Writing a screenplay is not easy. You will need discipline and you will need to learn the structure, character development and format. Not to worry, that is why I have condensed ten years of experience, hundreds of books and movies, into this article.
I have written seven screenplays now, two television scripts, and two music video scripts. Only one of those films has made it to the big screen. Breaking into screenwriting often times requires persistence and focus and many, many years.
Story logic, character development and structure are paramount when writing a traditional script. Each film follows a six stage plot structure.
Robert McKee’s Story tells us that you must be good at the nuts and bolts of a scene. Each scene hinges upon the other scene and everything must continue to move forward. A good story is a detective story – the audience wants to know what is going to happen next? Keep them guessing. You never want to be predictable. Scenes need to turn on at least one value charged condition of a character’s life through action – reaction. Real truth is found in underlying meaning and real entertainment is when humans experience charged values and emotion.
The first thing you must do is determine your controlling idea which is the ultimate meaning expressed in one sentence. Next write your logline, which is your pitch to a producer or studio and summarizes your movie set-up, conflict, and resolution. The American Association of Screenwriters recommends you keep the logline to three sentences. For character-driven movies include identification, connection, potential crisis, and risk. There are plot-driven scripts in which you want to highlight complications in the logline.
Loglines should consist of the following:
* Reveal your star’s situation
* Reveal Important Complications
* Describe the action the star takes
* Describe the star’s crisis decision
* Hint at the climax – danger, showdown
* Hint at the star’s potential transformation
* Identify sizzle, sex, greed, humor danger, thrills, satisfaction
* Identify Genre
* Keep it to three sentences
* Use present tense
You can fill in a logline by replacing these “An interesting hero must accomplish a goal (x), despite extraordinary obstacles (y), because of emotionally compelling stakes (z).
Characters should go through raw identity, self awareness, self enlightenment, and self actualization. How your character chooses how they react to an event in your script is who they are. Reluctant heroes are always interesting if they only appear to care about themselves, but in clutch situations help others.
What is your hero’s everyday world like? What event, referred to as the inciting incident, changes everything? Is the event passive, disruptive, personal, or casually linked to your first act break? At what point in your hero’s life does your story begin? Time-wise, how far away is your story beginning from the inciting incident. Stack the odds against your hero. You can throw coincidence at your hero, but you can’t use coincidence to get them out of a situation.
Describe your hero. What is his or her profession? What is his overall goal? Who or what is stopping him from achieving it? What’s at stake if he fails?
Next you can write a treatments which is a story concept, plot, basic characters, and sometimes snippets of dialog of main characters. Typically a treatment is 30 pages or less and can be protected by law (see below below).
Character development is extremely important to a good script. One exercise you can do is talk to your characters and interview them. Where are they from? What do they do? What drives them consciously and subconsciously? Your protagonist doesn’t need to be sympathetic, but must be empathetic. Heroes should be given insurmountable obstacles as they pursue compelling objectives.
No aspect of characterization (age, race, IQ, speech, mannerisms, beliefs, personality) may undermine credibility of character. Actions must be believable. Positive and negative charges. Compare and contrast. Subplots should contradict the controlling idea. Put characters in situations which are rich with moral quandaries and elements of good drama.
You must make sure your script is in top form before you send it to someone. Beware, sending out unsolicited intellectual property (be it script, music, anything creative basically) is very difficult and risky. You can read other scripts at Drew’s Script-O-Rama.
The first step before showing anything to anyone is to protect your work. Register your Treatments, Loglines, and scripts with The United States Copyright Office, ProtectRite.com or WGAWest.com. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your idea is copyrightable – it’s not. Copyright will protect the literary or dramatic expression of an author’s idea but not the idea itself. A script is considered a literary expression of an idea.
Craig Mazin, author of The Artful Writer screenwriting blog will tell you that chain of title . The Writers Guild of America often times finds contributing writers to a project through arbitration. Participation isn’t defined by employment, rather by the contribution of intellectual property. Chain of Title can be very hard to prove, but the WGA helps determine screen credit on the basis of copyrightable contributions.
I highly recommend Michael Lent’s book Breakfast with Sharks – A Screenwriter’s Guide. He breaks down the process of paper to screen and offers many helpful hints including a resource guide which includes Hollywood Literary Sales, Screen Players, Movie Bytes, Who Represents, Writers Mind, Done Deals, The Hollywood Reporter,Script Savvy, Write Movies, Ain’t It Cool News, Hollywood Creative, Representation, and Distributors Directories.
