Thursday, May 25, 2006

Writing Screenplay

What Exactly Is a Script?
A script is a document that outlines every aural, visual, behavioral, and lingual element required to tell a story. Why "outlines"? Because film is a highly collaborative medium and the director, cast, editor, and production crew will, based on your "outline", interpret your story their way when it is filmed. They may consult you, or they may not. Other writers may be brought in or you may be asked to re-write the entire thing. That's life, in the world of screenwriting. But because so many people are involved in the making of a film, a script must conform to standards that all involved parties understand and thus has a specific format or layout, margins, notation, and other conventions. This document is intended to overview the typical elements used screenplay writing.

It is crucial to remember that film is a VISUAL medium. You don't tell your audience your story, you SHOW them. You must learn to write a screenplay VISUALLY. Write what they will SEE and what they will HEAR. You might love your characters and know what they are thinking, but the discipline of screenplay writing is how to show it on a screen. When it happens, it may be just done with a look, often improvised on the movie set. So just write the pictures, sounds, and speeches, and leave the rest for the filmmakers.

What Makes Good Story?
Let's hazard a guess. The movies you loved most featured characters that swept you up, who captivated your emotions, got you involved. The audience viewing a movie not only wants to be interested in and care about the people they see on the screen, they want to be PASSIONATE about them, whether they like them or not. Great heroes and heroines inspire us; great villains make us want to jump into the screen!

There is always something at stake in a good movie. Not just something someone wants, something that must be acquired, no matter what the risk, as in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or something highly desired by as many main characters as possible, like the small black statue in The Maltese Falcon. Some times it can be an intangible thing, like the freedom of a people in Lawrence of Arabia or Gandhi. All these things drive the character's quest, even gives the hero superhuman strength. It can be something personal (romance) or for the good of all (saving the world from aliens) but it must be powerful and grow more desperate as the story unfolds.

There are always obstacles, which provide that catchword that actors love so much -- CONFLICT. This is the heart of drama. Someone wants something and people and things keep getting in the way of them achieving the goal. At times, the obstacles can be common to both the hero and villain, and the ultimate goal a laudable one for both parties, as in Jingle All The Way. In that film, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad battle to achieve the same goal--the acquisition of the last popular action figure for sale that Christmas season. Both of them have promised their son, and they must not fail. Conflict and obstacles can be physical or emotional. But they have to be in your story or you don't really have a story. In most good stories, the protagonist will also have an inner obstacle, some mental or even spiritual problem, that will be resolved by the time s/he reaches the outward, physical goal of the story. Some people call this inner demon a "ghost," while others call in a "wound."

You need a hook. That's a songwriting term that describes that thing that catches the public's attention. A popular Hollywood term is a "high concept." A better idea might be a simple "What if?" In Galaxy Quest, for example, the concept is "What if the washed-up actors from the crew of a cancelled but still popular sci-fi TV show are pressed into a real war in space by aliens who think the TV show broadcasts they received were documentaries?" A good enough "what if?" will set your script apart from the pack. It is why people will leave the comfort of their homes and plunk down their hard-earned bucks at the local cineplex.

Hollywood buys genres. Agents, managers, and producers are drawn to and specialize in specific genres so approaching them with something they can recognize is a good idea. Successful stories have a fresh face but are identifiable. You know what makes your idea unique, but can you describe it quickly to others? Is it a fast-paced thriller, romantic comedy, action adventure?

Scripts have to look a certain way. I can't stress this point enough. You must present your work like an insider. The sheer volume of submissions makes it so that if ANYTHING about your script looks strange it's headed for the circular file. If you don't know the game they won't play. The scriptwriter has to adhere to conventions covering everything from how many pages to what font (Courier 12 pitch in the U.S.), and that's just the beginning. I recommend you follow those rules, unless you're independently wealthy and plan to finance, produce, and direct your movie. Even then, however, the people you'll need to work with will be accustomed to standard formats.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Interview with Richard Krevolin
Author of "Screenwriting From The Soul"
By: Christopher Wehner

Richard Krevolin is a playwright, screenwriter, poet, and professor. A graduate of Yale University, Richard went on to earn a Masters Degree in Screenwriting at UCLAs School of Cinema-Television, and a Master's of Professional Writing in Playwriting & Fiction from USC.

