Fan Film Writer's Primer

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, May 2, 2011.

  1. Duane

    Duane Captain Captain

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    Maurice, you seem to be one interesting person. Let us know when you start a new project and if you go to Kickstarter, I'd be happy to contribute.
     
  2. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

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    For folks that don't want to pay for Final Draft, there's always Celtx. :)

    https://www.celtx.com/index.html

    Personally, I prefer Final Draft (imperfect though it is). But Celtx is certainly good enough for zero budget productions.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thank you very much.

    In fact, some colleagues and I are discussing a short (say 30 minutes) film project which we might go the IndieGogo route to fund. It would not be a fanfilm though, as such we'd use only trained/pro actors in it just to make sure we get the best possible results. We're looking into how to shoot it to make it have a lot of verisimilitude both visually and narratively. Oh, yeah, and no greenscreen. Not. One. Shot. ;)


    You beat me to the punch with that suggestion. I've never used Celtx myself, but I know people who do, and it seems like a perfectly good solution.
     
  4. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    Were we to start over from the beginning, then I'd consider Celtx. That being said, we've paid for Word and generally have no problem with folks that do. The last submission was in Notepad, and that was a bear.
     
  5. Duane

    Duane Captain Captain

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    I bought Final Draft not knowing about Celtx. Everyone I meet here (I'm posting from Asia) seems to use Celtx. Randy, you should have a look at it since it is free.
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Reformatting documents is why Dog invented Control-Shift V (assuming Microsoft didn't break that in more recent versions of Word).

    To those who don't use pro screenwriting software like Final Draft, let me make one case for such tools: namely they are designed to not only let you write your script, but the software can automatically spit out all kinds of reports that can help in planning your shoot, which covers locations, which characters appear in what scenes, scene lengths in in 8th page increments, print "sides", etc., determine who has how many lines in what scenes, etc. It can remove a lot of human error when breaking down a script for shooting.

    Furthermore, you can export a .sex (yes, really) file and import that into a tool like Gorilla or Chimpanzee to create real schedule planning documents with dependencies and the works (like attaching costumes and props to certain characters, attaching background characters to locations, and attaching characters to one another so that if one appears in a scene the software automatically includes the others). You can then spit out reports specific to departments. For instance, say you have an elaborate alien makeup and hairdo for one character, and then the schedule gets changed and that characters gets added to to scene or day not originally planned. Well, if you attached the makeup, hair and costume to the character, then the schedules for those departments automatically get updated with those requirements so that no one can fail to "get the memo".

    Probably overkill for small productions, but pretty damned important if you're doing anything complicated. I used it to plan one of the Polaris shoots and it helped me a lot as the A.D.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  7. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    Actually, it's $9.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

    We use the KISS principle with our scripts. Word works great. It's what OTHER people use that drives us crazy. LOL
     
  8. Duane

    Duane Captain Captain

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    Glad to hear the Word is working for you. No one pays for Celtx here in Asia but so much of what I see here is pirated.

    Star Trek Into Darkness on DVD was on sale in the malls for $3 a few weeks after it left the cinema. I saw Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome on a bus driving from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, Thailand just weeks after it hit the web.

    The "report generators" produced by Final Draft are really impressive, as Maurice mentions.
     
  9. Dennis

    Dennis The Wind Premium Member

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    Another vote for Final Draft and all those reports. ;)

    In 1990, TNG was using something-or-other based on MSWord. It was the first time I was asked for an electronic copy of fiction that I'd written; we FEDEX-ed a 3.5 floppy with a WordPerfect 4.2 document from DC to Los Angeles. :lol:
     
  10. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    I loved WordPerfect, but that software belonged to the company I sold last year, and I didn't get to keep it on the computers I have now. I've actually had to learn Word in the last year; I'd been using WordPerfect since the mid 80's.
     
  11. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    I both love and hate Word. Just when I was getting used to Word 2003, I went and got Word 2008 and like McCoy said - "I know engineers! They love changing things!" and boy, was he right.

    I've had Final Draft for several years, but its only been since about 2010 that I've really gotten into the guts of the thing on the various shows I've workd on that I've really understood it/maximized its abilities for my projects. It's just as amazing the kinds of things it CAN do as opposed to things you'd think it SHOULD do but doesn't.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
  12. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I use a variety of writing tools and switch between them. The more I can stay out of Word, the better. I use:


    I have Final Draft. Nothing wrong with it, but I'm always looking at other tools to help with my workflow.
     
  13. Barbreader

    Barbreader Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Still using WordPerfect. I own both X6 and X4. Both still work. (two different computers). However, from what I hear I'll have to move my novel to MS Word to submit it to agents. They don't want hard copy anymore, they want it in Word.
     
