Reading Scripts

Tips for Producers and Scriptwriters: read many many screenplays.

One of the best things I took away from the Producing Masterclass last weekend is an outline of the 5 stages of producing films. I am at stage 1. I really appreciated getting a roadmap to advancing through to stage 5.

Some of the tips for stage 1 Producers were:

  • Read 100 produced scripts
  • Read 100 unproduced scripts

See what got made. See what didn’t get made (or what hasn’t been made yet). The aim is to get to the point where you’re bored reading scripts. Then the good ones will jump out at you (‘hmm … I’m at page 15 and I’m still reading and interested …’). Read the bad ones so you know or can work out what makes a bad script.

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Day 13 of Script Frenzy

I’m spending today getting inspiration, listening to the Creative Screenwriting podcast whilst filing at work.

Cover of "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banz...
Cover via Amazon

I am catching up on old episodes of the Creative Screenwriting Podcast. I’ve just listened to a Q+A on Black Swan, and am currently listening to an interview with John Lithgow. He’s being interviewed after a screening of a film he was in, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Movie Marathoners – this looks like a film to get for the next one!

I really enjoy listening to the Creative Screenwriting podcast whilst doing something else (filing, doing dishes or other cleaning). It’s wonderful to hear from the writers of recent and favourite films. There are also some exciting tidbits. My favourite podcast so far is a performance of new monologues by Neil LaBute. (I’ve been trying to find a link to it, but can’t. It was a super special podcast. Perhaps it’s only available from iTunes?)

Now, I must admit to know following the work of many screenwriters, but after hearing LaBute’s work, I’m going to start following him. I was especially taken with a monologue that actress Amanda Peet performed. It made me think about monologues in a new way. How important the reveal is, and how multiple reveals can create the humour of the piece and also the tempo.

Unfortunately Jeff Goldsmith, the guy behind the Creative Screenwriting Podcast, is leaving. I’m not sure if that means that it will no longer exist, or whether someone else will take over. Here’s hoping the latter – the podcast is a wonderful resource. I’m just going to say here, thanks Jeff, I enjoy the show.

Day 11 of Script Frenzy

I find writing scripts at a cafe best, because then I don’t have the distraction of the internet.

I find that I write better when I’m in a cafe, away from internet access. It’s the best way to avoid emails and Facebook and just focus. So today I trotted to Blondinis after work, and spent a couple of hours typing.

Because I’m not working on one feature script, it’s harder to keep track of how many pages I’ve written. I finished one monologue today (4 pages), and started the feature.

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Day Six of Script Frenzy

I’m meant to be up to 20 pages. I’m at about 13. Not bad going, I say.

By day 6 of Script Frenzy, I’m meant to be up to 20 pages.

I had an assignment due for my Scriptwriting class. A 5-10 minute script. I did work on the short film that I had planned to write and hand in for this assignment. Whilst writing it, I realised that it’s at least a 15 minute film, so not ideal for the assignment. A few pages of new scenes were incorporated into Script Frenzy.

I had written the opening scene of a short film idea as part of Script Frenzy. I knew it could be a 5-10 minute film. So I wrote that. One 7-page script done. With the other short that I started, that puts me at about 13 pages.

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Day Two of Script Frenzy

Day 2 of Script Frenzy. Really I should be getting to 6 pages by now. I’ve written 1. Hmmmm.

I can foresee that finding the time to write is going to be fun. Day 1 of Script Frenzy was plagued with sleep deprivation. It included work, a meeting with my research supervisor, a production meeting for the films I’m producing, and finally catching the bus to where my car usually is rather than where it actually was. Damn sleep deprivation. It then involved a walk along the Old Hutt Road, a bus ride, dinner, and then trying to write. One page down, and I fell asleep. I started a new film idea. Really the 1 page script could be just that, or it could extend into a thriller/horror.

The second day of Script Frenzy has involved procrastination in many forms, and working on my short film script. Thankfully doing Script Frenzy counts as work for my Uni Scriptwriting course. Does working on a script that one has already started count for Script Frenzy? I hope so.

I’ve also gotten into the vibe by listening to Creative Screenwriting podcasts whilst doing dishes. And I’ve been listening to music, which has gotten me onto a story idea involving a rock band. Really I should stop starting short films, and focus on the ones I have to write.

Day 2 of Script Frenzy. Really I should be getting to 6 pages by now. I’ve written 1. Hmmmm.

Film, study, and assorted things

Lots on at the moment. A breakdown (of what’s on. Not in me. Not just yet. I don’t have time to breakdown).

There aren’t enough hours in the day. I suppose to make my blog more interesting, I should have done more regular posts on each of the things below. I simply don’t have time. So this is what I’m working on now…

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Peter Briggs

I had an awesome time at the Peter Briggs Writer’s Discussion Series.

On Wednesday 17, after The Lake meeting, Keryn and I went to The Film Archive to attend the final Writer’s Discussion Panel for 2011. The event was a discussion with Peter Briggs, who has been working in Hollywood as a writer for 20 years, and who wrote Hellboy. He is currently in Wellington in pre-production for Panzer 88 and Mortis Rex (which look to be fantastically awesome films!)

Peter Briggs article on the Script To Screen website.


This event is part of the 2010 Wellington Discussion Series brought to you by Script to Screen, Nga Aho Whakaari, the NZ Writers Guild and the NZ Film Archive

The discussion was lead by Jonathan King, (director of Black Sheep and Under The Mountain).

The discussion was fantastic. I was smiling the entire time I was enjoying it so much. Peter is humourous, jovial, a great storyteller (of course). He was telling us about how his script writing career is an example of how not to do it. He wrote the spec script for Starship Troopers (I love that movie). He wrote a spec script for Alien vs. Predator, but didn’t own the property. Through an amazing fluke of being in the right place, right time, it got picked-up. A one-in-a-million chance!

We heard about politics in Hollywood, and things to keep an eye out for as script writers. Script writers in Hollywood may find themselves earning money, but never getting produced! Peter had such a sense of humour and revelled in hilarious self-deprecation; it was great. And the tips were so wonderful.

Also, we got shown some concept art and told about his upcoming films – Panzer 88 and Mortis Rex. I’m excited already! The former, a team of German soldiers in WWII, and being hunted by a Jewish protective demon. The latter, the Romans are building Hadrian’s Wall, and are being attacked by dinosaurs! So. Cool.

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Development Tools

I just saw this. I’m thinking that it might be something worthwhile once I’m working on feature films. For those wondering, I’ve applied for a scriptwriting course in 2011, which will lead to writing a feature script. As a producer, getting into feature film script development interests me. But I think having written a feature myself would be extremely beneficial before looking into feature script development in a producing role.