Richard, what was the inspiration for your book "Screenwriting from the Soul; Letters to an Aspiring Screenwriter"?

I was doing a lecture at Selling To Hollywood in Glendale two years ago and the woman who introduced me, Paula Munier Lee, happened to work as an editor at Prima Publishing. She told me she loved my lecture and asked if I'd ever considered writing a book. I shrugged, grunted, went home and started writing. I had lecture notes from years of teaching at USC and couldn't figure out how to put them together until I looked at my shelf and saw my favorite writing book, Rilke's "Letter's to A Young Poet". And so I began, and once I started writing the book in letter form, it just poured out of me and was great fun to write. In the end, Prima didn't publish it, but I was fortunate to find an editor, Jim Parish, and a publishing house, Renaissance books, that had the vision to try a different kind of screenwriting book.

Your writing style has a flare of humor, and this is refreshing for screenwriting books, does that reflect your personality?

I guess I'm a frustrated stand-up comedian. Basically, I love comedy and try to infuse all my lectures and classes with a light, jocular air that lends itself to creativity and open exchange of ideas. You see, I've bought practically every screenwriting book and they all have something important to offer, but I think they all take themselves a little too seriously. Writing movies is a pretty whacked-out thing to do for a living and this business is definitely very bizarre, so it was my goal to capture that feeling in my book and also offer something that would read more like a novel with characters. In essence, I didn't want to give my students an excuse not to read it. So, my book tricks them into reading by incorporating a story and then by the end, they realize they may have learned a few things.

Tell us about yourself. Why writing? How did you get to where you are now?

I was born in New Haven, CT and went to Yale where I studied History. My dad is a lawyer in New Haven and he went to Yale and Yale Law School and I was considering following in his footsteps. My senior year, though, I took a playwriting class and I got bit. BIG TIME! I knew I had to try writing as a career and so, I applied to film schools, got in to USC and UCLA and moved out to L.A. I've been here for eleven years now, writing, writing, writing... What is your screenwriting background? I attended UCLA Film school where I worked with some great teachers, Cynthia Whitcomb, Hal Ackerman, Richard Walter, Arnold Margolin, Sterling Silliphant, Edit Villareal, etc. and received an MFA. I also went to USC Master's of Professional Writing Program where I received a degree in Playwriting and Fiction and worked with John Rechy, James Ragan, Hubert Selby, etc. and learned a great deal. I've been writing movies ever since and have had a series of my scripts optioned, but unfortunately, I have yet to see any of them made. I hope this will change soon and my agent at ICM assures me that it will. We'll see. I think the frustration of being a screenwriter but not seeing any of my films on the screen was one of the key factors in the writing of my book.

What challenges you as a writer?

Getting up... Getting to the computer... Not answering email, and writing instead... I've been spending my summer arranging my book tour and not getting as much writing done as I would like and I think this is the greatest challenge we all face. FINDING THE TIME TO WORK! Also, trying not to second-guess myself. It's so tough when everyone is always telling you what to do and you are always trying to please them all.

Why do writers write, I mean if we are near the bottom of the food chain, why is it worth it?

I can't sing...

What advice can you give writers?

My motto is the Three P's. Patience, perseverance, and persistence... Keep writing. And switch genres. If your movie ain't selling, try writing it as a novel or stageplay.

What mistakes do you feel writers make most often?

I think we all submit our work to early and only realize it wasn't ready until it's too late. Also, I think we are also juggling the problem of critiques. In other words, how can we maintain the integrity of the piece while still allowing for growth and story development?

How can your book help the struggling writer?

