This is topic My screenplay for in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
After years of mocking, criticizing, and Armchair Directing the movies of other people, I am now paying for my sins by writing my own screenplay for the ScriptFrenzy challenge: write a 20,000 word screenplay in the month of June.

The working title, which will change as soon I come up with a better, is "The Stolen Fairy Tale," and people interested in following its progress can check it out here (just click on Screenplay to read it). I'll be updating at least daily.

Feel free to mock away; karma is a wonderful thing.
Posted by Shawshank (Member # 8453) on :
Very nice Chris. Nothing to mock- I love it thus far.
Posted by mr_porteiro_head (Member # 4644) on :
20,000 words -- what does that come out to? A standard-length movie? A TV episode?
Posted by Leonide (Member # 4157) on :
I adore this, Chris. It's so very you.

A little thing I noticed: most of the time the children's book author is referred to as "Peter St. Lucy," but at one point (towards the end, when Marla is talking about him) she called him "Peter St. John." Just an fyi [Smile]
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
Originally posted by Shawshank:
Very nice Chris. Nothing to mock- I love it thus far.

Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
mph - that's an average full-length movie screenplay length.

"Being John Malkovich" - 20,294
"Cast Away" - 27,041
"Fargo" - 16,989
"Gross Point Blanke" - 19,158
"The Princess Bride" - 22,258

Leonide - thanks!
Posted by SteveRogers (Member # 7130) on :
I might do this next year...
Posted by Puffy Treat (Member # 7210) on :
I like it. I like it a lot.
Posted by mr_porteiro_head (Member # 4644) on :
Forgive my ignorance, but isn't it the stereotype that there's already a glut of screenplays in Hollywood, so much so that if you've written one, the biggest obstacle is to get somebody to even bother to read it? Is there truth to that?
Posted by Puffy Treat (Member # 7210) on :
As I understand it, that's the point of having an agent...the idea is, they'll have the contacts necessary in shopping one's spec screenplay around, making it easier (if not certain) that it'll be seen and sold.

Though usually what happens is they just buy the option of being the only ones who can purchase said least until the option lapses.
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
Well, I got you guys to read it... [Smile]

I'm not expecting immediate Hollywood sales, and this won't be the greatest screenplay ever written. I was just curious to see if I could write one and ScriptFrenzy provided the impetus. And after mocking hundreds of them I felt honor-bound to put up or shut up.
Posted by Narnia (Member # 1071) on :
Can't wait for ALL of it. Your style seems so legit, I say you get an agent.

I also think I'm one of your biggest fans. Would you come to my birthday party? [Wink]
Posted by Shigosei (Member # 3831) on :
If it turns out well, perhaps you should get a bunch of people together and actually film it.
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
Might not be able to afford the special effects...
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
So far, keeping up with my word count. I need to write at least 667 words a day to make it, so at day four I needed 2,668 words. Last night I hit 2,837, even after whacking one scene entirely and moving some things around.

Of course, this is still the easy part...
Posted by Puffy Treat (Member # 7210) on :
Liking it better and better!
Posted by Nighthawk (Member # 4176) on :
"Cast Away" - 27,041
Well, Wilson did have lines in the script...
Posted by Earendil18 (Member # 3180) on :
I love the premise, but I've got some crits, bits, and hopefully good advice.

The "WE move across" and "Carl faces US" bits really take me out of the story. It makes me conscientious of my own reading.

Within EXT FAKE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE, there's nothing in your description to support it's supposed fakery. Maybe it's a really bad cardboard set. I don't know, but it seems real to me. Is it a dream? What is fake about it? If it's just a really oversaturated Disney-esque wonderland then perhaps you could describe that or put "EXT FAIRYTALE COUNTRYSIDE" at top.

There are a lot of things being spelled out here:
"He leans over and prepares to kiss the girl in a gloriously romantic scene.

But before his lips can touch hers... a HAND reaches into frame and grabs his shoulder."

Sugg: He leans over the girl, lips puckered. Suddenly a hand clamps down on his shoulder.

"...who clearly knows how the world works and is clearly disdainful of those who don't, i.e. everybody else."

Clearly? The audience can't go inside his head. What about the way he acts shows us these qualities?

In short:
Show, don't tell.

SMILEYS! O.o [Wink] [Smile]

[ June 05, 2007, 08:46 PM: Message edited by: Earendil18 ]
Posted by Puffy Treat (Member # 7210) on :
You do know this is -supposed- to read like a screenplay, right? [Smile]
Posted by porcelain girl (Member # 1080) on :
Over half of getting a screenplay read by someone with any say-so is networking.

Plus, most of the screenplays out there are total crap. So, please, keep writing. When good artists make good art, even against odds of financial success, they are making the world a better place.

Also keep in mind that, unless you are planning on directing the feature you are scripting, leave out details and shot info that are normally the director's decision (unless crucial to the story). Directors don't like being directed.
Posted by SteveRogers (Member # 7130) on :
I registered. But I doubt I'll get it done by the end of June. I still haven't really started. Maybe this weekend.
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
Earendil18, while I truly appreciate the comments and hope to see more of them, most of them would be great for a story and terrible for a screenplay. Screenplays aren't written for casual reading. They're written to explain the story to the people who are going to make the movie. There is usually very little direction and not much in the way of inner thoughts. Instead, suggestions are given as to how the actor might play the scene or how the director might pace it.

