Month: January 2020

How God Handles Screenwriting Problems – 7 Ways

Sometimes screenwriting problems can be solved by going back to the basics. that come from the ancient prophets.

Are you familiar with Bible code? Scientists have studied the ancient manuscripts and are now suggesting that the Holy Scriptures were written in a special code that predicts the future. Key wars and political events are, apparently, accurately predicted in the Bible.

It wasn’t until I dwelt on this fact that I realised that there was in fact a key bit of Bible code that predicted the plight of screenwriters in the 21st Century.

You’ve heard the famous Biblical quote about the Creation?
We hear these words: “In the beginning was the word”

This oft-quoted phrase has hidden significance for screenwriters. All movies start with words. There you have it: A Biblical ordination when you start a story.

So how did God solve His screenwriting problems? All movies start with words! And those words are tangible evidence that a movie idea is taking physical shape.

Christians believe that God cared so much about the Word that he sent his Son to the world to become real flesh and blood. Not an idea but a physical manifestion. And you don’t do that unless you believe in the power of the Word. And believe in your own ability to express yourself.

In fact, every filmmakers, screenwriter, novelist and storyteller should start and end with “The Word.” Because the Word is the Alpha and Omega of screenwriting – of storytelling. Without it, nothing can be made that could be made in your story. At least, not at the rate and quality that it can be done WITH the Word.

And what “word” is this I’m referring to?

Words are your building blocks. Your words change worlds. Your words that transform. Your words create mind pictures. Your words draw people into your story.. Words that bridge the gap between your audience’s deepest hurts to their greenest pastures. And because this is the movies we are talking about – the words that create images in the minds of the reader.

Allow me to get biblical for a minute:

A good writer knows how to use The Word and can learn to monetise their work. Like the Good Shepherd, a writer using the right words can lead their readers as sheep to greener pastures. As sheep follow their leader, a reader needs to trust you, the writer. You as a writer-shepherd earn their trust when they follow you and the story world’s you create.

Learn how to feed your audience – your readers, your sheep. Discover how to care for them and how to get them to follow your story by using words. A successful writer skilled with words can take their readers to a promised land flowing with milk and honey. A land where their issues are resolved with the stories you tell.

It might much easier than you may think. Have a look at these proven steps.

7 Ways A Writer Handles Screenwriting Problems

When you have the idea for a story you need to get it out onto paper – to make it flesh and blood. To make it real. And until its on paper it isn’t real.

1.Chosing the concept and genre

There is nothing deadlier than a drama. And the reason for that is because all stories are dramas. And it is really hard to tell what a movie is unless you specify the genre. Choosing a genre is the quickest way to let readers know what your story is about. Study films in the genre that best suits your story.

Choosing the correct genre is likely the most important first step for your story.

2. Choosing the social stage

Your story’s social stage will let people know a great deal about the main characters and how they will react. The four key story worlds are: Wilderness, Village, City and Oppressive City. I wrote a blog post on how the social stage works.

3. Managing Social Media Data

When the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit, people like me were amazed and appalled and amazed how people could be manipulated by key words on the internet. Of course this is the secret tool Donald Trump and the Brexit political campaigns were able to succeed. By targeting people’s preferences they were able to message them directly with influence-bending messages.

Not to be out-done, Raindance tutor Kira-Anne Pelican analysed the dozen key characters in popular movies, and by scraping the internet using the same processes as Cambridge Analyica was able to predict the box office successes of major Hollywood movies. She calls this process deep characterisation. Where the characters themselves are so firmly implanted in the pubic’s mind that they readily respond to them. Another key point is how the characters grow and develop. Again social media profiles respond to these trends.

Taking this a step further for screenwriters and filmmakers, she has proven that by using a few of these iconic characters in your story, no matter how humble the budget, will enable you to drive eyeballs to your movie using the power of the internet. And the amazing thing for independent filmmakers and storyteller is this: This software is totally free to anyone with the savvy to use it.Kira- Anne Pelican has developed two powerful classes explaining how this all works. Evening class: Moneyball for film investors and filmmakers Weekend Masterclass: Deep Characterisation – a weekend class where the iconic character types are explained with many examples of how these characters are shown in practise.

4. Considering the role of violence and sex

Every line in your script or story should be brimming with violence. Remember the three different types of violence: Physical violence which I personally loathe and abhor sociological violence which tracks your characters rise and fall through different social structures liker rich to poor; and psychological violence where the main character’s core beliefs are challenged.

Think of words like brutality, clash, confusion, disorder, struggle, duress, fury, passion, tumult, foul play and rage.

Writers and storytellers merit the attention of the audience through skilful use of violence (and sex).

5. Considering your audience

At all time you must consider your audience. I am I not talking about the demographics of the audience. rather, It’s about the relationship between you, the writer, and they, the reader. Getting this relationship into focus will truly help you to get your story written. Here is a blog post I wrote a while ago that will help you, and will also explain the writer’s leap of faith.

