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Director's Notes - Directly from the "From Script to Screen" seminar (check out "Tom's Blog" page for more notes)
First, do it right.
Making a film - any film - will require a lot of patience, a lot of perserverance and a lot of attention to detail.
The best advice I can give first time filmmakers is to do it right first. Taking "shortcuts" often results in much more work down the road. For example, hiring or engaging a script supervisor in the short run might increase your total budget a bit right from the start but will save you tons of time as you move from the shooting to the editing process. Try not to cut corners to save a nickel and end up spending many times that nickle in the long run. You'll thank yourself at the end of the process.
Follow the Rules Until You Can Break the Rules
I mentioned reading the work of other screenwriters in preparation for writing your own screenplay. Accepted formatting conventions change slightly over the years but the basics remain the same. As you read the screenplays of other writers, you will discover that they may have used techniques that may now be out of favor. Keep in mind that once you are a successful screenwriter with work that has been produced, you will have a lot more leeway to write the way you want to write. Until then, try to stick with the current, accepted "rules" of screenwriting so as not to give readers or producers a reason to pass on your work. Also remember, for every "rule", there are exceptions and there is nothing to say that you might sneak in the door by taking some big writing risks. But in general, I believe you would be better served to stick with what is working currently until you're on the "inside".