Writing for Screens, Big and Small

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Writing for Screens, Big and Small

Calling all screenwriters!  TV, features and web series -- if you write scripts, this is the place to chat about it.  Produced, not-yet-produced, everyone welcome.

Location: TV/Theater/Film
Members: 20
Latest Activity: Feb 19

Ask Questions - Share Advice

When you write for screens - any screen - you write in sound and image as well as words on a page.  And I, for one, think this is the most exciting time to be a screenwriter since the invention of moving pictures.

Feel free to share questions and advice, as well as projects and success.  I've started two discussions: The Nitty Gritty for how-to questions and Share Your Success for links to projects.  Add your own discussions or let me know other topics you'd be interested in.

Looking forward to getting to know you and your work --

Laura

 

Discussion Forum

Contests: Pros, Cons, Links and Advice

Started by Laura Brennan. Last reply by Laura Brennan Apr 8, 2014. 1 Reply

I've had mixed results entering screenwriting competitions (especially those for television writers).  I would love to hear your opinions and experiences.  Any thoughts?Continue

Tags: screenwriting, TV, television, competition, contest

Introduce Yourself!

Started by Laura Brennan. Last reply by Laura Brennan Aug 11, 2013. 1 Reply

Introduce yourself, give a quick hi, answer the burning question: Who are you and what screens are you currently writing for? Continue

The Nitty Gritty

Started by Laura Brennan. Last reply by Laura Brennan Apr 28, 2012. 6 Replies

Formatting, flashbacks, techniques, dialogue, Final Draft, Word conversions, brads and locking the script... Chances are someone else has already torn their hair out facing the same problem you're…Continue

Tags: craft, technique, tv, screenwriting

Share Your Success!

Started by Laura Brennan. Last reply by Clene` S. Elder Apr 22, 2012. 4 Replies

This is the place to post links to you webseries, book trailers, movies, and TV episodes.  Include blog links, Twitter handles, and other ways to follow you.  Shameless self-promotion welcomed and…Continue

Tags: self-promotion

Comment Wall

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Comment by Laura Brennan on February 19, 2015 at 9:44am

Hi, Linda! 

Well, I don't think your mentor is wrong.  It is hard to break into screenwriting no matter what.  The question is, where is it easier?

It's easier where you already are, and where you already have friends, relationships and mentors.

My suggestion - and of course I might be wrong - is to start out doing two things:

1) Entering contests, and

2) Exploring the British filmmaking industry.

To tackle contests first, you can search "screenwriting competition" or "screenwriting competition UK" and get lists of upcoming contests.  I do not endorse or recommend any specific ones, but here's a list so you can see what they look like: https://www.inktip.com/competition_directory.php#.VOYOkBE5AdU

Contests offer prize money, notes, exposure and bragging rights.  It is much more useful to contact an agent with the words, "My script won the..."  But even more useful is the feedback you can get; it's good to know if your script is ready, or if it's not quite ready yet.  And - best yet - contests give you a deadline.  You have to finish the script when it's time to send it in.  And that's always a good reason to start a new one, while you're waiting to hear.

As for exploring your local film industry, I can't emphasize that enough.  Become an expert; who is looking for what?  Who makes what kind of film?  How approachable are they.  I have a movie coming out in October that happened because I have a friend who is a producer; I asked her what she wanted, she told me, I came back to her with half a dozen ideas, she sparked to one, I wrote it, she made it.  It still took eight years to get it to the screen, mind you, but getting that script optioned was not hard at all.  Stack the deck in your favor.  Spec writing is a plus, not a minus. 

I don't think you should worry at this point about finding a partner.  Most writers have more ideas of their own than they will ever be able to write.  Keep writing and keep getting better at it yourself.  Turn it into a novel, or a novella, or even a series of related short stories.  Whatever makes the most sense for your story.  You're a writer, you can do that.  Get a couple of contests under your belt.  See what opportunities there are in your own back yard.   And look at you - you're reaching out on SheWrites!  Social engagement isn't that hard. 

Happy writing!

Comment by Linda Carcavella on February 19, 2015 at 5:56am
Thanks for the advice, Laura. To tell you the truth, I have had conflicting advice from a mentor I am using in England. He suggested it is difficult to crack the American market especially, if you don't have any contacts or real experience. It's made me consider the prospect of cowriting with someone over there who do have these connections?

Now after reading your advice, I am wondering what I should do next. Unfortunately, due to health problems I cannot really travel too far and don't really have a lot of experience in this business, or at social engagements etc, so the thought of 'cold selling' my script to a small production team would prove very daunting for me. How do you suggest I get round this, if it gets to that stage...? And of course this social impediment makes it almost impossible to connect up with actors etc who might be able to assist me, although I have diin loaded two books on how to use social networking effectively to connect up directly with people who might be able to help my career. Any suggestions on who and where to link up with such people online?

Was interested in the idea of contests to get my script noticed. Where do I seek out such contests(bit of a technophobe so finding my way online can be a problem!?).

