Tuesday, 9 December 2014

John August on screenwriting

Screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) takes viewers inside his creative process in an exploration of where ideas come from.


1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

We watch John August whiteboard ideas while he talks about his screenwriting process.

Creativity is discovering what the interesting problems are, and how you can solve them for people watching the story.

A lot of screenwriting is disciplined daydreaming. It’s like you’re putting a puzzle together but you’re not even sure what the pieces even are. There’s this misconception that you struggle to find ideas. Most screenwriters have too many ideas and need to sift through them and choose the best one. Ideas tend to join together.

John feels his most common theme is characters caught between two worlds.

Before he starts writing, John tries to have a sense of what happens and what the beats are and what the end is. The last third gets to be very jangly and messed up.

There are many ways to put a screenplay down on paper – e.g. use whiteboard to explore, make mistakes, see what connections there can be.
John is a fan of writing off the page. Not everything you write has to go in the movie. Have an imaginary conversation between two characters in a coffee shop to get to know their voices, their drives, how they communicate with themselves.
Start with a central theme, work outwards to see what’s possible.
When writing a scene, loop it in your head. Figure out what actually happens, where it is, which characters are there, like you are watching it. Eventually you see the scene in your head. Get it onto paper as quickly as possible. John does this in handwriting, the bare bones dialogue and notes.
John uses standing desk as thinks better that way. Has special keyboard due to RSI.
John doesn’t write in sequence, writes whatever scene appeals. This takes away his excuse for not writing.
Writes last 10 pages early on so can feel what the boundary of the script is.
When more than half handwritten, types it up and sees what is missing. Painting towards the middle.