The Orange County Screenwriters Association
    Be Inspired, Do Good Work

    Mark Sevi

    Mark Sevi

     

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    Five Easy Pieces:  Thoughts and Analysis by Mark Sevi

    film stripFrozen River:  The Hero's Journey Continues by Mark Sevi

    How to Tighten Your Script by Mark Sevi

     

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    Mission Statement/Statement of Purpose. The Orange County Screenwriters Association (OCSWA) and The Orange County Media Arts Organization (OCMAO) are not-for-profit organization conceived to be a connective resource of creative energy and real-world materials for professional and amateur writers and filmmakers.

    OCSWA and OCMAO are the creation of writers, educators, film professionals and mentors, based in the belief that the passion and dedication to write and produce film is prevalent in our community and should be encouraged so all can achieve artistic, professional and economic success. We are volunteer members who believe in the power of film and the art and craft of writing and producing it. We exist to inspire excellence, and to help empower those interested in film, television and theater. To further our goals, OSCWA and OCMAO will produce events that feature industry guest speakers, writing and film contests, discussion panels, seminars, and networking & educational opportunities. OSCWA and OCMAO, in partnership with other film and collegiate programs, proudly represents the best that the Orange County film community (and beyond) has to offer. As always, we welcome your help and support.

    The Orange County Screenwriters Association (OCSWA) is a not-for-profit organization conceived to be a connective resource of creative energy and real-world materials for professional and amateur writers and filmmakers.

    Please note: TO USE THIS WEBSITE FULLY, you must create a profile.  The newsletter signup is separate from the website registration. 

    The new Final Draft continues the trend toward one size fits all - to the detriment of the software. 

    TIGHTEN YOUR SCRIPT
    by
    Mark Sevi
    Put your script on a diet
    10 Techniques
    Exclusive to the Orange County Screenwriters Association

    1) TOO HIP FOR YOU
     

    Imagine you’re too cool for the room. So of course you come in late and leave early for max “pap”(arazzi) exposure. Start as late in a scene as you can. This means, where is the absolute deepest point you can begin in a scene and still maintain the sense of it and also accomplish your goals.


    Subsequently, leave early - don’t drag it. Get to the point, make it and get out without seeming abrupt, but please - MAKE THE POINT – too many times I see work where the scene ends without a coda or a point. Trimming does no good if you’re cutting the reason you’re in the scene.


    2) FLASH THEM
     

    Show don’t tell.

    How can you best show something rather than talk it out? Dialogue is never as efficient in a visual medium like film. Remember the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Use your visual skills to show something instead of telling us about it.
     

    3) CHATTY CATHY

    Tell don’t show.

    Yes, it seems contradictory but there are times when just a line of dialogue makes a complete point. Know when to use words instead of visual images to get maximum impact. A judicious voice over, despite the fact that it’s a horribly overused technique, can have maximum impact in minimal space.
     

    4) KILL YOUR “CHILDREN”
    Know what you’re trying to accomplish with a script, a scene sequence, a scene, and be brutal about cutting something that doesn’t add to that goal. “Killing your children” involves getting rid of the stuff that you’re really in love with. Don’t worry - you can probably use it somewhere else or in another script. But don’t be afraid of tossing your darlings out of the plane to reduce weight so you can make your destination - your ideal page count.
     

    5) AND WE’RE BLENDING, WE’RE MIXING
     

    When possible, combine.

    Not everything needs to stand alone. Combine that snappy dialogue with a scene about traveling somewhere or put it in an elevator scene that you’re using as a transition.
     

    6) I’LL CUT YOU, MAN

    Don’t be afraid to completely eliminate entire scenes that do nothing or accomplish only one thing.

    We all think we absolutely need certain scenes - don’t we? But is that scene with your character talking about his or her feelings really necessary or can we find out through a gesture, a moment, or someplace else entirely.
    This technique is sometimes best accomplished on rewrite when you know what you need and don’t need to tell your story.


    7) BABY, SWEETY... LOVE YOU BUT -


    Think like a producer

    A producer’s job is to sweat the money. Imagine every scene you’re creating is costing you money you can't afford and you’ll get why producers have to be merciless (besides that they’re also sadists - but that’s another article.) It’s really difficult to imagine how appalling difficult it is to make something happen film-wise until you actually visit a set and watch them set up for a shot. If you knew what it took to light one simple bad guy on fire...sheesh!


    Put a jar on your desk and charge yourself every time you write a new scene or setup that will involve moving hundreds of people to accomplish that moment. Toss a quarter in that jar every time you create a new scene and promise that money to your friend or kids. Now how many would you really keep if you absolutely had to?


    8) SHUT THE *@&^$*& UP!

    Try eliminating as many lines of dialogue as possible.

    Imagine you’re working for an actor who wants 30% of the dialogue eliminated. I did - he made me cut almost every other line of dialogue. And the film still worked. Try it - see what you can get rid of and still maintain the quality of the scene.


    9) YOU TALKING TO ME?


    When in doubt, sound it out.

    Take your work of genius to a workshop or your family dinner and cast the parts. Just listen - let someone else do the reading. You’ll know almost instantly what drags and what doesn’t when you hear people drone on while reading your work.


    10) ADD COMMERCIALS


    Imagine your feature isn’t going to 110 pages but more like a 2-hour television production. Great. But were you aware that two hours of TV is really only eighty-eight minutes because of commercials? Forty-four minutes per hour.
    Could you cut enough to adapt your 100 page work to that few pages? Try it. Imagine you have to to get paid. I bet you could.
     

    ~~~
     

    Mark Sevi is professional screenwriter living in Southern California. As of this writing he has over 18 produced films. He also teaches and writes articles for national pubs about scriptwriting.

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