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Introducing A New Site For Aspiring Writers: The Screenplay Show

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by Script Reader Pro in Movie Industry Interviews
July 4, 2016 0 comments
the screenplay show

Have you heard of the Screenplay Show? It’s a brand new screenwriting site aimed specifically at helping aspiring screenwriters by visually explaining the techniques of working writer, director and producer, Rick Ramage. 

We were lucky enough to be granted an exclusive interview with Rick which you can find below, in which he discusses how to get an agent, the best practices for aspiring screenwriters and, of course, his new Screenplay Show. Enjoy!

SRP: Let’s start with the basics — what can we expect from the Screenplay Show?

RK: The Screenplay Show is actually a show about screenwriting for new writers.

To begin with, we will feature ten narrative, visual episodes that will focus on my approach to screenwriting and the methods that I’ve developed and learned from some of Hollywood’s most talented writers, directors, producers and executives over the years.

SRP: Interesting – how did you come up with the idea?

RK: A friend of mine was heading up a writing/acting meet-up group called “Write to Act” and asked me to give a seminar on screenwriting.

I couldn’t imagine doing a day long seminar! I mean, what in the world would I say for six hours? Eventually, I gave in, but only after I decided to use actual film clips for examples so the audience wouldn’t have to stare at me all day.

For instance, I wanted to talk about character arcs, and I wanted the audience to SEE what I was talking about, not just listen to me explain it.

So my editor and I put together a long series of stills from The Shining. Every moment of Jack’s character arc came together in a sequence where you can actually track his descent into madness visually.

Then I put the page numbers from the script beside each expression. The audience literally gasped, because for most of them that was the first time they had actually seen a character arc happen moment by moment.

But what surprised me most about the seminar were all the questions they had about a writers’ experience. They wanted to know what it was really like to be a screenwriter: How does my day go? What’s it like to be in a pitch meeting? What are agents like? How do I address notes? Who guides your career? Are lawyers necessary?

Everybody wanted me to talk about the working lifestyle of a screenwriter, as much as the nuts and bolts.

Over the next year or two, it finally hit me that I should do the seminar as a narrative, where I could combine my experiences in Hollywood (a working writer’s experience) with the nuts and bolts.

SRP: Can you give a little overview about your first episode?

RK: I’m calling the first episode, “Method vs. Madness”. One of the first things I notice – especially when I’m talking to new writers – is that most of them don’t have a method.

Storytelling is problem solving, and until you get comfortable with a method that consistently helps you solve the problems, you’re going to struggle.

I believe the method is physical, as well as mental. I’m a firm believer in developing a routine that will help you get the work done.

Since writers can’t delegate, they need to know how important it is to carve out a specific time to write. If they don’t get into a routine, chances are they will flounder.

I got into my method by something I call “The Rule of 1 Degree” in the show. Basically, it goes something like this: when a plane takes off from LA for Hawaii, if it’s off by just 1 degree, it won’t just miss the runway, it will miss the whole island.

The same metaphor applies to writing – and life! – if you’re just a little off course, you can miss the threshold of opportunity completely.

Even if you’re working a full-time job, you need to find a way to make the adjustments to your schedule that will allow you to focus and get the work done.

I guarantee you one thing: just one quality hour a day will make all the difference.

SRP: Very true. So tell us something about your personal background – where you grew up, where you’re living now, how long have you been working in the industry? etc.

RK: Writing and producing movies and TV has been my only job for the last twenty-five years. I feel very lucky to be able to say that. I’ve pretty much lived in Denver my whole life.

I dropped out of college to go into business with my dad, who owned a tractor dealership. But I wanted to be well-read and well-spoken, so I decided to read one hundred classic novels.

I was always a voracious reader. But after about twenty novels, I began to notice that I was really following the authors and the different way they were telling their stories. I was fascinated by the way they worked the elements. I began to daydream about being a writer.

So I tried to write my first novel. I sent it to someone whose opinion I trusted, and he asked me if I wanted to be a professional, or if this was just going to be a hobby?

I told him I wanted to be a pro – so he said “Good. Then I’m going to treat you like one. And to be honest, your novel isn’t very good.” I was crushed.

But then he said something that changed my life forever: He was kind enough to tell me that he thought I was a good writer – very visual.

He suggested that I write a screenplay. So I turned my bad novel into a bad screenplay, but that lit a fuse in me and I’ve never looked back.

SRP: Those little moments in life can make all the difference. So how did you actually kickstart your screenwriting career?

RK: After I attempted my first screenplay, I decided to apply to film school at The American Film Institute. I had a wife, a little boy, a house and two cars at the time, so giving up the house and one car to attend school full time was a big risk.

People said I was crazy giving up a great paying job, too. But I didn’t care. I threw the dice.

But while film school was a great experience, it didn’t open any doors. The only way a writer can get attention in LA is to write a script that someone want.

I wrote a script called Shakespeare’s Sister and it sold pretty much right out of film school. The script actually got made into a movie. Now it’s called The Proposition and stars Kenneth Branagh, Madeline Stowe and William Hurt.

SRP: If you had to give one piece of advice to an aspiring screenwriter, what would it be?

RK: Hang in there – no really. I know there are better writers out there than me who make screenwriting an art form, but for me it’s a trade. The more you write, the harder you work at it, the better you get.

SRP: The most common question we get asked is “How do I get an agent or manager?” What’s your take on this question?

RK: From an agent or manager’s perspective, I don’t think new writers understand how much time and attention it takes to introduce them to the town.

It’s a major commitment on the part of the agent to build a career. That’s why it’s so difficult to land an agent. I got my first agent because they liked my spec script – period. Once word of my script got out (a reader at a studio gave me great coverage) the agents came looking for me.

I also believe it helped that they could see that I could hold my own in a room – don’t forget, I had a sales background.

In other words, they could see how to SELL my work and me. And that’s the bottom line – your script is your calling card.

That’s why I encourage new writers not to rush the process. Take the time to read your third act as many times as you read the first act. (I say that because many writers don’t really read their third acts enough.)

They write FADE OUT and send it off too quickly.

SRP: That’s some great advice, Rick. How can people stay in contact with you?

RK: We’re encouraging people to go to our landing page at www.thescreenplayshow.com If you sign in, we’ll keep you posted as to our production progress and updates. (And don’t worry, if you sign up, we won’t inundate you with junk!)

SRP: Sounds great. Thanks so much Rick, we look forward to seeing it go live.

the screenplay show

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