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Script Doctor

A script doctor is an experienced screenwriter who rewrites a client’s screenplay to make it better. Most rough draft screenplays contain scenes that are not integral to the plot. Such scenes must be deleted. While there may be excess scenes there are also typically many underdeveloped areas and characters, which our script doctors can fix.

It is essential that your screenplay adheres to the proper screenwriting structure. Successful screenplays have 3 acts and follow a highly structured format. In order to advance the story, each scene must relate to the main character’s goal. This cannot be overemphasized. While you may have some great scenes, if they do not fit into the overall story then they must be left out. Our script doctors are expert screenwriters who understand how to write a story. We can turn your screenplay into a well-polished and paced script.

Contact our script doctors today at:

contact@screenwritersforhire.com

(323) 570-4473

Film Treatment

An integral part of screenwriting, a film treatment is crucial to help plan and organize your screenplay and it is required to market and pitch your screenplay effectively to potential financiers and producers. A treatment is generally longer than a synopsis but far shorter than the full screenplay. The length will vary but it should be about as short as possible without sacrificing the key points.

There are a number of books that give you the conceptual knowledge of composing a compelling film treatment. You could refer to them and master the skill of creative writing. Schools and classes for screenplay writing may help to lay a strong foundation for the journey ahead. Our professional film treatment writers have graduated from such institutions and have written dozens of movie treatments and screenplays.

A film treatment helps the writer to stay structured while writing the screenplay. In general, a treatment will contain a logline and a detailed summary of the yet-to-be-written screenplay. The vast majority of successful screenplays are written in three acts and eight sequences. Without a well planned treatment, the screenplay structure and characters will likely falter. Depending on which sources you read, a treatment should also include a brief description of each of the main characters. Character are the single most important element of a story so we agree that characters descriptions ought to be included in your film or movie treatment.

Below is an example of a movie treatment:

TheLastHistorianTreatment

Screenplay Outline

Here is a sample of a detailed screenplay outline we provide for our clients.

Sample Screenplay Outline

Act I
Scene 1: Dusty Outskirts of LA

Opening montage shows Stephanie driving through dusty roads in the outskirts of LA. Rock music is blaring from the radio. Stephanie cuts people off and flips off a cop as she drives by; the cop simply shakes his head in disapproval. She slows down near the Mental Institution so she can retrieve a flask from her purse. As she’s pulling away we see Dean, who was watching from behind a fence. Stephanie drives off, and we her cell phone displaying a large number of missed calls.
Scene 2: Warehouse in LA

Stephanie parks her car outside of a warehouse. The remainder of the parking lot is filled with vehicles brimming with film equipment and props. Stephanie appears disappointed to be filming here. The director yells at her for being late, and they talk about how uncomfortable she is with doing this film. The film is revealed to be a drama leading up to the death of Alan Morris — an actor who Stephanie had looked up to who had died in a traumatic car accident five years prior. The director is completely unsympathetic and insists she gets into costume. Stephanie is cast as Alan Morris’ wife, Angela, who struggles with his substance abuse and secretive life. A few scenes are shot, and the director tells Stephanie that they will be filming outside of the Mental Institution tomorrow. The scene ends with Stephanie driving back to a seedy motel.
Scene 3: Motel Room

As Stephanie enters her motel room, she nearly trips on a pile of bills outside of her door. She pops a frozen dinner into the microwave and proceeds to open a bottle of whiskey. On the kitchen table, there is a large pile of opened mail consisting of legal notices regarding child support. She turns on the radio and Lana Del Rey’s Ride begins to play; she continues to drink heavily as she plops down at the table and throws a drunken tantrum at the site of the letters. She falls asleep, weeping on top of her half-eaten TV dinner. The next morning, Stephanie is eating a bowl of Captain Crunch in front of the TV. The news is covering a protest in the Sioux Indian Reservation that has become violent. The protest is regarding a gold mine, recently discovered in the reservation land, that the government has been trying to get their hands on. The reporter begins discussing the legality of the government stealing from an indian reservation before Stephanie changes the channel and continues eating her cereal. Hollywood Observer is covering her drunken exploits from the previous month — which included her throwing beer bottles at a paparazzi for asking too many questions about her legal troubles and the new movie she’s working on. Stephanie turns off the TV with some irritation. As she grabs her purse and begins to walk out, the strap breaks. She cringes, and puts her credit card, driver’s license, and some cash into her pocket, and walks out of the motel.
Scene 4: Outside of Mental Institution

Stephanie pulls up next to the directors car at the parking lot of the Mental Institution. While filming her scene, it is interrupted with a police officer walking on set and reading Stephanie her rights. He explains there is a warrant out for her arrest for her child support. The director tries to help by deterring the police from taking her off the set. Deflated, Stephanie mentions that it is a legal arrest, especially if you owe as much child support as she does, and goes with the police to the car. As the police car drives off, Dean is walking out from the entrance of the Mental Institution, wearing a hodgepodge of costumes from the movie set. He begins walking in the same direction that the police car drove off in.
Scene 5: The Police Station

