Thursday, 16 October 2014

how to make a living out of screenwriting

guy asked me how to make a living screenwriting. This was my reply:

* write films that would be cheap to shoot. I asked a director what the cheapest possible location for a feature would be; I said that I thought a wood would be good. He said no, a wood would be tough, thanks to weather and light changes; he suggested a house. The crew could live in it when you weren't shooting. That's how TIGER HOUSE was born - it's basically Die Hard in a house; I wrote it thinking it could be shot for 100 grand - and there are things like the microwave scheme that fund films at that level. It's a lot easier to get a cheap film made than a pricey one. 

* write films with a strong central narrative, a set up that can be easily explained, featuring a cast of less than 10 people with one or two really strong parts (antagonist and protagonist, ideally).  

* actors get films made so write a juicy lead part that an actor would want to play. They don't want to play James Bond, they want to emote, they want to play people with issues to overcome, they want to do drama. They want to act. 

* having written your film write a really good synopsis and blurb for it - that is what producers will mostly read, they don't have time or inclination to read many scripts. Consider making a short, using youtube clips perhaps, with a bit of narration over the top, that sells the concept of your film. 

* Enter screenplay competitions and go for things like COMING UP (a Channel 4 scheme).

* read a good screenwriting blog. My favourite is sex in a submarine. There's a daily script tip section in there called script secrets, read those.

* meet up and coming directors and ally with them by looking around on, for example, shooting people - you will see lots of film school directors on here looking for short film scripts. Offer to write a ten minute short for them. And again, keep it simple, one or two guys in a flat say. 

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