Screenwriting 101: Tim McCanlies

June 30th, 2015 by

“That second act, for me, is the most fun, because the first and third act have such clearly defined functions. The first act you have to set up the problem or problems, introduce all your characters–there are so many things that you’ve got to do, there just isn’t room for the fun stuff. And the third act is almost an extended scene in a way–the chase, the fight, etc. But in the second act, you really get to cut loose, find out who this character is, see his or her changes.”

— Tim McCanlies

Screenwriting 101: Ernest Lehman

June 23rd, 2015 by

screenplay“One of the most important feats in screenwriting is to convey exposition not only without it appearing to be exposition, but also without wearing the audience out, and there’s a limit to how much you can do in one long, sitting-down scene. One of the tricks is to have the exposition conveyed in a scene of conflict, so that a character is forced to say things you want the audience to know–as, for example, if he is defending himself against somebody’s attack, his words of defense seem justified even though his words are actually expository words. Something appears to be happening, so the audience believes it is witnessing a scene (which it is), not listening to expository speeches.”

— Ernest Lehman (“The Craft of the Screenwriter”)

Screenwriting 101: Norman Krasna

June 16th, 2015 by

screenplay“When you are committed to the skeleton of a beginning, a middle and an end, the cleverness is in concealing the skeleton. This is a cliche, but you have to surprise them with what they expect. It has to be an odd way of telling it, but they want to know which way it is going. You have to anticipate what they want, and the trick is in how you lead them to it.”

— Norman Krasna

Screenwriting 101: Roy Huggins

June 9th, 2015 by

“A screenplay is a series of interesting scenes. Too often scenes are boring in order to head to an unusual ending. This defeats the purpose of what the writer is trying to to — keep the audience’s attention. The writer should work the story through, scene by scene, never jumping ahead until the scene he’s been working on works and is interesting.”

— Roy Huggins

Screenwriting 101: William Goldman

June 2nd, 2015 by

“The most exciting day of your life is your first day on a movie set, and the dullest day of your life is the second day.”

— William Goldman

Screenwriting 101: Colin Higgins

May 26th, 2015 by

screenplay“The job of the screenwriter is to run the film in the reader’s imagination. And nothing should get in the way of that. Good prose is the only way to have a reader envision an exciting film. For example, I can’t believe it when I find a sentence without a verb. Verbs are some of the best tools for creating pictures in the imagination of the reader.”

— Colin Higgins (Harold and Maude, Silver Streak, Nine to Five)

Screenwriting 101: Dan Gilroy

May 19th, 2015 by

screenplay“Anytime you step outside the conventional formulaic bounds of the screenwriting style, it becomes a little scary. We’re already vaguely afraid of what the reaction to the script is going to be anyway. If you try to use style, in some ways you’re throwing caution to the wind. The style of the screenplay can often not just enhance the screenplay–it can move the screenplay forward… It’s not only okay to personalize the style, but it’s something that we all need to do.”

— Dan Gilroy (WGA Written By, April | May 2015)

Screenwriting 101: Susannah Grant

May 12th, 2015 by

“My goal in the first draft is to create, for the reader, the emotional experience that watching the movie will ultimately deliver. When you get around to actually making the movie, you need to break it down technically–add slug lines, more detailed descriptions. But in the early stages, all that hardware can get in the way of the ride. And the ride is what you’re selling.”

— Susannah Grant (Written By, April | May 2015)

Screenwriting 101: Peter Straughan

May 5th, 2015 by

screenplay“Like a lot of male writers, I naturally gravitate toward male characters. I tend to think a main character’s going to be a man. So it was fantastic to realize you can just say: ‘No, it’s not; it’s a woman.’ Nothing else changes, but it becomes more interesting. You think: I may have seen that man before, but I haven’t seen this woman before., It was an important lesson for me. I don’t want to be a sexist writer. I love my three sisters. And my wife was a screenwriter. I always knew it wasn’t okay to write male characters so automatically, but the question was: What do you do about it? Well, it’s quite simple: You just stop worrying about whether it’s a man or woman and write a good character.”

— Peter Straughan (WGAW Written By, April | May 2015, P. 41)

Screenwriting 101: Garry Marshall

April 28th, 2015 by

screenplay“My main mentor was Carl Reiner because he took the time to explain stories. ‘You know,’ he said, ‘if you just use your imagination, you’ll be selling shoes in three week. You gotta look at life and tell me what happened every day and take what’s going on in life. And if you don’t have an interesting life, then steal someone else’s. Don’t ever say something is boring. Whoever you meet, you ask them questions about their life and find out.’ And that’s how I learned to write stories.”

— Garry Marshall (Written By, April | May 2015)