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View Full Version : Writing Specs That Are Lower Budget -- Good Idea?


Bono
12-26-2009, 02:04 PM
In the spec market thread -- lots of nonsense as usual when threads get that long -- but interesting idea that a few peeps mentioned and I've been thinking about.

Between making your own feature film Paranormal Activity style and writing the spec to sell to studios that requires $30 to $100 million to do right, should we be writing the small indie movies that can be made for $1 to $10 million range like Juno? Ones that we aren't trying to make totally ourselves, but more find someone (producer, actor, director) that believes in the script to make it cheaply, outside the studio system.

Movies like (500) Days of Summer and Little Miss Sunshine also come to mind.

Should writers be writing indie movies with cheaper budgets in mind that attract name talent as the roles are juicy to get themselves going? Or is that just as unlikely as making your own feature and having success? Or selling a spec for that matter?

It does seems that there is no middle ground anymore. They still make $100 million dollar movies or $5 million dollar movies, but the mid range movies seems to be dying. It's either made for cheap or way too much.

Jake Schuster
12-26-2009, 02:22 PM
Bono, I think you're partially right. I'm auditioning for a UK/US co-production of an adapted book, and I asked the US producer if he wanted me to gear it to the lower end of the budget. He wrote: "We are open to either the $25-35m version of the film OR the larger $100m+ version; we think that the material lends itself to either so feel free to think on either scale while reading."

But I also know of companies who are specifically focusing on the midrange, as well.

JeffLowell
12-26-2009, 02:22 PM
If you want to be a director and you want to shoot it yourself, then you should write something that you can make on whatever budget you can realistically get.

Past that... Great ideas are so rare, that I don't know if I'd box myself in. A memorable 100 million dollar spec might get made, and if it doesn't, it puts you in competition for jobs rewriting other 100 million dollar movies. Maybe everyone else has more ideas than I do, but when I hear someone starting with budget and then looking for an idea to fit it... I wonder if that's the right order. (Again, if you're shooting it yourself it's different.)

As for the mid budget movies being dead - I've had three produced in the last five years, and they were between ten and 40 million. I have another one that might shoot next year, and it's budgeted around 50. I have two more in development - both would be in the 30-60 million range. The mid level movies are doing fine.

Bono
12-26-2009, 02:51 PM
As for the mid budget movies being dead - I've had three produced in the last five years, and they were between ten and 40 million. I have another one that might shoot next year, and it's budgeted around 50. I have two more in development - both would be in the 30-60 million range. The mid level movies are doing fine.

Jeff -- that is what I want to hear. But do you think it's different for you because you already made it? I'm thinking in the terms of writers that might have reps, but haven't had that first sale that establishes them yet.

Just went wide with a spec -- that I would say falls into that $10 to $30 million dollar range for budget if done right. But there is probably a $3 million dollar version...

artisone
12-26-2009, 02:55 PM
Is writing a lower budget feature a good idea? If you have a great story to tell it probably is. If you have a great story that's big budget, then tell that story. I think you get to where you want to go by writing what's in your system, not by trying to chase something that you think might get you in the door. I put that line of thinking with chasing the market.

Bono
12-26-2009, 03:05 PM
Is writing a lower budget feature a good idea? If you have a great story to tell it probably is. If you have a great story that's big budget, then tell that story. I think you get to where you want to go by writing what's in your system, not by trying to chase something that you think might get you in the door. I put that line of thinking with chasing the market.

Fair enough. I guess my question boiled down to, if you are trying to break in by making a feature -- should it be more the DIY route like Paranormal Activity/Clerks -- or the Juno route with an eye to get it made, but you obviously are looking to work with directors, producers, etc.

My writer partner and I have been talking about making a feature for a year now -- so now with a 1% better understanding of the business since our spec when wide -- we realize there is another option between making it ourselves or selling a spec.

We got a director interested in our spec that went wide -- so obviously it gets your mind thinking, well what if we could raise the money to do it?

I don't think it's chasing the market as much as finding new options for ideas we always had.

-XL-
12-26-2009, 03:12 PM
Some good thoughts so far.

As someone whose sweet spot is mid-range thrillers I'm proof that they can open a lot of doors for you. That said, I'm well aware that by doing so it creates another hurdle to landing the more popcorn, larger-budget, jobs. As Jeff said, proving you can write at that hundred-million dollar scale opens some interesting doors.

All in all, I think artisone and Jeff have it right. Write the movie at whatever budget serves it best -- whether that be the budget that best serves the idea, or best serves your style -- not the other way around.

ETA: Cross-posted with your last post and realise it didn't answer that question at all. I'm sure there are others much better versed in breaking in through the indie route.

