How TO WRITE A Film Script or a Novel.
Fifty thousand bucks is the least they can pay you for a script these days, so this gambit is better than any lottery number you have ever seen.
1.) CHANNELING THE PLOT. SIT SOMEWHERE PEACEFUL with a deck of blank 3x5 cards in your hand and a marker pen. not ball point. And ASK YOUR UNCONSCIOUS TO SHOW YOU the movie it wants to make. Don't make any decisions about what or where. Just shut your eyes, go into reverie and wait until you SEE it. Ask the unconscious to show you the FRONT PART OF YOUR MOVIE, the FIRST SCENE. OUR HERO or HEROINE. Explain to the unconscious, this movie is about their dilemma, and how they fix it. Unconsciousses aren't stupid. Your soul will know it has its chance to make known all its perceptions on SOME TOUCHING, WISE STORY!
Say you see a homeless bum; scribble a note on a 3x5 card to jog memory later. BUM. Just scribble it, don't waste time spelling, we want just basic notations as you'll type it later from these marker scribbles. This process is called "MAKING YOUR CARDS." This card method came from a man who had won two oscars for screenwriting. His classes were at Loyola Marymount University. Edward Anhalt. His studio office at 20th century Fox had his cards all over a bulletin board/cork wall with push pins. He could shift their order if producer he worked for required it, or if his own unconscious felt a scene should be shifted to earlier or later. I worked for him for 30 years. He had just done Becket with O Toole and Burton and JEREMIAH JOHNSON with Redford and QB VII, with Ben Gazzara & LUTHER with Stacy Keach when I met him. He was a busy guy!
Every time you make a jot, make it brief but legible as you don't want to break the reverie. Now, just slide back into an alpha wave, mindless meditation. Use some yoga tricks to slow your breath to 3 breaths a minute which is really spacey. It helps to demand things of the unconscious in a slow, masterful way, so pronounce these words "MIND will you please be very quiet while my HIGHER SELF SHOWS ME the action of this SCENE we are on now, the first scene". Then wait until you see it like a television set. If you don't, repeat instructions in a slow, commanding voice, talking to your higher self. Convince it this is necessary. "We are going to make money to help our family." Which implies there are two sides to the brain that think differently. One is unconscious, soul mind, yin brain, inacessible 99% of the time, except while asleep, when that's ALL you have. The other one is your regular mind which you are going to put out of commission just now. WIth the rational mind asleep you are going to do very heroic things. Say as much. "We are going to devise a screenplay that touches the hearts of planet earth. We are going to channel the perfect movie that the world needs to see now."
Now, let's just say that this film is starting to appear to you. You have no idea what it's about But you suddenly 'see' a 'Yuppie girl at the office, bored with the men around her, all the square, trite, office bozos, whom she rejects in a polite way. One of them is obviously her ex boyfriend and they're REALLY FROSTY NOW though the guy is needy and still wants her. This lovely girl goes home, -- shown in quick cuts, & fetches her laundry from hamper and goes to a public laundry. There, she sees a hunk. RIGHT AWAY assign a fabulous man to the role, in your mind's eye. Say it's Javier Bardem, or it's Patrick Warburton, (RULES OF ENGAGEMENT,) big and studly like an ex marine, only guess what? He's a HOMELESS bum. NOTE: Envisualizing your fave male actor or shall we call it 'dream casting,' is important as it helps you envisualize him, see every expression, see his wit, all of it. It's fleshed out. ALSO, you write a way different way if it's KEVIN SPACEY you're aiming it. Kevin has his own set of stuff. Not like WARBURTON or HARRISON FORD. They're all diff in the nuance department
But stick to what your uncon gives you! He's God, you're human.
So, gal enters laundry fishing thru her pockets for change, jingling away. As she comes in the door, she spots him and he spots her fingers in her pocket and he begs some SPARE CHANGE from her. (make a jot, possible title, Spare Change.) And he says something so witty and intelligent that after a few moment's consideration, she returns to the front door and she gives him a few quarters. They talk. WHAMMY! They dig one another.
AS A PERMANENT TIP WHEN WRITING: Always give two lovers a "Meet-cute". Apparently he only has the clothes on his back. She volunteers to wash these rags for him. We can see right now, it's a touching, happy movie about romantic choices, but a comedy obviously as he wears a cardboard box while she washes.
