Film Diary #3 – How to Write the Best Screenplay You Possibly Can
Having decided to work together again, I knew the process had to be different from last time. And it would be. For one thing we had come a long way from our first screenplay. We’d made several short films by this point – we were filmmakers now. What’s more, technology had reached a point where we knew we could make this film ourselves as opposed to before, when we really didn’t know what we were going to do once we had completed the screenplay. We knew how to make shorts, we had a team we had assembled over four years of projects and with the right story and the right screenplay we could achieve it ourselves.
But the script also had to be better. It had to be the most professional, most well crafted screenplay I could ever write. I had to this point gone about the task of writing shorts like I had with my first attempt and just written from instinct – and this will get you so far, particularly within short films, but not with a feature. Someone is always going to have the patience – even out of politeness to read a 7 page short screenplay. Give them 90 – 120 pages written that way and they won’t make it passed page 10!
I found my original screenplay. I read the first ten pages… and I stopped reading. I needed an education in screenwriting.
Now, this can be done through many means, and going on courses is always a great idea. But they can be very expensive. A weekend course with a top rate screenwriter can cost anything from £300 ($450) upwards. I couldn’t afford that and the whole point of this blog is that you probably can’t afford that either. So you have to seek out what you can. What I did was search the web and buy books!
The first book I bought was ‘Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay’ by Elliot Grove. Its a great place to start. Firstly, it begins to educate you about screenplay form – something you will never get from just watching films. It begins to give you a real insight into the mechanics of a great script – and that’s the thing you have to be striving for. It’s also full of practical advice and exercises and most importantly, tips you off about further reading – it details THE books on screenwriting.
The Raindance website also has many practical exercises to help you get your story together. For more insight and to get you started, check out ‘The 7 Steps to a Successful Screenplay’.