I Have My Screenplay, What Now?

You made a basic screenplay from your amazing idea, but what do you do next?

Read it again!

The first draft of your screenplay is the frame work; it is the emotional love child of your imagination and your need to make something. It is good, it is something to be proud of and like any child it needs raising, it needs correcting and caring for.

Look at what you wrote, start at the ending. Does this end the way you want it to? Are you happy with what happens to your characters? Did your world survive? The ending is the second most important part of your whole screenplay.

Second most? Why not start with the first most?

We start with the end for the simple fact that it is where we want our audience to feel our work the most, they just gave up their time to watch your movie.

You need to feel happy that you left your audience in a place they are comfortable with, a place they will come back to and encourage others to come to. The ending is your thank you to them for giving you their time.

Happy with my ending, so what is the first most important thing?

Not so fast, young Padawan.

You got a great ending; you know your audience will love it. You love it! Great, now how did we get to the ending? Look at the steps of your journey, does it flow? Water takes the path of least resistance and so should your screenplay, do you have to drag your audience along with the characters or can they just enjoy the ride and watch your characters struggle without joining in?

Smooth out the ride for the audience; let the characters struggle to reach the goal.

O.K. The boat is no longer rocking.

Smooth sailing all the way to the end, brilliant. Now let’s look at the most important thing!

We have our ending; we have a smooth ride to get there. 

Now we need a hook! 

You have 5 to 10 minutes to grab that audience so tightly they don’t want to let go! What does your world offer them? What do your characters do that make the audience want to follow their ride? Have you ever sat through a slow starting movie? It is painful and with the modern method of streaming and Netflix that hook is more important than ever. 

This is why we have rewrites and why they are important.

Rewrite is done, now what?

Let it sit.

Same as when we wrote the idea down, let it ponder its own existence and find a state of Nirvana.

When the meditative chanting stops, pick it up again and read it from front to back. You will find things you want to change. You may even have to ‘kill your baby.’

Kill your baby? What kind of sick bloke are you?

Easy there… Kill your baby is an industry term used when you have created the most beautiful piece of art ever made! That one scene that just sings with the voice of an angel and makes your clothes fall off it is so beautiful.

It doesn’t fit with the story.

It can be the most epic scene from any movie ever but if it doesn’t mesh with the story, it has to go. Back to the flowing water, if it sticks out like a log in a toilet… Flush it.

But, but, but… 

Just because it doesn’t fit in this story, does not mean it is gone forever. You just found the inspiration for your second screenplay…

Oh you crafty Devil, you. You could make a career out of this, one idea turned into two! What happens when I write my second idea and have a scene I can’t use… 

Idea three.

  • Jonathan Thompson – Devil May Care Productions

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