I'm a big fan of teacher/script consultant Pilar Alessandra and her weekly podcast ON THE PAGE. She sends periodic email updates, and I liked her Mother's Day commentary. I figured it would be okay to re-post as long as I mentioned her website (onthepage.tv) a few times.
"Don't talk with your mouth full."
"Stop hitting your sister"
"Because I said so."
We've heard mom's advice throughout our childhoods. For the most part, we've written it off. What does she know anyway? Well, when it comes to screenwriting and the film industry... everything.
"TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING ISN'T GOOD FOR YOU."
Your dialogue snaps. But, you lean on it. Your scene direction is gorgeous. But, you're writing so much of it, your script feels like a book. You used flashback to make your script more visual. But, you also used voice over and dream sequences. Your mom knew that "less is more." Take her advice and edit!
"I BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD AND I CAN TAKE YOU OUT!"
You made that plot point up. If it isn't working for you, you can delete it. You gave that character that monologue. It doesn't really have to be there. And what's with all the back-story? Is it relevant? That's right: kill those precious darlings. Clearly your own mom once thought about doing that to you.
"IF YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING NICE, DON'T SAY IT AT ALL."
This is great advice to remember when you're on the phone with an agent's assistant, waiting in line at a pitch-fest or giving feedback in a writing group. The person you insult today could easily be the studio-head of tomorrow.
"SIT UP STRAIGHT. DON'T FIDGET. ACT LIKE A HUMAN BEING."
Your script sold and you're taking a meeting? This is where that mom advice really comes in handy. If you look uncomfortable or bored, you'll make them uncomfortable and bored. Smile big. Shake hands firmly. Tell them a great story. Then "put your listening ears on" and take their notes.
"DON'T RUN WITH SCISSORS!"
This has nothing to do with screenwriting at all. It's just good advice. I mean, why would you do that? You could put an eye out!
Pilar Alessandra will be offering more advice and screenwriting tips at the Great American Pitchfest in her Character/Dialogue Intensive June 13. Great American Pitchfest
And one more time: onthepage.tv