6.Paint emotion

People never remember information. People will remember anything emotive. The real trick of a storyteller is to make them squirm or laugh – depending on the story. I am not going to try and be an expert on writing emotion on the subject on his website. But my good friend William C Martell is. He has written 20 produced films, And he also has written widely on the subject on his website.

I was recently in Japan and gave a weeklong workshop to twenty Japanese storytellers. At the end of the workshop I asked the group to tell me what they thought would make a great story.

An elderly fisherman was a participant in a week-long sort workshop I gave in Japan. At the end of the week I asked the group to explain what they thought made a good story. The fisherman was an accomplished screenwriter. Over 50 of his scripts had been turned into Yakusa movies – one of them was bought by Tarantino who turned it into Kill Bill. When his turn came he said, through an interpreter: “Elliot-san – our bodies are 75% water A good movie forces your body fluid out of an appropriate pore”

7. Sell that screenplay

God can’t really advise on selling your script, but I have been involved in quite a few! There are some really important assets and strategies you need to prepare before you can expect someone to buy your script. Read about them here.

Fade Out

Now, let’s start getting that idea out of your head and onto paper. It doesn’t take long at all to get the handle of these. And they will become your greatest tool in feeding your sheep.

Filed under: Screenwriting

The 5 Common Complaints of Filmmakers and Screenwriters

Why sit around moaning? Starting a self-induced bitching corner is the simplest way NOT to get anything done. And believe you me: there are at least 5 common complaints of filmmakers. There’s no reason to sit on your keister when you’ve got a fabulous film to go make! Don’t let these 5 whines stop you:

5 Common Complaints of Filmmakers

My guess is you can add a lot more to this list!

1. I have writer’s block

This is a pet peeve of mine: because writer’s block has nothing to do with lack of creativity. It does have everything to do with lack of confidence. Filmmakers who use this are begging for sympathy and are usually wallowing in self pity. What a shame. For no doctor in the world can save you from the disease of self pity.

What do you do about this?

Try a bit of that old PMA: Positive Mental Attitude. Your idea might be shite – but it does’nt matter. At least you got it written down. And the more you write, the better you will get. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

Are you in a bit of a jam? Maybe have a peek at these free resources for writers put together by our good friends at Collabwriters.

2.It’s too complicated and technical

Don’t know how to turn on a video camera? Or import an edit? Or make a festering wound? With all of the indie tips on the net, all the tutorials and all the training sessions on offer, there is simply no excuse. Get tooled up. And don’t make this excuse. It’s lame.

What do you do about this?

Film industry professionals are about the most generous people of any industry, and are generally ready to share their knowledge. So learn how to ask, and please, learn how to say thank you.

As far as techie things go, remember this: the latest and greatest whatever will always give you techie heartache.

For example, I keep getting asked what camra is he best. This asked of me when I barely know how to sync my phone to my laptop! But i do know this much:

Take the much lauded RED camera – it is really good. But the rest of the industry hasn’t caught up to it yet. Meaning you could have all sorts of problems after you have captured your images at fantastic resolution. Maybe it’s best to work one or two rungs further down the ladder, where everyone is familiar with the equipment.

By the way, I know now that if you want a top-of-the-line camera that can out hit and out box the RED, look to the new Lumix S1H camera. We’ve got one at Raindance and everyone is loving it.

The Lumix S1H is the first mirrorless camera to get Netflix ‘A’ approval as a primary camera for filming original Netflix productions, and the cheapest too, mixing with far more expensive rivals like the Arri Alexa 65, Red One and Sony Venice.

Rob Lawson, Digital Camera World

3.I have no time

Seat of your pants to the seat of your chair. If you don’t make time, you will fritter it away. And guess what? Everyone else is busy too! If you whinge and whine about how little time you have, everyone tracking your career will get sick of you. And truthfully, complaining takes up more time than anything.

What do you do about this?

If you are really silly about your film career you will allocate a bit of time to it every single day. Sure you have the day job and the social life. But if you tell me you have no time at all, not even an half hour a day, I’m going to think you are a wanker. It is amazing what one can accomplish with a half hour per day.

4.I have no money

Guess what. You don’t need money.

What do you do about this?
Go shoot a movie on your cell phone. The quality is excellent.

5.I don’t know how to make money with my film

My question is, if you don’t know, do you really care? The entire model for movies and money is changing, and changing with the arrival of movies on the internet.

What do you do about this?
Read our free article: Self Distribution | How Filmmakers Make  Living

Fade Out:

We are entering a whole new era of filmmaking and film distribution. Everyone is making up the rules as we go along. You can be part of this new frontier.  But you can’t be a part of this new frontier if you are sitting inactive and impassive.

A career in the creative industries is challenging. It takes guts and determination to extablish yourself. And there is no room for any of the 5 common complaints of filmmakers.

Remember that quitters never win and winners never quit.

Now, why are you reading this when you should be out making or writing your next movie?

