How to Write an Amazing Screenplay That Can Be Executed on a Low Budget

Gone are the days when high budget scripts ruled the film industry. The television has taken the industry by storm. Today, producers rarely opt for scripts that require millions for execution. The industry pros are searching for ways to make profits. That’s where a screen writer’s crucial role comes in!
Be it an autonomous producer or a well-known film studio, everyone desires for extraordinary screen writing that can be executed on a shoestring budget. So if you’re looking at making it big in the industry, you must have at least one low budget script in your armory.
Producing a film in itself is quite a task and when one is dealing with a minuscule budget, it gets even more challenging. While drafting the script, if you keep the following pointers in mind, your meetings with the producers will be off to a good start!

1. Contain the Locations

While screenwriting, always make an endeavor to draft a story line calling for lesser locations. Keep it to a maximum of three to five locations. Scrutinize the storyline for external locations as well. Keep them minimal.
Ensure the locations are re-accessible, have provision of apposite power supply, and are devoid of external distractions.
Another aspect of locations that eats on the budget big time is night sequences. Avoid the paraphernalia required and save on your funds.

2. Script Locations You Can Control

location screenplay

If you’re looking at low budget execution, you obviously don’t intend to make the producer spend big money on shutting down streets or using the airport! The best idea is to stay indoors as much as possible especially in scenes with dialogues.
Keep street scenes with minimal dialogue. Good sound is a highly crucial facet of filmmaking. You definitely don’t desire to jeopardize such a cardinal aspect. So have dialogue sequences in locations with little noise traffic. Well! The best would be within four walls!

3. Limit the Characters

Since the aim is to execute a low budget film, the characters need to be limited as well. The best solution is to avoid crowd sequences. Scenes shot at restaurants, marketplaces or cricket stadiums require several background artists, which certainly escalate the budget.

4. Avoid Action Sequences

action screenplay

Action sequences require colossal expenditure. Even an ordinary car chase requires blocking of streets. Elaborate martial arts sequences, stunts and car crashes call for even higher budget and are time-consuming as well.
Make the dialogues heavy and engaging instead!

5. Keep Dialogue Succinct

This one is a highly common error with novice writers. They tend to draft scripts with dialogue chunks. The consequence is a script with repetitive and highly illustrative dialogue. Believe me, it’s a complete turn off for producers!
A good film school canvasses to show not tell. In the world of cinema, actions should speak louder than words. If you remember this golden rule while script writing, you will certainly reach the pinnacle soon. So keep the language concise, minimal yet powerful.

6. Craft a Compelling Story

The screenwriter’s job is to put the producer at ease when it comes to budgeting. So if you cannot cater for a sought after producer, A- level actors, fanatical animation, extraordinary locations, and several martial arts sequences — the only aspect your script writing should highlight is an out-of-the-box, original, and life altering STORY!
Draft a compelling story by investing maximum time towards perfecting your characters. Remember, a brilliant screenplay is a priceless commodity in the film industry.

7. Restrict Cameo Roles

Restrict your screen writing with regard to cameos. Stay clear of ensemble pieces. The fewer the number of characters to account for, the better is the execution! It’s time; script writers abandoned the line of thought that an entertaining film requires plenty of characters. Films centered on specific themes sell beautifully.
A persuasive story has the potential to attract high quality actors. With a few gem actors you can create the magic!

8. Adhere to the Genre

genre screenplay

Low budget genre films include horror, suspense, and comedy. Drama can be tenuous when it comes to execution on low budget! So create what sells best in limited budget.

9. Keep it Short

If you’re looking at tight finance, keep the length of the script between 80 and 100 pages. The shorter the better as lesser money is spent in the execution! It’s simple logic, no great Math involved here!

If you keep these parameters in mind while script writing, you shall certainly be able to maximize the minuscule budget. Why spend loads of finance on transportation, multiple locations and food to satisfy a large crew; when the same can be invested in A-listed actors to offer flawless performances!

Best Screenplay Movies of All Time

What is a screenplay? Before we answer that, let us first decode what a screenplay is definitely not. It is neither a play and nor is it a novel. Unlike the writer writing for a novel who has complete freedom to explore any point of view, shift between conscious and subconscious mind, explore a character or a story from multiple perspectives, etc., the screenwriter should at all times write in the present tense and make sure that what is written is only what the audience can see and hear. A screenplay is visual and is a written work by screenwriters for a film, video game or television program.

And what makes a great screenplay?  From Casablanca to The Shawshank Redemption, the elements of a great script are essentially the same. Here is our list of the Top 25 Best Screenwriting Works. Take some time out and do watch these remarkable movies.

