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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old February 22nd, 2002, 09:29 AM   #16
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One of the basic ideas behind script formatting is for uniformity and for timing. Scripts are timed by 6 lines to the inch (or 7) - if formatted correctly each page of script should average out to one minute of screen time. This works best for dialog scenes but in the log run it averages out.

Another important reason for proper formatting is that different production companies and different types of productions expect to receive scripts already in the "proper" form. Anything not in the proper formatting will usually end up in the trashbasket. I had a friend who for a few years was a reader for Warners in LA. She would read a dozen or more scripts per weekend. Most (99%) ended up in her trash can - for formatting and other reasons. It's scary to think most work submitted through "proper channels" ends up being read by a 25 year old if it's going to survive at all. If you don't grab the reader by the first page or two your chances diminish rapidly after that.
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Old February 22nd, 2002, 09:44 AM   #17
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Thanks Ozzie, that's really useful info. As it's my first feature length script, i'm going the Robert Rodriguez route and producing it myself, with the help of some friends in the snowboard industry. And i'm shooting it with my XL1 and a GL1.
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Old February 22nd, 2002, 09:52 AM   #18
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I downloaded Sophocles from www.cnet.com, it is a light edition of the bigger package, but it is just fine for writing and easy to use. The full package costs $120. And there is even a lot more screenwriting software at CNET, just try them out.

Cheers
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Old February 22nd, 2002, 09:54 AM   #19
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Thanks Peter, I'll have a look. I'm going to check up on those lens prices tomorrow to.
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Old February 23rd, 2002, 01:31 AM   #20
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Sophocles is a great script program. I like it better than Final Draft, although some of the features in Final Draft are really helpful. Check out:

www.sophocles.net

You can download a demo and try it out.

The main reason I use Sophocles is for the outlining capabilities, that can be displayed within a sidebar and the embedded notes.

I've used Word (with templates) in the past, and frankly I like writing in a dedicated script program more. There is little confusion as to the proper layout, and everything is automatic (i.e. continues). I believe it's well worth the price (Sophocles at $120).

Plus most of the top programs have great tools that allow you to extract character, scene, location and other important data that will have you during shooting. (if you shoot your own material of course)

It is true that readers in all studios will toss scripts that are not in the proper format. Readers just have too many scripts to read and they will find any reason to toss one. Better to be safe than landfill. Better yet, take a screenwriting class, it's much better than reading a book, IMHO, because a good teacher will DRIVE you to write. Of course a bad one may drive you away from writing anything.

Interesting statistic I heard - 350,000 scripts are registered with the WGA WEST every year.
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Old February 23rd, 2002, 08:39 AM   #21
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350k scripts registered each year, whoa.

This is another reason why I decided, even after selling my first script, it would only benefit my efforts by getting into DV and shooting low/no budget scripts.

My goal is to continue to write, shoot and enter film competitions, etc. (Between working full-time and raising two kids!)

Why? Because you can sell a bigtime script ans still drift into writer's oblivion. In 1995, my first partner sold a spec script to Caravan/Hollywood pictures for 750k against 1M with Wm Morris's Rob Carlson doing the deal. Oliver Stone was set to produce. Eventually ended up as a TNT MOW rewritten by another scribe.

He hasn't sold another script since then. How frustrating to have your picture on the cover of Variety and never be heard of again.

Anyway, there are unlimited hurdles in getting your script read. The first is conforming to the industry's format. Use whatever method makes you most productive. (Kind of like the Mac vs. PC discussion)

If your a new writer the most valuable tool you can use is the experience of an experienced writer. Partnering with someone who has three or four scripts under their belt and an understanding of the basic components of story structure can be a very valuable aprenticeship.
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Old February 23rd, 2002, 10:12 AM   #22
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That's exactly why I started this thread. Many heads are better than one. Arigato sensei.
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Old February 23rd, 2002, 11:52 AM   #23
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<<<-- Originally posted by wgardner : Why? Because you can sell a bigtime script ans still drift into writer's oblivion. In 1995, my first partner sold a spec script to Caravan/Hollywood pictures for 750k against 1M with Wm Morris's Rob Carlson doing the deal. Oliver Stone was set to produce. Eventually ended up as a TNT MOW rewritten by another scribe. -->>>

On the flip side-- I have a friend who's a very successful and a very good writer (the two don't necessarily go together). Among other things, he's been writing scripts for one of the sitcoms for about two years and he recently quit. Why? Because when they sent him the "revised" scripts they didn't contain a single word of what he'd written. When he inquired why they were paying him a lot of money for scripts that other writers were re-writing he was told he was "too old" (late 40s) and the two writers were merely "punching up the language" for the younger demographics. My friend is excellent with character development, comic timing and story structure, but the other two writers were savvy with the "now" lingo.

