Stop me if you’ve heard this before — the only way to be a filmmaker is to say “I’m a filmmaker,” and not “I want to be a filmmaker.” Cliche, but it’s true. I used to justify my not being in college by telling people I want to go back to college, but I was never back until I actually WENT back. So if you want to be a filmmaker, tell people you’re a filmmaker — and then make films!
As I said in my previous post, I am going to delve into more low budget filmmaking tips. I’m going to be honest, my first experiences with filmmaking were usually written the hour before we filmed. There was a charming chaos to that, but most of the projects we made were just for our own enjoyment. This is fine to get you familiar with the basics, but once you learn those you need to write your films. Now you’re worried because you don’t know how to write a screenplay, you say?
If you aren’t a writer, befriend someone who is. You can focus your career on directing or editing, but you will have a hard time doing that without a good writer. Or just develop an ego, and tell everyone you’re a good writer. They won’t question you if you say it with enough conviction!
My best advice for screenwriters who are just starting is to watch movies, read scripts, and then write scripts! Yeah, you’ve heard this one a lot too, eh? We both know you watch movies all the time (unless you do yoga – sorry, inside joke), so start analyzing what works and what doesn’t. After that, seek out some scripts. The easiest way to get ahold of scripts is to google “[movie name] screenplay.” Or just google “screenplay database,” or anything like that. Look at the format, look at how they write. Learn it. Then download Celtx. This free program is a great way to write without worrying about formatting.
This is where you get your free software, and then you write. What should you write? Well, the basic thing to write is a story. Don’t complicate things — just have a beginning, middle and end. Have a CHARACTER with a NEED who faces an OBSTACLE. Take this character to a point where they need to CHOOSE. Make the choice, show us the CONSEQUENCE. It can be as simple as Jimmy is late to work, and ends up losing his keys. Or it can be Frodo has some stupid ring he has to get rid of, I don’t care. Just try and write a screenplay. Send it to me, and I’ll tell you what I think. Speaking of…
I’ve had to teach myself to share my work with people, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself as a writer. Expand upon this concept by shooting your script and becoming a bonafide, certified, funkdafied filmmaker!
So this is where we move on to our production stage. Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll talk details about lighting and effects on a budget. For the mean time, enjoy my short film Trunk Space, the script that we used as well as the shot list.