Film Courage: Can you talk us through how you make a beat sheet?
Larry Wilson, screenwriter BEETLEJUICE, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, THE ADDAMS FAMILY: I don’t. I don’t. I will if contractually obliged to do a beat sheet or an outline, I will do it. And sometimes you are and what usually happens is you spend all this time on this beat sheet and this outline and it’s the most bastardized thing in the world because it’s not a script, it’s not a story, it’s this thing that exists halfway between a script and a story. But I will do it if contractually obliged to, I’ll do an outline and I’ll do a very detailed outline and I’ll do it always to the best of my abilities, I won’t slum but I’ll do it and hand it in and the producers will go We love this outline! This is a great outline. Now go write the script.
And you’ll go write the script and you’ll have your outline and you’ll say Okay, here’s what the outline is telling me and you start writing and it will immediately start changing and better ideas will emerge and the next thing you know the outline is completely out the window and you’ve written a script and you’ll turn it in and the producers will go We love this! This is just like the outline. And everyone has forgotten the outline and I know again, my beat sheet is obviously you kind of know the beginning. You know you’re putting your characters and you feel these characters and you put them in this situation that they are going to have to fight for their lives to get out of.
I kind of know what the end is going to be (kind of sort of) and then it’s the great unknown and to do that in a beat sheet to me it’s just taking all the fun out of it.
So don’t listen to me, listen to all the other people out there who say outline, beat sheets. Please if that’s what you need to do and there’s great writers who do that, of course they do that. And sometimes when you’re collaborating it becomes more necessary because you’re sending stuff. But for me, they don’t work for me and any time I do them everything starts changing anyways so much that they quickly become irrelevant.
Film Courage: Why don’t they work for you?…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
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