It is really hard for screenwriters to get anyone to read their scripts, so I strongly encourage writers to make their own movies. Getting people to watch a movie is much easier than getting people to read a script. The shorter it is, the greater your odds someone will watch it.
One beautiful thing about humanity is their ability to think big…
… big big big, far beyond what they might be able to do today, therefore, it can sometimes be a hindrance, this ability to think big, because it takes a lot of small steps to get someplace, steps that people don’t want to take.
Instead of holding out for that million-dollar 3-picture deal (that is never going to just fall on your lap), how about you start with whatever resources you have around you right now? If you truly love storytelling, then do it! You don’t have to be rich to tell a story. If you can eke out a little bit of time and a little bit of ingenuity, you can make a movie.
Here is a fun project to test your creative juices.
Can you make a movie with no money, no time, possibly no actors, and tell a full and complete story with character arch in less than two minutes?
How? You ask.
If you have a mobile smart phone, then you have video and online access to YouTube, therefore you can make a movie. There are also lots of other ways you can make a movie.
Let’s Start with Story and Character.
Without story and character(s), you have a blob of color and sound, which is ok too, but we screenwriters, we want to write something, we want to say something, and we to connect with our human audience.
No matter if your movie is 2 minutes or 2 hours, something has to happen, right? Since this is a short short, let’s keep it to one event.
Although your character doesn’t necessarily have to have a change of heart, it is more interesting if your character learns something new and we learn with him or her.
How are you going to do that?
There needs to be an action…
…an event, a happening, a cause that will create the effect of your character thinking differently or behaving differently. Something has to happen that propels your character along an interesting and new path.
If no fictitious ideas come to mind, think about your own life in the past year… Think about one single moment, one thing you saw, one thing you read, or one thing you dreamt that permanently changed your way of thinking. That’s a story. That’s a character arch. What was that thing? It can be small or large, but it should have meaning and resonate with people.
Take that one moment that affected you and brainstorm with it… Imagine different scenarios and different characters involved and affected by that one moment, and choose the most interesting character and moment of them all.
Sometimes, we are just bystanders or observers of something interesting, so it doesn’t have to be your personal event, it can be someone else’s; maybe you were just passing by, but it personally affected you anyway.
When telling the story, put yourself in the shoes of the most interesting character involved and tell it from their perspective, no matter how good or bad that person happens to be.
Tell a story that will affect and change your viewers because your character has been affected and changed.
This is our goal with film and cinema and any type of storytelling, at least my ultimate goal, to say something meaningful to the world in a very short amount of time, whether it be two minutes or two hours.
Use What You’ve Got!
Once you have a moment and a character that you want to explore on film, now you need to think of the free-est possible way to do it.
Whatever your assets and creative strengths are, they are probably different from mine or other people’s.
Maybe you have time, money, or equipment at your disposal? A nice camera? Some willing friends to act? Some creative friends to do props, set, and makeup? A massive catalog of profound photos you took? A supportive family?
Maybe you like drawing cartoons? Or doing photography? Or making Play-Doh clay figure stop motion animation with your digital camera and your kids’ help? Maybe you have a go-pro camera and are an adrenalin junky?
Everyone has different things at their disposal and different amounts of time or money. You are going to do the best you can do with the best of what you have.
Show a change.
For this project, your character needs to go from being a worm to a butterfly in under two minutes.
The main thing I am asking here is that you have a story and character arch in your movie. Something should be happening other than filming something pretty, or funny, or scary that has no story arch. Those types of movie clips are good for YouTube and for TV clips, but they are not full complete stories, which as a screenwriter, you need to be practicing the development of characters and stories that have something to say.
For one of my shorts, I used an ad lib script, meaning I did not write a script for it at all, it was just an idea in my head. With ad lib scripts, you can save money by letting the images and concept dictate the dialog on the spot.
Either you can narrate, as I did, or your actors can ad lib, which saves time (and time is money) because the actors don’t have to memorize an entire screenplay. They just have to get across a general feeling and idea, which can be more fun, more liberating, more natural sounding, and more magical.
Ad lib allows art to take on its own form and surprise you.
Some directors prefer to let their actors alter the script with the natural flow of ad libbing. In this way, cinema has taken a great departure from theater plays, novels, and poetry, where the written word is sacred.
Ad lib can be great for emotional human concept movies like dramas, romance, and comedy, where the stiffness of a script might not play out well.
Sticking to a screenplay would be important for convoluted detailed stories that are true or have a thick plots, like with mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and sci-fi.
Life is full of opportunities for you, even if you have no disposable money. Look around you; be creative.