Peter Hellier's guide to how to write a movie
COMEDIAN Peter Helliar - best known for Rove - started writing a film eight years ago. Today, I Love You Too is out. Here are his tips on how to do it too.
Watch lot's of movies.
I know, it seems as obvious as saying pay your players within the salary cap, but sometimes it's good to point these things out. If you're going to write a movie, you must love movies, really love them. Really, really love them.
The same way Charlie Sheen loves hookers. And don't feel too bad if you haven't seen The Seven Samurai (no, that's not the Tom Cruise one) or The Third Man (no, it's not about cricket) or The Maltese Falcon (no, that's not what Han Solo flew), but you should check them out one day.
But there is value in whatever movie you love.
Some of my favourites never appear in the 3100 Greatest Films of All Time lists. They include Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Parenthood, Breakfast Club, Young Guns 1 and 2 and I have a soft spot for Steel Magnolias.
Such popcorn munchers haven't stopped me from enjoying worthier fare such as The Godfather trilogy, Sideways, Magnolia, It's a Wonderful Life, Day For Night etc.
In short, don't let film snobs intimidate you, but don't start writing scene one if your movie viewing experience is only as vast as everything from Zapped to Weird Science.
Get Final Draft software
I swear on my nanna's Bible I am not being paid to say this, but when you are attempting to pull off writing a movie, the last thing you need to be worrying about is formatting.
Getting the structure right in a screenplay is tough enough without having that annoying little paperclip icon popping up every two minutes to ask if you're OK.
Microsoft Word is fine for treatments, letters, synopsis and outlines or for making Garage Sale signs, but it is not your friend when it comes time to getting your vision on to the page. Final Draft is so easy to use and covers all your bases. It won't structure your three acts for you or provide a killer twist, but it will save you headaches.
Using Word to write a screenplay would be like trying to chat up Angelina Jolie after eating garlic bread and downing a shot of ouzo. It's impossible enough, there is no need to make it harder.
Good advice for both life and Australian movie making.
Some of our best films have been built around a landscape of drugs and violence such as Candy, The Boys, Little Fish, Phar Lap (hmmm, what was in his feedbag?) but there is a very strong feeling from investors off the back of audience reaction to such films that suggests, in the words of The Dandy Warhols, heroin is so passe.
Personally I think it's all about balance. I loved Little Fish but I also loved Zoolander. There needs to be an alternative for the married couple who see two or three movies a year and have organised for the babysitter to come over and are keen for some laughs because work is a bit crappy at the moment.
Are they going to see Blessed or Date Night? In short, think about who is going to come and see your movie.
Don't put big car chases in your story
They're really expensive and take ages to shoot. If you want to create a pain in the a--- for yourself, buy yourself a bottle of Coke and "slip over" in the shower... doctor.
Show your script to people you trust
And people who you know will be honest. Your mum and dad may not be the best people to gauge how great your script is unless your name is Sally Scorsese.
Don't be threatened by other people's ideas. I have two rules: the best idea in the room wins and never look at your own refection in a stainless-steel kettle.
POSTSCRIPT: Peter Helliar wrote this in a hotel room between I Love You Too premieres. He claims the right to change his mind without notice on anything he has written in this article.
He is currently tossing up between seeing Kick-Ass or Accidents Happen.