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24 December, 2011

Beat Sheet

I received an email from Amazon Studios alerting me to a contest. They provide the logline, I provide the beat sheet. Top 5 writers get $10,000 and a chance to write a treatment and then if chosen, the screenplay. I received the email three days before the deadline. The clock was ticking and I jumped in without hesitation.

What is a beat sheet? It's where the screenwriter writes down, in Numerical order, the scenes in the movie, with a brief description of each. I had heard of and even read a beat sheet, but I'd never written one. Amazon did state you could write it in outline form, but since beat sheets are the industry standard, it didn't make sense to do anything that would label me as an amateur.

With the exception of some short (5 page) screenplays for a few Creative Screenwriter contests, I had never written a screenplay based on someone else's logline or premise. I had also never written a beat sheet before--but I had examples in my screenwriting reference books.
I know in Hollywood you don't always get to work on your own material, sometimes you do exactly as this contest does--write based on an idea or concept from a studio head, or producer, or revise another Writer's work.

I haven't heard back yet if my beat sheet was picked. I hope so, because they have an amazing producer already attached to the project, and it's sci fi, which is near and dear to my heart. It excites me.
Yesterday I brainstormed an idea for my next screenplay. And wrote out the logline. Today I wrote out the beat sheet for it. I used my experience from Amazon Studios to benefit my writing.
Now I have a solid logline and a typed beat sheet. After Christmas I still have a week off of work and I will apply my rear in my chair 12 hours a day, using my beat sheet as a guide, to crank out as many pages as I can. I'd love to say I'll have the entire thing written, but we shall see won't we?

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