misc Various questions about screenwriting

Various questions about screenwriting

Hello! I am very excited to put together a script that is currently all in various notes!

I have a few questions about this process.
After learning the formatting and finally putting the script together what are fees and methods for copyright?

My next question is if I do complete it - how can I get an actual potential buyer to read it?
I have this huge belief that many do not even get read unless you know someone in the industry.

I’m not about to pay money to have it ‘potentially’ be read by one of these services that claim real producers read the scripts.

should be a fun process to write!

thanks!
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Go to copyright.gov for the method and fees. Click on "Performing Arts"
My next question is if I do complete it - how can I get an actual potential buyer to read it?
I have this huge belief that many do not even get read unless you know someone in the industry.

I’m not about to pay money to have it ‘potentially’ be read by one of these services that claim real producers read the scripts.
Your belief is accurate. In general you will need a connected manager or an
agent to get your script to a producer. And your caution is also accurate. Most
of those services cannot get your script to a producer.

Is your script finished? Is this your first?
 
Go to copyright.gov for the method and fees. Click on "Performing Arts"

Your belief is accurate. In general you will need a connected manager or an
agent to get your script to a producer. And your caution is also accurate. Most
of those services cannot get your script to a producer.

Is your script finished? Is this your first?
Awesome thanks for your reply! No just notes at the moment, I bought final draft mobile and have ideas on the page, but absolutely no structure. Going to buy the screenwriting for neurotics that was mentioned on here. I did watch the David Mamet masterclass on screenwriting so have a great idea of compiling a screenplay story, even though this is comedy and practically zero drama lol. As a hobby watching that class was awesome:)

I really just need to learn how to structure the screenplay first and then find a way to tie it together to a story.

IMO and I am just a hobbyist, I always find that 'simple' is usually the most successful, what I mean by that is..having a simple structure with easy going dialouge works best for comedies..I could be wrong, but I am a big believer in when its just damn simple, it just works lol

So, have some kind of a feeling this stupid/simple comedy idea would work, just need to create a fictional setting to put to real life notes.

Yes first screenplay but have taken creative writing classes and have written some short stories in the past.
Lots of work to do!

Thank you for your feedback and advice!
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Glad to help.

For now I suggest you finish and then rewrite your screenplay before you
think about who will read it. If you end up with a remarkable, sellable first
screenplay THEN you can explore your options. A stupid/simple comedy
can be very marketable.

I agree with you on Mamet's class. Great insight from a master writer.
 
I highly recommend Screenwriting for Neuortics, an amazing book. I've acquired a number of books and online courses over the years and would say this book taught me the most.

Only one suggestion I would make here, if the story you have for your screenplay is one which you believe has genuine potential, don't make it the first screenplay you write. Your first attempt at any script will always be quite terrible. No matter how much effort you put into it, you will make mistakes that will get your script thrown out, regardless of how good the plot is. Pick another story to write first, submit sections of it to a forum like this and ask for feedback. You will learn more from that, than from any book. Use the feeback to improve your work until you feel confident enough to do your story justice.
 
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Jkds, I have a question about your advice;

Why not write your passion first? Yes, it's typical that the first screenplay is
terrible - but a screenplay can be rewritten. All the mistakes can be corrected.
Just from personal experience. The first feature screenplay I wrote, I still think has the best concept of all those I've written. Spent a long, long time on it but the finished piece is nowhere near as good as it should be. I've re-written it dozens of times now. But it becomes harder and harder to go through it, looking for the 'mistakes', trying to figure what's not working, which pieces to take out, when you've already put so much effort into it. You can get a bit blind to what was actually wrong with the piece and change so many things you forget what gave you the excitement about the story in the first place. It can be demoralising and make you want to abandon the project altogether once you get bored of pouring over the same things thousands of times.

I do wish now that I wrote some other things first to learn from all the rookie mistakes I was making without realising it. And then, once I properly knew how to put a screenplay together, I could have made a much better job at the story which I had the passion for.
 
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The other way to look at it logically is to ask the question "would that screenplay benefit in any way, from being the first screenplay that author has ever written, is it more likely to sell by being their first attempt at writing"? I'd find it hard to think of any reason as to why it would be.

