Role of a Screenwriter in Film Making

To take either a pre-written story, or even a native story idea, and translate it into an effective screenplay is the primary role of a Screenwriter in the Film industry. Having said that, there is much more to this process than meets the eye. It is not as straightforward as writing a normal story, for the simple reason that the communication is audio-visual, and not literary.

There are some very important aspects that need to be carefully observed. Some of these aspects may be generic to good story-writing such as character development, believable characters, story and engaging plot points, regardless of the story-telling medium.

But besides these elements, there are aspects specific to Film medium that need to be kept in mind. Things such as minimal dialogues, visually communicating a certain emotion, a sound sense of the visual medium itself, are vital elements in the screenwriter’s repertoire.

And therefore, a Screenwriter’s role in the overall Film-making process is absolutely vital. Because it is in the screenplay that the Film is first born. And once the screenplay is ready, it is the single most important document that forms the basis on which everyone else (the Director, Actors etc.) builds the Film.

This extremely sensitive and complex function can only be executed by someone who is creative, has a complete understanding of the Film-making process and whose sense of aesthetic is firmly placed in the visual medium. It is a discipline that can be self-taught. But it could take years before one learns the skill set effectively and gets a real opportunity to write a screenplay that is Produced and made into a Film. In essence, how to plant a story from the germ of an idea, or a piece of news, to capture the audience in a total way is a skill that can be learnt from mentors, and practice sessions.

The best solution to all aspiring Film writers is to train themselves thoroughly in the best manner possible. India too has a world-class Film school where creative young minds, who have a burning desire to make it in Films, can learn & receive a superb education. Digital Academy – The Film School is the ideal place to take a Screenwriter’s program and hone one’s writing skills. Not only will there be an opportunity to learn all the nuances of effective Film-writing from leading industry writers, but also a chance of subsequently working in the industry and making Films on the stories you write.

Script is the first part of your Films’ success and by enrolling for a program at DA and see where the world of writing can really take you.

Passion, To Dream Bigger

Don’t let anything stand in your way, be the first”; words that may not sound very inspired, but they come from a real life hero, Jeff Arch, the critically acclaimed screenplay writer of the 1993 Oscar nominated hit ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. And these words rang true in Jeff’s own life, and his relentless struggle in recognizing his passion for writing.

Jeff Arch had struggled with writing in his early years. He had written many screenplays. They would take him, on occasion, up to three whole years to finish, and never ended up being considered for production. Disillusioned, Jeff set up a karate school. But while his life as a martial arts school owner seemed on course commercially, within him, the passionate beast of writing lurked.

Perhaps under the guidance of his mentor, Hollywood cameraman Conrad Hall, Jeff decided that he could no longer ignore his Screenwriting passion; but he had to give up everything else and focus singularly on writing. Make a firm and unshakable commitment. He surrendered his karate school, and inspired by an infomercial that he credits for breaking his ‘mental crunch’ when it said, ‘You’ve got to think bigger than you ever thought you could think’; Jeff ordered a series of instructional tapes on writing. And unlike his earlier attempts, this time he sat dedicated, listened, learned, and began writing in earnest.

The result? A Cold War script that was well thought out, but not commercially viable. The kind of ‘setback’ that would earlier have dissuaded him; this time only served to fuel Jeff’s fire further. And he persevered with an unquenchable thirst until his passion finally gave the world, the much sought after ‘Sleepless In Seattle’. He was nominated for an Oscar as well as several other prestigious Screenplay category awards, and the Film has become an iconic landmark in popular culture.

Despite Jeff Arch’s success; it is undeniable that it came to him rather late in life. Why? Perhaps because he did not act strongly enough on his passion, as early in his life, as he could have. But today, passionate young people striving to be Writers and Film-makers have a tremendous opportunity to really fast-track their dreams. By attending a Film academy and receiving a formal education in the medium; young creative minds can skip the unsavory aspect of Films, the lingering doubt, the constant struggle. Because being armed with a comprehensive Film education, you are already prepared. All you then have to do is, work. You don’t have to go through several years writing or trying to Direct without full knowledge, and neither do you have to be self-taught. A good Film academy can give you all that & more, in a controlled, professional, and time-restricted manner; so that you emerge a confident, aware individual, who is ready to take on the Film world.

