Since I finished my last feature screenplay, I’ve been working a ton on my new script. I love the early development stage. Working with a clean slate and having the freedom to try different things is incredibly inspiring.
It’s also a chance to get ahead on my research and really get to know the characters I’m creating and the world in which they live.
The other day, I was in my office writing some notes and about to head to work when I glanced at my book shelf.
It’s absolutely full of screenwriting books. One in particular jumped out at me:
It’s one of the few books I’ve only read once and I decided it was time to go back and read about the craft I love. Every day I read 10 pages or so on my way to work (it’s a short commute) and I’m now addicted to screenwriting books again.
I’ve since decided to go back and read a few more. It’s a great way for an aspiring screenwriter to stay sharp especially when a story is still young and fragile.
The main idea is just to rough out what I’m looking for so the next step was to find pictures of old televisions that I could incorporate into the image.
This would have been impossible a few years ago. Carefully adding, lighting, positioning and shading each new object took time. It’s all about trial and error.
I don’t even think I would have thought to add shadows before now. The resulting image is merely a guide while I finish the script but it’s been a big source of inspiration for me. I keep going back to that mysterious man and where he comes from…
Photoshop Screenplay Blotchy Things
I went even further by creating the image below.
It’s hideous I know but it serves a very important purpose. The main 3 colors play distinct and unique roles in the story. I wanted to see how they blended together before I went any further.
It’s pretty much just a blurry mess but you can see by the green hue in the image above that it helps to define the colors scheme of the story.
I feel like I’m in pre-production on a film. Normally, these types of decisions are left for the Production Designer.
The story is a long way from that stage but using these tools has given my imagination a great head start.
It certainly cuts down on costs if you can do it yourself before you hire someone else. (Who will definitely do it better.)
Pushing Screenplay Concept Art Further
This experiment also gave me a pretty sweet idea to really develop one of my old screenplays using these techniques.
Why not create a series of images and use them as a selling tool?
When I was in high school, I wrote a feature length screenplay called Behind Max.
The basketball themed story dealt with a student struggling to decide what to do with his life after high school. It was a fairly personal story that mirrored the big decisions that I had to make and to this day, I adore that script.
When I was in college, an idea came to me that functioned as an unofficial sequel to that story. A story about finding your way beyond college.
I would spend the next 4 years telling people that the screenplay would be finished ‘someday’.
It was always the story I would work on once every few months writing only a few pages at a time.
Now, with a new found dedication to my passion, I challenged myself to finish the screenplay once and for all.
It was a rite of passage.
Something I had to do in order to move on.
I felt like everything else was on hold because I hadn’t finished it yet.
Finally, after years of talking, I typed the elusive FADE OUT and stepped back to admire the accomplishment.
Honestly, what I was feeling had nothing to do with the screenplay at all. It was about me and what I want to do with my life.
I felt like a new screenwriter with endless possibilities in front of me.
I can write whatever I want next. I’m no longer obligated to satisfy a promise I made to myself 4 years ago.
The script that always took a back seat to other projects is finally done.
I stared at the screen and hit CTRL+S about 20 times in order to ensure the safety of my work.
My latest feature length screenplay is done.
It’s time to move on to bigger and better things.
I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do with the script yet but the story will always have a special in my heart. It’s about taking the next step and doing what you love.
I’ve never felt more energized and ready to start something new.
The only thing left to do was print it out and hold it in my hands.
Then I realized my printer was out of ink. Horrible timing.
I’m an aspiring filmmaker. Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way. This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever. Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…
Signs is my favorite movie. Ever.
Normally when I make that statement, I receive a confused look in return.
It IS my all time favorite.
When Signs was released, I was already obsessed with M. Night Shyamalan’s films. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were both amazing movies and I was eagerly anticipating what the director would come up with next.
I had no idea his next film would literally help me decide what to do with my life.
Signs was fun. It was a simple yet well executed concept with incredible characters but what stuck with me was how well he told his story. It was original, funny, emotional and entertaining. (Yes… Even the alien water thing.)
I can’t explain what happened. I just loved it.
I’ve never felt so inspired in my entire life.
Around the time that Signs was released, I was thinking seriously about making a life altering decision.
I was in University and well on my way to becoming an English teacher. The idea was to teach and use my summer holidays to write.
Truthfully, I was unhappy about the direction my life was heading. I had just realized that I didn’t want to be a teacher at all.
I felt lost
So I took a chance and transferred out of English and into a college broadcasting program.
It was the best decision I ever made as it led to my career as a professional editor. Now I have a job I absolutely love and I write whenever I can.
Where does Signs come in?
Signs arrived when I was weighing whether or not it was worth it to pursue film at all.
Am I going to write screenplays or not?
M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant film opened my eyes again. Screenwriting is a big part of my life and there was no way I could leave it behind.
Before Signs came along, screenwriting was merely a hobby. Once I saw it, screenwriting became my passion.
To this day, whenever I see that movie, I want to stop everything and write.
Some people may think it’s strange that Signs is my favorite movie. I will even concede that there are tons of ‘better’ movies out there but that’s not always a good way to measure the impact a film can have on you.
Forget the fact that Mel Gibson isn’t the most popular person in the world right now. It’s not about Night’s current string of disappointing films. It’s not about the awards, the critics or the popular opinion.
For me, it’s about the movies you connect with. The movies that inspire.