How to Write a Story for a MovieMaking a story for a film
Awesome Movie, after some of Hollywood's Best Workers
Every prospective writer has seen the imagination of a story, this little atrocity of an concept that exploded in a flash of a Big-Bang journey that shook the mind. However, the distinction between the daydreamer and the filmmaker begins right after this enlightening instant, when the different threads of an episode either take form - and eventually move on to Final Draft - or simply palade-.
The participants debated how to start, how to write and how to bring dialog and structures into harmony.
People are narrators. Everything is a story, everyone has a story, we perceive a story, we are interested in it. So, for me, cracking the big one, how to tell a story, what's the right way to tell a certain story. I' ve got many themes that I like, and I take down and I' m reading and reading a book and have data of things that interest me, but it's like: What is the movie?
You have to be fascinated forever by the material, the personality or something you immerse yourself in, you rummage around, something that bothers you. When this ends, the movie is over. I am a very sluggish author, and the letter that most folks think is a very last move for me.
Before I write anything down, I think about it for a very long while. You' re a mate of mine in Austin, I'll take you to luncheon and puke on you. It' a really good way to work out the story.
You' re starting to talk to folks about it, and right now you're starting to find out things that get connected and make things work, because you have to, because you have to tell your story. I' m always trying to keep a small block of papers in my bag and write down any ideas that I find interesting.
I' ve lived my whole lifetime remembering that although I always say to myself that I will never ever lose an thought when I think about it, I always lose it, sometimes a minute or two after I thought about it. So I always make myself write down every single thought. DIABOLO Cody: I jealous authors who have their ass!
Well, by and large, when you take About Times, I was thinking of the concept in a way or way at the same epoch when I decided to make the Pirate Radio movie, and I needed a little more space and a little more cognition. "This is a little more serious over the years. So I'll hold on.
Cause I like living with an invention. Recently I said to my friend: "The distinction between a good movie and a good movie is the same as seeing a beautiful little gal on the ground at a dance and being there when she gives mother and three.
" It' s a very long trip, and my first thought doesn't carry much in relation - there are many beautiful chicks at a party, but not many will be there when you have your third one. I' ve got many diaries with jotted down things I think are worth seeing on film.
I' ve made this film and I think some folks who know me very well will find not only parts of me but also relations with them, words they said in talks with me, weird things that are aimed at them and only them. I think that for those who are near me to see something in a movie that a large public sees, and to know something so unique that it is only for one being.
I' m guessing I let it marinade a little, and then when I'm scared of forgetting it, I write down a few notations. Normally I would say that in 95% of cases, when I see the memos, I notice that it's a terrible thing, which is why I don't often make films because I can't come up with an ideas that I think is good.
When I write it down and don't mind, or when I am inspirated to take more pictures, and I look at it over and over again, every single working days, and if I' m not ashamed - just for myself - then I think that maybe I should follow it and maybe I can write that.
When I' m tired of taking down paperwork, I begin to type the screenplay. We' ve got a lot of story-symbolds. We' ve got an on-going paper full of suggestions, over 100 of them here. There are not many half-written screenplays because we usually don't begin to write anything until we know exactly where it's going and what the whole story is beating.
It is a fast start when we have found out the whole script layout (which can take a long time). For me, most of the jigsaw is an attempt to break the story of how the story is told. One doesn't make a whole movie about it, but one realizes that it doesn't just tell a story; it creates the necessary infrastructure to accommodate all these different notions.
This is a story telling victory to find the case for your special notion. We' re outlining hard before any letter happens. This is by far the best period. I know it's a true concept when I turn into a madman and immediately find myself in a room and have to write and think for horsedream.
If I have a story going on, my man knows because I'm really gonna be serene. Obviously I have things that are not so thrilling for me, but if I think they have the capacity to be sold, I'll write a fast e-mail and forward them to my bro. Cowardly: Normally it will be something like: Hey, it would be great to write about this topic.
Which of the most interesting people in the whole wide universe would be? I' d always like to find out the people and their personality and then let go of them in the thought, so I can see where they lead me of course. Then, I replay the story and try to turn it as far as possible.
Sometimes the write time goes out and runs around or goes out to have a meal and take the computer with you. I have always had the same objective when it comes to screenwriting: five pages a full page a full page. Sometimes I don't like texture; I like to tell a story that meanders and let the character outcomes.
