All posts filed under: filmmaking & writing

John August Tips on Writing Scene/s

John August is an American scriptwriter, novelist, director, and producer. His scriptwriting credits include: “Charlie’s Angels”, “Big Fish”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and, recently, “Aladdin”. Website: https://johnaugust.com In one of his older blog posts, he shared eleven tips on how to write a scene. His suggestions are still valid and vital in the craft of screenwriting. 1. Ask: What needs to happen in this scene? According to John, characters aren’t responsible for the story; you, the writer, is. If characters were responsible for the story, they would try to avoid conflict as much as possible, just the way people do it in real life. You shouldn’t ask: “What could happen?” or “What should happen? Only “What needs to happen in the scene?”. If you wrote an outline for the scene you are working on, this is the moment to check if that outline answers the crucial question: “What needs to happen?” If you haven’t written an outline yet, do it now by answering this question “What needs to happen in this scene?”. An outline …

Storytelling Tips From Emma Coats

Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats who has worked for Pixar on many of its production shared on Twitter (some time ago) a few words of narrative golden advice for any scriptwriter or writer out there. Read, learn and remember. #1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes. #2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer (can be very different). #3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about till you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite. #4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___. #5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff, but it sets you free. #6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal? #7: Come up with your ending before you …

TV Writing with Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is an American television producer, television and film writer and author. Her best-known shows include: “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal”, “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Private Practice”. If you are writing for TV or starting to write for TV, Shonda’s tips, ideas and suggestions will surely help you out during that process. 1. Pick a TV show you like, then watch and study its entire first season. Once you are done, ask yourself the following questions (make notes if you need to). How are the characters introduced? How are the episodes structured? How does the plot unfold during the whole season? Is the show successful/unsuccessful in your opinion, and why? 2. Choose one of your ideas and start developing it into a show premise. While beginning to write, think about the following components of your show: Who are the characters that make up the story? What is the character’s journey? How would you structure the episode to tell your characters’ stories in the most effective way? 3. Write a bio for each of …

Aaron Sorkin’s Recommended Writing Exercises

Aaron Sorkin is an American screenwriter, director, producer and playwright. His writing credits include: “Steve Jobs”, “Moneyball”, “The Social Network” and “West Wing”. If you haven’t seen any of his films or shows, I strongly recommend you do. 1. Find a short story you like and adapt it to a screenplay. Adapting a story, which already has an intention, obstacle/s and conflict defined will let you practice writing characters, scenes and dialogue. 2. Use a short story, a fairy tale, a fable or a book to adapt the first ten pages of your screenplay. Map out what the intention, obstacle/s and conflict in the story are scene by scene. 3. Write a scene in which one character is asking another character for money. The other character is not going to give them the money. Try to determine each character’s intention and obstacles. 4. Keep a journal and make notes about what works in your favourite films and what doesn’t in the ones you didn’t like. 5. While watching your favourite films, note when the inciting …

Film Festivals Do’s and Don’ts

Film festivals submission process requires determination, high level of resistance to rejection, deep pockets and patience when waiting to hear back from the programmers. I’ve been actively submitting films, not only mine, to festivals since 2006. Within that time a lot has changed: the submission process got easier, festival fees are higher than they used to be, the competition is fiercer, and film festivals aren’t anymore the only way to launch your filmmaking career. Luckily, the physical submissions are no longer in operation, which is a great time saver. You don’t need to waste your time at the post office, lining up and posting up to thirty submissions a month.  Thanks to the online submission process, it’s never been easier to find the right film festivals for your project. While considering taking the film festival route with your project, take into consideration the following do’s and don’ts of the submission process: Do’s  You need to be organized to keep on the top of the submission process, which can take up to a year. I usually …