How To Introduce A Character In A Screenplay - Naomi Beaty

Film Courage: If we take novel writing…are we using lots of detail setting a world but if writing a screenplay, how much are we really paying attention to the where, the setting, the scenes? Won’t some of this be fleshed out when filming begins and the director storyboards?

Naomi Beaty, Writer, Screenwriting Teacher and Consultant: Yes, I think it is important to pay attention to the where of your story because every choice that you make in your screenplay should be a deliberate one. If you’ve chosen a setting there should have been some reasoning behind that. You’re not going to set your love story about working with incarcerated writers, you’re not going to set that in a juvenile detention center.

Film Courage: No.

Naomi: You want it to be in a very specific type of prison to inform that world. I think you should pay attention to the where. If we’re talking about the process of actually conveying that on page I think the trick of screenwriting is to be as concise as possible but as evocative as possible in those few words. That’s the trick of conveying it on the page is being deliberate about your choice and then conveying it as specifically as possible so you can get as much out of your choice as you can. Does that make sense?

Film Courage: It does, so fade in: If we’re talking about this hypothetical library [see video we’re referring to here], how much am I telling?

Naomi: Early in your screenplay because you’re just introducing us to the world of your story you will probably take a little more time to convey where we are, the feel and the tone of where we are and maybe the important characteristics of that setting. As your script progresses you will probably need to describe less both because we’ve probably seen a lot of these locations and then also because you want your story to move fast. So as you go further along in the screenplay, you’ll probably spend less time establishing locations then you did in the very beginning when you were trying to establish the world and create that world in our minds so we could live in it for the duration of your story.

Now that said I think that there is also value in knowing which moments in your screenplay…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

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