Archive for Getting started

This is a great explanation of the traditional, three-act structure way to start your screenplay, illustrated with examples from Pixar movies, and focusing on how the process was applied to Toy Story 3.

The narrator is writer Michael Arndt, whose credits also include the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine.

My only quibble is that it suggests that this is THE way to tell a story, rather than ONE way to tell a story. Sure, it’s the most often used way but there are others and one of those may be a better fit for your story. Still, it’s important to understand this one so you can decide whether or not it is the right choice for your project.

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The key to selling your screenplay is getting the right people to read it. They key to getting the right people to read it is to be creative in your approach (the traditional ones are used by everybody and they clog up the system and tend not to get through). The key to being more creative is to steal, uh, I mean adapt, ideas from other fields.

 For example, take the Underground Book Club. They are distributing hard copies of the first three chapters of various books at major London train stations during the busiest commuting hours. The hope is that instead of reading their newspapers or work reports, commuters will sample these books and then want to buy some of them in order to read the rest. The samples are also available online.

Does that give you any ideas? First let’s look at the principles behind the effort:

  1. Find out where your target market is and go there.
  2. Give them something new, different, interesting
  3. Create a desire to take the next step—the one that earns you some money
  4. Make it easy to take that step

So….your target market is agents and producers. Where could you find them? Perhaps at conferences and film festivals, for instance. Could you give them something on their way in or out? If so, do it on public property, because the organizers of the event are unlikely to let you do it on their patch.

What could you give them? They won’t take a script, but maybe a pitch in the form of a graphic novel page.

The next step you want them to take is to ask to read your script and if your ‘taster’ is intriguing enough they will. You could include a simple to remember email address for them to use. If it’s a producer who says they’ll read it only via an agent, now you have a nice hook with which to approach an agent: “Producer X has expressed interest in reading my script but only if it’s submitted via an agent. Would you be willing to submit it?” They’re much more liable to do that when a producer has already asked to read it.

If this idea doesn’t appeal to you…come up with one of your own! The idea is to apply your creativity to marketing what you write, as well as to writing.

 (You’ll find plenty of additional ideas about marketing your work, in my book “Your Writing Coach.” You can get it from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller. You may also want to check out “Do Something Different,” published by Virgin Books with an introduction by Richard Branson. It includes 100 case studies of how people marketed their products inexpensively and creatively.)

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Thinking about making a web series? Think you need to copy network series? Define the demographic you are targeting? Think again!

In this seven-minute interview conducted by Film Courage, Joe Wilson, creator of the web series Vampire Mob, talks about why you don’t need to look for sponsors or try to find the ideal length and demographics.

His point: if you want to be a story teller, why build in all the elements that have made life difficult for story tellers? Find a story you are passionate about and make it! (He drops the F-bomb often, so take that into account if you’re listening at the office, etc.)

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