Saturday, May 4, 2019

How to sell a movie script in Bollywood?

One of the nightmare of most of the new struggling screenwriters is to sell film script. Unfortunately, lots of such writers struggle went on life long. But the reality behind such long struggle is bitter and hard to digest. And the reality is 8 out of 10 strugglers believe film producer is the only one entity in entire film making business who buys script. In this article we are going to discuss these tips that might help you to sell your film script in Bollywood.
I am not advocating neither producers nor film industry how it works, but sole purpose of this article is make you aware of the reality that is going on and hence it would help you to prepare an effective strategy.

How to sell a movie script in Bollywood

Why producer denies to purchase a script from a new writer?

It is not uncommon in a film Industry like Bollywood, where a producer encounters more than ten amateur every week where writers plead to allow only five minutes to narrate their written script. In such scenario, producer Either suggests to mail the script to an email id, or suggests to meet one of his office employee or simply refuses and hints body guard to keep away such people. And the reason is very obvious, first of all, imagine you are walking on the road, and some one suddenly approaches you and asks you to buy a gold ring for a cheap low price whose market value is extremely high. Would you buy this ring? No.
This is quite similar situation. And on the other hand, lots of aspiring screenwriter believe screenwriting is similar to novel, story writing where thoughts stream down and we pen down on a paper, and such drafts even if lands in the hand of production house people, goes straight into the rejection bin. The point here is producer encounter such self claimed screenwriter daily whose scripts are swallow from inside.
Screenwriting is a craft. Craft can not be learned with out training and sufficient practice. A painter, drawing artist who can draw exact on canvas what ever he sees or looks at, now the question, could he draw a blue print which is required for a building construction. And the answer is of course he could but that would be least eligible for building construction. Because to draw blue print, architecture understanding is required. Similar with screenwriting.
So if you are dedicated to make career in this screenwriting field or film direction, my serious suggestion go through a proper screenwriting training.
Okay, now, then how would a trained screenwriter can sell their script?

Who is a producer in film making business?

First of all, we have to understand, Producer is not some one who buys script but some one who invests fund in a project. Producer is only interested if there is a sure shot highly effective revenue generate model. The fact is producer is simply just a fund arranger.

Now, what are the elements a producer looks in a project?

  • - Casting. Who is hero and heroin in the film?
  • - Director. How was the business record of the directors previous film. If new one, then to whom he has assisted.
  • - Potential of the script. Not how good it is written but how much possible business it would make.
  • - Production cost of the film.
  • - Songs, how viral it would go.
Songs have been backbone in doing good movie business in Bollywood. These days, songs are best weapon to draw attention of mass and tickle them to buy tickets in the theatres. If songs are hit, then movie could easily make good money.

Now, how could a new writer sell their script?

We have to understand who else might be interested in the script and then approaching production house would be beneficial.
  • - Film Directors whose films were released recently. They are loooking for a good script for their next project
  • - Certain film directors instead of script, they want writers to develop a script along with him or her
  • - Film Actors who might be interested to act in the script. If a film actor agrees to provide date for the script, then there would be hundreds of film producer outside of the writers house
  • - Chief Assistant directors, and first assistant directors who are waiting for their debut project might be interested to direct your script. Such chief AD has good contacts in the industry, production house would love to listen such people.
  • - Script consultants also show interest to improvise the script and help to sell the script. And they do this for a fee but they are truly helpful.
So now you have clear understanding, who are the potential buyers for you script. Prepare your strategy and re-struggle once again. Hope this article might help you to sell your script in the industry.

Contemporary Script Writing Format for Feature Film, TV Series, Web series

Script writing format is the key to let the script stay in the hands of the reader for couple of more minutes. Hard to believe and the bitter truth, 8 out of the 10 reason, production company reject a script because it is not following the industry standard script format. Script format is not only document for the writer to tell the story, but also an important document for each and every department of Film Production Company.

screenplay format

History of Script writing format in Bollywood Film Industry

One or two decades back in Indian Film Industry, there were no scripts. It is hard to digest, how could it be possible to make a film with out proper scripts!! This information is partially true. If we visit library, then we would easily get the script of  Devdas, 1955 film directed by Bimol Roy. There were lots of films which maintained a proper industry standard script format where as others did not maintain the exact script format which we see frequently today. But still there were documents to proceed and make films. In general in such films (where there were no script), the director used to carry a story and scene by scene narration.
The dialogue writer used to develop dialogues depending upon the scenes the director narrated him just before the shoot. Most of the time, the dialogues were written just before the shoot, or one day before shoot. And on the other side, songs were treated as separate phase in film making. Songs were choreographed, directed by the Choreographers. (Which means they were the decision makers in the song picturisation phase and even it exists still today). No wonder, why most of the media in those time and even today claim, choreographers are the best potential film directors.

Contemporary screenwriting and Script writing Format:

Today, every visual story medium, whether its tv series, whether its webseries, or film, all follow the industry standard format. The major departments of film production company strictly depend upon the script. Therefore, any film production company before proceeding, locks the script which is commonly known as bound script. Todays date film production unit begins their project with bound script. So we must follow the industry standard format.

Industry standard format of screenplay / script

A movie script or screenplay consists of movie scene. Each movie scene has following important parts.
  1. Slug line or Scene heading
  2. Action
  3. Character cue
  4. Parenthetical
  5. Dialogue
  6. Transition

Slugline or scene heading

Indent: Left: 0.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 6.0"
It informs the reader about the actions location and the time of happening of the actions.

The above slugline tells us, the location is hotel room, it is happening in the day time and it is an interior location. This will help cinematographer to arrange the lights accordingly. It will help actors to visualise the scene accordingly.


Indent: Left: 0.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 6.0"
Action are the visual details which audience are going to watch on the cinema screen. It helps film director to break down in to shots.

Character cue

Indent: Left: 2.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 4.0"
If there are any dialogues, then character cue helps actors to improvise and set a tone to deliver the dialogue in certain way.


