Has it been nearly six months since my last post? And another new year too. Time flies. I have finished Scriptwriting 1 and I’m in the final throes of editing before sending it off for assessment in a couple of weeks.
When I started Scriptwriting 1 I had no realisation of how much effort and precision goes into writing a screenplay. Up to that point I’d enjoyed watching films and didn’t think about the process that goes into the body of a script. Having only ever written fictional stories, the process of scriptwriting was completely alien.
Of the three courses on Level 1, Scriptwriting 1 has been the most thorough. The exercises and coursework within each assignment were plentiful. Add to that the amount of films recommended to watch, along with screenplays I read, I have learnt a great deal in a relatively short time.
That being said, I did at times get overwhelmed. Trying to find time to watch films and do the exercises, whilst reading scripts, at first swamped me. As my first assignment loomed I couldn’t process the enormity of writing my own fifteen-minute screenplay. I wrote in my writing journal: Writing a fifteen-minute screenplay is daunting. I have to consider my character’s thoughts and feelings through images, action and dialogue. I must train my mind to think visually, read as many scripts as I can and spend time watching movies.
Whilst spending time watching feature length movies I watched five short films. Wasp by Andrea Arnold, Six Shooter by Martin McDonagh, The Shore by Terry George and Two Cars, One Night by Taika Waititi. It was hard not to feel overwhelmed by the excellence of these short films and I confess that it took me a while to get started on my assignment because of this. ‘How can I write like that?’ I seemed to constantly ask myself.
My tutor has given me solid advice on every assignment and his encouragement spurred me on to create a screenplay that I never in a million years thought I could write. His comments for my final assignment were a relief: Congratulations on putting together a complete final assignment project. There is much to admire in your writing. The characters are rich, and feel realistic. The story is emotive, and the dialogue comes across as authentic. You have got to grips with the techniques to tell a story well. It is structured well. As this is the final assignment, we can be quite detailed in some of our suggestions, which you will find in my comments here and in my notes in your script pages.
The main area for improvement is in concision (removing any excess material that doesn’t add to plot or character) but mainly in making your screen headings tighter so we know exactly what we can visualise, as they are still too novelistic and at times a bit too vague.
As ever, there is room now for you to do some rewriting and edits to improve the script for submission to assessment (along with your other chosen assignments). Based on the work you have done, I believe you are able to do this and put in a strong portfolio.
Following on from his advice I pared back on certain scenes and dialogue and made my screen headings tighter. I tried to be more visual and less novelistic.
In conclusion, Scriptwriting 1 has had its challenges. Deadlines were a constant battle, ideas were quashed then resurrected, time was my enemy and self-doubt my constant companion. I didn’t think I could do it at various moments throughout this course but suddenly I had seventeen pages of my script on my printer waiting to be collated and proofread.
I still have a lot to learn regarding scriptwriting, however, I think given the time I could write another fifteen-minute screenplay using the experiences and guidance that I’ve had from this comprehensive course. I have found the process enjoyable and most of all, I have developed a strong affection for short films.