Posts tagged ‘tips for screenwriters’

October 5, 2011

The Trick to a Script Like Bridesmaids: Write, Then Rewrite, Then Rewrite…

This new article from Living the Romantic Comedy delves into the writing process that Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo went through to get to the funniest possible film — they wrote, then they re-wrote a dozen-plus times, and then they embraced a lot of improv in the actual filming (download the script here). There’s a big lesson to be learned here about not settling for the first or even the tenth idea that comes to you:

In the “Line-o-Rama” bonus on the just-released Bridesmaids DVD, a bonanza of alternate takery, there’s one sequence where Melissa McCarthy improvises variations on the same brief line, over and over again, trying out a different gag every time. How many takes? Reader, I counted them: there are forty-eight.

The last question asked in the Q & A of my Screenwriting Expo seminar on “Comedy Craft for the Contemporary Romantic Comedy” came out of discussing Bridesmaids, which I’d worked on as a story analyst at Universal. I’d shown some clips from it and mentioned the screenplay’s long (3-4 years) gestation, noting how co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo had been in the enviable position of writing and rewriting on the studio’s dime, under the guidance of producer Judd Apatow.

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June 6, 2011

Moving Your Story Along with Emmy-Winner Erik Bork

Erik Bork, Emmy-winning television writer and producer was on hand at the Great American Pitchfest last weekend. He taught a great class entitled Throwing Rocks at Your Main Character: How to Keep Your Story Moving Forward. The title came from a famous George M. Cohan quote: “In the first act you get your hero up a tree. The second act, you throw rocks at him. For the third act you let him down.”

Erik underscored the fact that every feature film, regardless of the genre, needs a compelling central problem that will drive the story from beginning to end. He also noted that ‘conflict’ – which any good script should be full of – doesn’t necessarily mean interpersonal conflict, i.e. fighting. It just means problems.

Erik referred the class to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and suggested we all become very familiar with Blake’s genres. When you know what genre you want to work within, it becomes easier to determine what elements your central problem should have and how it should develop.

Regardless of genre, Erik informed us that any script’s one central problem – and your script should just have one main problem, a problem which can’t be solved until the end and which shows up in some way or another in every scene of your script – your central problem needs to be a BITCH.

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April 18, 2011

Ten Tips to Get You Writing

This list of ten tips for screenwriters from FilmScriptWriting.com is a useful resource for avoiding writer’s block and inspiring creativity. The list is hardly perfect — I wouldn’t take these tips as gospel — but it’s a good starting point for getting those typing-fingers working:

1. Read more scripts.

That’s what the sample script section of the site is for. We’ve also got a link to a site that is chock full of scripts in the use resources section.

There are many advantages to reading scripts. First is it allows you to become very knowledgeable when it comes to formatting. When you read an original draft of a screenplay that you’ve already seen then you get to see what was changed from the initial script. You will also get a better idea how to layout and transition between scenes.

Read a couple of scripts over the weekend and write down everything you’ve learned. Keep it blue tacked to the wall behind your monitor to remind you until it is ingrained in your brain.

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