This is where it all begins – the screenplay. At least, this is where it is supposed to; unfortunately, contemporary commercial productions consider screenplays to be the least important aspect of film-making. The actors are finalized, the locations are fixed, plans for the sequels are made and finally, a screenplay is written to accommodate everything else. That is not how it is supposed to be; the screenplay is the foundation on which the entire movie is constructed. Of course, the director will add his own aesthetic touches, but the core of the movie will remain the same. So, if you are an aspiring filmmaker, write a screenplay; trust me, it’s the most important thing.
I must admit here that even though I have no film-making experience, I love to learn about the nuances of filmmaking. Now, I was in a bit of a quandary as to how best approach this piece – whether to go all technical or just offer my humble insight, and I finally decided on the latter. I assume almost all the aspiring filmmakers among our readers have experience with short films, and even if you don’t, there are a multitude of experts who would serve you better with the technique. This is more of an introduction on how to approach screenwriting. And if you had the question in your mind, how to write a movie script, hopefully this will help answer some of your doubts.
1. The Idea
I keep borrowing this term from the great David Lynch, because that’s how he claims his film-making process always begins – with an idea. And I find it very telling, because every film begins with a tiny thread, it may be an idea, or an idea about an idea. It could be anything – a theme, an incident, a character, a dream… anything for that matter. Everything else is built from this idea, as you construct a story and a narrative around it. So, if you are planning on writing a screenplay, first and foremost, get that idea. As a creative person, you might have multiple ideas in your mind, but it is important not to get cluttered. Decide on the idea that you connect with the most, and once you do, start weaving a story around it. Of course, over the course of writing your screenplay, the idea will evolve and take a life of its own. Follow it, journey alongside it and go wherever it takes you. Whether it is an original idea or based out of another work, ensure that your screenplay is unmistakably yours. Staying true to the source material is always accepted as ideal, but rather, I suggest you stay true to the idea. Of course, all of this is not as easy as it sounds, but it isn’t supposed to be; creating something is never easy, so be prepared for the pains and disappointments that come with it.