How to Write Movie Scripts

The world of film is very, very competitive. Follow these steps to maximize your chances of seeing your writing on the big screen.

Steps

  1. Buy software to help you write, or find a good-rated freeware program; a suggestion is celtx.com or openoffice.org. There are many industry standards that the common person is unaware of, and to try and sell a script that does not adhere to these standards is considered amateurish and sometimes this will cause film makers to not even look at your script. You might try the latest version of Final Draft on Microsoft Windows or Montage Software or Storyist on Macintosh.
  2. Read scripts. Read lots and lots of scripts. If you can’t find any scripts to cut your teeth on, check out Kevin Spacey’s TriggerStreet.com, a free Web site to help amateur screenwriters all over the world.
  3. Look up books on screen writing at your local library. Many former film makers have written books to help people in just your situation.
  4. Try to acquire a formal education in screen writing. The best US college for this purpose is the University of Southern California. Columbia University, UCLA, SF State, NYU, UT-Austin, and The university of Iowa are also good choices.
  5. Take creative writing courses. Screen writing is just as difficult and time-consuming as other forms of writing and is made more difficult because you have had little practice in school.
  6. Examine your favorite movies. Find the scripts for these movies if possible and try to decide what you like about these movies and what you would like to change.
  7. Write every day until you have a little over 100 pages of properly formatted material. Show your finished work to a friend.
  8. Edit, edit, re-edit!
  9. Try to get your script optioned. TriggerStreet.com is a good venue for this. Moving to Los Angeles, California, is also very important. You need to create as many contacts as possible.
  10. Participate in film script writing forums. You can learn tips and trade ideas with fellow writers, and you might get some contacts and interest in your work.
  11. Make friends with jobs at production companies and have them read your script.
  12. Get a lawyer specializing in entertainment before you agree to anything!
  13. Keep on writing, writing, writing!

Tips

  • Never include direction in your writing. This is a sure way to get your script thrown in a trashcan.
  • Practice every day. Write a short film or just a scene, or edit something you have already written.
  • Many first-time screenwriters feel that every second should be more exciting than the last. As new writer, a producer is looking for the next big thing. If you don’t have it, it’s hard to get read. Develop the story so that it progresses. Don’t suddenly jump to excitement and then no excitement at all. Make it gradually progress so the excitement builds to a climax, you have to hook the reader, in order to hook the audience.
  • Your hook (what we’re here to see) should be presented within the first ten pages. The first ten pages are what gets the producer to read further!
  • Always make sure your script makes sense, it may sound obvious, but think about how the characters say the words and not you. Do they fit well with the character? Or are you modelling the speech patterns on you?

Warnings

  • If you give your script to anyone, there is a good chance that they will be able to use yourideas. You can sue, but you can’t easily prove that they plagiarized your work. In the end, you could easily end up having your ideas used without any compensation. A good way to prevent this, or at least document that you wrote the script, is to register the completed script with the Writer’s Guild of America. Visit their website at www.wga.org The WGA website is the website of the union representing all working writers, and their website is full of information pertaining to the craft of screenwriting.
  • Never directly use someone else’s ideas in your writing. This is illegal and morally reprehensible, but you may totally change another production, and use it only as a guide.

 

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 6th, 2011 at 9:28 pm and is filed under Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.