Screenwriting Quotes

Screenwriting Quotes by Diablo Cody, David Ives, Francis Ford Coppola, Roger Ebert, Leigh Whannell, Ridley Scott and many others.

I’ve always been a writer, I’ve always been a storyteller, but I never thought about screenwriting.
I’ve taught both screenwriting and playwriting, and playwriting is both much harder and much more rewarding. One can teach people how to tell a story in cinematic ways, but theater is a much more elusive craft.
I have always credited the writer of the original material above the title: Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, or John Grisham’s The Rainmaker. I felt that I didn’t have the right to Francis Coppola’s anything unless I had written the story and the screenplay.
The screenplay is so well-written in a scruffy, fanzine way that you want to rub noses in it – the noses of those zombie writers who take ‘screenwriting’ classes that teach them the formulas for ‘hit films.’
Usually with me, the ideas I have for movies just sort of pop into my head. I’ve read a bunch of screenwriting books over the years and, to be honest, they’re mostly pretty crappy.
You can’t fix a bad script after you start shooting. The problems on the page only get bigger as they move to the big screen.
The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
I would love to see more women directors because they represent half of the population and gave birth to the whole world. Without them the rest [of the world] are not getting to know the whole story.
Screenwriting is still a challenge for me. It’s more technical than creative. You have to be a very good journeyman plumber and put the proper parts together. Then, if you can still inject a little bit of something worthwhile, you have done as much as can be expected.
I definitely divide my life into decades. Almost every ten years, something in my work life has changed. My twenties were my journalistic phase, then there was my screenwriting phase, then I became a director, then I started doing some plays.
I just always remember myself as the teenager with questions about movies and screenwriting. I would hope that there was somebody out there who would answer those questions, and so, if I can take a few minutes to do it, I will. It’s not threatening for us. We’re not being stalked, so it’s easier.
The movies are fun, but I’m a novelist. In many ways, screenwriting is much easier than writing novels. I find screenplays twenty times easier to write than a novel.
Screenwriting you don’t necessarily have to do the job of the costume designer and the prop master and the set designer. It’s more just about finding the visuals and finding these characters through dialogue.
I often attribute my screenwriting to journalism because they drill in the who, what, when, where and why – but we really need to land on that why. That’s what I’ve been exploring in my writing for many years and trying to get better at.
Novelists who get shitty about screenwriting invariably can’t do it, or they can’t hack it in the world of what’s really, in truth, very bold and very public enterprise.
Scripts are what matter. If you get the foundations right and then you get the right ingredients on top, you stand a shot… but if you get those foundations wrong, then you absolutely don’t stand a shot. It’s very rare-almost never-that a good film gets made from a bad screenplay.
Tim Bevan
It’s very important for an audience to know where they are and why they are there in a musical. It allows them to relax and follow this form that operates in shorthand. So the economy of the form, in many respects, is why a lot of screenwriting is so sleek. Because the visuals are where the explosions happen.
I’ve been doing a bit of screenwriting and producing, and even a bit of directing.
As much as I really like the screenwriting thing, the novel is where the author has so much control.
I don’t mind doing scripted material. It’s actually kind of a relief, because improvising is a little bit like screenwriting on your feet.
I became a script writer with absolutely no idea of how to write a script whatsoever. I still feel a bit of an outsider in that regard. If I can maintain that approach to screenwriting, it can continue to be enjoyable.
I definitely have the screenwriting itch.
Screenwriting is a much more collaborative effort. When you write a novel, it’s just you, with input from your editor.
I was a screenwriting and studio art major in college, so even though I don’t have any training as a floral designer, I have a very particular visual aesthetic.
Screenwriting is definitely the majority of my time, but I do still act when stuff comes up. I do a few jobs a year.People ask me that all the time about written something for yourself to star in, and it’s strange. I just approach it as two separate careers.
There are three things that are important for a film. Number one is story, number two is story, number three is story. Good actors can save a bad script and make it bearable, but good actors can’t make a bad script good – they can just make it bearable.
Mark Strickson
You sell a screenplay like you sell a car. If someone drives it off a cliff, that’s it.
For me, screenwriting is all about setting characters in motion and as a writer just chasing them. They should tell you what they’ll do in any scene you put them in.
Writing a whole series was a crash course in screenwriting, which is a very different muscle to standup comedy writing.
There’s nothing more important in making movies than the screenplay.
It’s possible for me to make a bad movie out of a good script, but I can’t make a good movie from a bad script.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
I studied writing at university, and I actually majored in screenwriting. Then I went to work as a bookseller and then as a sales rep and publicist and then various editorial jobs until I ended up with HarperCollins in Australia.
My screenwriting credits in my career are probably not dissimilar to some other ones in the sense that a lot of the scripts you write don’t get made, and the ones that do get made are certainly – as a writer, they’re not your vision.
I’ve been a novelist since 1995 and have had novels in and out of option, and watching that process just made me realize that I have to live by what I teach my students, because I teach screenwriting at Spellman.
When I first began writing, it was not in screenwriting but in poetry. That form was so evocative, all about the image and the emotion captured in a Polaroid-like smattering of words.
If you put someone in a room with no script to direct, they’re just going to sit there. Writing scripts is the execution for a show. Then the director takes that and hires people. It’s like trying to build a house without any bricks.
The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.
I think screenwriting gave me more of an affinity for plot – my first novel, ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,’ doesn’t have a very sophisticated roadmap. But screenwriting required me to learn a higher level of plottiness, and I tried to bring that to ‘The Haters.’
I was always writing stories, even as a kid. I always wanted to be in the plays and do that sort of thing. Screenwriting started to really appeal to me because the idea of being able to make things that many people got to see became very captivating.
