The 15 Minute Movie Method is a name I came up with to describe the idea of dividing a two hour screenplay into much smaller and manageable segments. This isn’t necessarily a new idea, but it is something that I’ve found helpful in my own writing so I thought I could share my thoughts and ideas with others through a dedicated web site. Like many people, I’ve often watched a horrible movie and walked away thinking, “I could write something better than that!” While it’s easy to say something like that, it’s much harder to put those words into practice and put yourself on the spot, so that’s exactly what I’m doing in hopes of encouraging myself and others to do the same.
First, a little bit about myself. I’ve been a full-time writer since 1986, working mostly on computer books. Some of my more popular titles have been books from the “For Dummies” series such as “Microsoft Office for Dummies” and “Beginning Programming All-in-One Reference For Dummies.” Two non-computer books that I’ve co-authored include “Breaking Into Acting for Dummies” (with Larry Garrison) and “Strategic Entrepreneurism” (with Jon Fisher).
Besides writing, I’ve also dabbled in stand-up comedy since 1990, having appeared on several comedy TV shows including A&E’s “Evening at the Improv” and SiTV’s “Latino Laugh Festival” (they needed non-Latino comedians). In addition, I also appeared at the Riviera Comedy Club at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas as well as at other casinos in Laughlin, Primm, and Pahrump, Nevada.
In 1992, I got my first cat and after reading a basic cat care book found that none of the advice offered had any basis in reality for dealing with the quirks and whims of a real cat. Based on that experience, I wrote a parody of a cat care book called “How to Live with a Cat (When You Really Don’t Want To).”
Performing stand-up comedy and writing computer books has been interesting, but I’ve always been fascinated by movies. I’ve been writing screenplays off and on since 1983, but always felt lost. I understood the concept that a screenplay should consist of three Acts (although I’ve since decided that screenplays really consist of four Acts) where Act I contains the Exposition, Act II contains the Rising Action, and Act III contains the Climax. Of course, there’s a big difference between knowing terms and definitions and being able to put them into practice to write a screenplay.
My early attempts at screenwriting either fell short (a wonderful idea that only lasted about 50 pages) or a good idea stretched to 120 pages through mediocre writing with occasional nuggets of interesting scenes. The first screenplay that I completed marked a major milestone in my life, although in hindsight it was a disjointed script that is practically unsalvageable. However, I learned that the first milestone in any screenwriter’s career must start with being able to finish, however good or poor the completed script may be. If you get nothing else from this web site, at least let this lesson sink in. The best way to learn screenwriting is to teach yourself.
I don’t mean that books, seminars, and classes can’t help you, but that ultimately the only way you’re going to learn anything about screenwriting is to actually start writing. Once you put your words in print, you can see what you know, what you don’t know, and what you need to improve. The more you write, the more you’ll learn about what you really need, and the more you’ll be able to choose what type of outside information in the forms of books, classes, courses, seminars, etc. that will help you the most. Writing is simply developing your own voice and style within the structure of the medium you choose whether it be a screenplay, a short story, or a novel.
The 15 Minute Movie Method is simply my method that I’ve developed to help me become a better screenwriter. You will need to develop your own method that works for you. That could mean borrowing heavily from my method or another person’s methods, or creating something yourself from multiple sources. The point is that there is no single “right” way to do anything. The method or system that you use is less important than the results you create, and the ultimate result that all aspiring screenwriters desire is to see their script transformed into an actual motion picture that they can be proud to have helped create (and hopefully been paid handsomely as a result).
What you’ll find on this site is simply my thoughts and ideas that I’m leaving behind like a trail of bread crumbs so that others can hopefully learn from my mistakes. Take from this web site what you find helpful, and look elsewhere to find information that you need that this web site may not provide. Writing is more a path of self-discovery than anything else, so take that first step and see where it takes you. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot more to gain, so get started today!