The Query Letter

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.

Free Access to Great Resources

Here’s a pretty neat opportunity for anyone eager to improve their writing skills. The Script Lab is offering a weekend of free access to over 40 of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, studio executives, managers, agents, producers, and world-renowned screenwriting instructors.

The weekend of September 22-23, check out The Script Lab’s Virtual Screenwriting Summit for some pretty exclusive and potentially craft changing information. There are a lot of great resources out there to help, and it’s even better when they’re free!

 

Giving Feedback

I was once told that to be a good writer, you have to read twice as much as you write. To be a good screenwriter, I think the rules are the same. Reading other scripts, and especially giving constructive feedback, is a skill that will not only help other writers, but can help us find the flaws and mistakes in our own work.

For those of us who are a little timid when it comes to confrontation, telling others what we honestly think of their work can be intimidating, but don’t let it stop you. Whether someone is resistant or grateful, honesty is the best policy and a necessary step for the betterment of all screenwriters.

Here’s a concise and spot-on guide for How to Give Feedback on Someone Else’s Work without losing friends and acting like a jerk.

Any additional tips or tricks you’ve picked up? Opinions on feedback in general? Any notes about this post? Share them in the comments.

Handing Over the Reigns

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Amanda’s tenure as the official Hollins’ Screenwriting Blogger. She is off to bigger and better things, like agonizing over her thesis and job hunting with her fancy degree. She has kindly handed off the login info to me and trusted me with her baby. Ha! Fool!

Hi, I’m Amy. And I am a filmaholic.

At this passing of the torch, I was inspired to write about giving up control of our own babies: our screenplays. Our stories and characters are often things we’ve thought about for years. We feel a strong connection and sense of ownership over the tales that we tell and the progress of our protagonists. Sometimes, we guard these stories too much and they live out their lives in a folder on our laptops, never seeing the light of day. While it’s imperative that we have such passion for our work, it’s equally as important that we learn when to let go.

Writer’s groups, thoughtful professors, or just trusted friends are all important elements to creating a good screenplay. But collaboration isn’t the only reason to share your work with a trusted critic or observer. Here are three reasons why your creative work needs an audience.

What insights have you gained by sharing your screenplay with others? Share in the comments below.

Parents, Don’t Kill Your Child’s Career Before It Starts

Parents, this article is for you. Todd Etelson with Backstage gives some insights on the parent’s role in a child’s acting career. It may feel like tough love or a hard pill to swallow, and it’s by no means anyone’s intention to tell you how to raise your child or how to manage their career, this is just a set of etiquette rules to keep in mind as your helping your child reach their goals and support their career.

Read full article here: Parents, Don’t Kill Your Child’s Career Before It Starts

How to Create a Convincing Setting in Your Screenplay

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”  – Anton Chekhov

Eric Owusu at The Script Lab discusses how to create a convincing setting and how important the right setting is to your story.

Read the full article here: How To Create a Convincing Setting in Your Screenplay

 

Women at Sundance

I have to admit, Sundance has found a special place in my heart after attending the 2016 film festival. Perhaps it’s because it was my first film festival, or possibly because it was a nice reprieve from my usual surroundings. Perhaps it was learning that my Virginia blood can handle a Utah winter… maybe. (Jury’s still out in that one.) The incredible energy and passion of everyone there was contagious. Seeing wonderful work inspired me and reminded me that I am, slowly but surely, heading in the right direction. But the fact that the Sundance Institute actively promotes women in the film industry, gives them a place to thrive and grow, as well as continually improve their efforts has inspired me that much more and the Sundance Institute has earned that much more of my respect.

Full page here: WOMEN AT SUNDANCE

16mm or no?

Jon Fusco at No Film School weighs the pros and cons of shooting on 16mm film in a very digital age.

Read the full article here: Should You Shoot on 16mm?

Behind the Camera with Bruno Delbonnel

Jon Fusco at No Film School uses the films Amelie and Inside Llewyn Davis to discuss the filmmaking techniques of Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel.

See the full video and article here: DP Bruno Delbonnel

Creativity Hacks

Gareth Simpson at Visual News provides six helpful ideas to help people boost their creativity, especially for when you hit a block.

I’ve personally realized that when I have a creative block, it’s my brain saying “I’m hungry, feed me something”: take in a different art form or change in scenery, read a book, watch a movie, go outside and get some fresh air, get some exercise, join people for a meal, make something with your hands other than typing words into a keyboard. Sometimes merely picking up a pencil and paper to write helps overcome the block. If you’ve ever studied Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit Seven is “Sharpen the Saw”. Rest is just as important as work and both deserve equal respect. Love your brain and it will love you back with whatever amazing and incredible thing you create. I hope you find this helpful.

Read the full article here: Helpful Tips on How to Boost Creativity