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Advice From Austin: The 27 Best Things Screenwriters Said at the Austin Film Festival Writers Conference

Advice From Austin: The 27 Best Things Screenwriters Said at the Austin Film Festival Writers Conference

Movie News

The Writing Process and the Script

4. “If you gave me 12 months to write a screenplay, I would spend 10 months on the idea and six weeks writing. I start with an outline with about 10 bullet points. Then I’ll do research—hundreds of pages on plot, characters, etc. Six to eight months in, I have 500 pages of notes.”—Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

5. “Begin with a thesis—something you believe. Someone or something challenges it. A new belief emerges. Repeat. At the beginning, the hero believes the opposite of your thesis. Often, they’re happy with that. But the inciting incident makes it impossible to live the same way.”Craig Mazin

6. “Theme is an argument. It must be arguable. If you don’t have an argument, people will ask what the script is about. What’s the point?”—Craig Mazin

7. “When you’re in the zone, your unconscious is doing all the important work. If it feels right, I trust that it’s right, and if it feels wrong, it probably is wrong.”—Kenneth Lonergan

8. “I believe that by not telling everything about the character’s backstory the audience will fill in the gaps.”—Dan Gilroy

9. “We assume that everything described in the first 10 pages is important. If characters are going to disappear, just call them Cop 1 and Cop 2 to tell us they’re not important.”—Dan Petrie, Jr. (The Big Easy)

10. “I’ve never read a script that got better on page 16.”—Michael Greene (Blade Runner 2049)

11. “End a scene when something has changed.”—Craig Mazin

12. “In a great ending, the external, internal/emotional, and philosophical climaxes happen at the same time.”—Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine)

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