Getting Started

First Step

There are so many excuses you can make.  The only way to do it, is to stop it and get started.  The key is to take 10 or 15 minutes everday and you will be surprised how much you have done by the end of the month.  The ideal way would be to wake up every morning and spend an hour working on your script with the morning cup of coffee.  Get every day started right making progress.  If you find an hour becomes too hard then focus on a shorter time.  I would recommend especially in the beginning to not spend more than an hour but focus on working on it daily.  Even if you came up with one idea everyday while in the shower you are making progress. The key is to commit to doing it and getting started right now.

Motivation

If you are doing this because you want to quit your day job or become rich and famous then this isn’t going to help motivate you.  Think about how many movies get made by the big studios each year.  Then think about how many of those movies are Super Hero’s, licensed properties like games or toys, and sequels to already established properties.  Now take a look at boxoffice mojo and look at the box office gross of the top 100 writers.  Now google their network.  Most of these top 10 script writers are only worth a few million dollars.  Think about the odds of you becoming on of those top 100.  The good news.  The writer gets about 5% of the film budget.  If it’s your first time and you are an unknown it’s less.  The fact is 5% of a $100 million budget is a lot of money.  So let’s say you get 2% of a small budget film which would be $5 million budget.  That is $100,000.  This is not chump change but you also make residuals if the movie spends a long time on HBO or Netflix.  You get healthcare and retirement benefits from the writers guild.  One successful film can set you up for life. Two successful movies and your doing better than most average Americans.

How To Start

Think about this for a minute.  Most scripts are made up of 40 scenes.  So if you came up with one scene a day in theory you could get the first draft done in less than two months.  If you break the process down into smaller segments you need a beginning middle and end. Start with coming up with a great ending.  Then figure out your log line.  The the three basic points of each act. Come up with the inciting incident and the mid point. Then work on your characters.  What type of lead would make this story interesting. Below is a list of some basic things you need to gain some momentum on getting the script written.

1 – Title

2 – Concept

3 – Ending

4 – Logline

5 – Three Acts

6 – Characters (Pro and Antagonist)

7 – Midpoint and Inciting Incident

That is one week if you did each of those elements each day. If the above sounds confusing then pick up a copy of Save The Cat.  It’s a very easy read.  Even a slow reader could get through it over the weekend.  Take a mini vacation and spend some time reading it.

Screenplay Syd Fields

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting written by Syd Field provides the readers a glimpse of the things that happen in the film industry. Starting from the brainstorming of ideas and conceptualization of various characters up to the moment of coming up with an acceptable script, the book lists down guidelines for people who want to be screenwriters, with the aim of sharpening their writing skills. Moreover, the guidelines focus on teaching the screenwriters about the importance of catching the readers’ attention with just the first few pages on their scripts and the ways by which they can come up with a script that is complete with a sound dialogue, a good story line, a characters that are easily engraved on the readers’ minds.

PROS

The book sheds new light on the film industry for aspiring screenwriters. It gives the readers a new perspective when it comes to movies, scriptwriting, and making screenplays. The guidelines presented in the book provides the readers a walkthrough regarding the complete process of producing a script. When the author introduces new concepts and ideas, he makes it a point to let the readers know why knowledge of such principles can be very important in their journey towards scriptwriting. The three act paradigm of a screenplay is very helpful in enlightening the readers about the concept of writing a good script.

CONS

Some readers disagree with the author’s advice in using a plot point/page correlation in scriptwriting. For others, the formula that the author presents is one definite way to kill the creativity and impede the evolution of film industry as it dictates that a script must follow a certain format and contains a definite set of story elements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Syd Field has been called as the “guru of all screenwriters” by a lot of people. His works in screenwriting are also recognized by a number of professionals and people who are widely known in Hollywood. He wrote some best-selling books which include Screenplay, The Screenwriter’s Workbook, and The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver. In addition, Syd Field worked for the Getty Center and as a screenwriting consultant in various countries like Germany, Norway, Mexico, Austria, Germany, and many others. He also received recognition awards like the induction to the Screenwriting Hall of Fame of the American Screenwriting Association and the Final Draft Hall of Fame Award. Syd Field was also known for mentoring some award-winning and nominated filmmakers and writers like Alfonso Cuaron, Frank Darabont, Anna Hamilton, John Singleton, and others.

