The Industry

Getting Started as a Screenwriter

ScreenplayMatt Greenhalgh may not be a household name but he has written the screenplays for some highly acclaimed and successful films. Like Control (2007), about the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, or Nowhere Boy (2009), which chronicles the early life of John Lennon.

Matt Greenhalgh’s current project is Move On, a spy thriller/road movie produced by Deutsche Telekom. Move On is directed by Asger Leth (Man on a Ledge) and stars fellow Dane Mads Mikkelsen, who went up against James Bond in Casino Royale. Greenhalgh started by writing for a Manchester magazine called City Life. After earning a degree at Warrington Collegiate Institute he met someone working on the long-running British soap opera Hollyoaks. Matt got a job on the show and eventually started working on the scripts, gaining insight into what makes them work. The next step was trying to write his own screenplays. If you think that you could go the way of Matt Greenhalgh, here are a few tips on how to get started.

Watch more movies
And then watch them again. And again. Even the crap ones. Yes, that is actually part of becoming a screenwriter. You will be able to tell what works and what doesn’t, where the dialogue feels natural and where it’s forced.

Read screenplays
Start to read as many screenplays as you can find, for instance online. This will help you learn how screenplays are typically constructed, how characters are fleshed out, how conflicts are introduced and what rules you must follow when it comes to direction.

Read books about screenwriting
There are tons of books about how to become a screenwriter. Try reading as many of them as you can, be it “how to”-guides or works by famous writers. It will help you pick up on what makes a successful screenplay.

Get a screenwriting software
Screenplays are supposed to follow certain formats. If you don’t adhere to those rules, nobody will even take a look at what you’ve written. Screenwriting software helps you format your work properly.

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