Join us as we talk to Gerald Hanks about taking your words from the page to the screen by turning your story into a screenplay.
Gerald Hanks is a screenwriter, script consultant, former screenplay contest judge, and current coverage writer for Coverfly and the Austin Film Festival. Join us as we cover the V.O.T.E. method for character development.
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Gerald Hanks, Kevin Tumlinson
Kevin Tumlinson 00:00
We are live. Thank you everybody for tuning in to another Self-Publishing Insiders live with Draft2Digital. Very excited to have you guys here. First podcast, the first live stream of 2023. Now you may be watching this or listening to this at a different time. But for us here in this time stream, first one of the year. And I could not be more thrilled for that first live stream to include my friend Gerald Hanks. Gerald, I’m gonna read your bio real quick man. Gerald Hanks is a screenwriter, script consultant, former screenplay contest judge and current coverage writer for Coverfly and the Austin Film Festival. Welcome to the show, Gerald.
Gerald Hanks 01:08
Thank you, Kevin. I appreciate it.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:10
Now, you and I, we’ve met before and we’ve hung out and chatted and things at Houston’s Comic Palooza, which is a primarily like a, it started as a comic book convention, but it’s become more of a pop culture convention, I think. And they have a literary track. And you and I have been on that at separate times.
Gerald Hanks 01:31
Right. I think we’ve done a couple of panels together or a couple of panels at different times. And I’ve also done workshops and seminars there to help other writers.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:39
Yeah, and that’s a good little conference, actually. It has a fairly big draw being there in Houston. Now I’m no longer in the Houston area. So I’ve been invited to come back. Gonna go back, I’m thinking, depends on when they get around to finalizing my topic or whatever, but I plan on being back. So if you are in the Houston area, by the way, listeners and viewers, make sure you check out Comic Palooza, check out the literary track. So this is something, this topic is one that I know authors get really excited about, because I think secretly deep down almost all of us got into writing novels because we secretly wanted to see movies based on our work. So that’s one of the reasons I’m excited to have you here, Gerald. Let’s start though, you mentioned in your bio that you’re a coverage writer for Coverfly. What is Coverfly?
Gerald Hanks 02:41
Coverfly is a service that works with different screenplay contests, like WeScreenplay, Script Lab, a couple of others. And they’re basically kind of the clearing house for a lot of these contests. And also they provide what’s called coverage, which is basically an evaluation of the script in terms of character, plot, structure, dialogue, concept. And my job is to read through those scripts and kind of get to more see what works versus what doesn’t work. Rather than what I like versus what I don’t like. Because what I like and what I don’t like is not gonna help anybody. It’s not gonna help me, but showing them what works, what will attract an agent or an actor or an audience or a manager to that script or project in terms of how they approach character, how that writer approaches plot, do they have an understanding of structure, do they have an ear for dialogue? Do they have a strong concept that can launch a film or TV show?
Kevin Tumlinson 03:46
Yeah, yeah. So does going through your program, does that give authors or give screenwriters any sort of leg up on getting those screenplays picked up somewhere? Is there any prestige associated with it?
Gerald Hanks 04:05
There is. It’s kind of an apples to oranges comparison with Coverfly. It’s typically more for beginning writers who are looking to figure out where to go with their scripts. There are a few more experienced writers who submit their scripts as an evaluation usually in the early draft stages to figure out kind of where they need to go from there. Whereas with Austin, it’s used by a lot more established writers. And especially with the big Austin Film Festival and the Austin film conference that I’ve gone to for last couple years, it’s more about established writers trying to take that next step in the industry to try to attract that agent or that manager or that producer to their specific project.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:47
These things are kind of a mystery to a lot of novelists, I know. I mean, I worked in film and TV so I’ve got some background in that and I know kind of the process there but even I get little baffled by like, you know, what’s good practice? I mean, what are good practices? Which is a good question for you actually, like what are good practices for screenplays, especially if you’re adapting something?