Rebel Without A Crew

 

 

Rebel Without a Crew written by Robert Rodriguez discusses the various strategies and techniques that helped the author in achieving success with his first film, El Mariachi, even though he was forced to work and make amends with a very small budget. The book is both a journal and a manual, with the author listing down details on the production of his film and relating how he managed to finish the movie in such a tight budget.

PROS

A lot of people will be inspired when they learn about Rodriguez’s struggles when he went on doing the movie El Mariachi with just $7000 in his pockets and his self. The book is written in a very lively and humorous manner making the readers think that they are not reading a book about film making but rather, it’s like they are learning about the adventures of one of their closest friends. Before they finish reading the book, readers will realize that it is not impossible for anyone, even without crew and money, to make a good and quality movie.

CONS

Some readers contend that there is nothing specific about film making that can be learned from the book. Other people on the other hand are looking for further discussions about the author’s shooting and directing styles. The author also mentions some tips about film making but such tips are now inapplicable since the film industry has now adapted the digital and modern methods of filmmaking.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aside from being widely recognized in the industries of screenwriting and film making, Robert Rodriguez has also been known for introducing the “Mariachi-style” and “one-man film crew” styles in the art of filmmaking. Some of the films that he made are Sin City, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Faculty, Spy Kids, and Planet Terror. He is also the person behind the establishment of Troublemaker Studios.

Story Robert Mckee

 

 

Our take On The Text Book Story

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting is a book written by the very popular Robert Mckee which provides the readers with knowledge and concepts that are vital in the process of screenwriting. It discusses the various elements of screenwriting and how each these elements work together as a whole.

PROS

The book is well-written and provides the readers important insights about the art of screenwriting. It clearly discusses the process of screenwriting and points out what the writer exactly aims for when writing for the screen. While the book focuses more on the discussion of classical Hollywood narrative, the author does not forget that there are other narrative styles that writers can use in their work. Moreover, the book is divided into several sections with each part focused on discussing an important aspect of screenwriting like the relationship of the writer and the story, the elements and principles of a story, and how writers fare in craft while at work.

CONS

Some people dislike the inclusion of the author’s observations and personal stories as he discusses the ways by which people can write a better screenplay. There are also some who disagree with categories used in grouping the different kinds of stories which of some people, do not really make sense at all. Moreover, the author seems to deviate from the principles that he’s discussing when he starts citing of examples on which principles are supposedly applied.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS

Robert McKee discusses in the book the importance of embedding the character’s dialogue in the minds of a film’s viewers. The book can be thought of as a written version of the things that he teaches in his seminars. The author aims to reintroduce to the readers the process of screenwriting as a craft and not just some means of earning money.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert McKee holds various classes in a number of places like Los Angeles, New York, London, and other areas that focus on the film industry. He has also received various recognitions during his career and has worked for major companies like Tri-Star and Golden Harvest Films.

The Coffee Break Screenwriter

 

 

 

The Coffee Break Screenwriter written by Pilar Alessandra tells its readers the best way to create a screenplay part by part and just by using 10 minutes of their time during each session.

PROS

The book is perfect for busy people or for those who are struggling with multiple jobs because it aims on helping the readers learns about screenwriting using exercises that won’t take much of their time. It also includes discussions on the basic knowledge regarding screenwriting. The book is also filled with worksheets that the readers can use in applying everything that they have learned from the book’s contents. Also, the questions are meant to guide the readers in discovering what they really want to write about and pointing out the correct path to take in order to get there.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Before becoming the director for the Los Angeles writing program, On the Page, Inc., Pilar Alessandra worked for various companies like DreamWorks and Radar Pictures as well as with ImageMovers, Saturday Night Live Studios, and The Robert Evans Company. You can check out her blog and podcast and take online classes from her website.