It’s now or never. Don’t let your passion stagnate. Let a great Film education be the fuel to your Film passion!

Shine Bright in Tinsel Town

Just like there is no sureshot formula to making a box-office hit, there is none real formula to making it big in the film industry. The path can be, and usually is, unclear, difficult, competitive and unpredictable. At the same time, there are plenty of opportunities, and a place for many. If you have talent and the sheer grit to stick out, stardom may just be yours. Here are a few tips to steer your spectacular journey to tinsel town:


Have clear goals: Decide right at the start what is it that you want. Whether your aim is to direct, to act, to choreograph, to edit, or to script. It takes time to understand the workings of the industry, and hence, it’s best to identify what you want to do, and start early.

Create a niche: Once you decide where your passion lies, move ahead and decide the genre of filmmaking that you would like to be associated with. Some actors or directors make comedy films, while others action, and still others, documentaries.

Build a portfolio: No matter what resources or opportunities are available, start doing what you love, and keep building on it. If you like to act, do college plays, theatre, even home videos. If you wish to direct films, use any camera available, and start filming.

Participate in film festivals/film groups: Every city has film clubs that watch movies and discuss them. And if you are adventurous enough, you can also participate and screen your films in regional, national, or international film festivals.

Take care of all audiences: It is essential as an artist to not get slotted in one kind of role/films. You should not do only low budget films, or stick solely to big budget films. You must strive for a combination, so that you can reach out to all audiences.

Network with people from the trade: Business is about networking – go out there, actively talk to people about yourself and your work. Approach all your ‘filmy’ contacts, and see if anyone can help you in your rise to the top.

  1. Improve your skills: Take up a course for the skills that need working, whether acting, speech delivery, writing, editing, dance, etc. Many film schools and academies offer these courses.
  2. Assist a good director: While you are still waiting for your big break, it is a good idea to get some work experience interning with a good production house, or under a good director.
  3. Watch, read, absorb: Watch as many movies as you can spanning genres and nationalities. Read film trade magazines, and follow industry trends. Moreover, keep absorbing the life around you, as films are nothing but an interpretation of life.
  4. Embrace the media: The media is both a friend and a foe to the film industry, but the sooner you accept and embrace it, the sooner it’ll become your strength. Woo the media, and half your battle to stardom is won.

Saurabh Shukla speaks to students of Mumbai University

Speaking on the topic of ” Careers in Cinema “, Mr Shukla said that to be a Film Maker, one should obviously know the art of Direction but should acquire knowledge of all aspects of Cinema or at least have the working knowledge in areas of Cinematography, Writing, Editing, Acting and Production Design. He recalled his own days as a student in Delhi when he was studying for his M.Com when he was trying to be a ” Nobody ” He said that that was the time when he sensed a certain calling towards theatre and dramatics.He said that he was never formally educated in anything that is part of his profession.Those days, he said, when I look back, I worked very very hard but it was not work….everything that I did gave me a lot of joy…Every morning , after waking up, I felt the eagerness to go to the theatre for rehearsals, I read and analysed a lot of literature..and tried to analyse great works to the best of my ability….but had I been formally trained, I would have gone further and at a much quicker pace.Mr Shukla said ” The greatest thing that formal education gives you is a way, a much richer scientific and methodical path. I never had an opportunity that you people are getting now.

He said that the if a person is talented and works sincerely, he is bound to be successful in the world of Film and television which could not only pay very well, but also give enormous satisfaction and recognition. As a parting note, he said that in the journey that the students were about embark upon, he suggested to make the best use of all that they will get and wished the students all the very best .

Filmmaker of ” Harishchandrachi factory ” (The Factory of Harishchandra) visits Digital Academy – The Film School


<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

Paresh Mokashi , Writer, Director of the Marathi film ” Harishchandrachi factory ” or ” The factory of Harishchandra’, India’s entry to the Oscars, while on a visit to Digital Academy – The Film School, surprised the students when he said that he had never assisted any Film maker before he started making this film and also revealed that the first time that he ever visited a Film set was for this debut film of his. He had been part of Marathi theatre for a long time as an actor, writer and Director . He said that the greatest two qualities that any Film Maker should have apart from the know how of the technique of Film Making is clarity of mind and stubbornness. He said that most of what he learnt about Film making was by seeing films, many made by the masters of Cinema. He said that he did spend a lot time watching the treasures of world cinema in the National Film Archives in Pune and it is by watching these films that he enhanced his visual sense and knowledge. He said that this is what helped him have clarity of mind as to what he wanted the film to look like and this was most of the battle won. If a Director is confused, then the crew will take over the decision making and ultimately the look of the film will reflect that. Once a director knows what he wants, stubbornness helps in sticking to his decisions.


