Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Screenwriting, Pt. 1

Alright, folks! The long-awaited (kind of...) post on the basics of screenwriting!! Er, Part One, anyway!! *fanfare*

If you have interest in screenwriting but know nothing about it, this is the post for you. In this post, I focus on a few basic technical things. In fact, it's really a brief introduction.

In Part Two (coming soon!), I'll show you how to turn a sequence in your head into a scene on paper, in screenplay format. That post will probably be more useful than this one, but anyway...

Before I start blabbering: 

A book I highly recommend for anyone interested in screenwriting: Screenwriting for Dummies, by Laura Schellhardt. This book is basically my Screenwriting Bible, and even now after a few years of screenwriting, I still find myself in need of it. The best book you could ever get on screenwriting. 

In fact, skip this post and go get the book. :)


So.... (if you're still here and didn't take my advice) screenwriting. What is it, why do you do it, and how do you do it?

The What

Well, screenwriting is writing the script for a movie. Simple, right?  Good.
So what you're doing is.... writing a movie.

The Why

Well, how are you gonna shoot a movie if you don't know what to do? You write a screenplay to make a movie, for the same reason there is a script for a play. 
The screenplay is the backbone of filmmaking. 

The How

How do you write a movie??

Take a look at this:

A screenplay shows, in a traditional reading copy, not a shooting script, the things you see and the things you hear. As a general rule, leastways. Once you know how to work by the rules, then you can break them. 
There are many books and tutorials and programs and people that can tell you how to format a screenplay, so I'm not gonna. (I have book recommendations at the bottom of this post.)
I'm just going to go over the fundamentals of the actual writing process.

A screenplay must be written in present tense. And it's written in Courier font, size 12.
You read a screenplay like you're watching a movie, therefore everything you read is happening right then. And about Courier and size 12... that's the standard font and size, because a page of the script equals about a minute of screen time if you follow that rule. Thus, you will most likely never find a screenplay longer than about 120 pages. 

Every screenplay starts with the words, "FADE IN."
Just cause. It looks like this:

Right there ---->

Be as brief in your descriptions as possible.
Brevity, generally speaking, is more important than description. You can make detailed notes for yourself, of course, but in the actual thing do your best to be brief, maybe two sentences describing a new character, three for a scene description, maybe. Just keep the word brevity in mind. I mentioned this in detail in this post.

Think in shots.

You write a screenplay shot by shot. Thus, you have to visualize everything to get it on paper. Even if you only have a blurry image at first, write it down. You'll see it in more detail as you go on.

Every film ends with the words, FADE OUT.
Simple as that.

Well, I'll be back for Part Two, sometime. But seriously, the book I mentioned earlier will help you way more than I ever could. Hope that was somehow helpful! Comment and let me know if you have questions/concerns.


Everyone's Favorite Composer said...

Concerns? CONCERNS!? Do I ever!!! I will never watch you write a post AGAIN! It is EXHAUSTING! I worry about you.

Anonymous said...

Hehe, you watched her write it? And then *you* are exhausted? Something is terribly ironic about this whole deal ;)

Ok..Now I feel like I know a drop in a bucket. *feels small* I will have to learn more about this screen writing bit...