The Storytelling Lab - Ep25: The Top 5 Screenwriting Tips with Jimmy "The Script Butcher" George
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
This week’s guest is Jimmy George (aka The Script Butcher), a horror film producer and scriptwriting consultant. Jimmy has been writing and creating micro budget horror films for over 15 years and joins us to share his actionable tips and tricks! We discuss creating low budget films, common pain points for new scriptwriters, and the top 5 things every script needs to be successful.
Credit where credit is due: My brother has a fascination with “B” horror movies (and sometimes what I would even consider “C” and “D” movies) and he spent many years passing that love/appreciation/amusement down to me.
We’d have weekend-long movie marathons where we consumed every slasher, supernatural thriller, and gorefest film we could find in the depths of our local video store.
Now that I’m a filmmaker professionally, I see how watching those movies helped me understand how to make films even if I didn’t have a big budget.
As long as you appeal to people’s emotions (in this cases, fear and humor), and tell a good story (okay some of them lacked this part), you can make an enjoyable movie.
My guest this week is Jimmy George (AKA “The Script Butcher”) and he has made a career off of low-budget horror movies!
I’d go so far to say that he has mastered the art and science of the “$1000 feature film.”
It’s not easy making a feature length film when you don’t have a lot of time or money and the only way to make it out alive (pun intended) is to stick to the basics, manage your time and resources effectively, and… be nice to your crew!
Like me, Jimmy uses the skills, knowledge and experience he has gained through years of filmmaking on a low budget to teach people, mostly beginners, the basics of filmmaking.
His energy is magnetic.
It’s clear he has a passion for this and that’s why he’s been able to make a living off of it.
But it’s also what makes him such a kickass person and I’m so happy I had the chance to talk to him about the things we love: horror movies, storytelling, and helping others achieve their dreams!
Some highlights of our conversation:
How Jimmy became a movie buff (even though he grew up with parents that "don’t like movies")
How Jimmy got started the horror genre
How to write and producing Horror Films
The main differences between creating horror and any other film. HINT: it lies in the exploration of your character's sins
How to make micro budget films -- what do you focus on when you don’t have a lot of money?
How to create something by using what's already available to you (we've definitely touched on this before!)
How to get volunteers to help - trade labor, introduce newbies to industry professionals, offer class credit or future recommendation letters, and most importantly, say thank you a lot AND mean it
When getting people for a film it's important to promise a good experience and professional connections -- but NOT exposure
Work with people you like
How to spend money on only what's necessary, like food. You have to feed people! I'll keep everyone happy and ready to work!
Spending a lot of time in preproduction will save you money in production
How to work well with inexperienced people
It's important to work hard, but also remember to have fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously!
How Jimmy became the script butcher
Common pain points most beginning scriptwriters struggle with
Most of the problems with a script have to do with the construction and happen before you even start writing
Every scriptwriter should ask themself, why does this story have to happen here? And why does this story have to happen now?
The big 5 things every script needs to succeed: (1) a filmable goal/ a goal that we can see, (2) motivation, (3) urgency or time pressure, (4) obstacles (make it harder), and (5) meaningful choices
What’s more important: characters or plot?
The different kinds of plot: Arc plot (straightforward movie), anti plot (experimental film), and mini plot (somewhere in between)
Jimmy's typical Script Butcher clients: lot of non American clients and beginners
How Jimmy has used Twitter to find clients, by means of communicating what he does, while also providing value
As always, I hope you enjoy the episode!
Peace and Love,
Jimmy is currently in post production on his seventh feature horror film: What Happens Next Will Scare You. It will be released next year!
Jimmy is a full time script consultant, with a passion for helping creators succeed. As the Script Butcher, he works with screenwriters, empowering them with the necessary tools to sharpen their scripts into dynamic stories that slice through the competition.
For help on your script, check out his website: https://scriptbutcher.com/services/
For more storytelling tips and tricks,
Follow us on Instagram @sixsecondstories
Visit our website sixsecondstories.com
MORE related content:
Check out one of Jimmy's more popular films: WNUF Halloween Special
For even more Jimmy, check out his podcast, WRITERS/BLOCKBUSTERS where he analyzes movies for screenwriting tools and techniques.
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