How to Write a Movie that Shoots in Three Months


This post is by Jason Hellerman from No Film School

The goal for anyone writing a movie is to see it get made—screenplays are simply the original blueprints for movies and TV shows. While I think they are literary artifacts on their own, the true objective is to see our work come to life.

Still, many of us are not writing to shoot our projects ourselves, and I think that’s a disservice. When you write with the intention of shooting things yourself, it makes you think of the story in much more practical terms.

Thankfully, our very own GG Hawkins, beloved host of the No Film School Podcast, recently documented her own experience with a great video breaking down how she wrote a screenplay to shoot and then followed through only a few months later.

Let’s check out the video and go over three of the main lessons she learned along the way, shall we?


Writing a Screenplay You Can Shoot

What I love about GG’s breakdown is the openness and honesty she speaks to her writing process and how that ultimately lead to shooting her movie.

There are a ton of lessons she highlights along the way, but let’s dig deeper into her three main takeaways from making her feature I Really Love My Husband.

1. Constraints Are Your Friends 

It can be hard to nail down an idea for a script, and set pieces are always tough to sort out. Characters can be a real pain to develop.

But if you have constraints, in terms of what you can afford and where you can go, it can actually help you brainstorm a movie small enough for you to make, and with enough of a voice to help you stand out.

Embrace the constraints around making a movie you can shoot—simplify everything. Let this stuff liberate your mind and force you to solve things creatively.

2. Don’t Write Alone

Feedback is essential when writing any screenplay. But when you have limited time and resources, this is the best time to collaborate and to listen to other people.

See if someone wants to collaborate on the idea, or break the story and dialogue with the actors you want to cast.

Now is the time to see how well you work with people and to seek advice, and actually hear it.

Take the notes, try them out. Don’t be stubborn, but also be decisive. Make decisions so you can lock locations and people. This calls back to working in constraints to get the best results.

3. Push Through the Bad to Get to the Good 

Some of your ideas will suck. That’s just reality. Some of your great ideas will fall apart because you lose an actor or location or the budget, or something that worked in your head didn’t quite translate.

Pivot. Rewrite. Reassess.

Keep pushing through these bad times to get to the good ones. Push through the bad results to find the better ones.

If you let speed bumps derail you, you’re never going to make it in this industry. Get over the bumps and keep pressing the gas, moving forward.

There will be failures—there always are failures.

But pursuing a career in film is a marathon. Even though writing to shoot may be a sprint, it’s part of a much longer process, which is breaking in and continuing to follow your dreams.

Let me know what you think in the comments.