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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Writing your own movie

A couple of years ago, I did an excellent course in screenplay writing at Birkbeck College, London University. It lasted about six months, was conducted online and resulted in each of us in the group producing our own screenplay for a ten-minute film. It was a marvellous experience and taught me things about writing that go far beyond cinema.

As you might imagine, writing a screenplay and getting your screenplay turned into a movie - even a ten-minute one - are not at all the same thing. But it seems life may be slightly easier for the budding screenwriter than for, say, the budding director. Loads of film school students want to be the next Scorsese or Jackson or Zeffirelli, and a whole load more want to be the next Jolie or diCaprio or Gambon, but hardly anyone - we were told - wants to be the next, well the next instantly recognisable, world famous screen writer. Writing screenplays for movies, it would seem, is like making the sandwiches for your national football team. It lacks the glamour factor. Which makes it an opportunity.

If you're interested in exploring screenplay, you could do a great deal worse than by reading Syd Field's Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, which is a very accessible classic of this type of writing. And just to get you started, here are ten tips from The Times.

Competitions and prizes are not what writing is all about, but they can at least help get people noticed. There is a ready supply of short film competitions that call for the skills of the screen writer. Many can be found on the Internet. Here is a small selection of them.
2 Days Later Short Film Competition
The End of the Pier International Film Festival
The Canadian Short Screenplay Competition

If you want to let us know about any others, write a comment below.

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