Gerald Hanks 05:14
Well, the first thing I look at is, before I even read the script, the first time I look at it, how many pages is it? Because the industry standard for a feature screenplay is usually in the 100 to 120 range, 100-120 pages is like the sweet spot. So if I look at a script and see it’s 250 pages, I know I’m in for a slog. And the next thing I start looking at is the formatting, because screenplays have a very specific format. It’s not like a play. It’s not like a novel. It. And there are even specific software packages for people who aren’t familiar with the screenwriting process, or even specific software packages that will help ensure that your script looks professional and is formatted well. And the next thing I look at after that is basic things like spelling, grammar, punctuation. If you can’t handle the basics of that, and you expect people to put in millions of dollars to get your thing made into a movie or TV show, and you can’t handle the basics of fifth grade or sixth grade spelling, grammar, and punctuation, then yeah, just don’t do it.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:17
Yeah, just think how bad you’d feel if you lost out on a million-dollar deal because you didn’t use a comma. That would destroy you.
Gerald Hanks 06:24
Or if you describe the rich villain character as wearing a business suite?
Kevin Tumlinson 06:30
Well, you know, that one happens. I’m going to defend myself on that one, because I think I’ve done that one quite a bit. So you know, you basically cost me like 200 bucks, by the way, because immediately after our last conversation, I ran right out and purchased Final Draft. I used to have an early version of that, and I stretched it out for as long as I could, but it couldn’t run on my modern machines. But you had me going out and investing again. It’s a screenwriting software, a pretty good one. Is that one of the ones you recommend most?
Gerald Hanks 07:14
Yes. Yes. Final Draft is pretty much the industry standard. There are some other ones, like Celtx, which is Celtx. There’s also one called Studio Binder, which is awesome. Movie Magic. There are a few different software packages. But Final Draft, not only does it help with the formatting in terms of the screenplay, but it also helps in terms of, there are a lot of production functions in it. So that way, if you were to send a producer an FDX file rather than a PDF, FDX is the Final Draft document format. So if you send that to them and say, oh, I can just hand this document, this FDX document to the director or to the production manager or to the casting director, whoever, they can just plug it in and use all the other functions. That’s why it’s like an industry-wide kind of thing.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:02
Yeah. Do you think that’s kind of a signal, if you send that Final Draft file, do you think that’s like a secret signal for those guys?
Gerald Hanks 08:12
Well, typically it won’t get to that stage until they ask for it. But typically, when you do a spec script with obviously Final Draft, we’ll save it as a PDF and that’s the industry standard is a PDF file.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:27
Yeah, yeah. I’m gonna pop this comment up, because I have a story that fits this, but you probably know Richard Del Connor says “I started with a Selectric II typewriter in 1984 writing screenplays.” I also started on a Selectric, and so we have that in common Richard.
Gerald Hanks 08:47
I started writing novels on an old manual typewriter.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:51
Yeah, same here really. I mean, my first earliest stuff were on like these, like really clunky, manual typewriters. I don’t want to give too much of that story away.
Gerald Hanks 09:02
With the carrying case?
Kevin Tumlinson 09:05
Yeah, yeah. So okay, since we’ve got people popping in with questions on this topic, I’m gonna go ahead. I usually wait a little while but we’re going to answer a couple of these. You okay with that? We’ve got one. So Charles Harvey asked, “What’s the best software that handles both stage plays and screenplays?” Do you have a answer for that guy?
Gerald Hanks 09:27
I can’t really speak to stage plays since I haven’t really done them, but from what I’ve seen, I think Final Draft also has they have stage play screenplay, pilot, comedy pilot. Yeah, comic books, single camera TV, multi camera TV. And like you said, I’m sure they have stage plays. And also another nice function for Final Draft is that it also has a read out loud function where you can assign different voices to different characters, you can actually almost do like a table read right then and there.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:00
Yeah, that’s actually kind of a cool feature. And I bet that’s gonna get even cooler as AI kind of takes over the whole voice. You can do some AI voices and you can probably cast some people.
Gerald Hanks 10:14
Oh, yeah. Can you plug Brad Pitt’s voice into here and Jennifer Lawrence’s voice into here?
