Five Things I Learned About Screenwriting
In my last blog post, I started a series about what I have learned about filmmaking since entering the field about three years ago, starting with casting. But before that, there was this little thing called “writing a screenplay”. Although I have done quite a bit of writing in my business career, it was focused on general communications, organizational announcements, and presentations. Screenwriting was another whole animal. Here are 5 things I learned.
1. WORDPLAY R FUN: A screenplay without compelling characters is not one that will make it; nor will one without interesting wordplay. It takes both to make a script worth making into a movie – one without the other won’t cut it. When I had the idea about this clueless parody band, collaboration was key to create just the right script.
2. STORY AND BUDGET: I heard stories about screenwriters creating fantastic story lines and images that would require lots of investment in special effects and expensive locations, and then were unable to get the film made because of the expense. Since my goal was to get the film made, I wrote the story with a realistic budget in mind.
3. KILLER SCRIPT: Early on I discovered “Script Coverage”, which provides a way to get experienced screenwriter feedback for modest expense. This was probably one of the most important steps, as I was able to locate some incredibly talented people who do this for a living. Like BASF, they didn’t write the screenplay, but they helped make the screenplay better.
4. TABLE READ: Although a writer may be very pleased with how the script reads,one can never be sure how it sounds until a Table Read is conducted. We brought in actors to read the various roles, and discovered other opportunities to develop the script as we heard the interplay between actors. They were also able to provide additional feedback and ideas through the reading that was very helpful.
5. FLEXIBILITY: The screenplay went through dozens of updates as we continued our journey into pre-production. I always kept an open mind about how the characters’ journey would evolve and there were multiple endings written before we settled on the one we filmed.
This was the longest part of the three-year (so far) journey that I have taken with the film, but it was essential to ensure a quality script and story. I’m grateful for all who have participated in each part, and hope to streamline this process for my next film based on these learnings.
Stay tuned for the next blog post sharing what I learned about the overall pre-production process.