It is really written for them. I, myself, have been struggling for the past eleven years here in Hollywood and the book emerged out of that struggle. It's a realistic book that still offers hope. Since my movies haven't been made yet, I have had to find a way to justify my existence, to explain what the hell I have been doing for the past 11 years and the book provides the answers. In essence, it proves that the act of writing is significant in and of itself. It shows that even if none of my films ever get made, if I have been open to my growth as an artist, then writing screenplays can help make me a better and happier person. It justifies the act of aspiring...

When should a writer give up? Is there a time when we need to realize that maybe writing is not our cup of tea?

There is nothing more pathetic than that waiter at Johnny Rocket's who is fifty-seven and still trying to make it as an actor after forty years. But, there is also something courageous in this stubborn refusal to take no for an answer. I've always believed that as a teacher my role is to inspire and stimulate growth, not deter. People grow and develop as artists in their own time and it would be presumptuous of anyone to judge what another should do with their lives, especially if that person is getting joy out of their artistic pursuit.

Who are your favorite screenwriters today?

I like Scott Rosenberg's monologues. I love this new small movie out right now called SAFE MEN, that was written and directed by John Hamburg. I've always been a big Preston Sturges fan. I basically love seeing movies where the writer clearly still cares about language.

What makes good screenwriting?

When you can tell the writer cares. When language is still important. When the formulas are all toyed with to the point that unexpected things happen. When audiences are treated like intelligent adults and their emotions are touched. Touch me and I'll care... And in the end, it is a visceral not a cerebral medium, so it is about heart and soul, not mind...

What's next for you?

Well, I have a bunch of screenplays out there, and I'm too superstitious to talk about them, but there are a few things that are definite. My book is coming out in Sept. I will be on book tour in Dallas, OKC, Las Vegas, Austin, San Diego, L.A., NY., Boston, New Haven, Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco this fall. My book is also available through my website At, and anyone can find me there or at Also, I have a new play called "King Levine" which is being directed by Joe Bologna and starring Sammy Shore which is being produced this Winter in L.A. at the Tiffany Theater. And I'm looking forward to teaching at USC this fall.

Thank you for the interview, any closing thoughts?

Thank you and don't forget the three P's. Patience, perseverance and persistence, that is all...


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cara Membaca Efektif

Kemampuan membaca efektif membuat seseorang bisa menghemat waktu belajar. Konon, dari seluruh teks, hanya 20 persen yang benar-benar mengandung informasi yang diperlukan. Sekarang, bagaimana caranya menyaring seluruh teks menjadi 20 persen itu.

1. Kenalilah berapa kecepatan membaca Anda. Untuk membaca dalam bahasa Inggris, 240-360 kata per menit adalah angka rata-rata. Usahakan kecepatan membaca hingga 600-840 kata per menit.
2. Jangan teruskan kebiasaan membaca yang memperlambat seperti bibir yang bergerak, dan suara di kepala yang mengulang apa yang Anda baca. Selain itu, jangan mengulang-ulang membaca kata atau kalimat yang sama karena kurang percaya diri. Ketidakmengertian karena kosa kata yang kurang harus diatasi lebih dahulu. Jangan pula membaca kata per kata, tetapi tangkap informasi secara umum saja.
3. Latihlah mata Anda, sehingga dalam satu penglihatan bisa langsung menyapu enam sampai sepuluh kata.
4. Berlatih dengan menggunakan musik bertempo tinggi. Otomatis, Anda akan membaca secepat tempo musik yang didengar.
5. Coba juga untuk membaca sebuah bab dari belakang ke depan. Alasannya, bagian belakang biasanya berisi kesimpulan. Mengerti kesimpulan akan membantu Anda menangkap hal-hal berarti, ketika Anda membaca seluruh bab.
6. Terus berlatih dan berusaha mencapai kecepatan yang lebih tinggi. (EDN/ Kompas, Minggu 23 April 2004)
Rahasia Negara

Begitu banyak yang harus ditolak. Belum lagi beres masalah RUU APP yang harus ditolak karena mengingkari kontrak bernegara yang berlandasan penghormatan terhadap keberagaman, kini mencuat lagi rancangan undang-undang baru yang sama patutnya untuk dikritisi: RUU Kerahasiaan Negara.

