GITS: The Twitter Conversations — Script Readers (Part 13)

April 24th, 2013 by

On Wednesday, April 10th at 7PM Pacific, we had the 3rd GITS Twitter Conversation with industry insiders whose jobs involve reading scripts: Amanda Pendolino [@amandapendo], Nate Winslow [@nate_winslow], and The Bitter Script Reader [@BittrScrptReadr].

I will be posting an edited transcript of the conversation every day this week.

AP [Amanda Pendolino]
BSR [Bitter Script Reader]
GITS [Me]
NW [Nate Winslow]

Here is Part 13 of GITS: The Twitter Conversations — Script Readers:

GITS: Character intros important, help readers sort out cast of characters. What are keys to effective character introductions?

BSR: Introduce in a context that immediately defines them and their unique quirks. Also, make them ACTIVE

BSR: Don’t just show the character, show him doing something or reacting to something important

NW: You don’t have to get TOO specific in the description. I need to know them apart from each other but…

NW: …It’s what they’re DOING in the intro scene that makes the intro, not the description.

NW: The first time we meet a char shouldn’t just be w/e first popped into your head. Engineer it to show us specifics.

AP: give us some physicality but some personality/who this person is as a human. keep reading pro scripts as examples.

AP: also don’t underestimate power of introducing w/action. do we meet him when he’s building a fence? spilln coffee?

AP: and although actors want to be hot people, don’t just say everyone’s “beautiful” or “handsome.” boring!

14Shari: how popular are political thrillers? I’m currently writing one set in South America

BSR: With political thrillers, I’d say put the emphasis on “thriller” and less on “political.” How’s that?

Chief_Sherrick: Do writers try to emulate some screenplay that was written 10 to 20 years ago that never been produced? Same story(plot), etc

BSR: Not that I can recall seeing.

NW: Wouldn’t recommend it.

erikledrew: What’s the one thing you wish every writer did before sending you his/her script?

NW: Make sure what they’ve written is actually a MOVIE. Do that before you start writing.

NW: Asked themselves if the characters had something personal at stake.

AP: I’ll give you a few: 1. read pro scripts. 2. spend more time on concept. 3. cut pagecount. 4. proofread for typos.

BSR: re-read it with an objective eye and really asked themselves if this was the best they could do

Takeaway:

* How a writer introduces characters is a good first signal to a reader how proficient s/he is at the craft. So what is one big tip provided by the script readers? Action! Introducing a character is not just about how you describe them, but place them amidst some stuff going on. And not just any stuff, but interesting elements that also can convey something about the character’s persona. Like Nate says: Engineer the scene to create a compelling, memorable and entertaining character introduction.

* When you write a script, you should always ask this question: Is this a movie? You have to ask that in an honest and objective way. Can you actually envision that story opening in 4,000 screens? Can you see the trailer? Can you imagine the poster? The ad campaign? Is this a story that will motivate millions of people to get off their ass and plunk down their hard-earned dollars at the local cineplex to watch it? If you can honestly answer “yes” to that question, great. Hopefully script readers and Hollywood buyers will agree. If not, then come up with a better story concept, one that is a movie, and write that.

What did you learn from reading this transcript?

Some background info:

The Bitter Script Reader (@BittrScrptReadr) has spent many years – “perhaps too many,” he says – working in development and as a reader at production companies and agencies.  For over three years, he’s blogged regularly about the missteps he’s seen writers both young and professional make, and implored his audience to avoid those same writing pitfalls.  You can find him at his blog and check out his videos on his YouTube Channel.

After working for a motion picture literary agent at a major talent agency, Amanda Pendolino (@amandapendo) went on to become a professional script reader for a few different production companies. She is also developing some feature comedies, in addition to an original sitcom. Her blog is here. You should bookmark it.

Nate Winslow (@Nate_Winslow) moved to Los Angeles last year and spent the majority of his time reading scripts and writing coverage for a production company and an A-list director. He’s currently working at the production company Defender Entertainment.

Tomorrow: Part 14.

For Part 11, go here.

For Part 12, go here.

For Parts 1-10 from our 2012 Twitter Conversations, go here.

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