Monday, May 24, 2010

So you Want to Write a Movie?

I attended the LDStorymakers FILM MAKERS PANEL in April and it was fascinating.

I’m a sucker for screenplays. I’ve written a couple of screenplays based on my books and two summers ago worked pretty intensely on a 20 page treatment with a professional screenwriter/script doctor who makes his living doing this and supports his family and four children while living in a small town in NM (after a 14 year stint in Europe doing movies in Germany, Sweden and Norway.)

The panel consisted of a combination of multi-million dollar movie project writers/directors, a guy who has worked for Disney, and a couple of very small budget movie makers.

Question: “What do these writers/directors have in common?”

Answer: They all want to see a story that moves them, a story they can’t stop thinking about, whether it’s a screenplay or a book with movie potential.

Remember: ALL books will be changed when it’s turned into a screenplay. A book has to be changed for the best dramatic effect. All that interior monologue and thinking and realizations need to come through action and dialogue.

Basic Definition of a screenplay: Action/Dialogue/Action/Dialogue/Action/Dialogue. You get the idea.

Question: How much can I make writing for movies?

Answer: Approximately 3% of the total cost of the movie will go to the book author. So on a small film; that total payment may only be about $5,000 - $10,000. Do the math for big budget films – of which there is a wild variety of prices and budgets and the reputation of the screenwriter comes into play here as well so you might get $50-75,000, but rarely more than six figures or millions. Unless you’re Dan Brown.

Recommended reading from the pros:

The BEST way to learn how to write a great screenplay – READ GREAT SCREENPLAYS. (Doesn’t that sound like the same advice for those of you who are writing books? Q: How do I write a great book? Answer: Read and study great books!)

Question: So where do you find great screenplays to read ‘em?

I have the answer to that, too!
Go online to: Samuel French’s screenplay store. These do have a cost attached to them – from a few bucks to about $40 bucks, but they can be ordered online easy peasy.

Drew’s Script-o-Rama –this one is a freebie and there are hundreds to browse.

Simply Scripts – another freebie site which includes television and movies never produced.

Have fun!


Justin said...

Sounds like a great conference and great advice for screenwriting! :)

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