When I wrote to Juno, I was sure Juno would have sexual relations with Mark, the Jason Bateman. And then I came to this picture and I realized: Oh, shit, she doesn't want that. Do not know who the characters are until I have written some papers for them.
Then they started going out, and then you got a beating. It was a mix of auto-biography, wedding gags and a kind of structured notion. We' re not writing a single note until the whole film is fully outlines.
It' just a trendy scenario card with history, characters, transition, important strokes and hopefully some good comedies. Naturally there are always new findings during the letter, which can also contain possibilities to enhance the side stories. There is always important information that demands an elegance in the stratification of history. Thinking that we have the characters well under control and hope that we get the story.
Nonols: I begin with memo postcards, so I write every thought I had for a particular sequence and everything else on a memo postcard and put it on the ground. Trouble is, when you write a design on a page, you have to begin somewhere, and then you have to go to the next thought, and you don't always have that next thought, but you have all those other thoughts.
They take a slow turn of taking their shapes and forms and go to a wooden corkboard and before you know it, I could look at the whole film on memo boards before I even begin to write. Or, I didn't have the answer you should have when you're sketching a screenplay, and somehow I found out that I didn't need the one.
I would just begin to write and see what happens, and usually what happens is a chaos, but a repairable one, and so I do. In general I have no clue where a story will end, at least deliberately. I knew with a screenplay like Enough Said that I wanted her to become a better man in the end, that she would study a lecture and turn off the judging votes in her mind, but I didn't know how that would be.
As I begin to write, I line up my favourite inspirations, my greatest hit, and I begin to find a roadmap for these guys or these inspirations and thoughts and themes. Then the story, the whole screen of the story, somehow does exist, but then you somehow blend these jigsaw puzzles into what you want to do.
And I think I know the figures and how they think. One simply writes from the character point of view, because in these situations one is merged (if it works, flows, is alive). On other occasions you might think you're Barton Fink). In the films we are improvising, we are spending a lot of quality material with backstories.
We don't make too much trouble with those we're scripting. We don't find the creation of back stories as useful as the question of what a true individual would do in the given situations and jump from there. lf your personality wasn't doing what a regular man would do, why not?
Cowardly: I think you have to use all sides of your character's character. "As they say, write what you know." If you are a novelist, you have a tendency to seal off different parts of your character so that you can compete with those different people in your mind as you write.
There is an unaware trend that many of us have to do things we've seen in other films or on TV. You' re surprised how often you call shit on your first notion. The main figure must be thought through all the way back so that what is presented on the canvas is coherent and profound.
I think the main figure is the kind of style that usually exists between me and my best buddy Simon and the circumstance of that one. They are very uncommonly built on someone, but they are parts of someone you are really interested in or moved by. Sometimes you begin with a line.
Emma Thompson's character[in Love Actually] - I never thought I would, I never said it - comes from a line in a novel. Somebody in a novel finds out that her man was disloyal, and she finds out that she is a totally different one.
It was such an extraordinarily daring thought, and then I started my own story, but this guy was just basing on this one instant of discovery that your whole existence has been changing and you haven't done anything, you just unpacked a Christmas present. Cowardly: I begin many of my personalities I know or have known, but when you then begin to mix your personalities with them and adapt the personalities to the story you tell, they begin to move further and further away from the one who was their first source of inspiration. What's that?
" that'?s what makes history go on. I' ve been less and less a big supporter of event-driven films, which means that outside occurrences that our actors are pushed into. And I like my story to be guided by my characters' choices. To do that, I need to know these people quite well so that I can be taken by surprise by their choices and these choices can advance history and relations.
Definitively in Walking and Talking, at one point in my life, Catherine Keener's character was very much me. There were so many things in this film that were somehow autobiographic, more than other films. In Please Give, I appreciate Catherine Keener's personality, not in every way, but in many ways. When I make a joke on other folks, I will make a joke on myself, and I always want to make a joke on myself.
This is more like a catholic than to write about other human beings, because I can show the rest of the planet and myself that I know how insufficient I am, and that I somehow forgive myself a little. When I know I'm a really culpable individual and I know that my fault makes me act like an ass half the way through, it's kind of fun to get it out there.
