I think Edgar Wright movies are some of the most fun experiences. He is best known for his Cornetto film trilogy, consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013), which he made with collaborators Simon Pegg, Nira Park, and Nick Frost. But he's worked on lots of other things too, like when he co-wrote and directed the action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and adapted The Adventures of Tintin (2011) for Steven Spielberg.
His latest film is the psychological horror film Last Night in Soho (2021), which I found to be one of the most exciting rides of last year. (Have you heard our interview with Wright about the film? Check it out here.)
Then you can check out this video from Outstanding Screenplays, and let's talk after.
10 Filmmaking Tips from Edgar Wright
1. Aim to recapture the thrills that you felt watching your favorite films at the cinema.
Sometimes filmmaking becomes work, and we forget that the reason most of us got started in this industry is that we were once inspired by a movie. So take that feeling and think about how your work could be what inspires the next generation. Think about the audience and what you can do to inspire them.
2. Writing that comes from your heart will always turn out better than what you think you ought to write about.
You have to feel your story. What is the theme behind the words that's driving you to write it? What are you trying to tell the audience? The stuff you connect with emotionally always has that extra flare the audience can feel and appreciate.
3. Be methodical about plotting out your screenplay. You need a clear idea of where you’re heading so you don't get lost or bored along the way.
I find the best way to come up with a screenplay that keeps people's attention is to make a beat sheet. You can list a bunch of your ideas, figure out the order, and make sure every place in the story has something that shocks, excites, and plays with expectations and tropes.
4. Keep “creatively procrastinating” by researching until your treatment document starts turning into a screenplay.
I love procrastinating. I think you have to think a lot, waste some time, and even bullshit a bit to even come up with the best way to bring your story together. Be okay just writing a treatment and throwing your ideas into prose. Worry about the format later. Just get it all out, then mold it into a screenplay later.
5. Use genre films like a Trojan horse. Sneak in bigger ideas into films that seem superficial at first.
I love genre films. They come with sets of rules and expectations that a writer can use to mold and leap off. You can hide any message in a genre. So think about what you want to say and how the themes you want to talk about can be exposed in that genre.
6. Comedy comes out of character. If your character’s voice and their strengths and weaknesses are well defined, comedy will naturally emerge from them.
Comedy is one of those tricky things. You can't really learn how to be funny, but you can develop characters who have distinct voices. Ones that are anachronistic or counterintuitive, ones that stand out, or stand in the way of others. You can mine the best comedy from creating people who buck the norms. But it all lies in characters and where you take them.
7. In this day and age, where all of the tools to get your films seen are at your disposal, but also at the disposal of your competitors, it is time to focus on being your most unique self to stand out with your film.
Your voice is the most unique thing about you. What you do behind the camera, or in your writing, or in your style is what will allow your visions to stand out and pop amongst the crowd. Focus on being the most you that you can be.
8. Having affection for the genre is what will make people take your genre film seriously and not mistake it for a parody.
You have to keep learning and watching. If you're going to work in a genre, you need to love it. Devote yourself to the craft. You have to become one with the page and with the direction. Learn what the greats did in that genre, and then watch a bunch of the bad movies in it too. Know it back to front, and then get to work
9. Put a different part of yourself into each character in your screenplay.
You know the expression, "You are what you eat"? Well, this is the equivalent in writing. You have to extract certain parts of yourself to put into people. Make them layered. even the bad people in your script, pick out parts that maybe only you know. It's an easy marker that lets you identify with them and even pick what they should do and say in scenes.
10. When co-writing, someone needs to be the bad cop and negotiate how much time you can spend in the writing room if the good cop spends too much time joking and playing with ideas.
Writing with a partner can be the ultimate freedom to bounce ideas off one another, but eventually, work needs to be done. Try to divide and conquer. Maybe one person takes a few scenes while the other outlines, and then you switch off. Find a flow that works for you, there are no rules! Vibe with each other and make sure you always feel equal. the reset will work itself out.
Leave your best tips in the comments!
Source: Outstanding Screenplays