If you want to not only watch movies and TV shows, but also have a hand in their creation, try yourself as a screenwriter. Here are eight steps to help you master this profession.
Screenwriter, playwright, scriptwriter at the Moscow School of New Cinema.
Step 1. Parse the reasons
Why did you decide to become a screenwriter? The answer cannot lie in the plane "because I want to become rich and famous." There will be wealth and fame, but only if they will not be the reason for choosing a profession.
You will succeed, leave a legacy behind you, you will benefit people only if you truly love what you want to do, if you are ready to give more than give.
Love is a very rare feeling. By and large, we truly love only a few times in our lives. It is this feeling for the profession that needs to be sought.
Step 2. Honestly answer the question, is this your calling
How to understand, in your case, you can talk about calling or not? Vocation is when a profession calls you, leaves invisible signs everywhere and leads you through life.
It makes you love stories (listen, retell, collect, seek out, read and look out).
It makes you like to listen to people (most of the time you are in the “listening” mode, rather than “broadcasting” and you feel happy about it).
You like to understand the reasons for this or that event and understand two important things: there are simply no bad people, and there is an explanation for everything in the world that is hidden from the eyes of others. But not from the eyes of the scriptwriter, author, writer.
Step 3. Start Learning
There are two ways: to enter some kind of specialized educational institution or to start learning yourself. In the first case, it is important to choose a master who does not contradict your picture of the world.
Look for the person you want to listen to, choose the master intuitively.
If for some reason official studies are not for you, start studying yourself. What will you need here: self-discipline (regularity of training), recommendations (systematic choice of material) and significant practice, that is, a person who is already something of himself. He will be able to evaluate your first work and give practical advice that are not mentioned in books.
Literature on screenwriting is a wonderful thing, but there are two big dangers there. Firstly, a lot of mythologized. Since the profession of a screenwriter is associated with creativity, its mechanisms are very difficult to describe, so everyone does it as they can and not always what works for the author is suitable for the reader. Secondly, screenwriting is not limited to rigid schemes and plot twists and turns in certain places. What works and what doesn’t need to be taken from the hands of a practitioner.
Step 4. Write a lot
At the very beginning of the journey, you need to understand an important thing: do not wait for inspiration to write. You need exactly the same daily workouts that Michael Phelps exhausts himself, who is preparing to swim four kilometers and take a new world record.
When we study (when we work too), we just need to do the exercises, do the work. And your exercises are inventing stories and writing them. Take the topic "Unexpected Turn" and come up with 50 exercises. For example, take the usual situations that happened to you in a day and turn them around so that it is reliable, interesting, unexpected. Next, select the next topic and again come up with a complex for working out this element. Only practice will teach you to be a screenwriter.
Step 5. Define your copyright territory
When you have worked out the elements and more or less learned to stay on the water of screenwriting, it is important to understand what you can talk about.
To be honest, in creative professions there can be no competition as such. Because every person is unique. He has a unique point of view, a unique voice, a way of sensory perception of the world and a way of writing. Therefore, it is important for you to understand what topics you can make your skate, to study what you can spend day and night. For example, for some it is a topic of relations with mom, for some it is the theme of the death of a loved one, and for someone it’s a “robot and a person”. Look for something that excites your imagination and fills it with life.
Step 6. Make yourself known
When you have precisely outlined your author’s universe, you need to declare that you are so wildly fond of writing on such topics. And start participating in contests and pitches (you can find them on the Internet), send out your applications for stories at the film company, get to know the directors and offer them work on your or their ideas.
If you are just starting out, it would be nice to agree to all offers, even those that you will not be paid for.
Your task is to collect a portfolio, because only it gives you the right to enter a large market.
Step 7. Pacify Your Ego
This is a very important point. If you consider yourself right in everything, and your way of seeing the world is the only right one, it will be difficult for you to work in the cinema. And it will be difficult for you and the people you come across.
Cinema is a team work. And in order to exist in a team, one must learn to be flexible. Understand that the story you wrote is your common beautiful garden. Different people can work in this garden even without your permission. And in most cases, a look from the director or editor helps make your garden better.
Therefore, be prepared that there are no first drafts in the screenwriting profession. The option that you wrote at the very beginning is your personal home joys. Based on it, a real script will be created, but it will never be an option to start filming.
The number of transcriptions of your story in rare cases reaches 60–70. Sometimes there is nothing left of your first option.
But this is nothing personal. It's just that the team is trying to combine your creativity with your creativity and, most importantly, production.
If you will be knocked off endless edits and rewritings, start writing a play or prose in parallel. This will give you a sense of copyright control over a world where only you make decisions (that is, solo), and it will be easier for you to continue to be a screenwriter (in an orchestra) - a team player.
