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)

Screenwriting 101: Ron Shelton

April 21st, 2015 by

“When I pitch, I pitch like Roger Clemens or brush them back like Sal Maglie used to do. I’m throwing everything I’ve got at them from the moment I walk in the office, even if I don’t look like it. The most important thing is which piece of furniture you sit on. Never sit on the couch. Then the executive sits on the chair and he’s higher than you. Second, when the secretary asks if you want something to drink, always say yes. You’re conditioning them into giving you what you want. Don’t say you’ll take anything: tell them you want a Coke… in a glass… with ice. You have to be specific. That tells them you know what you’re doing. You’re setting the tone. After all, you hope you’re going to be working with them for a couple of hundred grand by the end of the meeting. Pitches deal with concepts. Good scripts deal with characters. They’re different animals.”

— Ron Shelton (NY Times, May 3, 1992)

Screenwriting 101: Geoff LaTulippe

April 14th, 2015 by

“If something funny or scary or interesting happens to me, the first thing I think is, ‘Can I turn that into a script?’ Which I think makes me kind of a concept whore, but I’m OK with that.”

— Geoff LaTulippe (Go Into The Story interview, May 17, 2014)

Screenwriting 101: John Cassavetes

April 7th, 2015 by

“People who are making films today are too concerned with mechanics—technical things instead of feeling. Execution is about eight percent to me. The technical quality of a film doesn’t have much to do with whether it’s a good film. I feel like vomiting when some director says to me, “I got the most gorgeous shot today.” That is not what’s important. We have to move beyond the current obsession with technique or angles. It’s a waste of time. A movie is a lot more than a series of shots. You’re doing a bad job if all you’re paying attention to is camera angles: “All right, how can we photograph it? We’ll get the lab to do some special effects there. Say, let’s use a hand-held camera for this shot.” You end up making a film that is all tricks, with no people in it, no knowledge of life. There is nothing left for the actor to bring to it since there is no sense, meaning, or understanding of people… Art films aren’t necessarily photography. It’s feeling. If we can capture a feeling of a people, of a way of life, then we made a good picture.”

— John Cassavetes

Via A Bittersweet Life

Screenwriting 101: Justin Zackham

March 31st, 2015 by

“For me, screenwriting is all about setting characters in motion and as a writer just chasing them. They should tell you what they’ll do in any scene you put them in.”

— Justin Zackham

Screenwriting 101: John Gary

March 24th, 2015 by

“Screenwriting is an ocean of nos surrounding a handful of yesses. All you need is one yes.”

— John Gary