Thursday, June 01, 2017

credit FutureLearn Screenwriting

David Mamet, the playwright and filmmaker, once remarked that, “Stories happen because somebody wants something and has trouble getting it.” Let’s take a quick look at this simple format:
        The “Somebody”… gives us a character. Not just a name, but a person in a specific place, at a specific time, living a specific life.
        The “Wants Something”… gives us a goal, the ‘story question’ that will be what this film is ‘about’.
        And “Has Trouble Getting It”… gives us the conflict. It provides obstacles that the character must overcome to achieve their goal. These obstacles will ask difficult questions, and the response will come to change and define the character.

 We usually tell our story from a character’s perspective, so we consider the specific circumstances by asking questions.
What has just happened to the character?
What does that mean in relation to his/her goals?
What does he/she want to happen now?
What does he/she fear might happen?
What might stand in the way?

These last two considerations determine the ‘has trouble getting it’ of the scene and will naturally create conflict. We like this collision of goals to force the characters to face hard choices and make clear decisions that determine the direction of the story.

Screenplay Formatting Form and Style

It helps to use professional scripts as a guide, so read lots of scripts.
The BBC Writers Room offers a wide selection of sample scripts. Check often, as the list is frequently updated.

BAFTA/The British Academy of Film and Television Arts offers a wide range of resources for writers. You can access the Screenwriter’s Lecture Series, Guru Podcasts and many other services.

The Writers Guild of Great Britain and The Writers Guild of America, West offer a host of resources on their websites.

The Black List library of award-winning screenplays is a terrific resource. (Actual scripts no longer seem to be available here, but try BBC Writers' Room Script Library.

Screenplay Format
Your scripts must be submitted in proper format.

If you’re working in the UK, take a look at the The BBC Format Guide for Screenplays. The guide tells you all that you need to properly format a screenplay, written in screenplay format.

Screen Australia offers an article on creating loglines, synopses and treatments. Follow the examples in their Story Docs: And Info Guide to learn a very useful approach to presenting your ideas. (pdf)

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - the folks who give us the Oscars, offers a concise guide to screenplay format Do’s and Don’ts. The site also offers downloads of scripts the won their prestigious Nicholl Fellowship.
Script Formatting Software
Trelby is free formatting program that’s worth consideration. It lacks some of the bells and whistles offered by other programs, but it’s free and won’t nag you to upgrade. In addition, it’s a program that you can download and use offline.