Each screenwriter must find a process that works for them.
We all know that writing a screenplay is incredibly difficult. Although it gets easier as you go along, each story is a new battle. When I sit down to write, I hunt treatmentsbeat the leaves and broad outlines before opening my scripting software to approach the story. Turns out the Russo brothers are the same.
They are the spirits behind Avengers: Infinity War and End of Game, among other titles. They came from the world of television, where they worked on shows like Development stopped and Community. Through it all, they honed their storytelling skills. They’ve worked with some fantastic writers over the years and even started working on some of the writing themselves. Recently they sat down with Yahoo to talk about their process.
The Russos often work with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. They reunited at Marvel and are now working on The gray man for Netflix. Together they have a shared process.
Joe Russo says:
“We took what we call “the play” on TV and turned it into a working process with four people collaborating in a play for a decade: Anth, me, Markus and McFeely. We’ve established a very specific and disciplined picture of how we do it. And we use this process for our large IP films. We start with a three-page document that can take weeks or months to create. Basically, the first page is Act 1, the second page is Act 2, and the third page is Act 3. You need to agree as a group what this story is before you lose your time turning it into a much larger document that is harder to read. collapse, and it could go off the rails in a way that could set the project back several months or even a year or more. Once we’ve done that three-page page, we go to a 10-page page where we start injecting characters and themes, and we do sample dialogue. And then from there, it’s very easy to write a script. You work in a more malleable format for a longer period of time before you commit to building the house instead of building the house and realizing you don’t have doors on it.”
It was a really interesting look at the process of some of the most successful screenwriters and directors of all time. I love that so much time is spent on an airtight document. This makes the actual writing easier.
If you have a strict and precise plan, you won’t be stuck with what to write next. I also like the idea of a construction document. Going from 3 to 10 pages is good. It takes the stress out of the idea at the start and lets you flow. Then as you build you can untangle things, but the center of the idea will still be there for you to build.
Let me know what you think in the comments.