You will need a good lawyer and an agent, because the problem with sending unsolicited material is this: most people in the position of choosing projects will not even open it. The reason is that if I as an producer or an agent (the two people you would be sending scripts to) have a movie deal about a bank heist in the works and they read someone else’s script about a bank heist they are instantly incriminating themselves as plagiarists. The question becomes which script came first is what the unsigned writer will undoubtedly ask?
It takes a lot of money to make a movie. One way to sell a script is to get it in the hands of someone with money who wants to enter into the Hollywood world. Convince this person that the movie appeals to a wide range of people and get him to sign over funding. Once the first domino falls in promising (in writing) money towards film production, each following domino tips much easier. Once you have funding to produce the film, you then have ammunition to go after distributors (a studio – who gets the film into theaters, television, or DVD).
Once you get enough money, the writer suddenly becomes the producer of the film, the people with the funding are the executive producers. The writer / producer then hires a ESTABLISHED FILM PRODUCER and a SOLID DIRECTOR and hands the project over to them. The writer protects his vision while handing over the nuts and bolts of the production to people who’ve done it before, thereby protecting the financial investment of the executive producer.
Keep in mind, when funding for a feature length film isn’t achievable, sometimes people will make trailers or short form versions of their films and submit them to festivals, which then can generate buzz to further the project to feature completion.
Keep in mind, probably thousands of scripts are sold to producers/studios/agents which never become movies. Typically on a mid-sized to major film, the writer selling a script will get a few hundred thousand for the script, & a few hundred thousand more should it actually go into “production” (meaning the movie gets made). Beyond that, tons of movies are made to sit on shelves because though produced, they never get released.
To simply sell the script first, move to LA or NYC. Then, package yourself as a successful Hollywood writer (Eurotrash clothes, eccentric neuroticism, various lies about what you’ve done professionally), then go to organization meetings (Producer’s Guild, Director’s Guild, or any of the other hundreds of independent filmmaker / writer organizations), then meet as many people as you can in positions of choosing. Go to their parties, become their friends.
In Los Angeles you will also want want to join The Office, a quiet workplace for writers and a great place to get your work done. Studying is important – The Dialogue series is a must watch, interviews by former New Line Cinema Executive Producer Mike De Luca include Sheldon Turner, Paul Hagis, and Jim Uhls. You can get these on Netflix as well. You can take Syd Field’s Screenwriting Workshop or UCLA Extension writing courses which are considered inexpensive. Personally, my homework sometimes consists of watching up to two or three movies a day and reading a lot of material – books, magazines, Web sites.
There are hundreds of script writing contests you can find online too, winning one of those will certainly add to your material’s worth. There are only two kinds of people in entertainment, beggars and choosers, guess where 99.9% of writers fall? Once you meet these people socially, THEN you can ask them to read your script. Now of course, this takes a gross amount of time and a disgusting amount of soul-selling and gut-wrenching “schmoozing” with people you really would rather not deal with. This is why entertainment is a wonderful industry.
The basic rule is, if it’s too easy to get the script in their hands, they aren’t important enough to be worth wasting your time on, meaning they aren’t in the position to make your movie a reality. Hollywood is an “old boys” club and quite honestly, unless you are geographically or financially positioned to gain access to these people, it isn’t going to happen.
Write something that a lot of people would like to see that you can make for about $10,000 to $500,000 dollars. This would mean a script set in VERY few locations and easily accessible locations, no special effects, small cast, a crew with a few seasoned professionals but mostly college interns, a concept able to be shot on digital video or 16mm film.
Think movies like Clerks, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Home Alone, Blair Witch Project, and Meet The Parents. Think about a movie that not only would someone want to see it in the theater, but would they would also want to watch it on DVD. Comedy and horror are both genres that are consistently sellable- straight drama is much more risky.
Take the money, make the movie (be it feature length or shortform), put it on YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, MetaCafe, with your cell phone number at the end. If it’s that great a concept that someone can make money off of, the phone will ring.
When pitching a project in person, wear lots of deodorant. Forget “controlling” your sweat. You want to be able to strike a match off your pits. Know where you’re going. Get there early, but don’t go in early. Show up exactly at the time of your appointment. You’re going to wait regardless, but that’s irrelevant. Thinking too much about what you are going to say will throw a wrench in your pitch. Simply Variety or stare at the wall and laugh about how superior you are to the world. You’re not, but just do it. It helps.