I refer to my personalities, yes, but at this point I hesitate to discuss it. Because, for some possible reasons - perhaps because I am feminine and talkative and approachable - everyone thinks that EVERYTHING I write is fully autobiographic. Regarding the relationship to a person, I think Loray (Octavia Spencer) is an apparent expansion of mine in paradise.
Gretta Gerwig: I don't mean that arrogantly, but I can write dialogues all the time. I always oppose it when I counted the dialog to history, but then I like it when it is in its place; because I am feeling resilient, it almost felt as if I was imposing a texture on something that doesn't want texture.
I mainly explore the way I write how they speak. So I write 20 or 30 pages a days. I' m just gonna let folks speak to each other. I will have a chatter that sometimes turns into a movie-scenery, but sometimes it will just be a casual discussion and I will get a feel for how they are talking to each other and how they are interacting, and I will have long discussions between them - in Four Weddings I would have let them all spend a great deal of each other' quality although I let them spend most of the film through Hugh.
they' gonna hating you for acting like saps. Those who want more exposure are leaders who think the audience isn't wise. So at the end you will write the read design, which is rewritten and many things explained, and then the shoot design, where you notice that you don't need all those long talks about how folks feel and what they want out of it.
However, I am more interested in rewriting genuine people with interesting people and then re-adjusting the dialog once I have found the players who will be playing these part. This first run can be like a "spit design" that simply throws away what needs to be achieved in every sequence, even if that means the dialog is shitty and full of expositions or even "on the nose" comments about how this person feels right now.
" Every film I watch and a person says: "Let me get this straight...." and then he sums it all up! All I think I know is what you are. I' m just putting myself in that person's face and I' m just starting to talk. There' are many great tales; it's difficult to make a convincing film.
One can take someone's most colourful and make a very dull movie out of it if one doesn't violate the conventions, or everything is the same and we've seen it all before, no matter how upsetting. It is the way you tell a story, the technological inspirations, the inspirations for telling stories, how the story should look, how best to welcome it.
Anyone who doesn't like my films would probably say, "That's right, she needs some. "I mean, I think that after writing as many scripts as I have at this point in my whole lives, I sense that it is intuitively to write something with conflicts. While I was in school or whatever, I wrote two young women who sat around thinking it was so awesome, and now I know better - to some extent - that there must be a dispute, at least between the two guys who talk, or what they talk about.
If I do something that violates the rules I made in my movie, I know, I suppose. Like in Please Give there are a few scenes in which someone vanishes, I think Catherine Keener looks at a seat in the shop, and we know that someone in that seat has passed away, and she looks over and sees the body in the there.
There is no need to believe that I will do that in this movie, there is nothing mystic that has occurred or something magic, and yet I thought: I want it, I want it, it works. Thought it' never gonna happen in the movie, but I liked it in the end.
Or, to show someone - when I put together a story from the point of a certain personality and we are all of a sudden in a room without that personality, that is a violation of conventions. I don't mind, as long as it works, that's how I felt. You have to have a joke on every page in a movie unless you go for a certain time to break the shape; every sequence (and every beat) should have a good excuse to be there, or it should be made.
I would say that every screenplay must have a "reason to be" - a rough but useful oar that has kept me on course on long, annoying missions. Konppelman: If a sequence has no inner or outer conflicts, it better be interesting. Actually I was very much in lover and thought I knew how to write romance film.
And then I thought, I don't want to write a whole romance movie, how about making some kind of exstatic movie in which you saw only the best parts of 10 movies, and not just a whole movie?
When I thought that, I thought I not only wanted to make the kind of kiss, and that's when I introduce the Laura Linney story and the Emma Thompson story and the Liam Neeson story that begins with a burial. When you get tired of typing it, you' ll make folks twice as tired of it.
Who' re the folks that reads your things? If it comes to scripts, it's usually folks whose task is to write 10 a week and they have things they'd rather do. When you are able to hitch them so that they turn the page of your scripts page against another in the pile, the fight has won half.
Do not want the public to be ahead of the character, we never want to be exaggeratedly three-acly, we want to prevent coincidence at every turn. However, when two people have to play - and they probably do - it's a conventions you can't escape. Cowardly: I am very conscious when I write my first design.
Sometimes, by allowing my character to show me the way, I like to be led into a place I am afraid could be a place, because then it's great to find out how they would actually get out of it. If you don't get into what you are afraid of, you run the danger of making a story that is either unpredictable or not very interesting.
