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Friday, March 8, 2013

Script Writing with Dov Simens

The following is an extract from Dov Simens Newsletter. I found it useful and so am sharing it here:

Own something…Write a 3-Page Treatment! …First, always remember “Nothing is written, it’s re-written” so stop putting pressure on yourself that the first attempt or first draft of your Treatment must be great… That is an impossible task and you have just succeeded in creating Writers Block when you start off with too much pressure.

Now, let’s start moving your fingers. First a little structure.

Everyone in Hollywood states that storytelling or screenwriting or movies are a “3-ACT STRUCTURE”… Huh? I go to a lot of movies. I’ve read 1,000s of scripts and on the Opening Page I never see ACT I (Beginning)… Then about 25-40 minutes into the movie or script I see ACT II (Middle)… Then about 30-45 minutes later or pages later I see ACT III (End)…

So what the f*ck are these alleged pros talking about?

Their response to me would be “Dov, everything has to have a Beginning (aka: Act I), a Middle (aka: Act II) and an Ending (aka: Act III)…and my response would be after I say, “Duh”…I’d pause and say, “You know you’re right”. Everything needs to (A) Start, (B) End and (C) have a Middle.

So start off writing a Treatment by taking out 3 pieces (8.5 x 11) of white paper and we are going to think of Page-1, as the Beginning (Act I) and Page 2, as the Middle (Act II) and the Ending (Act III).

Next, the Beginning and the End do not take as much time (pages typed) as the Middle. Therefore, we are going to allocate only the Top Half of Page-1 for the BEGINNING and the Bottom Half of Page-3 for the ENDING, with the Bottom Half of Page-1, all of Page-2, and the Top Half of Page-3 for the Middle.

By-the-By: while writing this 3-Page Treatment if it becomes 4-pages that’s fine, 5-pages that’s fine, 10-pages that’s fine…but don’t just bulk it up for bulking purposes alone. Don’t be excited to be able say you have written a 60-page Treatment for a Development Executive when reading it is he/she is ever bored (more chance in 60-pages than in 3-pages) then he/she will literally and figuratively “Throw It away”… Thus, let’s try to keep it to 3-5 Pages.

ACT I: Take the Top Half of Page-1 and in 3-4 long, run-on, grammatically incorrect sentences type the “5 Ws & H”… WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY & HOW.

EXAMPLE: Los Angeles, 1986, South Central, a ghetto area where hubcaps have a 3-day life, JOEY GARRAGIOLA, 15, an anchor child of an illegal family with dreams of riches, …

For ACT I, Type the 5 Ws & H and each time you type a new character, type him/her in all UPPERCASE letters (this helps the reader to identify that a new character just came into story), thereafter, if you type his/her name again type it in Upper-Lower case letters. Then after you type the new character in all UPPER CASE LETTERS, type (A) his/her age and (B) a 10-15 word physical or emotional description of the character.

Type ACT I: 3-4 lines, double spaced typing and introduce the 5 Ws & H, with each new character having (1) UPPER CASE LETTERS, (2) Age and (3) Description-Visualization.

Now, let’s go to ACT III; the Bottom Half of Page-3 and in 3-4 sentences describe the 3 B-Stories and how they resolved themselves in a way that they come together and make the primary A-Story resolve itself.

Write ACT I (Beginning). Write ACT II (Ending).

Now, let’s write ACT II (The Middle).

Remember, if you ever write a piece-of-crap and send it to someone in the industry who actually reads it and you can then (I doubt it) get the reader to tell you why they didn’t like it their answer will always be some variation of “ACT II… Was A Little Weak”

ACT II is the key, combined with great dialogue, to great writing and having a Great script.

Again: The key to the Great Script and, its first step, the Great Treatment is writing a Great ACT II. The Beginning (Act I) and the Ending (Act III) are easy to write. Its’ the Middle (Act II) which is tough and, in essence, Act II…is the story.

More than likely you have a Great Idea but no real story.. Therefore, it is imperative to flesh out Act II (The Story, sometimes called Structure)…

Tomorrow’s Hot Tip will be how to (A) Create a Great Story and (B) how to Write a Great Story (aka: Act II) within your Treatment.

"From Dov Simens, founder of The Movie Cloud, and creator of the "2-DAY FILM SCHOOL" (www.DovSimensfilmSchool.com
 copyright (c) 2013, DOV SIMENS

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