Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Celtx and index cards

I would like to share an experience of the more unpleasant kind when using Celtx index cards.

When using the index cards you get empty sluglines in the script, one headline for each scene - each index card.

When you start writing the script and you accidentally deletes one of these empty sluglines, you remove the index cards with your notes too.

In a way it is completely reasonable that a deleted scene removes its index card as well, but when it is done by mistake and not noticed before saved, closed and later reopened, it might end up in a disaster since the index card with its valuable content is lost forever.

In my case I had made a printout, but more interestingly was that I found out that those two scenes I had deleted by accident were not needed.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Character description daily

Character descriptions
He looks like an ordinary, middle-aged man with overweight, but on his otherwise bald head, a tail of pink hair appears out of nowhere.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Screenwriting contest held by International Student Film Organization

I got a nice tip about a screenwriting contest held by the International Student Film Organization (ISFO). They are running a screenwriting competition which is open for submissions until the 12th June 2011. The competition invites students from all over the world to submit their short film scripts of up to five pages. After the submission deadline, students will be given the opportunity to comment on and rate each others’ work. The 20 most popular scripts will be forwarded to industry professionals. You must however be a student and a member of ISFO (free) to enter. More information can be found here.

As I understand it, this is their first contest. I hope this turns out well for everybody. There is a shortage in contests with short scripts.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Google AdWords misfire

Companies shouldn’t get too big. They do good to have competition. Could someone take up the fight with Google, please?

They sent a gift card to my company to use in AdWords, their advertising site. After reading material on their site I created an ad, telling there is a screenwriter available.

After a few days the service suggested more keywords.

After another few days I got an email telling me my account was permanently shut down due to repeated breaking of the policy. What?!

I emailed back, asking for an explanation. After a few weeks they got back to me telling me I repeatedly had violated their policies.

“How? Couldn’t you at least a sent me a warning, telling me what’s wrong?” I returned in yet another email.

Then I get the surprising reply that it had come to their knowledge that my AdWords account was connected to another account which repeatedly had violated their policies and therefore my account was shut down and I was asked not to create another account.

They thought the person behind my account had created accounts before which had breaking the rules. How? How could they come to this bizarre conclusion?

Now, they have of course the right to select their customers, like all companies, but when they shut down my AdWords account because they think I’m somebody else, I get paranoid. Google are powerful. They blocked my access to one of the biggest advertising options because of a whim. What else could they come up with?

If they had to fight for their customers instead of having their customers begging to let them in, the situation would be different.

It’s damn shit their search engine is the best. Otherwise I would gladly change to another one. And, damn, don’t they own Blogger as well?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Character description daily

Character descriptions
She browsers through a lifestyle magazine with photos of happy people, wearing a face of someone who has lost that everyday joy of parenthood a long time ago.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Go Into The Story: Establishing shots

This article at Go Into The Story about why you shouldn't write establishing shots and how to establish a scene instead is a very interesting read. I recommend it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mind mapping stucture of a movie script

Mind mapping structure basic movie script

I’ve been asked about how I use mindmapping in more detail.

As I’ve told in previous blog entries on the subject I use FreeMind which is a freeware program that works very nicely. A vital criterion for mindmapping on a computer is that it must be easy to work with and feel natural. I don’t want to write and then click on the mouse and then write again, but everything must be accessible through the keyboard, without complicated shortcuts.

When I begin I do something like the image above. Then I add scenes to each branch. Some should have more scenes, some only one. For instance, the “Fun-‘n’-games” section of a film is about 30 minutes long, so several scenes are needed. While High Peak aka Point of No Return, is one scene; or a single moment even.

Mind mapping structure extended movie script

When the scenes get added the branches gets separated and the structure in length becomes very visible.

I find this method useful.

I used to work with a beat sheet, but since I’m very mobile in my writing situations, my post-it notes didn’t care much for being folded and came loose. Another aspect with a beat sheet is that it is planned page by page and I found it easy to fool myself on where I had my structure. A scene could have been marked as three pages long and turned out to be anything between one and five. In a beat sheet length of scenes easily get more important than their contents.

With a mind map the length of the scenes are not important. It’s more about what scenes are needed. Time will tell if they become too long or too short.

With a mind map I get a very visual view of the structure that I like. But this is my approach and you need to find your way. If you are helped by this, that’s fine, but if something doesn’t work out for you, change it to the better rather than sticking to a formula that doesn’t work for you.