On the other flip side - this same friend came up for an idea for a light comedy drama about two teen sisters. The target audience was young teens. He recommended me to be the director since I'm close to the subject matter, experienced, etc. I was interviewed by a young, very young, person. She was pleasant. I suggested a few changes that would strengthen the series and we shook hands. Months passed. I ran into my friend and asked what had become of his idea and if I was still in the running. Well, they had bought out his idea and hired a young staff to produce the series. It seems the guy who came up with the winning idea was too old for the winning idea and the director the creator thought would be right was also too old.

Bitter? Not really. Just amazed at how the business works. My advice - if you're starting out and you're under 25 - you have a very good chance. If you are over 30 - be prepared for a struggle. If you're over 45 - consider an executive position. Over 52 - consider teaching.
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Old February 23rd, 2002, 12:10 PM   #24
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Sorry to hear about those experiences! That is frustrating.

Here's something all writers might want to think about. When you're young you can write hip, "with it" stories, that reach a young demographic.

When you mature, you'll be able to write deeper stories that will reflect your experiences and perhaps reach a wider audience with them.

Okay, I hope that's the case, since I'm heading into that "struggle" phase you mentioned.
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Old February 23rd, 2002, 12:45 PM   #25
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Oh, another tidbit that's great about, Sophocles (and Final Draft) is that they actually can automatically complete your header and character names (once you've typed them in before).

This helps speed up the process, unless you like typing:

EXT. USS RONALD REAGAN - FLIGHT DECK -- DUSK

Every time you cut to that location. And I've been cutting to that location A LOT lately...

Can you tell I'm writing as we speak?
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Old February 23rd, 2002, 04:40 PM   #26
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I think the solution to those scary things Ozzie told us (I am 27, so I should be in age-trouble soon) is DV. With this technology we can improve the chances of getting a movie out and we are directly forced to shoot them ourselves in (it is a beaten but true phrase) the Rodriguez-way, because the chances of selling a script approaches the odds for winning the lottery.

With a finished video there is still a stiff competition and there are thousands of films released each year worldwide, not to mention the countless TV broadcast productions. 24 hours a day on I donīt know how many channels on this planet.

But a film, when shown in public even at the smallest underground fest, can catch the attention of a full movie theater, which is not too bad when compared to a single 25 year old reader who trashcans wrongly formatted scripts.

So donīt get scared away even if the odds are against us. There are people winning the lottery each week. Why not one of you, too? And to quote Rodriguez: Be scary.

In my opinion there are two kinds of people: The ones who make movies and the ones who donīt.

So get your asses up and push the record button of your camera!

Cheers,
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Old February 23rd, 2002, 05:07 PM   #27
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I'm certainly not scared and in fact I'm starting my own "production company" to make better use of my time and flex my film making muscles.

I mention all these things because it helps to know the standards, and what people in the industry look for. Every bit helps. You certainly don't want a reader look at your first page only to pitch it because you don't know how to format your script, properly write a header or use anything other than courier 12.

But I know what you mean.
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Old January 4th, 2003, 09:52 PM   #28
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It's been ten months, and this is a good thread.

Here's a bump to stick it back on top of the heap.
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Old January 4th, 2003, 11:01 PM   #29
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One of the best resources that I have found is a forum called Done Deal. This site has one of the most active screenwriter forums on the net:

http://www.scriptsales.com/
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Old January 5th, 2003, 08:40 AM   #30
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Just a note on ageism...

I had a meeting in LA with two producers interested in one of my screenplays... a romantic comedy.

The producers were 19 and 25 years old.

They remarked, upon meeting me, how well I wrote the "young dialologue". And literally added, "For a man your age", (I was 45).

I smiled and replied...

"I can remember what it was like to be 18, but you have NO IDEA what it's like to be 45..."
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