Filed under: Filmmaking, Filmmaking Career, In Our Opinion

The Anti-Resolutions of 2020: How Filmmakers Are Crafting Attainable Goals

It’s time of year for resolutions. Each one of us says to our inner self: come on, you can do better. Try making an anti-resolution this year. Let me explain how crafting attainable goals means you have a chance of success.

My name is Elliot Grove. I’ve witnessed 27 New Year’s celebrations since I started Raindance in 1992. I’m celebrating 28 years! Here we are – a brand new year staring at us like a blank canvas. Everything you accomplish (or don’t) in the next year will forever have that date stamp – 2020 – tattooed in the corner, for all your fans, friends and people important to you. The fresh perspective the New Year brings is a great time for reflection and renewal. Here’s where so many of us go wrong: we make resolutions.

The Typical Resolution

Do you make one of these resolutions?

  • Read More
  • Write More
  • Ditch The Boring Day Job
  • Make A Movie
  • Stop Procrastinating

These are all positive thoughts, but they are ultimately going to fail because they can’t be measured. Far better to say:
I’m going to write 15 minutes every day before work

The difference is subtle. We’re adding a specific, which is good because it can be measured. But what if you miss a day? What happens if there is some sort of domestic issue that prevents you from writing for just 15 minutes on a particular day?

Then you’ve failed and you feel like a loser. You’ve broken your New Year’s Resolution and it’s barely a week into the New Year! And your confidence disappears in a flash.

Fix It With The Anti-Resolution

When I teach screenwriting I am always harping on about making a specific goal for your character– one that can be measured. Without this your screenplay, like your 2020 life story, has no focus or direction. You might unwillingly wander and become confused.

Start thinking about the goals of 2020 and ditch that word ‘resolution’.

What I’m really talking about is something we can measure. Something we know is realistic and attainable. Something specific. Remove ‘resolution’ from your vocabulary and start thinking about goals for the New Year.

Write 100 pages in 2020

Let’s say you’re a screenwriter and you really want to improve your output. Let’s suppose you wrote 35 pages last year and feel that if you add a bit of dedication you could easily write 100 pages – that’s just 2 pages a week!

This is a measurable and realistic goal. And let’s suppose that you miss a week — the good news is that you can make this up when it suits you later in the year.

Let’s say you really get on a roll and write 110 pages in 2020? I’d say: Let me give you a high 5! You surpassed your goal!

Crafting Attainable Goals – 3 Tips for anti-resolutions

I’ve made hundreds of goals through the years at Raindance, and made a fair few learnings when I’ve missed my target- which has been often!

Self-improvement is something I’m always striving for, and there’s lots and lots of things, large and small, a screenwriter or filmmaker can strive for.

1. Craft goals that are measurable.

The trick is to craft attainable goals that are achievable and measurable.

Turn:  I will read more into – I will read 1 book.
Turn: I will get more Twitter followers into – I will get 20 new Twitter followers a month for three months.
Turn: I will learn more about film directing into – I will practice making movies on my cell phone for six months.
Turn: I want to make a movie into – I will create a business plan

Here’s the bonus:
If you end up with more Twitter followers
if you read just two books and
if you make two short films on your cell phone

Guess what? You have exceeded your goals and you are a success!
Another big Raindance High Five coming your way.
You should strive to exceed the goals, but don’t sweat it if you don’t.

2. Crafting attainable goals that are specific

Like your hero in your movie, your goal needs to be specific. How are you going to achieve the goal you’ve set out to conquer?

If you want to learn film directing you may need to buy a cheap filmmaking app or find an instructor.
If you want to write a hundred pages you might need to learn how to fire up your idea machine.
If you really want to make a low budget feature you might want to read a book (like my Lo To No Budget Filmmaking book (which BTW I wrote in just 20 mins a day over 18 months)

Stuck? You might want to look at our film training calendar. Or book a free taster tutorial.

3. You have got to write it down

This is the most important step. In our office, we have a big white board where we write down what we want to do – our goals. Every morning we look at it as we stand around with our morning coffee.

I have noticed over the past 27 years if you don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen. Write it down and 9 times out of 10, it happens.

End Credits: Share your Anti-resolutions

A life in the creative industries can be a lonely one. Sharing your goal with a partner, relative or close friend will mean that you have someone rooting for you when times are tough when you think you were crazy to want to become a filmmaker or screenwriter. This is one of the principals of the new collaborative sharing and co-creating website I am mentoring: collabwriters.com. It’s also the basis of the new Raindance App we launched at the festival this year.

Over the coming months, how cool to be able to confide in someone about your goals and whether or not you are achieving them. Your mates will often have ideas of how you can hone your attack to achieving your goal. And you can help them with their’s too!
What are you waiting for?

Sit down right now and write down 3 goals.
Remember the three golden keys:

  1. Craft goals intelligently.
  2. Make them specific.
  3. Make them realistic.

Here’s to your best New Year ever. Let’s make movies!

Filed under: Filmmaking, Filmmaking Career, In Our Opinion