DAY 5 - STEP FIVE
writing a screenplay with Mozzie.
So you have had a week to build your world.
You have characters with bios.
They have objectives.
You know the world of your film/pilot.
You have spent the week filling out those details. (As I have)
Or you can just totally say, SHIT, I forgot I got homework due Today.
Anyway, whichever camp you are in. You should be able to catch up, because Today's assignment is super simple.
Today you are going to write your opening image/scene. Don't go into the next scene. There's something that comes before to the next step.
But I find that writers at some point want to write. So I am giving you permission to write, with as much detail or it can be just 12 words. The opening moment/image even sequence of your film, and fill it in with as much detail as you wish. Stop if it takes you to a second page.
So you see, today is super simple.
Do not write the next scene though.
I just want to get you writing something after a week of just planning out your world.
Day 4/Step 4 - of writing a movie/pilot with Mozz.
Happy Friday Everyone. I am running late on my post. My writing morning was taken up by a good chunk of just reading about Jeff Bezzos's cock pics and how it will take down a presidency. (PLOT TWIST!)
Today is Friday and you should have a title, a logline, and some 300 words on your project.
The next step is crucial to me. And Armistead often accusses me of spending too much time on it. Because we are on research or world building mode or both.
If your story is based on fact/history, this is where you go off and start researching. But the reality is that for the next couple of days you are going to get very specific about the world in your project.
When and where does it take Place? what is the environment like? the politics. The time period. (I have had to write two scripts for different producers set in the 70s back to back, I'm pretty much an expert on the 70's now!)
Think of how precisely the screenplay for Children of Men built its world. When a character speaks it sounds so real to that world.
I used to play Dungeons and Dragons and then fell in love with Pathfinder. And I think my gaming years have helped me incredibly in building worlds. I want to know the history, the locations, the important places. The name of the corner bar and what it looks like. The lay out of the apartment.
Also knowing your world helps you set the tone of your world. Is your world the snappy action driven Indiana Jones or the bubbly 13 going on 30?
BECOME THE GOD OF YOUR WORLD. Know that world inside out. Know the system of that world inside out. If you are writing about a journalist stopping a conspiracy, don't wait until you have a question about what a journalist would do in that situation, figure out the rules of a journalist's worlds.
Start imagining locations, homes, a story in New York is going to Look different than one in China, one in LA or one is Tennessee. the minute you question where your world takes place the better. I am almost always attracted to movies that take places in worlds that I don't know anything about. I rather see a film about bank robbers in Wisconsin, than ones in New York. Because NY has been used over and over again. But man, Wisconsin, what kind of desperate world does that bank robber live in! You may come from an interesting world. I come from Newark, NJ via Puerto Rico. (I need to write more stories set in those worlds.) However, I did love the world they built for Ocean's 8. I thought the stakes for the film were low, but the world was pretty fun, and the lay out of how things went down. That was all because of the world and character building.
I tend to collect a lot of pictures about my world.
Then put your characters in that world and know where they fit in that world. A character must know her place in that world before she seeks to change that world.
I start with my protagonist. I answer all the questions about him or her. From what they look like, to what music they listen to, what they do for a living and why? Their most painful memories as a child. Your character in the film begins way before the film starts. As a matter story, your film starts at the last possible second in which that story can be told. But your characters they have had a life. Treat them that way.
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY - WHAT DO THEY WANT? AND WHAT WOULD THEY BE WILLING TO DO TO GET WHAT THEY WANT?
You will be sketching out your character bios. I tend to brief character monologues based on a moment in their lives that is not in the film and sometimes, when you need a moment, that reveals that character that monologue totally influences the moment.
But get to know your main and supporting characters.
Here is where at last you will give them NAMES. which I discussed in the LOGLINE POST.
