pro-spec

anonymous asked:

What kind of advice can you give someone just starting out screenwriting but has minimal experience with the writing/production process?

Read and write as much as you can. Get a copy of Celtx or Final Draft or another screenwriting software, read a SHIT TON of pro and good amateur scripts, find friends who also screenwrite who you can develop alongside. Play with writing, have fun. Focus on developing your visual language. Your first dozen scripts might not be good, so - as much as you can - enjoy storytelling for the fun of it, rather than because you think you’ll get it made. If I’d made my first few scripts? Yikes. Spend your first handful of scripts having fun, finding your voice, and finding readers whose feedback you find helpful. Write your scripts for YOU first, others later.

Get your ass kicked a little when it comes to feedback, at least early on. Through my teenage years I wrote on a screenwriting forum with writers in their 20s. Trying to keep up with them forced me to up my game. Don’t seek out cruelty - some of the same people who helped me elevate my work once or twice knocked me down the proverbial stairs and led to a couple years where I barely wrote at all, and that was hell. But find people who will push you to work harder and be better - to be more YOU in your writing. Make friends with writers and make each other better.

Don’t be afraid to write fanfic, especially as a training tool. Nobody tells you this, but the TV industry has an element that is basically pro fanfic called spec scripts (aka, if you want to get a job on The Middle you might write a spec, or sample script, of Modern Family). Don’t be afraid to write whatever you want if you think it will help you get stronger. (Don’t expect everything you write to get made. A fraction of a fraction will, if you’re lucky. Come to terms with that early.)

Remember that you have something interesting to say. You know that saying about how sculpting is carving away everything that isn’t the sculpture? That’s you, your writing voice. Every time you write you leave behind bad habits and mannerisms that aren’t you, just your coping strategies early on. The more you write and push yourself, the more your voice will become clear.

When it comes to production, start small. Learn the basics of things yourself so you can have intelligent conversations with talented directors, DOPs, etc. Uni is great for meeting potential crew who you can rise with as you develop. Try to meet & befriend people who are better than you at what you want to do, so you can learn from them. They might want to show you how to kick ass at what they do, which is an invaluable resource.

I think that’s everything that comes to mind. At least right now. :) Good luck, and feel free to drop any other q’s in my inbox!!