Ask the Analyst – Common Scriptwriting Questions from Themes to How to Get a Script Read by Studios

Expert screenplay readers and analysts from ScriptShark answer questions that Facebook fans and Twitter followers posted. Read on to find helpful answers to questions regarding how to become a professional screenwriter and many other aspects of screenwriting and the movie business…


Q: What exactly makes a strong theme? Should public opinion affect one’s themes when writing a saleable script?
Analyst: As is the case with most screenplay elements, part of what makes a theme “strong” is wildly subjective – like a premise or a protagonist, not everyone’s going to dig it. If you can keep that in mind, you’ll likely sleep a little better at night and make more headway.

Generally, studios respond to a theme based on its universality and relevance because they’re looking to appeal to a broad audience. One example of this is the recent Social Network, the central theme of which – friendship – is one nearly everyone can relate to and is always relevant. Most people couldn’t give two figs about a geeky, anti-social narcissist such as this movie’s protagonist, but because the film’s theme of friendship is so incredibly universal, we’re all thinking about that friend back in junior high we treated so poorly. That’s a strong theme.

Q: Typically, do you find that a meta-theme and/or themes drive character development and plot or do they tend to evolve organically during the writing (rewriting) process?
Analyst: From my many conversations with writers over the years, each seems to approach theme a bit differently. For some, the governing theme is crystal clear at the onset of writing, usually in the form of the story’s premise. While others may be initially focused on developing and effectively stringing together the major plot events, in which case the themes tend to crystallize as they write. In either scenario, a script’s big themes get focused during the rewriting process and they certainly impact character development.

SSN Insider | Read the Full Article

Read Part II here.


The Origins of Acting and “The Method”

Trace the origins of acting technique by following the roots of theater going back all the way to the Ancient Greeks, through the Italian Renaissance and finally to the psychological approaches of the 20th Century under the term “Method”

This course is sponsored by RØDE Microphones

You may have noticed our new intro, here’s a quick behind the scenes shot of John working on it – or at least how he’d like to think he looked like while working on it.


This is just a sneak peak at a lot of new stuff coming to the – stay tuned for a big announcement in the coming weeks.


Between the Scenes: Choosing Locations

Filmmakers: When choosing a location there are considerations beyond just that individual scene. Here we explore the ways in which locations work together to help the audience keep track of your story. Example from Gus Van Sant’s ‘Gerry’ (2002, THINKFilm, Miramax). Commentary by ‘Between the Scenes’ author Jeffrey Michael Bays.


Citizen Kane and the meaning of Rosebud

Citizen Kane has long been acclaimed as a work of genius and endlessly dissected by critics. But a mystery still lies at the heart of this masterpiece. On the eve of Orson Welles’s centenary, Peter Bradshaw comes up with his own theory about the film’s clinching moment.

Citizen Kane

Spitting Image once made a joke about Orson Welles – that he lived his life in reverse. The idea, effectively, is that Welles started life as a fat actor who got his first break doing TV commercials for wine, moved on to bigger character roles as fat men, but used his fees to help finance indie films which he directed himself; their modest, growing success gave him the energy and self-esteem to lose weight. Then the major Hollywood studios gave him the chance to direct big-budget pictures, over which he gained more and more artistic control until he made his culminating mature masterpiece: Citizen Kane, the story of the doomed press baron Charlie Kane – played by Welles himself, partly based on WR Hearst – and told in a dazzling series of fragments, shards, jigsaw pieces and reflected images.

Poor, poor Orson Welles: repeatedly talked about as a tragic disappointment, his achievements somehow held against him, as if he had culpably outlived his own genius. After all, he only created arguably the greatest Hollywood movie in history, only directed a string of brilliant films, only won the top prize at Cannes, only produced some of the most groundbreaking theatre on Broadway, only reinvented the mass medium of radio, and in his political speeches, only energised the progressive and anti-racist movement in postwar America. As the room service waiter in the five-star hotel said to George Best: “Where did it all go wrong?”

The Guardian | Read the Full Article

Too Many Cameras are Bad for Business

One interesting perspective available from the halls of NAB if you knew who to talk to came from the hire company/equipment rental bosses who, faced with yet more camera models and accessories to be added to their fleets, are starting to feel the strain.

Camera Choices

At some point in any field, too much choice becomes overwhelming, and that’s what currently seems to be going on in the hire and rental industry at the moment. For the consumer it’s confusing, for the people running the hire companies that supply many of the rest of us with cameras, it’s becoming a real headache.

And given that they are so important to the smooth running of the rest of the industry, their headache can swiftly affect the rest of us. Hire companies going out of business is bad for everyone.

The root problem is exactly the trend that we’ve praised at other times: modularity, both in terms of the cameras themselves and in the product line ups.

One informal discussion we had with a hire boss just before NAB laid the blame firmly at the camera companies and their evolving policy of just that, evolution. “Things were stable for a long time, but now we are seeing every manufacturer flood the market with an increasing number of models,” he said. “That’s fine, but if one or other doesn’t take off what they then do is make incremental changes and release a new version that often ends up competing with the previous one. That is confusing for the consumer and expensive for us.”

RedShark News | Read the Full Article

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