Sunday, March 06, 2005  

Watch The Flick & Read The Script

Watching a movie while reading the script can be enlightening. In fact, this concept is one of the most useful tips I learned when I first started writing screenplays. It’s fascinating to see how the director manipulates the words on the pages to accomplish his vision. Some movies are almost mirror images of the script. Others are complete opposites. That doesn’t matter. It’s the mere fact that you are able to understand a screenplay is only a small part of the creative process. The script, in itself, is a working blueprint for the collaboration of many creative minds. As an amateur screenwriter, whether you like it or not, you have to realize the script you write won’t be filmed scene by scene or word for word as you envisioned. It will change. Knowing this simple fact will help you write better and make you a better writer.

Like most subjects, there is an abundance of free material readily found on the Internet. There are complete scripts of some of the most popular movies ever made out there. Some free, some for a fee. All you have to do is find them. Your knowledge of the Internet can be of great use here. Your lack there of can cost you a few dollars. But hey, if your dream is to become a screenwriter than money should be of no concern right? Ok whatever. I can barely afford reams of paper much less screenplays. After all, I am a starving screenwriter. Let me tell you about some places that you can get scripts for free.

Listed below are some web sites that offer scripts.

Drew's Script-O-Rama
JoBlo's Movie Scripts
Fatty Boom Batty

Always remember, if you can’t find a copy of a script you want for free, it might be for sale at The Writer’s Store, or other online retailers.

Now you know where to find the scripts. Let’s find a movie.

To start, think of a movie you love. Something, let’s say, you connect with or relate to. One of my all time favorites is Eyes Wide Shut. I’ve watched it about 50 times. This was Stanley Kubrick's last film. He always had the gift to push the envelope in his works. My connection here would have to be the admiration for the director/writer of this script. Next, get a copy of the flick on DVD or VHS. You’re better off if you have a copy because you will finally get some productive use out of your remote other than flipping through the channels. Once you’ve selected your movie all you have to do is find the script.

If you visit some of the sites I’ve mentioned above you’ll soon learn that sometimes there are different versions of the scripts available. There will be first, second and thirds drafts available. Completed scripts. Production scripts. Scripts to download in PDF format. There are scripts in text format. Select what you believe is the latest finished copy of the script. Simply download and/or print the script. Be advised, if you print a script you’re looking at 100 to 120 pages. If at all possible try to get a PDF or text file and sit at your computer while watching the movie. They rest is pretty much been explained. Watch the movie and follow along in the script. Have your remote handy. You’ll get lost if producers and/or the director have hacked up the script. You’ll need to pause the movie from time to time to find your place again.

Once you’ve gone through the process a few times and have mastered the use of your remote control, do it again and again. Soon you’ll start to grasp some of the simple philosophies of writing scenes, dialogue, etc. To expand on what you see on the screen, read a few of the books I’ve mentioned in a previous post called, The Amatuer Screenwriters Bookshelf. Take what you learn and apply it to your own script. During a re-write of one of your scenes, you’ll be amazed at just how bad it is when you break it down. Don’t worry; re-writing can be just as enlightening as reading or even seeing how it’s really done.

As I’ve mentioned before, if you write a screenplay, others will change it. You’d be foolish to think otherwise. When all the right creative hands are grouped together with a common goal in mind, the potential is endless. Some of the greatest films ever made can be chalked up to collaboration. A screenwriter plays only a small part in this collaboration. If you aspire to be a screenwriter, this tiny piece of advice might very well be looked at as a commandment. Whether you abide by it, is your decision. We all know what happens to those who break a commandment.


At 6:30 AM,Blogger Billy said...

lots of info here. you know your way around. good luck with your scripts.

At 6:45 AM,Blogger Semaji said...

Thanks Billy.

At 12:54 PM,Blogger Dea said...

This blog has become a wonderful resource! I am just now getting succes in the publishing world (limited, but it's started) and I have had lots of success with plays written and performed locally, but I have never set my toe in the screenwriting world. This has been very informative! Thanks for doing what you do.

At 5:24 AM,Blogger Semaji said...

Dea, hearing that tickles me pink.
Thank you very much.