The police place Stephanie in a questioning room in the police station. They offer her a glass of water, which she explains she can’t even drink with the cuffs on. They uncuff her and bring her a drink. They explain that she will be escorted to a court hearing where they will determine what to do about her child support. The arresting officer sits down and asks her questions about why a mother would bail on her children like she has, and all Stephanie is able to explain is that she got involved in some stuff she shouldn’t have gotten involved in. The cop gets frustrated and drags her out of the room, out of the station, and into the parking lot. As they begin walking towards the cruiser, a stock car comes out of nowhere and smashes into it. The cop is dazed and knocked on the ground. Stephanie was knocked down, but Dean gets out of the car and helps her up nonchalantly claiming himself as her guardian angel. She struggles, but Dean ends up throwing her into the back of his car. He peels out and drives off into the sunset.
Act II
Scene 1: Angela Morris’ Home

The scene cuts to Angela Morris’ home, which is essentially a mansion. A little boy and girl are playing with Legos as Angela sits in a recliner, drinking a white russian, watching a James Dean movie. A man wearing a blue T-shirt and khaki shorts enters from a slider door, asking Angela if she’ll need him again tomorrow for lawncare. He mentions that it’s unhealthy for a lawn to be cut every single day. She looks at him, playfully slaps him on the butt, and asks him if he does anything other than just lawn care. Her phone rings and from the other end of the line a man explains that Stephanie bailed on her court hearing. Angela finishes her drink and sourly mutters under her breath, calling Stephanie a bitch.

Scene 2: Driving on a Desert Highway

Dean is driving the car, Stephanie is in the back. Dean introduces himself as James Dean. Stephanie sarcastically asks him about his intentions, such as whether or not he’s going to kill her. Dean answers her cryptic replies. The tension wears down when Dean mentions he knows that she was in some trouble and he’s just trying to help her out. Stephanie relaxes and lights a cigarette, asking where they’re going. Dean simply tells her not back there. He asks her what kind of trouble she had gotten herself in when it came to the police, Stephanie refuses to answer as long as Dean won’t reveal his intentions. In the rearview mirror, a police vehicle turns on its lights some distance away from the stock car. Stephanie begins to panic. Dean revs up the engine and speeds away much faster than the police cruiser can keep up. The speedometer spirals around several times. Stephanie lays down in the back of the seat, screaming. After a few moments, they appear to have lost the police and Dean returns to a normal speed. Dean tells her that she has nothing to worry about and pats the dashboard. The sun begins to set, and Dean drives straight into the desert.
Scene 3: Campsite in the Desert

Dean and Stephanie sit in the desert sand. Dean retrieves a blanket from the front seat and gives it to Stephanie. Using some shrubbery, he lights a fire. Stephanie remains quiet until he finishes, and asks why they are going to camp in the desert, and expresses her concern about being attacked by coyotes. Frustrated, Dean tells her how the Native Americans survived in the wilderness before Europeans colonized here and assures her that if the indians could do it, they could too. Stephanie tells him that she wants to go home, eventually becoming more worried when she realizes she can’t. Dean explains that he needs her help, and if she is willing to help him get to the Sioux Indian reservation she will be paid back tenfold. Stephanie isn’t sure of how she can help. Dean explains how the entire world thinks he is dead, and therefore has no money and everybody thinks he’s crazy. He says he has more work on this world, and the Sioux shaman have way of working with the spirits. He talks about the Curse of the Green Bastard, and how he doesn’t want anybody else to be lost to the curse of the devil’s engine. Finally, he tells Stephanie that he knows she’s going through a rough patch in her life, and that they may be able to offer her some guidance. Stephanie thinks about the absurdity of all of this, but then remembers the news broadcast from before about the gold mine. She thinks that perhaps there may be a possibility of her walking out of this with some money — and an Indian reservation would be a great way to hide from her problems, even if temporary. She agrees to help Dean.
Scene 4: Next Day at a Seedy Gas Station

Dean is pumping gas into the car. In front of the gas station there are two 13-year-old kids sitting on the curb, smoking cigarettes. Stephanie walks in, but not before asking the children if their parents would like to see them where they are right now. The kids act rude to Stephanie as she goes inside and grabs a variety of snack foods and drinks and pays for them with her credit card. The gas station clerk starts to recognize her and she immediately leaves. She gets into the front seat of the car. Dean puts the car in neutral and tells Stephanie to get in the driver’s seat and to keep trying to start it. Dean pushes the car as hard as he can as the engine turns. Dean runs to the side of the car and jumps in the passenger seat. As they drive off, the clerk calls his friend and tells them how he just met one of his favorite porn stars.
Scene 5: Angela at a Salon

