How Can I Be of Service?
“How can I be of service?”
This is the question I asked myself years ago — and it was the turning point in in my screenwriting career.
I stopped trying to please myself in my writing, and started thinking about pleasing others. The question: “What service do I offer?” became my mantra. By putting myself in the shoes of producers, studio executives, and, yes, even the audience, I went from thinking about me to thinking about you.
And now I ask the question again.
But this time I’m asking you directly.
I spent last Sunday in a meeting about this very website. We first made plans for this site in October and made voluminous notes on what we wanted to accomplish in that time. Now six months later, we have hit all our goals! I am out on the road giving seminars and meeting with many of you. I have had the pleasure of lecturing in Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, and Maine and taught classes or lectured at Chapman University, Vanderbilt, and UCLA! It’s been an exciting six months, the results have been beyond our wildest expectations — and now plans for Phase II of this website are underway.
We want this site to be the meeting place for both writers interested in furthering their skills and connections AND those who want to connect with those writers who are creating the freshest new movie scripts. To that end, as we roll out the next part of this enterprise, here are some of things we have in mind:
— A webpage for each of the students who have taken a STC! seminar, allowing them to interact with fellow writers in their group — and to promote the script they began working on.
— Script Of The Month. I want to highlight the best script I have read each month and, with the writer’s permission, post the first 25 or so pages of that script to promote their project.
— Podcasts featuring some of my radio “appearances” where I have discussed aspects of screenwriting as well as dissected some of the classic movies that will be featured in my follow up book, Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies.
— Also we want to launch an interactive weekly radio show where writers call in and pitch me their script ideas — and even discuss how to enhance and re-write that screenplay for better results.
These are just a few things that are in the works and will be available to you soon. But now I ask again: How can I be of service? If you have any suggestions about how to make this site better or how I can help you to write and sell your script, I want to know. Please use the Comment section below to tell us.
My mission is to help you sell your script.
I want to see great movies at the cineplex — your movies. I want you to have a fulfilling creative life and I will do my best to help you achieve that. Tell me how I can better make it happen for you and we will go to any length to make that possible.
I am very excited! I have never been more so. If we can accomplish all this in six months, think of what else we can do!
P.S. A big shout out of congratulations to my buddy Gurpreet all the way out in Delhi, India, whose wife just gave birth to their first child, a boy, Sehaj. Many blessings to your family!!
- BRYN DALTON
I like Sarah’s idea, but why not take it a step further? Maybe a place where we can post work of our own? Not just scripts even, I make movies and would love a spot where I could post clips! Obviously there would be filtering issues, but a decent web admin wouldd be able to sort this out.
How about recent success stories? Certainly someone has had some as a result of this book, so let’s hear about it!
What about an interactive version of “the board”?
I realize this would be giving away proprietary info, but a dumbed down version could be a great help to some writers. I keep trying to make my own, but each time I change it I lose previous incarnations of the same story.
This site (and Blake’s personal input) have been an unbelievable help to me, not just improving my writing, but the way I go about selling and producing scripts.
- Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Since the advent of web-casting TV shows and films — and podcasting! — I expect the market for scripts designed for the very-small screen will grow.
A website section monitoring developments in that tiny but growing market would be very interesting, especially how to “cost” a script designed for the small screen.
Also anything on different skills needed to tell a good story on a small screen would be valuable.
In addition, here’s something I’d like to see on this site. I haven’t read STC! yet, but I do intend to very soon, and the second book too. So maybe this is in STC!, but might work well on the web.
Could you post one whole lesson in one particular skill, showing in depth how to master that one narrow skill, perhaps with some student’s homework as an example — (like dialog, or visual description lesson) to demonstrate exactly what is available at your seminars?
In addition, if you are looking to build website traffic beyond just those who want to sell a script, you might want to put up something on how to design a novel in such a way that it would be easier to convert it to the visual media — what does a producer or writer look for in a novel when searching for a property?
For example, Jim Butcher’s novel series, THE DRESDEN FILES is a pilot feature on the sci fi channel this summer. How did that happen? What did they see in those novels that made them grab for them?
And the reverse — what should a novelist who’s been hired to turn a script into a novel do to make cold text of the novel have the depth and imagination stirring potential of a visual feature?
I remember the comic strip Superman, then old radio Superman — and the 1950’s TV version, then films, and now lots of TV versions — it’s a cross-media phenomenon.
Some of my stories, The Dorian St. James Saga, are being dramatized for broadcast on XM Satellite Radio — and streaming MP3 on the web. This audio-only version requires “adaptation” from the narrative format of the magazine publications. Watching what they did to my story was — instructive.