Step 8. Make a film as a director
It is proved that the screenwriter, who made even a short film at least once in his life, will relate to the profession in a completely different way. He will understand some very simple things, for example about locations. Or how an actor can change your character, take the tone of the narrative the other way. These things are beautiful, they must be used to make your script stronger, and not be upset that you have two locations on a full-length film, and the actor is not at all what you imagined.
The more you know about your profession, both on a practical and theoretical level, the faster you become a master.
"The screenwriter is the one who remains." Everything is terrible, difficult, humiliating and unbearable. It is important to stay, it is important to win. After all, if you want to know everything about your hero, put him in difficult life circumstances. With a man, everything is the same. I hope you stay. Because you are a winner.
Where to start a beginner?
Among young and talented students of this art, acting exercises became very popular. It is worthwhile to understand why this is so, and whether they deserve attention.
As already mentioned, self-development of future stars is important. For this purpose, a huge number of exercises were invented that help not only learn all the intricacies of this area, but also fully reveal the very professional in yourself. Such techniques exist in various forms and combinations. Some of them help to develop facial expressions, the second - speech, another contribute to the training of rapid transformation into another hero and so on. Among the millions of such techniques, you need to highlight a few basic ones that will help you show yourself in all its glory.
Exercise one. Memory training
Starting exercises for the development of acting, you must first begin to train your memory. It is no secret to anyone that any actor, whether he is a beginner amateur, or a well-known specialist, needs to learn a huge number of words and remarks every day.
In order to train their brain, the best scientists in the world have developed a technology that allows you to remember a lot of information. The name of this technology is mnemonics, and it consists in the fact that you need to remember not “raw” words and phrases, but to connect them with pictures, images and so on.
The exercise itself is as follows. Your task is to write out the necessary words or phrases that you would like to memorize today. Next, read them a few times in your voice, and try for each to come up with an individual association. Do not complicate your life, just imagine a vivid picture in your head, and so with all phrases and phrases.
As a result, you will get something similar to an imaginary film, where all the material that you had to learn was consistently laid out.
Exercise two. Imagination training
Continuing interesting exercises in acting, it is worth moving on to training your own imagination. Scientists prove that the human imagination has no limits, which is why we see dreams, some of which may seem like complete nonsense.
This part of the preparation plays an important role, since only a trained person can play the necessary role correctly and make an unforgettable impression on the audience and colleagues.
The exercise itself is commonplace. You need to walk along the street, pay attention to strangers, and in their appearance and manners, present their life position, profession, marital status. This is more like training some kind of extrasensory quotes, but believe me, this exercise will really help any beginner!
Exercise No. 3. Developing Fantasy
“Running” through the Internet with the request: “Acting skills for beginners exercises”, pay attention to exercises that help develop your imagination. After all, this is an important aspect in the career of any actor.
How to achieve the development of your imagination? Everything is simple. Put any thing in front of you (whether it be a chair, a toy, an element of a wardrobe or other), and try turning on your imagination to tell what this object is made of and how. Believe me, such a game approach only increases the chances of a better effect!
Exercise Four. We develop facial expressions
And now you come to a very important part of the self-development of a novice professional. Everyone knows that the most difficult task of a professional is the most truthful transfer of emotions. And it often happens that in the frame you need to portray a strong anger or cry, at a time when behind the scenes everyone jokes and has fun.
In order to carry out this exercise, write on the leaflet a certain amount of the necessary emotions that you want to strengthen today. And then, in turn, in front of the mirror, imitate each of them. Also, after completing the exercise, ask someone close to evaluate your skills. Show him the learned emotions and listen to his criticism.
Exercise number 5. Speech - first of all!
And now, listing four basic exercises aimed at comprehensive development, it is necessary to proceed to the most important “calling card” of a professional. After all, most roles are taken by persons with the correct speech and the ability to correctly express their thoughts.
To achieve this, all methods will be good. Read a lot of different literature, tongue twisters, special words and so on. In addition, learn to properly pause between words when there is a change in the idea of the text, its suspension and so on. It is also necessary to maximally correctly set the effect of exclamation and question in order for it to sound and look vital, and without fanaticism.
To become a talented actor, you need to make tremendous efforts and time. But any way the path to the pinnacle of glory begins with self-development, therefore it is worth starting first with yourself. To this end, there are many exercises aimed at training all aspects of the actor and his skills.
Five year plan
To begin with, understand that there is no success in one night. Glory and wealth can come instantly, but almost always this moment is preceded by a long thorny path, hard and ungrateful work, selflessness. If you are not ready to give your dream a few years, it is probably better to switch to a more achievable goal.
