When I decided to try writing a screenplay, I wanted to begin with a small project. I chose one of my short stories called The Blue Dress.
The screenplay is about 20 minutes. Most of the action takes place in one house (exterior, bedroom, hallway, stairs, living room, dining room, and porch) and a sidewalk. The cast includes 3 adult and 2 child roles. The script calls for a car from the 1940s.
Read the script for The Blue Dress.
Immediate screenplay problems
I entered the screenplay into 17 festivals. While I waited for the results, I was learning about some problems my script would have attracting a director or a production company:
1. a short film has a better chance for success if it is less than 10 minutes.
2. although the film takes place in one house, each room requires a time-consuming camera setup and lighting.
3. Five actors is on the high end. Scheduling three or fewer is less complicated.
4. Finding specific props for a period drama can be costly and take time.
Submitting a script to a festival may have the added advantage of receiving a written critique from the judge. As of July 1, 2016, the screenplay has been accepted by 4 festivals, has been ‘table read’ by actors, and has won $25. It’s been rejected by 4 festivals.
One criticism was that Act One was too long. A film script has a three act structure. Act One introduces the characters, establishes the time and place, and ends with the event that catapults the drama into Act Two. If Act One takes its time, the audience will lose interest.
Several judges complained that there was too much dialogue and not enough action, that a character-driven drama is too problematic in a short film, and that most scenes did not have enough conflict.
Watching the video of the ‘table-read’ of the script, I found myself losing concentration. If I’m bored, how will the audience react?
At this stage of my development as a screenwriter, my main goal is to complete several scripts as writing samples. In the film business,,a producer usually isn’t interested in the projects you pitch, BUT if he likes your enthusiasm and is impressed with your writing talent, he will, in many cases, ask you to work on one of his current projects.