Kevin Tumlinson 10:22
I don’t know, that sounds like a recipe for getting sued. So, yeah, the thing is a lot of folks starting out don’t have the budget for … I don’t remember what Final Draft cost, I forget. I know it’s a couple hundred at least. But do you know of any inexpensive or even free software that authors can use?
Gerald Hanks 10:46
I started off with Celtx, and it was free. I’m not sure what all features that it has. I haven’t used it in a while and I don’t know if they’re still free or going back to the subscription model. I think Studio Binder might be free and have some limited features. I know there are some free software packages out there that will let you do the basic formatting part. And make sure everything looks professional and all that. And another thing like you said, going back to the spelling, grammar, punctuation thing. One of the things I find most useful is Grammarly.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:24
Yeah, Grammarly is a good tool. Pro Writing Aid is also a good one, yeah.
Gerald Hanks 11:29
That’s one, yeah. And like I said, just don’t get yourself tripped up because you had somebody wearing a business suite.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:37
Yeah, I actually started on Movie Magic, Movie Magic Screenwriter, which I got a free copy because I was hosting a talk radio show. And we had their CEO or somebody on, so I got a free copy of that. That’s what I used forever. It doesn’t work on anything I own anymore.
Gerald Hanks 11:58
I’m sure there are other versions out there.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:00
I need to probably look into, I don’t know, I’m obsessed with it. I’m a geek about that kind of stuff. So I end up buying way more software than I should. So okay, so software is one. That’s one component. Oh, by the way, if you own Scrivener, and use Scrivener as a writer as I do, it also has a template for screenwriting. It’s not terrible. I mean, it’s pretty good. And you can usually find templates for things like Google Docs or Microsoft Word or something like that somewhere online for free. Just in case you’re on a tight budget. So okay, we’ve got our software. But where do we go from there? Like what would you say is the absolute first must requirement for screenwriting?
Gerald Hanks 12:49
You’ve heard the old saying about real estate. What’s the three most important things about real estate? Location, location, location. So what’s the three most important things about a screenplay? Character, character, and what’s the other one? Oh yeah. Character.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:06
Yeah, yeah. There you go. Okay. Focus on character. So what’s your tips for character development then?
Gerald Hanks 13:15
Well, one of the things I use is something I teach, I call it the VOTE method, VOTE. V stands for victory. What does that character want? O stands for obstacles, what’s in his way? T stands for tactics. What does he do to get around the obstacles to get to the victory? And E is for emotion. What’s the emotion that drives him to chase that victory? What drives him to overcome those obstacles and use those tactics, get pushed towards that victory?
Kevin Tumlinson 13:44
That’s a good framework.
Gerald Hanks 13:46
Actually, I got this from an acting class years ago, years and years and years ago. Because one of the things that I know that a lot of this audience probably might be more used to, writing novels vs screenplays. And I’ve dealt with clients, and in fact, that’s one of my main businesses right now is working with clients who are adapting their books to screenplays. And one of the things I always tell them is that when you write a novel, or you write a book, you’re writing for readers. When you’re writing a screenplay, you’re writing for actors. So that’s where the VOTE method comes in, in that it helps developing a story basically from the point of view of each character, because those actors are going to have to inhabit those characters. So you have to give them the things that they’re going to look for in that character.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:31
Okay, all right. Yeah. And in the case of novels, I mean, basically, the reader is the actor.
Gerald Hanks 14:37
They’re the actor, director, producer, set designer, everything.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:41
Exactly, yeah. It’s a really cheap way to do blockbusters. So, okay, cool. I like frameworks, and I like acronyms. So that works out great. So you’ve got your character, what’s next? Actually, what I want to drill down into, because I think this is the thing that most of our audience is going to be most interested in is, what’s the starting point for adapting a novel into a screenplay? Because there’s a lot that’s in a novel that just won’t fit in 110 pages. So where does one begin there?
