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Fall 2019 Screenwriting Contest – One Week Extension!

Fall 2019 Screenwriting Contest – One Week Extension!

You guys spoke and we listened – and as a result, we’re keeping the Fall 2019 Screenwriting Contest open for an extra week, giving you until October 20th to submit your scripts to the competition!

We know that you guys have written a lot of great scripts, and one of the best things we get to do here at WriteMovies is read them! But when a deadline is coming up and you’ve got some last minute changes to make, it can be easy to overrun and miss your chance.

Well, we don’t want you to miss out – and we don’t want to miss out either! We always have a blast with the judging process for our contests, and we’re looking to get the best scripts we possibly can.

That’s why we’ve decided to extend the contest by a week. We’re here to champion great stories and great writers, and this extra week means more time for us to find them!

So make sure you use it wisely. Get your script to its maximum potential and then submit by the end of Sunday October 20th to get it into our hands – and hopefully, into the top three!

And don’t forget that, as ever, by buying a script report from us you can get free entry to the contest – as well as invaluable feedback from an industry professional!

The Fall 2019 Screenwriting Contest is nearly at an end – but it’s not over just yet. Click here to visit the main contest page and enter your script!

CARAVAGGIO – Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner!

CARAVAGGIO – Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner!

From our highly competitive Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest, one script rose to the top of pile to win our Grand Prize: CARAVAGGIO!

Based on the tempestuous life of the Italian painter, this television pilot caught our attention with its strong concept, engaging main character, and commercial potential. Congratulations to its writer, Alasdair McMullan, for winning the competition!

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Writing Insights: Your Script’s Budget

Writing Insights: Your Script’s Budget

With films from Marvel, Star Wars, and other big franchises dominating the box office these days, a lot of screenwriters are left wanting to write big budget films. You have to spend money to make money, right?

Well actually, a lot of the time it’s the budget that will stop a script getting produced. Making a film is a risk that requires an investment; the smaller the risk, the more likely it is that your script will get made.

If you can get the budget down to $5 million or less, you’ll have a lot more success selling your work. But how do you get a budget that low? A lot of the time it comes from the inherent design of the story.

Here are our tips…

  • Limit yourself to one location – preferably a simple, interior one. Transport costs between locations are no longer a factor, and filming should take less time without the need to repeatedly set up equipment. If it sounds like a challenge to write a single location movie, just remember that limiting yourself can really make you get creative. 12 ANGRY MEN, Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE, and LOCKE are just a few examples!
  • Have a small cast. Fewer actors means fewer people to pay and cater for; you can still tell a great story with only two or three characters as long as you’ve got a clever enough concept driving the drama. Get clever enough and you can even go smaller! Locke features only one character on screen for the entire film as he deals with a number of difficult phone calls.
  • Let dialogue drive the story. Action is an inherently expensive thing to shoot and there’s a lot of risk involved – but tension isn’t fuelled by things blowing up, a fact which is proved by all of the films mentioned above. Instead, it’s the conflict between the characters that provides the drama. Get that concept right and you can make a thriller without needing to shoot anyone!
  • Don’t show everything. If action is important to your script and can’t be completely cut, think about whether the audience actually needs to see it to understand the story. A great example of this is RESERVOIR DOGS, a film about a diamond heist gone wrong where we never see the heist itself, just the buildup and the aftermath!
  • Focus on the human drama. Big fans of science-fiction and fantasy may feel that the above suggestions leave them hamstrung, but by concentrating on the characters at the centre of the story, you can keep the scale small despite an intergalactic setting. MOON does this extremely effectively; it might be set on a lunar base, but it’s the main character’s personal crisis that matters most.

So if you’re looking for your big break in screenwriting, don’t forget to take all of these factors into consideration. Here at WriteMovies, we think about this kind of stuff when judging our screenwriting contests – and producers think about it a lot, too!

If you think you’ve got a good shot at winning one of our contests, the Fall 2019 Screenwriting Contest is currently open – as is our inaugural Horror Award 2019, which gives you free entry to the Fall Contest when you submit. Don’t forget to submit before the closing dates of October 13th and September 29th respectively!

Writing Insights: How to Write An Adaptation

Writing Insights: How to Write An Adaptation

books - how to write an adaptationTo say that book adaptations are popular would be an understatement. Stephen King received no fewer than four in 2017 alone, and has the same set for this year (although only PET SEMATARY has so far seen a release). But what’s the best way to write an adaptation?

There are a few key things if you want to write an adaptation. The first is the big difference in length between a book and a screenplay! The average novel is approximately 90,000 words (with something like WAR AND PEACE getting up over 580,000!), but the average screenplay is only about 15,000.

That means a lot of words need to get cut! A lot of things won’t make it from the book into your screenplay, so don’t try to include everything. But how do you know what to leave in and what to take out?