Indent: Left: 1.5" Right: 2.0" Width: 2.5"
If any specific instruction the screen writer wants to instruct the actor to deliver the dialogue in certain way, then such instructions are written in this format.


Indent: Left: 1.0" Right: 1.5" Width: 3.5"
The sayings of the characters. It helps actor to preplan to deliver the verbal words in certain cinematic way.


Indent: Left: 4.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 2.0"
The passage of time from one scene to another.
Common Transitions are:
  1. Cut to
  2. Cut back to
  3. Flashback
  4. Dissolve to
  5. Smash cut
Every movie script should restrict to the above mentioned industry standard script format
If you are using a text editor such as MS Word or Wordpad, then you have to follow the above mentioned format and adjust the text accordingly. But if you are using screenwriting software then you dont have to bother for the format. The format guidelines are in build.
If you are eager to know some of the popular screenwriting software which are available for free, then read following article:
Free Screenwriting Softwares 2019

Free Best Movie Script Writing Software 2019

Looking for best free screenwriting software for movie screenplay writing, following list will help. No matter which ever film industry, a screenwriter is targeting to sell his/her script, screenplay format matters first. A film script which lacks industry screenplay format guideline is dumped immediate into the bin. This is fact. 8 out of 10 scripts are rejected because of such simple mistake. It is hell lot of time consuming job to format a screenplay according to the industry standard in a simple text editor software. To overcome such burden, lots of screenwriting software are available in the market which strictly take care of all screenplay format guideline and the screenwriter only need to focus on the script construction.

Best Free Screenplay Writing Software

Following are the list of free screenwriting software for screenplay writers:
  1. Celtx
  2. Celtx is a screenwriting software. It also provides features to handle pre-production workflow. Using Celtx we can also prepare story board for screenplay. We can also prepare schedule to shoot the script. Celtx is offering paid version also.
  3. Trelby
  4. Trelby is a free open source project. It is available for free for anyone who is willing develop a script using it. Trelby is one of the popular screenwriting software too. It follows strictly industry screenplay standard. It is available for windows and linux only.
  5. Page2stage
  6. “Page 2 Stage” is a popular screenwriter. Using Page 2 Stage software one can develop screenplay, script, plays etc. Initially it was a paid software but later on, it has been available as open source project. So any one can use this software for screenwriting.
  7. Writer Duet
  8. Writer Duet is well known screenwriting software. WriterDuet is primarily used to outline, write, and format screenplays to the standards.
  9. Story Touch
  10. Story Touch is a software used to develop screenplay. Free version of this software contains basic tools for screenplay development. Paid version of this software contains advanced features for screenwriting.
  11. Causality
  12. Causality is a new screenwriting application by HollywoodCameraWork.
  13. Drama Queen
  14. DramaQueen is the new scriptwriting software skilled in the art of visual storytelling. It allows to write stories, visualize with cool tools, write screenplays and also analyse them.
  15. DubScript
  16. With dubscript, one can easily develop screenplay for television, feature film, webseries and documentary. It can save script in PDF Format. It can also read scripts from other screenwriting software such as final draft.
  17. PlotBot
  18. PlotBot is one of the popular screenwriting software which is available for free. Any one can use this software to develop scritp for movies, tv, web series etc.
  19. BPC Screenplay
  20. BPC Screenplay is a popular screenwriter. Using it one can develop screenplay, script, plays etc.

Basics of Screenplay Writing : Screenwriting Guide for absolute beginners

Screenplay is a play written for screen. Play written for television is known as teleplay. Play written for stage is known as stage play. Therefore the play for screen should be written in a specific way. It should not similar to the plays written for any other platform. So we need to understand how screenplays are written. The best way to begin understanding the screenwriting craft is to understand first why screenplay came into existence.

basics of screenplay writing screenwriting guide for absolute beginners

Screenplay came into existence because of following five reasons
  1. Budget estimation
  2. Arrangement of properties, costumes, equipments and cameras before the shoot
  3. Arrangement of technicians, other staff before shoot
  4. Grip on Budget flow
  5. Easy workflow design
Yes because of the above reason screenplay came into existence. Screenplay has a format. Industry strictly follows this format. If a script no matter how good it is but has not followed the industry standard screenplay format then such scripts are immediate ignored.

History behind Screenplay Format:

Were there any other factors responsible for the screenplay format?
When motion picture came into existence, camera man used to shoot live actions such as train leaving from platform, gardener pouring water, cook cooking in the kitchen etc. But later on, Edwin Stanton Porter, director at Thomas Edisons Company, discovered that he could tell stories through moving images. Edwin Stanton Porter is considered father of editing in World Cinema. Sooner studios started making fictional contents. Studios explored that to shoot fictional content they need to list down scenes. Because it would not only grant studios a space to visualise the story on screen in advance but also going to provide a space to estimate the budget, change the document according to the budget, control the flow of the budget. Such initial documents were exactly to scribbled notes (Roughly written information for each scene) that was used to shoot scene in the studio. Gradually, when two hour - three act long stage play adopted for the screen, stage play script format also adopted for the screen. And so on, screenplay format came into existence.
Remember in the earlier days, there were no sound in movies. So screenplay used to carry only visual details. But later on when sound capture technique invented, dialogues and other sound effects included into the document.

Screenplay Format:

Screenplay or commonly referred as movie script contains scenes in certain order. Each scene contains five important parts:
  1. Slug line or scene heading
  2. Action
  3. Character cue
  4. Dialogue
  5. Transition
Scene Heading: Carries information about the location of the scene taking place and time duration of the scene. Scene heading is written in capitals. Indent: Left: 0.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 6.0"
Action: What are the activity audience going to watch in the scene. Written in small letters. Indent: Left: 0.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 6.0"
Character cue: The character cue in the scene. Character cue is written in capitals. Indent: Left: 2.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 4.0"
Dialogue: The character in the scene said information to another character in the scene. Dialogue is written in small letters. Indent: Left: 1.0" Right: 1.5" Width: 3.5"
Transition: Time passage information between two scenes. Transition is written in capitals always. Indent: Left: 4.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 2.0"
If you are developing screenplay in a text editor such as Microsoft Word or Pages (Mac os) then you have to maintain the margins for each part of scene. But if you are using screenwriting software then you don’t have to bother about the margins. Because such softwares are taking care of the screenplay format.

