Friday, October 30, 2009

A sixty-four word post.

Ryan and I met up with the first draft. It's looking good. I think now it's being completely fine tuned. It's a great concept dealing with a people's need to be surrounded by one another.

I gave Ryan my notes. The second draft will be done soon... I hope.

Super brief update... Sorry to all none of you who read this.

Until next time...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Script Writing... And The Women Who Love Them.

Lets go over the simplest way to write a script. This will be a quick lesson; in case if anybody is confused on formatting.

We're dealing with short films. So I'm not going to go deep into plot points and act breaks.

After you've made some sort of outline and came up with your concept it's time for the script to be written.

I suggest getting some sort of script writing software... I prefer Final Draft, but if you don't want to spend any money you can download Celtx. Celtx is free and easy to use.

Scripts are written in a size 12 Courier font... I'd say keep it that way. There's no reason to go against this norm.

One page in your script is about one minute of screen time... This will help you estimate your duration time.

I'll use this as an example... This was from my film shot last spring.

Lets start from the top.


The slug line:
"EXT. RESTAURANT PATIO - NIGHT"

The slug line shows location and time of day change from scene to scene. Keep this at the top of each scene.

It'll always be in all capital letters.

EXT and INT are for if the scene is exterior or interior.

Then you list the location followed by the time of day.



The actions:

The action paragraphs follow after the slug line to describe the location and what the characters are doing in the scene.

When you're introducing new characters into a script keep their name in capital letters followed by their age... After that you don't need to keep them capitalized.

Keep all action in the present as if it's happening at that moment. Never use past tense when writing actions.

You also want to stay away from writing how the character is feeling in the actions. How can we see their emotions? Describe, briefly, what they're doing to show their emotions. On top of that, their dialogue will help configure their feelings.

Show me, don't tell me.


The dialogue:

So now you want your character to speak.

Dialogue is always in the center of the page.

Keep the character name in capital letters.

Underneath the name is where the character's lines are.

I try to keep dialogue less wordy... I tend to keep in mind that actors are going to be performing this. I don't want them fumbling over words. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I try not to put a lot of unnecessary actions between my character's dialogue... It's distracting to the actors.


So this is the basics of what you need to know about scriptwriting. There are other little technical things that I may go over in posts later to come but if you're not looking to be a screenplay writer and you just need to write something real quick to start shooting, then this is all you really need to know for now.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New blog! [includes opinions]

I don't like voice overs.

To me they're a cheap way to tell a story. They're a cheap way to let you know how the character is feeling.

I'm not saying voice overs can't work... I'm just saying I think most of the time (97.54% of the time) they just don't cut it.

There are different ways to allow the audience to know what the character is feeling. Different cuts, different looks on their face, different reactions... Lets give the audience just a little bit of credit here.
Don't let the character flat out tell me he's sad, pissed off, or lonely... Let me see him feel this!

Show me, don't tell me.

I'm not going to lie to you; I've put voice overs in scripts. It never went beyond the first draft though. Imagine your movie with the voice overs, it's almost as bad as breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience.

It may seem really cool and you feel like a genius writer, but in most cases it won't work and it's cliche'.

Will this scene be more powerful with the character telling you everything from his soul?

Probably not, no.

Would Luke Skywalker's approach to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's dead charbroiled bodies be more impacted to you with his voice over telling you: "I can't believe this. They're dead. My vast amount of loneliness drives through my body like a pod racer at the Boonta Eve. As now, my last remaining family, is gone. I need to go with Obi-Wan to become a Jedi Knight."

Yeah, see, that wouldn't really work.

Be careful with voice overs. They can kill a good script.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm keeping you up to date with these convienient updates

I'm done with the first act. I'm looking at getting this all done within the next 14 days... Or less. Hopefully less. After the first draft I'll make my changes, cut some things then proceed to having the shooting script ready.

I want this to go into production immediately following Ryan Jameson's script. So pre-production will happen while shooting that. Both projects are seemingly dark... I'll fill you in on the details once it all falls into place.

Also... I started demoing out some songs. I've got about 31 tracks on cassette right now. I'm finding 10-15 that are solid so I can record a full album... I'm planning on recording it all on my 8-track. I think it'll give it a cool sound. I'm not really sure how to explain the genre. I'll just say punk/rock/indie/alternative/music/songs as the genre at hand.

Lyrics are going to be the hardest part I think. I have a good amount, now I have to get them arranged to fit with the right songs.

Until next time...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brief Updates for the ADHD Generation.

So the script is finally coming along... I'm working on the first draft. I'm hoping this draft will be near completion by next week. I'd like to start shooting this by November or early December. I have the lead role cast but there's a female role that I'm going to be holding auditions for in weeks to come.

My buddy is writing a script that I'm going to direct. It's written by Ryan Jameson. We're getting together this weekend to go over the first draft. I'll fill all three of you guys who read this about the storyline.

I've never directed a film I haven't written before, so I'm looking forward to this.

Until next time kids.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Screenplay Writing For The Student Filmmaker: The Home Edition

So my outline is looking good. It all fell into place randomly last night. I'm starting the first draft currently. I'm a little worried about the ending but I'm figuring that once I'm there the story may have taken new turns I haven't thought about before.

As I go on writing scripts I find myself changing my own personal styles a lot. Ten years ago I was adding camera angles to my scripts. Now I wouldn't think twice about it.

My theories have changed tremendously through experiences and suggestions from professors.

I'm not talking about stories or ideas on this. I'm talking about a formula for writing scripts itself.

First off: keeping it simple.

Here's an example from one of my scripts...
You're not going to want to over write your action paragraphs. Mine may not seem like a lot, but I could have made them simpler. Looking back, I don't mind the brief description of the location. But I should have stopped at "Adam is sitting on a grassy knoll." Then proceeded to say that the girl is walking up. There's no reason to bring up his wardrobe or the surroundings at that point. If he was playing Game Boy then I'd say "Adam is sitting on a grassy knoll playing Game Boy."

I have a buddy who wrote half a page purely on a guy pulling a cigarette out of his bag and lighting it... It's unnecessary!! You want to get straight to the point. Each page is a minute of screen time; are you really going to waste thirty seconds on this guy taking out a cigarette?

You're writing a script, not a novel!

Putting the character's emotion in the actions, in my eyes, isn't okay either. The action paragraphs are just for what you see on the screen. How do you see he's struck with disappointment? That's internal of Adam. That's for the director and actor to talk about.

The next place I went wrong on this is the parenthetical. I don't know what I was thinking... But I did it. You shouldn't put direction there. This is internal. You gotta give some room for the actors and directors to breathe.

Another thing that I've begun to stop doing... Adding action between lines of dialogue. Unless it's incredibly important and further moves the story line, then I won't do it.

If between two lines in the script it says for the character to sit down and take a drink then the actor is going to be focusing on sitting and drinking rather than deliver the lines naturally.

These are just my suggestions to you. I felt what I was doing was alright because I was directing the film. Now I keep everything toned down and I make all my notes handwritten all over the pages.

Simplicity is your friend.

See you next time guys.