Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Writer's Journey From Script to Screen: Guest post by Brandon Ho

Brandon is a member of my writing group, but while the rest of us write novels, Brandon writes screenplays! He's a writer and director, and recently released the first episode in a new web series called Unsung Heroes.

I'm so excited to see my web series launch! It's been quite an adventure taking a passion project from the script to the screen. Even though I don't know whether it will be embraced or rejected by the public, I still learned a lot from the process and would love to share some insights.

Nothing happens unless you write:
You don't have a book if you don't write, and you can't film a script that goes unwritten. As simple as it sounds, writing matters! Unsung Heroes started with my friend (Spencer Scanlon, partner in crime for the webseries) and I laughing about a scenario that we made up and then he told me "Write it!" So I did. I downloaded a writing app on my phone (celtx) and started writing short stories out on any of my downtime. 15 minute sprints were usually what I had to work with, but a little bit a day added up to having 5-7 short scripts in about a month.

Share what you make with others:
There's an odd thing that comes with sharing what I wrote; first off, I felt very vulnerable. I don't know what it is, but I feel like when someone is reading my story they are reading into my soul, and learning about the essence of who I am. It doesn't matter if it's a personal story or about a rabbit looking for a shoe, I'm a completely open book to the world. Luckily, Spencer was shameless in showing our scripts to everyone. Which led to seeing what people liked, didn't like, and eventually others who said, "Great, when are we making this?"

Seek out and embrace collaboration:
So writing a script is very different than writing a book, but I think there's a principle that can help novelists a ton, and that's collaboration. When one writes a script, it is never really a finished product by itself, but more like a blueprint for a house that the construction workers create. That means that other people are a part of that creative control. For Unsung Heroes, we had a director who was constantly asking "Are we missing an opportunity here?" and challenging me to dig deeper into what I wrote. Sometimes it was difficult pill to swallow to hear someone say "I don't think that works" about something I wrote, but some of my favorite stuff from the webseries comes from what we worked out in those moments, even though we tossed out entire segments/scenes that I wrote.

Don't climb too high on the pride ladder:
This corresponds with the previous one, but I want to iterate it again because it's the one I constantly have to check for myself. It's hard to share my writing with others and hear them say it doesn't work. But an amazing thing happens when you show it to someone else and put your personal guards down. You get to see how someone experiences what you made through their eyes. When they experience the story the way you intended them to the satisfaction is euphoric. When they don't respond how you want them to, it's devastating. But remember this: it doesn't mean what you want to do is lost, it means that you now know what point of your story can be improved. So give yourself some time for sorrow, but jump back in while you're armed with this new knowledge to reshape your story to become what you intended it to be.

So check out my web series Unsung Heroes; let me know what works and what doesn't, I'll be more than happy to learn from all of you and work together as artists as we strive to tell stories that share our beliefs/passions/ideas with one another!

Brandon Ho was raised in Colorado and attended the BYU film school in Provo, UT. He is the director of the short film “My Hero,” winner of the 2012 College Television Award for Best Children’s Film. He actively seeks both old and new ways to use film as a teaching and promotional tool. Working closely with experts in the music and educational industries, he has produced music videos teaching children strong values and book trailers to promote reading. He is currently working on the web series Unsung Heroes.


  1. Wise advice. Congrats on all your endeavors. I tried to play the first episode but I live in a jungle and my server is slow. I will definitely keep trying.

    1. Best of luck on your jungle streaming! If the buffering becomes burdensome for your equipment I could do stick figure sketches and email them to you with intense descriptions of what happens ;)

  2. Awesome. Brandon that part about putting yourself out there and how hard it is was spot on!! It's hard to let people read what you wrote because it feels like it's such a part of you. It's like taking your kid to a beauty contest and they don't win :). It hurts!! Gonna check out your short now

    1. I know right? But I recently read in an article that a good way of coping with pain/stress is to label it and recognize it. So I think it's good for us to acknowledge that it is hard, but that it is something we all experience. That way it can be integrated as process and motivation without hindering us from moving forward.


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