Screenwriting Softwares:

  1. Final Draft (Paid Software, Trial Version available, Desktop Application)
  2. Celtx (Free and Paid software, Desktop Application)
  3. Fade In(Paid Software, Trial Version Available, Desktop Application)
  4. Adobe Story (Paid Software, Trial Version Available, Desktop Application)
  5. Trelby(Free software, Desktop Application)

How to learn screenplay writing (Screenwriting)

Screenwriting is a craft. Craft can be learned with proper training and lots of practice. Luckily there are lots of websites who are providing screenwriting training step by step approach in various languges. The problem part, most of the aspiring screenwriters believe screenwriting is only about scene after scene writing where as screenwriting is vast, complex and a challenging process. With out training or sufficient guidance it is hard to learn the craft of screenwriting. The best option is to learn the craft of screenwriting is to follow online tutorials or film school trianing or assisting a screenwriter.

Educational Qualification to Pursue Screenwriting Training

To become screenwriter in the film industry, there is no such requirement but to pursue training in a film school, the minimum requirement is graduation. But if you want to learn from online websites, then pay the training fee and learn the craft.

How to write a screenplay for a feature length movie?

If you are planning to adapt a novel into a feature film then;

  1. Understand every character
  2. Understand the story structure in the plot
  3. Understand each character arc
  4. Choose a protagonist
  5. You write your version of story based upon the novel.
  6. Develop the treatment (How you are going to show your version of story on screen)
  7. Breakdown the treatment in terms of scenes (Step outline / Oneliners)
  8. Construct each scene in narrative form
  9. Work on dialogues for each scene
  10. Rewrite entire screenplay / script

If you are planning to develop original screenplay then;

  1. Find one potential idea for a feature film
  2. Find the end point from the idea
  3. Develop the story / plot
  4. Understand each character arc
  5. Decide a protagonist
  6. Develop the treatment (How you are going to potray on screen)
  7. Breakdown the treatment in terms of scenes (Step outline / Oneliners)
  8. Construct each scene in narrative form
  9. Work on dialogues for each scene
  10. Rewrite entire screenplay / script
Warning: If you are serious to build a career in the screenwriting field, then its a suggestion, go through a proper screenwriting training.

Movie Production : Step by Step Process in 2019

Film Production Process Steps: How movies are made in 2019?The work flow of a film making is a systematic disciplined approach. One single mistake can cost in Lakhs per day to the production house. Any Film Making Process begins from deciding to make film on a script in the hand. Then rest work flow of film making occurs.

Movie Production Step by step process

Majorly film production process can be classified into three categories:
  1. Pre-production
  2. production
  3. Post production

Pre-production stage of Film Making

Pre-production is the first stage in the film production work flow process. As the name suggests, in this stage, all the required preparations takes place for the production stage of film making.
  1. Script is locked.
  2. Agreements are prepared
  3. Budgets are estimated
  4. Finance is arrange for the project
  5. Casting process takes place
  6. Music composer / Music directors are hired
  7. Songs are purchased
  8. Choreographers are hired
  9. Stunt mans are hired
  10. Cinematographers are hired
  11. If film director is not in the board yet then a film director is also hired
  12. If VFX is required then VFX studio is hired
  13. Film director visits indoor and outdoor shoot location with team for recce and finalises the location
  14. Story board if required then prepared with the help of story board artist under the supervision of film director
  15. Workshops are conducted for actors to know each other well and also understand major important scenes in advance

Production Stage:

Production Stage is the stage in a film production work flow in which actual shooting take place.
  1. Production unit including Actor, technicians etc. Travel to location
  2. Arrangement of equipments, properties, camera, lights etc. at the location
  3. Director with assistant meetings with various department before shoot
  4. Rehearsal and Shooting of each scene at the pre-decided location
  5. Delivering recorded footage to post production department

Post Production Stage:

Post production stage is the stage in the film production work flow in which final output of the project that is movie is prepared. At this stage, film production company (Studio) has footage of each scene.
  1. Editing Takes place
  2. If compositing required to the scenes, then they are done.
  3. VFX if required, then those are accomplished.
  4. If dubb required then actors dubb for various required scene
  5. Amience sound re-created and added to the video. Sound Engineer does this.
  6. Folley Sound created and added to the video. Same sound engineer does this.
  7. Background music is added to the required scenes.
  8. The final ouput that is complete cinema is ready.
  9. Teaser and posters are prepared for marketing purpose
  10. Trailer are prepared for marketing purpose.
Note: Few professionals agree marketing of the film is part of post production stage where as others disagree. Anyways, after post production stage, production company spends money for online and offline marketing of the film.
Note: These days, while production stage, post production stage also takes place parallel.

Best books to learn Screenplay Writing in 2019

Screenwriting or Screenplay writing is step by step process. New learners assume screenwriting is only about scene after scene writing, so such writer jump straight to write scene after scene. Where as the reality is screenwriting involves lots of stages. There are plenty of book which guides to learn all the stages of screenwriting. Following are few best books to learn the craft of screenwriting.

