Monday, 29 April 2013

A Talk with Brookside Writer Helen East

Ms East advised a collection of budding Oldham writers on Wednesday 24th,
over at Oldham Lifelong Learning in the Cultural Quarter on Union St. She dished out a few nuggets of awesome advice.

A film script should be 90-100 pages in length.

Find info and examples of scripts over at BBC Writersroom

Find writing prompts over at CAKE.shortandsweet

A rough rule to work to: 1 page of script equals 1 minute of screen time.

A TV drama script needs a quicker set-up and structure than its film counterpart.

LA Productions and Red Production Company are two TV production companies accepting unsolicited screenplays.

Break rules. Reading books on screenwriting will teach you the rules. Know them, then break them.

Writers write. Don't put it off.

Send your work out as much as possible.

Look for stories. Be nosy. Listen to people. Eavesdrop. Be a voyeur. Read the news.

Once you have an idea, write a synopsis. Then research the subject to flesh it out. Your synopsis should indicate the tone of your proposed screenplay.

Start your script. In your first ten minutes (Act 1) we should know who the main character is and what world they inhabit. 10 pages in, something happens to them. At this point, Act 2 begins.

Know your characters inside out. Put them into different situations to see how they react and behave. Something has to be at stake for them. What do they want? Who has the most to lose? That's your main character. It's their story.

During the session we also analysed the opening scene of a courtroom drama. We looked at how the setting, costume design, casting and narrative all told the viewer what kind of story the programme was telling within the first few minutes. As mentioned in point 5, this has to happen quickly in TV.

I asked Ms East for some advice on screenwriting. I've got a synopsis and a feature script that I've been looking for feedback on. She suggested that the synopsis shouldn't go online, as it's hard to copyright an idea. Also, as the script goes through drafts, the synopsis will change. Feedback is much easier to get on the screenplay itself, so I should just go for it, tidy up the script and start dishing it out for critiques.

So. Very informative and engaging night down at the library. I may have another bash at screenwriting in a few months!

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