Thoughts on Screenwriters

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  07 July 2005
Arrow Thoughts on Screenwriters

Hello

I don't know much about the screenwriting field, but I am the kind of person who likes to come up with stories, characters, and ideas, and I want to go to school to learn a creative job. Is a career as a screenwriter(or something similar) the right fit for me? How much money do screenwriters make?

Thanks
 
  07 July 2005
Red face

Hi there,

I began writing stories since I was in the first grade and had been doing so 'til I was in my late 20s. I had always seen it as merely a hobby but then I thought, let me actually try and sell something. So for a couple of years I tried selling short stories and articles to magazines. No luck. Got enough rejection slips to fill the bed of my Ford pickup truck. Was I disillusioned? Yep. Was I questioning my writing style? Yep. Did I give up? Nope. I've been writing since I was a kid, man, I couldn't suck at it could I? Writing is all I ever wanted to do so what was I doing wrong?

Eureka! That's what I said when I discovered the world of screenwriting. Turns out I was couldn't sell my short stories to anyone because I'd been writing them as if they were meant for the screen. Not in screenplay format, of course, but you know what I mean. Lots of visuals. Action. I didn't go into the characters' heads or fully describe their world in intricate detail, etc...

Anyway, I ran across Syd Field's SCREENPLAY book and right there in the bookstore, as I browsed its many pages, I learned the format, yep, right there. Action on the left. Character names in all caps in the center and dialogue right underneath. Got it. INT. for interior - simple enough. EXT. for exterior - okay, got it. I couldn't afford the damn book at the time but I bought it later along with Skip Press' IDIOT'S GUIDE TO SCREENWRITING book.

You can get a screenwriting education - preferred- but if you have a good imagination and are a good self-learner, you can learn the craft by reading the books - and there are alot of them out there.

As for what screenwriters get paid - nothing if you're starting out. You can sell a screenplay for about $50,000. Your best bet is to write for the independant filmmaker, sometimes for free but, hey, when you're starting out your main focus should be on screen credit. Write short scripts first. Anything from 1 page to around 30 pages. Get young filmmakers, either film students or fresh out of college filmmakers, interested in one of your short scripts and get it made. You get credit. They get film credit. They show it off at film festivals. You make contacts. It's a long process and you gotta love to write. I sold a 7 page script for $75 and another 5 page script for $35 and still another, 10 pages, for $50.

So, that's what I would do, write some short scripts, get others interested in your work and have them produced for credit. The money will come later - if you're willing to stick with it because many bail out when the going gets tough. Once you've accumulated some screen credit and got your style down you can start charging for your work.

Sorry for the long post.

Good luck!

Albert
 
  07 July 2005
Smile

Hello,

I don't know much about screenwriting either. But i am writing a story for myselve at the moment. The whole story is in my head, including autobiography of the characters and the enviroment etc. I just start to write down the thoughts and the ideas that i had for my story.
So far i think its going great, but i have the idea that my story is missing things. Because i am still an amateur in writing stories, i never learned the basics of writing a story. So i wonder if i am on the right track. I am from the Netherlands (that explains my bad english by the way) and i was wundering how you get in this "scene" of screenwriting. Do you read eachoters works? Do you discuss eachothers work at some way? and how do you get in contact with others? I think it would be great to read stories from other people, just to learn more and maybe to get inspired in some way. Sorry for the many questions . But maybe someone could help me with this...

Thanks,
greetz laurent
 
  07 July 2005
A great place to read other screenplays from amateurs is Zoetrope.com. Just follow the easy instructions to become a member and start reading scripts right away. You can also submit your own script and have others critique it. The screenplay can be anywhere from 1 page long to 30 pages for a short script. There's also a feature script section (90-120 pages) but I think you want to start in the short script section first. Here's a brief example of screenplay format.

FADE IN:

INT. BOB'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

BOB, 21, a scrawny, shaggy-haired kid plops down on the couch with his cigarette. He's still wearing his HAPPY BURGER PALACE uniform and hat.

An older woman, MELISSA, 33, enters the living room from the hallway and stands behind Bob. She massages his neck and shoulders.

MELISSA
You ready?

BOB
Ready when you are. Where is he?

MELISSA
In bed.

BOB
Drunk?

MELISSA
He won't know what hit him.

Bob reclines his head back and smiles at the woman. She leans down and they both kiss passionately.

MELISSA
I don't need to be here, right?

Bob stands and pulls a knife from under his shirt.
 
  07 July 2005
multiple post -- deleted

Last edited by albertbarrera : 07 July 2005 at 01:56 AM. Reason: multiple post
 
  07 July 2005
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