Best Books to Learn Screenplay Writing

  1. Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field
  2. Save The Cat by Blake Snyder
  3. Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
  4. The Screenwriter's Problem Solver by Syd Field
  5. Five Pillars of Screenwriting: Professional Approach to Screenwriting by Srikant Kumar
  6. The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby
  7. The Ultimate Course Book on How to Write a Screenplay by Joan Denise Humphries
  8. Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless by Joseph McBride
  9. Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier
  10. How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

Know More About The Book

Screenplay: The Foundations Of Screenwriting offers a step-by-step guide about screenwriting, from the concept to a finished script, and is written by the master screenwriter himself.
Screenplay: The Foundations Of Screenwriting is an upgraded version of Syd Field’s classical guide in screenwriting for aspiring and experienced writers. The book deals with the inception of a concept, crafting and development of characters, and plotting the opening scene to the completion of a script. The book is updated with trends and perspectives on the evolving film industry. The book helps writers on the basics of screenwriting including building up engaging dialogues, character creation and development, how to build the story line, finding the right agent to market your book, and much more.
The book also throws a fresh perspective on marketing and collaborations, along with the assessment of successful films, including American Beauty and the Lord Of The Rings series. Screenplay: The Foundations Of Screenwriting is available in paperback and was published by RHUS in 2005.
Key Features:
  • Apart from being a comprehensive guide, the book also helps you understand the nuances of how to adapt a novel, a play, or an article into full-fledged screenplay.
  • The book also provides useful insight on how to protect your work legally, patents, and claiming of ownership of your screenplay.

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder

Know More About The Book

Here’s what started the phenomenon: the best seller, for over 15 years, that’s been used by screenwriters around the world! Blake Snyder tells all in this fast, funny and candid look inside the movie business. “Save the Cat” is just one of many ironclad rules for making your ideas more marketable and your script more satisfying, including:The four elements of every winning loglineThe seven immutable laws of screenplay physicsThe 10 genres that every movie ever made can be categorized by — and why they’re important to your scriptWhy your Hero must serve your IdeaMastering the 15 BeatsCreating the “Perfect Beast” by using The Board to map 40 scenes with conflict and emotional changeHow to get back on track with proven rules for script repairThis ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a showbiz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat.

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

Know More About The Book

Robert McKee's screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation for inspiring novices, refining works in progress and putting major screenwriting careers back on track. Quincy Jones, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, John Cleese and David Bowie are just a few of his celebrity alumni. Writers, producers, development executives and agents all flock to his lecture series, praising it as a mesmerizing and intense learning experience.
In Story, McKee expands on the concepts he teaches in his $450 seminars (considered a must by industry insiders), providing readers with the most comprehensive, integrated explanation of the craft of writing for the screen. No one better understands how all the elements of a screenplay fit together, and no one is better qualified to explain the "magic" of story construction and the relationship between structure and character than Robert McKee.

The Screenwriter's Problem Solver by Syd Field

The Screenwriter's Problem Solver by Syd Field

Know More About The Book

All writing is rewriting. But what do you change, and how do you change it? All screenplays have problems. They happened to Die Hard: With a Vengeance and Broken Arrow-and didn't get fixed, leaving the films flawed. They nearly shelved Platoon-until Oliver Stone rewrote the first ten pages and created a classic. They happen to every screenwriter. But good writers see their problems as a springboard to creativity. Now bestselling author Syd Field, who works on over 1,000 screenplays a year, tells you step-by-step how to identify and fix common screenwriting problems, providing the professional secrets that make movies brilliant-secrets that can make your screenplay one headed for success...or even Cannes. Learn how to:
-Understand what makes great stories work
-Make your screenplay work in the first ten pages, using Thelma & Louise and Dances With Wolves as models
-Use a "dream assignment" to let your creative self break free overnight
-Make action build character, the way Quentin Tarantino does
-Recover when you hit the "wall"-and overcome writer's block forever

Five Pillars of Screenwriting: Professional Approach to Screenwriting by Srikant Kumar

Five Pillars of Screenwriting: Professional Approach to Screenwriting by Srikant Kumar

Know More About The Book

Five Pillars of Screenwriting - A book for aspiring screenwriters. Step by step guide to professional way of screenwriting. Most aspiring screenwriters are totally focused to scene writing only where as in reality screenwriting is vast process. In this book we have discussed in detail important phases of screenwriting. With out understanding these phases of screenwriting no one can build even a standard movie script.
These phases are pillars of screenwriting. For a successful screenwriting career or to develop a potential movie script, aspiring screenwriter must have to understand in depth. In this book, we have covered each pillar of screenwriting. Towards the end of this book, reader could able to develop a potential movie script.
To master each phases or pillar of screenwriting, assignment and movie examples are there.

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

Know More About The Book

John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry, and his students have gone on to pen some of Hollywood's most successful films, including Sleepless in Seattle, Scream, and Shrek. The Anatomy of Story is his long-awaited first book, and it shares all his secrets for writing a compelling script. Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby's own unique approach to building an effective, multifaceted narrative.

The Ultimate Course Book on How to Write a Screenplay by Joan Denise Humphries

Know More About The Book

This Ebook is a great guide for those people who aspire to become a successful scriptwriter. No matter how skilled you are at writing, scriptwriting requires certain guidelines that needs to be followed. Every year a number of movies are released and all these writers share nothing in common apart from their profession. That means anyone can succeed at this field!
Every writer has a different way to find an idea & develop it into a story. Every writer has his own preferences in techniques and style. This book is also helpful for the existing scriptwriters to enhance their writing skills.
Screenwriting is a craft that starts with an idea. Screenwriting requires keenness of thoughts and a unique vision. A screenwriter can convert a simple idea into an interesting story that can be presented in front of the audiences. This book contains ways to format your screenplays for the right medium.Whether you want to write for movies, TV drama, novels, stage play or cinema, we got you covered.

Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless by Joseph McBride

Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless by Joseph McBride

Know More About The Book

Writing in Pictures is a refreshingly practical and entertaining guide to screenwriting that provides what is lacking in most such books: a clear, step-by-step demonstration of how to write a screenplay.
Seasoned screenwriter and writing teacher Joseph McBride breaks down the process into a series of easy, approachable tasks, focusing on literary adaptation as the best way to learn the basics and avoiding the usual formulaic approach. With its wealth of useful tips, along with colorful insights from master screenwriters past and present, this book is invaluable for anyone who wants to learn the craft of screen storytelling.

Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier (Author)

Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier

Know More About The Book

The 20th anniversary edition of one of the most popular, authoritative, and useful books on screenwriting. A standard by which other screenwriting books are measured, it has sold over 200,000 copies in its twenty-year life. Always up-to-date and reliable, it contains everything that both the budding and working screenwriter need under one cover five books in one! A Screenwriting Primer that provides a concise course in screenwriting basics, A Screenwriting Workbook that walks you through the complete writing process, from nascent ideas through final revisions, A Formatting Guide that thoroughly covers today's correct formats for screenplays and TV scripts, A Spec Writing Guide that demonstrates today's spec style through sample scenes and analysis, with an emphasis on grabbing the reader's interest in the first ten pages, A Sales and Marketing Guide that presents proven strategies to help you create a laser-sharp marketing plan.

How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn

How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn

Know More About The Book

All good screenplays are unique, but all bad screenplays are the same. Flinn's book will teach the reader how to avoid the pitfalls of bad screenwriting and arrive at one's own destination intact.

How to become a screenwriter in Bollywood?

Are you a struggling screenwriter and wondering how to become screenwriter in Bollywood. Bollywood has its own approach towards the business of movie making. But the grammar behind the movie making is same and it is same through out the globe. There is no one way to get opportunity as writer in the Bollywood. There are literally hundreds of solutions available. One must not restrict self to one or two solution. Rather must try all the available solutions.

How to become screenwriter in bollywood

Basic requirements are one must have in depth knowledge of screenwriting craft. Bollywood is mainly targetted to Hindi language films. (Not purely Hindi but mixture of Hindi, Urdu, English, and local dailect). One must have good understanding of such language in deep.

Important tips to become screenwriter in Bollywood:

  1. Lots of film directors need help of writer who not only develop the script for the director but also help him/her to do research and maintain notes. Such film directors pay handsome salary and hire till the project ends. So it would be wise to approach film directors whose films were released recently.
  2. Lots of film directors are having their own office. In those office, there is always requirement for inhouse writers. Approaching such office and enquiring about any vacant writer positions could also help to build path to bright career in the industry.
  3. This decade is and next decade will be focused majorly on webseries. That’s why teleseries company, television channel company, advertising company, distribution company and many producers have started their own digital channel and entire investment and focus is towards webseries. So understanding webseries and scripting for webseries can also help aspiring writers to become part of the business.
  4. Most of the production houses are open to unsolicited submission. So enquiring each production house about such option could also help to share the script with production houses.
  5. Each year plenty of free and paid screenwriting competitions take place in India and as well as in abroad. Participating in those competitions can help to learn the craft in more efficient way. And if any awards land in the hand then it would draw attention of film production company, film makers straight.
  6. Now this approach might not efficient one but could help to draw attention of film makers and that is, publishing a novel. Novel publishing is more hard than selling a script to production houses. But there are platforms such as Amazon Kindle Publishing, helps to publish novels for free of charge. What ever sales occur, there is profit sharing. Today digital book readers number is high than paper back readers. So high number of download of such novels can aslo draw attention of film makers.
  7. Popular tele-serial writer, they develop the concept along with channel people and outline the project but assistant writers develop each scene. So such chief writers are always look for new writers. Approaching such chief writers and asking for assistance job could also be help to build career as writer in the industry. You might have heard lots of popular writers began their career as assistant writer.
  8. Warning: If any one asks you money even if few bucks to help you to fix meeting with film makers or big names, or help to sell the script then don’t believe such proposals. Believe in yourself, learn how fast market is changing, always hunt for opportunity, and deal with right people.

How to write a story for a movie

Any aspiring screenwriter can easily identify there is a story behind each movie. In movie making business we project a story on screen. Therefore the job of any screenwriter is to develop a story first and then develop the script based on the story.

how to write a story for a movie

If you are absolute new, then read: How to write a screenplay for absolute beginners?

If you are not aware of the difference between script and screenplay then read: Difference between script and screenplay

If you are not aware of movie screenplay format, then read: Screenplay Format

In movie making business the right term is plot and we deal with plot.

Is there any difference between plot and story?

Logically there is no difference. Both point at same thing. But industry follows the term plot. If we dig deep then we could find there is a thin line difference between plot and story. However we can use both the terms interchangeably irrespective of the platform we are in.

How to write a story for a movie?

  1. Idea

  2. Not only movie projects, any project that always begins with idea. So before even writing the first word of a story, you must have an idea upon which you want to write the story. The real struggle is not to develop a story but to get an idea. Idea has its own characteristics. If you sit and want to get idea it wont come to mind. And you are busy in some other work, then an idea will popup. This is one of the peculiar characteristics of idea. Thats why professionals claim idea often appear during subconscious state. Okay, there are other options too people follow to get idea for a movie. One of the easiest approach is to recollect news headlines.

    One of the news headlines, 'Millionair escapes from Naxalites' I read some days ago. And this head line has potential to make into a movie. The moment I read the headline, ten questions appeared in my mind. Such as: Who is this millionaire? How did Naxalites kidnap him? How did he survive the torture? How did he escape?
    If I find out answers to the questions, then I got a beautiful story. Right?