In a pitch meeting, when offered a drink, accept water. Never soda. Just water. Don’t drink it yet. Wait until you start pitching. Then use it as a prop. When you get to a cliffhanger (drinks water) take a slug. Make ‘em wait. When you’re done pitching, stick around for a brief period of time to hear any immediate reactions, but not too long. You’ve got another pitch to get to right away…even if you don’t.
Now that you have a solid foundation, get busy writing and apply all the principles above. The next great writer is YOU.Read more
The inaugural South Park Music & Camping Festival, presented by Cannabis Network Radio & Channel 9.33, will take place on 4th of July Weekend (July 3 – 5, 2014) at the beautiful American Safari Ranch in Fairplay, Colorado. South Park Music Festival (SPMF) celebrates our rights and freedom of choice by honoring the legalization of cannabis in Colorado over the country’s Independence Day weekend.
SPMF holds true to the philosophy that diversity creates unity. After years of seeing specific niche type festivals, it was time to have a music festival that combined the likes of Woodstock, Ultra Music Festival, Bonnaroo and Coachella together to make the most inclusive Music Festival in decades, and never seen before in Colorado. SPMF is a true music-lover’s festival with a well-rounded lineup featuring a wide variety of music genres, offering something for everyone to enjoy. The final lineup includes Slightly Stoopid, Tech N9ne, Paper Diamond, Matisyahu, Collie Buddz, Heroes X Villains, The Flobots, Kottonmouth Kings, Blackalicious, Souls of Mischief, Alien Ant Farm and many more.
This three-day event combines an entire summer’s worth of activities into one all-inclusive weekend. SPMF is for people who love music, love cannabis and pays homage to the great State of Colorado and its citizens for allowing the true love of music and cannabis culture to come together in a one-of-a-kind experience. Festival-goers will enjoy three stages with state-of-the-art sound, lasers and lighting, a huge fireworks display that will rival any major city and some truly EPIC surprises. SPMF will also feature interactive live art installations, moon bounces, a full bar, entertainers, merchandise vendors, the very best in cannabis-related products and an amazing selection of food & drinks.
Along with multiple stages and the nation’s top musical acts, the festival will offer a variety of cannabis-curated workshops including presentations on the current state of recreational cannabis, instructional information on how to grow and purchase cannabis properly. The festival will also feature The Underground Cup, designed to reach out to the Colorado cannabis community and enable the talented independent, small growers and extract artists to be recognized in the mainstream cannabis industry. The goal is to bridge the gap between the BIG cannabis industry and “the little guys”. Cannabis is legal for everyone 21+ to consume, and medically available for patients 18+. All adults 21+ will be able to enjoy cannabis at the festival and all redcard holders 18+ will be able to consume for medicinal purposes. These guidelines will be strictly enforced by an onsite security team to ensure our complete compliance with the law.
As a thank you to the Colorado community for their support of cannabis legalization, South Park Music Festival is offering $50 Early Bird Weekend Passes (camping included). For those who want to camp in style or need to rent camping gear, South Park Music Festival is offering rentals on “glamping tents” and camping gear packages. VIP packages will also be available and include an exclusive front row area at the main stage and camping area, private VIP areas with private bars, food stations and tented areas. For information, lineup and ticketing information please visit the official South Park Music & Camping Festival website: www.southparkfest.com #SouthParkFestRead more
Don’t miss out on the 12th annual Denver’s largest marketing & business professional’s networking event!Read more
Rihanna shopping at JoyRich boutique May 16th, 2014
Shop JoyRich online at http://www.joyrichstore.com/Read more
Between lives, loyalty, love, and limitations a Chicago basketball star trying to make the NBA must balance faith, family, and career and the critical choices he faces that define a man’s character and reveal what’s most important in life. Midrange releases on DVD June 10, 2014.
Fresh off a stellar collegiate basketball career, aspiring professional basketball star, Damon Sharp, returns to his hometown in Chicago quickly to discover a more challenging game off the court. His former life and old bad habits abruptly challenge his newfound faith in God. Damon’s dreams of playing pro ball hang in the balance while he faces the circling demons of his past, which are being beckoned by his brother Darrin, who’s on a fast track to jail.