You are also going to start playing with themes here. What are you going to explore? when you decide on your theme, you will find yourself finding visual descriptions that will help move the story along. I wouldn't make any hard and fast decisions here. when you are writing the project a theme will reveal itself, and my strongest themes have shown up on the second, or third draft. Actually I am about to turn in a production draft of a film that was 6 years in the making. It is in the production draft that I finally hit on the strongest theme. But you get to start asking those questions now.
WORLD BUILDING is where you are going to write up a storm, most of which you will not use, but which will be necessary to tell the truth on the page.
Who was involved?
Where did it take place?
When did it take place?
Why did that happen?
for a visual medium the most important
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
and also, world building is where you can be DEAD WRONG. And when working on my projects I find that it is best to be WRONG A LOT at the beginning. Allow yourself to be DEAD WRONG now. It will save you pain and suffering and writer's block later.
I'm working on a script right now. And normally this will take a few days. So...
I'M GOING TO GIVE US ALL A WEEK TO GET THIS DONE. I'll see you here next Friday to go onto wow, some actual writing on STEP 5.
THIS IS ALSO THE PERFECT TIME FOR YOU KNOW GREG TO CATCH UP. OR for us to have a conversation below on film topics and shit.
Step 3 of write a script while Mozz does.
You are probably beginning to wonder. When does Monty actually write his script? To which I will say. FUCK YOU ASSHOLE! just trust me. Writing a screenplay or a pilot whether it's your first of your 20th, is fun, but it is a challenge. So I broke it into chunks for myself a long time ago. Some I stole from teachers, some I read in a book, but over the years I refined it to make it all very Mozzie.
I also hate writing alone. So I hope that you are keeping me company while beating out those loglines and character names. Believe me, there will be a day when all of this will make it to the front of my eyes.
Day 3 is pretty simple. First take a look at your logline and read it. I include my loglines in my morning meditations, really anytime I do a ten minute meditations, I will say my affirmation "Monty is sexy, successful and everybody wants him." and then I say the logline. That logline should be part of you, you should be humming it, affirming it, and sharpening it.
Still, some writing must happen today and you are going to up your writing by about 20 to 30 percent. At this point, I hope you have a notebook or a document. I keep a journal next to me at all times, cause as this goes along. The ideas will flow.
Remember when you went into Blockbuster to rent a movie and you decided which movie you were going to rent by reading the back of the VHS/DVD cover. (am i dating myself?)
That's how much writing you are going to do today. About 100 to 300 words. And a Tagline!
Taglines are so much fun for me. My favorite tagline of all time.
Young Sherlock Holmes - Before a lifetime of Adventures, He had the Adventure of a lifetime.
I don't know what it was about that tagline. But it was the motto of my life. It is the life I want to lead most of all. A Lifetime of Adventures, but oh my god, before that... oh, there's this adventure that sets it all off. That's what I want my life to be.
Holy fucking shit! Did that make me want to see that movie as a kid, and let's face it when you are writing, you are really writing it for some part of you that gets that thrill. Always write for that part of you.
so Tagline the movie with a little something that gives you a thrill.
And then you are going to describe it like the back of a vhs or dvd. (Hey, I have included, Nominated for 11 academy awards in my description) Fuck it, it's your story! And no one will see it but you. But thrill yourself with 100-300 words of your story.
It will feel incomplete, there will be so many holes to fill. (he he!) But just tell it. What you are doing is starting to make decisions on tone, and execution before you start making the big decisions.
The second way I write these 300 words is to pretend I call my best friend, usually Greg or Armistead and on a voice recorder tell them about this amazing movie I just saw. But I only have 3 minutes to do it.
Then I listen to what I have described and I start typing. Write without stopping and then go back and fix it, don't fixate on the first 10 words. If you start doing that now, you'll fixate on the first 10 pages, Then fixate on act one, then on the first never completed draft. Now, vomit it out, fix it later. You have the whole entire day.
OFF TO IT! (I gotta get mine done too)
Now you have your title, now you have claimed ownership of the story. And who knows your title may already be loaded with themes.
