by Michael Neel & Greg Ansin

To start, there many great books, classes, and websites on screenwriting that are fantastic. Check some out – get exploring!

The smoke rises on the set of the Drive-In Horrorshow.

You must write. You make time for it. Do it. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t be afraid of your “bad ideas” or “cliché stories” or “over-exploited characters” or “never having any good ideas”. These are sometimes the best. Finding your voice is the key. The voice that flows out with ideas. Free flowing ideas. And the only way to channel this flow is to write on a regular basis.

There are lots of good exercises to start from, so find one and use it.

From this you should get some story ideas.

A screen shot of what a script looks like.

Once you get an idea, flush it out.

NOTE: if you are not familiar with screenplay writing format, find a big Hollywood script and follow that format in your writing.

Movie people expect a script to be written in this format so you need to learn it if you want to show your script to anyone. There is a lot of good screenwriting software out there. Some are even free.

Now, is your script shootable for your budget?

If no, and you think your script is good, you might want to try to sell it or find a partner to help supply/raise the money. Or take out the things that cost the most – if that kills your script then it does, you accept it, and you move on to another idea. If not you’re in business.

Some things that drive up production costs:
-a lot of locations
-a lot of characters, especially crowd scenes
-complicated effects, or effects that appear throughout your story (i.e. a character with extensive burn makeup in every scene)

The crew of Horrorshow wires up the actor (Larry Tish) for audio (John Gage).

A good question to consider when you are at this stage is “what can I write that I can also afford to shoot?”

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