Most Commonly Asked Questions for Screenwriters

Reading Script

Most Commonly Asked Questions for Screenwriters

Pro Tip: Start with a logline

By Jen B.

Hollywood is a busy place to be, studios and leading screenplay agents do not have the time to meet screenwriters on a daily basis and if you are an aspiring script writer than the chances of meeting a big producer are close to minimal as they hardly give you an appointment. However, there are few instances when nature favors you and by a great stroke of luck, one does actually get a chance for a rare meeting. That meeting is your defining time; those few moments can decide the future trajectory of your career. In every meeting there are some commonly asked questions and it is better to go prepared for them rather than just being overwhelmed throughout and regretting later.

What are those questions and what are some of the most apt answers to them, we’ll let you know in this new article

1. Introduce yourself

No matter where you go, the first question which will be thrown at you is to introduce yourself. Who are you? Why are you here? And why should someone consider you? Often people go blank at this question because they find it odd to introduce their own selves to others but remember the person sitting next to you has no idea where are you coming from or what’s your background and story. By merely looking at your resume it is hard for an individual to decipher an entire personality therefore it is imperative that you present yourself well. Make the other person fall in love with your personality so that he takes interest in your work too. If you appear dull and disinterested then the producer might see your work in that light too.

Even if you are going to a screenwriting contest or fellowship, then one has to give a formal introduction to the panelists or judges. Keep the introduction short but crisp; make sure to highlight a tleast one attribute which will hook them immediately. This could be anything, from a personality trait to a hobby or just something about your writing. One interesting tidbit could take you a long way so use it wisely.

2. What’s your script about

The next important thing after your own introduction is your script’s introduction. What is your story about, it’s better to share a screenplay synopsis to the producer instead of narrating the whole story because that will at least take 2 hours and nobody has the patience for it especially if you are a new writer. In Hollywood time is money so they can’t afford to lose it. Intelligently give the screenplay idea and articulate what the core of the story is. Clearly tell the producer the main hook line or the method through which it will appeal to the audiences. Will it make an emotional appeal, will it give them a thrilling experience or will it instill a patriotic fervor? What has the story got to offer? These answers need to be told to the producer because if you are able to sell the idea to him, only then will your story be able to reach the masses.

3. Previous experience

Whether one is an experienced writer or an amateur, people will still ask you about your past experience? What other projects have you worked on? How did you add value? Now for aspiring writers this could be a tough question to answer because they have not been featured before in a film or a drama series before thus they seem confused and nervous at this question. Don’t be scared of this question, there is nothing wrong with if your work has not been transformed into a film yet. There are two reasons this question is being asked. Firstly they want to check your confidence level and secondly they want to dig deeper into your previous projects. The previous projects could be a script you wrote for a short independent film or something which you created during your university time. Anything which seems substantial should be shared because it could prove your expertise.

4. What do you like writing?

When a producer asks you what sort of a script do you want to write, it isn’t because he shall offer you something similar but it is to gauge your interest in a particular subject. One can only write something well if he/she has interest in that subject, if you generally like watching and writing Sci-fi films then you can actually write a story which is much better than others. However, if you are pitching a idea in which you have little or no interest then there aren’t many chances that a you will write will great interest hence the overall product will be bad. While pitching a script remember to highlight your interest in the subject as well so that the producer knows that the script writer is invested in the script too and not doing it merely to earn money.

Screenplay Copyright

5. Your inspiration

This is very commonly asked during first meetings/interviews. Who is your inspiration? One can have so many inspirations in his life that we are often unable to recall one particular name but it is important to recognize that who is that one person who has made a critical impact on our personal and creative growth. A very common answer is “my parents” if you intend to impress somebody then please do not use this answer because it has been spoken to death. Producers want to know your creative inclinations therefore mention somebody apart from your parents. Ofcourse they have played a monumental part in your life but life offers so many experiences and exposure to so many people thus when in a meeting one hears an immediate answer which is my parents then it seems like a sign of complacency.

Apart from these questions, there could be anything thrown at you, just to test your knowledge and abilities. The key to success is maintaining composure and balance. It’s a game of nerves and you better win it!

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How To Write A Screenplay: Create Characters With Purpose

How To Write A Screenplay: Create Characters With Purpose

How To Write A Screenplay: Create Characters With Purpose

Pro Tip: Start with a logline

By Jen B.