But I'm personally never done naming things. So today's assignment is a little harder.
1. you are going to start naming your protagonist and your antagonist in this story. Because the story is ultimately about your characters. (No, my story is about this an affair gone wrong, or this murder, or this building that gets taken over by a terrorist, who demands the release of government prisoners but it's really there to rob the company, you might say.) But that is short sighted and boring, no your story is about the people in these situations.
Names are very important to me. My favorite name, in any story I've ever read or seen is Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. Just think of that name, the roots of the words. Clarice - to make clear, Star - she is that at the FBI, but Starling sounds illuminating and reflective. The name of your character can send a subconscious signal to the brain about whether they are good or bad, hero of villain.
"you are one brave kid, Rebecca," Says Ripley (in Aliens) to that little girl and what does the child whisper. "Newt."
I mean, I can see Sigourney Weaver wanting to save Rebecca, no problem! If Becky died half way through, "oh wow, did you see that? James Cameron totally offed Becky"... but it would be unforgivable in the story if Ripley didn't go go to hell and back to save fucking NEWT. Because newts are adorable and fragile creatures that must be protected.
Names matter, names tell a story, you will ponder your character names today as you prepare to write down your outline. Start thinking of your characters today. You won't need them quite yet. But you will soon.
TODAY'S PAPER HOMEWORK IS.
This will also change, a plenty, but I want you to be able to explain what this movie is about in about 20 to 30 words. Distilling your idea to 20 to 30 words is going to be crazy.
But Mozz, that's impossible. Is it really?
"The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son."
I really don't want you to write the LOGLINE that will sell the movie to studios, that will come later in sales and packaging. I want you to write the LOGLINE that resonates with writer you. That sells the movie TO you.
When I was an actor, my teacher Erma Duricko, would always say to me, "Find your througline, your main objective, and you marry it and all the choices you make, will be more interesting and more truthful because you have kerneled out the truth."
I call it LOGLINE because 1. It is the technical term. 2. It reminds me that someday after many drafts I hope to sell this mother fucker and thinking of getting money for doing what I love makes me feel good.
So work on the LOGLINE today:
The logline will include
ADJECTIVE + THE HERO (don't use the names yet, We are not world building yet. so save it)
ADJECTIVE + ANTAGONIST (see note above.)
A really fucking compelling goal. What is the main struggle, challenge, desire, want, must get in the film.
"A headstrong NYC cop arrives in LA to win his self-reliant estranged wife back, but her - state of the art building - is taken over by an ingenious terrorist ."
You have a headstrong vs. ingenious -- which will win out brain or brawn. But in the twist, headstrong starts thinking like the terrorist, becoming ingenious and brawny in the journey. There is a twist in the description, ha!
You have the obvious visual associations of NYC vs. LA.
You have a fantastic stage. so fucking good. it's state of the art.
And I wish i could do more with the wife. Maybe you can fix that for Die Hard. But Holly Gennaro, oh my god, Feast of St. Gennaro. Holly as in have a Holly Jolly Christmas. She is CHRISTMAS and must be saved, which is why DIE HARD IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER MADE!
Down the line, once your first draft is done, you will find that your sales LOGLINE will either stay the same or become an even shorter, more specific version of what you started out with.
For Today though. I want you to sell the movie to YOURSELF.
I WILL REPEAT THIS.
DO NOT SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE. THE FIRST RULE OF MAGIC IS SELF-CONTAINMENT.
However, revisit it, every day before you start writing. It will change, it will grow, it will tighten, it will become more specific.
I began a screenwriting challenge with my friends, to see if we could finish a screeplay within a certain number of days.
We're all going to write a script (screenplay).
Don't tell me what it is. Do not share the idea with anyone, as the first rule of magic is self-containment. But for Today --- just for today --- you are going to get a piece of paper, or a word document and you are going to write the title. Just the title. (Don't worry this will get harder later.) But for today, let the crippling fear go and just write the title. Then go off and do something awesome.
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