Devastated by some news, temptation gets the better of Damon, weakness takes root and the downward spiraling ensues. Moving back into his childhood home unveils his mother’s severe depression and his brother’s growing penchant for trouble despite being a single dad, exposing his young nephew’s vulnerability.
An intimate portrait of the two brothers emerges when they are suddenly forced to re-examine their lives, loyalty, love and their own limitations. Ultimately the choices they make reveal their true character when one of them takes a shot in life that will set the course for everyone’s life forever.
Midrange centers around two brothers; a young basketball star set on making a professional roster and a single dad on a fast track to prison. Through their wins and losses an intimate portrait emerges of two brothers who look candidly at their lives, loyalty and their own limitations as they each wrestle with the past and are forced to engage with the present. Thematically the film addresses a secular struggle of balancing faith, family and career and ultimately the critical choices that define a man’s character and reveal what’s most important in life.
One of the most common literary conflicts are the following:
Character vs. Character. Two characters who come into direct conflict. This is often referred to as “Man vs. Man.” In this most basic of conflicts, one person, or like being, is in conflict with another person or like being. This conflict may play a large role and contribute to the development of both characters. There are usually several physical competitions, fights, battle of words, wits, will, emotions, arguments and / or disagreements before the climax is reached. The conflict is external. At the end of the story, one character may emerge victorious, or both characters may change a bit and learn to live with their differences.
Character vs. Self is the theme that places a character against his or her own will, confusion or fears. This conflict can also be where a character tries to find out who he or she is or comes to a realization or a change in character. Internal conflicts make story characters seem more realistic. A character may be trying to make a decision, to understand an issue, to overcome a problem, or simply to grow as a human being. By watching characters struggle to resolve inner conflicts, we can gain insight into the characters and into real-life people. Although the struggle is internal, the character can be influenced by external forces. The struggle of the human being to come to a decision is the basis of Character vs. Self.
In Character vs. Society, a character or a group of characters are in conflict with a society’s social traditions or norms. Society itself is often looked at as single character, just as an opposing party would be. There are many science fiction films set in the future where a character is up against the society and their rules and/or traditions. When characters follow their own beliefs they often come into conflict with society. Their struggles may involve efforts to gain acceptance, to understand the values of another culture, to establish their own identity, or to correct injustices. Important aspects of character are revealed through this type of conflict.
Character vs. Nature is the conflict we see in so many of those types of films. For example, the main characters in Titanic, Rose and Jack are attempting to escape the ship, which is sinking. This conflict places a character against the forces of nature. The conflict is external but there may be some internal conflict as the character is often forced to survive and face their own fears. This can make a powerful story. Tales of wilderness survival, of harrowing treks by land or sea, and of floods, storms, and other natural disasters are filled with suspense that keeps one interested in the story. A character’s conflict with nature also reveals his or her personality. In a battle against the elements, traits such as competence and incompetence, wisdom and foolishness, cowardice and courage stand out.
Character vs. Destiny in some stories characters struggle against fate – fixed unchangeable destiny. Whether or not we admire their efforts, we usually find the conflict compelling. As humans we all would like to be in charge of his or her own destiny.
The Coco Jack was invented to make it opening young Thai coconuts safe and easy, no matter what your size or strength.
Coco Jack‘s entire line of tools are made in the USA and contain 100% Food Safe Stainless Steel and Plastic. Coco Jack & the scoop are Internationally Patent Pending and Coco Jack comes with a Lifetime Guarantee when purchased with their Coco Mallet.
Coco Jack also comes with a specially designed shock absorbing grip, whose material was originally developed to absorb the vibration from motorized lawn mowers! They will help protect your hand from excess vibrations if you’re opening a lot of coconuts at once.
Besides being rugged and durable, the Coco Jack is also designed with aesthetics in mind. Every measurement was calculated using the ancient Fibonacci proportions to create a beautiful, balanced, and “harmonious” tool.
The Coco Jack is a work of art, not just a tool. Coco Jack’s signature offset thumb hole is the essence of practicality and style: The thumb hole is offset to create a larger striking area in the correct striking position of the Coco Jack, while also creating a shorter distance for the thumb to travel when poking out the coconut crown. Design, function, and balance, all perfectly laid out.
The custom designed, patent pending, stainless steel Coco Scoop is designed to get all the meat out of your coconut in one scoop.