“Memo: Secrets to Creating a Structure and Characters in a Script.” Alpina non-fiction publishing house
You can get money for your literary experiments right away. To do this, simply find a quiet job that provides income. For this income you can hire yourself to write. So you instantly became a professional screenwriter.
What kind of job to look for? The main goal should be maximum income with a minimum amount of effort. You sell your time for money. Your real job is to write.
Therefore, you most likely do not fit a job that seriously occupies the mind. So we discard classes such as an astronaut, a broker or a presidential candidate. Too much physical labor and emotional involvement.
The best work for the writer, as far as I know, was with my friend Mark Fergus, co-author of Iron Man. At the dawn of foggy youth, he got a night watchman. His duties were to sit out for eight hours in a quiet building. A few minutes per night he had to spend on going around the territory. The rest of the time he was sitting on a chair, not occupied with anything other than his text. This work did not give absolutely no status, but gave the time and money that Mark invested in his writing career. A few years later, he left that place with money in his pocket and several scripts in his portfolio. Ideal scheme for a novice author.
Work every day
Alfred Bester, one of the most prolific authors of the pulp fiction era, claimed to write every day because he “reports.” He taught himself to fall into a creative "trance" and lay out thoughts on the pages.
Writers are writing. If you’re unable to force yourself to press your ass to the chair every day, think, maybe you should dream of something else.
What should be recorded? Well, obviously, we have to work on scripts and scenic stories. But in addition, at least a few hours a day, I would advise you to devote to keeping a diary, writing letters (old paper, not electronic acts of cerebral flatulence) and work on a newspaper compilation (about this in a minute).
Above all, writing is a habit. If you cannot get that habit, you are probably not a writer.
Diversity or how can one and the same person play a hundred different
There are no bad roles for a good actor. These are the words of Johann Friedrich Schiller, the great German playwright of the 18th century. The conclusion suggests itself that even then the actors were appreciated for the diversity and ability to revive any roles.
Imagination is the ability to correctly answer the question "what if ...".
The essence of this quality is the ability to imagine that what is happening with the character actually happens to the actor himself. Imagination differs from fantasy in that the actor does not invent anything on his own, and draws all reactions, actions, and a model of behavior from experience and logical necessity.
Expressiveness or how theater is different from life
The theater is not a mirror, but a magnifying glass. V.V. Mayakovsky
The theater comes from life, but not everything that happens in everyday life is interesting to watch. In addition, the performance always aims to show something specific. The actor must have the ability to enlarge and emphasize the main qualities of his character, to reveal the main motives of his behavior, to build not only reflective, but characterizing the game. In a good theater there are no ordinary characters, only bright types, many of which have already become common nouns.
Improvisation or why an actor is not taken aback
The ability to improvise gives the actor three main advantages:
- An actor will never be confused if something goes wrong in the performance: the partner mixes up a replica or skips the exit, the props break or any other unexpected thing happens.
- Improvising at rehearsals, the actor joins in the creative process and prompts the director with new interesting solutions to individual scenes or entire actions, changing and perfecting the original plan.
- Regular improvisation is also an active teaching method, and the main source of valuable experience for the actor. They begin to study acting with improvisation exercises.
Inner freedom or why acting seems so easy
A good actor is always relaxed and confident. Он не пасует перед публикой, не боится забыть текст и знает, что ему делать в случае любых неожиданностей. Актер – хозяин положения на сцене. Видимая легкость хорошей актерской игры, которую так часто принимают за легкость актерской профессии, обуславливается именно степенью внутренней свободы от зажимов, страхов и комплексов в сочетании с профессиональной подготовкой.Perhaps the main secret of acting is freedom, which is acquired over the years of practice, all stars of the stage and large screen have it.
Charisma or just artistry
The term "charisma" can be defined as "the ability to generate interest in oneself." It is always interesting to watch a charismatic person, even if he is not an artist, but just a passerby whom you met. The secret is the ability to transmit your experiences and evoke the illusion of ownership in the viewer. For good actors, this natural talent is reinforced many times by professional technicians.
Given all the secrets of acting skills listed above and having the appropriate talent, you can become a good artist and eventually become a theater or movie star.
Two points are important here. First of all, you really read newspapers. I have nothing against news on the Internet, but let me remind you that there is some magic in holding a real newspaper filled with printed news.
Offering a compilation, I do not mean simply cutting out articles and storing them in a special folder. It will be nothing more than garbage cluttering up your desktop.
No, having cut out the article, write a few paragraphs about it. What interests you in this article? What drama does she describe? Who are its main characters?
What is the conflict? What do they want and what obstacles stand in their way? How can I turn this article into a movie?