The Road Warrior
12-26-2009, 03:37 PM
I think that you should stick to writing what you enjoy, rather than attempting to second guess any potential interest from the market, if you do not sell a script, it will always be there to make yourself.

Or, you could simply rewrite it to scale down the costs.

BattleDolphinZero
12-26-2009, 05:25 PM
Never listen to JeffLowell. Only listen to me.

I think writing for a low budget can work. If it's compelling you could probably get work from it , meanwhile, you might could make that muhfuka urself.

JeffLowell
12-26-2009, 06:05 PM
Would you say your experience shooting your own scripts influenced your opinion?

EddieCoyle
12-26-2009, 06:38 PM
Isn't the idea of writing any spec so that it will sell? So if you do not have a quality rep or some access why write a $100 million that can only be bought by a handful of outlets? I wouldn't try to write only to sell because usually that's unauthentic, but if you are deciding between two projects and one is lower budget why not go with that one? Genre is a factor too I would imagine.

I wasted nine months working on a high-budget piece with some managers. Who could they pitch it to but a very small group? And after a few lukewarm responses they gave up. I liked the idea so it wasn't phony, but I'd say smaller is the way to go.

I think 'Buried' is a great recent example of this. Low budget thriller that went wide and has catapulted the writer into a promising career.

JeffLowell
12-26-2009, 06:43 PM
The vast majority of income that feature writers make isn't from selling specs. Having a strategy that hinges on writing scripts to be made into movies isn't necessarily the way to go.

maralyn
12-26-2009, 07:25 PM
Everyone's opinion is clouded by their experience. And there is no "one" way.

You have to decide for yourself what sort of career you want. Diabolo Cody and many others are doing just fine selling their own work. (She also started small) (although I think she may end up staying that way)

You have to stand out in the crowd somehow, in whatever work you want to pursue.

To have a career in screenwriting I think you just need to be a damned fine writer.

Rantanplan
12-26-2009, 08:49 PM
I say write the stories you want to write and then pitch to appropriate buyers. Generally speaking, aside from a few often-cited examples, a "small" film opens in fewer markets and garners smaller revenue and is not that incredibly exciting to reps or big shot producers. So if you're writing a small film, target indie production companies, a lot of them accept unsolicited submissions. Then hope for great festival exposure and an acquisition exective from one of the studios :)

But even most Sundance winners only make a few bucks at the box office, so it is good to be realistic... I mean, even Jim Jarmusch's films don't make squat so there you go....

hscope
12-26-2009, 09:13 PM
I've always considered specs to be free from the constraints of budgets and the other realities of filmmaking. They are samples of my writing, storytelling and imaginative capabilities.

There is always the slight chance one will sell, but my aim is for them to open doors. Once I'm inside I'll worry about the other stuff.

A recent short made with a friend, on the other hand, was very much written to budget, which was a great experience.

maralyn
12-26-2009, 09:54 PM
I'm stuck on a couch in a beach resort with a fractured ankle. I feel sick on the morphine and codeine and swiss chocolates and my son has taken off to party and I don't know where he is or when he's coming back.

More morphine, and then I don't think about any of it.

But every writer who has had some success has a different story to tell as to how they achieved it. That's what's so wonderful and so painful about it. That discovery, that finding your own way.

Don't let anyone tell you how to write or how to get there.

BattleDolphinZero
12-26-2009, 10:57 PM
Would you say your experience shooting your own scripts influenced your opinion?
Jesus Christ.

Didn't feel like playing today, huh? Straight for the jugular.

I mean, Goddamn, dude? What? What do I do now?

JeffLowell
12-26-2009, 11:10 PM
Do I know you?

Ulysses
12-26-2009, 11:24 PM
In a movie I want a sensual experience. Not five people in a room talking.

I am with Jeff in regards to that I don't want to write by the (budget) numbers.

As a writer my goal is to bring an idea to intellectual and sensual bloom. There are enough restrictions you face plotting, I don't need another one: a minuscule budget.

As someone who's aiming at being a writer-director, I see writing a low budget movie as only one possible way. Another would be to produce a sample short. I like that other idea better.

Everyone has to find out what fits him best.

Typewriter
12-27-2009, 03:02 AM
As for the mid budget movies being dead - I've had three produced in the last five years, and they were between ten and 40 million. I have another one that might shoot next year, and it's budgeted around 50. I have two more in development - both would be in the 30-60 million range. The mid level movies are doing fine.

Mother****** **** you!! :):)

joe9alt
12-27-2009, 03:23 AM
In a movie I want a sensual experience. Not five people in a room talking.

