What Screenwriters Should Know Before Writing A Screenplay by Chapman University Professor Paul Joseph Gulino

Film Courage: Is there anything you want your students to know before they start writing a screenplay?

Paul Joseph Gulino, Associate Professor at Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts: Before they begin writing a screenplay what should they know? Is there anything they should know before writing a screenplay? Yes, I guess there is one. Am I passionate enough about this project to spend six months on it? Do I really care that much? Because it’s going to be tough sledding at some point. In fact my old mentor had a couple of suggestions [Frank Daniel]. I forget if I shared these? He had a couple of interesting suggestions for how to deal with things when the going gets really rough.

He said that when you get your inspiration for this script and it’s going to be the greatest script anybody ever wrote. Then what you do is you type it out on a piece of paper. Type it out…we don’t do that. Write it out on a computer and print it out later: 

*What your reviews are going to be

*What your speech is going to be at the Academy Awards

*What historians are going to say about this script and how great it is

Put all of that on a piece of paper and you seal it in a envelope and you put it away somewhere carefully. Then when you’re writing it and you’re in the middle of it and everything is bad, every scene you write tastes like yesterday’s oatmeal. Ah! It doesn’t work and you say I’m done. I’m giving up. He said that is when you reach for your envelope because it reconnects you with what that initial inspiration was.

Now in my experience doing that I never reached for…I was always like What if that fails? I better not reach for it. I’ll keep going. But knowing it was there helped. Ah! That’s not working.

So before they begin are they passionate enough about the subject matter to weather the pain it’s going to cause to do it?

Film Courage: I like that idea. So right when…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


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SAWGRASS on Youtube by Jack Peterson. Jack is an American filmmaker based in Chicago. He’s been featured in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and ABC News for his work as an activist. His first feature film, Sawgrass, is a psychedelic journey through Florida, featuring an extensive interview with the brother of the Las Vegas shooter. Sawgrass also features a performance by the Rock-afire Explosion, a vintage animatronic band created by famed inventor Aaron Fechter. Jack’s next feature film, My Perfect Everything, tells the story of a magician chasing an imaginary woman he met in 1989. My Perfect Everything is currently in the early stages of pre-production.