Here are our tips…

  • Identify the central drama and themes, and use them as a signpost. If there’s a scene, subplot, or character that doesn’t add to the central drama, you don’t need it!
  • Think about the roles that the different characters serve: what their purpose is in the story. Can any of those characters be combined into one? A screenplay can easily feel cluttered with characters who aren’t needed, so try rolling them into one.
  • Look for the key points in the story, like the inciting incident and the turning points between the acts. These moments are absolutely vital; you should look to map them directly into your script and work from there.
  • Don’t try to copy and paste the dialogue – it (probably) won’t work! The dialogue in a novel is meant to be read in our heads, but the dialogue in a screenplay is designed to be spoken out loud. That means it will usually need to be rewritten.
  • Film is a visual medium – use that to your advantage! Where a novel may need many pages of description or inner monologues to convey a concept or thought, a script can do the same thing with a quick visual clue. Your audience should be able to see what is happening, so they don’t need it explained to them!

There are plenty of other things to think about if you want to write an adaptation, but we’d suggest this is where you start. Novels and screenplays are very different mediums – and that is a fact that shouldn’t be forgotten!

One other thing before you start writing: make sure you pick your project carefully. Some novels rely very heavily on interior thought and description to tell their stories, and won’t translate well to film which (as mentioned above!) is primarily visual.

And above all else, make sure you love the book you’re turning into a script! There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a project before starting to regret it.

Already finished your script, adaptation or otherwise? Think you’ve got what it takes to impress us? The WriteMovies Fall 2019 Screenwriting Competition is now open for submissions – click here to find out more and enter today!

WriteMovies Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest – One Month To Go!

WriteMovies Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest – One Month To Go!

Our inaugural Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award may have closed for submission, but the WriteMovies Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest goes on – and the final deadline is now just one month away!

Your last chance to enter will be on Sunday June 16th, with a Grand Prize of $2000 plus guaranteed pitching to industry and a year of free script development for the top three scripts. So get to work polishing that dialogue, tweaking your story, and fleshing out those characters, and make sure you give us lots of reasons to get excited!

But what will help you to get our attention? Here are some things we look out for:

  • A unique concept. We read a lot of scripts, so show us something we haven’t seen before!
  • Fully rounded characters that we love. If we’re invested in the people, we’ll always want to keep reading!
  • Strong commercial potential. If the project won’t make money, it has little chance of getting made.
  • A great opening. Make sure you grab us with the first ten pages. First impressions matter!

You should also take a look at our Director Ian Kennedy’s article on “What your writing submissions are telling us” for some hints and tips on what mistakes to avoid, and more details on what we’re after.

And then, when you’re finally ready… Click here to submit to the WriteMovies Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest by June 16th!


 

How to Get Producers to Say Yes to Your Script

How to Get Producers to Say Yes to Your Script

Writing a script is hard work, but getting a script turned into an actual movie can be even harder. There are all sorts of obstacles standing in the way, not least the key decision-makers and producers who will actually be responsible for the whole project. So how do you get these people to say yes to your work?

One of the most important things that a lot of writers forget about is making sure that their script is commercially viable. Caught up in so many great ideas, they write whatever comes to mind with no thought for cost – but if the film unlikely to make a profit, then a producer is unlikely to want to back it. After all, their job may well be on the line!

Here are some tips to make your script more commercially viable…

  • Ask yourself who is going to go and watch your film. Who is this going to appeal to? Who is your target audience? These are the kind of necessary questions that producers ask all the time; if you find that you’re not certain of the answer, then it might be time to have a rethink.
  • Reduce the number of locations. By having all the action take place in only a few places, you’re massively reducing costs. A great example of this is RESERVOIR DOGS, which was predominantly set in an empty warehouse.
  • Another way to reduce costs is to tone down the action. You might have some great set pieces planned out in your head, but every stunt takes time and money to plan and perform. Can you cut the helicopters out? Can you have only one explosion instead of three? The scene doesn’t have to always to be loud to be exciting!
  • On a similar note, cut down on the crowd scenes. Extras have to paid and fed – each and everyone of them is costing the production money. If possible, even having a small cast of two or three is even better – that means paying even fewer actors!
  • A lot of Hollywood blockbusters seem to be overloaded with special effects these days, but they don’t come cheap. They might be an unavoidable cost in science-fiction and fantasy, but see if you can find a way to cut down on them.

In short, when the budget is small and there’s a clear audience, producers are much more likely to say yes to your work. A small cast, a handful of locations, small-scale action (or none whatsoever) are all things that can help on this front, and give your script the best chance of thriving in a competitive industry.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is a great example of film that does this well. There is always an audience for horror films, and by keeping its costs so low, it became the most profitable film ever made based on return on investment, making an impressive $193 million off a budget of just $15,000.

So when you sit down to write, make sure you think first about the commercial side of things – specifically, whether there’s enough of an audience for your script to claw back the money that will be used to make it. That’s part of the key to making your way as a successful screenwriter!