What’s a Screenwriter To Do?
One of the most important things a screenwriter can do is understand the medium of film. This includes the physical limitations brought on by locations and equipment, including the future budget of the film your screenplay will become. It also includes the limitations on the actors who will eventually bring to life the words written. A film acting workshop or class could potentially help a writer with this. With my film endeavors, I’ve tried to learn about every aspect of filmmaking.
Some of the most talented screenwriters of all time were also actors and filmmakers. They probably even enrolled in a film acting workshop before. This list includes people such as Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Billy Bob Thornton and Ben Affleck, just to name a few. One thing these people have in common is they fully understand the medium they write for.
This can be as broad as understanding the difference between good and bad films, which can be traced back to the quality of the screenplay. It also can deal with more pointed details such as what kinds of dialogue work and don’t work. Maybe something sounded good in your head and you arrived at a table read and it sounds convoluted or unreal. Many times, after working on film sets, we can see dialogue may work for a character cast for one person but not another. Did we mean for that to happen, or was it by accident? Screenwriters who study filmmaking learn to think of the screenwriting in a holistic way, and that is a positive thing.
As a screenwriter, filmmaker, and actor I’ve come to realize the importance of this. I can also point to others in the entertainment industry who have made this approach part of their careers. Learn as much as you can about the medium you write for!