While getting her hair fixed, Angela takes a phone call. From the other end, a private investigator says that the police are unable to find Stephanie and are wondering if Angela has any idea of where she may have went. Having no idea herself, she asks why she hired the investigator if he doesn’t know any more than the police do. The investigator replies saying that he’ll have to use unconventional methods to locate her and hangs up. Angela continues getting her hair done as her children are seen running in the street outside.
Scene 6: Night Time on a Highway

Stephanie continues to ask Dean where the Indian Reservation is located. He finally cracks and tells her that it’s in South Dakota — a day’s drive away. She’s concerned about how far away it is, and Dean promises her he won’t sleep until they get there. There’s a roadside montage, ending with them being merely a few hours away. They decide to sleep in the car outside of Winner, South Dakota.
Act III: The Return
Scene 1: The Investigator at the Seedy Gas Station

Hot on the trail of Stephanie, the Investigator has managed to get word from the credit card company that Stephanie had last used her credit card at this gas station. He pulls up to the gas station and goes in. He picks up a package of licorice and questions the gas station attendant — same guy as before. The investigator asks if he’s seen anyone that meets Stephanie’s description and the attendant begins bragging that he met the celebrity. The attendant explains he recognizes her from some porn pictures he’s seen on the internet. He explains that she was traveling with Dean, who he describes as looking like a greaser right out of 1950’s. He thanks the attendant and returns to his car. He makes a call, the receiver is another one of Angela’s investigators. He tells the other man that he thinks he may have some information to help his case — he may have found Dean, who he refers to as Anthony. He asks to team up with the other investigator, and where he thinks Anthony may have gone. The receiving investigator instructs him to wait at the gas station.
Scene 2: On a dirt road in South Dakota

Stephanie and Dean wake up in the car to see that it won’t start. Dean suggests that they get out and push — as he’s not going to the reservation without the car. He says the engine is probably trying to show them something. As they push through the roads of the reservation, she can see liquor stores on every corner, as well as children taunting the homeless. This proves to Stephanie the effects that the Sioux protest has taken on the people who live on the reservation are devastating. They push the car off the road and into a clearing with a trailer in the middle of it. Dean stops pushing and tells her that they’ve arrived. Stephanie tells Dean that she needs to come clean — the real reason she’s with him is that she wants to escape from her reality. She explains how she had two children with Alan Morris. Alan began cheating on her with Angela, sending Stephanie into a reckless lifestyle. When Alan and Stephanie split up, the courts decided that Alan was a safer parent, and therefore gave the kids to him and Angela, who had got married. Stephanie was ordered to pay child support, knowing that Angela and Alan could easily afford to take good care of the kids even without her help. Months later, Alan died in a drunk driving accident and left everything to Angela in the will. Angela blames Stephanie for Alan’s lapse in judgement, and pressed harder and harder for child support payments to be made. Stephanie explains she was infuriated and distressed by these events, and that’s why she wanted to run. Dean tells her that she can run away forever out here, and that the Chief can help her heal her battered soul.
Scene 3: The Indian Chief’s Trailer

As Stephanie and Dean walk into the trailer without knocking, they meet the Chief — middle-aged man of native American descent wearing a white t-shirt and jeans. The chief pulls out a gun when he sees Dean, asking why he’s come here again. Dean has no idea what he’s talking about and tells the chief that he needs the chief to rid his car of the curse of the green bastard. The chief says he knows, and that this is the third time Dean has been here in the last several years asking about the same thing. He explains that every time, Dean shows up and makes this request, the chief tells him to simply get a new car, Dean leaves, and trouble moves into the reservation. The chief tells him to never come back. Dean is confused and begins to cry as he leaves the trailer. Stephanie explains that she came with him for some sort of spiritual guidance, and the Chief says that her biggest problem is hanging out with Dean. After hearing a slamming sound on the outside of the trailer, the Chief and Stephanie leave the trailer.
Scene 4: Outside of the Chief’s Trailer

Dean is brawling with the two investigators. As soon as the chief sees them, he fires his gun and accuses the investigators of being feds. The investigators explain that they’re looking for Anthony and Stephanie, but he keeps firing shots as everyone takes cover. Stephanie hides in the entrance of the trailer. The Chief keeps firing, shouting that the feds will never take the gold mine. Stephanie pleads with the Chief, suggesting that a gold mine is not worth the state it has put the people of the reservation in. The Chief, still firing his gun and reloading tells her that the Sioux have made a promise to their ancestors to protect these lands at any cost. Firing wildly now, the Chief shouts to Stephanie that promises have to be kept. Finally, one of the stray bullets hits the gas tank on the stock car, causing it to explode. Dean runs out from cover, falls to his knees and starts screaming. The investigators both run out and apprehend Dean, shouting at him to cease fire. The Chief sees them putting all of their attention on Dean and realizes they aren’t after the land. He throws the gun into the yard, out of ammo. The Chief returns to the trailer and gets a fire extinguisher. Stephanie stands aside as the Chief calmly walks to the car, kills the fire, and returns to the trailer and watches TV in his recliner. Snapping out of her astonishment, Stephanie rushes to Dean and tells the investigators to let him go. They reveal that his actual name is Anthony Jackson, and that he’s an escaped mental patient, that this isn’t the first time this has happened. One of the investigators grabs Stephanie and tells her they are bringing both of them in. She looks at them and tells them she’s done running, and asks them to take her home.
Scene 5: The Ending Scene