The question of how to write a screenplay can be hard to tackle but one of its keysis good characters. Most screenwriting websites dedicate a lot of time and effort on characters and how to create them. That’s because writing screenplays that sell requires solid, well-written characters that carry your story and resonate with the audience.

Why are characters important?

Once you have a firm grip on your concept, premise, and overall storyline, you have a decision to make: who is going to tell your story for you?Unless you’re writing a documentary about the weatheror the aging of the earth’s crust, you need characters to come to life as fully-developed voices through which you will tell your story.

Whether your characters are dogs, animated cars, or living breathing people, you’ll need to choose those who are the primary focus of your story. These individuals are your protagonists. These are the characters we care about and root for. They’re often the “heroes” with whom the audience easily identifies.

Creating your protagonist

Once you have that character in mind—your hero or heroine—you need to be sure this is someone thescript reader will want to spend two hours with. Your protagonist has to be someone we care about or we’ll quickly lose interest in their problems. Writing screenplays that sell means you need to keep your audience engaged in your story by helping them believe in your protagonist and his or her journey.

How to write a screenplay with active characters

Successful characters don’t need to be heroic.But they do need to be active. Consider the character of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. We certainly don’t want to invite him to dinner, but he commands our attention because he’s someone who makes things happen. He’s clearly an active character who doesn’t wait for the story to come to him. He is the story because he knows what he wants and refuses to let anything prevent him from achieving his objectives.

If you’re still not sure how to write a screenplay with an active character, remember this: don’t let things simplyhappen to your protagonist. His objectives should be achieved because he acts to achieve them.

Screenwriting exercises suggest that you build within your protagonist a foundation of certainty. He or she must know exactly what they want and promptly begin doing those things that will help them achieve those objectives. From a structural standpoint, your protagonist should begin doing those things early in the first act of your script. Some of the most successful films have the hero advancing the action within the first ten minutes of the story. That means your hero should be moving forward to achieve their goals by page ten.

What does your character want?

Make sure that your protagonist has a clear want. The number one problem we see with screenplays is protagonists who don’t have clear goals. If you intend on writing screenplays that sell,your audience needs to know who, what, and why. Who is the protagonist? What is his/her goal? Why does he/she need to accomplish the goal?

Without clear goals, your script will never be made. You know your main character lacks a clear goal if:

1. You’re having a hard time knowing what your next scene should be.

2. Your story suffers from “repeat beats” and too much expositional dialogue.

3. You have no idea how to get through your third act and finish the script.

How to create a clear goal

The gist of most screenwriting websites is: simplify, simplify, simplify. Every movie that you love is simple at its core. It has a protagonist with a simple goal.

– In Catch Me If You Can, Frank’s goal is to bring his family together.

– In Argo, Tony’s goal is to get the hostages back to America.

– In American Beauty, Lester’s goal is to sleep with his daughter’s best-friend.

These are all different types of movies but they all pivot around a clear goal for the protagonist. Everything the protagonist does is anchored in their goal.

Script Goals

Most screenwriting exercises that target character development focus on goals.Make your character’s goal specific. Goals that are too vague include “finding happiness” or “finding the meaning of life.” While in theory these make sense, they’re difficult to execute and are ultimately not specific enough to keep an audience engaged.

The script reader must recognize that your protagonist knows what he wants and how he’s going to get it. He also needs to know what stands in his way and your job is to make sure there are plenty of those apparently insurmountable obstacles for him to overcome. A simple objective easily reached is not going to hold anyone’s attention. Your hero’s objective needs to be substantial and worth fighting for.

Bottom line: the goal of your main character is the spine of your story and it must be tangible so the audience can watch itsrealization. Most importantly, if you know your goal, you know where your third act is going. When you work on screenwriting exercises, practice writing the climax of your story.This is when your protagonist comes face-to-face with achieving their goal (whether he/she fails or not is up to you). Also, if you know your main character’s goal, you know the Low Point of your story: the moment between page 75-85 when your character is furthest away from achieving his/her goal.

As a screenwriter, your job is to make the script readergo through 100 pages as fast as they can by drawing him into the challenges faced by your protagonist. Just remember this: your protagonist must have greater needs and more ambition to achieve his goals than anyone else in your story. His drive will drive your story. If your protagonist doesn’t want to achieve his ends vigorously enough, your reader simply won’t care whether or not he achieves them, and your script will find its way to the rejection pile.

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