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The Art of Screenwriting: Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola is regarded as one of the most iconic and brilliant filmmakers since her iconic film, The Virgin Suicides, in 1999. Being the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, most would expect the daughter of the brilliant filmmaker to follow a similar path. What society got in return is a number of excellent films from one of the best filmmakers and writers of the 21st century.

Sofia Coppola broke ground in 1999 with her film, The Virgin Suicides. The film was nominated for best director, best screenplay, and best female newcomer at the Las Vegas Film Critics Society.

In 2003, Coppola won the Academy Award for the best original screenplay for her film, Lost in Translation. The film was nominated for best film and best director at the Academy Awards, not to mention the countless other awards it won.

Throughout the years, Coppola has written and directed several films, most of which received countless accolades. With this in mind, how does Sofia Coppola go about crafting a screenplay? Since the primary way to get better as a writer is from other writers, Sofia Coppola is a prime example of someone every screenwriter should learn from.

We're going to take a quick look into Sofia Coppola's art of screenwriting. Going over what she does differently and how her script stands out from others. Originality is essential, so we're going to take a quick look into what makes Sofia Coppola such a fantastic writer and filmmaker.

Photo credit: Andrew Durham

What You Envision, Not the Audience

Although it's essential to understand what the audience wants, your writing is about what you want as a writer. Sofia Coppola has gone record to state her writing and filmmaking process is about what she wants to see and create, not necessarily what the audience wants.

Giving the original characters and storytelling throughout her films, you can understand what she means by creating a story as an embodiment of what you envision. Like anything else, originality is essential, and not being able to craft a story that you want isn't the right move to make.

Ideas Find You

Coppola's writing process is an understanding that ideas will come to you. Too many screenwriters wait patiently for their next best idea while writing a script. In contrast, it's vital to get the script done and make edits as the ideas come.

Writing a script of any length is a difficult task to accomplish, so it's crucial to go out and get it done before making any edits. Coppola is an example of this notion, so why won't you?

Describe What You Want to See

Coppola’s scripts are an example of detailing what she envisions on seeing in the film. Although this is primarily done since she’s a filmmaker on top of being a writer, writers of any caliber should do this. No one will want to fund your script if they can’t properly envision what it’ll look like.

Coppola's writing in scripts is detailed enough to easily picture what she envisions. Still, it's not an oversaturation amount of detail. No one wants to read a script if it has a burdensome amount of detail in it. Coppola knows how to correctly add detail in her script, but not to the point that it's too much.

Don’t Exhaust Parts

Coppola has gone record that she leaves a script at a part that excites her. It makes it that much easier to go back to the script when you have an exciting component to look forward to. Writers need to understand the exhaustion is a massive negative with any form of writing. Thus, it's essential to take a break and come back to the script when you're refreshed.

The Setting Tells a Story

Whether you're aware of Coppola's films or not, her films are always in a fascinating setting and environment. Part of this reason is Coppola's understanding of the essence tied to a breathtaking setting. Unusual settings can tell a story on their own, and that's always crucial for a part of a script.

If you've crafted an exceptional story, consider how you can adapt the story to an exotic or exciting setting. A setting like this will propel your script into another dimension of interest. Thus, why Coppola heavily utilizes interesting settings among all of her scripts.

Best Films:

● Lost In Translation (2003)

● The Virgin Suicides (1999)

● Marie Antoinette (2006)

● The Beguilded (2017)


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