Learn through your mistakes I say, use your 2nd best story idea as your first attempt at putting together a script, and keep the gold back for when you actually know how to write and can do it justice
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Thanks for your perspective.

I never had a second best story. All my stories were "best" in some ways.
When I think back to my first screenplay I simply can't imagine going through
my notes and treatments and ideas to pick the second best so that would
be my first screenplay. I guess I never looked at it logically.

I just wrote. Logic never crossed my mind.

But I now understand your advice. You never got to tell the story you had
passion for.

In my experience I went back to my first screenplay after I was a better, more
experienced writer and did a full rewrite. And it turned out great.
 
Thanks for your perspective.

I never had a second best story. All my stories were "best" in some ways.
When I think back to my first screenplay I simply can't imagine going through
my notes and treatments and ideas to pick the second best so that would
be my first screenplay. I guess I never looked at it logically.

I just wrote. Logic never crossed my mind.

But I now understand your advice. You never got to tell the story you had
passion for.

In my experience I went back to my first screenplay after I was a better, more
experienced writer and did a full rewrite. And it turned out great.
I'm glad @directorik pointed this out... i.e., that with a full rewrite and the experience you get from writing more screenplays, one CAN and SHOULD go back to those concepts that maybe didn't turn out as well as you'd hoped when you first wrote them.

But yes... You can still end up being too close to it to fully flesh it out the way you want it fleshed out. Having said that? I highly recommend going back to it every few months and just write the first 10 to 30 pages over and SEE HOW IT FEELS. You'll know right away if it's feeling good and on the right (WRITE) track or not. If not? Put it away for another few months and write something else.

I've talked to a lot of professional screenwriters over the years who have flat out told me and admitted that some of their first screenplay concepts were in fact the very best they ever had but their experience and craftsmanship was simply NOT up to par when it came to their execution. Years later? When they felt they finally had the CHOPS? Their new rewrites were amazing.

So while I understand both points of view? Don't ever let it stop you from giving an old spec a new shot. At some point in the future? It'll just POUR out of you when the time is RIGHT.
 
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So while I understand both points of view? Don't ever let it stop you from giving an old spec a new shot. At some point in the future? It'll just POUR out of you when the time is RIGHT.
I'm still waiting for that day to come LOL. The current version is a thousand times better than my first draft BUT it still isn't quite "right". The feedback from everyone who has read it has been positive, yet at the same time, it's missing... 'something'. And I'll be damned if I can figure out what it needs to get it up to 'saleable' standard. The most common criticism I get is that the story is too complicated, and people misunderstand certain parts. BUT, the film is meant to be like that. It's meant to make you wonder what is going on, and leave you asking questions about what you've just seen, even after it's finished. A bit like Inception or Donnie Darko does. The simple solution would be to just dumb it all down, but I'm loathe to do that, as those parts that (some) people find "confusing" are what gave me the passion for the story in the first place.

This is where my advice stems from, every time I pick it back up, I get disheartened. I like what I've written for pretty much every scene, and having spent so much time on it already, I'm now exhausted and maybe a little bored of the story to the point I wonder if I will ever "complete" it. That is my regret because like I said, I think it's the best concept I've ever had for a screenplay.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Sorry to derail your post, Dean Jay...

Jkds,
From what you say here it doesn't seem like your screenplay suffers from
the first screenplay "curse". It sounds as if this passion project is an unusual,
not traditional screenplay. More something that you don't want to dumb
down than something you would have written better if you had saved it for
your second screenplay.

Do you believe if you had saved this for second or third you wouldn't have
the issues you're having now?
 
Sorry to derail your post, Dean Jay...

Jkds,
From what you say here it doesn't seem like your screenplay suffers from
the first screenplay "curse". It sounds as if this passion project is an unusual,
not traditional screenplay. More something that you don't want to dumb
down than something you would have written better if you had saved it for
your second screenplay.

