Question by gdmeta: What should a first time screenwriter know?
I’ve been writing published poetry and short stories for a while. A few days ago, good friend of mine asked me to write the script for a 15-minute silent film. I’ve mapped a bit of the story out, but this process is much more difficult than I had imagined.
Any ideas? Things to keep in mind? I have a high-school theatre background, so that’s helping a bit. Otherwise, my lack of experience is eating me up.
Answer by meat
Screenplays are written in a very specific format. The entire document is divided into scenes, and the scenes are structured to be a slug line (the heading of the scene telling you whether the scene is inside or outside, a location identifier, and what time of day it is that the scene is taking place), description (or action) and dialogue.
My first recommendation is to read screenplays. You can do this here:
You’ll also need a good book on formatting. For that, I recommend the Screenwriters Bible by David Trottier. He explains all the terms and gives examples. It’s a great book. You can pick it up cheapest on Amazon.com
You’ll also need formatting software. There’s the professional software packages: Movie Magic Screenwriter and Final Draft. MMS is the industry standard, and – of the two – I find that it’s the easiest to use. There’s also the free software. It’s not a standard, but it’s certainly the cheapest way to get going. The software package Celtx is probably the best out there. You can get it here:
A 15 minute screenplay should take 15 pages (1 page = 1 minute of screen time).
Even with a silent film, you need to have dialogue for the dialogue cards.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!