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By Ken Miyamoto from ScreenCraft · February 22, 2023
Let’s confront the elephant in the room of this discussion: Artificial Intelligence (AI) screenwriting programs are incapable of producing great scripts. Although there’s a prevailing notion on social media that AI will soon take over the screenwriting industry, it’s essential not to be swayed by the hype of AI writing.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see the demos by some of the most powerful writing AI out there. Most of the content that the AI creates when it comes to actually writing a screenplay is usually a combination of pure oddness accompanied by a clear uncanny valley effect throughout.
The best analogy is autocorrect. When autocorrection came about, it literally finished our sentences. It could never read our collective minds and write our texts, emails, and documents for us. And even today, it still makes mistakes and odd assumptions with the most simple of sentences.
That’s AI screenwriting. It is only somewhat effective when there’s a human pilot making corrections, adjustments, and creative decisions to line the otherwise random pieces of content together to create a cohesive story. It may luck out now and then with some scenes. But it will never replace a screenwriter.
At best, it’ll be a tool, like autocorrect. It may write a scene with dialogue and action, but only with prompts from humans. And even after that, a human will need to rewrite the script for it to be a cohesive story. And that human is a screenwriter.
With that said, I did discover that AI writing software can and will change certain elements of screenplay development, screenwriting practices, and even movie marketing. Let’s go over a few ways you can utilize AI to help your screenwriting process.
Loglines are necessary evils in screenwriting. They are often perceived as being “evil” because it’s so difficult for screenwriters to condense their concepts and screenplays into a one-to-two-sentence breakdown. The AI I worked with blew my mind when it came to articulating loglines after feeding it prompts.
As you know, loglines are summaries that best communicate the core concept, character(s), and a story of your screenplay.
The best AI writing programs are masters at writing them. Why? Unlike writing a screenplay, writing loglines doesn’t force the writer to be overly specific. Quite the contrary, actually. Loglines are the broadest communication of an idea or concept. Because of that, AI is perfect for that type of creative implementation.
You can feed the AI basic prompts necessary in most loglines.
Most loglines start with a basic structure that can be programmed in AI screenwriting software.
When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer must hunt the beast down before it kills again.
Read More: 7 Simple Steps to Writing Perfect Loglines
AI software these days can offer much more nuanced prompts and structures.
Speaking from experience, AI writing software is masterful at writing the thing most screenwriters hate to write — loglines.
This can also be used by screenwriters looking for idea prompts for their next projects. Depending on the software, with most, you can take an even broader overview and inject less specific prompts like genre, subgenres, and character types. You can also add elements like location types, time-era settings (past, present, future), and whatnot, all of which can offer you loglines to potential ideas and concepts to explore.
AI may not be great at writing screenplays. But it can sure write a good logline that you can tweak.
The next necessary evils that most screenwriters hate to write are synopses, treatments, and outlines. However, these development materials are necessary for all professional screenwriting contracts and collaboration. You can’t escape them as a pro.
Once again, AI screenwriting software can offer mindblowing results in the development phase of screenwriting. When it comes to writing longer text versions of concepts and ideas in the form of development materials like these, AI is surprisingly literate and creative.
You still need a human pilot — the screenwriter — to inject prompts, structure, and additional details for the AI to be able to create something you’re looking for, but the results are surprisingly effective. And you also still need a human to make the proper corrections to the end product. But the software can save you a lot of frustrating work and, at the very least, set you on the right path toward an effective synopsis, treatment, or outline.
In the demo that I was a part of, the creators, engineers, and designers demonstrated a conversation with the AI. We asked it to create a movie trailer for a science fiction flick.
No, it didn’t conjure any visuals, special effects, or actors — again, AI is only a tool that will always need a human pilot — but it did articulate a breakdown of the visual description of shots we would see, accompanied (in creepy fashion) by lines of movie trailer narration that would run with the visuals.
It was jaw-dropping. And it was at that moment that I had the epiphany that while screenwriters were not in danger of being replaced by AI screenwriting software, it was on the precipice of changing Hollywood development and marketing as we know it.
AI screenwriting software can be a highly effective tool when it comes to the development phase of screenwriting and filmmaking.
It can make the job of writing loglines, synopses, treatments, and outlines easier. It can even create outstanding blueprints for trailers and marketing materials. But don’t worry; AI is not the new screenwriter. It never will be. You’re safe, screenwriters. And you’ll soon have a development tool that you’ll treasure.
Read More: Ten Top Tips on Marketing Your Screenplay
Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.
He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, and Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner, the feature thriller Hunter’s Creed, and many produced Lifetime thrillers.