BLOG: How I turned my movie idea into a screenplay

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As the 24th annual Austin Film Festival begins on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, thousands of writers, producers, filmmakers, and actors will fill downtown Austin with their stories and projects.

Vendors who help create blockbuster films will be demonstrating their new products in the exhibit hall. Everyone who wants to be seen and heard will be in town. 

How exciting! It makes you want to be a part of it. 

After all, you've got a great idea for a blockbuster movie. But how do you go from having an idea for a movie to selling a screenplay? This is where the folks at Austin Film Festival come in. 

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Austin Film Festival is more than just a fun-filled festival held once a year. It's an organization with a year-round presence in Austin, constantly working to provide workshops, film showings and other events. 

It's a community created to showcase the writer (a.k.a. you) with the great movie idea. So let's dive right in to see how to help get that great movie idea down on paper and into a screenplay format.

I'll go first.

I had an idea for a movie that's kind of a sci-fi, action, dystopian, thriller type of thing. But I didn't have any idea what to do. 

The first thing I discovered while searching on the internet, was that there was a ton of information to discover, and not all of it was accurate with some sites completely contradicting other sites. 

It can be very confusing when you're starting at a place of knowing nothing. 

I realized that I would need help with stretching my little idea of a movie into a complete storyline. At last year's AFF, I trolled through the exhibit hall, talking with the vendors who were showing off their new items. One that caught my eye was called Dramatica, made by The Write Brothers, Inc, but there is other software that you can use as well. Here are a few: Celtx, Fade In, and Final Draft. Just Google "screenwriting software" and you find plenty to chose from. But for me, it was Dramatica. It's a very intense program that takes some time digging into before you get the hang of how it works: but it takes you from start to finish by asking question after question, until you've got all your characters and your storyline plotted out. 

By the time I finished, my little movie idea had become a full-length story. Great! Now, what do I do with that story? There's always the Austin Film Festival's Pitch Contest where contestants each have 90 seconds to make their pitch to the judges with the winner receiving a Producers Badge to next year's festival. 

Great! I've entered the contest! But... what's a pitch and how do I do it?

Again, I started searching the internet. And Again, I found abundant sites with conflicting information. After much reading, I uncrossed my eyes and wrote an approximate 90-second pitch that includes: the title of my movie; the genre of my movie; two movie titles that are similar to my movie (some sites say to not do this); my main character/s name, a logline (one-sentence description of the movie); two other characters who change his path; and a basic description of the movie plot (the main character's dilemma that he has to overcome).  

Oh, did I mention that this has to be done in 90-seconds? 

Yeah, how do you fit an entire movie into 90-seconds? And a one-sentence "logline" explaining the movie? That one was an adventure all by itself!

But it's done, Hallelujah!

 I am scheduled to make my pitch on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 10:45 a.m.

But before I do that, I'm going to take advantage of the Festival's training/writing seminars. 

The first one is their "Pitch Prep" which will help me know if I'm on the right track. Then I'll audit a few of the pitch sessions to see how the other contestants are presenting their movie ideas.

I'm so excited and I can't wait to stop back here in a few days to tell you all about it!