Writing a film spec script

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Writing a film spec script

For this reason, a screenplay is written using technical jargon and tight, spare prose when describing stage directions. Unlike a novel or short storya screenplay focuses on describing the literal, visual aspects of the story, rather than on the internal thoughts of its characters.

In screenwriting, the aim is to evoke those thoughts and emotions through subtext, action, and symbolism. The most common kinds of theories are structural.

Screenwriter William Goldman is widely quoted as saying "Screenplays are structure". Usually, in a two-hour film, the first and third acts both typically last around 30 minutes, with the middle act lasting roughly an hour, but today many films start from the confrontation point and then goes to the setup act or they might even start at the last act and then go back to the start.

But since the climax is part of the action, Yves Lavandier maintains that the second act must include the climax, which makes for a much shorter third act than is found in most screenwriting theories.

Besides the three-act structure, it is also common to use a four- or five-act structure in a screenplay, though certain screenplays may include as many as twenty separate acts. The central concept of the monomyth is that a pattern can be seen in stories and myths across history. Campbell defined and explained that pattern in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces This fundamental structure contains a number of stages, which include a call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline, a road of trials, on which the hero succeeds or fails, achieving the goal or "boon"which often results in important self-knowledge, a return to the ordinary world, which again the hero can succeed or fail, and application of the boon, in which what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world.

Mythic Structure for Writers Field noticed that in a page screenplay, Act Two was notoriously boring, and was also twice the length of Acts One and Three. He also noticed that an important dramatic event usually occurred at the middle of the picture, which implied to him that the middle act was actually two acts in one.

Field also introduced the idea of Plot Points into screenwriting theory. Plot Points are important structural functions that happen in approximately the same place in most successful movies, like the verses and choruses in a popular song.

In subsequent books, Field has added to his original list, and students of his like Viki King and Linda Seger have added to the list of Plot Points. The first image in the screenplay should summarize the entire film, especially its tone. Often, writers go back and redo this as the last thing before submitting the script.

Also called the catalyst, this is the point in the story when the Protagonist encounters the problem that will change their life. This is when the detective is assigned the case, where Boy meets Girl, and where the Comic Hero gets fired from his cushy job, forcing him into comic circumstances.

He has no home to go back to, so he joins the Rebels in opposing Darth Vader.

writing a film spec script

An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story. Field suggests that driving the story towards the Midpoint keeps the second act from sagging.

A dramatic reversal that ends Act 2 and begins Act 3, which is about confrontation and resolution. Sometimes Plot Point 2 is the moment when the Hero has had enough and is finally going to face the Opponent. About midway through Act 3, the Protagonist will confront the Main Problem of the story and either overcome it, or come to a tragic end.

The issues of the story are resolved. An epilogue, tying up the loose ends of the story, giving the audience closure. This is also known as denouement. In general, films in recent decades have had longer denouements than films made in the s or earlier. The sequence approach[ edit ] The sequence approach to screenwriting, sometimes known as " eight-sequence structure ", is a system developed by Frank Danielwhile he was the head of the Graduate Screenwriting Program at USC.

It is based in part on the fact that, in the early days of cinema, technical matters forced screenwriters to divide their stories into sequences, each the length of a reel about ten minutes.

The story is broken up into eight minute sequences. The sequences serve as "mini-movies", each with their own compressed three-act structure. Dialogue and description[ edit ] Imagery[ edit ] Imagery can be used in many metaphoric ways.

In The Talented Mr. Ripleythe title character talked of wanting to close the door on himself sometime, and then, in the end, he did. Pathetic fallacy is also frequently used; rain to express a character feeling depressed, sunny days promote a feeling of happiness and calm. Imagery can be used to sway the emotions of the audience and to clue them in to what is happening.

Imagery is well defined in City of God. The opening image sequence sets the tone for the entire film. The film is about life in the favelas in Rio - sprinkled with violence and games and ambition.A “spec script” is a movie written on “speculation” — without a deal or sale already in place, and without being commissioned.

A writer is not paid to write a spec. She does it on her own time with the hopes of selling it to a buyer, or to use as a writing sample. If you want to become a television writer, you need to know how to write a spec script. Here's a guide on how to write one that can sell an idea.

If you want to become a television writer, you need to know how to write a spec script. Sometimes a movie script or play can be used if it shows a truly unique voice or talent that might not be.

Dave Trottier has sold or optioned ten scripts and helped countless fellow screenwriters break into Hollywood through his work as an acclaimed script consultant and author of The Screenwriter's Bible, the Industry's de facto spec writing and formatting guide.

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One of the worst screenwriting format and style information sources for fledgling spec scriptwriters is the plethora of script sites on the internet. Most, but not all, of what is posted in screenwriting format is a copy of some umpteenth re-write post purchase or a late version of a production script.

Hayley McKenzie is a Script Editor and founder of Script Angel, helping screenwriters elevate their craft and advance their screenwriting career. Follow her on Twitter @scriptangel1. You’re writing on spec and the world’s your oyster. So should you be writing a feature film screenplay or a. If a spec script is not picked up, but the script is considered good, the screenwriter may be offered a writing assignment.

Spec scripts are often written by unknown screenwriters looking to prove their storytelling ability and make a name for themselves in the film industry.

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