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And the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay goes to... me!




Years of interest in filmmaking found me at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (4000 Michigan Road) on Friday afternoon. The Indianapolis International Film Festival (IIFF) hosted three workshops in the museum’s Multipurpose Room that discussed film editing, directing, and screenwriting. The sessions were facilitated by Chris Jacek, Dan Hall, and Kate Chaplin, respectively. While the first two sessions were interesting and informative, complete with information about the film industry and clips from well-known and independent movies as examples, I clicked most with screenwriting.

Chaplin, an award-winning independent filmmaker, delivered information in a rapid-fire and humorous style, giving advice that spanned the beginning of the writing process to the finish. I learned that there’s screenwriting software, including Celtx and Final Draft, the latter which can automatically generate a reports about the number of times profanity is used in a script. (I’d like to run some of Quentin Tarantino’s scripts through that filter, especially since Chaplin told us an innocuous word like ‘crap’ is considered a swear word.) She discussed script lengths (e.g., 90 pages minimum for a feature-length film), explained some of the terminology used in scripts (such as VO for voiceover or OS for off-screen), how to copyright a script (register it with the Library of Congress), and recommended a number of books where we could learn more, including Paul Atgentini’s Elements of Style for Screenwriters: The Essential Manual for Writers of Screenplays.

The wealth of information during the hour-long workshop was frankly a little bit intimidating, as was realizing I was out of my element in a room full of young people who already had filmmaking experience, but it was also exciting. Making a film requires a lot more work than I have fully realized — Chaplin told me that it takes an hour to shoot one page of a script, not including the time it takes to set up and strike lighting — but I’m happy to know that I’m still interested in pursuing a longtime passion. My film might be short, silent, and never seen outside my living room, but I’m a step closer to making it.

Learn more about Kate Chaplin and her films at her website. The IIFF runs through July 25. Visit for more information.


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