One of the hardest things for novice screenwriters to get used to is the immense gulf between the words on the page and the final movie.
Screenwriting is in some ways like any other form of design; what you’re creating is a blueprint from which someone else is going to make something.
Scenes that read really well on paper or in the theater can feel turgid and drawn out when they’re filmed. Jokes that work brilliantly when you write them just aren’t funny on screen. The best scenes in a movie often have little or no dialog in them, and are carried by quality acting, short sentences, and evocative direction.
Learning how to write for the screen is one of the most important skills for a scriptwriter to develop. It’s not the same as writing prose, or writing for the stage. Film and television are unique media, and writers need to adapt their craft to what those media demand.
The best way to develop that skill is to get your scripts made into films and see how your words are transformed by the director and editor. As you see how the film process transforms a script from written words into actions, you’ll soon learn how to write more effectively. Seeing your screenplays become movies will help you to write better dialog, pace your scenes better, and give better descriptions of action sequences or scenes with no dialog.
Another, more subtle benefit is that you’ll learn to appreciate what’s involved from the production side, and what the film crew will have to do to visualise your words. You develop an understanding of what’s expensive or complex to film, and will find yourself automatically adapting your work to the constraints of the budget. This could be as simple as not having too many locations or avoiding exterior night shoots, or just being conscious of how many effects shots or stunt sequences you’re asking for. The better you understand what’s involved, the more your director, producer and editor will like working with you!
Making a rough movie of your script is a good way to test it out. When you watch it, you’ll find yourself spotting all sorts of errors that slipped through when you wrote it, such as characters speaking in the wrong voice, continuity errors and plot holes, or awkward jumps. You can also show it to test audiences and get their feedback - invaluable if you’re a writer/director. Try your scenes several times and see which one works best.
However, that means getting a lot of films made, which poses an apparently insuperable problem. Films are time-consuming and expensive to make, and you can’t rely on people to put their time and money testing out your scripts. Not only that, but if you’re writing scenes that require significant budget for extras, locations or effects, people won’t take a chance on an inexperienced writer.
That’s where Moviestorm comes in. You can do it yourself without worrying about the cost. If you need a crowd, a car chase, or an exotic location, you can film that easily with no risk.
Getting the best from Moviestorm
When you test out a script, you can put in as much or as little detail as you need - usually less than you might expect. If you just want to try out the dialog for a scene to check the pacing, for example, you can get away with a bare set, stock characters, and minimal camerawork.
If you’re a novice writer, use Moviestorm to create a portfolio of your work. Get some actor friends to lend you their voices, and you can easily make a showreel showing excerpts from your best scenes. This is an excellent way to showcase your versatility and your strong points, especially if the kind of scenes you write would be expensive to film.