The amiable and talented screenwriter, Uduak Isong, was at Connect Nigeria’s Writers’ Conference last weekend to speak about the business of screenwriting. How do you get your script out there? Here are 5 things you should know:
1. Before you can be a writer, you must read. Before you can be a screenwriter, you must watch movies. Lots of movies.
2. Find out the people buying content, and specifically, the kind of content you write. For instance, content creator, Yinka Ogun is always looking for good writers. Do your homework. If you send Emem Isong an action film screenplay, you are wasting your time; she does stories built around romance. Go to Teco Benson instead. You need to know who does what.
3. Always make sure your screenplay is captivating from the beginning. Nobody has time to waste. In DVD days, people could fast-forward but these cinema days, in your first 10mins something should be happening.
4. Give people special moments. If they’re just going to watch everyday life, what’s the point? Be sure to make your ending unforgettable too.
5. The first thing that can turn producers off your script is the budget. Write something that won’t cost an arm and a leg to produce. Unlike novelists who can write anything they imagine, as a screenwriter, you must consider logistics and costs when writing, especially in Nigeria. Screenwriters are encouraged to come on set for a feel of reality. It is a life changing experience to see what it takes to make a script into a film.
To round up, Uduak Isong made a lovely video compilation to teach us about unforgettable scenes, including the faking scene in When Harry Met Sally, the ending of Pretty Woman and other memorable scenes from The Godfather, Avengers and many more. A picture is truly worth a thousand words.
The summary of this session? Memorable scenes, suspense, twists and turns, unforgettable endings … your screenplay should be all this and more.
There was also another instructive session on writing a winning screenplay, from one of Nigeria’s best directors who is also a screenwriter. Look out for more nuggets from that one!