    One way to find out the answers to the question, is to read the news article and do online research. Or I can also come out with my version of answer. This is the liberty we get in fiction story telling. As author, you have the choice. Once you have an idea, what next?
  3. End

  4. Then you have to understand the ending part. What should be the end? Why ending matters first? Suppose you to travel but dont know know where to travel. Then you would end up travelling endlessly. However, if you decide where to travel, then rest thing becomes easy. Often, new writers, they begin writing immediate after getting an idea and land up in an endless journey of developing story where they can not figure out how to end. Thats why it is important to figure out the ending part first. In the example, millionaire escapes naxalites, the ending part is clear. And the ending part is millionaire escapes. So I know where to reach.
    For example, I have a different idea, 'a physically challenged boy can fly'. This is an interesting idea. But here there is no clear ending. We have just an idea. As author my job would be decide an ending. Perhaps he sacrifices his power to save mankind could be best ending for the idea I have. If later on I realised the decided ending is not suitable then I can change the ending later on. The point here is to proceed I must have an ending.
  5. Structure

  6. Structure: We follow 3 act structure. In simple language, beginning middle and end. In the mentioned example, the beginning part could be, how the millionaire was kidnapped? The middle part could be, the millionaire survivals to the torture of naxalites meanwhile finding a way to escape. And the end part could be, the millionaire escaped from the naxalites. Once you have an idea and then figured out the ending part then its time to figure out beginning, middle and end. By the way, right term to refer beginning is Setup, The right term to refer middle is Confrontation and the right term to refer end part is Resolution.
  7. Characters

  8. Once you understand the beginning, middle and end then you must have few characters in the so far figured out content. Its time to know more about the characters. In the mentioned example, my first job would be to figure out who is this millionaire, what he does for living, how much reputation he has in the market etc. Then if he has love interest or wife, then its time to know about his wife and family members. Similarly I have to figure out who are the prime naxalites and who is their leader. Their personal life. Their family members. Once I know all the characters then I am ready to proceed to next step.
  9. Plot/story Construction

  10. At this point, I am aware of beginning, middle and end. And also I am well aware the characters that are present. So its time to develop a plot or story. The major events that take place. It should begin at who is this millionaire and should end at how he escaped from naxalites. Few prefer to write it in simple present tense and few others prefer to write in simple past tense. It does not matter. Keep plot or story in linear fashion only. It means keep all the events of the story in linear fashion. But while developing script you can go for non linear story telling.
Note: Some professionals don't spend time on story development. Because most of such writers go for adaptation of some novel. Where as other, jump straight to write scene after scene and keep on improvising over and over again. 

My suggestion to you would be if you are absolute new in to the industry, work bit hard and develop the story first and then develop script based upon the story. 

How to write a script for a short film?

Short films are best source to draw attention of movie studios, film makers, film directors and reputed actors. With increasing film festivals each year, short films have become best medium to build career in the film industry. There is no doubt, with increasing digital platforms there are tremendous opportunity waiting for potential writers. But at the core the only one question keep on rising and that is how to write a script for a short film?

how to write a script for a short film

If you are absolute new, then read: How to write a screenplay for absolute beginners?

If you are not aware of the difference between script and screenplay then read: Difference between script and screenplay

If you are not aware of movie screenplay format, then read: Screenplay Format

How to write a script for a short film?

No matter whether you are trying to develop a script for three hour long movie or 30 second ad film, the basic grammar behind it is same. Therefore you must have to understand the craft of screenwriting. 

Hard to believe, screenwriting is a craft and with out proper right training hard to understand it. Thats why most aspiring screenwriters script get rejected because of this reason. Such writers script loudly speaks about the potential of the author. To become screenwriter training is compulsory. 

Okay, now what?

Short film Script development:

You are well aware about screenwriting. Now its time to focus on short film. Following things matters most in a short film:

  1. Theme

  2. Theme: If you could able to express your entire short film in one word, then that would be the theme. For example Die Hard: Rescue. Once a viewer watches your film completely then he or she must clearly see the theme of your short film. If your approach is right then each scene should point to your decided theme.
  3. Premise

  4. Premise: One sentence narration of the short film. It should inform where we reach at the end. The goal of the short film. Once a viewer watches the short film completely then he or she should realise the premise. Its the duty of the author or writer to develop the script in such a way.
  5. Duration

  6. Duration: Film Makers often commit silly mistake by making larger duration film in the name of short films. Remember in film making business, even 10 second is a long duration. So if you could tell your story in one second then avoid 2 second narration. The best duration is in between 15 minutes to 40 minutes. But film festivals have their own guideline for short film submission.
  7. Plot

  8. Plot: Story of the short film. A story always begins at a point and ends at another point. Plot is always linear where as script can be non linear. The point here is, once the viewer watches the short film then he or she must clearly understand the linear flow of the incidents in the story. Where it all started and where it ends.
  9. Structure

  10. Structure: Three act structure is the common structure followed in film making. But in short film, people often follow the same structure. Which is not wrong but three act structure has its own requirement to deliver the information to the audience. Rather one act is suitable for short films. So stick to one act projection of your short film.
  11. Characterization

  12. Characterization: As human we love to watch behaviour of humans. Human behaviour can be projected on screen with clear cut characterization of characters. Characterization of a character can be drawn on screen by putting the character in a situation or a situation tickle the character to react. The point here is, what is the character going to do in a particular situation?
  13. Ending

  14. Ending: Your short film must have started at a point and it should end at another point which should justify the starting point. Most new film maker dont focus on the ending. Ending plays important vital role in short films.

As screenwriter you must have to focus on above mentioned points while developing script. Another question which you are going to encounter for sure is,

what should be the page length of short film script?

In general people assume, one page script is equivalent to 1 minute visual content on screen. In this manner, your script page length should be in between 15 page to 40 page long (15 minute to 40 minute long short film).  However this information is for reference purpose. But it is also true Sometimes, one page script can occupy ten minute long visual content on screen and sometimes one page script can occupy one second visual content on screen.

You should not restrict yourself with the number of page scripts. Rather you must focus on content you want to deliver to the audience.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Lets understand Movie Industry Standard Screenplay Format we must follow in 2019

If I mention, movie industry does not even consider to look at first page of screenplay document which has not followed industry standard format, then you might not believe this. But this is one of the biggest bitter truth because of which most of the screenplay which are submitted through various channels to the movie making studio are rejected.