Gerald Hanks 15:21
Same place, just begin with the characters. Begin with the characters, like I said, begin with their vote, begin with what they want. And just focus, tighten the story all around that. And like I said, it’s almost like a complete rewrite. Think of it like the same premise as a complete rewrite. It’s not like, oh, I can take this piece from my novel, or I can cut this or I can move this. And it’s like, it’s almost like a page one rewrite.
Kevin Tumlinson 15:47
Right. Yeah. That’s where it would be helpful, I’m not an outliner, so I don’t ever have an outline to work from. But that’s where it would be really helpful to have an outline, I think. Maybe it would come down to, you know, you’ve already written the book. So now you create an outline based on the existing book. That might be helpful.
Gerald Hanks 16:08
Because when you write the book, at least note the story beats. I mean, you’ve heard the expression plotter versus pantser, right? Even for like the biggest of pantsers, the people who literally fly by the seat of their pants, and everything that they write, at least they know where they’re starting, and they know where they want to end up typically. It’s just like, how do you get there? And that process? But ideally, once you have the book, once you have the book that’s solid, then you can use that as the basis for your outline for the screenplay. Then you know what story beats, you have the story beats already laid out in the book. So you know which ones you want to hit in the screenplay.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:49
Yeah. Yeah. Very handy. So speaking of story beats, a lot of people have read and religiously apply Save the Cat, which I’m sure you’re familiar with.
Gerald Hanks 17:03
Oh yes. I still use it to this day.
Kevin Tumlinson 17:06
I mean, it’s become almost the standard, I think, in Hollywood. So how important is it, because I’ve met and chatted with people who are adamant that … And I’ve read Save the Cat but I have not memorized the process. But like, you know, this plot point has to happen on page 20, or whatever. They’re that specific about it. How important is that?
Gerald Hanks 17:33
In terms of specific pages, not so much, but just in terms of where it flows in the story. Because typically there’s on average, there’s what’s called a one page equals one minute in a screenplay. So that’s why I talk about like screenplays being 100 to 110 pages, because that’s going to equal basically, if you have a screenplay between 90 to 120 pages, that’s gonna be a feature film between an hour and a half, two hours. So the idea is not so much to hit that story beat on that exact page, it’s more to make sure you hit these beats in the sequence. And at a specific time within the framework of the story. Things like usually spend, save the cat you want to have a strong opening image. That’s like the first beat that they talk about in Save the Cat is the opening image. You want to have a strong opening image. Like, for example, I did a script for a client. It was about her family when she was young. And her dad was a Baptist preacher in east Texas. And her older sister, I think when her sister was about eight or nine or 10, would ride her little mini dirt bike. But of course, preacher’s daughter, they had to go to church on Sunday. So the opening image I set up was, it’s early in the morning, East Texas, sun’s just coming up, and you hear this dirt bike. You see this little dirt bike coming over the hill. And then you see this church bus coming around the corner and you see the dirt bike, the kid on dirt bike like uh oh, so she has to race the bus back home. She’s on her dirt bike, right? So you literally have an action sequence of a dirt bike racing a church bus. And that’s before we even see the kid on the dirt bike, it’s a girl. Oh my god, especially in the 70s, early 70s. So a girl riding a dirt bike? And that’s before we get into all the family stuff.
Kevin Tumlinson 19:25
right. That would be a great opening, especially if you were to cut to the future. And that same girl’s now all grown up on a Ducati motorcycle racing away from bad guys or something, you know. So yeah, that’s fun.
Gerald Hanks 19:43
Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about in terms of in terms of like, you want to have a strong opening image because that’s going to draw the viewer in right off the bat. You want to have a strong opening image. You want to be able to set up your characters and their relationships, typically in the first five to 10 pages. You want to know who’s who. What do they mean to each other? What are their relationships? Do they love each other, hate each other? Are they married, are they family, are they enemies, whatever? And then you set up the normal world, usually in the first 10 to 12 pages and say, okay, we got the normal world set up. Everything’s normal. Okay, great. And then boom, you have the inciting incident, or what’s called the catalyst. Which is you take that normal word, and you turn it upside down. And that’s when the story really starts. But you don’t need to necessarily hit it on page 12, or page 15, or whatever. But ideally, spend as little time as you can setting up the normal world so everybody is like, alright, are we on the same page now? Okay, break it. And then that’s when the story starts.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:33
Do you think though, that is important to get a kind of like, at least 10 minutes of setup before you start the inciting incident?