Stephanie’s wrapping up her final scene in the film. Immediately after the shoot, she drives to a local McDonald’s and works flipping burgers. In an internal monologue, Stephanie explains that learned that you can’t drive away from your problems, and that there is no shame in doing what needs to be done in order to fill your obligations. The scene ends with Stephanie visiting Angela, picking up the kids for the weekend, and taking them to a car show. For a brief moment, Dean can be seen walking by a car that looks exactly like his stock car. The credits roll.

 

Writing a Logline

Writing a logline for screenplays generally requires only one sentence. They sum up the movie’s premise and succinctly let people know what to expect. Note that loglines are different than movie taglines. Taglines are written for marketing the movie, long after the screenplay has been completed. Below are a few sample screenplay loglines. Writing a logline is an integral component to screenwriting and it is one of the first steps if not the first step.

 

(Drama) – John and Jay are your average mid-west couple, until their lives are changed forever by a relentless domino effect that spins their lives out of control.

(Thriller) – From the outside Jason, Amy, and their two children Natalie and Mike are an average upper middle-class family from the English countryside, but when a chain of frightening and deplorable events occur to them in fast sequence, Jason starts to believe that it is the work of a mysterious woman who claims Jason did her wrong. As his family unravels, the line between delusion and truths blurs.

(Short, Horror) – Three students are forced to abandon their vehicle in the dense wilderness, fighting for survival against a family of psychos who play a twisted game of death.

(Comedy) – An outcast team of 7th-grade movie-makers battle through book reports, wedgies, and bullies for a chance to win the grand prize at the annual youth film festival.

(Horror) – When Jack goes on a road trip to meet Michelle’s family, things go terribly wrong and she is kidnapped by a psychopath. Now Jack must trek through the unknown to rescue the love of his life.

(Drama, Psychology) – Four amazing teens have four illnesses, but they also have four strengths.

(Comedy) – Joe and Mary are single friends. Mary has a spare weekend getaway that and no one to go with so she asks Joe to go on vacation with her, as friends.

(Comedy, Romance) – A young aspiring Jazz singer seeks a lover whom she can trust. She simultaneously finds two brothers. But which brother can she trust?

(Comedy) – A heartbroken young man and his grandmother set out on a road trip and question the true meaning of love.

(Drama) – An inner city man, haunted by his daughter’s death, is released from prison, seeking redemption by helping a trapped lady and her young daughter escape from their abusive landlord.

(Drama) – It would be so much easier for Joe and Heather to just split up, but they are held together in a mad, illogical, and reckless surge of emotions. But isn’t that what love’s all about?

 

Similarities in the American Beauty Screenplay and other Screenplays

There are a number of similarities between American Beauty and older screenplays. The core of Ball’s screenplay is the Burnham family and it’s descent into masochistic misery, caused by the loss of identity and abandonment. This can be directly compared to Ernest Lehman’s screenplay of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (Oscar winner for “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, 1967).

Lester Burnham, with his misogynist ideals and his newly discovered taste for paedophilia are evident in innumerable screenplays. Shadows of his character can even be seen in stories such as James R Webb’s screenplay adaptation of James D MacDonald’s novel, “Cape Fear” (1962), and Wesley Strick’s 1991 adaptation of the 1962 adaptation. In both screenplays, the main character, Corporate Attourney, Sam, shows signs of fooling around with his sixteen year old office clerk. Later, Max Cady, a brutal paedophile rapist, terrorises Sam and his family, attempting to rape their fifteen year old daughter. The twofold influence of under-age sexual obsession in Cape Fear and its box office success has not been lost on Ball when searching for inspiration. A controversial novel adapted to a screenplay twice, both times winning awards, is the perfect place for a first time screenwriter to look for inspiration, assuring success in the transition from print to screen.

The most obvious equivalence in borrowed personalities can be drawn between Lester and Humbert in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”, a story of a middle-aged man and his uncontrollable obsession with a fourteen year old girl. Nominated for an Oscar in 1963 (”Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium”) then adapted by Stephen Schiff in 1999, this work is complex and multi-layered and was hailed as”a masterpiece of translation from novel to screen”. The main character, Humbert, risks everything to indulge his taboo paedophile fantasies, turning them into reality at any cost. Again, when this character is compared to Lester, the originality of the American Beauty screenplay is further compromised. Ironically Lolita says: ‘Fraid someone’s gonna steal your ideas and sell ’em to Hollywood, huh?

