Onward with our Best Screenwriting Links series. It occurred to me looking over my archives that among the dozens of amazing websites out there giving away knowledge for free–check the Links page at www.donedealpro.com for about two hundred of them– among these are a handful of ridiculously strong sites that could be featured in and of themselves. No Film School is at the top of the list, and if you haven’t been there, well, to quote Gomer Pyle, “Shame, shame, shame!” Here’s a sampling of articles that might help you in your Quixote quest to slay your own filmmaking and screenwriting windmills in this year of our Lord 2015.
- FREE SOFTWARE
You’re moving toward the production phase of a micro-budget feature or short. How do you whip up the production documents you need without paying for expensive software? Here’s a free alternative, called Casper. From the NFS article: “Production reports, call sheets, time logs, and schedules are a very necessary aspect of a shoot’s organization. On smaller productions with a limited crew, you may be responsible for producing these documents yourself. Thanks to a developer called ThinkCrew, you now have access to a tool that makes creating these production docs that much easier. It’s called Casper, and it’s a totally free set of templates for Microsoft Office Excel designed for production management. Dynamic scripting under the hood means Casper automates the process for you, filling in relevant data across multiple documents as you input it. Read on to check out Casper, plus some videos breaking down this useful toolset.”
- THE MASSIVE LIST OF GRANTS
Yes, I admit it, I’ve never explored the grant route. Why is that? Well, I probably didn’t know where to look. When it comes time to finance my films, the notion of making a total spectacle of myself before friends, family, and potential investors dancing with my tin cup in hand BEGGING FOR MONEY is somehow more appealing. Or maybe it just struck me as the only way to do it. Knowledge is power– Maybe I’ll put away my Bojangles dance shoes next time and try to make money via the grant route, using this list compiled by No Film School. You should consider it too. Grants from February through June can be found here. Summer/Fall grants can be found here.
- 8 “SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL” SCREENWRITING TIPS
The internet is crammed with “list” posts— XYZ # of rules GUARANTEED to help you in your impossible dream. Virtually all are bullshit. This one appealed to me. Compiled by V Renee, it’s kinda out there, unconventional advice. How can’t you love bullet-point #5: “DO THINGS THAT EMBARRASS YOURSELF”– “This is probably one of my favorite things to do to help my creativity — and it’s simple. The title says it all. If you’re stuck on a scene — it’s not flowing well and the dialog feels contrived, then I suggest sitting in your bathtub for a while. Perhaps you should wear wigs and costumes when you’re stumped. I do interpretive dance (ironically,) practice my draw with toy revolvers, sing songs from HMS Pinafore and The Mikado (do I love comic operas or what?) — anything that jump starts my brain creatively is alright by me — even becoming El Espadachín while I write in my office (as demonstrated below.)
What all of these silly things do, at least for me, is cut any ties I have to my ego, pride, or shred of coolness I might’ve onee had, and allows me to approach my writing without the added pressure of writing “a great screenplay.” Plus, it’s fun.”
How many of you would pay cash money for a video me of me doing interpretive dance wearing a Gilbert and Sullivan wig? Hey, make me an offer!
- JOHN AUGUST’S 11 STEP GUIDE TO WRITING A SCENE
Lastly, from the No Film School, this advice from the great John August website. Joining No Film School on the short list is this essential storehouse of screenwriting acumen by the guy who wrote Big Fish, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Frankenweenie, and many others. He just gives it away on his site, NOT grousing for consultancies, NOT looking to make a dime on you. There’s enough of interest on the John August site to keep a screenwriting nerd like myself bunked up for a month. I liked this infographic article on something common to all screenplays– How you actually go about writing a scene. How do you prepare? What is common to all great scenes? Here’s knowledge from a pro, a guy in the arena. For the article, go here.