Gerald Hanks 20:43
Depends on the story world. If it’s a fairly normal story world or if it’s a context everybody understands, then everybody already understands. If it’s a historical context where people might not know the history or if it’s a sci fi or fantasy where the world’s rules are different, then yeah, you want to spend a little bit more time setting up what the normal world is. And then once you establish that, then you start the inciting incident.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:08
Yeah. So when you’ve read things from people who have adapted their books, what are some of the mistakes? What are the kind of low hanging fruit mistakes that you look for first?
Gerald Hanks 21:22
I’m concentrating more on the plot and the events and the character. Because especially for writers, especially for novel writers, I have clients who have written novels, I have clients who have written historical fiction, I have clients who’ve written autobiographies, and they want to take their experiences and condense that into a screenplay. A lot of them seem to be, or can be, I’m not saying across the board, but sometimes can be a lot more concerned with the events and what’s happening, especially for like true stories, or autobiographies, and things like that. And also historical fiction. They’ll say, like, this really happened. And I’ll say, nobody cares. That’s hard, and I mean, that seems to be one of the more obvious ones. Because like I said, I’m coming at it from the outside. So I’m looking at it, like I said, you’re writing these things for actors. Because typically, when you look at a movie poster, what are the names above the title? It ain’t the writer. Unless you’re like Stephen King, or John Grisham, or somebody like that. It’s not the writer, right? Your job is to appeal to those people and get those names above that title on that poster so you can get people to buy tickets to the movie or subscribe to that service so they can watch the movie or TV show or whatever.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:44
Right. Right. Yeah, it’s challenging. One of the problems I’ve had and the reason I haven’t gotten gung ho into adapting any of my books myself into screenplays is that it is difficult to figure out which parts need to be cut. Like if I were to tell that story, even if I boiled out all the detail and all the exposition stuff and all that, just telling the elements of one of those novels, that’s a three hour movie. You know? I’m not Peter Jackson. I can’t pull that off.
Gerald Hanks 23:22
Yeah, the adaptation process is what we call finding the spine of the story. It’s like, what are the core elements? And especially when you’ve got books that have like bazillions of characters. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the author Harry Turtledove? Yeah. When he does these big alternate history, epics, and he has chapters, like six or seven storylines going through the book, and I’m just like …
Kevin Tumlinson 23:46
Could that even be adapted? Like, I don’t even know if …
Gerald Hanks 23:49
TV, maybe. Maybe TV. In terms of a two- to three-hour feature film for just one of his books? No way.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:57
They said the same thing about Lord of the Rings, too. They did cut a lot of it out. Yeah. And then they oddly added things in, that’s what was weird about that adaptation. They did the typical cut things out. That was a miracle film..
Gerald Hanks 24:14
Yeah, no Tom Bombadil. No Goldberry.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:18
People are still mad about that. Yeah. People are still mad about that.
Gerald Hanks 24:27
They literally bring it down to the spine of the story. It’s like, Frodo and Sam have to get the ring to Mount Doom. And everybody else is basically running interference.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:35
Yeah, yeah. Do you reference a lot of existing films when you’re coaching these folks to do this stuff? What are some of your favorites?
