The opportunity to go to Hollywood was somewhat overwhelming because up until this point in my writing career, everything had been stage plays—with zero points in the screenplay department. So, there I was leaving the world of the stage, which is nothing but a mass of long shots, and going into the unknown universe of the screenplay, which includes close-ups and medium shots. Would I successfully be able to make the transition? I had no idea. I knew I would simply give it my best and hope all turned out okay.
Before leaving Paris, I visited Smith’s English Book Store where I managed to lay my hands on several paperbacks covering screenwriting techniques. I kept them well out of view in case someone discovered that I was a complete novice when it came to this special world called “the scenario”.
I poured over those “how to” books and soon noticed that about the only thing I was really going to get from them was the nuts and bolts of the physicality of a screenplay: How the manuscript was formatted, how long a scene should be, how long the scenario itself should be, and how it too employed Act I, Act II and Act III techniques—even though they were not as obvious as in plays.
I realized that a lot of the information in those books went far too deeply into analyzing famous films and what had made them so successful. Those chapters were like trying to analyze a slot machine. Why did one pay off and another one didn’t?
After about two weeks of going through those books, I realized that plot, character and dialogue were the very basis of any screenplay and you had to get down all your information in about 120 pages max. Via my plays and having the opportunity of working with a live audience, I pretty much had acquired the essentials of writing dialogue and developing interesting characters.
In the next blog, you’ll start seeing just how Hollywood reacts to a foreign muse.
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