I like it in films or on TV when a person is headed for something and I think sacred crap, how in the hell are they going to get out of this one? Often the dilemma is that the answer is not good or comfortable or has a virtue ex machina that makes you loose your belief in the person who tells the story.
However, if a narrator takes you into an insolvable position and then takes you out of it in a way that you never saw comin' and that makes perfect sense, then it is spectator-niwana. Just keep typing, you're out. For me, the most important part of Four Weddings was the one I knew I messed up.
Since I had been writing a great deal of it and we had the burial, and anyone who sees the burial would know that genuine loving is genuine and cannot be found and they had experienced it, there is something like the right people, that's what the burial says to every people in the movie.
Then, structural, I was planning that we should go directly to Hugh and marry the fake one. That made this guy an asshole who went the other way. So I realised that the movie is deadly erroneous, because every individual will know, and then you edit to your main figure to empathise with, who is the only one in the room who doesn't know what it is.
I' ve been spending month with this one sequence and found a way to put him in the right one. Like I did, he was talking to the cutest guy in the movie who wasn't smart either. I never really thought I was in the mood for real loving, I just thought I would meet someone who didn't find me repulsive.
Before I did that, I had a talk with Andie, a talk with Kristin[Scott Thomas], and everyone talked about the whole topic; I tried everything to get to the end of the movie, and that's one of the things you realised that your thought was faulty and you had to use a great deal of skill to get from A to B. Gerwig: I had never even made a whole movie and said: "Do you know what?
Be always open to the suggestion that we should just slice a giant section and begin again. Soon as I have a scheme down, that's right when I begin to get obsessed about beating the right strikes. But, first, I write without judgement, without following any rule. I always have a very free first sketch, and later, when I have finished writing "The End", I begin to deal a little harder with myself and stick to the satisfactory beat in a movie you want, even if you are a little derailed.
Cowardly: I try not to fell in sweetness with my letter. It is the doom of so many authors. Lettering by all authors can get better and better. Sure, sometimes you nailed something the first try, but even then it's still rewarding to try to do better. Judd Apatow said to me as we prepared the driver for freaks and geeks: "Let's try to make the screenplay even better.
In this case, your source code will still be there. And, in the process, essentially rescued the film. Prematurely made the characters unpleasant. There was a cliché in The Way, Way Back that we had to loose in the film. There was a sequence in which Duncan (Liam James) is again on his bicycle with Peter (River Alexander) after spending the whole evening at a biketour.
It was a funny sequence that we used to love on the record and when we made it, but it slowered the story as we went into the last few momenta. There' re days when I'm usually weary at the end of the morning or something and then Jim, who wants to fix the issue, will take it home and come back the next morning with a beautiful scenery.
Cowardly: You are only as good as the men around you. Especially in drama, when you begin to starve in drama, when you get older, it's when you go: "Don't tell me! I was woken up by managing a bunch of The Office over the years and co-producing in the fifth series, so I was in the author's room a great deal.
You have all these twenty and thirty little novelists who are hilariously funny, and some boys my own age. What are you talking about? I' m gonna tell my da-joke. So, you just need to enlarge that by a thousand then and deputize everyone around you, making sure you work with younger and older folks, and you just want a great consistency, and this way you beat the whole crowd in general.
Gérwig: The thing about the letter is that nobody is interested if you don't write. Except you're asked to write something, but nobody said: "How's the movie going about this one? "You know, it can help to have a pen mate. At the beginning I sent him a checklist with different times and excerpts of the scene and maybe some people.
and then we just began to write. Really, you just begin to let the protagonists speak to each other and see what happens, and we just begin to create sequences. We said: Write this sequence and send it to me by e-mail, and I will write this sequence and send it to you by e-mail.
" Then we would see what was the story that came out of it. I had never worked so intensively on a single part of the work. I' m most interested in the things I didn't get to know, things they found strange, and things they saw in my screenplay in films I didn't see before.
I am less interested in taking a note beginning with "What I would have done....", since each mind works differently and what another human being would have done with a personality or an act is different from what my experience has lead my personalities to. Well, the trouble is when humans try to present a resolution to the issue.
