A Spec Script? (designed to be sold to a producer/studio, etc.?)
A Writing Sample? (designed to seen as as sample of your writing virtuosity with the intention to be hired as a writer of similar films or TV shows?)
For Investors? (designed to have someone give you money in order for you to either produce the script and/or direct the script?)
To be made (financed and directed) entirely by you?
Knowing one’s intent for their screenplay is important through every aspect of the writing/developing process. You can only determine if it is working if you know what you want it do. Is it compelling the reader to want to continue reading? Is it exciting and even thrilling the reader? Does the reader care about the characters and want to find out what happens to them? If you answer yes to the above three questions, then you likely don’t need my help.
If not, or you don’t know, then the very first thing to do is to identify the problems and/or if there are any problems. This can mean many things, including restructuring scenes, rewriting dialogue, re-conceiving characters, or finding “the story” that is not yet developed or evident.
Filmscript or Play Analysis and Improvement Strategy:
1. Is it working? (Identifying the problem issues)
We define “working” by the intention each writer places on it. Is the intention to create a great sample spec script in order to break into the industry? Is it working on that level, or somewhere else? A screenplay might be working if one’s goal is to finance it yourself, but not if one’s goal is to sell it to a major studio, attract major movie stars and receive wide distribution. It might be working if one want to try to see it made as an independent project but might not work if one’s intentions are to attract independent movie starts.
2. How to fix it? (Strategizing what steps are needed to fix the identified problems)
Sometimes the “fix” is related to systemic problems: the entire premise or structure is overwrought with problems. If you have faulty plumbing running through your house, you can’t fix it by tweaking a faucet or two or twenty. You have to rip open the walls and redo the piping. So when we ask “how do we fix it” we first need to do identify what is we need to fix. Then coming up with a strategy for fixing it. The strategy might include organizing the priorities of what needs to be addressed, rethinking specific issues of character and/or story, additional research, rewriting, revising, or rethinking.
I am trained to not only identify problem areas but to suggest potential ways to solve and fix the problems.
3. How to improve it? (You’ve fixed it, it’s starting to work, now what? Make it better!)
You’ve fixed it; it’s starting to work. Now what? It’s time to make it better. Although getting your script to work is the first order of business, once your basic story can be followed and the intentions are clear enough so that a reader “gets it” all the way through—it’s time to make it better, to improve the basics so that it’s a pleasure to read and not work. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of writing your directions in a more clear and evocative manner in order to give the reader the experience that you envision they’d get from the finished, produced film, replete with music by Danny Elfman. Sometimes it means to punch up the dialogue, make each character’s voice unique, find a funnier joke and more heart-swelling speech. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding a better event than the one you have: more compelling, more extreme, more realistic, more fantastic, scarier, funnier, or lesser. Sometimes it’s a tonal problem that still exists from the “is it working” phase, and scenes need to be made more consistent with your chosen tone.
4. How to make it the best it can be? (Make it purr!)
Lion in front of the camera.
It’s often said, and it’s true: Screenplays and plays, like films and theater productions themselves, are never finished—they just run out of money or time…or both. They can always be improved—or at least so we think. And, of course, it’s often true… So at what point do you test the waters with your efforts? When is it ready to withstand the vicissitudes of the film or theater industry? When we believe that it’s purring? When people read it and go, “Wow!”
This is advanced work. It takes real honesty and self-reflection as well as humble confidence to be able to realize that your script is the best that you are capable of making it; that your script fulfills all the intentions that it sets out to achieve. Remember, it’ll be performed and directed and edited with lighting and music and effects, but is it deserving of all that attention, effort, and investment, yet?
5. Strategic marketing and distribution consultancy.
You’ve finished your script, then what? NY Script Consultants can offer direction, advice and strategies for getting your script seen by agents, literary managers, producers, and filmmakers.