Over the years, I’ve written fourteen professional-standard feature screenplays (and counting).
By the way, that picture below? Those aren’t my scripts. But there’s a time when they could have been. Of course, these days, people rarely print stuff out. Instead, everything’s passed around electronically, typically as PDF files, which is a lot more convenient – and far better for the trees!
Back to me. I’ve written scripts that created heat throughout the film industry and others that landed with a deathly and demoralizing thud. More often than not, it was timing or some obscure ‘political’ factor that defined the result.
Along the way, I’ve worked with directors, producers, studio executives, agents, and literary managers, all of whom have different priorities and therefore approach script development from very different angles. Managers, at least the good ones, want the best script possible. Agents wants something they can sell. Producers want something they can set up at a studio, while the studio wants something it can attach an actor or a director to.
As for the directors themselves, the screenplay represents the foundation on which they’re going to build the movie – and if the script doesn’t work, then the whole movie will come tumbling down. I mean, you can have dodgy special effects, a miscast actor, uninspired directing, bland visuals, but the film can still work (more or less). But if the script stinks, then there’s no hope. Of course, the film can still be a monster hit, but that’s usually down to good marketing and brand recognition.
Again, back to me… None of my projects has ever made it into production. For most writers, getting a script produced is no different to playing a game of roulette.
Still, I have had my work optioned and I’ve also been hired for plenty of assignments, from big studio jobs to tiny indie gigs. Some of these assignments needed first drafts, while others involved jumping aboard an existing project that required anything from a ground-up rewrite to a minor polish.
The key point is that I’ve been paid for doing something that I’m pretty good at and feel truly passionate about. When it comes to living life, that’s a good place to be, right?
Learn to write screenplays
There are countless in-depth books and guides out there with titles such as, “How To Write Screenplays For Beginners”. For now, that sort of focus is beyond my scope. I’ve simply got too much of my own writing to be getting on with (and long may it last!). Nonetheless, I would like to share some of my experiences with you and offer up some (hopefully) juicy tidbits on writing screenplays.
Most of my posts will be aimed at new writers still trying to find their feet. More seasoned writers are very welcome to come along for the ride – and if they want to offer up their own opinions and advice, that’s even better. After all, my word isn’t final and I’m still learning, just like everyone else.
I’ll be covering a wide range of screenwriting topics. Sometimes I’ll be operating on the very high-level and on other occasions I’ll be homing in on specific points. Hopefully, I can offer up something that proves useful to you. In addition, if anyone has specific questions, I’ll do my best to answer them honestly and accurately.
Until next time…