Introduction to Screenplay (2019)

Which is the common subject every film director, film editor, film actor, film cinematographer must have to learn first? The answer is screenplay. Does not matter, whether some one is in film school, or film project or learning online, good understanding of screenplay is must. It is quite similar to construction work where architecture, builder, brick layers or mistry must have to have good understanding capability of blue print otherwise they are not suitable for construction work. Screenplay is blueprint for a film project. With out this document all the departments will be directionless. There is no film production in the world which would invest fund with out a locked script in hand. (There were lots of movies made in Bollywood with out script, what was that exactly, that is a different matter and we will discuss in some other article.)

Introduction to Screenplay (2019)

What exactly is a screenplay?

In simple language – What ever we see and hear on screen, if we note down on a paper then that is a screenplay. This definition is enough for those who want to know the meaning of screenplay. But if some one is willing to build career in the film industry, such limited understanding is not at all good sign. Screenplay in it itself is a vast topic. Right training and with out lots of practice no one could understand even the first letter of screenplay.

So screenplay is a document:

  • From Screenwriters perspective – A story told in terms of pictures (With audio details)
  • From Film Directors Perspective- A story told in terms of Scenes
  • From Actors Perspective – A story told in terms of Characters in situations
  • From Cinematographer perspective – A story told in terms of Visual Emotions
  • From Editors Perspective – A story told in terms of rearranged visual pieces that delivers new emotional meaning

The intention behind saying these different definition from different professionals perspective is to make you realise the document has different value for different personalities in the film making department.

Who should learn screenplay writing?

Any one wants career in film, television, webseries and documentary industry. Apart from this, if some is dedicated to make career in writing, then must have to learn professional concepts of screenplay writing. It involves deeper understanding and execution of screenplay writing.

How could one learn screenplay writing?

  • Best option is film school. There are plenty people who might claim no film maker or screenwriter have gone to film school and they have learned by their own. They might not have gone to a film school but they must have gone through a right guidance in the film industry or might have some kind of training (free or paid) or might have some book helped to learn the craft. Screenplay writing is a craft and craft can not be learned with out training, guidance and practice. In Bollywood, most of the projects, the writers write script for a director. In such cases director becomes the teacher for the writer and he guides how exactly he needs a script. Getting back to the point, best option is film school, because here exchange of ideas take place which is rare in outside of the school boundary. And the most important part, film schools are updated with world cinema education. So there are greater chances to learn the contemporary screenplay writing.
  • Second best option are online courses. Screenplay Online Courses are plenty available. The only demerit with online courses they are one way teaching. If one follower encounters some doubts or rises questions then either call the faculty or drop a message. It consumes time.
  • Third option: Film Project. If you have struggled in the industry then you must have heard often people saying, it is meaningless to spend money in film schools, the best environment to learn film making craft is film project itself. For statements, I have a simple question, can one learn the construction of building just by looking at the work flow. No. Not at all. One must have to learn A to Z of construction. There is no denial, there are smart people who just by looking at the workflow could easily grab how things are taking place. But such people also fail to understand complex part how things are going at the film shoot. If just being part of film project, enough to learn a particular craft then there might not be one single person from the set left with out being a film maker. But luckily, there are film directors, cinematographers, editors, writers share the knowledge, tips of the craft with their juniors. If one want to become screenwriter then such people should try to write for a director or writer.
  • Fourth Option: Book. The problem with books to learn screenwriting, all the books say same thing in different way. And the writers of most of these books are not from film making background. But yes, all these books are good to screenwriting grammar.
  • Fifth Option: Workshops. Workshops are good source of latest industrial approach information and most of the workshops are conducted by experience guys. But the demerit with workshop is; limited seats available, runs for short period of time, and is not suitable for absolute beginners.

So the point here is with out training and practice it is impossible to learn the screenplay. And those who claim it is some kind of divine connection streams from far galaxy and reaches down to the heart through nose then to the finger tips, all these things are bull shit!! Screenwriting is a craft and craft can be learned only with right training and lots of practice. Dedication and intelligence both required.

Bitter Truth About Screenplay Career

  • There is tough competition. Brilliant scripts get rejected often and silly meaningless scripts are selected.
  • 9 out of 10 screenwriters are amateur and they are not aware of this.
  • Some strugglers often taunt you (indirectly) “Why dont people understand screenwriting is not everyone’s cup of tea? Such people should go for some other job. Totally wasting time” and they are not aware ten other strugglers saying same thing for these people and ten other people say same thing for those people and this is endless process. (The point here is do not listen to any one)
  • Until your script is not sold some where you are not writer.
  • There is tremendous starve among human but has no patience to write. Such people who can easily pay 25 K bugs hire new writer in the name of writing for a future project and would narrate thousands of stories that has been struggling inside to come out. (Before saying yes to any project look what kind of growth you are going to have)
  • There is always risk with first time film makers. Such people are not aware how market works and how revenues are generated. 90% project stops in between.
  • And the most worst part, plagiarism. Plagiarism in itself is vast topic. (Why, going to share in another article).

Am I saying to quite your dreams and opt some other career?

No. Not at all. I am trying to make you aware of the reality that if not today then tomorrow you are going to face.

How should one go for Screenplay writing career?

Learn and master the craft. Most aspiring screenwriter read couple of script and jump straight to write. (This is totally wrong approach). Here I am not saying not to read script. Script has its own vocabulary. One must have to read plenty scripts regularly. But reading script wont help you to understand the grammar of screenplay. For this either go film school, or join online course, or read books or attend workshop.