Do this every day, and you will develop a habit in yourself that will help you discipline your writing aspirations.
Shot from the movie "Ed Wood". 1994 year
Reading is the flip side of writing, so form a habit (again, this word) for insatiable swallowing of letters.
Read it all. If you write horror, from time to time look into ladies' erotic novels. If your sphere is household dramas, do not bother to put your nose into a spy thriller sometimes. It is impossible to guess what you will learn by observing how other authors in other genres do their work. Maybe you spy on them some tricks that are suitable for your specialization.
Read what is for sale. If you intend to achieve wealth and glory through this activity, you need to familiarize yourself with what the public buys. Cultural snobs can be despised by unpretentious authors such as Dean Kunz, Jackie Collins and James Patterson, but craftsmen of this kind are constantly at work and at the top of the bestseller list. They know how to connect with the audience, and maybe you should also find out?
Everyone knows Mark Twain's dictum that the classic is "a book that is praised and not read." In pursuit of your five-year plan, I urge you to do the opposite.
I would suggest that you take up some classic book about four times a year (once a season) and find out what's inside. Read Cervantes, Twain, Faulkner. And you probably saw all these films by Jane Austen, but how do her works look on paper?
A few years ago, I suddenly formed a couple of relatively free weeks. And I realized that I had not read Shakespeare's "problematic plays." Like anyone who studied at school, I read the most famous: “Hamlet”, “Othello” and “Romeo and Juliet”, but I have never looked at Pericles, Zimbelin or Henry VIII .
So I took the texts of plays and audio recordings of plays in the library. And in the next two weeks he plunged into the not very clear from the works of one of the best storytellers and playwrights in history.
What did I find out? Well, Timon of Athens turned out to be utter nonsense: an encouraging example of the fact that even great ones have blunders. And I also found out that “The Winter's Tale” is one of the most wonderful plays I've ever met.
Random raids on the classics broadened my horizons and taught me better composing stories. From personal experience, I know that Dante as a historical figure is perhaps more significant than as a storyteller. But I also know that Ovid is one of the most delightful authors of all time, and I am glad that I am influenced by him in my work.
Shot from the film "Artist". 2011
Find a workshop / support group
Writing is a lonely and solitary work. But a writer cannot grow and improve without reading reviews, so it’s very nice to find a company of like-minded people who will help you.
A key element of the workshops that I spend is reading out loud the work of a comrade. The author himself is not actively involved in this process, because the purpose of this venture is to let him hear what he wrote and evaluate how this text is perceived. For the author, the most difficult thing during this exercise is to silently listen to your text without commenting or defending.
Will a laugh come up with a joke? Won't they meet the touching emotional scene with an inappropriate giggle? Do people at the table understand what you want to convey to them? Often, after the reading ends, I ask one of the readers to retell the story briefly. It is amazing how often the synopsis of those who read diverges from the intention of the author himself.
Such an instinctive response is priceless. Of course, it is useful to hear constructive criticism from the bandmates, but whatever they say, it will not be as clear to you as their reaction to the text they are reading.
When you choose workshops and workshops, I strongly advise you to look for a group that is on the same level with you. If you find yourself with more skilled authors, you simply will not be able to communicate effectively with them. Conversely, if you feel like a master, it may flatter your pride, but it is unlikely to allow you to see all the possibilities for improving the text.
The ideal group is where you will be around the middle. For someone to be more experienced and skillful than you and you could evaluate your work according to their standards. And it will not be up to your skill. This not only provides much needed fuel to your self-esteem, but also makes you formulate your ideas and even share them with less experienced colleagues.
One hundred scenarios in one hundred days
This is a fairly simple, but self-sacrificing task, which I learned from my experience as a professional reviewer. In a month you will read a hundred scenarios (if you want, then include and in the list).
After reading each scenario, I suggest you paint the interactions in history within two to three pages. It is clear that such a statement will require the throwing out of many details. This is the point: you need to find the core of the story: the main character, conflict, interaction, beginning, middle and end.
And then I would suggest you describe the script in one sentence. In professional terminology, this is called “log in” - one idea on which the whole story is built. Creating your own scenarios, you will see that the logline distillation is the most important stage of work on the text.
What does this exercise help you achieve? First, you have to read the scripts, that is, the genre in which you hope to become a master. Secondly, you will have to disassemble the script into its component parts, so you will see what these parts are and how they work.
At the end of this epic, you will learn about scenarios that you don’t know now. I can’t talk about the scale of your insights, but at the stage you will see, for example, that “Citizen Kane” and “Toy Story” are exactly the same thing. [...]
You now have an action program. Like any job, it will be effective only if it is regularly done. And if you perform this complex every day, then you will become what you have never been before. I promise.