20 QUESTIONS FOR SCREENWRITERS

Posted by admin  /   July 17, 2014  /   Posted in Thoughts on Screenwriting  /   Comments Off on 20 QUESTIONS FOR SCREENWRITERS

Hi There,

This week a bit of a round-up of my recent screenwriting-related activity.

First though I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have shared your thoughts on screenwriting \ writing and more! It makes writing this weekly blog enormously rewarding when I get so much great feedback from so many generous writers – even more so when you make your own brilliant contributions to this weekly blog – in the past two weeks, a couple of great, thought-provoking and very well-written, well-argued pieces from screenwriters DREW MARKE  and JON PEACEY, and this week excellent theatre, radio and screen dramatist CHARLOTTE BOGARD MACLEOD  felt moved to share her thoughts on Richard Linklater’s new film, BOYHOOD –

‘I love films. I really do. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood sanctions that passion. It’s a proper movie, and by that I mean, it’s is a film that has to be a film. It wouldn’t pack the same emotional punch if it were a novel, play or box set.

Here, form fits story, and the story is simple. A boy, Mason Jr. (Eller Coltrane), grows up in Texas. Linklater shot the same cast over twelve years, calling it ‘time-lapse filmmaking’. As the movie unfolds, Mason morphs from kid to teenager, before our astonished eyes.

Aging is a mesmerizing process. There’s nothing us Homo Sapiens like better than having a good ol’ nose, because we’re all fundamentally nosey. Set against a world in flux, the characters get abandoned, get crap haircuts, get educated, get spots, get new jobs, get new partners, get poor, get rich, get better haircuts, get poorer still, get beat up, get high, get low, get kissed, get hurt, get even, and get compassion.

With this accumulation of experiences, the everyday becomes lyrical. It’s a visual manifestation of Louis MacNeice’s “drunkenness of things being various.” It banishes voyeurism. We inhabit Mason’s world. Viewed through the prism of passing time, we decode the enigma of what Mason is thinking and feeling.

This is the film’s truth. Life is brief. It’s a series of moments. The future stretching out, and the past rolling up behind. Fleeting. Transient. Ephemeral. Words that the poets use, and we feel, but struggle to articulate. Here it is. The film. From boy to man. Boyhood.

Thank you Charlotte – this is beautifully written and I now can’t wait to see this film.

http://charlottebogardmacleod.wordpress.com/

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But I also wanted to ask all of you to share more of your thoughts on your own experiences of screenwriting with me for future editions of this newsletter.

I have drawn up a list of 20 questions and I would be delighted if you’d like to send me your answers to them. If you’re interested in doing this, it would be great if you could also include some very brief biographical information to include with your answers. I’d like to hear from writers of all levels of experience – from those just starting out on their first screenplay to experienced writers with many production credits – all of your observations are equally valid.

Here are the 20 questions –

1          WHERE DO YOU WRITE ?

2          WHEN DO YOU WRITE?

3          WHAT SORT OF STORIES EXCITE YOU?

4          WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF BUILDING A GREAT CHARACTER?

5, 6      2 WRITERS WHO HAVE INSPIRED YOU AND WHY

7, 8      2 TV SHOWS THAT HAVE INSPIRED YOU AND WHY

9, 10    2 FILMS THAT HAVE INSPIRED YOU AND WHY

11        1 THEATRE SHOW THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU AND WHY

12        DO YOU OUTLINE BEFORE YOU START WRITING?

13        1 PIECE OF ADVICE FOR SCREENWRITERS JUST STARTING OUT

14        WHAT SHOULD THE FILM \ TV INDUSTRY BE DOING FOR SCREENWRITERS THAT IT ISN’T?

15        WAS THERE A SPECIFIC MOMENT THAT MADE YOU START WRITING AND IF SO WHAT WAS IT?

16        WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D KNOWN THEN THAT YOU KNOW NOW?

17        WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT SCREENWRITING?

18        WHAT IS THE MOST ENJOYABLE THING ABOUT SCREENWRITING?

19        WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF (AS A WRITER) FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?

20        AND FINALLY – ONE SURPRISING (NON-WRITING RELATED!) FACT ABOUT YOU.

Please email your responses to me – Philip.shelley@script-consultant.co.uk AND THANK YOU!

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In the last few weeks I’ve finished this year’s CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE and soon I’ll be starting to plan for next year’s course. Entries should be open in October – keep watching the website!

I think it’s fair to say this year’s course was a success. The standard of scripts written on the course this year was outstandingly good, we got a huge turnout of industry people at our drinks evening on June 18th, and all 12 of the course writers now have (very good) literary agents fighting their corner. And I’ve already heard about a lot of interest, meetings and very positive feedback on the scripts and writers from industry producers, script editors etc.

On July 2nd I was at this year’s BBC TV DRAMA WRITERS’ FESTIVAL, which was a fascinating and fun day, where I attended talks by the likes of Tony Jordan, Sam Bain & Jesse Armstrong, Hilary Salmon (BBC Drama), Sophie Gardiner (C4 Drama), Levi David Addai, Bryan Elsley, Barbara Machin, Jed Mercurio and more. But I think the highlight of my day was a talk entitled ‘Unstoryfiable’ by documentary film-maker ADAM CURTIS, that I’m going to write more about in a future newsletter. In the meantime here’s a link to an  excellent blog about the day from writer HANNAH KHALIL

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/aboutthebbc/posts/BBC-Writersrooms-TV-Drama-Writers-Festival-2014

The next day, July 3rd, I was back at the stunning Granary Building in Kings Cross for the Central St Martins \ Drama Centre MA Scriptwriting ‘Year of Experimentation’ day to give a talk about screenwriting – and then I stayed to listen to a fascinating talk by STEVE WINTER, formerly leader of the OLD VIC NEW VOICES initiative, now working for the Kevin Spacey Foundation, who was talking about ‘Verbatim Theatre’ which is a really interesting form – an area that’s well-worth exploring, I think.

I’d also like to give a(nother) mention to my next CREATIVITY FOR SCRIPT- WRITERS COURSE, which will be running on Saturday Nov 15th in central London, this time the special guest is the inspiring and multi-talented CAT JONES, who was on the 2012 Channel 4 screenwriting course. Cat has worked extensively in theatre and now TV (and radio)  – recent work includes one of the first run of 3 BBC i-player shorts, FLEA – a hard-hitting, inner-city story written in verse (you can read Cat’s bog about it http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/writersroom/posts/Original-Drama-Shorts-on-BBC-iPlayer-Flea- ) and episodes of WATERLOO ROAD (BBC)  and YOUNGERS (E4) – for which she also wrote some of the music!

I ran my latest CREATIVITY course in London on June 21st. The course was a sell-out and was a lot of fun (for me – but hopefully for the writers too!). I’m always amazed by the brilliance and inventive originality of the story and character ideas that come out of this course. And it’s always really pleasing when writers then go on to write a script based on an idea that comes out of one of these sessions – I received a script this week for my script consultancy from a writer who came to one of my courses in Jan 2013 and has now completed a script based on the idea that he came up with then. There’s some very generous and positive new feedback on the June course here http://www.script-consultant.co.uk/training/

Finally – this will be my last weekly newsletter for the next few weeks. I am on a break now over the rest of the summer and the next newsletter will be on Friday Sept 5th. In the meantime, have a great summer and I wish you the best with all of your writing,

Phil

PHILIP SHELLEY

www.script-consultant.co.uk

Twitter: @philipshelley1

July 18th 2014

 

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