From Novel to Screenplay

Edinburgh writer Martin Hopkins adapted his début novel, ‘Cracks in the Pavement,’ into a full-length feature screenplay and is in the process of finding a production company to help him turn it into a film. Here are some of his top tips on how first time filmmakers can take their pen from paper to the big screen:

Final Draft is a great screenwriting package that many filmmakers use to write screenplays. It’s a huge help when it comes to formatting the script and a good place to start when turning a novel into a screenplay.

Attend as many networking meetings and events as you can. During my time at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2012 I attended various networking meetings with both the BFI and Film4 and presented at the ‘Pitch Your First Feature’ event. My screenplay reached the second round of consideration at the BFI’s script development department and Film4 gave me some positive feedback, commenting on the realistic ‘Scottish brogue’ dialogue, the multi-layered character development and exposing the dark underbelly of Edinburgh. Although neither company picked up the screenplay, I received valuable advice, good comments and an impressive set of contacts.

Send your film to production companies, some charge a reading fee of around £50, but it’s money well spent if you get financing for your film!

Have you thought about crowd funding? Many first time filmmakers have to rely on funding their film themselves but crowd funding projects like ‘Kickstarter’ are an option that have supported many new and brilliant films.

The 48 Hour Film Project is a fantastic way to test your film making abilities on a tight deadline. Check out their website for their next event in Edinburgh and sign up. If you can do it all in two days, imagine what you can achieve in 6 months!

Writers, if you have an idea you can see working in a stylistic and visual feast for the eyes type way, start working on your short film script. You never know, by summer 2014 you may see your work up on the big screen, competing for the top spot!

Martin Hopkins

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