It’s 645pm and after a titanic week of corporate filming, you’ve just made it for the last fifteen minutes of happy hour. You bring the beers and as you pull up a chair you tell me that tomorrow morning you’re finally going to start writing that script you’ve been talking about. I have worked with local filmmakers to help them improve their scripts before they embark on self-produced features. So here are five things I want you to keep in focus as you tackle those pages.
1. Ensure your premise is a bell-ringer
Get in the habit of telling your story in one or two sentences to someone whose opinion is of value and be honest with yourself about how they react. When they are genuinely intrigued and enthralled, that’s the time for you to commit to writing the script. Practice writing loglines. Throughout your production journey, this concise iteration of your story will be the first version people hear when you ask them to invest their talent, time or money, and the lure that will attract your audience.
2. Outline first
I urge you to outline before you dive into a full draft. Whatever process works for you – beat sheet, scene cards, full-prose treatment – enjoy constructing your narrative in this abbreviated form. And then challenge it. Run through it repeatedly, with a tight focus on both your hero’s arc and where the genre shines. The more problem solving you do in the outlining stage the easier you will find writing your draft.
3. Develop every character
You understand the need to maximise the appeal of your hero(es) and your forces of antagonism, while other peripheral characters spring up just make a scene or sequence function. As your resources are limited in DIY filmmaking, create as few of these as possible. But if they make the cut, create them with dimension and flair. It will help you attract great acting talent at those negotiated rates.
4. Nail every scene
A common ailment in scripts I assess is the diminishing quality in the second half of the script. It’s an element of fatigue. When you review your own work in single sits, your focus might fade towards the end of the read. It’s a long dance and you just want to get to the end of the song. The symptoms can include less description to evoke the scene, less effective scene structure, slackening in the quality of dialogue. Develop a solid scene assessment checklist and exercise it.
5. Integrate feedback in your process
As we read through our work, while we revel in the parts we love we might drift past elements that are dysfunctional or need a boost. Find faithful sources of feedback – a film-savvy friend, a collaborator, a writer’s group, a hired eye. An exchange of feedback is a solid sparring session. It’s about throwing your script into the ring to see how it fairs under professional scrutiny, before you finance it, shoot it and release it to the lions of public opinion.
Win a Script Assessment valued at $290!!
What’s up for grabs: Have your script read twice and a logline written, a one paragraph synopsis and a 1000 word assessment reporting on the primary considerations of the current draft: Premise, Character, Structure, Dialogue, Genre.
How to enter: Simply hit us up in the comments or on our Facebook page, here, and lay down your best logline to be in the running. We will pick our favorite and award the lucky person the free Script Assessment courtesy of Mango Tree Story.