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10 Screenwriting Tips from Joss Whedon

Ten Tips from geek filmmaker royalty

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Yeah, that title got your attention didn’t it! Over at Scriptwriting in the UK there’s a nice post with ten detailed tips on screenwriting, by none other than geek-filmmaker darling Joss Whedon. And a damn fine collection of tips indeed. My personal favorite is #5…quoted below:

5. CUT WHAT YOU LOVE
Here’s one trick that I learned early on. If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.

This is something I always find myself contending with, as a shooter who edits a lot of my own coverage. I will find a particular shot or move in the edit, and latch onto it as my favorite. And almost inevitably, that is the one shot that doesn’t work in the context of the whole edit, or it’s the shot that the client either doesn’t want or “doesn’t get.” I’ve learned that you must be willing to Kill Your Babies as I like to say. You must be willing to sacrifice your personal favorite nugget or shot in an edit, for the sake of the broader context and story.

Anyway, I digress. Go read that blog post. It’s an excellent collection of tips and ideas for screenwriters.


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Matt Jeppsen is a working DP with over a decade of experience in commercials, music videos, and documentary films. You can view Matt's cinematography reel and contact info at www.mattjeppsen.com

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