Sunday, 16 August 2009

Tip #2 : The First Draft - Juggling Creativity and Reality

By Itsuka Yamasaki (Writer/Producer)

When it comes to writing the first draft of Ambleton Delight there is so much to tell but I will try to keep this article from the POV of writing for a low budget film. I’m going to make it into a list, as I tend to ramble a bit.

1. Don't start writing until you have worked out a solid structure
This is crucial for writing films of any length. Without a blueprint for a screenplay you will either get stuck or waste time. With Ambleton Delight we used 50+ index cards each containing scenes/sequences (this process will be explained more in a later post).

2. Carefully select the locations
Choose appropriate but realistic locations. Certain locations (say, Tahiti beach) might be ideal but are not realistic for the budget. Do they all need to be different? If five scenes take place in the same location then we can film all those scenes at once, which will no doubt keep the producer happy.

3. Avoid unnecessary characters.
Each character should have a purpose and need to be there to drive the story. Another character means more expenses (i.e fee, catering, costume, make-up, transportation…). If your main character has three friends, does it really have to be three? Can it be two? Or even one?

4. Don’t mix up hard work and cost.
This is my problem. I tend to compromise my creativity because I’m often freaked out by thinking how expensive it could be to film a certain scene (I know, I’m such a tightwad!). For example, I was against setting one scene in the rain. I thought it would be ideal but very expensive to film. But the director suggested a way to film it without a rain machine (this will be explained in a later post). It was hard work filming it but hardly cost anything. So don’t compromise your creativity easily because certain elements might be achievable with hard work.

For more information on writing screenplays (not necessarily low-budget) check out these references:

Some books to read…
Screenplay by Syd Field – a “must read”
The Writer's Journey by Chris Vogler –an interesting read even if you are not a writer.

Some websites to visit
Wordplay by Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott. The best screenwriting website I know, written by the writers behind many Hollywood blockbusters including the Mask of Zorro and Pirates of the Caribbean.
BBC Writersroom – It contains good instructions how to format screenplays for the BBC.
Making of screenwriters tips

Please feel free to share your thoughts and resources!

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