/But don't be the one arguing against people's notices. When you ask for their opinions, listen to them, write down their thoughts and then check their comments against those of everyone else. But if you are starting to see a patterns on certain issues having peopl, those are the things you definitely need to fix.
Nobody wants to make films about fucking unlucky girls, full stop. I' m writing my latest screenplay about a girl in her 60s, so this should be interesting. Cowardly: It was a children's film with which I was very satisfied. So I went into my first weeks of direction and all of a sudden the director of the recording studios had a mind-shift and let me extract most of the story's drama underpinning, so that everything I had remained was essentially a foolish rage.
Still, I'm very proud of the movie. I had a screenplay I wrote under a blank screenplay contract in a recording studios right after freaks and geeks were cancelled. Weirdo was an ideeaho that was about a pile of earthen in a small city, who staged a UFO incursion to get folks not to make fun of her.
when I invented a Don Quixote story. I went in with thoughts I liked, and then he changed them everywhere to match his Quijote fetish, and I went totally puzzled about what I was writing. However, ALL scores should be filtrated through the final belly of the individual who sits in front of the keypad and puts the thing together.
That doesn't make me smile, but it's the kind of thing that probably makes them laugh" is a trick. There was a story in Enough Said where Eva was always trying to shake someone's cigaret; she's an ex-smoker and she just wants a draught, and she can't seem to get a draught out of everyone's butt.
but Searchlight wouldn't let me put that in the movie. This was because, unless it is a movie of a certain time frame, big Fox will not allow anyone to smoke a smoke ever in a movie. I am always conscious that I am unbelievably happy that someone gives me tens of thousands of dollars to tell a story that I like.
But I don't think I'm justified. However, if I have the feeling that I am struggling over editing things that are important to history, or things that nobody knows better than myself, if I am completely sure, I will struggle for it, I will make a very big thing out of it.
The film Waking Life, which I had been thinking about for 20 years, even before I was a film-maker. I was interested in it and thought there was a story to tell, but it was the technical end that made the jigsaw for me to see a new way.
How, oh, yeah, this story works when it works like that. Cowardly: The greatest blockade of every screenplay is the completion of the first design. Being in the center of a screenplay is the ideal moment to run away. You' re full of power and agitation when you write a play. However, it is as you are still nearing the center of the scenario that you are starting to identify.
One starts to get a feeling of being wasted because one is not even half way and is all of a sudden troubled by fear. Then you do what I usually think is a rather poor thing - you have someone reading what you have been writing so far. I' m not saying it's always a terrible thing to do.
I also think it's an energetic sucker, a way of breaking your typing pattern and actually hesitating while you are waiting for it. And if the person who reads your pages doesn't get poetical about how great they are, you are in serious risk of being demoralised and putting the screenplay aside.
As soon as you have passed this half point, you begin to get the descent impulse. I' find that once I've met act 3, I sometimes get the remainder of the screenplay ready in a days or two. And the best thing that ever occurred to me as a novelist was the realization that these anxieties and uncertainties are the norm and that I will go over them every screenplay I write.
In one very dramatic design[by Enough Said] I once recalled that I went to a hotel and went through the whole screenplay and re-wrote so much of it in about two or three working nights, and I thought I resolved the issue. It' probably in the second act where you notice that you have nothing to say and this movie doesn't go anywhere.
It is when I write that my frame of mind in my own world is so much influenced by how the screenplay works and how I am feeling. I know what I'm doing, I know I know I feel well. When the screenplay is a chaos and I don't even want to take it up again, I just felt like such a disaster.
Johnson: The Barton Fink-issue of Writer's Embargo, I've never seen that before, or maybe I'm just more lazy than Barton Fink. I miss, I just walk into a movie. Although, I suppose the reservation is that I keep rewriting my own things, I'm never under a time limit to end a certain thing, and that seems frightening to me, and that I can imagine myself riding in this kind of situations, and I'm glad I don't have to do that.
Cowardly: For years my penniless woman has had to hear me falling apart in the middle of a screenplay and things like "I think it's the worse I've ever written" and "I think it's all wrong" and moping and groaning in the room. Johnson: The thing I'm about to write, I get to write it, but I had the concept a year ago.
However, the reality is, it's not because I want to make films faster, I want to make these things faster; so my response is that I'm doing it incorrectly and please don't tell anyone to mimic the way I do it.