Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Preparing for Script Frenzy
It's that time of year again! Script Frenzy is just about to start, and I know a few people who are (and should be) interested in preparing and writing for it. I know I will be.
However, one of the most deadly acts always creeps into an aspiring (or working) writers psyche. It's called procrastination, you've heard of it. I'm an expert in the field of procrastination, but can't give you advice because you too are an expert in procrastination. Procrastination can be a project killer, where you can lose interest quickly in what you set out to do.
So I've done up a little guide to help you at least get started. I'll keep posting on the blog to see how progress is going and at the end of it, if you want, I'll post up the script on here with a review and some tips. I'll even do my own (which is kind of redundant.) The advice here can probably be found anywhere on the net; but why not have another resource to keep track of!
The Basics: You're excited about this Script Frenzy thing! But you don't know how to write a screenplay? Start cramming! There's a fantastic range of resources relating to screenplays, how to write them and what makes the best. myPDFscripts is an amazing resource I use to check out the latest screenplays, including this years Oscar nominated and winning scripts and those of the past. The Script Lab also has a superb range of opinions and advice on how to get your tone right, structure perfect and story great.
The Basics (Part Two): If you're looking for free software; CeltX is probably your best bet; but if you want to get into screenwriting professionally, I'd recommend picking up Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter (both rather pricey, but worth it in the long run.) DON'T use Microsoft Word, if you do, you're an idiot or are incapable of using the Internet. CeltX will format everything accordingly and has some useful tools to help you structure and write your script. Plus; it's free!
Prepare: You aren't gunning for that Oscar... yet. Preparation is great, having a story ready has you a step in front of many others, but you can also jump straight into this as a creative exercise and at the end of the month, have the first draft of a spec script that you can hone to something that can sell. Remember - this script is meant to be a first draft, it could be shitty straight off, but you have to keep to it, this is a project. Don't give up; it's not good for your future self.
Write what you know: I love sci-fi, so naturally, I feel more comfortable writing in that area, rather than writing a romantic comedy. So my screenplay may take the form of a sci-fi epic or something a little more low-key. The beauty of Script Frenzy is that there’s no budget limitation, make your script as big as 'Lord of the Rings' or as small as 'Monsters.' The possibilities are endless, the amount of creative freedom is quite infinite.
Don't worry, just write: Try not to step back while writing every scene and think, "Is this dialogue natural for the character I've built?" all of this small nit-picking can hinder you getting your script completed. You have a month to do it! Now, that may seem like a ton of time to bang out your story, but in reality, most professional writers I've listened to have taken months and months to actually get their script right. If I can recall, the Coen's took a few months to get their first draft of True Grit done, so not even the best writers can smelt gold as soon as they open Final Draft.
Deadlines are SERIOUS BUSINESS: Script Frenzy's month challenge is there as a virtual line for you to beat. In TV and Film you have deadlines. Cool fact? The writers on The Good Wife (Michelle King, Robert King) have an 8-day turn around on scripts, so after they break their stories, they only have 8 days to have a script ready to shoot. Actually, I think most active TV shows have that kind of turn around - but that's 50 - 70 pages in 8 days! The writers for Thor (Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz) had to submit a complete rewrite of the film over a week in the Christmas holidays, so again, the pressure was on for these guys. It should be on for you.
In 30 days your feature will probably be looking at the 90 to 100 marks, having SF's deadline there for you to work towards is a great goal for you to cross off. Remember, if you were actually working in the business, you're ass would be on the line and if you failed to meet the studio's deadline, you'd be seeing the chopping block.
We fade to black: That's a start for you at least. So if you have even a germ of an idea, write it down and try and extrapolate something from it! Check the papers! Listen to your friends situations, draw upon your own. Get ready - because the upcoming 30 days will be fun, exhausting and ultimately rewarding!