New screenwriters are sometimes lost in the massive amounts of information on the internet. What’s the essence of writing a good screenplay? Does screenplay formatting really matter? What are the dos and don’ts in screenwriting? This article tells you 5 industry secrets that new screenwriters should know about.
1.Your budget doesn’t matter.
Some new writers may intentionally write low-budget stories, but the truth is, it’s hard enough to sell a spec script and it’s even harder to get it produced if you’re someone with little to no credits. Don’t think about if you can get your script made or not at this point. You need to sell yourself as a screenwriter and show the agencies and production companies what you’re capable of. If you’re someone who can write low-budget heartfelt indie dramas, great. But if you’re someone who can write the next Avatar, by all means, write it. Don’t be afraid because it might cost too much.
2. Formatting is everything.
It might sound tacky but I can’t stress enough the importance of proper formatting in screenwriting. Studios and agencies get hundreds of screenplay drafts from all kinds of sources every day, and it doesn’t cost anybody anything to NOT read your screenplay. Proper formatting shows that you’re a professional, and it shows that you care. It’s a brutal industry, and the hard truth is that people only have time to deal with someone who’s ready.
3. Can I write this, this, and this?
In short, yes. I would recommend that new writers not censor themselves at the early draft stages. Nobody stops after a first draft, and the final draft might be so much different from your initial idea. So instead of going back and forth on “Can I write this? Can I write that?”, get your first draft done as soon as possible, then start the rewriting process. Early drafts are full of bad ideas. It’s the same for everyone. But it’s important to get them over with, so you’re only left with the good stuff at the end.
4. Take it easy on feedbacks.
If you’re pursuing a career as a professional screenwriter, you’ll never stop getting notes from people. Executives, producers, directors, actors, even your parents, your neighbours. Everyone has a different take on the same story. I’ve been in touch with many young writers recently and I’ve seen some of them trying to incorporate every single note they got into a new draft. The notes exhausted them and confused them. Do you have to do that? Of course not. You’re the one with the original vision. If you believe a certain note could be useful, take it. If not, just smile politely, write it down, and walk away.
5. What is a co-production and how can I be a part of it?
It means that production companies from different countries are working together on the same project. Believe me, it’s happening much more often than you think, and there are so many working opportunities that come with it. For new screenwriters, the easiest way to establish an overseas connection is through screenplay competitions at international film festivals. It doesn’t matter what language you’re writing in because a professional screenplay translator can help you with that. As most of the countries are recovering from the hit of COVID-19, many co-production projects that were held up in 2020 are back in development. The entire industry is recovering. I would recommend that new writers consider not limiting your projects in your home countries. Instead, promote them overseas according to your writing styles and subjects matter.
(All images are from Unsplash and used under Unsplash License)
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