How Do I Write A Screenplay? by Gordy Hoffman (BlueCat Screenplay Competition Founder and Judge)

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: If you had someone sitting in this room out here (in this beautiful lobby), who’d never written a screenplay and you were going to give them a five minute screenplay lesson, how would you start it, what would it be?

Gordy Hoffman, Screenwriter, Founder and Judge of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition: Well, I would just ask them if they had an idea and then I would just say pull out your laptop or your notebook with your pen and start writing it.

I wouldn’t even tell them about format, I would just be like describe the movie. Everybody knows what a movie is, everybody has seen it. Our visual vocabulary is so high, especially now 2018/2019. I mean anybody can describe it.

The problem is when we start educating people we’re like Read these 6 books, take this course, do this stuff, watch this video. But that’s what I would do if someone is like I want to write a movie and I don’t know anything about it. I’d be like What do you want to write about? What’s your idea? And they probably have the idea. They’re not like Well, I don’t know what the idea is.

They’re either going to be like Well, I want to write about this guy who wants to do this thing. And I’ll be like Okay, start describing it, just describe it. And then I might say something like “Don’t describe their thoughts and don’t describe their feelings. Don’t describe the insides. Just describe what you would see on a movie screen. Just like


Man walks across and gets in the car, drives away.

Do not care about doing anything wrong. Just spill your guts, just tell us the movie, write down the whole movie. We’ll figure out all that other stuff later. We can figure out where things are supposed to be later, you can figure out everything.

I mean there are so many stories about that where they didn’t know what they were doing. You know they wrote BRIDESMAIDS that way, they didn’t know…they bought Screenwriting For Dummies or something like that, right?

So it’s like that fresh voice. Uh! It breaks my heart thinking about all the people who think they have…because we’ve created this industry where it’s all coded and they have to learn, you have to learn structure, you have to learn this, you have to learn all these things. You’ve got to know what a screenplay is, man. You have to know what the rules are before you can break them. That’s all crap to sell books and all sorts of stuff it doesn’t…we…God…please…bring them in that don’t know anything about movies and maybe we’ll have better movies. I mean that’s the problem, it’s like all this other stuff.

Bring in that person that’s just like…I have as a teacher, I’ve had people come in with formatting that’s just like…they don’t know what…they don’t have access to Final Draft, I don’t know what they’re writing? And it’s the most authentic, slice of life, funny, succinct, observational genius stuff and the reason why it exists is because they haven’t learned anything about screenwriting yet. And then once you start teaching them, then all of the sudden they don’t know what they’re doing. Then they lose their emotional connection, they lose that story…four-year-olds know how to tell a story, they know how to tell a story.

Ask a five-year-old What happened today at school? Well, we went in… Beginning, middle and end, the inciting incident, you can tape and go Inciting incident…see that’s what you guys at Film Courage should do, you should interview a friggin’ ten-year-old and then put the little flags in and be like Wow! They know all the structure already so I don’t have to go to so-and-so person’s course. I don’t have to take Gordy’s class or anything. You don’t have to spend any money and keep your voice. That’s the most important thing. It’s like don’t lose your voice, don’t lose your instincts, your childlike instincts for telling stories.

That’s what guides us and I always go back to that like I don’t care! The thing I just wrote for somebody that in all likelihood people who are watching this video will see, I don’t know what the structure is, I don’t know where the act breaks are in it and it’s over 150 pages, okay? And it’s probably going to be seen by people watching this video, directed by a very, very good top director. This is going to happen and I have no idea what the structure of that is. I literally just took my ideas, plotted out the thing, now am I following the rules of character and emotional engagement to develop, thing you can reflect back on and by like How do I make this better? But when you’re telling me, when somebody is like What’s the five minute version of somebody who wants to write a movie, watch this video, what I just said.

Question For The Viewers: Does this video inspire you to write your movie?







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How does a screenwriter break into the business? Is it all about who you know? How much networking, hustle, and craft does it take? Once you break in, how do you survive and sustain a career? In this 2 hour speaker series(that will include Q&A), screenwriter Mark Sanderson (aka @scriptcat) will take us through his journey of graduating from UCLA and how he balanced various odd jobs with his writing for years until he reached the point where screenwriting became his career. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t easy. His story shows us it’s possible and in this talk Mark is going to share the particulars of how he did it.