I have been asked for more stories in that series and would like to write them in such a way that the scripting would be easy and natural, rather than strained.
In other words, a section devoted to storycrafting across the media would, I think, be a monster traffic draw compared to aiming only at people devoted to scriptwriting. I don’t think there would be much competition in that area right now.
I also think cross-media-literacy for storytellers is an important area of the art to develop because we are living in an age where the media are converging. We will be getting our TV on our computers, and our internet service on our TV’s, and both those with phone and text-messaging and e-books on our handhelds.
Text, live-actor, animation, audio-only, and who knows what next — are tools all storytellers will have to master. This website could found an entire philosophy or school of thought on how to merge the media for story-telling.
- Sarah Beach
Bryn, regarding saving versions of “the board”… I actually use a “card” program (Writers Blocks). I don’t have wall space at home for a physical board. Plus, the program does allow me to save different versions of the order.
Of course, the version of the program that I have arranges the blocks in columns instead of rows, but I’m adaptable. I haven’t checked the most recent version of the program to see if you can arrange in rows or not (the only reason I’d upgrade).
The program has an “outline” mode as well, so that once you’ve gotten the blocks arranged the way you want (you can shift them and color code them), you can print it out in the “outline” format – which I find very useful to work from, like a step outline or treatment.
In fact, after taking Blake’s seminar last December, I set up a BS2 beat sheet template in the program, to use when I’m starting out on a new story.
Just another suggestion into the mix.
- Pat Ames
Does using your consulting services count the same as enrolling in one of the workshops? hehe
- BRYN DALTON
But my computer and print have never fully agreed on matters like printing and layout. It’s actually a rather tragic relationship. The Printer is old and stubborn and afraid of having it’s heart broker. The computer is young and eager and sometimes gets ahead of itself.
I was thinking of something more than just a form to print out and stick to my wall anyways. I meant a program that would allow one (or possibly more) to not only save quickly beat out versions of stories, say as .pdf, but to then email or print or download or whatever you must do with it. Perhaps if built with an administrated “members section” where they could then be saved, even posted, on the site itself.
Why not a similar engine for the tite/tagline/logline?
How about some sort of weekly challenge? Give title and tagline and we write the logline? Or maybe a monthly script challenge?
I love the idea of “mini”-series for the iPod etc. With everyone getting better and better video cameras (not to mention the ones embedded in their phones) we may begin to see many more of these eMovies working their way in. Remember the Folgers Coffee series?
Will this be a chance for a whole new breed of story tellers to turn their ideas into something tangible? The difference in resolution between an iPod screen and a silver screen is millions of dollars (please believe me, I know this from first hand experience), especially when it comes to things like visual effects and locations.
Like I said before, I’ll do the Geico Cavemen in 15 minute iPod movies, bringing their message to the people. Absolutely classic.
- Blake Snyder
These are great suggestions!! Keep ’em coming.
- Bryn DALTON
How about a “guest blog”? Hearing about the state of movies (or just screenwriting) from the people actually making them could be interesting. I know it’s Blake Snyder.com, but remember John Donne; no man is an island.
What about your own chat window? I know you’re using Zoetrope to do this now, but I haven’t run across too many people talking the book or much of Blake’s other stuffs.
Heck, why not webcasts for that matter? Or maybe mini-movies of some of Blake’s seminars, let us know what they’re like (almost like, dare I say it . . . a preview).
I’d better be able to link to audio files of this radio show he’s doing, that’s for damn sure. Ever heard of Art Bell? His site was great for this. I wonder what he’s saying these days.
- Christina Ferguson
I’ve learned a lot about the STC method by reviewing the beat sheets for Miss Congeniality and Wedding Crashers. I know you’re writing a book full of breakdowns, but how about a preview of one or two breakdowns – now!
The other day, a person on Zoetrope in the “Save the Cat” room specifically requested a breakdown of a romcom/buddy love pic, like When Harry Met Sally.
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A MESSAGE BOARD! (sorry for shouting)
Although I do like having response boxes to specific topics, there have been times when a discussion can go off on a tangent, and it feels wrong to attach it to a specific blog entry.
And it’s also very hard to initiate a discussion, or ask a question in a response box – especially if the question doesn’t have anything to do with any current posts.
So I really, really recommend you find a board format you like, so we can all plaster you with questions. Heh.
By the way, Blake — I really want to commend you for this attitude. Of course, it’s there on every page of the book. I’ve told friends, when recommending STC, that you are a terrific cheerleader – and you remind the reader that a writer should be having fun. So, here’s hoping you don’t run into stuff that gets you down!
Looking forward to the expansion.