I found your FAQ at craftyscreenwriting.com and was intrigued to find that you had indeed answered a question on what a high schooler should do if they are interested in filmmaking. To my dismay, I noticed you recommended against starting screenplays at a young age. After having immersed myself in thoughts of my story and images and pre-maturely made directorial decisions, I found myself losing interest and passion in continuing with this story as I have lately found it difficult to write short stories without them snowballing into screenplays. I am afraid that by the time I am of age to write full length scripts I will have long forgotten this tiny spark of an idea and I'll never get the chance to see it realized. Do you have any suggestions for a young person like me on how to break free of this current disheartened state which I'm sure comes to every aspiring filmmaker after bad news?
You're asking two questions. One is, what do I do when I'm disheartened? And the answer to that is, of course: perservere, and find a way to turn your experience into art. The more important question is: what do I do when I get advice that doesn't make sense to me. And the answer to that is: ignore it. If it makes sense, use it. If it doesn't make sense, don't use it. I could be wrong about not writing screenplays. Actually, I probably am wrong. At the time it seemed like good advice. Since then I've read one young writer's screenplay that is probably at least as good as my first one was when I went to film school. If you think in screenplay, write in screenplay.
The reason I said don't write screenplays was that it seemed to me that it's harder to get intelligent feedback on a screenplay than it is on a story. But that may no longer be true. Maybe your friends are just as clear on how to read a screenplay as they are on how to read a short story; or clearer. My stepson doesn't read much; he plays video games a lot. Maybe he'll be more visual than verbal.
So ignore that bit of advice if it seems wrong to you.
On the other hand do the other stuff: read, learn about style, watch lots of great movies and dissect them.
Also, don't worry about your tiny little spark of an idea. If it's that meaningful to you, you won't forget it. I'm pitching a TV drama series right now based on a play I had a reading of maybe 8 years ago, which was based in turn on a feature script, which was in turn based on a character in my thesis film back in 1990. And the first version of something is rarely the best.
Ultimately, there are a million different paths to becoming the person, and the craftsman, and the artist, that you ought to be. The straightest route is not always the best; the best paved route is not always the best; but the one that seems to you the best probably is the best, if you have the courage to pursue it. I could not have told you 20 years ago, when I was applying to film school, how this was ultimately going to work out. And I didn't stress about it much either. I just figured it was the thing to do. And it was.
[NOTE: I'm updating the section in my FAQ accordingly.]
Labels: breaking in