Act One, a program in Los Angeles training Christians for careers in the mainstream movie industry, is giving you a chance to tell your story. Winner takes home $5000 in cash, consultation, and submission of their script to industry companies and agents.
I wrote about Jack Gilbert, a Christian in Hollywood and a teacher of writing at Act One, in an earlier post. He was a friend who passed away too soon.
What Jack taught, and what Act One highlights, is professionalism and excellence. Some pointers:
1) Don’t write your screenplay in scribbly handwriting in a notebook. Find out professional standards of formatting and follow them. A bad presentation is the first clue you’re not serious.
2) Dare to let your characters be bad. Let them have problems, sins, weaknesses, and neuroses. Beauty shines all the more when it comes through something ugly.
3) You have to have conflict. A problem to be solved. Without it, you don’t have a story. It’s amazing how many people miss this.
4) Don’t worry about wrapping everything up perfectly. A happy ending and neat bow tie is not obligatory. On the other hand, you can’t leave us hanging, either.
5) If you want to send a message, join a political campaign. Stories that move people tell their message from inside excellent characters and compelling stories. If you’re starting with “how do I convince people x is bad?” you’re starting in the wrong place.
6) This is the most repeated advice, but so true. Write about what you know. If you’re going to write about the church, write about the gossip and the crazy old guy and the time the secretary ran off with the youth pastor as well as the people serving lunch to the homeless and the medical missionary. You know, in your heart, that those things are true. Find the beauty in them.
7) Write truth. Then read it over and rewrite it to be more true. And again.
Good luck. Submissions are due June 1, earlybird May 1. Details here.
photo by DeclanTM on Flickr Commons