”If you follow”’ the advice of screenwriting guru Robert McKee, almost anything can be made into a great story — even, say, Slashdot, the site run by Rob Malda (aka CmdrTaco).
”’1. Create a protagonist.”’ CmdrTaco lives on Netopia, where his people, an enslaved race called the Bots, are forced to feed information into the Great OS.
”’2. Establish what the protagonist wants.”’ CmdrTaco wants to be free.
”’3. Be sure to have an antagonist.”’ CmdrTaco fears the evil Regional Information Acquiring Agency (RIAA), which polices Netopia for rebels.
”’4. Decide what the antagonist wants.”’ The RIAA knows that the only way to keep the Bots enslaved is to stifle all attempts to share data.
”’5. You need a conflict to drive the plot.”’ CmdrTaco has to free the enslaved Bots or die.
”’6. Don’t forget a beginning, a middle, and an end.”’ CmdrTaco escapes the capital, Vistopolis (in a car chase you really have to see to believe). He then tells the Bots of Netopia to log on to the Great OS and simultaneously upload the most useless piece of data in the galaxy: “/.” Overwhelmed, the Great OS explodes, taking the RIAA with it.
All humor aside, contemporary screenplays are pretty standard in style. First thing’s first; here is what you’ll need:
* ”’A Computer”’ Any word processor will do, but you’ll have to tweak it to get the right margins and tab spacing. You can use a free online screenplay editor such as [http://www.scripped.com/ Scripped]. Otherwise, you can buy a professional script writing program such as [http://www.celtx.com/ Celtx], [http://www.finaldraft.com/ Final Draft] or [http://www.marinersoftware.com/sitepage.php?page=104 Montage].
* ”’An Internet Connection (optional)”’ There’s a wealth of [http://www.scripped.com/ Screenwriting Software] available on the internet absolutely free such as [http://www.scripped.com/ Scripped] or [http://www.plotbot.com/ Plotbot]. While these tools generally lack in sophistication they make up for it with portability and only cost you time to use.
* ”’8 1/2″ x 11″ paper”’. About 90 to 130 pages of it, actually — the standard length of a movie script
* ”’Get a handle of what a script reads like”’. The best way is to read other scripts. There are plenty available online. Start with [http://www.movie-page.com/scripts/Ghostbusters2.htm The Ghostbusters 2 script]. Why not?
”’Once you have your finalized draft”’, you’ll probably want to get to know the screenwriting process. The draft you have, it’s called a “Spec” script (short for “speculative”).
”’The spec script”’ is usually the hard copy you would show interested movie executives. If you get a movie exec in a room, be prepared with a 15 to 20 minute pitch.
”’Don’t get too attached”’ to your spec script. If your script gets picked up, it is possible it will go through several rewritten drafts to meet the criteria of the movie makers. If they don’t like what has been done with it, they can take the script to be rewritten from the ground up by another author. It’s all part of the process.
”’Once everyone is happy with it”’, the script becomes a “shooting” script. This is the script given to the actors and used to film.