Watch Paul Schrader's Inspiring Screenwriting Lecture with BAFTA
Learn about the craft of screenwriting from the man whose career has spanned decades (and inspired millions).
Minutes into the beginning of his BAFTA Guru lecture, Paul Schrader espouses, "This is not an overview of screenwriting, this is my method." He goes on to say, "Even if what I'm saying doesn't work for 75% of you, it still has value, because it works for me."
My favorite thing about Paul Schrader is that he has no filter. He's not here for goofy methods. It's all blue collar, brick and mortar for him. He loves writing. He loves people. He's going to tell it like it is. While I like to use things like the Story Map and Character Arc Infographic, Schrader dives right into the character and structure.
Let's go over a few key points from his lecture.
Art Is About You
If you're sitting down at your computer to write, what you produce will always be a part of you. So what's going on in your world? What part of your journey needs to be out there in the world? When I'm writing, I think a lot about what I'm dealing with, whether that's happiness or other internal or external conflicts.
That brings us to Schrader's other observation.
What's your Most Pressing Personal Problem?
Schrader says the way into his class, normally, is to write your most pressing personal problem on a piece of paper. He then goes over them, picks the ten best, and those are the people who get to be in the class. So, tell us your biggest issue. Put it in the comments if you want.
But think about what you need to deal with, and how that can be emblematic in the story you want to tell.
After all, every movie and TV show is actually ABOUT something. So what do you need to talk about?
Writing on Spec is a Calculation Of The Marketplace
While we're against free work (and definitely on the side of the WGA in the ATA negotiations), there are times when you just have to sit and write something. Schrader suggests taking what you're dealing with personally, then looking at the marketplace to see what's selling. While I would suggest just writing a great script, he's not wrong in this aspect. You want the thing to sell and you want to do this professionally, so look at the market and see where you stand.
No matter what, write something personal and gripping, something that only you can bring to the table.
As Schrader says, there are already people who have proven that they can write the movies you see in the box office. What can you do that they're not doing?
Watch Paul Schrader's BAFTA Guru Lecture
We went over some major parts of the first half hour of this video, but to get the full effect, watch the entire hour-plus video!
What was your main take away from Schrader's lecture? What did you learn about storytelling? What works for you?
Let us know in the comments below.