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BIG Z
10-27-2010, 10:10 PM
As a screenwriter, is it better to see 1000 films or read 1000 scripts?

one seven spectrum
10-28-2010, 12:10 AM
If you want a better understanding of the principles of screenwriting, you should read 1000 scripts and then watch them all on dvd/in cinema, if they have of course been produced.

EDIT: Bring lots of :mpopcorn:

JJBones
10-28-2010, 12:24 AM
I know a guy who wrote a script and he wanted to direct it himself. So he spent a year in which he literally did watch 1000 movies. No lie. Blockbuster even gave him a special membership card for his efforts. Obviously, he did not have a day job during that year.

The following year, he directed his movie.

It was called, "Memento."

The rest -- history...

True Fvcking story.

So for him... Watching 1000 movies worked.

via negativa
10-28-2010, 04:07 AM
I know a guy who wrote a script and he wanted to direct it himself. So he spent a year in which he literally did watch 1000 movies. No lie. Blockbuster even gave him a special membership card for his efforts. Obviously, he did not have a day job during that year.

The following year, he directed his movie.

It was called, "Memento."

The rest -- history...

True Fvcking story.

So for him... Watching 1000 movies worked.

Well, if that's not one of the coolest things I've ever heard...

(Now, whether it's true or not...)

Knaight
10-28-2010, 05:09 AM
So FOLLOWING wasn't good enough and he decided he needed an education?

CrackDown
10-28-2010, 05:21 AM
I'd say watch 500, read 500. 250 of the same of each, spread the genres say 50 for each, then multiply it all together and divide by pi for fun.

Knaight
10-28-2010, 05:53 AM
I'd say I definitely learned more by reading scripts than watching movies, but if I hadn't seen so many movies already, I'm not sure the education would have been as strong. I think one naturally goes with the other.

The good news is, if you're the type of person who wants to put the time in to break into the film business, then you've probably seen a ton of movies already. So put your focus on reading scripts.

NikeeGoddess
10-28-2010, 06:19 AM
read the scripts while you watch the movies

vanpet
10-28-2010, 07:27 AM
Watch and enjoy the movies, then read the scripts. You don't want to spoil all the fun, do you?

JJBones
10-28-2010, 08:22 AM
So FOLLOWING wasn't good enough and he decided he needed an education?


You have to remember, Following was a "weekend" project. A sort of "I'm done with university now what do I do" film that was shot in bits and pieces over a year with volunteers, donations and cobbled together finances.

Sure it has the date 1998 on it - but that's just when it hit a couple festivals. Not when it was actually made...

"Following" was what it was. A film-school grad's amateur effort.
Albeit an extremely well done one. But that's only one way to make a film. And certainly not the way studios do it. So yeah, he felt the need for more education.

Put it this way, you'd never say a guy who pitched one minor league game (even if it was a no-hitter) was immediately ready for the World Series would you? There's always more to learn, skills to hone, etc...

Bunker
10-28-2010, 10:40 AM
I'm going against the grain and saying to WATCH MORE and READ LESS. If we're putting it in percentages, I'd do 80/20 or even 90/10.

First of all, in this business, it's important to see a lot of movies. You'll get an idea of what's been done, and you'll be able to talk about it intelligently at any meetings or general conversations.

But most importantly, I've noticed that people who read A LOT tend to have their own writing stunted. Coverage writers, studio readers, and assistants. Many of these people want to be writers themselves, but they've read so many scripts that they've lost their own voice. They can't mentally separate themselves from someone else s style, story, devices, or characters. Or maybe they're holding themselves to too high of a standard; they don't want to write one of those crap scripts they're always berating to their friends.

As a writer you do need to read. But from what I've seen, the people who read the most are also the ones who become terrified of writing. You have to find a balance.

WriteByNight
10-28-2010, 04:12 PM
I know a guy who wrote a script and he wanted to direct it himself. So he spent a year in which he literally did watch 1000 movies. No lie. Blockbuster even gave him a special membership card for his efforts.

Blockbuster misses his patronage big time.

roscoegino
10-28-2010, 04:35 PM
But most importantly, I've noticed that people who read A LOT tend to have their own writing stunted. Coverage writers, studio readers, and assistants. Many of these people want to be writers themselves, but they've read so many scripts that they've lost their own voice. They can't mentally separate themselves from someone else s style, story, devices, or characters. Or maybe they're holding themselves to too high of a standard; they don't want to write one of those crap scripts they're always berating to their friends.

