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So, how does a screenplay become a film?

On Monday 18 September I started an eight week course, From Story to Screen, at Met Film School which is based at Ealing Studios in London. The last two weeks have been an absolute blast!

As a relatively new screenwriter, I wanted to get a better understanding of the film world and what it takes to get from screenplay to completed film.

I chose this course because it will give me a good understanding of key filmmaking disciplines such as camera operating, editing, directing, producing and screenwriting. Probably what attracted me most to this course was the fact that it is very hands on, taught by industry professionals and all the learning is immediately put into practice.

I've already written and filmed my first short, and over the course of the next six weeks will have written,

directed and filmed no less than five short projects.

So, what have I learned so far?

My first short (very short at just 1 min 20 secs) taught me that just one minute's screen time takes a long time to produce. Our challenge was to tell a story in just 5 shots. Sounds simple, doesn't it? I had lots of ideas but as soon as I began to think about the practicalities of actually filming them, many proved to be either impractical (filming underwater), too expensive (crowd scenes) or too time consuming (filming clouds for hours on end to get a few seconds of time lapse). In the end I decided to go with an abstract story on the theme of life and death. As this was a film without dialogue I was able to skip scripting and go straight to storyboard, sketching out five shots which would somehow represent the circle of birth to death to birth again.

That was the easy part. The question now, was how I was going to make these sketches come to life as a film. I had to consider location, what props I would need, how would I frame the shots, what camera angle would work best, lighting, sound, movement, rhythm…

Actual filming took less than an hour. Editing on the other hand took several hours. So many options for where to cut, how to sequence, playing with colour and effects, adding music and sounds.

In all, I guess it took at least six or seven hours to produce just under one and a half minutes of film! But what a wonderful way to spend time.

If you'd like to see the results of this first exercise you can see 'Life' here

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