Bagaimana tidak? Rancangan undang-undang yang akan diajukan pemerintah tersebut tak menjelaskan secara terperinci definisi dan batasan rahasia Negara. Lha, jika ini diundangkan, tentu akan rawan untuk disalahgunakan oleh pejabat pemerintah.

Sebagai contoh, dalam proses hukum. Dalam rancangan undang-undang itu pemerintah menginginkan agar proses hukum sepenuhnya tertutup, dari penyelidikan hingga pengadilan. Ini kan sangat rawan penyalahgunaan, sebab masyarakat tak memiliki akses sama sekali untuk mengetahui dan mengontrol sejauh mana proses hukum telah dijalankan dengan benar dan adil. (Tanpa adanya undang-undang kerahasiaan negara saja masyarakat terseok-seok untuk melakukan itu)

Media masa hanya akan boleh memberitakan kasus hukum berdasarkan siaran pers kepolisian dan kejaksaan serta proses persidangan di pengadilan. Tak boleh lagi mereka menyiarkan temuan-temuan di sebalik itu, betapapun temuan itu berguna bagi keadilan.

Bisa kita bayangkan, betapa jumud dan menjemukannya. Masyarakat akan hanya menerima saja apa yang dipaparkan pengadilan tanpa tahu seberapa benar paparan itu. Semua cerita dan fakta adalah rahasia negara. Yang coba menengok dan menguakkannya, berhadapan langsung dengan pintu bui.

Situasi ini jelas akan menjadi kawasan yang nyaman bagi para koruptor. Media tak bisa lagi neranyak membeberkan dokumen-dokumen yang bisa membuka borok-borok mereka. Segamblang apa pun muka dokumen-dokumen tersebut menyiratkan sosok rombeng mereka, wajah mereka akan tetap tampak bersih. Undang-undang menutupi semua aib itu.

Maka, cukup dengan menyewa pengacara yang memiliki keahlian tinggi dalam mengutak-utik pasal untuk mencari celah hukum, mereka akan dengan mudah melenggang keluar dari jeratan hukum. Akan tampak wajah-wajah sumringah para koruptor yang keluar dari ruang persidangan bak pahlawan-pahlawan yang baru saja melewati cobaan hidup yang berat untuk menguji kematangan jiwa mereka...

Batasan yang tak jelas mengenai kerahasiaan negara pun sangat potensial mendorong kesewenang-wenangan para penyelenggara negara untuk memutuskan sesuatu sesuai dengan seleranya. Kontrol publik dalam proses penetapan sebuah keputusan diminimalisir dengan menyembunyikan semua informasi tentang itu dengan dalih rahasia negara.

Masih segar dalam ingatan ketika Menteri Pendidikan Nasional Bambang Soedibyo yang mencak-mencak ketika pers membeberkan rencananya mengubah pendidikan nasional menjadi sistem dua arah – yang khusus dan umum— yang kemudian dikritisi oleh banyak kalangan. Dengan sedikit emosional, ketika itu Bambang Soedibyo menuding mereka yang membeberkan rencana itu ke publik sebagai orang-orang yang membocorkan rahasia negera. Ia bahkan sempat berencana untuk menggugatnya ke pengadilan.

Bagaimana bisa ia mengatakan rencana itu sebagai rahasia negara sementara jelas rencana itu mempunyai keterkaitan erat dengan kepentingan dan kemaslahatan masyarakat?