Katie Wech
I’m generally somebody who hopes for the best. It’s not what one ought to do in my line of work [screenwriting], but it is what I do.
Songwriting and screenwriting aren’t that different to me.
Fiction and screenwriting blend for me. I feel like being a TV writer/screenwriter has definitely made my fiction writing better, although I have less time to do it.
Screenwriting is always about what people say or do, whereas good writing is about a thought process or an abstract image or an internal monologue, none of which works on screen.
I wrote the screenplay for ‘Water Lilieswhile I was studying screenwriting at La Femis film school in Paris, and the director Xavier Beauvois, who was on the graduation committee, told me I had to make the film myself.
Working at Pixar has been like my graduate school for screenwriting.
I have a feeling the writers who find screenwriting difficult are usually just not lazy enough for the job. They don’t know how to stop before the task is done. I’ve always had a knack for leaving things unfinished, which makes screenwriting easier for me than most.
Some of our best writers are self taught. Screenwriting is a combo of craft and art. The craft part can be taught, about how to be visual and economical with scenes. However, finally it’s the individuality of the writer that will come into play.
It’s kind of liberating to be able to bring your own ideas to things, but it’s also a lot of pressure, it’s like screenwriting on your feet.
Screenwriting is about condensing.
I thought The Big Short deserved a nomination because Adam MacKay is one of the best filmmakers. A lot of what he does deals in comedy and he co-produces with Will Farrell, people don’t really give it the credit that it deserves. I think that they actually do great screenwriting and they make great films, very entertaining.
I majored in screenwriting and playwriting in school – and wanted to make films as a career. But when I directed my first short in college – which was called ‘Extras‘ – I lost thousands of dollars and made an unsatisfying and incomplete film.
I’ve often said, not totally jokingly, that screenwriting doesn’t really qualify as real writing at all. You don’t string sentences into paragraphs. You don’t maintain a constant breath, or create internal rhythms, or even develop a fully-formed thought. The camera does all that work for you!
Cheat your landlord if you can — and must — but do not try to shortchange the Muse.
Ensure that your script is watertight. If it’s not on the page, it will never magically appear on the screen.
‘The Fourth Hand’ was a novel that came from twenty years of screenwriting concurrently with whatever novel I’m writing.
I don’t miss directing at all, and I don’t miss screenwriting either because somebody’s always telling you to do something different.
I don’t think screenwriting is therapeutic. It’s actually really, really hard for me. It’s not an enjoyable process.
There is no point in having sharp images when you’ve fuzzy ideas.
I see screenwriting as a bit like a math equation which I have to solve.
If the script’s good, everything you need is in there. I just try and feel it, and do it honestly.
Who is writing these screenwriting books? Not actually writing for the studios in Hollywood. These are people that have one or a half of a credit on maybe one movie, or none. So they’re all theoretical.
I have struggles in screenwriting that lead me to a third act that’s always more or less efficiently wrapped up in a fourth act that’s trying to give closure to too many things.
All drama is conflict. Without conflict, there is no action. Without action, there is no character. Without character, there is no story. And without story, there is no screenplay.
I usually write very few stage directions. I think a lot of that is a waste of time. The art of screenwriting is in its terseness, saying a lot with a little. I have no patience when I read a script where the writer describes this guy and what he’s wearing and his glasses and his hair.
Scott Frank
Scripts are what matter… if you get those foundations wrong, then you absolutely don’t stand a shot.
Tim Bevan
Screenwriting is not an artform, it is a punishment from God.
As an actor going into screenwriting, I was able to understand what type of dialogue feels natural. A lot of the time, as an actor, you don’t have the freedom to change what your lines are, and they can often be very unnatural or difficult to portray in a real light.
Everything starts with writing. And then to support your vision, your ideas, your philosophy, your jokes, whatever, you’ve gotta perform them and/or direct them, or sometimes just produce them.
I’m first and foremost interested in the story, the characters.
I find that screenwriting is at best kind of a hackwork in some ways.
You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
I’ve made up little mantras for myself, catchphrases from a screenwriting book that doesn’t exist. One is ‘Write the movie you’d pay to go see.’ Another is ‘Never let a character tell me something that the camera can show me.’
The road to hell is paved with leeks and potatoes
My entry into screenwriting was not smooth.
For me, screenwriting is all about setting characters in motion and as a writer just chasing them. They should tell you what they’ll do in any scene you put them in.
If a story doesn’t give you a hard-on in the first couple of scenes, throw it in the goddamned garbage.
I tend to jot down moments, lines, interactions that don’t really make any sense. I try and explain these scattered notes to my close friends, and they become more and more logical. I see screenwriting as a bit like a math equation which I have to solve.
In terms of screenwriting adaptations it’s trying to cut out stuff that’s extraneous, without doing damage to the original piece, because you owe a debt of some respect to the original author. That’s why it was bought.
Screenwriting is an opportunity to fly first class, be treated like a celebrity, sit around the pool and be betrayed.
The script is what you`ve dreamed up – this is what it should be. The film is what you end up with.
I think that screenwriting probably isn’t seen as writing in the same way that novel-writing is seen as writing. But I certainly don’t see it that way.
All screenwriting books are bullshit, all. Watch movies, read screenplays. Let them be your guide.
Screenwriting Joe Eszterhas have always talked about the charm of evil.
I started acting when I was really young. I knew I wanted to be in the industry in other ways. I knew that I wanted to do more than just act. I don’t know that I knew it was screenwriting, but I just knew that I wanted to be involved.
Every scene should be able to answer three questions: “Who wants what from whom? What happens if they don’t get it? Why now?”
In fiction, I have a residual guilt when I focus on story over language or mood or whatever – the more “literary” things. In screenwriting, I don’t have that guilt because story is the only thing. Character, dialogue, everything else – they feed into and drive story.