  14. captainkirk

    captainkirk Commander Red Shirt

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    Really? I first used it many years ago (although I only wrote a proper script last year) and it's always been completely free. But then I haven't upgraded or been to their site in a long time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    EXAMPLE SCRIPTS 1

    Speaking of scripts, I'll share links to some actual pro teleplays now and then, especially ones which aren't necessarily Star Trek (since those are easy to find).

    Here's one for the 1979 Battlestar Galactica episode "Baltar's Escape" (link) written by Don Bellasario.

    You'll notice most of the pages are pink. Typically, only the first unrevised draft of a script is on white pages. Though not every show uses the same color system, most pro shows use the standard system (link). Looking at the title page of the script we can see there have been two sets of revisions, and, lo and behold, pink typically means the second set of revisions. A handful of pages in the script are in white, which means they remain unchanged from the first unrevised draft.

    The reason for new colors for new pages is so that crew and actors can always tell which scenes and pages have been revised without having to hint through the whole script to see what's changed.
     
  16. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    This is a great post Maurice!


    Of all the ABC Studios series I've worked on, we only go up to goldenrod, then start over with "2nd White" or "Double White." Too, this same color scheme is used by all departments when releasing updated documents, from schedules, calendars, cast lists, reports, and call sheets.


    Too, modern day TV series scripts, when revised, will usually include asterisks on each line of whatever revision has been made. Sometimes it's dialogue. Sometimes it's a set or location change. Other times it's something like changing a vehicle from a "van" to a "SUV," things that many in the production team need to know about and be made aware of during prep.

    Usually we don't do revisions here unless it's something big. Some showrunners don't like to do full draft revisions either, because it wastes paper. But the general rule of thumb on hour-longs is that if the revision is more than 25 pages, you just run a whole draft.

    When we go through the various drafts - Numbered Writer's (if we're behind schedule), Studio Draft, Network Draft (or, depending on what show you're on, a Studio/Network Draft it's all fine. When you get to the Production Draft though, usually this is where the script is then "locked" and referred to as the "White Production Draft" or simply the "Production Draft."

    Locking pages is a big deal in TV and usually only your showrunner or the 1st A.D. can authorize unlocking the draft. What it means basically is that at this point in the script, pages are locked where they are. Any future revisions that are made in the blue, pink, yellow, green or goldenrod stages (or further) will still be made but if they are changes that necessitate a new page, Final Draft will create what's called an "A" page. For example: in your white production draft, you'll have pages 8,9,10, and 11. But you want to add a scene in the middle, so you might wind up with, in your blue pages, 8,9,9A,10, and 11 and so forth.

    Sometimes it's just one line that goes over and creates a new page. Those can be cheated in the formatting tab under "Leading." Other times it's a half page or a full page or sometimes more. (9A, 9B, 9C, as necessary.)

    Finally - I think I saw an omit in the script as I scrolled through. "OMITTED" is the designation for a scene that's been removed entirely. Final Draft actually has a function to omit scenes which still keeps the scene, albeit cloaked, so you can re-insert it or cull from it later if need be. We had a situation earlier this season where we'd written a scene in our fourth episode that was fine, but cut for time so it was omitted. When we got to episode twelve, it was decided we were short on scenes, so we put that first omitted scene from episode four into the slot in episode twelve, solving the problem.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
  17. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    An aside. Just reading the script. For a little action-adventure story it's pretty good. The show definitely started to find its legs later in its run (early post-miniseries episodes were mostly bad due to the show being unexpectedly greenlit for series and they had no scripts).
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
  18. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I really think the two part "Pegasus" story with Lloyd Bridges is very much underrated. While the original series usually was just (for me) campy fun, I thought those two episodes were more than a cut above the average. The story was good and Commander Kaine was a surprisingly complex character played very by Bridges. Sorry...just had to toss that in there...
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They had some decent writers on the original BSG, but they were scrambling at first to get ANY scripts ready in time to shoot, since they got a cold pickup and basically no pre production time. In the documentary on the DVD set the actors commented on things like getting revised pages for scenes shot two days earlier because everything was moving so fast.
     
  20. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just to further derail things (I hope this doesn't get too far out) I think that's one of the things that makes soap operas such a good training ground. I've heard stories of soap stars being handed the day's scripts when they come in for makeup work. Even if that's an exaggeration, learning a script on the fly has to be valuable, not only as training in the craft, but also in terms of keeping things in perspective as an actor moves up the ladder toward bigger and better things.