Pushing the boundaries of Ball’s originality to the limit, he takes yet another award winning screenplay, “Sunset Boulevard”, and extracts what he can use. The similarities between Lester in American Beauty and Joe in Sunset Boulevard are bluntly apparent, with both Lester and Joe narrating the story of their death and life preceding death.

Sunset Boulevard is the story of Joe, a hack screenwriter, employed by a fading silent era star to write a screenplay to herald her return to the screen. This screenplay by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett won “Best Written American Drama” at the Writers Guild of America Awards (Film) in 1951, was nominated for “Best Screenplay” at The Golden Globe Awards in 1951 and also won the Oscar for “Best Writing, Story and Screenplay” in 1951. This is a great script to plunder due to the amount of awards it won, ensuring a winning formula for Ball by following its original style. Ball has even taken some elements of Norma Desmond and incorporated them into Carolyn Burnham. Norma alternates between dominance and defeat – two traits visible in Caroline.

After relinquishing ownership of the screenplay, Ball must now watch while his story is dismembered and emphasis realigned. The Creative team at DreamWorks now change the story, with the director cutting lines and completed scenes to rework the story as he feels it should be. Although the writer borrows heavily from great screenplays, no storyline or plot has been directly stolen. Ball has used ideas, styles and successful writing recipes of others to ensure a good outcome, although the core of his story is still his own and valid in it unchanged form. The end product, nevertheless, is not recognisable to readers of the unedited and unchanged original script, in which the axis of the entire story pivots around the deeply troubled Fitts family. The director, envisioning his own version of the story, rewrites and reassigns the Fitts Family to minor roles. It is to the detriment of the final cut that this occurred, as the Fitts family are perhaps the most interesting of the characters in this movie.

The final heavily edited script leaves Colonel Fitts and his wife unexplained, their background completely erased from the final cut. The completed, then deleted scenes tell the story of the Colonel and his homosexual relationship while at war, where he witnesses the killing of his lover at the hands of the Viet Cong. This omission changes our view of the Colonel from a man suffering unresolved pain and one that has never recovered from the violence of war and a deeply traumatic past involving the loss of his partner, to the perception of a man who is intolerant and homophobic.

In the final cut, Fitts is transformed into a man who is controlling and violent without valid reason, however if we analyse this character in the context of the original unedited script, we can more fully understand him and his concern for his son. Pain, suffering and torment are evident in every moment of the Colonel’s life, and when he witnesses what he believes to be a sexual encounter between his son and Lester, he cannot control his outrage. The homosexual experiences of his own past have scarred him and he now (mistakenly) sees his son treading the same path – a path of assured sadness. Ball has unknowingly created a deeply complex character in that of the Colonel, however the deletion of his past changes the psychology of the character completely. To simply label the Colonel as homophobic can possibly be justified in the final cut, yet the complexity of this character as written in the original is anything but the stereotypical homophobe.

Evidence of the transformation from original screenplay to adaptation is clearly evident with knowledge of the deleted opening scenes. Ball’s very different original version of American Beauty opens with Ricky Fitts in a jail cell. He watches a TV showing a courtroom scene. At the bottom of the screen we read “Teenage girl accused of hiring father’s killer”. The TV report then focuses on Angela telling of hearing Jane wishing her father dead. We then see Jane’s face revealing hatred towards her former best friend Angela. The next scene moves away from the courtroom to a police station where the Colonel is presenting the police with the video Rickie filmed of his conversation with Jane about killing her father. .
Tonight on The Real Dirt, we’ll show you an astonishing videotape in which Jane and alleged killer Fitts actually make their unholy pact”. Next is the video of Jane revealing the contentious conversation she had with Ricky (the opening scene of the final cut). We then go back to the jail cell and see Ricky staring at us. We assume the guilt of the two teenagers as there is no contrary evidence at this point. Now we go to Lester’s voice over about life and death, the second scene of the movie’s final cut. By deleting these opening scenes, the entire premise of the script is therefore altered, changing our perception of Ricky and Jane, from that of presumed guilt, to a view of two innocent teenagers that are victims themselves.

Jane and Ricky are, from the outset in the uncut version almost certainly about to be convicted of murder. The Colonel, in giving damning evidence to the police against his son and Jane, is not yet revealed as the real killer. Not until after Lester is shot do we know the true identity of the killer, at which point we learn that not only is the Colonel willing to sacrifice his son in order to escape his own conviction, but that Barbara, his wife, discovered the Colonel’s blood covered shirt while doing the laundry – and has disposed of it, thus destroying evidence that would prove her son’s innocents. Furthermore, the original screenplay closes with scenes of Jane and Ricky being convicted of murder.