Now that this script has your fancy, stick with it, making the 'cards', scene by scene, roughly indicating the conversation that goes down ON YOUR CARDS. NUMBER the cards as you go. Scribble the visuals you are seeing in your reverie. Trust me, you don't need more now. Go as far as you can. Say you get tired and want to stop. Just set down the deck. Do not try to remember it. If I got this far in my script, my brain brain would be telling me, make this guy like Jack Reacher in the LEE CHILD thriller NOVELS which are so astounding and sell so well. Reacher is an ex Marine M.P built like The Hulk who wanders America solving crimes. My brain would be dragging me toward a BIRD ON THE WIRE TYPE (Mel Gibson and Goldie) story. But if we do this, at least the first time, stick to the "VISION" that your uncon soulular brain has 'in mind.'
THE NEXT day, re-read the cards to that point, as if you were rereeling a movie on the VCR.Then do slow breathing and go for your second reel or third, wherever you are, go on plotting. Stick with the cards until you have whole story, movie is finished. You, who never knew you were a story teller had this fabulous whole tale IN you. That's the miracle of working out of your unconscious. It is not derivative, it is utterly FRESH. Even though your brain is saying 'Reacher, Mel Gibson, Goldie, thriller.' you stick to what the soul has up its sleeve.
Now -- after you type up your outline (because scribbles soon become illegible and memory doesn't summon up what you meant more than two days later...) take time to write the script. Scripts are real fast. 4 1/2 days flat to turn those scribble cards into 'the Paramount form.'
Now, ponder: what other movies are in your unconscious? Well, go down there. Don't stay up in your head. Shut our eyes, and let a big bubble rise from the bottom of the river of your uncon. If you are truly spaced out, as like when you're DREAMING AT NIGHT, it will. Usually it comes as a visual daydream. Or as a 1st scene. You 'see it.' Like a t.v set in the inner eye. So don't 'think' it. SEE it. Scribble it. That is 1st scene of your movie. Just go from there, and keep on asking your uncon. "and then?" So it supplies more plot. More visual scenes.
When you are stopped dead, try this trick. You can create movement by saying to yourself, if you get stuck, "and then? And then?"
But even more dynamic is this method for getting the plot to "thicken." Your characters are just sitting there, talking and you say to yourself: 'only what he don't know is' or 'what she don't know is,' (Billy Wilder's trick for writing hilarious comedies.) You might get some wild pictures about what they don't know about one another. The girl in the laundry does not know that he's a hitman for the CIA and is 'casting' for a girl to get him in a party to do a hit. No that won't work as you can't have a murderer for a leading man. OK> he's an ACTOR who ...wants a beautiful girl to ... same, a party a film job? Though that's corrupt as hell.
Imagine that the girl in the laundry has made dinner for the bum and he's coming over. "What the bum doesn't know is what? What the girl doesn't know is what? Try it both ways. Well, she doesn't imagine that STUDMUFFIN is really a costly private detective who her cruddy ex boyfriend has put on her tail. He's not homeless at all. He's here to investigate her private life!
Maybe you reject that concept. So let's just stick with he's really homeless for the time being. If your unconscious cannot come up with anything at the "WHAT HE DON'T KNOW IS..." crossroad, let it be. Maybe as you scour your intuition, unconscious and wicked wit, nothing comes up. That's OK. It just means that you cannot make a left turn there. No biggie.
Now, writer BILLY WILDER had this fab plot in the flick ''MIDNIGHT'' where boy and girl meet, in a hired taxi, in PARIS. It's raining. She has no money at all though she's in a sequined evening gown! Well somewhere in his unconscious, Billy suddenly KNEW where and what she came from. So he wrote a scene for the front of the movie, before they meet, where she's been a chorus girl on the lam from casinos on the Riviera in France....some scandalous past all of it contained in a suitcase she left in station in the coat room or locker. They had lockers then, who knew? She meets the driver and audience knows what she's really about, handsome cabbie doesn't. Their first conversation is a delight. Both are worthy people. He's already in love but the subject of money comes up. He's willing to sport her a ride but she is ethical and gets out of the taxi, unable to pay, in the pouring rain, and goes immediately into a posh blueblood party at a nightclub. Doorman lets her in as she's dressed to kill. She's also Claudette Colbert a real babe, great body. WE KNOW that she's a chorus girl on the lam, not a sou to her name, broke, and the hilarity starts there. Meanwhile Don Ameche the taxi driver is madly in love with her. INSIDE THE PARTY, JOHN BARRYMORE has this damn cheating wife..well, you have to screen the flick.
BILLY did another superb winner, Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland in "ARISE MY LOVE" .....scour cable guides til you find that one, too. Ya think NETFLIX might have it?WOW! Billy is THE KING of "what he don't know is." Creating hilarious secrets that will explode forth at any time! NINOTCHKA with Garbo. What Melvin Douglas doesn't know about the gorgeous enigma he meets on a Parisian street....is, that she's a tool of the Communist revolution, works for LENIN!
