Tips and Tricks

You want to be a screenwriter?

First, get your act together!

Before going on to browse through a collection of articles of mine distilled from various talks that I've given on screenwriting over the years, let me say a few things about being a screenwriter.

The screenwriter can write in many different forms. They can write TV soap operas, sitcoms, drama series, or small independent movies. They can also write those big special effects driven blockbusters. The skill sets for these are not necessarily interchangeable. The markets for all these areas have their own peculiar demands and the writers interact with the end product differently. And every production is pieced together differently by a whole array of individuals often scattered about the world. And not every movie is a Hollywood movie. There are Mexican Wrestling movies, Bollywood Musicals or Chinese Sword Play movies! And if you are in Uganda reading this and dreaming of Hollywood, perhaps first you should think Wakaliwood!

When I lived in the UK I wrote episodes of various TV drama series, but then I moved to asia and had two thirteen part TV series broadcast in Singapore. It is not impossible to write for Hollywood. I have had a film optioned there, but I live in Asia and that's basically why my credits are the way they are.   Another thing the would be screenwriter needs to understand is that the screenwriter is not a stripped down version of a novelist. The novelist's art is very much an individualistic thing whereas the screenwriter is part of a creative collaboration with other highly creative individuals. The director, the photographer, the actor, the composer, and even the production designer right down to the make up artist and caterer, all are factored into the end product. So it helps if the screenwriter has some knowledge of all these other skills, though I often think that a strong head for business is the most important skill to have alongside your writing abilities!

  So remember, to get a movie made requires you to write not just a script, but a series of documents that will communicate the viability of your concept to all the key personnel who have to be involved in the process, not least of whom are the investors! You need to write a pitch, you need to write a treatment, you need to write a screenplay and somewhere along the line someone will have to write a business plan and that person might as well be you, because that way you become a producer! And Writer/Producer/Director is pretty much what a lot of film makers are these days.     Don't become the cliche'd screwed up screenwriter who was not even invited to the premier. Get pro-active. Team up with partners who can pool their ideas and talents. It is guaranteed that you will not be happy if you merely think you can sit in your room, write a script and pop it into the post with your fingers crossed. You need to engage as fully as you can with the industry.

In short, get your act together! Remember that despite all the obstacles, films get made, and if no one else is picking up your scripts then you can always buy yourself a camcorder and make your own!

So just hit the Tips and Tricks link at the top of the page.