“When I was sixteen or seventeen, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a playwright But everything I wrote, I thought was weak. and I can remember falling asleep in tears because I had no talent the way I wanted to have.” -Francis Ford Coppola
Writing can be quite a thrilling yet exhausting experience. When writer's block or discouragement hit, being a writer can feel like the worst job in the world.
Many of the world's best novelists, journalists, bloggers, and screenwriters sometimes feel like giving up their career to try something new; it can be that frustrating when searching for new and original ideas!
Nevertheless, it is essential to state that although talent is necessary to enjoy a prosperous career as a writer, it is not the only thing. Hard-work, determination, and advice from more talented individuals are essential to succeed in any type of writing form.
Therefore, without further delay, we will explain some of the most essential tips to become a successful screenwriter ready to pen films that will appear at Cannes or Venice!
Read A Lot and Watch Loads Movies
"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr. Seuss
Reading is an essential activity that has lost traction with impatient and entitled millennials; we prefer to write our own stories than climb into someone else's. While it is true that the reading of blogs and online news articles have become more commonplace than ever before, curling up with a good mystery novel is not as popular as it once was.
Although millennials prefer surfing the web or posting about themselves on social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter, they must consider reading information about their potential careers to ensure success; amateur screenwriters are no different.
To learn the basics of formatting, organising ideas, and the general structure of a feature film or television screenplay, screenplay newbies, need to spend a lot of time analysing past successful screenplays in the genre they wish to specialise in. For instance, if you're interested in becoming a comedy screenplay writer, read the scripts of Annie Hall, Some Like it Hot, and The Big Lebowski.
Where can spectacular screenplays be read and downloaded online to perfect the screenwriting art?
Without a doubt, one of the best websites to read some of the most well-known screenplays of all time is scriptreaderpro.com. Perfect for amateurs looking to become familiar with scripts in the genres of drama, comedy, action/adventure, thriller, and horror.
Also, we cannot stress watching feature films, and television programs enough to take notes of how acts are introduced and scenes are played out. By carefully watching movies with a screenwriter's eye, you adapt your own style and decide which elements you would like to include in your first, second, or third screenplay.
Many film schools and critics that are dedicated to helping cinema enthusiasts reach their potential claim that there are specific movies that must be watched as a screenwriter to acquire a better understanding of what it takes to write a masterful screenplay. For example, the experts at A Taste of Cinema recommend 15 movies that every aspiring screenwriter should watch; which ones are they?
The following list includes beautiful cinematic treasures with great screenplays in no specific order:
- The Big Lebowski,
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,
- Some Like it Hot,
- All About Eve,
- Lawrence of Arabia,
- Forrest Gump,
- Groundhog Day,
- Annie Hall,
- Citizen Kane,
- Pulp Fiction,
- The Godfather Part I and II,
- Taxi Driver.
Why not dedicate a few weekends to some movie marathons to take notes of some of the best films of all time? It would indeed be an excellent way to learn and be entertained at the same time!
Attend Conferences With Other Passionate Writers
There is no doubt about it; screenwriters are a big deal. Without the brilliant words and ideas featured on a screenplay, there is no story to present to directors, producers, actors, and studio executives. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to continue believing in yourself as a screenwriter, even if you feel that your talent will never take you anywhere.
Attending conferences with other passionate screenwriters is a brilliant way to talk about your distinct ideas and keep your dream alive; you will realise you're not the only one!
Uniting like-minded individuals together in one room, conference hall, or theatre is a brilliant idea to encourage one another to continuing writing stories that need to be seen on the big screen.
Also, by attending film festivals in your local community or abroad, screenwriters listen to seminars encouraging them to aspire for greatness and become better writers.
Are there any film festivals in the UK?
British cinema has won the favour of audience members and international organisations such as the Academy Awards in recent years.
King's Speech, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Skyfall, Dunkirk, Under the Skin, Another Year etc.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that there are many UK-based film festivals showing off the best of Britain's cinematic talent. The following list features the UK's best film festivals to attend events with fellow amateur screenwriters:
- Raindance Film Festival: a UK-based film festival that encourages independent film in the territories of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Great British artists such as Mike Leigh, Joanna Lumley, and Ken Loach laud the Raindance Festival for promoting filmmakers of the future in their own country. The various workshops included throughout the 10-11 day festival are designed for future directors, actors, and screenwriters.
- BFI London Film Festival: arguably the most important and flashiest film festival in the UK, the BFI London Film Festival has existed since 1953 and has attracted some of the world's best stars. Every the festival screens over 300 movies from over 50 countries. In 2019, the BFI London Film Festival took place from the 2-13 of October.
- Leeds International Film Festival: the best film festivals in the UK are not just located in London, there are some in other major cities such as Edinburgh and Leeds. The Leeds International Film Festival will take place in November 2019 and will feature some of the years best feature films. Not only can movies be watched, but workshops can be completed and attended.
After travelling a few miles to attend one of the UK's most glamorous film festivals, aspiring screenwriters develop skills that will set them apart from the rest when producers read their scripts.
Also, before concluding this section, it is essential to state that for those who are willing to take a vacation attending international film festivals, the best ones are in world-renowned cities such as Cannes, Venice, Toronto, and Berlin.
"Make your life a masterpiece; imagine no limitations on what you can be, have, or do." -Brian Tracy
There is no doubt about it, at one point (or many) in your career you will face writer's block. There is nothing more frustrating to a writer than experiencing periods of lacklustre imagination.
How does one get inspired?
There are many distinct manners in which screenwriters can get inspired. For example, it is interesting to mention that many brilliant ideas stem from a single question, subject, or mental image. Therefore, if you limit yourself to the confines of your home or office, you're not giving your mind new material to analyse.
We highly recommend leaving the house to take a walk, visit a museum, go for a hike, or eat at your favourite restaurant to get inspiration from even the most essential things in life. Also, we know that as a struggling screenwriter, you probably don't have the most significant budget; however, travelling does a fantastic job clearing the mind.
As a screenwriter, it's not travelling from point A to point B that is the most important; it's the journey.
The journey of meeting new people, trying new things, and being wrapped up in an adventure provides aspiring screenwriters with inspiration and material for weeks, months, and even years.
Therefore, take the leap and go on a trip to find ideas in the most obscure places; take your notepad and jot down ideas that can become priceless!
Connect With Other Screenwriters
The life of a screenwriter can be quite lonely; there are many days spent in a dim-light office waiting for new ideas to flow. Nevertheless, it can be quite a lot more engaging when finding other screenwriting friends to bounce ideas off of.
It is important to remember that a screenwriting partner doesn't have to share a script with you or be your co-writer, instead, they are great soundboards for your new ideas, fantastic editors, and great confidants that you can trust.
Above all, another screenwriter can become a great friend, and when mutual trust is established, ideas flow more naturally than ever before.
Also, it is worth mentioning that your reading partner doesn't necessarily have to be a screenwriter, they could be a close friend, a relative, or some other individual working in the film sector as an aspiring director or producer.
It is also very fun to work on collaborations with friends to test out how the movie-making industry is done.
Without a doubt, the tips and advice in today's article are extremely helpful in developing a career as a screenwriter. Who knows maybe you'll be the next Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino, or Nora Ephron!