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  1. CASABLANCA
    Screenplay by Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. Based on the play ‘Everybody Comes to Rick’s’ by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison.
  2. THE GODFATHER
    Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo.
  3. CHINATOWN
    Written by Robert Towne.
  4. CITIZEN KANE
    Written by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.
  5. ALL ABOUT EVE
    Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Based on ‘The Wisdom of Eve’, a short story and radio play by Mary Orr.6annie-hall_blog
  6. ANNIE HALL
    Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman.
  7. SUNSET BLVD.
    Written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr.
  8. NETWORK
    Written by Paddy Chayefsky.
  9. SOME LIKE IT HOT
    Screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. Based on ‘Fanfare of Love’ a German film written by Robert Thoeren and M. Logan.
  10. THE GODFATHER II
    Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo. Based on Mario Puzo’s novel ‘The Godfather’.
  11. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID
    Written by William Goldman.12DrStrangelove_blog
  12. STRANGELOVE
    Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Peter George and Terry Southern. Based on novel ‘Red Alert’ by Peter George.
  13. THE GRADUATE
    Screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. Based on the novel by Charles Webb.
  14. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
    Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. Based on the life and writings of Col. T.E. Lawrence.
  15. THE APARTMENT
    Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond.
  16. PULP FICTION
    Written by Quentin Tarantino. Stories by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary.
  17. TOOTSIE
    Screenplay by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal. Story by Don McGuire and Larry Gelbart.
  18. ON THE WATERFRONT
    Screen Story and Screenplay by Budd Schulberg. Based on ‘Crime on the Waterfront’ articles by Malcolm Johnson.
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  19. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
    Screenplay by Horton Foote. Based on the novel by Harper Lee.
  20. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
    Screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Frank Capra. Based on the short story ‘The Greatest Gift’ by Philip Van Doren Stern. Contributions to screenplay Michael Wilson and Jo Swerling.
  21. NORTH BY NORTHWEST
    Written by Ernest Lehman.
  22. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
    Screenplay by Frank Darabont. Based on the short story ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ by Stephen King.
  23. GONE WITH THE WIND
    Screenplay by Sidney Howard. Based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell.
  24. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
    Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. Story by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth.
  25. THE WIZARD OF OZ
    Screenplay by Noel Langley and Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf Adaptation by Noel Langley. Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum.25the-wizard-of-oz_blog

Dialog about dialogues!

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Dialogue is one of the most important elements in a screenplay, for countless reasons. While great dialogue will not automatically make your script golden, weak dialogue will definitely pull down your script. It will not be an understatement to say that dialogue is the fastest and most overt indicator of a writer’s voice and craft.

When we recall our favourite movie, one of the first things we think of is the moments we love, especially the dialogues. Who can forget the iconic Kitne aadmi the from Sholay or Ja Simran ja, jile aapni zindagi from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge! There are some dialogues that we love and some we hate, which is why you have get it right. Want to know more about how to write fabulous dialogues, read on!

Listen to what’s around you
Listen to people very carefully, what they are saying and what they are not saying with equal interest. The world is full of dialogues, if you can hear them. We tend to think of dialogue as back and forth between speakers. But when you listen, you realize that people talk over each other constantly and rarely finish a thought completely.

Dialogue reveals
Dialogue reveals what characters hide, what people try to conceal. Since you are writing the character, you become the characters you are writing. You hear it in your head as you write it. The best thing you can do is sit with your actors, do a dry run and make adjustments according to the requirements of the character or the actor.

Flow of your dialogue
Figure out the flow, the how, the when, the why and it will be words in the right order. Movie conversations mostly involve exchange of information (“the fingerprints match”). Figure out how the characters would tell each other the information. Well written dialogue subtly gives the facts, while badly written dialogue tends to give information in every direction.

Write the draft
You might come up with some punch lines the first time, but for the rest of the dialogues, it is best to write the first draft of a scene, without any punctuation. Next step is to write the final version, when you have the blueprint for the scene. Read each line aloud, over and over again, fine tuning it as you go, with better words.

Characters listening or speaking?
Once you have the scene finished, read the lines again to make sure the characters are not just speaking because they have to. Sometimes, they might just need to listen and sometimes just nod or express without dialogue. Write these finer nuances in it too to highlight the key dialogues.

Improve dialogue
Similar to writing a story, many a times, the best way to improve dialogue is to cut it. After the draft is complete, let it be for a couple of days; then revisit it and if a piece of information is not important, cut it out. Develop the cut instinct. There might be instances where there is a scene with 10 lines of dialogue, and you cut it to five lines, then the five liner becomes two lines, and yet again the two lines might end up with zero lines.

