Hopefully, this post covers a topic they do mention in film school. But, no matter. A reader recently emailed me with a screenwriting question, so I'll give you my two cents.
- Learn from the best. I love that you can learn so much about filmmaking just by watching films. Similarly, you can learn a lot about screenwriting by reading screenplays. Especially good ones. Check out Drew's Script-o-Rama for piles of scripts to get you started.
- Start with an outline. To me, after you get all of the scenes in your screenplay figured out, the actual writing is relatively simple.
- Formatting is important. Sometime during step 1, you probably noticed screenplays are formatted in a particular manner. The reason: proper screenplay formatting aids in production of an actual film. One formatted screenplay page, on average, will translate to one minute of finished movie. This will let a producer know from the start whether he's looking at a three-minute short or a three-hour epic.
- Spelling and grammar are important, too. It's okay if you can't spell. It's not okay if you don't know you can't spell. You'll have enough trouble getting people to read your screenplay. Don't turn them off with misspelled or misused words. Find a proofreader. Tell him you'll give him an associate producer credit.
- Most, if not all, of it is overpriced.
- Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter are the most popular.
If you want to save some money and do the formatting yourself (using a word processor or a Selectric), the good ol' Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can show you the way.