Perhaps the most dramatic shift from the original screenplay and departure from the story that Ball wished to convey is that the original has Lolita-like Angela and Lester finally engaging in sex. The director changed this to the commercial safety of Lester nobly refraining from completing his seduction of Angela.

The final director’s version has Lester as an honourable character who could have taken advantage of the vulnerable 16 year old schoolgirl, but does not. Although he undresses, kisses and fondles her, he is suddenly overcome with paternal care on discovering that his schoolgirl quarry is a virgin. He refrains from acting out his fantasy, and saves the moral day. Mendes has opted for a much more predictable, less controversial (and relatively safe) outcome with this adaptation. Lester and Angela having a sexual encounter would have generated outrage and condemnation from the audience. Interestingly, Lester is not viewed as a paedophile in the final cut, although it is still clear his intentions were to have sex with a schoolgirl. Mendes calls this amendment well, as the original script would have been a huge commercial risk. Nevertheless it is still a significant shift away from screenplay originality towards director adaptation.

It is clear that, in the final cut, director Sam Mendes has effectively taken ownership of the screenplay with severe reworking of Ball’s story, changing the entire premise, body and outcome. Lester Burnham remains a misogynist who relentlessly bullies his wife and is totally disinterested in his daughter, however he somehow remains redeemable in the director’s adaptation. The original Lester, after sex with Angela is beyond salvation.

Not all alterations to the uncut original will ever be divulged, as Ball and Mendes would most likely consider that such knowledge may compromise their respective originality claims. For example, the extent of the reworking of Barbara Fitts remains unknown. Mendes has said that his editing eliminated almost all of her dialogue, which has assuredly changed the entire character, reducing her to a zombie-like broken woman that never speaks. With Mendes manipulating focus away from the edited Fitts family, he centres on the collapse of the Burnham marriage. Barbara is now almost obsolete, with no real purpose, in contrast to her original role.

The ultimate and final question raised by either a screenwriter or a director is the claim to creation and originality (and the right to credits at the end of the movie). Mendes, in this case, is responsible for the effect of the adaptation process on these claims, however it is still Ball who is named as the original screenwriter, regardless of either his approval or disapproval of script adaptation or edits.

The ability to recognise the original screenplay is the ability to identify the substance of the original story and the body and soul of the characters who inhabit it. This essence may lie anywhere within the screenplay, for example, why the Joker jokes, how Superman became super, or why Carolyn Burnham is crumbling. The director, in translating the work from written form to visual form must decide what to preserve, and what to jettison, thus ultimately determining the authenticity and quality of the final adaptation – and its credited originality.

A clear conclusion to the question of screenplay originality can now be drawn. Although Ball’s characters possess parallels to those in other screenplays, the core of American Beauty is an original piece of work. This first time screenwriter has undoubtedly formulated his own story, distinct from any other. The storyline remains original, with Ball the single author. The vision of Ball’s story is only partially compromised by comparisons with other screenplays, as similarities surely exist. It is Mendes and his changes to the author’s narrative that diminish writer originality. Ball has, after all, not plagiarised, but merely borrowed elements of other characters.

The adaptation process that occurs after the author relinquishes the rights to the story upon its sale to the studio is therefore beyond the control of the original writer. Ball must stand by and watch as his characters and storyline are disassembled, rewritten, edited and reborn as a different entity, under the creative knife of both the studio and director. On completion of the movie, although the story is transformed into something the writer may not even recognise, the credits still retain the original creator’s name. Whether the integrity of the original screenwriter is compromised in an adapted final cut, without (permission, or) input by the original writer, remains debatable.

With an Oscar under his belt for ”Best Original Screenplay”, Ball would be foolish to challenge the studio in debating the originality of the final cut. He is quoted as saying (when asked if the script evolved significantly after the first draft): “It evolved in details, but there were no major shifts in the story or tone”, however Mendes and DreamWorks did, in fact, change the screenwriter’s original forever, the original narrative never seeing the light of day. Despite this, Mendes’ version of American Beauty is hailed as original screenwriting triumph and imprinted with Ball’s name. This, in cinematic terms is what is considered an original screenplay.

How to Make a Film — 3 Steps to Film Making

There are three chief areas of film making. They consist of pre-production, production, and post-production. These tasks can be somewhat difficult for directors but nevertheless, they come through to make an enjoyable film for an audience. All of these aspects are crucial in making a film because they pave the way for the film.

In the early stage of development the producers finds a story that he or she catches interest in. It could be a play or a novel but something that’s interesting enough to keep the audience entertained. The screenwriter spends his time writing the script. This may take several months to a couple of years. They do their best to make the story compelling. They are often editing the script in many ways and taking out stuff they think is boring or dull. The producer and screen writer then make a film pitch and present it to financiers.

They budget the film to see how much it will cost to make. They sometimes will rent equipment to test what would be best for their film. Most of their time is spent finding the perfect actor for the part.

