10 Tips for Screenwriting Taika Waititi
Taika Waititi wants you to be fine the hard way.
The Hollywood breakthrough can seem like an endless journey of disappointment and frustration, but what if I told you this was the truth for almost everyone? Even people like Taika Waititi. Yes, the Oscar-winning screenwriter has seen fights in his career. But he got past them and is now doing pretty well directing films for Marvel, TV for FX and pursuing his own ideas all over Hollywood.
Today we’re going to go over 10 screenwriting tips that Waititi shared in various interviews and even in his Ted Talk. Check out this video from Outstanding scripts, and let’s talk after the jump.
10 Tips for Screenwriting Taika Waititi
1. The easy path becomes the hard path in the end because you pay the price, which is mediocre work.
Sometimes the trials and tribulations are good for a writer. They know your job has to be great to transcend so that you are under no illusions if only the “okay” scripts don’t get you very far. If things were too easy, you would always have difficulty challenging things instead of doing them great.
2. No matter how unconventional your characters are, always make them more human and relatable.
They can have aliens, vampires, and even fantasies – what makes characters special is our relationship with them. The cinema is about empathy.
How do you feel about what’s going on in the story and how do you connect with the characters? Make sure the connection goes beyond who or what they are and touches your soul.
3. Failure is a brilliant thing. It teaches you what not to do and better ideas will come up in the end.
As we said earlier, failure is a good thing. It teaches you that 99% of the time in this city people will reject you. You are the brave one, get on your feet and stand out there. But these failures send you to really grapple with your best ideas and best work.
4th Start with the beginning and the end, then think about the scenes in between. Outline your full story and only then start the actual writing.
We strongly believe in taking the steps that will help you plan your ideas. When you come to an end, you always know where your story is going. You work on the middle and other parts, that’s the process.
So do your job. Prepare, sketch, and write if you can. But do the preparatory work and be serious. It will speed up the process.
5. Do your job first and write all of your script until it’s ready to shoot and only then go for funding.
So many new writers submit their great ideas … contained in bad scripts. This job is all about rewriting and revising things until they’re perfect.
Don’t ship things too early. Make sure they are ready.
6th Don’t try to imitate someone else’s career, stick to your own guns and follow your own vision.
One of the most frustrating aspects of Hollywood is that there is no clear ladder to the top. You cannot emulate anyone who came before you, you can just find your own way.
Write your stories and the world will notice.
7th Filtering your writing is key to making sure your scripts don’t get bloated.
Is this line important? Do you need all of this dialogue? Is your action tight?
So many scripts go out and lose readers because of all the redundant words on the page. Cut, then cut some more.
Make your script as narrow as possible so that the pages turn easily.
8th. Remember that the movie is an escape, so don’t be afraid to incorporate human absurdities in your lyrics and find the right balance between humor and drama.
Life is kind of crazy and it’s okay to have that craziness on screen. The tones must be balanced, but all your imagination is up to you.
Bring it all – humor, drama, stakes, and let your characters and the world come out.
9. First write everything by hand. Then when you have the structure below don’t enter it until then.
Taking extensive notes and indulging in your wildest inclinations is incredibly valuable. You don’t have to make it all into the script, but if you start by hand you can physically see all the threads of the story and see what comes together.
10. Tell normal stories about general human conditions but tell them in a very unique place by indigenous authentic people who know the specific culture.
Nobody knows more about your experiences than you. So when you’re writing about other people, find someone like your character. Interview them, spend time with them, and learn the details that make these people authentic. You have to do the footwork, not just do it.
Now go write!