If nothing else, most of us creatives now have a lot more time to do some writing. With that in mind, we here at the “48 hour Isolation Short Film Challenge” thought that we could offer some tips to help get the creative juices flowing during these trying times:
Just go for it - There are many different theories surrounding writing and the creative process. We understand that some people believe that inspiration has to strike and that it cannot be forced (even during a lockdown). However, in our experience, the best way to write something is to just sit down and go for it. Walking around your flat all day thinking about the empty page won’t make it go away. Sitting down and writing your first sentence will. And who knows, if that goes well, you might even find the energy to write a second and third sentence after that.
Don’t limit yourself - You’re in lockdown. You have no professional actors. Limited props. A phone for a camera. Only one location (and if you’re in any way like us, after two days of quarantining it already needs a serious clean) and you’re feeling like there is no way anything good can come of this. However, the beautiful thing about the writing stage of any film project is that this is the one point in the entire process where there are no limits. Set it in space. Have a nuclear explosion. Come up with the most erotic and kinky sex scene in cinema history. Just have some fun. You can worry about how to pull it off once the script is finished.
Learn how to format - The first test that any new script is put through by production companies and development teams is - “Have they formatted it correctly?”. You will not be taken seriously as a scriptwriter if you have written your script in Microsoft Word. So why not take this time to learn how to use - and practise with - professional screenwriting software. We would recommend checking out “Celtx” or “Writersolo”, which both offer free downloads. And if you somehow have some spare cash lying around you can also check out the king of scriptwriting software “Final Draft”. That way, when this is all over, you can hit the ground running and pump out professional scripts without breaking a sweat.
Show don’t tell - A simple note that often gets forgotten. Remember that film is a visual medium. You don’t walk around in normal life telling everyone what you are doing and thinking at every opportunity (hopefully) so don’t start doing it in your scripts. Characters should have a clear motivation in their own heads and then they will undertake actions in pursuit of that goal. Let us watch what is happening, not hear it.
Make your characters unique and memorable - A fun exercise to do once you script has been completed (or at least you think it has been completed) is to cross out all the character names and then read through it again. If you then can’t work out which character is saying what, then it might mean that you need to go back and mix it up a little. Each character should have their own unique way or talking - and pursuing their goals - that means they stand out in their own way and are easily identifiable.
So there you go. That’s our top 5 tips for today. (And for a sneaky number 6 - there are plenty of articles, books and YouTube videos online that go into the writing process in much greater detail so go and kill a few hours of lockdown reading and watching through them and you might learn another thing or two.) Best of luck and look forward to seeing your submissions.