Coco Jack has also created a custom “Noodler Tool” to help create coco-noodles and “boba” right inside your coconut! And they have the Coco Sipper – an eco-friendly glass straw – to slurp them right up! Need help cleaning your coco sipper? They have a Baby Brush to help with that too!
The Coco Shock is an attractive vibration absorbing mat to rest your tools on and absorb the impact from mallet strikes during opening.
All of Coco Jack’s products can be bundled inside an attractive, rustic looking “Coco Sack” – a handy burlap sack that can store all your tools in one place.
Coco Jack’s tools can be purchased as “bundles” or a la carte at Coco-Jack.com.
And don’t forget to pick up a fun “Coconut- The Other White Meat” T-Shirt or Tank Top. They’re 100% Cotton and printed right here in Southern California.
Coco Jack’s network of manufacturers includes shops in Virginia, Texas, Maine, Missouri, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California. Everything Made in the USA!
If you’ve ever tasted a delicious fresh Young Thai Coconut, then you don’t need to be convinced. They’re awesome. And they’re healthy. You love them. We all do. But sometimes love isn’t enough. Sometimes the dangers and hassles of opening them cause that love to strain and turn sour. We may grow estranged from our favorite electrolyte packed coconut treat. We may have settled for second best – processed, boxed coconut water that doesn’t have the same flavor as the real thing. And what about the meat? Nope. That went by the wayside too. . .
Coco Jack proud to have invented the first line of Young Thai Coconut tools that really work!
Order yours today, and Get Cracking!Read more
Holding over 20 of the most unique and trendy brands in the nation, The Gents Closet offers clothing with a look and story that sets fashion apparel apart from the rest. Inside The Gents Closet, stylists cater to the customer, helping form new identities at a whole new level of comfort and confidence. From A-list celebrities and clients, to white collar professionals and more, The Gents Closet is changing the fashion scene of Los Angeles and looking to expand their territory down a variety of different avenues.
Reaching out to the most innovative and inspiring brands in the industry is essential. Styles in the showroom can be described as contemporary, urban, dapper. MannyJStyle, creator of The Gents Closet, explains his presence in the company, and the impact of the first men’s style haus to hit Los Angeles.
What is it like working on Sunset Boulevard?
I love working on Sunset Blvd. The community is so full of our clientele; we are convenient for stylists and celebrities. The neighborhood is expanding and we get a chance to witness the growth. We are accessible to some pretty cool Hollywood landmarks as well; the hottest night clubs, bars, lounges and restaurants in Los Angeles. Working on Sunset Blvd is a dream come true and there is so much to take advantage of to continue to grow The Gents Closet into a massive men’s style haus.
What do you think is possibly the biggest flaw behind a man’s personal style?
Men do not care to take a lot of risk when it comes to stepping outside their comfort zone, and it’s not necessarily a flaw, but I just feel it is a lack of knowledge, understanding and comfort. However, when clients step into The Gent’s Closet that is what we do. We teeter along the lines of stepping outside a little towards the things that a client may want to experience with, but not necessarily sure about making the commitment, however, can still get the chance to experience the style. Fit is another thing that is important in men’s fashion. Fit makes the look, and everything does not have to fit tight; we are individuals and we all have different and unique body structures. We all like our clothes to fit our bodies differently, but the right fit makes the world of difference.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
The most rewarding part of my career is the chance to share my God-given talents with so many people, and I get a chance to be rewarded by seeing people change their opinions about their image; I have the opportunity to play with clothes every day. I also love the fact The Gents Closet serves as an outlet that caters to so many creative individuals and links so many people together for so many opportunities. In a nutshell, I love my job, and I love being paid to do what I love.
What do you believe to be the driving force of success behind The Gents Closet?
The driving force behind the success of The Gents Closet is the people that support and continue to spread the word, and also the fact that we pay attention to our clients; they can see the value behind The Gents Closet when they go and experience compliments. Also it’s the unique menswear brands and lines that we work with. They allow us the opportunity to make our clients look good in their clothes whether an A-list celebrity client, a record exec, or a lawyer… Once we dress you, we give everyone a star touch!
What are your future goals?
The future goals of The Gents Closet are to expand our team of stylists and brand ambassadors, do more monthly events and pop-ups, and expand our territory, brands we work, and eventually our facility and our clientele all over.