Monday, September 26, 2016

Episode 3 - The Screenplay (Part 2)

Welcome to Episode 3 of Making a Short Film. This segment is part 2 of writing the screenplay. 

For me, writing the screenplay is the best part of filmmaking. I enjoy creating a story and imagining what it will look like as a film. The following guidelines should get you thinking about the nuts and bolts of screenwriting. 

Format: You need to format your screenplay according to industry standards. This is easy, just get a book or look online to read about proper screenplay formatting.

Write for the Camera. When writing a screenplay, you should spend more time writing down what the viewer is seeing rather than what the characters are saying. MORE action, LESS words.  
Action. The screenplay is written using present tense and action words. For examples:

DO NOT WRITE THIS: Gertrude was sitting on the couch eating a ham sandwich.
WRITE THIS: Getrudes sits on the couch and eats a ham sandwich.

DO NOT WRITE THIS: Andy picked up a rock and threw it at the dog.
WRITE THIS: Andy picks up a rock and throws it at the dog.

Length. Your screenplay will average about 1 minute per page. This is calculated using 12-point Courier font, which is the industry standard.

Read. During the process, get some friends together and read scenes out loud. This will let you know how the dialog sounds so that you can make adjustments. 

Resources: My favorite screenplay writing resources are Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" books. 

Next time we'll discuss the Location

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Episode 2 - The Screenplay (Part 1)

If you've never written a screenplay, my first suggestion is to watch one of your favorite films and take notes on the following: 

What is the mood or genre of the film? Comedy, Horror, Romance, Adventure, War?

What is the opening scene? What happens?

How does this scene connect to the next scene?

Note the tension in every scene. Tension is not necessarily "conflict" but it can be. 

Who is the Main Character and how does the writer/filmmaker get you (the viewer) to like him? What makes you want to root for this character?

What does the Main Character want? What is her goal? What is the thing that drives her to action? 
In Jaws - Brody wants to kill the shark
In Rocky - Rocky wants to go the distance with the champ
In North by Northwest - Thornhill wants to find out who's after him and why

What is the inciting incident? This is the incident that begins the story and there is no turning back for the Main Character. In The Wizard of Oz, the inciting incident was the tornado that lifted Dorothy's house and landed in Oz. Now the story begins - she must get back home (which is her goal). She must find the Wizard of Oz and then she must kill the Wicked Witch of the West (the story/the journey).

How do the supporting characters and events help move the story forward?

Next episode: The Screenplay (Part 2)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Making Short Films - Episode 1 - The Story

As a short filmmaker (well, not really that short - I'm 5 foot 5 inches tall) - I thought I'd post a blog series on what I've learned firsthand about making short films. 

First you need a story.

Where do story ideas come from? Everywhere! 

A book, a movie, a trip, a walk, a conversation, an article, a TV show or commercial, a dream, a child, a pet, an image, a word. 

Just be open to ideas. Grab one that interests you and then ask yourself "what if" questions. Follow the trail to it's logical (or illogical) conclusion:

What if a kangaroo could talk?

What if a doll was alive?

What if a boy found out he was from a different time?

What if a scientist discovered an invisibility formula?

What if a girl found magic shoes?

What if a man was buried alive?

What if you were locked in a jail cell in a ghost town?

Once you have an idea, see where it goes and  create a story with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Next post: Episode 2 - The Screenplay