ign.com On Screenwriting



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  • ign.com On Screenwriting

    Although it may come off to many as extremely obvious information, ign.com has posted an article on their "Career Channel" about screenwriting. Read on for the article below...

    - There are many avenues open to those wishing to pursue a career in Hollywood. You could be a set designer, a prop builder, a CGI artist, a cinematographer, a director… Heck, you don't even need talent if you've got a small fortune - you just make your own movie. But it takes a special kind of creativity and determination (some would say insanity) to set your sights on becoming a professional screenwriter.

    As a screenwriter, you're responsible for actually creating the world that will eventually be realized up on the screen - from the basic plot right up to characters and what they're saying. Even re-writing someone else's script - a common occurrence as a film proceeds - is a creative exercise, as you're tasked with reworking a concept to incorporate the input from directors, executives, and producers (sometimes requiring wholesale revision, leaving very little but the original concept - and sometimes not even that).

    What follows are just a few important tips necessary for anyone looking to enter the screenwriting field - which happens to be almost as crowded as the field of acting (actors aren't the only ones waiting tables). As always, specific circumstances will vary - there's something to be said for Hollywood serendipity - but if you keep the following points in mind, you're well on your way…

    1. JUST WRITE - It may seem rather simple stupid, but this is the most important piece of advice you'll get. Writers, just in general, need to practice their instrument just as much as a trumpet player or violinist. In talking about animation, famous Warner Bros. cartoon director Chuck Jones always stated that any artist has 1,000 bad drawings in them, and the faster you get through those, the faster you'll get to the good stuff. Well, the same goes for scripts. You're not going to write <I>The Godfather</I> the first time you sit down at the keyboard (keep in mind that Mario Puzo's original script for the mob classic was heavily rewritten by Puzo & director Francis Coppola before a frame was shot), so don't think that instant genius will pour forth. That ties in with the next tip…

    2. UNDERSTAND STRUCTURE - Just as no architect will ever get a building erected if he sketches out his plans in crayon on a cocktail napkin, no screenwriter will ever get anywhere unless they know how to write in proper Hollywood screenplay format. A Hollywood film screenplay is not a TV script, and it's not a play - it is a unique structure that you must understand and be able to write in, otherwise you won't be given the time of day. You can read (and purchase) 50 books all purporting to teach proper Hollywood format, but your best (and cheapest) bet is to just look at other people's screenplays. Read them, analyze them, deconstruct them, and utilize what you learn. There's nothing that beats real world experience, and the more you look at, the more you'll see the pattern emerge that will lead you down the right path. Don't read published screenplays, which are often edited and rearranged to match the movie in question - go to actual screenplays, many of which you can easily find on the internet. Some sites even feature multiple drafts of the same film's screenplay, allowing you to see how the revision process works.

    3. FIND YOUR VOICE - This is true for any artist, and is equally applicable to budding screenwriters. Find what kind of stories you tell best. Is it horror? Is it drama? Biopics? Action/adventure? Comedy? If you're lousy at writing comedy but have are aces at drama, stick to and develop your comfort zone as an artist. There's nothing more pathetic than someone who can't tell a joke trying to do so, and if it's not your bailiwick, stick to what is. Remember - screenwriters are, literally, a dime a dozen - you can't afford to merely be adequate in a given area, because you'll be trumped by the dozens of other writers who are much better in that area than you are. However, if you go in with your A-game, you've got a better than average chance of being the writer they pick.

    4. DON'T GIVE UP - You've got to want to be a writer if you want even half a chance of making it as one. If this is what you want to do more than anything else in the world, you have to be willing to keep hammering up against it, even in the face of rejection (of which, unless you're the luckiest duck in the world, you'll get plenty of). You have to be willing to throw away a script - a script you may have slaved over for weeks, months - even years - and start again, if that's what's necessary. Rejection stings, especially if you're a creative person who's poured heart and soul into a project, but you've got to be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep writing.

    5. IT'S A BUSINESS - Last, but certainly far from least, you have to realize that - at the end of the day - it's a business. It's not "showpleasure." You must understand the business you're working in - what types of projects people are looking for, how to comport yourself as a professional, and how to play the often political game. It's not merely about being creative. If you want pure creativity, go write a play.

    At the end of the day, being a Hollywood screenwriter is about commitment. It's about committing the time and effort necessary to learn your craft, practice it, learn about the business, and continue fighting for your spot in the dream machine despite the slings and arrows of rejection and the sheer capriciousness you'll likely encounter. With enough determination, skill, and luck, maybe you'll even get the same "rich & famous" contract that greeted Kermit & company at the end of the Hollywood rainbow.

    LINK: http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/663/663340p1.html

  • #2
    Re: ign.com On Screenwriting

    Yeah, no big news, but always good to have the bitter truth thrown in your face once in a while - keep you on your toes... :-)

    'Media is the evil of all evils, they tell you only what
    they want the story to be'¦'