Jika rancangan undang-undang itu benar-benar diundangkan, maka bersiaplah untuk menikmati informasi seputar selebritis dari yang (maaf) bokongnya ditatto gambar nanas hingga yang berselingkuh dengan paman kakak ipar teman seprofesinya. Saat itu, mungkin semua artis akan berlomba-lomba menjadi pejabat publik. Jadi lurah pun jadi. Sebab informasi seputar sepak terjang dia akan (bisa dipaksakan) dikatagorikan sebagai rahasia negara.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Di Tabloid Baru

Adakah yang harus kusesali atau kusyukuri ketika aku kembali terdampar di belantara kota di mana matahari saban hari sibuk mengintip jemuran dari celah-celah gedung?
Betapa pun aku harus terus melangkah ke muka. Tidak boleh aku pernah berdiam. Waktu tak pernah menunggu..

Kini aku sibuk menakik-nakik kembali kayu-kayu dari gudang masa lalu. Harus segera kubangun rumah istirah dengan hiasan yang patut. Dari situ semua langkah merekah. Dari situ saban hari arah terbelah!

Adakah yang mesti kutangisi atau kupuja-puji jika kini kembali terseret menjadi pewarta yang mengabarkan kebusukan di balik wajah para penyelenggara negara yang tampak bersih dan sumringah…

Ya, aku kini bergabung dengan tabloid "Investigasi" yang mengkhususkan diri menelisik dan mewartakan fakta-fakta dari berbagai kasus korupsi dan penyalahgunaan wewenang.

Terbit dua mingguan, tiap hari senin.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bersiap Sinema Ponsel

Multimedia sudah tak bisa lagi dipsiahkan dengan telepon seluler (ponsel). Mungkinkah menyorong trend baru: sinema ponsel?

Seakan berpacu dengan waktu, teknologi multimedia dalam telepon selular (ponsel) begitu cepat bergulir. Fitur multimedia ditandai dengan keberadaan kamera digital yang tidak hanya dapat merekam gambar diam dengan resolusi 1,3 megapiksel melainkan juga dapat merekam video klip berformat MPEG4 atau 3GPP. Dan, nyaris hanya dalam hitungan pekan saja, kecanggihan fitur multimedia tersebut, khusunya untuk kamera video, pada berbagai merek ponsel berderap maju. Dari hanya mampu merekam sepuluh menit saja, kini beberapa merek dan type ponsel bahkan sudah mampu merekam hingga lebih dari setengah jam. Tidak hanya itu, dalam ponsel pun kini sudah disediakan fasilitas yang lengkap untuk pengeditan, pengemasan dan pengiriman hasilnya ke ponsel lain melalui koneksi bluetooth. Misalnya, selain untuk merekam dengan durasi yang cukup panjang, ponsel dengan merek tertentu memungkinkan penggunanya untuk mengedit langsung rekaman video dengan menggunakan aplikasi Movie Director.

Namun demikian, sejauh ini tetap saja fitur-fitur video recording dan video editing pada ponsel tidak dimanfaatkan secara maksimal. Keluhan yang kerap muncul adalah bahwa semua urusan edit-mengedit video ponsel amatlah rumit. Padahal, selain oleh vendor, kini telah tersedia berbagai kemudahan melakukan proses editing, penyimpanan serta pengiriman hasil rekaman video melalui ponsel. Misalnya, berbagai software converter memungkinkan pengguna untuk melakukan proses ulang-alik dari personal computer (PC) ke ponsel atau sebaliknya. Salah satunya dalah Mobiclip yang memungkinkan beberapa aplikasi multimedia dengan format file seperti .avi (video), .swf (animasi), .mp3 (audio), .wav (audio), .wma (audio), bisa dijalankan pada ponsel. Untuk men-download-nya Anda bisa menuju alamat atau

Software lainnya adalah MP3 Work Shop ( atau, MP3 Director 1.1 , dan masih banyak lagi.
Bagi yang menggunakan kamera ponsel hanya sebagai kesenangan belaka, peningkatan kecanggihan tersebut mungkin bukan sesuatu yang luar biasa. Tapi bagi mereka yang selalu bergairah dengan kreativitas, seperti sineas atau pehobi sinematografi, laju teknologi tersebut adalah rahmat dari sebuah era. Bagi mereka, kemajuan teknologi kamera video ponsel ini tidak saja memungkinkan untuk berasyik masyuk dengan “mainan” baru, tetapi juga sebagai media atau ruang baru untuk berekspresi.

