View Full Version : Attn: wcmartell
10-13-2001, 10:45 AM
I wanted to get a response from Mr. Martell specifically because his book deals with this subject, but I'd be interested in other people's opinions as well.
My co-authors and I have found ourselves becoming good at intelligent, character-oriented action/adventure movies (Loglines section contains 2 samples from one called "Skinwalkers" if interested). Lets assume, for the sake of argument, that they're very well-written, plotted, and seem commercial in premise. My questions are:
Are such things more or less likely to sell (i.e., action movies are generally seen as very marketable but do they do well as specs)?
Is there more of a chance of them getting "dumbed down?" Will our "kick-ass" action sequences actually encourage the loss of the characters and plot that support them?
Maybe this is paranoia, so I wanted to get the opinion of someone with experience in the action genre in H'wood. Also, I rarely hear about other writers working on action specs. All responses appreciated.
10-13-2001, 11:08 PM
I think comedy is the #1 type of spec sale followed closely by action/thrillers... and there are a bunch of action first sales, too.
As for being dumbed down - by the time that happens you've already been paid and replaced by some other writer. We aren't responsible for the movies, just our scripts. EVERYTHING gets dumbed down one way or another. Producers make changes, actors make changes, directors make changes... what gets made is never what you've written. What you've written is that script that sold - and you can keep using it as a writing sample even if the movie sucks. I get work and meetings off the original script to TREACHEROUS even though the finished film is nothing like my script.
There was a really good action spec that I think was a first sale... that was rewritten into a piece of junk called CHAIN REACTION.
The only thing we can control is our script - once it's sold it's out of our control.
10-13-2001, 11:16 PM
CHAIN REACTION's script was good?
The surprises keep coming...
10-14-2001, 01:08 AM
Original title was DEAD DROP and it was about the guy who makes gadgets for the CIA, kind of like Q in the Bond films. One of his gadgets was used to assassinate a democratic leader so that a dictator can take over a country, he goes to the CIA boss with the info, and finds himself on the run. This nerd being chased by the CIA's best assassins. His own gadgets used against him... but he makes new ones from things he finds along the way.
How that story turned into CHAIN REACTION is a mystery of development.
10-14-2001, 02:04 AM
Wow. That's so different from Chain Reaction, you'd think they could sell the original DEAD DROP script again. Under another title, maybe. :)
It's a shame. DEAD DROP sounds like a movie I'd really like.
(Chain Reaction...another movie Morgan Freeman's presence couldn't save.)
10-14-2001, 02:19 AM
Okay, thanks for the response. It does give me hope. We've been told that our writing and story were (agent's actual quote) "incredible" but that our concept might not be marketable right now.
I suppose it's a reaction to the World Trade Center thing. Everybody's skittish about action movies but I know they're not going to stop making them. Just needed some encouragement that we can sell these things when the right person (or persons) reads them.
10-14-2001, 02:26 AM
Sickening. What's next? Justin Chambers being cast in the lead for THE ALIENIST, only now it's about a young, hip Psychology undergrad pursuing a serial slasher at Raves?
BTW, Xuemertie, if the pages from THE VOID are any indication, that praise you received was well-deserved.
10-14-2001, 11:41 AM
Thanks, Fwuffy, that's really great to hear. I've got one big scene to finish in that one (if I can stop haunting DD) and the first draft will be complete. Nice to know the first draft reads promisingly. Now maybe I kick myself in the ass and finish it! :)
10-15-2001, 12:41 AM
My first sale was an action movie. The last job I had was rewriting...er...a hip-hop comedy (go figure). In my experience, action was the "big spec sale" bait of the early-mid '90s. Shortly thereafter, teen movies and Adam Sandler-type comedies took over. Prior to Sept. 11, most of the execs my partner and I met with were starving for action scripts and having a hard time coming by many good ones. Post 9-11 the appetite for action seems to have ebbed again, although hopefully only for the short-term (at least that's what my agent keeps telling me).
10-15-2001, 12:54 AM
Seems to me like there ought to be one or two smart execs out there looking to snap up action pics that others are afraid to take. I think there's little evidence to indicate that audiences don't want action pics right now, but even if that's the case -- by the time any action film is released that went into development today, the public's bound to be ready for it.
Sadly, I'm not an exec, and they don't listen to me.
10-16-2001, 04:18 PM
They held back TRAINING DAY because it was a violent action flick... and when they finally released it it was #1 two weeks in a row.
My personal plan is to write more thrillers and more fantasy/sci-fi type action (it was my plan before Sept 11). I think we still want action, we just may not want to see any buildings explode for a while.
I was rereading CITY OF NETS on my long plane ride to London, and it's interesting - the parallels between the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Hollywood and Sept 11th. What came out of PH was a bunch of pro-USA war movies where we kicked butt... also the imprisoning of Japanese Americans, the fear that a comedy about Hitler was a bad idea for Chaplin... that became a huge hit. Hollywood was afraid to deal with subjects back then, but when they finally did the films were hits.
By the way, if you haven't read CITY OF NETS I recommend it - it's about Hollywood from 1939-1949, all of the European refugees who ended up working in Hollywood.
10-17-2001, 02:05 AM
Sounds interesting. Speaking of books, I also checked out the site that carries your book. The exepts were very interesting, I'll probably pick it up since writing good action seems an important component of what I'm doing.
And speaking of sci-fi/fantasy action, could I ask you to peruse the pages of "The Void" I put up? It's a first draft (I'm currently trimming it down) but I'd like your opinion on the general style and quality. Thanks for all your help thus far.
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