by- Tom Kubrak
You want to start writing…but wait.
Before you write a word down on paper you need to do a few things.
1- Interview Your Client
Get everything out of your client about the story that you possibly can. At the end of the day, they hired you for a reason; they have a good idea, and they want you to write it. This is not your story though, it’s theirs, and you need to do them the courtesy of letting them talk-out all of the information they have on their idea. So, not only you, but they, have the confidence that you’re actually going to be able to write a good script.
You can do interviews in person or over the phone. There is plenty of technology to use to record phone calls(with your clients permission of course) and then be able to transcribe it with ease. If you decide to do a phone call try Tape-A-Call, which can connect directly to your phones system to record.
The amount of interviews you’ll need to do depends on your client and the length of the project too.
For this post we’ll talk about scripts. Specifically, we’ll talk about screenplays.
Typically, for a short film, I do anywhere from one to three interviews.
For a feature it’s 3(minimum) and up to 6.
The duration of these interviews should be from 30-60 minutes. Before you begin these interviews tell your client you’re planning on it to be around that time, but don’t be upset or stop the conversation if it goes longer.
2- Transcribe The Interviews
Do this to completely engulf yourself in their story, and in order to not repeat anything in later interviews.
3- Notecard The Scenes
Get a stack of plain or colored notecards and write out each scene on them. Place these notecards on a large cork-board or a large table to then begin to organize them.
4- Write Out Each Character On A Notecard
It’s important to have all of your characters written out to understand them in their entirety. You never know, one character can make-or-break a script and after looking at someones character for awhile you may get the idea you need to make a to-die-for script.
5- Note Any Questions
After interviewing your client and beginning to understand their story you should be developing some questions. Jot them down and at another interview ask them the ones you wrote down.
6- Note Any Research Points
Once you transcribe the recordings and your client answers the questions you asked them you should then jot things down for research purposes. Take some time, a week or more maybe, if needed, to research all of those points/answer the questions your client wasn’t able to in those initial interview. This will help you dive-deeper into the story.
7- Don’t Be Shy to Extend The Research Time Period
Take your time with this stage. This stage is critical in order to write a good script. Help your client understand that, although you may have not written anything yet, the work you’re doing will benefit the ‘end product’ greatly.
8- Organize as Best as Possible The Notecards You Wrote Down
Lay out the notecards you have written on a table and, like a puzzle, begin to put the scenes you’ve written in the order you see is best.
9- Type Up The ‘Organized’ Notecards into The Outline
10- Send off the Outline for Approval
It would be terrible to think you have reached the finish line of a project to then be told, “you’ve arrived at the wrong destination.” So, get that outline approved and then begin to write the script.
Once you get it approved, then it’s time to write. Getting the outline approved is essential because you don’t want to begin writing something that, at the end of the road, you’re at the wrong destination. And your client says, “What we’re you thinking?! This isn’t even close!
Don’t let that happen to you. No matter how confident you are in the story.
By- Tom Kubrak