Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A quick blog....

I am aware I have been away for a spell. To be honest I may have to pull the blog and put it up on a shelf for a couple years as grad school quickly approaches, and the rest of my life refuses to slow down.

In the meantime, as I [finally] complete the revisions to my "Poetry in Motion Pictures: The Art of the Cinematic Short" book proposal, it occurred to me that the timing couldn't be more perfect to hear those tireless family tales recounted year after year around the Thanksgiving table. Which tales will you hear again? Please share them, if you feel so compelled, after the holidays. Or before if you are planning your annual telling of an oft recounted family story.

I'll see you on the flip side of the holiday. I'm hosting again this pardon me as I excuse myself to the kitchen for the next three days.

Rent HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS for a fun look at someone else's dysfunctional Thanksgiving gathering. It's a hoot.

And thanks for stopping by.


PS What are you thankful for? Me? Family, friends, pets, good health, and words.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Where do Stories Come From?

How do we dive into the process of writing a short script?

Let's start at the beginning: the story. Where do we get ideas for our tales?

From stories passed down from generation to generation, to that stupid thing you did as a teen, we all have them - stories that entertain and amuse others. Some can and should be recorded for all eternity; ultimately those few gems may be spun into a short screenplay.

Where else can short scripts stem from? Short stories, poems, a seed of an idea, musical lyrics, even story-style jokes. I've written short scripts that sprouted from a family tale, from a seed of an idea, from a character I think I know, and from a poem. Anything that can evoke an image may have the ability to be spun into an entertaining script. Or at least serve as a jumping off point to another great script.

In my Introductory Screenwriting Course I ask each student to tell a story - one that has been handed down from generation to generation, or one that is recounted every time the same group of friends gets together. It's a fun exercise and a good way to open yourself up to the endless possibilities that may be turned into that next great short script.

Try it now, if you're game. Jot down a story that you have found amusing for a spell - or that your family has found humorous, even if it's at your expense. Feel free to share it here, if you like. I'll do the same later this week.

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Art of Writing the Short Script

Short Scripts. Why write them? And how short is short?

I teach the Art of Writing the Short Screenplay both as an introductory to scriptwriting course at the University of New Hampshire-Manchester, and as a workshop at Film Festivals, Writer's Groups, what have you.... By learning the short form screenplay, we can begin to gain an understanding of their feature film-length grown-up cousins.

In my teachings, short scripts maintain three act structure, plus they incorporate all the formatting issues that a screenwriter must learn to pen that next Academy winning film: FADE IN, FADE OUT, INT./EXT., all these elements are just as important to short scripts as they are to feature screenplays.

In fact, a short script could garner Academy attention. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences recognizes any short film under forty minutes that has qualified for a nomination. Personally, I would classify any film of about 89 minutes or shorter as a short film, but we're each entitled to our opinion.

Short scripts can run less than one page, too. Consider that one page roughly equates to one minute of film time, and then consider that many commercials run less than a minute, some even top out at 15 or 30 seconds long.

So short scripts can be an excellent tool to learning the screenwriting craft. And a polished short script can serve as a calling card, especially if that short script has won an award, or - perhaps even better - if that short script is shot, resulting in a possible Oscar contending film, and a fabulous calling card.

Speaking of short, in an attempt to keep my posts both frequent and brief, I shall end for now...and promise a follow-up. Those of you who know me from workshops and classes can verify that yes, indeed, there will be more to follow. Much more.

Thanks for stopping by.

Dana Biscotti Myskowski
Award Winning Screenwriter & Script Consultant