Gerald Hanks Filmography

Monday, November 23, 2020

Toy Story: Screenwriting and Visualization

When I wrote about getting your best writing from your dumbest idea, I had to put my money where my mouth was. As I mentioned a few months ago, I bought some loose action figures from a local toy store and started working on a script.

I wrote a quick ten-page sample and sent it and the pitch deck to a friend who had produced some of my earlier short films. He encouraged me to expand the script to a full episode length (30 minutes) and update the pitch deck. 

One trick I've used as I've worked on the script involves having the "actors" (i.e. toys) on my desk. This trick helps me visualize each scene. Instead of trying to imagine how the scene should look, I can set it up on my desk and "play" through the scene as I write.

While playing with toys may sound ridiculous to those who imagine themselves as "serious" writers, just take a minute to think about the screenwriting process. 

(If you have a problem with playing with toys, take it up with this guy!) 

When you write a script, you're writing it with the end goal of having actors move how you want, say what you want, and deliver the performance that you want.

If you use toys to represent your actors and your desk to represent the setting, you can create the scene that you want right in front of your eyes.

This trick can also help you "write visually", as you can describe the characters, the costumes, the setting, and the action that you create with the toys, while keeping the dialogue to a minimum.

Whether you're writing an epic superhero action series, or a small, intimate drama about a troubled family, action figures and accessories can serve as useful visual tools to help you develop your writing skills.

With the holiday season coming up, you won't even get funny looks from the store clerks (or delivery drivers) when you're a grown adult buying a bunch of action figures. They'll just assume the toys are Christmas gifts. They don't need to know that these toys are your "cast".

The bad news: Don't expect great performances from your action figures. Their range of expressions are limited and can come across as "wooden" (or at least "molded plastic").

The good news: Your efforts with plastic people will serve as extensive preparation for working in Hollywood!

One place where you won't work with plastic people is at Story Into Screenplay.

Story Into Screenplay offers script coverage reports, one-on-one consultation, and rewriting services. 

No matter what stage of the writing process you're in, no matter your experience level as a writer, Story Into Screenplay can help.

If you have a script and want a professional review from an experienced coverage writer, Story Into Screenplay's "10 Pages for $10" offer is still available through the holiday season.

For more information, you can email storyintoscreenplayblog(at)gmail(dot)com, fill in the form on this page, or send a direct message through the Story Into Screenplay Facebook page.

Good luck! 

Stay well! 

Keep writing!