Sometimes I hear certain script gurus say.
“If you have a great screenplay, you have a great film. Just point a camera now and the rest is easy”
For those of us who actually make films, we know this axiom is not true. Making a successful film requires an inordinate amount of diligent work, talent and commitment.
However, it is true that if you start with a bad script, you will never make a great film. This will be the case even if you have the best cast, a huge budget and every film making tool available to you. Look at Jack and Jill, one of Adam Sandlers efforts and you will see a prize example of this. Without a great script, you are dead in the water with no chance of making a film successful.
What I am going to advise now is very important for Film Directors Producers and Writers and the emerging film maker. I always recommend reading screenplays. If one reads a screenplay a week from a successful film, ones screenwriting skills will dramatically improve. Even if you do not intend to write scripts, by doing the above you will recognize and discover awesome screenplays. This will in turn set the foundation right to make a great film.
People are often skeptical when I mention this technique. They seem to think that reading great scripts can not improve your screenwriting skills.
What do great novelists recommend to up and coming writers? Read novels. Read as many as you can. So for the budding screenwriter producer or director, read screenplays This will improve your screenwriting ability.
I have seen it with many past students who have started with very weak screenplays and then improved significantly after reading five screenplays. Their dialogue is stronger and the language they use to make the reader want more, works vicariously.
It is also fun to read famous movie screenplays of movies that you have not seen. Then watch the film after you have read the screenplay. This is a great exercise as you imagine the movie and then actually see a Film Directors interpretation of the screenplay after you have read the screenplay. You see who they have cast how they have shot it, edited the film and how they have added music. All up this is a wonderful training for any up and coming film maker.
How much does this cost? Nothing. It’s free.
There is a film site called Drew Script O’Rama. They have thousands of free screenplays. However the site does have annoying adds so you will have a job avoiding pop ups and in your face adds. I have no affiliation with them, but it is a great site to get free screenplays, download them and read them.
So what makes a great script. It is an area that we intend to create an awesome workshop this year. We will at some point have a 12 week screenplay workshop where you write a screenplay as you attend the workshop.
Generally if you set a page schedule of 3 pages per day 15 pages per week, you will have a completed screenplay in 7 weeks. So with 5 weeks preparation and 7 weeks writing the screenplay, this workshop will be a very productive 12 weeks. The workshop will teach you so much about writing screenplays while at the same time giving you focus discipline and a writing network. So keep an eye out for the workshop later in the year on our International Film Base
Till next week, have a great one
Colm O’Murchu – Director