Screen writing consists of writing the script. It is very important because this tells what the characters are going to do. They also write other information on how they want the camera setup. This task may take several years because they need the script to be perfect. Other writers may be brought in to help write or re-write the script. A script must conform to standards that all involved parties understand.

Storyboarding is another important part of making a film. Filmmakers’ must have a storyboard for each page, screen, or frame. Each storyboard is usually numbered and set up in sequential order. All text is included with its corresponding storyboard number. They are can be drawn by professional artist but it is ultimately up to the director if he wants to use the storyboard. Color, graphics, and other relevant details are indicated in storyboarding.

Funding is a very important part of the film because without this producer would not have money to make the film! Many great directors are good with funding. As I mentioned earlier producers and screenwriters make a film pitch to potential investors. Such investors can be paramount pictures or even DreamWorks pictures, who specialize in animated films.

Assembling a film crew is another important task of pre-production. The assistant director manages the times of shooting and logistics of production. The location manager finds and manages the film locations but most films are shot in a studio. The casting director holds auditions for actors that they may want to choose. The costume designer creates clothing for the characters and works closely to the actors. The composer finds music for the film. This is my favorite part because music can change the mood of an audience in a split second. There are many important positions but these are just a few.

Some aspects of production include direction, camera operation, lighting, sound recording, and acting. They have one important goal; to capture the sound and image necessary to tell the story. Lighting to me is a very important part of film because it captures the true emotion of the setting or actor. Sound recording picks up all the dialogue and sound necessary for the film. A typical day of shooting occurs when all the necessary crew arrives on set. While a scene is being filmed other crew members a getting ready for the next scene to speed things up. The take is done when the director shouts cut!

Production can take up to several years because of all the necessary things combined. Actors use their raw talent to act in front of a camera. Some scenes can be difficult because the actor has to keep a straight face. For instance, if there is a comic relief the actor must refrain from laughing. The director also uses things he or she may want to experience with. He might tell the actors to improv or act without a script. They may change the angles of the camera for a better effect so directors are always trying to improve during production.

Editing can take years to do because filmmakers want it to be perfect. Some filmmakers have been known to edit the picture themselves rather than sending it to a company. All of these aspects are important in making a film because they make the film less of a hassle. Things seem to go better when they are organized so this is why I believe filmmakers use these three aspects. To just shoot a movie without these aspects would be very difficult because people would not know where to start.

Plotting a Movie Script

The thought of how to plot a story for a movie script is quite common in the mind of some people, but most of them probably don’t recognize the basic framework needed to deliver a story. Nobody wastes time watching a movie that has no good story to tell. Such stories need to follow some kind of organization.

In movies, just like it is with novels, the 3 act framework is the structure of choice when it comes to storytelling. You hook your readers or audience with a thrilling promise of a story. Conflict is introduced in the second act where you put your heroes against the bad guys. The final act, the third, is where the story reaches its climax and things arrive at an end.

If you want your screenplay to plots itself the right way for the actual chance of having it made into a film, you need to create a very good first act; this is where the producers make their decisions. If you can’t capture their interest in the first 25 pages, which are the usual length of a first act, you can say goodbye to the chance of your script being turned into a movie.

Second act is where your story typically start to take shape and get heavy. Characters, the introduction, and scene settings are done in act one, preparing act two for the main action. A tool most use to generate a plot is where a story places the good against evil. Take a favorite movie of yours, it is certain to have something about the good guy fighting against the bad guy in its plot.

Always keep in mind thought that you don’t introduce any climax to the story when you are writing the second act. Nobody would stay to finish your movie if you did that. Acquiring the knowledge on how create a good plot for a movie script is a process. Many did and yet still failed when it comes to turning their screenplay into films. And most of the time, things fall apart in the second act.

Third act is indeed another vital part in the plotting of your movie. Third act is typically where your hero or heroes win the fight against all odds, beating the bad guys. Some movies try the other route and choose an ending that is not happy, but they are the exception when compared to those with happy endings. Another option for an ending of a movie is where you leave the audience wondering what happen and let them draw their own conclusions.”

Screenplay Writing

Screenplay Writing: The Foundation

Success takes writing talent and marketing. During your labor of love in screenwriting, always keep in mind that your work can not sail along on its own way a novel is able to.

Interests in screenplay writing are duly catered these days by the large amount of books and material available in the market. Readers can therefore learn how to create interesting characters, writing strong dialogues and scenes, generating excellent ideas, translating a cool idea of a story into a working film script, polishing said script, tying up loose ends and, most vital of all, producing a script that is wholly professional. A script that is going to leave a lasting impression in the mind of future audience.

Numerous sites also provide budget friendly online tutorials or lessons for screenplay writing. Information about getting started in the industry is also available, such as the best way to start networking, how to go about marketing your script and many more. With ability and talent, these lessons and tutorials are priceless additions to your quest of mastering the techniques of screenwriting.