Speaking about the film’s journey, he said that patience is a necessary quality in this business. He said the the budget of this period film was about 3.5 crores , an unusually high figure for an Indian regional film whose recovery in the box office is very difficult. He said the when he selected his crew, all of them ie the cinematographer, costume designer etc had never done a single film independently before.After the wait for finance of almost three years, he was the only person in the crew who was making his debut…all of the other technicians were experienced by a few films…


Paresh then spoke about research he had to do for a period subject such as this. The film concentrates about a period in the life of Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, when he made his first film ” Raja ( King) Harishhandra”. The entire story deliberately was chosen not to be a biographic but about the time when Phalke was Directing and producing his first film. It was also given a humorous touch because Mr Phalke, according to many sources did have a good sense of humor. Research was an exciting part of the process because not only the city and costumes looked different, also the sound of the rickshaws operating then had to be sourced and or produced to get as close as possible to the original.

Speaking on the Oscars, he said that I am not surprised the my film did not make it to the final list of the Oscars as the final five were much better than my own film.He was happy to inform that the next film revolves around an archaeological treasure hunt and is linked to the journey of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata .

The students were very enlightened by the visit of Mr Mokashi and after being given a tour of the Film School, Mr Mokashi was delighted with the facilities of the school, its vision and objectives of creating visionary Film makers of tomorrow.

Dale Bhagwagar, renowned Bollywood publicist and PR, holds a guest lecture, at Digital Academy – The Film School

Dale Bhagwagar began his journey as a journalist twenty-three years ago, when he was just 14 years old. He contributed articles, poems to local newspapers and magazines in his hometown, Nagpur. Six years later, he joined a local newspaper as a trainee Sub-Editor and Reporter. After completing his graduation in English Literature he moved to Mumbai and was soon hired as the Chief Sub-Editor cum Reporter for the Bollywood gossip magazine “Cine Blitz”, which dealt with yellow journalism. That was the turning point in his life where he learnt the trick and trade of manipulating “Star images”. He is instrumental in shaping the careers of many celebrities. He has handled the PR for the likes of Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty, Priyanka Chopra, Esha Deol, Shiney Ahuja, Randeep Hooda and Vivek Oberoi, among 50 others.
 
 
He informed the students that the transition phase from the learning world as students to the real world as filmmakers in the “Big Bad Bollywood” would involve lot of effort, patience and an ability to adapt to situations and people. Commenting on this, he said, “When you are in the real world, when you are going to get out in the so called big bad Bollywood, the first thing one needs to do is unlearn certain things you learnt in schools and colleges. Schools and colleges teach you the basics but people work according to their experiences along with their team and it is very important to adapt to that team, their culture and their style of working”
 
He strongly believes that media has an upper hand in creating a perception in the minds of people and that is exactly when a publicist steps in. Elaborating on this, he said, “Publicists need to spin a very strong web of protection otherwise the media goes ahead to massacre brands and images the way it likes. That is why a publicist needs to be very firm and cautious while handling the Media sensibilities.
 
Throughout the session he emphasized on the line “We are living in a world where perception is reality” and that is exactly what PR does, it creates a perception in the minds of people propelling the image of a celebrity from downright negative to acceptable. His suggestions to the students about the benefits of PR and Media were, “Understand how the media functions, because ultimately you all are going to be made by your talent and then by media. How much ever talented a person is, if not projected properly, the career may not take that pace, and it could have taken”. 
 
Talking further on PR skills, he said, “Good news is Good, but Bad news is even better…. Ugly publicity is the best as it travels faster and hits the hardest… The worst of all is no publicity, as you need to generate the buzz because without which it becomes difficult to grow faster in today’s world. You will grow with your talent but with a PR marketing mind, luck comes faster”.
 