Read here where you can download the template

Monday, May 9, 2011

Character description daily

Character descriptions
She has an aura like time will never affect her. Like time stopped the day she celebrated her fiftieth birthday. Her moves are still graceful, her back is yet straight; and when she smiles her face get covered with fine wrinkles that only a woman who has been laughing a lot in her life gets.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Character description daily

Character descriptions
He sits at a stiff board meeting, chairman talking somewhere by the end of the table, as he rips of a paper from his notepad and folds it, ripping off a part making the rest a square. He folds it over and over. Oblivious that many around him, now look at him, he starts cutting with a small scissors leaving small pieces of paper around him. Now the chairman stops talking and looks at him. He suddenly re-enter the present world and sees everybody staring. He smiles and unfold his delicately cut paper.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Screenwriting jobs

There are quite a few jobs for screenwriters on Craig’s List and of all the ones I’ve applied for I’ve only received one reply (where it turned out that they wanted someone on place, which I was not). I think I would have been perfect for several of the opportunities and can’t really see any reason why they didn’t contact me and at least discussed it.

What does an American application for a job look like? I must write in a way that looks horribly unappealing.

Character description daily

Character descriptions
She holds the violin gracefully in her hand putting it under her chin. With a wide, dramatic gesture she places the bow on the strings. The bow tremble as her hand cannot keep calm, though in still the magnificent starting pose. The audience waits. After a while with a frozen violinist on the stage, there are whispers and coughs. Finally she manages to move the bow and the sound is like a squeaking door, followed by her scream as she runs off the stage.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Character description daily

Character descriptions
He arranges the colored glass bottles with an obsessed neatness and care, every bottle placed by size and color. The telephone rings, the baby cries, but he focuses his whole mind and body into the process of moving a bottle a millimetre.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Writing third act first

As I work now, I take scene somewhere in the script and write. Since I have structured the script with index card in Celtx I can click on any scene and fill it with content.

I don’t pick the scene to write in random. I started with the scenes including the main character’s future parents-in-law. Then I continued will all scenes introducing a character. The first scene is written, so is the last.

First I thought that I would write the third act first, but that is not entirely the case. I’m rather into following each plot. After the introduction of the character I continue with the last scene in the plot. Or maybe any scene that I feel important for the plot.

Like the plot with her future parents-in-law I realized that the story with them had no proper ending in my plan. It will likely feel awkward even with the total story surrounding it. There must be some conclusion. I think I see this early because I wrote all the scenes with them involved – all three – first.

Now I write those with the main character’s future sister-in-law and her wife.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Character description daily

Character descriptions
With giant boots on his feed he sits on a rock playing the harmonica for the sea. The tune is one never heard of and some would call it unmelodious.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Character description daily

Character descriptions
The whole man could be described with the word "square". Head and glasses are square shaped, and his tall body is a tower of squares. He even has squares on his brown shirt.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The antagonist and the villain

Can a villain be a happy character? This question arouse in the comments to my previous blog entry.

First, let us take a look at the word “villain”. The very word stands for a person making evil deliberately. It's someone who does bad things and knows what he or she is doing; the stereotype bad guy.

A happy villain for me is Simon Phoenix in “Demolition Man”. Not exactly a character with any depth. He is just a guy that loves to kill people. We get no explanation why and the guy is just laughing his way through it all.

Overall I think that the word “villain” lacks the options of complexity and depth needed for any character in a script of today.

I would prefer to use the word “antagonist” instead. The antagonist does not have to be a villain. An antagonist is a character (or a group of characters) opposing the main character. It is a term less colored with “bad” and “evil”.

A happy antagonist is much easier to imagine, when good and evil is out of the picture.

But there is an obvious problem with the story to have a happy antagonist. Our focus should be on the main character. A jolly antagonist could either draw too much attention or fail get the message through, making happiness a bad thing. Doesn't need to be that way, but it is a risk.

This is if we talk a classic story, that is.

Now, if you write a story from a villain’s point of view – and then I mean someone deliberately hurting people – the character opposing the villain is an antagonist. I saw a YouTube clip (see top) with an interview of a former Ku Klux Klan leader and his meeting with a black reverend. Written as a script, this would be a story with a happy antagonist – the black reverend.

Character description daily

Character descriptions
She is a small woman, dressed in washed-out black with a pink baseball cap on her bald head and a paintbrush in her hand. She makes the final touch on a gigantic painting of the Devil slaughtering children with a realism that makes the blood drip of the painting.

Can you see the character before you after reading this? Please comment your thoughts and ideas about this description.