Save The Cat

 

Save the Cat! is a book that aims to provide the readers with knowledge on how screenwriters can convince people to purchase his script. Basically, it wants to show people the selling the script is just as easy as saving a cat. A beat system used in breaking the script is also introduced wherein a script is dissected to 15 beats just like a number of movies which followed the same beat system.

PROS

The book is perfect for aspiring screenwriters. It also entails the struggles undergone by writers who want to make it big on the industry of scriptwriting. The author does not fail to discuss the importance of various factors like a good title, pitch, and concept in the process of producing a sound a quality script. Moreover, he helps the readers in understanding the importance of making a story that is more or less like the ones written by other people but is also a bit unique on its own. There are also guidelines on how a script should be properly rewritten and reshaped and the final step to be taken once the script is finished. One great thing about the book is that it gives the readers honest discussions and directions that will make it easier for them to understand the basic process of screenwriting.

CONS

Some people think that the book is overrated and the information that it offers can be easily found in other resources. There are also some who disagree with the author in coming up with new schemes and categories of story genre. They greatly think that the author’s aim in refurbishing the various theories and principles on writing make it harder for other aspiring writers to create a sound script.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A member of the Writers Guild of America, Blake Snyder had been a screenwriter and producer for over 20 years. Some of his works include the Blank Check for Disney and Nuclear Family for Steven Spielberg. He also wrote the sequel to the book entitled, Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies: The Screenwriter’s Guide to Every Story Ever Told; and its accompanying software, Save The Cat! The Last Story Structure Software You’ll Ever Need. The method introduced by Blake has been a great help to other kinds of professionals like executives, managers, and producers.

What makes a good movie

What Makes Story Good?

A good script is one that has conflict.  People generally judge a movie on how entertained they are.  Conflict is tension.  Even comedy a good laugh causes tension.  To do this successfully you must create  tension and then release.  Continually create a negative and then solve it with a positive.  As Robert McKee states book mark that positive with another negative.  This means you want to setup your next scene’s conflict being caused by the resolution of the last scenes.  That resolution causes the next conflict in the story.  A great example of this is the AMC tv show Breaking Bad. Typically this might be the protagonist making a bad decision. At the time that seemed like the only logical option but in doing so it set a chain of events in place that will cause a ton of future conflicts. Donald Trump might have thought that going into Super Tuesday with all the southern votes at steak if he tried to play dumb and not disavow David Duke he could lock up votes from southerners who might lean towards sympathy to David Duke.  It made sense at the time based on his anti-immigration platform but it set in place a chain of events that will haunt him for the rest of the election.  The first conflict is leaders of Republican party refusing to support his nomination.  In the general election it might be independent voters refusing to vote for someone they view as racist.  That one little event or decision setup a chain of events that will cause great conflict.  After all Donald Trump is an entertainer.

The more obstacles you can sprinkle into your plot the easier it will be to create conflict and thus have a very dramatic story. The key plot points must create greater levels of obstacles. Think about Raiders of the Lost Arc.  The rolling bolder that Indiana barely escapes is followed by him facing 100 spears.  As the story progresses his ultimate obstacle is not opening his eyes and being turned into melting flesh from looking at the power of the arc. obstacle should progress in intensity as the story unfolds.  Ultimately you need a very powerful ending. Something memorable like Paranormal Activity. This is why Hollywood has made so many twist endings over the years.

Remember at the heart of every dramatic story is conflict. In order for your protagonist to reach their goals they much be confronted with conflict. There is a lot more on this from our main website Broke Film Makers the Indie Film Resource Blog.