Tight screen dialogue
Screen dialogue is different from real-life dialogue, which is often uninteresting for an outsider, and contains small talk. Whereas screen dialogue is tight, interesting and engaging while being realistic and authentic. So, keep your dialogue interesting, engaging and tight. If you want your screenplay to click, keep your dialogue interesting, engaging and tight, which comes with effort and a good amount of rewriting.

Include conflict where needed
Include as much drama and conflict as possible as it keeps audiences engaged and makes them wonder what’s going to happen next.

Read every line out loud, and ask yourself whether that line is realistic for that character at that time. See if it could be made any tighter. Make sure every character has a distinct voice, since most scripts have multiple characters. Every scene exists for a reason, so be sure that what you’re doing is writing out the scenes that are integral to telling your story.

Effective dialogue
Effective dialogue is not an exact reproduction of real-life speech but rather a condensed form that cuts out verbiage while retaining the flavor of authentic, natural speech. Good dialogue imitates the natural rhythms of everyday speech; it contains nuances, overtones and original turns of phrase that bring out the individual personalities of characters.

  • Do you need dialogue in every scene?
  • Do characters have to use words to respond to a question?
  • Do characters have to have something to say in response to every comment or situation?

The answer is No!

So what is the Purpose of Dialogue?

  • To reveal character
  • To move the story forward

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Sometimes only dialogue can expose the real motivations and secrets of a character in all their complexity. It’s especially effective when it exposes the character in an entirely new way from what we as an audience expect. We use dialogue to establish relationships.

  • Dialogue reflects feelings and attitudes.
  • There may be subtext. What is really being said?
  • Direct dialogue drives people apart: “You’re always late!” Indirect dialogue draws people together: “I know you had to help your sister before you could come.”
  • Conflict in dialogue can reveal information.
  • Dialogue should move the story forward & serve the plot.

The mood of the story

  • The type of dialogue must be appropriate for the genre of that specific film. Set the tone and style of the story right away. This is especially important in comedy, so that we know that it’s all right to laugh.
  • Good dialogue has a beat, a rhythm, and a melody. It’s affected by time, place, the weather, and so much more. It’s intangible like mist, and it depends on your characters and who they are, their relationships, the situation, and the genre.

Writing Dialogue

  • Sometimes you might to set up the story in the first few words of dialogue.
  • From the start, keep in mind your final end point, and build the dialogue toward the climax.
  • Write less than you think you need. See and hear it as you write. Act it out in character.
  • See who is dominating the scene, shifting dominance and apex.

Every word should have a purpose
Consider:
Chinatown: Jake Gittes is relaying an off – color joke to his male employees. The joke is not important, what is important is Mrs. Mulwray is listening without Jake’s knowledge. The dialogue purpose is to cause an awkward moment and put Jake off-guard.

In Pulp Fiction, Jules gives his opinion of hamburgers. He is not trying to instruct the young men in the apartment about beef patties, he is making it clear that he is the most dangerous, unpredictable and powerful person in the room.

Making dialogue sound natural

  • Use contractions (“don’t”, “shouldn’t”, “can’t”) unless a character is very stuffy or speaking in a very formal context.
  • Let characters break off sentences, or speak in phrases rather than sentences. (You might think of these as verb less sentences, they’re great for dialogue.)
  • Have characters interrupt one another.
  • Use the occasional “um” or “er”, if a character is being particularly hesitant.

Dramatic Dialogue
Find the character’s voice.

  • How your character speaks will bring him or her to life. The dialogue you construct for your characters needs to be specific. Let the dialogue help clarify characters.
  • What area of the world is the character from?
  • Is he foreign? Local?
  • What part of the country is he/she from?
  • Use of colloquial (not formal or literary used on ordinary or familiar conversation) slang can reveal roots of character.

What is the educational level of the character?

  • Big words or small words?
  • Grammar?
  • Syntax?
  • Malapropisms (the mistaken use of words in place of a similar-sounding one. Often with unintentionally amusing effect.)
  • Understanding of the world.
  • Ability to make their point of view.

What is the personality of the character?

  • Violent? Meek? (Quiet, gentle) Timid? (Showing a lack of courage) Insecure? Proud? Egotistical?
  • Finds humor in every situation?
  • Chip on his shoulder?
  • Seduces with every word?

Dialogue is also about attitude. Characters with sunny dispositions may find the silver lining on every storm cloud. Characters who view the world as a dark and menacing place will find words, images and ideas to reflect that.

8 steps to becoming the complete screenwriter

OK so maybe it’s not that easy, but if you follow these 8 steps you’ll be well on your way to creating a script that’s filmable without being flammable.

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