What makes a scriptwriter?
Have you really got what it takes to be successful?
In his second contribution to The Story Department, filmmaker and teacher Jack Feldstein bares all and gives us his honest advice on the matter.
1. IS A SCRIPTWRITER DIFFERENT TO OTHER WRITERS?
In short, yes. Usually, a scriptwriter seeks and recognises drama and conflict at every moment.
He/she must aim for that. (Of course, there are many types of scripts that rely less on drama and more on poetics just to further complicate matters.)
2. WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW
A scriptwriter certainly can’t know everything. Does that make him/her limited? The secret is “learn what you don’t know” and then write it. . . ”
3. HONESTY AND REVELATION
A scriptwriter’s job is to present their inner terrain nakedly. The good and the bad. He/she must be courageous.
A scriptwriter should be an athlete on the inside. Persistent and possessing an inner strength.
He/she must have the ability to keep going till THE END.
It might be useful to keep in mind, that everyone, under all their clothes, is a nudist. Just like the scriptwriter must be in his/her script.
4. FACING ONESELF
A scriptwriter can only write the true three dimensional depths of their character when he/she has seen the true three dimensional character of themselves.
Facing a blank page is always facing oneself. The first step is facing, the next, accepting what one sees. Human beings and thus story characters possess paradoxical qualities.
The sooner a scriptwriter learns this, the better their scripts.
From whoa to go, it’s a long process. Patience is an important character trait for a scriptwriter.
A solution is. . . always look towards the next script.
6. DREAMS AND ILLUSIONS
The seemingly glamorous/populist side of the industry is very prevalent. How does a scriptwriter, who is sometimes disempowered in the process, deal with that?
It is vital to dream and hope for the best. An optimistic resilient and determined nature definitely helps overcome rejection and industry challenges.
Remember, no-one can stop a scriptwriter writing a script. Except perhaps, the scriptwriter him/herself.
7. THINKING TIME IS IMPORTANT (SOLITUDE)
The relationship a scriptwriter has is with him/herself.
And that’s mostly alone. A scriptwriter must have the nature to enjoy solitude. They cannot be fearful of being alone.
They must learn to be alone and not feel lonely.
Things that appear difficult, like scriptwriting, are achieved with relative ease when passion is involved.
9. GOOD ARTISTS BORROW, GREAT ARTISTS STEAL
That’s a quote by Picasso. How does it apply to scriptwriters?
Well, Shakespeare himself lifted narratives from well known operas, plays and stories in his time and turned them into masterpieces.
If Shakespeare can do it, why not scriptwriters?
10. ARE SCRIPTWRITERS BORN OR MADE?
Is it their destiny? Their fate?
If they do not follow their nature, does it turn toxic? Or is it possible to create oneself into a scriptwriter? The chicken, the egg or both?
I studied acting for three years and hold a graduate diploma in writing from Sydney’s UTS. My interest in film and writing was solidified through interning at The Story Department and gave me the opportunity to fine tune my skills. I’ve been involved with several film projects, the most recent of which was shortlisted for Tropfest.
With the knowledge gained from university and my experience at The Story Department, I’m now specialising in professional feedback on short films and documentaries.