As a writer you do need to read. But from what I've seen, the people who read the most are also the ones who become terrified of writing. You have to find a balance.

I agree although I'd probably strive for 60/40. So many important nuggets are hidden in the written word. I'm sure that, even though Nolan has watched a ton of movies, he is remarkably well read. QT, on the other hand, isn't known to be much of a reader (although he is obviously intelligent). He's watched more movies than probably all of us combined, but many other movie buffs have clowned him for ripping off obscure movies.

So the stunted voice thing can rear its ugly head either way.

Knaight
10-28-2010, 06:41 PM
You have to remember, Following was a "weekend" project. A sort of "I'm done with university now what do I do" film that was shot in bits and pieces over a year with volunteers, donations and cobbled together finances.

Sure it has the date 1998 on it - but that's just when it hit a couple festivals. Not when it was actually made...

"Following" was what it was. A film-school grad's amateur effort.
Albeit an extremely well done one. But that's only one way to make a film. And certainly not the way studios do it. So yeah, he felt the need for more education.

Put it this way, you'd never say a guy who pitched one minor league game (even if it was a no-hitter) was immediately ready for the World Series would you? There's always more to learn, skills to hone, etc...

I think I was just in a really snarky mood when I said that bit about FOLLOWING. In truth, these little tidbits of trivia are pretty awesome. Feel free to keep going!

wrongmajor
10-28-2010, 06:53 PM
I have read more than 1000 screenplays, and after all of that my writing is still bad, so I would say that watching 1000 movies would be more beneficial. Or maybe more focused, purposeful reading would have done the trick?

12916studios
10-28-2010, 06:59 PM
The wonderfully allustrious, highly intelligent, totally awesome SuperScribe told me to tell you that "you need to watch five thousand movies. Oh, and read a thousand scripts, too. Hell, read two thousand."

emily blake
10-28-2010, 07:13 PM
I try to read a script a week and watch at least one movie a week. Eventually that will add up to a thousand.

via negativa
10-28-2010, 07:34 PM
The wonderfully allustrious, highly intelligent, totally awesome SuperScribe told me to tell you that "you need to watch five thousand movies. Oh, and read a thousand scripts, too. Hell, read two thousand."

Haha. He's awesome.

BIG Z
10-29-2010, 12:01 AM
The 1000 number is arbitrary. The question is about watching movies vs. reading them (sounds odd huh?).

Directors, actors, cinematographers, editors, critics (lol), etc. would benefit much, much more from constantly watching films.

But screenwriters need to know how to write movies so they can be read, not necessarily seen. I say this with caution because, of course, ultimately, movies are seen. I think a screenwriter's job (responsibility to both himself, in that the point of writing every script is to win the opportunity to write another script, and his "boss", i.e. whoever is paying him for his efforts) breaks down like this:

1) Ideas - original ideas are THE currency of successful (meaning working, meaning in the business) screenwriters...a truly original idea will open more doors than the most highly polished, recycled turd "reimagining" ever will (NOTE - the exact opposite logic applies to Hollywood studios)

2) The Read - not the writing, but how the writing reads...many, many people will have to pleasurably read your script (means something different to each person - quick, emotional, inspiring, page-turner, filmable, etc.) for your writing to make a difference (see the point of writing a script above)

3) You - can you compromise? Are you open to changes? Are you the type of personality people (producers are people...right?) will enjoy going to war with in an effort to "get this ****** made"?

4) Writing - context, form, structure, content, voice, genre, style, tone, actual words on a page (or, you know, PDF)...all the stuff script consultants charge you to critique because they can't do it themselves

I would rather read 1000 scripts than watch 1000 movies because I want to write scripts, not make movies. Again, it sounds odd, but it is at the heart of what we all want to do (or are doing - Hi Bill! :)).

By all means watch movies, but read the scripts (the REAL scripts) of the great movies you watch and read the scripts of the great movies that haven't been made. And write something. EVERYDAY!

Writing will teach you more than reading will teach you more than watching.

Right?