Yet another thing to add to your arsenal of screenplay writing learning is reading. You need to read many novels, newspapers, journals, and magazines. A screenwriter needs to have an open informed mind who is constantly learning about the world and its people. This is crucial in order to emulate the kind of society his or her audience can relate to.”

Movie Script Writing Format

Movie Script Writing – The Basic Format

Knowing the format of a movie script is especially vital for a new screenplay writer. It is natural to be thrilled about finally producing a written copy of what have been in your head for a while now. Knowing everything about your characters and plots, however, does not necessarily mean you know how to put them all down in an organized, effective way they should be put down. Movie scripts always come in a uniform format and failure to conform is guaranteed to make your screenplay lose its very important audience, the director/producer. No movies are coming out from a script nobody understands.

Details are King

All parts of your screenplay need to be formatted and categorized so the directors and actors can understand the story and how to do their job. This covers things like the number of scenes and the directions, the dialogue and characters as well as the part where you elaborate the scenes.

If you stray away from the acceptable format, nobody is going to buy your screenplay let alone produce it into a movie. It doesn’t matter if your script is the Next Big Hollywood movie. Being an amateur or a beginner does not excuse you from not applying yourself to the whole process appropriately. No hope in moving up in the world of the entertainment industry if you are not willing to do this.

Indeed there are software choices to help you start with your screenwriting but familiarity with the whole manual process will help you identify potential errors, which may otherwise ruin your entire movie.

The Importance of Margins

One way to make it easier for everybody concerned to read movie scripts is the way margins differ in the typing of the script. Characters, dialogue, and actions involving are typed at the center of the page, while directions for action and stage setting are typed on the left of the page.

Putting in Correct Capitalization and Punctuation

Some things in a movie script are destined to be in capital letters. Names of characters are one example. Actions words are another. Say you want to tell the director and actors that, in a certain scene, you are going to have a mirror broken. The word break should be put in capital, “BREAK”, to let all parties involved know what is going on in that particular scene.

In a movie script, there is no need to put dialogue in quotation marks. With the appropriate format, your movie script should already show the dialogue clearly. It is still important to put correct punctuation in the sentences, however.

Page Breaks

Whether it is a novel or monthly report or screenplay, paper size will always limit your space. There is no way to avoid it; there are plenty of times within your script where you need to move the action to the other page in the middle of things. It is important to make sure your readers know it is not the end of the scene. When a scene is cut by the need to change pages, you need to put in the (more) indicator. As the scene resumes in the next page, tell your readers by using (cont’d).

Indeed, there are plenty other things to follow and watch for in order to make everything right. Still, more practices and study will help you familiarize yourself with the process and, in turn, help you get it right. When in doubt or when you have questions it is always a good practice to stop a while, look things up – look especially for examples – and resume writing when you have found out the correct answers.

Movie Script Writing

Movie Script Writing

The idea is always the starting point. As you learn the ropes of writing a screenplay, you’ll find that the number one thing that should exist is the idea. As well as the suitability of the idea with the type of audience demographic you are targeting. When writing a personal project to shoot on your own with a low budget, it is convenient to plan according to the number of actors you can hire, and the number of locations your budget can accommodate. That is not to say that realistic or historical dramas is not in demand.

The idea that you have should have an instant attraction that captures people’s mind. You need to be able to explain the core idea of your story in a way that is as short as possible. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to sell your completed screenplay. If it is difficult to explain, it is usually also hard to watch. It is the basic principle anybody who is writing a movie script needs to remember.

Maximize the visual aspect without taxing the director. A script that is well-written does not go into too much detail in descriptions of both visual and action scenes. It is the directors preference and actually, job, to visualize things on their own. It is enough for a screenwriter to inspire the director with the story he or she writes. What if you plan to direct the movie yourself? It is tempting to note visual aspects on your script, but that can backfire later. There are plenty of ways to interpret a scene into the visual form, and if you already stick your story to a single choice, you lose the chance of using the best of alternatives in visualizing a scene.

Realistic dialogue and good dialogue are not necessarily the same things. If you want to make sure you are writing the screenplay the right way, you need to realize that dialogue is the most vital part of a script. There is not enough space and time to cover the subject for now, but there is every need to pay attention to how people in movies talk and how it differs from real conversations. It may surprise you that dialogue in movies are not at all the same with how people talk in real life. Dialogue in movies should give the feeling and impression of being similar to realistic conversations.

There is every need to deliver the message as fast as possible in movies’ conversations. The topics are always interesting in movies, too, as opposed to that of daily conversations. There is no weather chit chat; it is always something that can alter the course of the story. Argument and drama abounds, no such thing as kill the time kind of talk. Deference to the guidelines added with some talent is a small but solid guarantee you are on the correct path to producing a well written script as you continue to learn how to do it right.