So you want to be a screenwriter? But you don’t know where to start? James Kermack, screenwriter and Director of such greats as Knuckledust (2020) & Hi-Lo Joe (2017) is here to help. Here are his 5 top tips to producing your best work.
1 – What stage of your process is the hardest and why?
James – “The first word. Starting a project is tough. There is always more to learn, more to read and an infinite amount of ideas to write. So choosing WHAT to write is the hardest part for me. Then it’s the second word.”
2 – What do you find most enjoyable about screenwriting?
James – “I enjoy trying to master the discipline aspect. A given deadline makes it easier. But when you don’t have a deadline, self-discipline comes into play. Defeating procrastination is an hourly battle. So, actually then getting a good scene down and finally, a finished script is very rewarding. The hard work paying off is the most enjoyable part.“
3- What would be a top tip you would give for someone planning out ideas for an original script?
James – “Write EVERYTHING down. I make notes everywhere. Lines of dialogue, character descriptions, names, traits, and scene ideas. I have notepads, post-its, my phone, laptop, and whiteboards on my wall filled with thoughts. Don’t feel it has to be neat in one well-written notepad. I then take time to place everything in a timeline. Feel free to get messy before getting clean. There is no right or wrong way, only your way. Also, walks. Get outside. Look up and around at the world. Forget the script. You will always be able to fix something you are stuck on by thinking about anything else.”
4- How do you create your characters, where do you find the inspiration?
James – “I usually start with an idea or a story, sometimes a character comes first – but it’s rare. The characters tend to appear as I’m writing scenes. They will pop up and start talking. They can appear to help me fix an issue I’m having with a scene and equally disappear for the same reasons. In my most recent screenplay, I was stuck on a scene, the dialogue felt forced and one character wasn’t developing. So I moved them out of the location they were in. I literally walked them outside, then went right instead of left. The scene flew in the new location, linked better to the next scene and the character became more rounded.”
5- What is a one must-have that anyone considering getting into screenwriting should have?
James – “Patience. Ideas take time. Scripts take time. Careers take time. Recognition takes time. This is a patience-based business.”
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