SCREENWRITING

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

The second instalment in our Fresh2Film workshop series for the term! In this workshop, we’ll be covering the basics of writing for the screen, featuring student screenwriter Jasper Cresdee-Hyde (Space Mystery: A Mystery in Space, Marlowe Society President) and ex-student screenwriter Alannah Lewis (The Cyclists, The Tortoise - Best Fiction at Watersprite Festival).The event will take place at 5pm on October 22nd, we’ll post a facebook event link here soon! If you miss the event - don’t worry! We’ll be uploading notes here shortly after the event, as with the rest of the workshops.


NOTES SECTION


Alannah’s Presentation and Advice:

  • Used to write poetry/short stories before moving to screenwriting

  • Wrote short scripts over christmas in second year - The Tortoise did well 

  • Wrote some plays, took one to the Edinburgh Fringe - a great place to showcase your work and get practice for writing

  • Last autumn started at London Film School - MA in Screenwriting, recently started feature film project 

  • Finds coming up with a story hard - e.g. having a beginning, middle, end

  • Use inspiration from everyday life - anything that’s an earworm - line from a book, something your friend says, witty proverb etc. 

  • Ask yourself questions - Who’s talking?, why are they saying it?, what do they want to do next?, are they scared of something? + what in my own life experience can I draw on to flesh out?

  • Start expanding these conversations 

  • Locations - try characters out in different places

  • Nothing is wasted - write down little sketches - maybe something comes of it, maybe not 

  • Bring yourself into the equation / world view on things - what’s been bothering you lately? - something BIG or something inconsequential - helps you build a premise

  • Divide your plan up into two columns: things you want to include and things you need to include 


QUESTIONS:


When coming up with ideas/sketches - how many end up being useful? How much of the process do you go through to get something useful ?

  • Difficult to say

  • Things that feel instinctive/ideas like that don't belong in a script 

  • 60/40 - things you want / desired images to use vs 40 that you need


Coming up with a script - do you view it with the visual impact or just as a script?

  • The latter - started out with short stories and prose

  • Lots of criticism came from saying you can show things instead of saying them - can show someone is sad without them saying it 


Do you set up a scaffolding and then do script?

  • More the other way around - focus on what they’re saying - almost like they're in a pitch black room 


How long does the process take you?

  • Tortoise was fast - felt raw 

  • Others take drafts and time! - Edinburgh Fringe show went through about 10 drafts January - June, masters project has taken a year 


How do you manage giving your script to different people and they give you conflicting attitudes?

  • In the early stages be very open to suggestions and advice 

  • Have to be good at filtering - criticism that works for you 

  • Will always have the core concept that’s yours


Do you get feedback on your drafts from other people? If so, where do you find people to give feedback?

  • Used to ask parents - had life experience 

  • University was very useful - through theatre, film communities - even if just a couple of meetings etc. - nothing wrong with sending people small ideas - not necessarily a novel ! but a small idea - not experts but they’ll be equally useful people to talk to 


Jasper’s Presentation and Advice:

  • Sunday 22nd November - Cambridge Shorts - submissions are open get in touch! 

  • Used to be far more interested in directing and saw scripts as a means to make films - now prefers screenwriting 

  • Did a film studies degree but left and applied to Cambridge

  • In the gap year period - made a feature length sci-fi/fantasy film called Tales from the Apocalypse - on amazon prime 

  • Format, structure, dialogue, characters - so much that feels like it can trip you up 

  • Don’t write something that you think makes a good film - think about why you want to write a screenplay - is it functional, exploratory, personal?

  • Don’t know what you want to tell stories about! - how to overcome the hurdles 1) keep writing 2) take inspiration from world around you 

  • Focus on emotions you’re interested in exploring - you might not have been the exact scenario but you might have had similar emotions/feelings - e.g. want to write a break up scene but have never been broken up with - might have experienced sense of loss



QUESTIONS 

Do you need rights to adapt a short story into a film if you credit them?

  • If it’s in the public domain then no

  • If it’s a friend’s story you think would work then just ask them! - likely to be flattered

  • Always check though if you’re worried! 


Where is it possible to find examples of scripts online, to get familiar with different formats (films, tv series, radio fiction? 

  • Scripts are published or can be found online - often oscar winning scripts are put out 


Difference between script and a screenplay? How do you go about turning a script into a screenplay?

  • Largely just semantics

  • Don’t say what shots to use as that’s a director (unless you want to do that yourself)

  • If you’re planning on having it directed you don’t need to worry too much about the visuals 

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