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The Science of the Movie Screenplay

THE SCREENPLAY Science of the MOVIE Filmis undoubtedly the most popular form of storytelling in the 21st century. Books still have their place, but the bigand small screens are where most people turn to for their daily dose of entertainment and escapism. Behind every great film, there is a great screenplay; this infographic serves as a guide for anyone working on their own undiscovered masterpiece. WHAT SHOULD YOU WRITE ABOUT? No one can really answer this for you, and it's usually best to have an idea or something to say and the story will follow. However, converting novels into screenplays can be hugely lucrative if you choose the right novel. Some advice when converting a novel: FIRST READTHROUGH SECOND READTHROUGH 12 Read the novel through once, without writing anything down. Think and note down the cinematic aspects and how you will adapt it. Imagine it as scenes in a movie, playing over the 90 - 120 minutes. Think about tone, pacing and character development. STORY 'S ESSENCE THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS You don't need to be 100% faithful to the book. Some things work well in books and not in films. Be ready to combine characters, omit characters, add in new characters, etc. Just ensure the story's essence is still being told. Characters' thoughts and opinions must be externalised. A novelist can break down a scene into minute details and tell you about their characters' inner thoughts. A film must show you thoughts either through dialogue, act ion or perhaps even music. HOW LONG SHOULD A SCREENPLAY BE? When it comes to screenplays (and film length, respectively), some types of stories are better when they 're long and others are better short. 90 & 110 PAGES 100 & 120 MINUTES THE AVERAGE SCRIPT LENGTH THE AVERAGE FILM LENGTH THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY SCREENPLAYS As one of the biggest successful film projects ever, it took eight years for Peter Jackson to finish this epic trilogy. Screenwriters - Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson The agreement was initially for two films and the screenplays were 147 and 144 pages long. But it became apparent that the project would need to be much bigger and three films were given the go ahead. THE RETURN OF THE KING THE FELLOWSHIP THE TWO TOWERS OF THE RING 173 PAGES 222 PAGES 152 PAGES 178 179 201 MINUTES MINUTES MINUTES THE ARTIST SCREENPLAY The Artist was one of the most successful films of 2011/12; in spite of the fact that not a single word is spoken throughout the film. SCREENPLAY FILM LENGTH 42 PAGES A 100 MINUTES MAKING YOUR OWN SCREENPLAY THE RIGHT LENGTH There are countless debates about the optimum length of a screenplay, but a good rule can be worked out as follows: 1 PAGE = 1 MINUTE OF FILM TIME STANDARD FILM TIME 2 HOURS STANDARD PAGE = 2 HOURS = FONT SIZE 120 MINUTES 12 THE IDEAL SCRIPT SHOULD HAVE 120 PAGES 11111111111111111111111 1111111111111111111111111111111 1111 111111 TIP:TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE, IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO MAKE YOUR SCREENPLAY SHORTER THAN 120 PAGES SHORTER FILM = MORE SHOWINGS IN CINEMAS MORE SHOWINGS OF FILM IN CINEMAS = MORE PROFIT FOR X scrip CINEMA DISTRIBUTOR FILMMAKER WRITER THE RULES Any script reader, agent, producer or production company knows what they expect from a script. These expectations may differ, but there are some general rules that apply to everyone. Get any of these wrong and there is zero chance of your screenplay being read. RULE 1) Get the title page right. First impressions are important. The title page must contain the following: TITLE TITLE ORDER The format when adding a title to a script is to TITLE BY centralise the text. AUTHOR PERSONAL DETAILS AGENT DETAILS Contact address, phone number and email address. The address and contact number of your agent (if you have one). Should be positioned on the left side of the page. Should be positioned on the right side of the page. RULE 2) Get the paper and formatting right. AMERICA BRITISH Left margin: 1.5 inches E Right margin:1 inch TYPEFACE = Courier 12 A Top and Bottom: 1 inch Page number in upper right corner (no number on first page). Page number in upperright corner (no number on first page). TYPEFACE Courier is a monospaced font, and was designed to resemble the text from a strike- on typewriter. As we'll seelater on, the size of the page 3 holes punched witha brass brad in the top and bottom holes to bind the script. 2 holes punched with a brass brad in the topleft hole to enable the reader to turnthe page easier. and the size and Formatting isn't nearly as strict or prescriptive as American scripts (whether this is a good thing is up to you). font of the typeface are essential to TYPEFACE = Courier 12 gauging the length of the film. White Standard American letter size British White A4 paper size 8.5 "x11" 8.27 "x11.69" RULE 3) Make sure you cater each script to whomever you send it to. Different readers, agents and production companies have different preferences about the number of scripts that you send over and if you should include any additional infor mation. Research everyone you send your script out to and personalise each package accordingly. WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE ACCEPTS YOUR SCRIPT? Youll be invited to join a writers' guild: THE WGA ites GUILD OF GREAT BRITAIN THE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA (WGA) THE WRITERS' GUILD OF GREAT BRITAIN (WGGB) Join WGA for a nominal fee. Note: main benefits include medical and dental insurance, as well as a legal minimum a production company can pay for your script. Join WGGB for a small fee. This includes free contract vetting and a pension scheme. SCREENWRITING PITFALLS The last thing to remember is to avoid any of the biggest, cheapest writing pitfalls; they are clich├ęd tropes that should be avoided at all costs. DEUS EX MACHINA This means 'God from the machine' and it is when a writer backs the story into a corner and they need to invent something inexplicable and unrealistic to solve the problem. E.g. : THE EAGLES AT THE END OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS MARTIANS IN THE WAR OF THE WORLDS DIE FROM BACTERIA 2 DO NOT MICROMANAGE ACTORS AVOID VOICE OVERS This is so overdone and cheap that it just doesn't work anymore. Trust actors to interpret your script; they 'll regularly make it better than you had imagined. 4 STRUGGLING WRITERS STORIES BAN EXPOSITION I know you're supposed to write what you know, but come on! A lazy way of telling your audience something that they need to know for the story to work. SOURCES http://www.simplyscripts.com/ http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Lord_of_the_Rings_film_trilogy http://www.storysense.com/format/margins.htm

The Science of the Movie Screenplay

shared by MediaworksUK on May 17
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Offering invaluable tips on all those things, including the right sort of length for your opus, common storytelling pitfalls, and the exact formats demanded by American and UK-based production compani...

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