Gerald Hanks 24:42
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Especially in terms of main characters, one of the big ones that I use is Rocky because that’s something just about everybody’s seen. And two, it has a clear storyline to the character. Just to demonstrate, this is what I usually do in my seminars and when I teach it to clients. Rocky has one of the clearest VOTE lines that you’ll see. What’s his victory? He doesn’t even want to win, his victory says I want to go the distance. I don’t want to get knocked out. I want to be able to stand for all 15 rounds. That’s his victory and it’s very clear, it’s very specific. And you can tell whether he makes it or not. This victory is I want to stand for all 15 rounds. What’s his obstacle? Well, his biggest obstacle is he’s fighting the heavyweight champion of the world, the undefeated heavyweight champion who’s in there just to knock and sell and get a payday. His other obstacles are, he doesn’t have the money, he doesn’t have the resources, he doesn’t have the equipment. So what are his tactics? The training montage, the eating the raw eggs, the chasing the chicken, the running up the stairs, the punching the side of beef, all the all the trailer stuff. And what’s his emotional? What’s his E? What’s his emotional need? He needs to prove to himself that he’s worthy of the love of a girl who works at a pet store. And the thing is, that end scene where his face is pounded into hamburger, and he’s like, “Adrian,” and everybody laughs at that. No, like, there should not be a dry eye in the house because that guy is screaming his lungs out after he just got the you know what beat out of him. And he’s crying out for the woman he loves after he basically gets his face pounded into paste.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:17
I think that’s a good example for another reason too, by the way, because when Stallone wrote that it was basically an indie film, is what that is. So I think that’s a great example to use.
Gerald Hanks 26:30
They wanted Jimmy Caan to star in it. And they said, oh, we’ll pay you money. If we can get a big movie star. Again, you’re typically writing these for movie stars. In his case, he was writing it for himself. And the studio even offered him, I think it was Paramount or Fox, I forget which one. But they said we will pay you not to star in it. And he was dead broke and crying. And he said no. He said, I am going to star in this. And that’s literally what launched his career.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:56
Yeah. I don’t even know if you could do that these days. Well, maybe you could, maybe if you had the right chutzpah, you could.
Gerald Hanks 27:04
The closest I’ve seen in the last 25 years or so was Good Will Hunting. I mean, it took the two of them. The two guys wrote it. And Matt Damon starred in it, and like you said the script was so good. That’s how they attracted Robin Williams, because those two guys were not above the title movie stars at the time. They’d done a few little movies, a few little parts. But these guys were not above the title movie stars. They had to write a script so good they were able to attract Robin Williams. And he was working for less than he normally gets. And that’s what also got a lot of the other people on board with it. Because you wrote roles that are so good.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:44
So Good Will Hunting. Now that brings up another question that I’ve had forever. Because all right, when you’re looking at these screenplays, and you’re trying to get them in shape and get them to something presentable I guess. You know, there’s always going to be those, because Good Will Hunting was not a typical screenplay. Another good example is Chris Nolan’s Memento, which is told in reverse and with … And so, how do you, when you see a screenplay like that, those are the ones, they’re kind of outliers, they’re breaking some of the rules. How do you know whether you should touch that or not?
Gerald Hanks 28:31
In terms of breaking the structural rules?
Kevin Tumlinson 28:33
Yeah. So if you if someone handed you the screenplay for Memento, or Good Will Hunting, like what would your first instinct be? Because it doesn’t conform to what is the standard practice for screenplays. It doesn’t look like what you’re trying to help these people craft a story into, you know, an acceptable screenplay, something they can put in front of studios. So what happens when someone hands you a Good Will Hunting? Like, how do you judge that you should touch it?
Gerald Hanks 29:03
Same thing that happens with every script. Like I said, the first thing I look at is the characters. Do they have a clear VOTE? Do they have a clear VOTE, do they have a clear storyline? And when you put two characters together who have clashing votes, do they have clear lines of conflict, or clear stakes? And another thing I’ll look at, like when I talk about the VOTE, I talk about applying that to every major character. You need to apply it to your protagonist, your antagonist, your supporting characters. Because it’s one thing to apply it to the protagonist and all the other characters are thinner than the paper they’re written on. Because like I said, you’re writing for actors. If you write a great protagonist, but the antagonist characters are thin, then you’re gonna get one great performance and the rest are gonna be half done.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:43
I like that. You’re very dedicated to that, I can tell, the idea of the character as the litmus test. I mean, I like that because it does, and I think the same is applicable to novelists, you know. If your character is strong, the character can actually overcome weak story. Ideally, you want strong story.