Industry Standard Screenplay Format 2019

If you are absolute beginner then read:How to write a movie script for Absolute Beginners in 2019

Screenplay Portions:

Each screenplay document contains multiple scenes and each scene contains following important sections.

1. Slugline or Heading of the scene
2. Action (Character movement on screen)
3. Character Cue(Name of the character in a scene who is about to speak something)
4. Parenthetical (Instruction to the actor to deliver the dialogue in certain way)
5. Dialogue (The character says something)
6. Transition (Time passage between two scenes)

If you are not aware of the difference between screenplay and script, then read:Screenplay vs Script : What is the difference?

Why Movie Industry Follows Screenplay format?

Plenty reasons are there behind but following are the prime reasons:

1. It is the oldest format that every studio in the film industry follows.
2. Easy to understand such formatted screenplay document to read.
3. Actors can easily understand their part of action and dialogues.
4. Film director can visualise each scene.
5. Well organised information in the document.
6. Every department of movie making process can follow.
7. Easily distinguishes between scene heading, action, character cue, dialogue and transitions.


Each scene must begin with  a heading which is also known as slugline. Slugline tells reader about the location and whether it is happening interior or exterior and also the time period of the day or night. Then action follows. Whatever character movement audience are going to watch on screen is written then. And then if character says something then first character cue comes and then whatever he says, is followed. If a writer wants to instruct the actor to say a dialogue in certain way then that is written in parenthetical. And if a writer wants to mention the time passage between two scenes then writer mentions otherwise ignores.

Note: By default cut to transition exist in between two scenes if no transition is mentioned.

Screenplay Format:

Scene Heading
Indent: Left: 0.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 6.0"

Indent: Left: 0.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 6.0"

Indent: Left: 2.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 4.0"

Indent: Left: 1.0" Right: 1.5" Width: 3.5"

Indent: Left: 1.5" Right: 2.0" Width: 2.5"

Indent: Left: 4.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 2.0"

Transitions are film editing instructions, and generally only appear in a shooting script. Transition verbiage includes:


Screenplay Format Industry Standard
Screenplay Format Example From Toy Story Movie

If you are using any kind of text editor, then you must have to consider these industry standard guidelines in your screenplay. However, if you are using any screenplay software then you dont have to worry about the format. By default in such softwares the industry standard screenplay format is maintained automatically.

Screenplay vs Script : What is the difference?

Is there really any difference exist in between a movie screenplay and a movie script??

Logically there is no difference. If you research on internet then you would found there is no difference. Industry use these terms interchangeably to refer to the same document. However, it is purely dependent upon the film industry, how they are treating the documents for movie making.

In simple language, whether its a screenplay or script, they are documents to produce a movie. Quite similar to blueprint for building construction. As I have mentioned, there is difference and it is dependent upon film industry.

In India, and through out in the history of movie making, screenplay and script are purely two different documents. Today, still this logic is followed but not at large extent.

Screenplay VS Script

Earlier days, there used to be no audio in movies. Therefore what ever document is used to make movie was scene by scene narration of actions only. Such document was used to call Screenplay. But later on, when audio recording technique came into existence and industry was not habitual of using a draft which had action and audio details, they started to using a separate sheet for audio such as dialogues.

Thats why, in Indian movies, we could see in the credit list, a separate credit for dialogue writers where as in other film industries, there is no separate credit for dialogue writers.

Even today also, a dialogue writer is hired separately to write dialogues only.

Therefore the document which contain scenes with actions only (strictly no dialogues), then such document is called screenplay. However, later on and most probably before the production of the movie, the movie director along with screenplay writer, and dialogue writer develops another document based upon the locked screenplay document. Such document is called script.

Note: Script contains dialogues, camera movement details, vfx and sfx details.

Today, screenplay and script are same too

Most of the film makers are trained from film schools and we are learning the crafts whatever west country is following. So this is also true, todays film makers use the term screenplay and script to the document which contains action and dialogues together. Such document contains, scene by scene action details along with dialogues and camera movements if necessary.

So if you download recent decades released movies, then you would found most the screenplays/ scripts are the international standard movie script.

What is international standard movie script / Screenplay?

Each scene should contain a heading which is also called slug line. It should tell the reader whether the action is taking place in the interior or exterior. It should also tell location and time of the day or night. Actions should be short and meaningful. Each scene should contain dialogues and respective character cue according to the need of the scene. There must be transition keyword if other than cut to is required. And camera movements if necessary.

Therefore such document can be referred as screenplay or script interchangeably.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to write a movie script for Absolute Beginners in 2019

Screenwriting is the first step towards any movie making business. Earlier Studios used to develop script inside their office boundary with the team they had. Later on, studios started to hire professional writers to develop a script for them. But these days 99% of case studios have their own agents and they help studios to get best screenplays in their hands. Note here, best screenplay. Here the competition rises. If one wants to sell their screenplay to studios, then such writers must have to master the craft of screenplay writing.

How to write a movie script for absolute beginners in 2019

In this article, we are going to learn a complete novice aspiring screenwriter from where should begin and where to head. So this article is going to help absolute beginners how to write a movie script in 2019.

Screenwriting Art Vs Craft

"Writing for Movies is an inborn talent and that's why most fail" - If you have heard this often then don't worry there is not even 1% fact in such statement. And if you have not heard so far then you are bound to hear soon. The secret here is, screenwriting is not art. Screenwriting is a craft. A craft can be learned with the right training and sufficient practice.

Ideas are real wealth

In this profession or even during the learning stage, we are almost dying to share the ideas that are popping up in our minds. And what we do? We share with friends, relatives or family members. And then what happens, few would appreciate highly and others will criticize deeply. Either way, you are going to lose faith and trust in your own idea. Eventually, you keep on dropping wealthy ideas whose potential you have missed to identify. So keep practice, of keeping ideas to your self. And never ever share until unless two drafts of the screenplay are ready. And believe me, if you have followed the right path to screenwriting, then you would be ready with all the answers to the questions you are going to face during narration moment.

