on a charity project for All Hands Volunteers, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on assistance to survivors of natural disasters around the world. For more information about Lynda’s project to help this organization please visit www.hands.org

Soonami Productions