One reason Movie Magazine ranks the Oaxaca Film Festival so highly is because of the attention the festival pays to writers. In most film festivals, screenwriting is the also-ran category, added more for entry fees than for the advancement of writers. Oaxaca turns that on its head. This year, the festival’s fifth, there were two days of workshops and pitch opportunities, in addition to the (ahem) networking screenwriters do at the after-film parties.
Here are a few tips I picked up:
#1 From Dove Sussman (just sold a script for a big Clive Owens film) — dive into the setting. Make the setting a character. Start by imagining its streets, its bars, its scary places. It’ll inform how your characters act and react.
#2 Also from Dove — try speedwriting. To unblock you. To prep for his Oaxaca Film Fest workshop, he and a pal in Puerto Escondito wrote a screenplay. In one night. Mezcal might have been involved but hey, whatever releases the creative juices.
#3 Backed up by screenwriter and writing guru Jacob Krueguer – if you’ve always been methodical, try blitz writing. If you’ve never worked with a partner, give it a shot. You might be in a rut.
#4 Jacob again — figure out what the main character wants and make him try to get it in every scene. While being tormented, tested and thwarted every step of the way.
#5 Jacob again — make sure you do a “reader’s draft” — checking your “me” draft against what a coverage reader will be thinking about. Make the screenplay easy to skim. Cut down on lengthy exposition.
Heard and understood.