Transcript of video
Film Courage 0:00
What does an outline look like?
Well, for me on these assignments that I do, they’re usually 10 or 12 pages. And it’s the entire story treatment. And it’s not just line by line. I mean, there are some outlines are just it’s a line and line. But for these movies for television, they’re eight acts. So everything has to be broken down, but I write it as a story. So if you were to sit down and read it, you’d be reading the story of the movie, which I think is essential to create, because I find that many, in fact, I’ve had friends that do this. So I’m just gonna sit down and I have a vague idea. And I’m just going to write, and I’m like, you’ll, you’ll be lost in the barren wasteland of Act Two, with no water, you’ll be in the desert, you’ll be lost. And you’ll wonder how are you going to trudge through those 75 pages or whatever.
I’m a huge advocate of outlines, before starting writing. And I know it’s, it’s probably 5060 70% of the work you do, because it makes the load a lot easier. And you can write a faster screenplay, if you have an outline. Now that doesn’t say there’s room, there’s no room for changes or improvising. But if you don’t have a solid roadmap going in, it’s almost like a pre draft of a first draft. And I’m not an advocate, I know this. People say that about the vomit draft, we’re just spill it out. But I don’t have the luxury of spilling out on my assignment jobs I don’t, I really have to turn in, let’s say, out of a 10 scale, I’ve got to turn in probably an eight, an eight, you know, out of 10 because I’m now holding up development, you know, and I’ve also done rewrites on other screenwriters work projects that have that were page one rewrites, which means that the script that they have went through multiple drafts and still is not there, and they have a buyer, they have network who is waiting on the script. And so I’ve also been hired to do rewrite job so I can come in, but it’s like a page one rewrite where see the script that you have, you can’t use any of it the names Yes, the concept. Yes, but you basically. And that’s, that’s something that I’ve learned how to do. Which is good, because there is a lot of rewrite work out there. And, and some writers look down on it upon Oh, you know, but uh, but an example is that I took a rewrite job. And that ended up being three more jobs with the same company.
Because that opened the door for them, and then they were thankful for that. So you never know.
What opportunity is, is going to, you know, you’re going to either turn down or accept. So, but back to your point about the outline, I think it’s extremely important to do an outline before your screenplay, because it’s easier to work out the problems there than it is writing to complete first draft and having just have so many problems. And also it trains you like I said, it’s like you’re an Olympic athlete, it trains you, for the time when you do have to do outlines, because I’m not allowed to write these assignments without an outline that I have to create. So they won’t just let me go to pages that mean they have other people involved to have to Okay, it. So the outline is extremely important.
Film Courage 3:20
In your book, do you have any examples of an actual outline?
No, sometimes viewers will ask Where do I find a copy of an outline? Because I don’t, it’s I’m sure you can find it online. But it’s not. It’s not that mysterious. I mean, there’s there’s different. There’s a step outline, there’s a there’s a one sheet, which is just a one, one sheet of paper, which is the concept, you know, it’s sort of a short synopsis. There’s the logline, which is even smaller, you know, two or three sentences. So there’s different steps. And you have to have, you have to have each along the way, because you have the quick pitch. I’m not interested, then you have the quick pitch and they go, huh, I’m willing to read something, not the script, but I’ll read a synopsis, then, you know, there’s different steps of how interested they are to read. What you want is the final product, the final script is for them to read.
But the treatment, I mean, there’s many different for you know, again, like a step outline, I’ve done outlines that were 30 pages. I mean completely just you triple it, and you have the script. But everything had to be worked out because it was very technical.
The way the film was going to be shot was from from like an iPhone and from different things. And so really had to be spelled out, you know, there was no because on the set, you just can’t leave it up to chance. So that’s, you know, but at that point, I could have written the script in weeks because it was all figured out. You know, I figured it out already. And you want that outline. For those dark periods when you’re stuck. You don’t want to be stuck trying to figure out plot points.
When you should be filling pages, that’s the worst part. That’s the worst place to be.
Film Courage 5:09
How long does it usually take you to write an outline?
It’s let’s see, from once the concept, it’s like two weeks. And I’m working every day. And then that usually ends up being 12 or 15 pages as the outline, in my, in my experience with my producers, and that outline is then rewritten, sometimes two or three times, I mean, I have to, you know, I get notes on the outline before I’m allowed to go to the script. So the script is like the final, once we Okay, the outline, then go to pages. And that’s not to say there, they don’t change their mind once the scripts finished. Because that’s, that’s the crazy part. Because you see, yeah, but you agreed to it in the outline. But we built the house. And now we don’t kind of like the way it looks, you know, we thought we did. And so that happens too. So you have to be, you know, open and prepared for rewrites at all stages. But it does allow you to write a faster first draft is to have a solid outline. Because for me, I have to see the film in my head before I can write it. And I know that I’m I have a lot of problems ahead of me if I can’t see it. I mean, I don’t I don’t lock in like I’ve almost seen the movie. Like, like, when you watch a movie, you remember it, I have to see it that way. And I know things are working when I start to live and you know, the outlines good for living with your characters. You know, you get to live with them, you get to you get to see how the movie is working or doesn’t work before you sit down and write that screenplay, which is building the house. You know, it’s almost the pre blueprint. And in my opinion, that’s been my experience. But I know a lot of writers just want to write down a couple of lines and wing it. And there’s so many, so many things that can go wrong and why why not turn in your the most amazing first draft you can I don’t see the problem with that. In fact, like I say you have to when you’re doing assignment work, you want fewer drafts, you don’t want eight drafts because nothing’s working. You know, you want to turn that in where they go, wow. One of my assignments I did two drafts and two polishes were done. That’s what they like. They don’t like five you’re not getting it. That’s where you get fired. And they hire somebody else who can facilitate the notes and get it moving. You know, it’s it’s, it’s creative, but it’s also a business at the same time, unfortunately.