Most people have ideas. A lot of people think that their idea is good. Many people believe they can turn their idea into something. Few people do.
The truth is that turning an idea into a screenplay is both the simplest thing in the world and the most complicated at the same time. Don’t let anyone fool you, in order to make your idea into a screenplay the first and only thing you need to focus on at the beginning is simply writing it down. There is an often discussed topic of would-be filmmakers who say they have all of these ideas and are going to be the next Spielberg, but never get anywhere because they don’t do the first and most important step: Write It Down.
You can’t copyright an idea, you can’t register an idea with the writers guilds and you can’t form a business around an idea. You have to have a plan. In the film business, the plan for your film starts with a script. The script is the ultimate tool in the indie filmmakers arsenal, regardless of cameras and lenses, cool sliders and awesome gadgets, without a solid script you have nothing.
It is extremely important that the filmmakers out there, who have access to amazing technology and can shoot entire feature length films with what they have in their pocket, not only learn to write good scripts but also to recognize when they need help. There is no shame in asking for help with your script, this is doubly true for newcomers but even the most seasoned professionals reach out to those with experience in script polish and editing.
As I mentioned, taking your idea and putting it to paper is the very first step in a long and laborious process to get your vision to come to life, but make no mistake, even if you put everything down and have an amazing concept there is never any guarantee in this business. You can have the next best thing, an incredible project that will catapult you, and everyone connected to it, to the highest circles in the industry but sometimes it just falls flat. The key to victory in this business is determination.
You will meet people, industry professionals, who tell you that you don’t have a shot and say that there is no way you could pull off your idea. Even with a script and a well written plan, you’ll find people along the way to tell you No but, and I see this all the time, most people don’t realize is that these naysayers are gatekeepers. They are there to test your resolve. They are there to see if you have what it takes to thrive in this business.
Ultimately, no matter how much determination you have or how thick of a skin you develop, the first step in any filmmakers journey is to realize an idea and put it to paper. Plain and simple.