"The Hollywood Standard" was an early Christmas gift from my other half. Ever since my personal script editor/story consultant (the amazing Jonna Jackson) told me she was a convert to Mr. Riley's ways (using the lessons of his books while editing my screenplays), I have coveted a copy.
So here's a review of sorts, and a few things which have now been brought to my attention. (Just an FYI, I found a few typos in the book - about proper formatting, and with a section on typos). It's a quick read, and I'm not trying to sound cocky by saying this, but I would venture a guess that I am pretty firm on about 80% of the lessons provided here. There is plenty of information on television script formatting, production script formatting, so I basically glossed over those, as they don't apply to my usual spec script writing. Obviously, should the time come for me to tackle a television program, I'll refer back to those particular chapters/sections.
I plan to go back through the book again, more slowly, highlighting sections and particular notes, putting post-its here and there, and focusing on the items which I know will be of use to me as I move into my next screenplays.
There are some things which I don't agree with -- namely the overuse of camera directions in descriptions or scene headings. I've never agreed with this, and while Mr. Riley suggests using such things infrequently, doing the director's job has never appealed to me, in my own screenwriting.
Smaller things will also not be adopted. When I move the action from an Exterior scene, directly into an Interior scene (as an example), I will put CONTINUOUS, while Mr. Riley says it should be termed CONTINUOUS ACTION. A small difference to be sure, but I'll stick w/ my usual ways.
I have been educated on many punctuation faux pas, and will certainly work to incorporate these new lessons into my writing from here on out. And there are a few other, minute formatting changes I'll make in areas outside of punctuation.
I am also going to take to heart the fact that Mr. Riley gives the "thumbs up" for having small direction/action bits within the parenthetical (between the character name and character dialogue). Something I never would have done before, may now save some space on the page.
But overall, after having read the book, it gives me a modicum of pleasure to see that as I've developed my own screenwriting tricks and traditions, that the vast majority of the lessons laid out in this book -- well, that I'm already in on those particular secrets. :)
Again, not to sound cocky, but to acknowledge that I am (and have been) on the right track as far as proper screenplay formatting -- definite relief! Can I get a "whew!"?
And this new nit-picky knowledge will also benefit you -- my potential clients!
For a limited time only! EVERYTHING on the site is 20% off! It's officially 2 months since KSC's launch, and so you'll get the anniversary gifts! Need some help on your feature or short screenplay, or wanna do some good old-fashioned brainstorming? Now's the time. HURRY! This milestone deal ends at midnight PST on August 20th, 2019! So let's get to work!
It's a weird habit I have in my own screenwriting. While I don't see it in everyone else's scripts (only occasionally) -- it's something I'll always call out to be fixed. And again -- when I see it in my own scripts, it drives me crazy bonkers!
While it still shows up every once in a while, I've broken my own habit to about the 95% mark.
And of course, there are times when it is absolutely appropriate.
Let's examine an example:
"Susan begins to walk up the street."
What's wrong w/ that, you say? Well, why can't Susan just do it? Why does she need to "begin to walk"? If indeed, there is an abrupt interruption of her walk ahead -- then "begin to" makes sense (always an exception). But what if Susan is going to walk the entire distance, unobstructed? So perhaps this would be better:
"Susan walks up the street." Nifty.
And as is always the case in my own scripts, as well as those I edit -- trimming is key. Imagine that you removed -- let's say -- FIFTEEN of these "begins to" instances in your script. That could mean the trimming of a good three lines or so of total description.
Well, that's not much! It could mean cutting the end of your script to move onto the previous page -- going from 101 pages to 100. And with all of the other trims you'll do in the course of your editing, these cuts begin to (haha!) add up, right?
Another tip (i.e. personal pet peeve) from Klugula Screenplay Consulting!
Now let's get to work!
After working through the screenwriting process for more than 15 years, and developing my own set of tricks and shortcuts and must-haves -- I've found that less is more. We're not writing a novel, so description/action sequences should be minimal. Get your point across, but don't overdo it. I once had a development exec. tell me, "Don't do the work of the other craftsmen." In other words, describe what you need to, if it's integral to the plot/character. But there's no need to talk of the intricate details in the home or surroundings of your main character (unless there's something like Tippi Hedren's aversion to the color red in Hitchcock's Marnie -- as an example). Let the production designer and artisans have their creative say.
And one of the favorites I've moved into regular rotation in my own descriptions -- as an example -- if there's a fight on-screen, simply say, "There is a struggle." Unless someone needs to break an arm, or get a bruise (important later in the script), there's no need to overdo it. The fight choreographer has to earn his/her paycheck too. "There is a struggle." And leave it at that.
And beyond all of that, smaller descriptions will keep your page count down, which is always a giant plus!
Less is more.
Thrilled to announce that my 10th feature spec script, "Mom Died" has been named an "Official Selection" for the 6th Annual FilmQuest!
Different from the initial services offered (which are still available), you can now do a "One-Take" package on your feature or short screenplays!
Take a look at these new products!
ONE TAKE Feature Consult (51-120 Pages)
ONE TAKE Short Consult (1-50 Pages)
Thank you to Jeffrey Reddick -- the creator of Final Destination -- for his kind words!
You can check out additional testimonials from other amazing folks -- right here!
"I can only speak of Michael as I know him, as a good friend and a highly-regarded colleague. I’ve always found his script notes to be invaluable, because he comes from a place where many script consultants don’t. First and foremost, he has a deep love (some would say obsession) with movies, so he knows all of the elements that go into making a strong script. And as a film critic, he looks at a script with a unique perspective, but he’s not critical for the sake of being critical. This ties into the other thing which makes Michael special: He loves to see other writers succeed. So he brings his vast knowledge and insight to every script he reads, in order to help make your script the best it can be. He truly wants your script to not only sing creatively, but he also wants to see it get made."
Writer / Director / Producer
Final Destination / The Final Wish / Good Samaritan
KSC now has a profile with the good folks of LinkedIn! Take a look!
Isn't it a general practice, that when opening a new business, you are to frame your first dollar for all to see? Well, we're an online store, so here's a virtual version of this joyful tradition. We've got our first official gig here at Klugula Screenplay Consulting, and so it's a moment to celebrate and look forward to great things!
"I’ve worked with Michael on a myriad of scripts tapping into his exceptionally creative mind. His consummate command of the written word, along with his cunning development of character depth (and breadth), make him a world class storyteller. He has a natural agility to maneuver through complicated plots and scenes to help reshape them in a way where story is enhanced. Michael also possesses a unique ability to express passion whilst remaining objective, and not letting ego drive his words. His years of experience as a film critic, his cinephile recall, his own varied work written from story to script; these things, and so much more, make him near perfect as a story consultant and editor."
Jonna Jackson -- Asst. Director of FilmQuest Film Festival / Producer / Script Editor
For all of the lovely testimonials for KSC and Michael Klug, visit this page!