I had no idea. I used to sit back and wonder how people did it. The creative side of making movies baffled me.
Once, right after “Facing the Giants” came out, I was serving at a church in North Carolina and a pastor on staff approached me and basically asked me, then, to do my dream job, now. He said that if they could do a movie, why couldn’t we do one? We should do one.
I immediately shut him down. I pointed out all the differences between Sherwood Baptist and our church. Talked about lack of resources, and how much time it would take. Said we would have to stop the major productions at church and focus on the movie. Basically rained all over his parade.
My biggest question for him? Who has a story for a movie? Not me. I wasn’t going to be able to do that. I didn’t know how to do that. You want me to write a movie? Nope, no way. Couldn’t even consider it. Fear, ignorance, fatigue, they all were at work in this response.
Don’t let fear and ignorance stop you from doing something great.
Fast forward 8 years, and I’m happily laying out the scenes of my 2nd feature length screenplay. I’ve written over a dozen short films (like this one) or 30-minute TV episodes (like this one). I’ve got one feature length script complete, and another in process, with a few more ideas gestating.
And I like it. I mean, I really enjoy it. I haven’t produced everything I’ve written, but I like writing. I’m not the best writer, but I am getting better.
I don’t know how other people leaned to write their movies, but I can tell you how I did. First, I was inspired to want to learn. I had a show idea, and I needed to get it going.
Then I read a bunch of books. The classic ones like “Story” by Robert McKee and the one I think is most practical: “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder. And a bunch in between. I became a student of story. What makes a good story? I’m still learning. How do you develop a good character? Still learning.
Then I started writing, and I got help. All kinds of help. My first script had 11 rewrites, and could have used more. (watch it here. Don’t judge me, it gets better.) My friend George Livings helped me. When I had a problem of too much exposition in a scene, my friend Torry Martin helped me figure out how to fix it. And later let me bounce plot and joke ideas off of him. When I wanted to write my first feature length script I took a class on screenwriting. I wrote and rewrote and learned and read and listened.
And I still do that. I never knew that it would be so much fun. I still very much like being behind the camera, producing and directing. I love the edit process. But there is nothing quite like seeing a project that you wrote completed. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a script, no matter how long it is.
What’s your project? What will you write?