And also remember one vital point: One idea might appear silly to some writer but it could be a potential one for another writer which could change the life of the writer. It all depends on the perspective of a writer. So think thrice before opting and idea and also think thrice before dropping an idea.

Write and write and Write

Stop thinking, how Good or bad you are writing. Are people going to like or not? Don't even allow such thoughts to crawl in your mind. Just write. You don't know the format of screenwriting. Does not matter at the initial stage. All you have to do is push yourself to write a 100-page story. Write in your own way. Nothing comes to mind. Imagine your enemy is there and you could do anything to your enemy. So how far would you go to destroy your enemy in your imagination? Write it down. Or it could be a situation: imagine, you have loved someone like anything is not important than your love but you lost her for some reason and now this is the opportunity. Imagine and write down on paper how beautiful you could make her life if she would have with you today. Or it could be simple like what changes you could bring to society to lead to a bright future. Imagination is the ocean and writers job is to bring fish to the people at the shore.

Once you master the game of imagination, then rest thing would be easy.

Structure matters

What is the structure?

Let's understand with an example:

I read a headline from the newspaper: "John escaped from Naxalites demanding 10 Million Ransom"

The moment we read this few questions immediate land up in our minds:

> Who is John?
>How did he was kidnapped?
>10 Million Ransom, is he so rich?
>How did he survive in their custody?
>What kind of tortures he had faced?
>How did he escape?

The answers to the above questions form a beautiful story. In storytelling business we don't believe in the story rather we believe plot. From a theoretical perspective story and plot, both are same. But from a filmmakers perspective when we say plot it differs slightly from a story. There is thin line difference between story and plot.

There was a king, who was rude and selfish and eventually died is a story.  But 'there was a king who died because of his rudeness and selfishness during an enemy attack' - is a plot

Plot: Sequence of events that are responsible for an end result

The plot is like a set of cause and effect situations in a story.

Lets back to the story in above I have mentioned - kidnap one.

John was not kidnapped because he was poor. The kidnappers must have spied and figured out that John could get them 10 Million Ransom. So it is a cause and the effect is the kidnap.

John who is so rich, it is obvious after kidnapped, he is not going to cry and beg for life. Rather he would find a way to escape from the situation. It might be negotiating with the boss or even it could be tracking and killing the kidnappers. Because he tries these things, the smart kidnappers among them understand and torture him. (See cause and effect) And so on and at last he escapes.

This story has a structure. It begins from John's introduction and ends at john's escape. The middle part is all about his struggle to escape. Therefore a story has three parts. Beginning, middle, and end.

So when you practice writing, then decide the beginning, the middle and then end.

Screenplay Format:

Okay once you know the story(Plot) and you believe it has potential a studio might be interested too, then it is time to write the screenplay. At this point, it is super easy for you to determine the scenes to tell the story.

Lets again take the example of john's escape. We know the story. Now its time to write the screenplay.

In the screenplay, we write scenes.

Scene: Any action that takes place in a location at a certain time is known as scene. If time change, or location changes or both changes then its a new scene.

If still puzzled, then imagine if a studio going to shoot the kidnap story then what would be the audience going to watch on screen. That simple.

Let's try the screenplay for the John escape(Opening scene):


In the presence of office staff, media and political leaders, JOHN, 40 hands over a cheque worth 1 million dollars to NGO GUY. 

Hall fills with applause and cheers. 

The NGO Guy steps down from the stage. John reaches near the mic.

I know the pain of hunger. Employment is a true cure. Being the director of Snaktech solutions, I am gladly donating this fund to establish Software Park.

The crowd applauds and cheers again. 

This is the first scene. I just wrote even without thinking much. There might be grammatical errors, or the actions might not be appealing. But that's not the point at this moment. The goal is to write a scene. Once all the scenes are done. Then improvise.

A scene begins with slugline or heading. It tells about the location to the reader where the actions are taking place. Character cue is always written center of the page. Dialogues follow the respective character.

The challenge is to visualize how a scene is going to appear on the screen and then write it down on to the paper in the exact order.

Keep writing until unless all scenes are not penned down to paper. Once all scenes are figured out, then take a break. It is essential. It could be one week or one month. Whatever, it depends upon you. The goal here is to forget everything about the screenplay you have written so far. Then back to the screenplay and read with proper attention. The script itself going to tell you the corrections that you are required to make, the improvisations that you need to make. Improvisations could be reduced down dialogues for certain character or add new characters or remove certain characters or change the locations for certain scenes. Go ahead, and keep improvising.

Prepare at least three drafts of the screenplay is ready. Then pitch to friends, family members, agents or whoever you want.

Read Screenplays:

Screenwriting craft has its own vocabulary. Read and gain good screenwriting vocabulary. It will help you to write five line actions into one single line actions.

Share with Care

The competition in the market is too high. People who are well trained can easily spot the weak point in the script and can come up with a brilliant script within weeks. So don't share with anyone whom you encounter. I am saying this because people upload on facebook with a hope that the studio might spot the script and might purchase. But this is not going to happen. Find right agent, pitch to them and keep on writing. Keep writing new drafts of the screenplay. Keep approaching to studio agents.

So this much is all about screenwriting

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.... No, Not at all. It is not even 1% of the professional screenwriting. Screenwriting is a vast subject. But yes, this article is sufficient for absolute beginners to understand where to begin and where to head.


> Screenwriting is a craft and craft can be learned
> Ideas are real wealth. Don't ignore them quickly.
>Ideas are a sensitive element. Don't share with anyone.
> Keep writing regularly
> Follow the structure. Beginning, middle, and end
> Once story(Plot) is there, its time to write a screenplay
> Follow industry standard screenplay format
> Read screenplays regularly