What Every Budding Scriptwriter Should Know
You have a coveted degree in scriptwriting from an eminent film school. You diligently pen decent screenplays, register them and pitch them to the who’s who of film world. Yet, 200 well-circulated scripts later, you make no headway. A few more rejections follow – and you are ready to throw in the towel. What could have gone wrong with your appreciated scripts? It can be a perpetual mystery to you. You realize the dichotomy faced by budding scriptwriters like you, between your simulated (film school) and real (film industry) environments. We have attempted to highlight some major constraints of your real environment and how you could work your way around them.
- Success in this predominantly people industry thrives on networking and connectivity. Surely, you too might be networking, but are you connecting with the right kind of people? Have you targeted directors, producers and film-makers who have a hawk eye for every minute detail of screenplay in their films? Or have you been randomly sending your scripts to every production house under the sun? Target the directors and filmmakers who have dabbled in scriptwriting themselves before delving into direction or production. They are the ones to go after. They have risen through the ranks, hence, have better judgment of the craft. Don’t shy away from newbies and novices. They are out there to prove themselves as much as you need to. Since they sail the same ship, they are more likely to give you your elusive break.
- You might have come across filmmakers who feel creatively confined as they set out to produce or direct someone else’s screenplay. They prefer developing their own screenplay into a movie.They have a larger task of helming the entire film. They are most likely to employ a team of co and assistant writers to help them realize their vision. Try teaming up with and interning for such filmmakers. You may or may not get the top billing, but this move will surely go a long way in getting you significant and relevant connections.There are times when a film’s screenplay starts just as a filmmaker’s vision and shapes along as the film progresses.That’s a nightmare any talented screenwriter might want to stay out of!
- Ever pondered coupling your screenwriting skills or courses in film school with a filmmaking (direction or production) course? Given the constraint that filmmakers often adhere to their own scripts, this seems a sensible option. It adds the necessary foot-in-door dimension to your pitch. With a substantial understanding of filmmaking you could be a director’s delight. Your knowledge and inputs can help him steer his project in the right direction. You get him better and distinguish yourself from the others. However, your approach to this goal should be cautious. Try not to antagonize the filmmaker by stepping way too much into his territory.Also, no one owns your script better than you do. You, yourself, can develop your screenplay into a film by adding your directorial knowledge to the mix. Your odds of success increases with these additional qualifications.
- Given the essentially commercial nature of entertainment industry, the box office rules the roost. Nobody would want to risk their millions in a script without being assured that it sets the box office ringing. A scriptwriter needs to come up with a commercially viable script without compromising too much on his creativity. Though difficult, striking this balance is certainly not impossible. A good screenwriter is always able to get a good finger on the pulse of the audience. Tweak elements that the masses identify with, in your screenplay. For instance, while maintaining the essence of a universal story, you can set it in a local milieu. As per current trends, go more local. If it appeals to the audience, go small town…even better –go vernacular. You cannot totally brush aside the viewers’ demands, no matter how alien they are to your personal style. The viewers determine the success or failure of a film at the box office. You have to consider their sensibilities when drafting your script.
- Payday may not ensure you a fat remuneration in the beginning. You may even have to write for free or write ‘on spec’ (without a guarantee that your script might be finalized). So when you hear a stalwart of screenplay talk about his struggles, patience and perseverance do not disregard these virtues as industry clichés. He has gone through the grind and is sharing real experiences. He did not have it easy either. He probably remained realistic and patient but also persevered.
There are thousands out there, just like you. Their script-writing abilities could be as good, even better than yours. But a fantastic script alone does not guarantee work. Identify the hindrances around you. Equip your writing skills with suitable supports. It is all about playing your cards right.