REWRITING: The Thinklikea Method for Screenwriters

http://www.masteringfilm.com/rewrites-the-thinklikea-method-for-screenwriters/

Since we’re talking rewrites, I’d like to share with you a little piece of my rewriting method. I call it the “Thinklikea” method (note this has nothing to do with Ikea, or putting gun to head because of that little stick dude in the Ikea instruction manuals). Here’s how it breaks down…

First Draft: Thinklikea… WRITER: This is where everything comes out. Just unleash wordy hell all over the page. Vomit it up. Anything can happen. Anything goes. If you make a mistake, screw it. You don’t even want to deal with an eraser or the delete key. You’re too much of a writer, not an eraser. This is your time to go on a writing bender. Get drunk with writing for however long it takes to get this on the page. Because next, you’re going to…

Second Draft: Thinklikea… DIRECTOR:The two most powerful words in a director’s arsenal are “yes” and “cut.” In this draft, you’re going to say “cut” a lot more than “yes.” As you rewrite, ask yourself, “does this translate to the film language?” “Is this visual?” “Am I being told or being shown?” “How can I take something from being told to being shown?” And “cut?” Everything that doesn’t work. Be malicious. Evil. Murder babies. You must be vicious here because the next thing you’re going to be thinking of is…

Third Draft: Thinklikea… PRODUCER: … Money. “Can this be shot on a budget?” “Am I working with an El Mariachi budget but writing like an Avatar budget?” It’s important that the cuts you make here make creative sense. Maybe there are better ways to do something. Let the audience’s imagination take over. Let them fill in the blanks. How much do you actually need to show? How can you reduce the cost? Merge characters? Drop locations? Combine conflicts?

Always: Thinklikea… Member of the AUDIENCE: Who is your audience? You are. Do you want to see this on the big screen (or iPad or DVD or wherever)? How can you play with their expectations? And most importantly, how can you deliver something worth the hard-earned dollar and frayed nerves of a modern movie theatre experience? Is this worth their time?

Please bear one thing in mind: just because I say three drafts doesn’t mean I think you should only have three drafts of a script. I’ve done 147 drafts of one thing, two of another. What I am saying is that you must consistently evolve your thinking into the different roles that will give your script life and perpetually thinklikea responsible creative.

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