I know, I know, I decided to take a short break from ‘Rules of Engagement’ screenplay. A girl needs to clear her head once in a while :)
However, I bring you a real talk on a few things that hopefully will change your screenwriting career.
For the past three years, I have had the privilege of serving as one of the jurors of the indigenous Homevida awards – an award for up and coming screenwriters. My job, among others, is to read through tons of screenplays, and I mean tonnes, literally. This year, over 400 scripts were submitted!
Reading all that many scripts and giving feedback on each of them can be draining, but exciting. Exciting because I get to find diamonds both polished and in the rough; and draining, because some of the submissions have so much promise but were ruined by little things that the writer could have taken note of right from the beginning.
Having set the stage, let’s dig into 3 things you need to know before writing your screenplay:
The format for screenwriting matters
No discrimination, guys, but format matters. I have read scripts written in the format of stage plays, prose, novels, you name it. Let me lay it out straight – there is a standard format for screenplays; anything or anyhow will not do in a professional movie production.
If you feel comfortable using Microsoft Word, go ahead, but it may take forever to write a single page, except you are a pro sha. For me, I recommend using software to make the process easier. Celtx and FinalDraft come tops for me.
How delicious are your first 10 pages?
I spoke a little about this here. Your job is to ensure that the producer that picks up your synopsis or treatment or even script does not put it down halfway or fall asleep while at it. Your job is to make them stay up through the night reading your script if they have to. Your job is not to make them go:
I remember sharing 30 pages of a particular screenplay with a producer via email and asking what she thought about it. An hour later, I got a call that was more of, “where’s the rest of the script now? Why didn’t you send me everything?”
She was upset that I had sent her just a few pages, not everything.
Think about it. If it had been a boring screenplay, would there have been a follow-up call? Nope. That would have been the end of the discussion. Period.
Hype your personal brand
Writing can be a lonely job; just you slaving away on your computer with the sun or moon for a companion. But if you treat your personal brand the way you treat the writing process, you will kill your career before it even begins!
Package yourself. Start by writing your own bio and let it read like a professional. Then think about what value you would like to add to the industry that can make producers take you more seriously. See ehn, a scriptwriter’s life is 50% creativity and hardwork, and 50% relationships and those relationships can mess you up big time if you are Mr. or Mrs. Nobody. Work on your internal PR – your confidence, manner of approach, the way you speak, the value you add, etc.
Network. Reach out. Mingle. By the way, have you visited our Auditions.ng? We have personalised screenwriting workshops coming up pretty soon.
Okay guys, that’s it for today!
If you have questions for me, please drop a line below.