Do you believe if you had saved this for second or third you wouldn't have
the issues you're having now?
Oh your not at all! I find it all interesting, after all everything to me is just editing until satisfied! I constantly change how I approach any project and learn something new from each idea and post!

I agree smart ideas shouldn’t be dumbed down, I know when I tried writing in my creative writing class there was one time the whole class just didn’t get it, I just took it out and moved on. Definitely not east to do in a screenplay but I can only imagine the amount of intellectual dialogue/ideas that were in movies like inception, limitless, matrix where it was just too much and just had to be cut out entirely. I think most directors favorite scenes are usually cut out (from what I hear) so not at all saying to do that just..I now myself just file ideas within ideas away if they just don’t flow for whatever reason. Now granted, I have never written a screenplay so have no idea what I am talking about in this process, just how I approach writing in general now.

I also think that instead of simplifying ideas sometimes it’s better to just write them differently or approach them differently but to never dumb down great ideas. I would personally either approach it in a different way all together or just take it out completely. Just how I approach my own style of writing.
 
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Sorry to derail your post, Dean Jay...

Jkds,
From what you say here it doesn't seem like your screenplay suffers from
the first screenplay "curse". It sounds as if this passion project is an unusual,
not traditional screenplay. More something that you don't want to dumb
down than something you would have written better if you had saved it for
your second screenplay.

Do you believe if you had saved this for second or third you wouldn't have
the issues you're having now?
I think I would have found it much easier (and quicker) to write and, in my opinion, yes I think it would have turned out better had I gone into it with stuff I learned from the first experience. More importantly though, I don't think I would have become so exhausted and fed up with the project had I not had to spend so much time correcting silly errors that I would never make now. The confusing aspect of the story is just one of the issues (some people had) with it, it's not the only (or main) issue. Apologies if that was unclear on my part.

All I'm saying is that for me personally, I wish I'd saved that idea and wrote something else as my 'practice' piece as it were. One which would be easier to just forget about and write off as a learning experience if need be, while I moved on to projects that had more potential anyway. That's just my opinion.

There is actually some advice in the Neurotics book that does 'loosely' tie in with what I was trying to say though. Unfortunately I hadn't read that book back then, so it was too late for me. But it says to make the idea for your first screenplay be something you already know a lot about, ideally basing it on something that has happened in your life or people you know well. There's a lot of good reasons given for that, which I won't go into here, but which are outlined in detail in the book and make a lot of sense. Had I followed that advice, I would certainly not have picked the story that I did for my first effort, since it is quite complex.
 
In my experience I went back to my first screenplay after I was a better, more
experienced writer and did a full rewrite. And it turned out great.

In a totally different domain, I've found the same with music. There are some pieces that I used to play not very well as beginner, and in the arrangements that I learnt back then, they've become somewhat stale and clichéd in the decades since. But having inadvertently taken a break from those tunes and that instrument for quite a long time, I've been able to come back to them in the last couple of months and revitalise both my playing and the arrangements with the techniques and experience I've gained in an entirely different aspect of the art.

I wouldn't say this can be applied to every first draft, and I think a simple re-write of an old script is unlikely to become a masterpiece - but if the idea was solid in the first place and that first experience wasn't tainted by a catastrophically negative reaction, it ought to be possible to build a new, better story on the same foundation.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
I love hearing about different methods writers use.

In have found that all my first drafts need a lot of rewriting. Sometimes I come
back to a screenplay many time over the years - sometimes I come back to one
after several years.

I can see the logic of writing a throw-away as your first screenplay. But I'm not
logical when it comes to writing. I write out of passion.
 
I should be getting the screenwriting for neurotics book today and am excited to learn this process, I am interested to know anyone's personal methods they prefer when writing !
How do you storyboard? I currently have a wall wipe board that I intend to use instead of an easel with paper.
Does anyone prefer to print drafts of their script when editing? I do not like to waste paper, but I for some reason see everything so much clearer on paper...maybe because I am just old lol or perhaps it just feels more real to me.

Which, I suppose brings me to another question! When you write, do you use multi-monitors? Or a laptop? A single tablet? Does having multiple pages visible at once help you structure your story?

Thanks for answering these!
 
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