A little intro by Thomas Cunningham & Patrick Guera on who we are and what we have in store for Screenplayground in the upcoming weeks. The short version: we want it to be THE go-to site for not only script notes but information on the craft, interviews and the signature “What If?” podcast where we break a randomly generated plot into the basic story foundation for a script.
The Screenplayground Podcast kicks off with President/Head Reader Thomas Cunningham and Director Patrick Guera discussing getting experience working with short films, getting a feel for working with directors, actors and learning how your script translates to screen. As well as making connections and networking through short filmmaking.
Thomas discusses some of his experiences & methodology co-writing a script in this 1st ever Screenplayground Voice Blog. What are your experiences with co-writing? Love it? Hate it? Little of both? Feel free to add your perspective in the comments.
I’m sure many of you have read Blake Snyder’s screenwriting book “Save the Cat!” and in fairness, I haven’t but personally, I think that these sorts of shortcuts and “tricks” are counter to good screenwriting. Now, I certainly don’t want to speak ill of the dead and perhaps there is a lot of good solid advice in the book but I’ve witnessed the “Save the Cat!” fallout in many scripts of late.
There are certain people that will tell you with Draconian intolerance that when writing a scene slug, you should write Day or Night. No Evening, no Dawn, no 4AM, No Later, Moments Later, Continuous or Same.
These people need to chill the fuck out. There are times when it is appropriate to use something other than Day or Night. “When” You ask? When it’s necessary. Okay… bye. Okay, fine, I’ll clarify.
It’s acceptable to use a more specific time of day when it matters. If your character is doing his laundry does it have to be at dusk? If he’s a Vampire Hunter and he’s suddenly going to realize that it’s dusk and he locked himself out of his apartment, then maybe it’s relevant. Otherwise, pick Day or Night. Does it matter that it’s 2 PM as opposed to 1 or 3? If your character has until 5PM to come up with some ransom money or his girlfriend will be murdered, then it probably does. In short, use very specific times sparingly when they matter to the story.
So, my first topic is on what I think is the most overlooked element of a screenplay: The action and descriptives. Now, you can have a script that can be turned into a great film without being good at or paying a lot of attention to these things but the chances are it won’t get made for one reason: It’s what makes your screenplay read like a movie rather than a book.
And, without making that good, your great story with amazing characters and expertly crafted dialogue will be bogged down in clunky, extraneous shit. It’s like a really hot girl with a beard like Fidel Castro. I don’t care how stunningly beautiful she is, you won’t be able to see past the beard. Okay, maybe that’s a bit much but still the point is valid… Moving on…
Screenwriting is the art of writing as concisely as possible. That means the more you can pack into a word or phrase and the less words you can use, the better. Now, with dialogue maybe that’s not always true. It depends on the character and the situation. However, with the action/descriptives it is ALWAYS true.
And overwhelmingly, this is the element I find lacking in screenplays I read. Such care is paid to story, structure, dialogue and character development but almost none to the descriptives and action and how the script reads and, ultimately, how effective it is at letting the reader see it in their mind.
We’re just getting started here but intend to use this blog to talk about all things film and screenwriting related. So, get yourself a cup of coffee and get ready for some free advice that will rock your socks. Thanks for checking it out!