Sebagian sineas telah menggunakan kamera video ponsel untuk keperluan hunting lokasi. Jadi, kamera video ponsel digunakan sebagai back-up perekaman gambar lokasi. Hasil itu kemudian mempermudah sutradara untuk setiap saat dapat melihat kembali lokasi-lokasi syuting yang bakal digunakan. Dengan begitu mereka dapat membayangkan sudut pengambilan gambar atau konsep pengadeganan jauh-jauh hari sebelum syuting dilaksanakan.
Untuk keperluan ini, tentu tak diperlukan fitur pendukung yang rumit. Asal ponsel memiliki kapasitas penyimpanan yang besar sehingga durasi perekaman menjadi panjang, semua urusan sudah beres.

Namun ketika kemudahan dan kemajuan tersebut ditempatkan sebagai sebuah alternatif dalam berkarya, masalahnya menjadi lain. Setiap pergeseran teknologi menyangkut ini, sekalipun hanya semili, akan terasa penting.

Sebetulnya kemungkinan lain apa saja sih yang bisa dilakukan dengan ponsel-ponsel berfitur kamera video dan video streaming itu? Banyak. Salah satunya, sebagai media berlatih yang murah. Hal ini terutama untuk pembuat film independen. Peralatan yang mudah dibawa-bawa dan dengan jumlah yang banyak sangat memungkinkan kita untuk melakukan eksperimentasi-eksperimentasi sinematografi baik dari pendekatan teknis maupun artistik.

Bagi kaum profesional pun, media ini dapat digunakan sebagai sarana untuk merancang sebuah karya. Gambaran-gambaran dasar dari konstruksi film yang bakal dibuat dapat anda dibuat dan ditunjukan dengan bantuan kamera video ponsel. Semacam wahana untuk terus berlatihlah. (Ini jika anda percaya bahwa skil penyutradaraan akan semakin tinggi dengan latihan sebanyak-banyaknya, seperti yang dilakukan atlet sepak bola, musisi, penari, dan lain sebagainya).

Atau, jika tidak untuk berlatih, dengan ukurannya yang kecil dan bisa dibawa kemana-mana, kamera ponsel memudahkan anda membuat maupun mempresentasikan gagasan karya. Tanpa harus menyiapkan budget khusus yang besar, anda dapat membuat dan menunjukkan semacam dummy kepada pihak-pihak yang berkepentingan.
Mungkin hal di atas terasa mengada-ada. Namun jika suatu saat para vendor melirik tayangan video sebagai penambah daya tarik ponsel, sebagaimana lagu atau games, maka paparan di atas akan menjadi masuk akal.

Rasanya, sudah saatnya para sineas berpikir tentang penyediaan materi tayangan-tayangan video berdurasi pendek yang menarik untuk ponsel. Tayangan-tayangan yang dapat dinikmati dengan segala merek dan jenis ponsel, serta dapat di-download dan diputar dengan mudah. Juga, klip-klip yang memungkinkan untuk diedit sendiri oleh pengguna menjadi sebuah tayangan baru. Melihat beberapa klip dan potongan-potongan film yang saat ini sudah tersimpan di banyak ponsel, rasanya hal di atas tak lama lagi bakal menjadi tren dan kebutuhan massal. Kemudian tinggal dipikirkan, apakah tayangan untuk ponsel akan dibuat secara khusus, atau didaur ulang dari karya-karya sinema yang diperuntukkan bagi bioskop/televisi. Jadi, mari berimajinasi tentang sinema ponsel.