SO, YOU WANT TO BE A SCREENWRITER…
If you’ve never written a screenplay before (and even if you have), screenwriting can seem pretty daunting.
There’s the formatting. The restrictions (particularly in terms of length). The dependence on structure. The need for succinctness. All that chatter about subtext. And character arcs. Act breaks. Inciting incidents. Set pieces.
Formatting is easy to learn (learning how to parallel park is much harder). The rest of it, learning how to tell a good story in 110 pages, takes blood, sweat and tears, pretty much in equal parts.
But as you accumulate knowledge and experience, a lot of the mystery falls away. And you find that there’s a surprising amount of freedom to be found within the restrictions of the form.
As for the job requirements, they’re pretty straightforward. A love of movies is a given. Ditto a good imagination. Tenacity is a must. Humility counts for a lot. Did I mention tenacity?
Oh. And it doesn’t hurt if you love to write, too.
There are no guarantees of success. Or shortcuts. But if you do the work and put in the hours, your writing can and will improve.
That means planting your rear end in a chair and cranking out pages. It means reading and analyzing screenplays to determine how and why they work. Or don’t work. Same goes for movies.
I’ve been doing all of the above for years now, and I’ve learned a lot about writing movies. I’ve had some experience in the business, too. Not a ton (I’ve had three movies made, optioned several others, worked with a bunch of directors), but enough to know that what I’ve learned could be of value to aspiring writers.
Down to brass tacks.
I’m currently teaching and mentoring aspiring screenwriters and students at all levels on a one-on-one basis in the Portland, Oregon, area.
My goal is to provide you with the tools to write a screenplay that is the strongest and most viable expression of your original idea.
You’ll learn how to:
––Master screenplay formatting. (That’s the easy part.)
––Evaluate your original ideas. Because not every idea is a movie.
––Flesh out your ideas. Define the genre and tone. Find the emotional core of your story. Give audiences a reason to care about your protagonist and his/her journey.
––Develop your idea into a treatment (or outline) that utilizes three act structure and effective dramatic principles and techniques.
––Create compelling and complex characters. Give each character a unique voice. Write dialogue that defines and differentiates each character.
––Create exciting scenes that move your story forward and ooze subtext.
––Tell your story visually through action and behavior.
Some of you will have more experience and a greater understanding of the form, some less. And your needs will vary accordingly.
Don’t sweat it.
Part of my job is to figure out where you’re at writing-wise and meet you there.
So, drop me a line and we’ll figure out a game plan and proceed from there.
Until then, I’ll share one of the most important things I’ve learned about writing movies. It may be the only hard and fast rule I know. And here it is:
Don’t be boring.
Everything else is negotiable.