Gerald Hanks 30:11
Well, the thing is, people talk about, do you start with character first or plot first? I say, plot comes from conflict and conflict comes from characters. So when you have two characters who have strong goals [inaudible].
Kevin Tumlinson 30:18
Audio has dropped out, Gerald. Let’s see what happened here. Okay, well I am seeing you and not hearing you. Maybe it’s me. If you can hear me, give me a wave. You seem to be frozen. Maybe it’s me. There you are waving. Okay. No, it’s Gerald. Well I don’t know what’s happened Gerald but we’ve lost your audio. We’re gonna give it a shot, okay. Thank you to everyone in the audience for helping me get that sussed out, and Gerald is going to continue to work on his audio. Pipe in any time Gerald. I still can’t hear you, so I’m just gonna talk and fill the space. I don’t know what the hand signals mean. There is a private chat off to the side, if you can use that if you need to alert me to anything and I will keep an eye out. In terms of screenwriting and my experience, I did work in film and TV for a while. Most of my experience was in documentary television. I didn’t do a lot of adaptation stuff. But, you know, characterization was equally important in that. And whenever I was looking to determine whether a particular story was worth telling, the characters, the actors, the people who did the thing that I was talking about, or that we were showing footage of, were what we paid the most attention to, especially when doing interview style documentaries, much like podcasts and that sort of thing, what you’re tuning in for is the personality. So using that as a metric for determining whether your story is strong is a good metric. So Gerald has popped out and he’s gonna pop back in, we’re gonna keep discussing this. If you have questions, in the comments I saw a few, go ahead and ask whatever questions you want. As soon as I can get Gerald back in. Let’s see if we got him. Still not hearing you, man. So I don’t know what’s happened there. If you want to do like a real quick reboot or something, feel free, and I will hold my own. Okay. Let’s look at some of the questions. If you have any questions, actually, this is a good time to ask questions, even outside of the format, so if you have questions about Draft2Digital or something like that, feel free to ask right now. It’s a good time. If you’re listening to the podcast in the future, sorry about all the chaos. It happens. So okay, Gerald’s gonna give us a quick reboot. And otherwise, let’s take a look at what I got starred here already. Let’s see. Okay, this is a question from Charles Harvey regarding Final Draft. This came up earlier. “Does Final Draft convert screenplays written with other formats?” It does have like an import feature. So if you’ve written something in Celtx or Movie Magic or something like that, you can actually import those. I think you can even import things that you wrote in Scrivener into Final Draft, and it will do a conversion. As far as I recall, it actually can take, if it recognizes the actual screenplay format, it’ll actually bring that stuff in and do all the attributes and everything. It can recognize those elements if you’ve got it in the right format. So let’s see. This is a comment and question from Richard. And I won’t be able to answer the standard question. So Richard, sorry about that. We maybe we can ask Gerald when he comes back, but, “I was writing music, video scripts and musicals in the 80s. One of my music movie screenplays was used as a sample in the UCLA screenwriting class for some years.” That’s pretty impressive, man. That’s very impressive. I don’t know the answer to the standard question. So we’ll wait and present that to our expert. “Should a novelist be keeping a screenplay in mind while writing their book?” I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s like a requirement or anything, Charles, but certainly if that’s your end game goal, I would say definitely keep the bits in mind. Like keep in mind that, you know, some of this translates over easily, like characterization and that sort of thing. So if you want to keep like a running tally, that’s not a bad idea. How are we doing Gerald? We back?
Gerald Hanks 33:52
I think so. I can hear you.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:55
Hallelujah. There we go.
Gerald Hanks 33:57
Don’t worry. We’ll fix it in post.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:00
We’ll fix that in post. Yeah, probably not.
Gerald Hanks 34:03
It’s not like it’s going live or anything.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:06
Right. That’s right. So welcome back. I don’t know where we left off. I’m sure somebody in the audience knows.