I am also going to try and seek out a cowriter to expand upon this idea into a fully fleshed out novel to try and gain as much potential from it as possible and am considering putting the original script into ebook format to try and see if I can sell it that way. Now you have mentioned those contests, that seems to offer me more hope. Would they be interested in someone who could only write scripts on spec, due to her circumstances?

I would welcome any feedback you or others could provide me on this. When it comes to social engagements I am Still learning the ropes and realise I need to put a spurt on to catch up on life. On the plus side, I am known for being a quick learner! Thanks again!
Comment by Laura Brennan on February 17, 2015 at 5:55pm

Hi, Linda!

First of all, congrats on writing your script!  It's a huge deal; don't forget to celebrate when you finally get to "Fade Out."

Second, there are no rules, so don't worry so much about them.  Write your script, send it to agents (and don't forget agents in England - you guys have a great film community there as well), and while you're waiting to hear, write another script. And another.  It's a long-haul profession.

Also, while I have only good things to say about agents (honest!), you don't necessarily need one for every script.  Yes, a big blockbuster that demands a $100 million budget - those kinds of producers are hard to get into on your own.  But a lot of movies are made by small production companies who are pitchable by phone.  You find some who make the kind of movie you are writing, you call them, tell them why your script is right up their alley, and ask if they want to read it.  When they say "yes," suddenly your script can arrive per their request rather than "unsolicited."  So it actually gets read. 

Friends are your biggest resource.  Who do you already know in the business in England who could sit down over coffee and give you advice and direction?  They don't need to be someone who could option your script, but anyone with any connection to the business at all -- special effects, location scouts, anyone with contacts.  Or someone in theater might be able to hook you up with actors to do a staged reading for your friends and theirs, who might also be connected.  Build your local relationships, ask for advice.

Lots and lots of features are written on spec, that's not a problem.  In fact, another great way to get attention to your script is to enter it in contests, and those are almost always for original spec scripts.  Winning a contest gives you credibility -- and prizes are nice, too.  Just for entering, you often get feedback on your script, which can be priceless.

Keep writing!  And let us know what works. 

Comment by Linda Carcavella on February 7, 2015 at 10:41pm
Hi everyone. Writing from London. I'm in the process of writing my first film script. I studied long-distance with a former Hollywood screenwriter who gave me tips on structuring scripts properly. I also read books by the likes of Dara Marks:- The Power of the Transformational Arc. So I hope I have now learned my craft? I believe I have also found 'my voice' and am keeping this script as commercial as possible, with a male protagonist, as I am aware these are the usually the ones tales are woven around. Because of health issues, should I be able to succeed as a writer, it will have to be on spec. If this fails, I guess there is the possibility of collaboration... I won't know till I send it off to American agents. Just wondering if anyone can give me advice on the possibilities of cracking the American film or TV industry as a first time writer, who writes alone. I read somewhere that lone writers, especially women no doubt, don't usually achieve success? Surely if you have a potentially successful script that would make Big Bucks for the studies they would be interested, come what may? I am just wondering how you go about gaining an American agent as I have been told I will need two highly polished/structured/commercial scripts to have a possibility of selling them on spec? Is this realistic, or should I seek out a writing partners?
Comment by Laura Brennan on April 1, 2014 at 2:12pm

I do believe that I hate this on more levels that I can count.  http://www.tubefilter.com/2014/04/01/aol-connected-long-form-series/

A reality series that essentially does away with both writers AND crew.  The "cast" shoots video of themselves and their lives, and the editor creates a series.  Plus, from the photo, it looks like they've set up a Real Housewives-esque situation -- like we need more unrealistic reality versions of a woman's life up there on the screen.

Am I overreacting?  The whole thing makes me shudder.

Comment by Laura Brennan on August 11, 2013 at 1:25am

I stumbled across this blog post and thought the "rules" for writing comedy were so smart.  The website is The Happiness Project, and the rules are from Mindy Kaling of The Office and The Mindy Project.  http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2013/08/mindy-ka...

Comment by Laura Brennan on June 7, 2013 at 4:29pm

Just found a site that previews the new summer TV shows - and it's snarky, to boot!  Enjoy: http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/show/summer-preview/summer-pre...

Comment by Lenore Norrgard on May 11, 2013 at 7:46pm

Comment by Laura Brennan on January 25, 2013 at 10:21pm

Oooh, good article on things web series creators should think about.  It looks like the blog hasn't been active in several years, but the tips are from people who produced webisodes, so from the trenches.  9 Things Web Series Producers Should Know.

Comment by Laura Brennan on January 25, 2013 at 11:39am

I just posted some advice on designing a web series.  If that's what you're up to, check it out.  *Why* you want a web series dictates the design of the series more than any other factor.  At least, that's what we discovered (a bit late!) with Faux Baby

Here's the link to my post: Hey, Kids, Let's Put on a Show!

 

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