Friday, 22 February 2013

Where are all the screenplay people?

What is a good screenplay? I kept asking myself. And pretty soon I started getting some answers. When you read a good screenplay, you know it— it's evident from page one, word one. The style, the way the words are laid out on the page, the way the story is set up, the grasp of dramatic situation, the introduction of the main character, the basic premise or problem of the screenplay—it's all set up in the first few pages of the script: Chinatown, Five Easy Pieces, The Godfather, The French Connection, Shampoo, and All the President's Men are all perfect examples.”
-Syd Field, Foundations of Screenwriting

I've just spent a month attempting to learn as much as I could about thefield of screenwriting, a minute sector- but ultimately the backbone- of the visual entertainment industry.

It's also seemingly a minute sector of the online writing community, and of the creative writing scene in Manchester. Finding people who know about screenwriting and who ready to share their knowledge is no easy feat. There's a plethora of fiction feedback groups, both who meet in person and who meet online, but screenplay writing is nowhere near as prevalent. Throughout the month, I had to broaden out what I was looking for.

By searching for information on screenwriting in general, and asking around on social media sites, I met a handful of people who work in the screenwriting / film making industry, and got some valuable feedback on my synopsis for Once Upon a Time in Manchester, my political terrorism script. (Let's say it needs a lot of work.) I found a few websites that looked helpful to those who were at the first draft stage. I've written a first draft, but I wanted synopsis feedback first- so I may have to come back to these sites later in the year to try them out. I found TONS of .pdf resources through a contact, which has made fascinating reading the last few weeks. But essentially, I've not been ready to rewrite the script, I've not actually used the websites and I've not made progress with any other screenplays, aside digging out the first screenplay I ever wrote.

Diner- later retitled Restaurant, although I can't find my draft with that name anywhere- was a script I scribbled out on my lunch breaks in 5th form. And it shows. The dialogue is weird, all the characters sound like a zany 15-year-old boy (i.e. a younger me) and the action is a little jolty as well. It needs a lot of work. But it's got potential. I've had a quick butchers at it and made a few notes, but when I will dedicate the time to tweaking it, I don't know.

So- results? Screenplay info is thin on the ground, but it's out there to be found with a bit of determined rummaging.

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