Here is a list of things that low-budget screenwriters should consider.
1. Give the character some depth.
He or she is a human being you are creating.
They have a past, dreams, failures and successes just like every real person does. This all
needs to be fabricated but credible. You will want to do a background (character
development) on all your main players and most of your secondary characters. During
production, let the other actors generate their own backgrounds and the director can tone
down the ridiculous ones. Shallow characters will result in a plot that feels more like a
pinball game than a connected story.
2. Write something new.
Don’t just hash out every old movie clich’e and expect the
audience to be entertained. Try something original. Have characters do somehting
unexpected. Of course you want to keep some semblance of a digestible story, but give it
a new angle or a new environment. I just saw the movie “30 Days of Night” on DVD. I
was not expecting much because it looked like it might be just another vampire movie.
But, I was surprised by the new angle on an old concept. It was a group of people trapped
in an Alaskan town faced with 30 days of seasonal night and a crew of vampire like
creatures to fend off. Sure there were a few possible holes in the story, but none that
couldn’t be explained away by a devout fan of horror.
3. Try to use proper spelling.
You will be needing a lot of people to get behind your
movie idea and you don’t want to give them any unreasonable cause to not get in the boat
4. Use dialog that your (hopefully developed) character would naturally use.
I can’t stand to see a movie where one person says an unusual saying or phrase and then a
completely unrelated character repeats it. It just doesn’t make any sense. Try to envision
how that character feels, what their shortcomings are. Just create a living breathing person
and your audience will fall in love with or hate them if that is the goal.
5. You don’t have to write about something you know, but you should know it by
the time the script has been written.
Don’t guess, or make assumptions about how a particular person would do a job or react. Do some real research. Read about psychology
to help discover how someone mentally ill would respond to an event. Study police
protocol to create a believable crime scene story line. Don’t just repeat the same things
you’ve seen in every other movie. People change over time. They create new ways to do
every kind of job so if you have a professional in your story make sure that they are doing
their job realistically.
6. Don’t follow a script structure.
Three acts are great, but if you are writing an
independent low-budget screenplay, you can get away with murder. Enjoy this freedom
and have fun with it.
About the Author:
Founder of Black Meadow Financial Group and writer of Independent Filmmaking