5 people in a room talking worked out okay for Quentin.

I'm with Jeff, though. Don't worry about the budget unless you're shootin' the thing.

capnbringdown
12-27-2009, 11:21 AM
You definitely need to write what you want, but you need to consider both budget and genre as well.

Writing a 60M dollar horror film probably isn't the best of ideas. It has happened but not that often.

I just watched District 9. Scifi generally has a huge budget, but they made that film for like 30M.

Have you ever seen Brick? I thoroughly enjoyed that film, and it reportedly had a budget of 450k.

I think two other great examples are Reservoir Dogs and Chasing Amy. Both of these were good lower budget films. Tarantino was originally going to shoot Reservoir Dogs on like 30k before Keitel got involved. Chasing Amy was the opposite. Smith had a budget of about 3M, but he didn't like the cast, so he decided to shoot it with his friends on a budget of about 250k.

I generally like the idea of the latter two. Write a film that could be shot for a pretty low budget--250-500k is probably a more realistic goal than 30k, then try to get a cast to bump the budget into the million dollar plus range.

Bono
12-27-2009, 11:48 AM
I thank everyone for their thoughts -- as always get some of the same "write what you want" -- trust me -- I am. I'm writing w/o concern for budget as right now as we speak. But I think it today's spec world, where it's harder to break in with a sale -- thinking about alternatives is a good idea.

Chasing Amy is one of my all time favorites -- always think of that and it's $250,000 budget.

I'm for sure going to be writing a spec soon that has the budget in mind, so we could do it ourselves. Why not?

I want to write this type of movie. Always have. I've written a few average low budget movies since film school -- been my goal for a long time. It's just now, I can see other avenues to getting a film made that isn't just me shooting it for $10,000 with a miniDV camera (not that's it's a bad option.)

JeffLowell
12-27-2009, 11:59 AM
One other thought: set pieces.

Unless you're writing drama, set pieces are a huge part of movies, and they're usually expensive. (Yes, some of them are cheap in comedies, but even there, they can be big ticket items.) People read specs looking for them, and you'd better highlight them in pitches.

Handcuffing yourself by not writing the best set pieces you can dream up in a writing sample again seems counterproductive unless you're going to shoot it yourself and you know you can't afford that explosion or spaceship.

Ulysses
12-27-2009, 12:18 PM
I have one comedy that would be low budget, if it weren't for the special effects that are needed to create underworld creatures.

I heard that the cost of special effects is going down. Does anybody know how much it takes to turn an actor into an underworld creature? I don't mean make-up, masks, and costumes.

All the other things in that script not expensive, and 75% of it could be shot in one building (need to digitally create the right views out of the windows, though, as the location is quite important).

Telly
12-27-2009, 12:23 PM
My scripts are usually character driven dramas so I naturally fall under the lower budget umbrella. I've also shot a couple films so it's always in the back of my mind when writing, it's just there. Of course you should write whatever serves your story but there's nothing wrong with keeping the budget in mind. I'm not saying you should detour from the story you want. However if you have options, and one is incredibly expensive and one is not, why not be smart here? As long as it serves your story there's no reason why you can't be a little conscious of the budget. If you have a character that is traveling from A to B in a helicopter, step back for a moment and ask yourself if it is serving the story or character. Also, would anything change if he traveled by car? If you can seamlessly have the same character travel by car, then make it happen. As long as it does not have an impact on the story you are telling, it's not a big deal. That's my take anyway.

C.C.Baxter
12-27-2009, 12:27 PM
I write high concept scripts that could be made for a few hundred grand or millions depending on the cast.

Writing scripts that could be made low budget gives you more options to sell it. Lot of filmmaking taking place in my home state because of the tax credits.

JeffLowell
12-27-2009, 12:46 PM
I write high concept scripts that could be made for a few hundred grand or millions depending on the cast.

Writing scripts that could be made low budget gives you more options to sell it. Lot of filmmaking taking place in my home state because of the tax credits.

I guess it depends on your goal. If your goal is to see a particular script shot no matter what, then definitely design it so it can be shot for a few hundred thousand. Of course, at that budget level, the vast majority of the time the writer makes nothing and the film won't get distribution.

If the goal is write eight and nine figure studio movies, then IMO it's better to have a script that is a better sample of that kind of writing. A movie that can be shot for 300k just won't read like a theatrical release.

(Yes, there's one every three or four years that breaks that guideline.)

Even something like Little Miss Sunshine couldn't have been made that cheap - car stunts, multiple locations, exteriors, beauty pageant... It cost 8 million, and that cast probably worked for nothing.