His advice to the beginners was to change their mindsets about the way he or she thinks of PR. It’s very important to project yourself the way you want others to perceive you.
 
Mr. Bhagwagar also advised the students to have dreams and then create roads to reach for those dreams. He said that you must be sure of your goals and then set a basic pattern and time frame to achieve those goals and carve a niche in the field you are interested in. He cited that “You have to stick to your roots, think of the sky and grow”. He also said that PR is just 10%, the remaining 90% is the talent you possess, you should be better filmmakers and the rest follows.
 
In his parting lines to the students, he said that “Start thinking of yourselves as brands. Subtle branding plays a huge role in the anticipation of your films. Though talent is what really matters, good support in PR skills takes any budding filmmaker to higher levels of success.
 
 
For more information contact:
Tel. no.: +91-22-28257009/+91-22-28257008

Guest Lecture by leading Filmmaker, Mr. Mohit Suri at Digital Academy – The Film School, Mumbai

Mohit Suri is an Indian Film Director, mostly known for his films, like Kalyug (2005) and Awarapan (2007). His uncle is Producer/Director Mahesh Bhatt and his cousin is Actor Emraan Hashmi who has starred in three of his films. He started his career as an Assistant Director, and made his debut as a Director with the film Zeher.
 
It was followed by Kalyug, which is his biggest success so far, was both a critical and commercial success. His third film Woh Lamhe (2006) was critically acclaimed overall. His next film Awarapan (2007) was both critically and commercially appreciated.
Mohit’s latest film Raaz – The Mystery Continues (2009) was a Box Office Hit. His next film, Crook – Its good to be bad starring Emraan Hashmi again is set to be released shortly.
 
Mr. Suri commenced the lecture with a discussion about being successful Filmmakers; to which he said that there are no such formulas for being successful, nobody is aware about it. There are certain things that can lead you towards the path of being prominent Filmmakers but no guidelines as such has been laid down for anyone to follow. Make your own guidelines with a flexible outlook.
 
 
Elaborating on this, he said, being innovative in this industry is essential but by being innovative does not mean you need to be outlandish, it does not mean presenting the audience with something that they don’t comprehend. Innovation involves being relevant and enterprising. Usually it’s about rediscovering the old truth, which has been in oblivion for a long time, which goes beyond your regular showreel.
 
 
As a Filmmaker you have to constantly read and keep yourself updated about all the latest events taking place in the world. True education starts once you get out of the institute and start living with people, sharing the same passion for filmmaking. Research is involved with every Film and a Filmmaker is expected to be well versed with the subject his Film is based upon and then present it to the audience. Commenting more on this, he said, “Education does not end here, if you don’t read, don’t write constantly or be alive and see around, you would not be able to make good films”.
 
 
He acknowledged that direction is about your own sensibilities; it’s more about your feelings. The basic idea should be yours, the day you confirm to someone else’s sensibility you will fail and even if you succeed with that, you might not last very long. Being a Film Director changes you lot as a person from within. It’s vital to invest your emotions and feelings in your Films.
 
Another thing about Filmmaking is to collate as much experience as you can; it is crucial to have hands on experience to gain eloquence and be better Filmmakers with each Film. Speaking further on this, he added, “There are no set rules to be a Filmmaker, you learn by being there…just make films”. Sometimes even experience acts as your biggest rival. The more the experience, the tougher it gets, your upcoming or current work will always be judged by your previous work. The more successful you get, you tend to invariably repeat yourself thinking it will work but it does not. Being a Filmmaker is not just about telling story, it’s beyond that”
 
Mr. Suri further said that direction is not about technical skills alone, it’s about your feelings. Mere short taking is not the basis of a good Director. A Director should know to pen down his views. His suggestion to the students was to write for an hour about anything that comes to their mind. Talking on this, he said, “Best Directors are Writers. When you pen something down it’s inertia in the beginning but eventually you would enjoy it. You are halfway through to be a good Director”
 
 
In his parting lines to the students, he said, “Failure is inevitable but what counts is how quickly you get up and figure out what went wrong and start working on it. Don’t get intimidated by anyone, remember there is no such thing as a wrong shot”.
 
 
 
For more information contact:
Tel. no.: +91-22-28257009/+91-22-28257008
%d bloggers like this: