Screenwriters, like novelists, can let their imagination go free. Unfortunately, the reality is that imagination is not free. This is why playwrights never have a dozen different exotic sets that require special effects. Theater can’t accommodate wild special effects that cost a lot of money, so playwrights must write their stories assuming a limited budget.
That’s exactly the type of thinking you need as a screenwriter as well.
That’s because the less costly your story, the more likely it will get made. Horror and comedy films are the cheapest to make because they rarely require massive special effects, costumes, or exotic sets Remember, filmmaking is a business and the cheaper you can make a film, the more likely it can make a profit.
Spending more money on costumes, sets, and special effects won’t make a better story.
So always think about how to keep a story as simple as possible with a limited budget in mind. If a scene requires massive explosions at the top of the Eiffel Tower, the cost of these special effects can make your screenplay too expensive to make.
By challenging yourself to focus less on special effects and exotic locations, and more on telling a story creatively within a limited budget and setting, you’ll likely write a far more interesting story. Stories aren’t interesting because of special effects and settings. Stories are interesting if they grab and hold our attention.
Watch low-budget films that never make it to the theaters. Many low-budget films are awful but some are excellent examples of creative storytelling within a limited setting.
There’s a unique science fiction film called “The Artifice Girl,” which is about an artificially intelligent program that looks like a young girl. Her behavior and appearance are real enough to fool most people so her developer created her as a way to trap pedophiles on the Internet.
Even though the story setting is science fiction, there’s nothing in the movie that can’t be found in our current world, which made the movie easy and inexpensive to make.
In general, always think of a budget when writing a screenplay. Even George Lucas couldn’t get “Star Wars” made until he used his own money, and he was already a successful and proven director/screenwriter after his hit “American Graffiti.”
So focus on stories that can be told in today’s world with minimal changes. That will increase your chances of getting your screenplay produced. To see how “The Artifice Girl” looks and works, watch the trailer below.