Scripting is the process of coming up with a story to be directed in a video, also known as a screenplay. It is a systematic process that involves the actions and dialogue of the characters and their interaction within the reel environment.
That is a rough description of what a script is. However, we shall not go too deeply into the technical details. In this article, we shall explore how scriptwriters engage themselves with the creative phase and what are some of their common sources of inspiration.
Some filmmakers tend to study existing trends, or what is considered a fad at present. Examples include the rising popularity of zombie movies, which spawned famous titles such as World War Z (2013) and Train to Busan (2016), the trick is to take the main bits from the structure of a tried and tested theme then, add originality to the recipe and deliver that unique perspective of yours.
Other filmmakers write stories based on their memorable (and sometimes traumatic) life experiences. Director Jacen Tan, who recently filmed Zombiepura, a zombie-comedy, was inspired during his time in the army when he was ordered for guard duty.
The constant monotony and stillness in the air reminded him of the Rigor mortis associated with zombies and being a horror fan, inspired him to come up with the foundation of his script.
The real world is fraught with inspirational cues, sometimes when we least expect it. This is a concept similarly applied to any creative individual.
“Inspiration could strike anywhere” (Credits: Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash)
Famous writer and mathematician Lewis Carroll found inspiration by talking to his muse, a little girl named Alice Liddell. It was through a story that he presented on a boat ride with the young Liddell that prompted Carroll to write his classic, Alice in Wonderland.
Scripting is hard work. There are tons of research that need to be done prior to finalising a piece. For the movie Grudge Match, screenwriter Tim Kelleher recounted the writing process with excitement.
Grudge Match (2013) is a dramatic movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De niro, on the highlights of two champion boxers in Pittsburgh and how both men retired with a score count against each other. Three decades later, an effective promoter lures both veterans out of retirement for a legendary tie-breaking duel.
“Pull no punches for script-writing” (Credits: Ryan Tang on Unsplash)
Kelleher shared with Writer’s Guild of America how he conducted the extensive research on boxing, watched videos of old matches and throw downs, picked up the in-ring jargon and even read up on the location of Pittsburgh, where the film was set.
Proper research had to be made to provide a believable premise.
For a script based on real life characters and events, a great deal of effort is taken to ensure the accuracy of the scenes portrayed. Critics and puritans are always geared to rear their ugly heads in to condemn the film on the slightest inconsistencies.
To shed light on the extent of fussiness in the critical community:
Hugh Laurie, a famous British comedian and stage actor, was cast as a misanthropic American doctor in the hit series House. Despite having a spot-on American accent, faultfinders claimed that his laugh on the show sounded too British.
Fictional tales on the other hand, may be derived from a mosaic of sources.
When the Wachowskis (formerly Wachowski brothers) wrote the Matrix (1999), they were piecing together ideas from older sci-fi titles. The famous and much satirised fight sequences within the movie were inspired largely by live-action films while martial arts scenes were based on earlier titles such as Fist of Legend (1995).
“The sci-fi world is without barrier” (Credits: Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash)
Based on an article written on the media news site ShortList, the one thing that unites the most popular storytellers is plagiarism.
Of course, it is distasteful and downright illegal to blatantly copy the works of another person who had toiled for their achievements, but it is almost necessary to borrow previous concepts from those who have succeeded.
After all, a traditionally cynical statement goes that “everything has been done before”.
You also have film scripts that are based on other mediums, such as books.
“Kwan’s Asian El Dorado” (Credits: Pixabay)
Singapore-born author Kevin Kwan, who wrote the romantic novel, Crazy Rich Asians, which was adapted into a successful movie directed by John M. Chu, was greatly inspired by his childhood spent in Singapore and the things he witnessed through the lens of a kid, of which he could not comprehend (e.g. complicated adults and their fixation on materialism).
This observation and eventual literature were spun into slightly different perspectives onscreen with modified focal points.
Working on an adapted piece bestows less freedom, the screenwriter balances between personal sentiments and the original content (staying true to the book).
Screenwriter Adele Lim tweaked the backstory of the female lead and her mother-in-law, to grant them more agency to empower the female characters in the movie (especially Rachel, the doe-eyed female lead).
Co-screenwriter Pete Chiarelli focused on the plots and the dramatic encounters within the film to offer the “conflict dynamic”, as Lim refers to it.
This is an example of how two individuals may cooperate to produce a successful script through complementary styles.
One of the major objectives of a script is to flesh out its characters and breathe life into their actions. A one-dimensional character would quickly lose the attention of the audience while without a narrative, the content could turn dull or convoluted. Hence, there are several vital factors that define a good script.
Screenwriter Karl Iglesias had six golden advice for aspiring scriptwriters:
Always have a reason to write, set a high standard of excellence, trust your instincts, write regularly while setting goals, understand the rules within the industry, and evoke emotions in the “reader”.
In summary, a good screenwriter is a good storyteller.
At Premise TV, the online interactive crowdfunding platform where the opinions of audiences are highly valued, we provide the chance for aspiring scriptwriters to pitch their works and collaborate with filmmakers through our built-in communication system.
Send direct messages to film professionals and arrange to work out a project. The process is hassle-free and tackles the dreaded problem of not locating the right person for the job. Through our vibrant community and gamification interface, the search for cast and crew is made immersive and easy.
If you have an original idea and wish to see it played out on film, now is the time to seize that chance! Join Premise TV today and fulfil the dream of realising your concepts.
We will gladly write you in…
Author: Laurenzo Jude