Are you an aspiring screenwriter? Do you want to hone your craft? Are you super cheap and want free help? Then today is your lucky day. Over the past 10 weeks, NoFilmSchool.com has been posting free seminars to help you write your script page by page.
Take a look HERE for 10 weeks (or 100 pages) worth of free help and advice from some people who know what they’re talking about.
If you’re anything like me, you have found yourself in the middle of binge watching the new Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” staring at your overflowing closet, and wishing that you could live a simpler life. But you like your stuff!
That same cramped, crowded mindset often spills over into our writing. We’ve all heard it a billion times, but writing really is rewriting. Whether you are of the mindset of “killing your darlings,” or adhere to Marie’s “keep only your joy” philosophy, we have to find a way to tidy up these vomit drafts.
Here’s another way to look at rewriting. Hopefully you’ll find some tips that help you clean out and organize your overflowing script. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here looking at every line and asking myself, “does this bring me joy?”
The number one reason I enrolled at Hollins University was not for the top notch faculty or Hollywood connections or practical, hand-on experience (though, c’mon, those are all amazing). It was because I need deadlines. I need assignments and schedules and someone expecting me to get X number of pages to them by day Y. When school is out for the year, or classes are less structured, I have a hard time creating and meeting my own mile markers. I’ve found that the best thing for me during these off months is to submit work to a competition.
Screenwriting competitions are not only a great way to get your work out there and receive helpful feedback, but for people like me to have a goal and deadline to aim for. Here’s a great place to get started when looking for which competitions to enter. And if you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, entering at least one a year is a great goal! Happy writing!
Best Screenwriting Competitions to Enter
What have your experiences been with contests? Share in the comments!
We’re advised to read as much as we can and then write twice as much. Reading scripts and screenwriting books is definitely important, but we should look for inspiration in everything: from poetry and fan fiction to op-ed’s and biographies. This article from 1996 about David Lynch’s creative process from The NY Times has recently resurfaced. Take a look to get a small glimpse into a creative mind and maybe even find some inspiration for yourself.
NY Times and David Lynch
But seriously, you are. It’s a hard thing to try to get better at something so subjective and difficult to measure, but I promise, you’re doing great! ScreenCraft agrees. They’ve put together this handy checklist to occasionally measure yourself up to. Even the best screenwriters deal with rejection and feelings of inadequacy because there’s not a simple way of knowing that you’re actually getting better. But if you’re looking for some positive validation that all of your hard work is paying off and making you a better screenwriter, here it is:
Any tips on how you keep yourself in check and stay motivated to keep working? Please share them here. We could all use a little support.
We’ve all had it, we all hate it. If you’ve ever stared at a blinking cursor on your screen, or at a stack of empty note cards, or off into the abyss and thought, “I’ve got nothing,” know that you’re not alone. Even the greats find themselves in creative and motivational funks. But just because things may seem difficult or bleak, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way out.
Here’s a concise and action-centered list of things to do to shake off the gloom and get back into the swing of things. It also has a handy list of things that do NOT help with writer’s block (like reading and writing articles about writer’s block, whoops!).
But as every article, blog, and well-meaning professor or mentor will tell you, the only true way to get through the writer’s block is by simply writing. Writing crap, writing nonsense, writing something terrible and confusing and so off that it’s cringe-worthy. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, so long as you actually do it. So stop dragging your feet, stop expecting perfection or inspiration or ease, and just write already!
How have you dealt with your creative blocks? Share any helpful tips or encouraging stories in the comments.
You’ve brainstormed a concept, you’ve outlined and rearranged, you’ve written, rewritten, and then rewritten again, and you’ve got yourself a daggum screenplay. Congratulations! First, take a second to pat yourself on the back. Everyone’s got an idea for a movie, but very few people actually finish what they start. Once you’re done being proud of yourself, that sinking feeling sets in and you ask yourself this horrifying question: “what do I do now?”
There are countless ways to “break into the business” which can somehow make it seem more difficult to accomplish. But if you’re starting from scratch, the next best step is to get your query letter together.
A query letter in today’s world is an email with a casual introduction, a killer logline, and a polite sign off. That’s it. Take a look at this helpful article from ScreenCraft about how to construct the perfect query letter.
As screenwriters, we get rejected a lot. If you haven’t, you’re either very lucky, or very new at this. Submitting your work and having it ignored (if you’re lucky) or ripped apart (if you’re not), doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Learning from rejection is a time-honored rite of passage for all aspiring creators. Harry Potter was rejected by publishers a solid twelve times, sometimes with harsh words, before our favorite boy wizard inspired seven books, eight films, and three theme parks.
If your pitch, story, or screenplay is turned down, congratulations! You thought of something, made it, and showed it to someone else. That is something to be commended and celebrated. Use this time to pat yourself on the back for being brave, but also use it as a time to see where you went wrong. Improve your structure, take another look at the dialogue, tweak and tighten, so that when you submit it again (which you definitely will), it’ll be that much harder to turn down.
And while you may be discouraged, take heart in the fact that some of our favorite movies of all time were passed over before finding their way to the big screen. See some shocking examples here, watch Brian Grazer’s words of encouragement here, and share in the comments something you’ve learned from rejection.
This summer, the students in the Hollins University Graduate Screenwriting & Film Studies video production class will release a seven-episode web series, called Failure to Adult, that was written, directed, and edited by Hollins University students. The writing took place during the spring semester prior and the filming of all seven episodes took place during the six-week summer session. It really is impressive what was accomplished in that time frame.
As a member of this class, I was incredibly excited to learn the filmmaking process from start to finish and script to screen as a new writer and filmmaker (I can say that now!). It was wonderful to learn each phase of the filmmaking process and how each phase brings its own set of challenges. We had six weeks to cast, shoot, edit, and premiere the web series. In order to do this successfully, we really had to work together and take on our own unique roles outside of rotating between the crew positions of Director, 1st Assistant Director (1st AD, the person who manages the set), Sound, Gaffer (the person in charge of the lights), props master/craft services (free food!), Director of Photography (DP), and Script Supervisor (scripty). While some of us hunted locations another corresponded with actors while somebody else organized all of our necessary information so we could all stay on the same page. It was a whirlwind of a process, but we are happy about the outcome. The coolest (and most terrifying) feeling was sitting in a room with peers and friends as we watched and laughed at the show we created. We got some strong feedback and are hopeful about how it will be received.
Feel free to check out the series and share it with people you know. It will officially launch in September on Vimeo and YouTube. Stay tuned!
Click here to see more details: Failure to Adult: Official Facebook Page
Press from NPR: Hollins Program Cranks Out Hopeful Filmmakers
Paula Schwartz with MovieMaker magazine sat down with Linus Sandgren to discuss the behind the scenes details about how he and director Damien Chazelle directed and filmed everything in La La Land.
Read the full article here: The Camera is a Dancer: DP Linus Sandgren Walks Us Through How He and Damien Chazelle Shot La La Land