You can keep on creating 'high concepts' or you can go ahead & not stop until you have a whole movie, with a whole plot. 2 hrs. worth. Your imagination is a wondrous weaver, much more than your brain. It will spin like a spider, unbelievable intricacies. You will be amazed. Try several more movie plots. Then pick the best. That will be the first screenplay you'll invest time in. Maybe with help of a Hollywood agent, you'll sell it. (I have pounds of stationery saying STARPOWER LITERARY AGENCY, (and for years I ran the Los Angeles Free Writers' Co-op to find young writers)
You do a script as it's better than a lotto ticket. A million guaranteed if you can write it and get half share in the producers' fees by letting a 'salesman' type kid meet studio execs, doing two meetings a day til it sells.
Or Maybe it's just for practice. It doesn't matter. We all start somewhere. But here's the thing. Script takes 4 days, NOW you do it as a novel. The outline is right there. Novel is easy. Sell it to NYC publishing biz you reap a much better film sale, double triple.
2).WRITING THE ACTUAL THING. (as a Script) Note the sample page I enclose. Note the spacing. NOTE INDENTATIONS are specific, from left side of the pg. USE COURIER font. Size 12 cpi.
EXT. LAUNDRY - LATE DAY
We are in the posh side of town. The laundry is full of chic secretaries after work. JEANINE (31) carries a shopping bag full of food and another full of laundry. JOE SANTOS, (35) a handsome homeless bum leans against the doorway. Jeanine tries to get past him.
(attracted to her)
Hey pretty lady. Can you spare a dime?
Jeanine looks up, annoyed, then smiles.
You've got to be kidding.
JEANINE AT WASHING MACHINE
She sticks her quarters in, finds she has some left over, looks over at him.
He is boldly watching her.
She comes up to him, puts the quarters in his hand.
Thank you darlin'
Doesn't this begging thing embarass you?
Hey. A third of the populace is out of work. I want to work, If I didn't I might be embarassed. Am I embarassed I gotta eat? I don't think so.
What do you do?
Some writers use CUT TO on the right margin at the end of EVERY SCENE. I don't think it's necessary --nor do some very employed writers I know. But, if scene is continued to next page, put in CONTINUED at page bottom right hand side. JOSEPH
Hard hat, no building goin' on in this recession. I was a city trashman 'til I joshed the boss, He reported me, end of the best job I ever had. City will never take you after that. Guy had no sense of humor. Coke spoon on his neck. Woulda shoulda coulda. KNOWN!
So, write the thing, send it to me to edit. You'll rewrite it, then STARPOWER AGENCY will agent it for you. I got a huge box of stationery cost 300$ saying STARPOWER etc. Or ( as writers cannot walk it thru studios) deputize the cutest yuppie kid you know who will be the producer who optioned the script. and make him pay you a buck and write out the contract so that he really owns the rights, only deal memo sez he only gets X amt of the percentage cuz hey, he didn't really option it. There isn't a studio in town who won't meet with you if you're the producer, that means you own an option on it. READ HOW TO HUSTLE YOUR SCRIPT.
NEXT: Organize your office to sell, submit, hustle it yourself. That means build shelves from floor to ceiling. Get a lot of folders, put each script or story project inside a different folder. Keep folders in neat stacks. DO A TAB on SHELF "NAME OF SCRIPT" Find a small xerox shop (not KINKOS) who'll give you a 4c a page price if you do ten scripts at a time.
One day you'll work on one project, another day the other. When one really appeals to you, you'll stick with it from OUTLINE to screenplay form. And then from screenplay to NOVEL form. And you hustle NYC agents and then NYC publishers.
There's one difficult in taking the BOOK left turn. NOVELWRITING or Prose styling is harder than screenplay. I can write a Screenplay in 4 1/2 days once I have the outline. THE NOVEL can take years! AUTHOR DAVE POYER has a MULTI CLASSROOM FREE SEMINAR ONLINE, Go there. There are articles on how to hustle a screenplay at MY WEBSITE, HOLLYWOOD BOUND, AND WRITERS' INDEX. I also teach a course on how to make a living without a 40 hour a week job at the GUERILLA CAPITALISM webpage (BELOW) --- It is extremely important to be able to stay home from breakfast hour til at least noon as those are the only really productive writing hours. It is real easy to get distracted, see this writer's article on my same theme
SO now.......to work...which will prove your unconscious has grand ballrooms and luxurious penthouses that you have never before accessed.
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