Gerald Hanks 34:12
I know we were talking about characterization and plot. Like I said, plot comes from conflict, conflict comes from character. So like I said, so that’s where the VOTE comes in, in that. We aren’t just talking about Rocky’s VOTE. I was talking about Apollo’s. So Apollo’s victory is, I want to knock this fool out and go home. His obstacle is Rocky, his biggest obstacle is Rocky right in front of him. So his tactics are to basically not take this fight seriously. He’s going to do as little as possible. He’s going to show boat, he’s going to give the people a show and then he’s gonna knock the fool out, right? And his emotion is all driven by his ego. He says, I need to show this Italian Stallion he’s just a big meatball, you know? And when you bring those VOTEs together, that’s where the conflict comes from. And that conflict spawns the plot, because as each character opposes each other, that pushing back and forth, that’s where the plot is gonna come from.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:16
Yes. Well, I mean, if each of those characters, there’s that concept of the MacGuffin, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. Or are you? Oh no, have we lost you again? I’m sorry Gerald, it seems you might be having some issues on your end. Are you back again? There you are, briefly.
Gerald Hanks 37:07
Can you run that over me again?
Kevin Tumlinson 37:09
Are you familiar with the concept of the MacGuffin? Have you heard that term? That’s always one of the things that ends up in my thriller novels is that the good guy and the bad guy are both after the same thing. That’s the MacGuffin, in shorthand. That’s a shorthand version of that. Did you see, I’m assuming that still works as a screenplay motivation right? Okay. All right. Well, unfortunately, everybody, I think we are just running up against too many technical walls. Gerald, if you hear me, I’m really sorry that things have gone sideways. I can hear you again. There you are. I think we might just have to wrap it up just in case.
Gerald Hanks 36:04
Yeah, you were …
Kevin Tumlinson 36:05
I don’t know what’s happening there. I think I think that may be on your end, because we’re everyone’s still hearing me in the comments. But that’s okay. I think we got a lot out of this talk. While we’ve got you, assuming we’ve still got you, do you want to talk real quick, let everybody know where they can find you? We’ve got a link on the screen. What can they find if they go to this Facebook site?
Gerald Hanks 36:30
They can find links to the interviews I’ve done with various writers, they can find out about events that I’m doing. I’m going to be doing a seminar in Houston a week from Saturday in Bel Air. And like I said, I’m going to be doing … my main business is working with private clients. Like I said, I’ve spent all this time reading these scripts. And my goal is to work with writers to help them develop better scripts, so I don’t have to read so many bad ones. So one of the things I’m doing is that if you reach through the Facebook page, send me a message through there. And we can talk about if where you are in the screenwriting process, what scripts do you have? What do you want to do? What do you want to accomplish? If you have a script, I can evaluate it for you if you want to. If you want a script evaluation, I’ll also throw in an hour free consulting.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:23
Excellent. That all sounds like a very good deal. Please make sure that you go and support Gerald in that, go to facebook.com/storyintoscreenplay, all one word. That sounds like that’s going to be a good group to be a part of actually, Gerald.
Gerald Hanks 37:42
Just shy of 1000 followers now. So hopefully it will push it over the top.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:45
You’re just shy of 1000, let’s get that to 1000. Everyone within the sound of my voice, go to facebook.com/storyintoscreenplay, join that group, get that over 1000 and reach out to Gerald for all those goodies. So everybody, thank you. Gerald, thank you, I know that there were some rough spots, but you did fantastic. I appreciate you being on. We’ll get you on in the future again so that we can do a, we’ll make sure everybody’s got a nice strong signal and get you on for the future. But everyone else thank you for tuning in. And I hope you got something really useful out of this. Make sure you again go to facebook.com/storyintoscreenplay. And also if you are watching this on YouTube or elsewhere, make sure you LIKE SHARE, COMMENT and SUBSCRIBE and maybe even profit from while you learn from Self-Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital. Make sure you bookmark D2Dlive.com. We have one of these shows going live every week. We have the podcast launching every Thursday. So make sure you’re bookmarking that site to get a countdown to what’s coming up next. So beyond that thank you for tuning in, being a part of the Self-Publishing Insiders live experience with Draft2Digitial, and we’ll see you all next time.