Monthly Archives: January 2016
Looking for a spoken word event to attend or perform at? Check out the “Upcoming Events” page of this website for updated listings of events in the West Midlands. Also, once a month a review will be posted of one of the events to give a more in-depth feel as to the format and style of the featured event. The page will be continuously updated so keep a close eye on this site or simply follow to receive an e-mail to keep you posted. Coming soon: Review of the 10th Anniversary of the Sunday Xpress
So, you’ve written a few scripts. You’ve read a few examples from the works of other writers and now know the format. What now? Time to raise your profile.
Finding a job in the industry is a lot harder than you think. More than 70% of the jobs out there are not advertised. You need to be in the know to be in the know. Get what I mean? Confusing isn’t it. Well, to get a job in the industry you have to make people aware of who you are. You have to get your name known so that the people in the right places take notice of you or at least pass your name onto someone who is.
So, how do I do this, one might ask? Networking is your first port of call. Gain contacts, share ideas, find work experience, promote your work and get your name known. Those contacts can range from family and friends, to previous employers, to former students you knew back in the good old days. If you haven’t got one already, start setting up a social media account. Find out the names of agents and other professionals and follow them on Twitter. Set up a Facebook page to promote yourself as a writer. Create a blog to showcase examples of your work. Join Linkedin, create a portfolio, gain the contacts you seek and open the door to the opportunities available to you. It won’t be easy, but if you put in the work and do the research you will gain insight into the industry and make your presence known. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, other opportunities will come your way. Make a start now or do you actually like working under that sexist, uneducated, self-centred, bully that only got a position in management because they licked the ass of the sexist, uneducated, self-centred, bully ahead of them? Didn’t think so.
Here is a list of some helpful sites that might give you the push you need to make that dream of becoming a successful scriptwriter a reality. Good luck!
What is “The Hero’s Journey”? Originally derived from Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, The Hero’s Journey is formulaic arrangement for plotting the path of a script to fit within a three act structure. The protagonist of the story begins his/her journey in the ordinary world, goes on an adventure and returns to his/her own world, but has changed as a result of the conflicts and events he/she has experienced. Refined into twelve key stages by Christopher Vogler, The Hero’s Journey is the most popular and accepted format for a Hollywood script. So, what are these twelve stages and how do they effect and enhance the story over the course of a script’s three acts?
The first stage is the world in which our protagonist inhabits, a world we as the audience can identify with, a place of familiarity. It is “The Ordinary World” from where the story begins. It is the initial setting, a place that our hero has known all of their life, possibly reluctant to leave, but is also dissatisfied with. He/she is powerless to effect change while they reside in this world and are destined to continue along their inadequate path until one day something unusual happens. They receive “The Call to Adventure”.
“The Call to Adventure” is an event that interrupts the protagonist’s normal routine. Something that presents a challenge and invites our hero to go on a quest into the world of the unknown. However, our hero will have his/her doubts about stepping out of their comfort zone which leads us into the next stage of the journey, “The Refusal”.
In spite of wanting to accept change, the protagonist is reluctant to accept the responsibility associated with his calling. He/she may be afraid of the challenge or have a commitment that holds them back, preventing them from initially venturing out on said quest. Ultimately, something happens that they can no longer refuse the call and they eventually take the plunge.
Before our hero can cross into the world of the unknown, he/she will often receive some guidance from a trusted source. “The Mentor” will guide our hero in the right direction, give them advice on how to survive in the strange world they are about to enter, present them with an invaluable tool to aid them during their quest and give them the confidence they lacked to ensure them that they have the skills to conquer their fears. “The Mentor” may accompany the hero on his quest and will train him/her for the challenges ahead.
“Crossing the Threshold” marks the end of the script’s first act. It is the point when the protagonist leaves the safe haven of their ordinary world and sets off into the realm of the unknown. They are now fully committed to the quest and often have to surpass the guardians barring their way. It is a major turning point in the direction of the story.
The start of the second act sees the protagonist face a number of challenges and obstacles over the course of his/her journey. They learn from these experiences, grow in confidence, meet allies willing to help them during their quest and encounter the enemies attempting to hinder their progress. The protagonist begins to transform into the hero he/she will become.
However, in spite of our hero’s growing ability, his/her self-doubt remerges as they draw closer to the “Inmost Cave”, their greatest and possibly most dangerous challenge. The hero makes preparations, but knows that they are very much out of their depth.
“The Ordeal” marks both the halfway point of the script and the hero’s deadliest challenge. The protagonist’s love interest is often with them and together they narrowly escape death. However, they will have gained the insight to achieve the goal to their quest. It’s a race to get back to the ordinary world. The second crossing of the threshold is difficult in itself and gives a sense of what is in store for the climax. It also marks the end of act two and the start of three.
The final battle or climax of the script is a kind of resurrection for the protagonist. The stakes are high as should he/she fail all will suffer, but should he/she succeed, the benefits will extend into the ordinary world making it a much better place. The hero ultimately surpasses the odds and emerges as the master of both worlds.
The script concludes with a celebration for the protagonist, having completed the quest and having attained their ultimate goal. He/she has changed for the better and has gained the respect and admiration of his/her peers. As in fairy tales, on the completion of his/her journey, the hero lives happily ever after.
Next scriptwriting post Scriptwriting: Raising Your Profile
So, you want to be a script writer, but you don’t know where to start. Here is some advice on how to get started. First piece of advice, get writing.
Just like novels, scripts won’t write themselves. You need to set aside the time to put pen to paper and make it happen. You have the ideas, but they’re not going to come to life or be brought to the screen while they are locked in your head. You also need more than one script, so don’t convince yourself that success will come your way simply because you have that one script that is sure to catch the eye of a world class director. Sorry, it won’t. You need to create a profile of scripts in order to be taken seriously. Agents are more likely to take notice if you go to them with five or six great scripts than to approach them with just one. You have to prove your worth and that you understand how script structure works before any industry professionals will come knocking on your door. Besides, as good as you think your script is…it probably isn’t. You need to know what the industry wants and tailor it to meet with their needs.
So, how do you find out what they are looking for? Read, read and read. Get hold of other people’s scripts and read through them. Pick out a number of scripts that have been made into films and take note of their similarities. Believe it or not, a romantic comedy often has the same structure as a gothic horror or sci-fi script. Both have a hero’s journey and a series of conflicts to resolve before the protagonist can attain their ultimate goal, be it finding the love of their life or simply surviving a horrific ordeal. Also, read scripts that are not likely to ever be filmed. You can learn just as much from them as you can from the select few that are undertaken. You will see the mistakes that prevent their scripts from gaining acceptance and it may make you realise a number of faults with your own. Keep in mind, no one wants to write a bad script. The script you read may not be all that good, but they will have some merit which you can take on board. At the very least, you can understand the layout of a script and the style of format by assessing how it looks on the page. It may not seem significant, but the very presentation of the words matter. The font should be new courier and the size should be 12. Use page breaks and make sure the spelling and spacing is correct. A jumbled, incomprehensible script will not impress an agent and may not even be read simply because you did take the time or care to make it presentable. If you couldn’t be bothered, why should they? Below are some example sites for scripts.
Next scriptwriting post Scriptwriting: The Hero’s Journey