How to Write a Screenplay. Tips for everyone

HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY
FILMMAKING NOTES

SCREENPLAY WRITING

When writing a SCREENPLAY, it’s all about CHARACTER, PLOT, and THEME – the three cornerstones to telling a great story.

Below is Part One of NOTES you need to think about when writing a script. Whether you’re a seasoned script writer or just a beginner, these notes should be insightful for all – and it beats reading those long drawn-out books on the subject.

“A good film script should be able to do completely without dialogue.”-David Mamet

FOUR STAGES OF ANY SCREENPLAY.

1. THE STORY CONCEPT – A single sentence telling who the hero of the story is and what he/she wants to accomplish
2. THE CHARACTERS – The people who populate the story
3. PLOT STRUCTURE – The events of the story and the relationship of the characters; determines what happens in the story and when it happens
4. THE INDIVIDUAL SCENES – The way the words are laid out on the page – the format, and how one writes action, description and dialogue to increase emotional involvement.
STORY ALWAYS BEGINS WITH A WHAT IF? QUESTION
What if this happened?
What if that happened

IT IS STORY ABOUT A _____________ WHO _____________

Every movie needs THRILLS, LAUGHS and TEARS

QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ANSWER BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO WRITE
Who is your main character?
What is he/she trying to accomplish?
Who is trying to stop him/her?
What happens if he/she fails?

AND DON”T FORGET…..
Whose story is it?

Who do I care about, identify with, follow in this film?To what extent do I see the story through a specific person’s point of view?

Where do I start the scene/end the scene?

What is the point of the scene?Why include the scene at all?

What’s the most important information the audience needs to get from the scene?

What is the scene’s focus?

Where is the scene heading?

Does the scene move the story further?

Does the scene have a direction? A sense of going somewhere? A point to make?

Do I get out of the scene after the point is made?

Have I remembered that scenes are about images?

Have I remembered to play the image, to play the conflict, to play the emotions, rather than simply play the information?

Is the relationship of my scenes interesting?

Are my scenes repetitive? Flat? Boring? Or is there something dramatic and fascinating happening?

Will the audience be entertained?

ELEMENTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL SCREENPLAY
1) Marketability
2) Creativity
3) Script structure

PEOPLE ALWAYS WANT TO CONNECT TO A FILM

CREATIVE STEPS IN WRITING A SCREENPLAY

RESEARCH

Research of MEMORY
-Explore my own past, relive the memories and then write them down.

Research of IMAGINATION
-The creativity of your own inner thoughts and feelings. What do you dream?

Research of FACT-Research the setting and character you’re writing about.

CREATIVITY MEANS CREATIVE CHOICES ABOUT WHAT TO INCLUDE AND WHAT TO EXCLUDE

“I steal from every movie ever made.”-Quentin Tarantino

* * * * 

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

 

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