I think Aaron Sorkin's recommendation to read William Goldman's "Adventures of the Screen Trade" is a good place to start. Goldman gives real examples of the industry, funny tales from his work life in Hollywood and at the end, he gives an example of the process of converting a short story to a script. The example answers a lot questions beginners need and veterans likely want to remember.
|Yours truly, writing this blog post.|
Current screenplays will reveal style changes from William Goldman's heyday. Read your favorites or the genre you want to master. Many can be downloaded free. Just do a Google search and take a look.
Get index cards and as you read a page of script, write a sentence about what you read.
Example: Page 1 - Introduction of main character xxxx. Action sequence xxx.
If you do this, you'll have a blue print for that film or show in an outline format.
Once you have the outline, you can pace a film of your own in a similar fashion. There is a definite order that script consultants look for. You are modeling, not copying another person's work.
The first few pages are the set up of what the end should fulfill.
Example: If your character says they never get the girl or respect in the opening. Guess what has to happen in the end? The character has to get the girl and respect.
After you have read and outlined a film, watch the movie or episode and see how it was translated to the screen by the director, the cinematographer, wardrobe, set designer, lighting, sound and acting talent. Each department has a vision of the script the director is trying to convey. Everyone on the film has a stake in telling your story.
The cast and crew share your vision.
I hear stories from my producer daughter Blair. Everyone wants to be a part of a quality project. The crew enjoys the challenge of making the best show possible. So give your script your best.
Another tip I learned from actors (my daughter Marquel). Give your small roles a name vs. Girl #2
Actors work long and hard to get even the smallest role. They deserve to a role they can be proud of. No matter how small. Make sure your script is considerate of all the characters. Don't take any for granted.
Also, as a newbie, avoid writing a big budget film that has loads of explosions and special effects. Tell a story with a reasonable budget and limited locations/cast.
I took a producing workshop from Chris Wyatt, the producer of Napoleon Dynamite.
Wyatt explained how they shopped the film to investors until they found a private individual who ultimately made their script a film reality. It was easier to pitch a comedy rich in quirky characters and limited locations.
Napoleon Dynamite is either a film you love or not. --I love it. It's offbeat, and made a huge splash at Sundance Film Festival. The rest is history.
In conclusion, get screenwriting software like Final Draft, read scripts in your genre, outline a few and watch the film(s). Outline your script in a similar fashion to what you have read, without infringing on another's work and then send it for script coverage and see what the experts say.
Watch for our short film Dough Nuts And More - coming to a film festival near you in 2018/2019.
My book links are at www.emilyskinnerbooks.com