How did i learn to write Movies

Getting a picture clicked with the stars and the producer/ director is the easier part of being a writer in movies. But if you closely look at the man in the white cap, which is me, you can see the stress of being a writer of a big budget movie.

If you want to write a bollywood movie, you need to have a number of talents. Of course you should be a good writer, but you should also have the talent to narrate your script well, whether you are narrating it to the director or the stars. You have to put up a great show so that they can actually visualise the film unfolding on the screen.

Next point : You need to know your audience very well. This is called knowing the pulse of the audience.

The story idea of your movie should have a wide appeal.

Stars play different characters in film after film. How is his/her characterisation in your script different than the rest of the characters that he/she is playing or has played in earlier movies? A unique character will inspire him/her to sign on the dotted line and give your film much needed boost, that only a star can bring to a project by agreeing to do the film.

Well having said that, lets come down to some basics of writing that every writer needs to learn.

I started my learning in a very original way that i devised . I did not have money to buy books on screenplay writing. They were all foreign books and very expensive. So i devised my own method. I started watching hit movies ( english and hindi) on a dvd and taking notes.

First i would note down the genre of the movie.

Then i would make a note about the basic story idea of the movie. This I would write down in ten to fifteen lines. This is what we call the core film story.

Suppose if the movie is about three friends, then you have to begin by writing down the issues these friends are facing in the movie. Issues like a clash of different attitudes they may have about love, sex, living in, dating and marriage.

There can be animosity between two friends over a girl, they are both in love or attracted to.

On the other hand ( in the sub plot ) the three of them maybe jointly fighting a gang, which bullies students, who are doing their post graduation course in this institute.

And then you have to write down how the various issues in the film are finally resolved.

Who gets the girl?

Does one of them die fighting this gang ?

Do they manage to leave this institute a safer place for the future students ?

Then i would watch the film a second time. This time pause the dvd after every scene.Write down the crux of each scene. From the first scene to the last one. Thus i would have a one line screenplay of the entire film on paper.

Now i would study the journey of the screenplay from point A to B. Study the first turning point of the film at point B. Then the journey ahead from point B to C. And finally analyse how the screenplay writer has propelled the movie towards the climax, which we can call – Point D.

With this exercise a new writer like me would understand how a good screenplay is written. What is the plot and the sub plot.

I did this exercise by playing and pausing many hit films. As a result I understood how a smooth flow of a screenplay is achieved.

How can I create unique characters and how to knit characters and form interesting relationships.

How to keep the surprise element alive in the movie. ( Without the surprise element,the greatest story can fall flat in a movie theatre )

How to make the climax unpredictable and ultimately give a final and satisfying plot twist to the film.

When i finally started writing screenplays, at every stage i would keep in mind who is my target audience, what are they thinking as the film progresses. How to out think them, surprise them. Keep them engaged until the very last moment of the film.

There are many other ways to learn to write movies. Some of the other useful techniques..  we will tak about the next time.

While departing one last thing. Keep track of the master story teller some call ‘God.’ I have learned and re-learned story telling from this master. Because every life that he wrote on earth is a story. Infact every star that’s born in the universe is his story. He is the ultimate teacher and a story teller. We are only students of his great art.

( The picture above with Shahrukh, Jackie, Anil, Subhash ji, Mukul Anand, Ashok Mehta and me was sent to me by my friend Suhas Shetty yesterday. He found it in Filmfare. That brought back memories of the time when i had just about started out as a writer in the movie industry. I thought it would be a good idea to share with you how i learnt to write my screenplays.)

Check out my latest book, released on December 1st, by clicking on the link :

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