How to Write a Screenplay like Tom Stoppard

Do you have an idea that you think would make a great movie, TV show or webisode, but have no idea how to write a screenplay?  It is not uncommon for people to have a screenplay idea, but have no clue where to start.

Like many other skills in life, learning to write a solid screenplay takes a good amount of research, practice and repetition. The following are some things that you can do to help yourself learn:

  • Read screenplays
  • Understand the format of a screenplay
  • Watch television shows and movies
  • Study some of the most successful screenplay writers
  • Come up with an idea for a screenplay
  • Develop screenplay ideas through outlines and storyboards

Tom Stoppard has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, and is one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation. Born July 3, 1937, Stoppard’s first work for Film and Television was 1975’s Three Men in a Boat, an adaptation for the BBC. In 2008, Stoppard was voted the number 76 on the Time 100, Time magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world.

Stoppard, born Tomas Straussler, left Czechoslovakia as a child refugee fleeing imminent Nazi occupation in 1939. In 1945, his mother married British army major Kenneth Stoppard, who gave Tom and his brother their English surnames, and in 1946 the whole family moved to Britain. Stoppard left school at seventeen and became a journalist at the Western Daily Press in Bristol without having received a university education. He remained with the newspaper from 1954 until 1958, when he was offered a better position at the Bristol Evening World. As a feature writer, columnist and drama critic, Stoppard was introduced into the world of theatre and formed friendships with members of the Bristol Old Vic, including renowned actor Peter O’Toole. While Stoppard would later regret his lack of university education, he loved his time as a journalist and felt passionately about the work.

Stoppard completed his first stage play in 1960, and gradually produced several more, balancing a career as a drama critic in London with a growing list of successful plays. In 1964, Stoppard received a grant that allowed him to spend 5 months writing in a Berlin mansion, the results of which would later become the critically acclaimed play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.  Stoppard would write his first screenplay several years later, 1985’s Brazil, which was co-authored with Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown, though he had written several productions for television before that. Stoppard is also credited with writing the first draft of 1987’s Empire of the Sun. While Stoppard isn’t credited, Stephen Spielberg has said of his contributions to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that, “he was responsible for almost every line of dialogue in the film” Stoppard is also rumored to have worked on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, though again he was not credited. Stoppard is credited with the 1990 film adaptation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and also 1998’s Shakespeare in Love. Most recently, Stoppard wrote the screen adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina for the 2012 film of the same name.

Stoppard’s stylistic themes have resulted in the term “Stoppardian” being coined to describe works that use wit and comedy while addressing philosophical concepts. While many critics have approved of the use of intellectual wordplay and have acknowledged Stoppard’s cleverness in scripting dialogue and using paradox and absurdity, some critics have noted concern that his pieces are all clever showmanship, lacking in substance and a sense of social commitment. In response to that, Stoppard began crafting more socially engaged work, becoming personally involved with human rights issues starting in 1977. In Stoppard’s later works he has looked to develop greater inter-personal depths while maintaining the playfulness that characterizes his work.

Tom Stoppard won the Academy Award in 1999 for the film Shakespeare in Love, and was nominated before that in 1986 for his first feature film screenplay, Brazil. He has been nominated numerous times for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, including a nomination for the 2012 film Anna Karenina, which has not yet been awarded. Shakespeare in Love also received a Silver Berlin Bear at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival.

New Show Studios is a company designed specifically for everyday people with ideas for screens big and small (TV shows, movies, webisodes).  The company has all the resources under one roof to develop your screenplay idea into a concept package and present it to an entertainment company through its exclusive licensing agent, SFM Entertainment.  SFM Entertainment has over 40 years of experience in the entertainment industry.

Don’t be the person kicking yourself because you sat on your idea only to see it in theaters or on television one day, because someone else had a similar idea.  New Show Studios can help you take action and pursue your screenplay idea.

 

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