Here's an example, the beginning of "The Princess Bride" by William Goldman:



The game is in progress. As a sick coughing sound is heard.



lying in bed, coughing. Pale, one sick cookie. Maybe he's seven or eight or nine. He holds a remote in one hand, presses it, and the video game moves a little bit. Then he's hit by another spasm of coughing, puts the remote down.

His room is monochromatic, greys and blues, mildly high-tech. We're in the present day and this is a middle class house, somewhere in the suburbs.


The Kid's MOTHER as she enters, goes to him, fluffs his pillows, kisses him, and briefly feels his forehead. She's worried, it doesn't show. During this

You feeling any better?

A little bit.

Guess what.


Your grandfather's here.


We're straight out told what the mother is thinking because the actress needs to know what the mother is thinking.

Also, when characters are introduced, you need to give the reader an immediate impression of them because you can't expect the reader to last to the end of the sxcreenplay, or even to page 11. Whomever that reader is, actor, agent, director, or slushpile intern, I have to grab their attention in the first few pages and get them interested in my main character right away, or they'll toss it aside and pick up the next script in the pile. The very big pile.

I also can't get too specific about the character's appearance, so as not to limit the number of actors who could play the part. Instead I present the attitude I want and let the director and casting agent handle the rest.

Some examples of character introductions from actual scripts:

President Marshall from "Air Force One"

"A translator's words ring in the earpiece of a handsome man in his mid-forties. Worry lines crease his forehead and the touch of gray at his temples attest to three very difficult years in office."

Danny Roman from "The Negotiator"

"The BLACK RECEDES and we FIND DANNY ROMAN, sitting in a dilapidated hallway, eating a hot dog. He's a black man in his 40s, with a streetwise and wary intelligence behind his dark brown eyes. Danny continues talking casually to someone offscreen. In the BG the SOUND of a BARKING DOG."

Annie Savoy, from "Bull Durham"

"ANNIE SAVOY, mid 30's, touches up her face. Very pretty, knowing, outwardly confident. Words flow from her Southern lips with ease, but her view of the world crosses Southern, National and International borders. She's cosmic."

None of those descriptions specify Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, or Susan Sarandon, but each of them read those scripts and thought "I could play that." That's my audience.

I capitalized HAND because I wanted to emphasize the suddenness of it. Some words in screenplays get capitalized to draw the attention of the people who need to see it. New characters' names. Actions. Certain music cues. Specific sound effects. There's no hard and fast rule about it, and every screenwriter seems to do it differently.

I highly suggest reading screenplays for fun and comparing them to the actual movies. You learn a lot about the director's choices, the actor's choices, structure, pacing, and about what can get cut and still work. And sometimes the screenwriter's comments and descriptions, never meant for the public to see, are wonderful.

[ June 05, 2007, 10:34 PM: Message edited by: Chris Bridges ]
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
SteveRogers - welcome aboard! Come on, man, I need to know someone out there is as miserable as I am. Write!
Posted by SteveRogers (Member # 7130) on :
I've got to work tomorrow all day. But I might be able to do some stuff on Thursday and Friday. I'm way behind word count quota, so I'll probably have to sit down and just pump out more than my defecit in words.

We'll see. I've got a really cool idea for a screenplay. And I've been thinking it over off and on since I first read this thread.
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
OK, so far I've screwed around reading other screenplays and making a poster for mine. How else can I waste time?

Oh yeah, I could write something...
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
Up to 3,337 words, another scene, and some slight revisions to the previous one.

Actually, just assume I revise the previous scene every time I add a new one. I can't help myself.
Posted by porcelain girl (Member # 1080) on :
simple yet clever poster ^_^
Posted by Puffy Treat (Member # 7210) on :
I want to say where I think it's going, but I'm probably wrong.
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
You're probably right -- I've certainly telegraphed it enough -- but I hope to get some surprises in there anyway.
Posted by Earendil18 (Member # 3180) on :
I'm still not finished with yewww. [Wink]
Originally posted by porcelain girl:
Also keep in mind that, unless you are planning on directing the feature you are scripting, leave out details and shot info that are normally the director's decision (unless crucial to the story). Directors don't like being directed.

That might explain all the mental blocks during my read. Further frothing forthwith!

In your inbox [Wink]

Originally posted by Puffy Treat:
You do know this is -supposed- to read like a screenplay, right? [Smile]

Yes. [Smile]

[ June 07, 2007, 02:13 AM: Message edited by: Earendil18 ]
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
No new additions to report, I hang my head in shame. In my defense I plead packing for my vacation -- during which I'll either write a lot or nothing at all -- and the fascination of watching the Mythbusters build the world's biggest slingshot. Also, I'd never seen Cash Cab before, and now I'm a fan...

However, I would like to publicly apologize to Earendil18 for completely misunderstanding his post. Where I read it as "you're not giving enough explanation here" and thought he didn't understand screenplays, his detailed e-mail (which included a line by line crit of the script so far) proved that he knows more about them than I do (not hard). His complaint was that I had too much description, and he offered some great suggestions as to how I could trim it back and get the same effect. I won't use all of them because our styles are different and because I'm stubborn, but I greatly appreciate the comments. Also, now I feel sheepish about my "here's how we write screenplays, Billy" response here...
Posted by Earendil18 (Member # 3180) on :
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
Also, now I feel sheepish about my "here's how we write screenplays, Billy" response here...

You should've seen how my eyes crossed. [Wink]

A public apology?

You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

Now go install Celtx at work so you can write. [Roll Eyes]

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