JeffLowell
12-27-2009, 12:51 PM
As long as it serves your story there's no reason why you can't be a little conscious of the budget. If you have a character that is traveling from A to B in a helicopter, step back for a moment and ask yourself if it is serving the story or character. Also, would anything change if he traveled by car? If you can seamlessly have the same character travel by car, then make it happen. As long as it does not have an impact on the story you are telling, it's not a big deal. That's my take anyway.

I don't know. Traveling by helicopter is way ****!ng cooler than traveling by car.

Take MI3. The scene at the beginning, where they're fleeing in a helicopter with the girl with the bomb in her brain, while the bad guys are following trying to shoot them down? Could they have shot it with them escaping in a van and bad guys following in cars trying to shoot them? Of course. It wouldn't change the story or the character one bit, but it would feel like a much smaller movie, IMO.

Ulysses
12-27-2009, 01:00 PM
The script I'm currently writing is definitely a high budget one. I could even imagine it as a video game.

But I'm not held back by this. I just see the images and even the color moods, and I'm very excited about it.

I don't want to box myself into a career path before I have even queried for representation. If I am asked "do you have something for a lower budget?", I can always pull out one of my comedies.

Bono
12-27-2009, 01:05 PM
One other thought: set pieces.

Unless you're writing drama, set pieces are a huge part of movies, and they're usually expensive. (Yes, some of them are cheap in comedies, but even there, they can be big ticket items.) People read specs looking for them, and you'd better highlight them in pitches.

Handcuffing yourself by not writing the best set pieces you can dream up in a writing sample again seems counterproductive unless you're going to shoot it yourself and you know you can't afford that explosion or spaceship.

Jeff -- like to hear more about how to write with set pieces in mind. I've heard this before, but never from reps or people I've met in the industry. But maybe they are guarding the secrets or I just haven't made it far enough to learn this.

Telly
12-27-2009, 01:11 PM
I don't know. Traveling by helicopter is way ****!ng cooler than traveling by car.

Take MI3. The scene at the beginning, where they're fleeing in a helicopter with the girl with the bomb in her brain, while the bad guys are following trying to shoot them down? Could they have shot it with them escaping in a van and bad guys following in cars trying to shoot them? Of course. It wouldn't change the story or the character one bit, but it would feel like a much smaller movie, IMO.

I knew someone would bite. My example wasn't hypothetical, it really happened, I think it was Wall Street. Anyway, the producers huddled with the writer during initial development and decided one scene with the tycoon flying from one building to the next had zero bearing on the story or character, so they subbed it with a limo and even added some dialogue that added to the character.

Again, all I'm saying is there's nothing wrong with keeping the budget in mind as long as it does not impede your story or character development.

sc111
12-27-2009, 01:14 PM
Jeff -- like to hear more about how to write with set pieces in mind. I've heard this before, but never from reps or people I've met in the industry. But maybe they are guarding the secrets or I just haven't made it far enough to learn this.

I heard it from a former rep. And from other pros online. It does help in the writing process, in my experience.

RogerOThornhill
12-27-2009, 01:15 PM
Jeff -- like to hear more about how to write with set pieces in mind. I've heard this before, but never from reps or people I've met in the industry. But maybe they are guarding the secrets or I just haven't made it far enough to learn this.

I'll second that. Perhaps a separate thread.

Are we talking about having many takes filmed on one location or set or set pieces in terms of story segments, etc.

sc111
12-27-2009, 01:16 PM
I'll second that. Perhaps a separate thread.

Are we talking about having many takes filmed on one location or set or set pieces in terms of story segments, etc.

I believe he's referring to set pieces as potential trailer moments. Usually bigger budget scenes.

RogerOThornhill
12-27-2009, 01:18 PM
My brain is not up to speed yet from the Holidays.

That makes more sense.


R.O.T.

JeffLowell
12-27-2009, 02:18 PM
I knew someone would bite. My example wasn't hypothetical, it really happened, I think it was Wall Street. Anyway, the producers huddled with the writer during initial development and decided one scene with the tycoon flying from one building to the next had zero bearing on the story or character, so they subbed it with a limo and even added some dialogue that added to the character.

Again, all I'm saying is there's nothing wrong with keeping the budget in mind as long as it does not impede your story or character development.

I would have loved Wall Street so much more with a helicopter.

Jeff -- like to hear more about how to write with set pieces in mind. I've heard this before, but never from reps or people I've met in the industry. But maybe they are guarding the secrets or I just haven't made it far enough to learn this.

First, ROT - a set piece is a sequence that is funny or scary or thrilling... The memorable pieces of the movie. They're should be built like little movies - beginning, middle, end, set backs and victories during them. (I'm not talking about the sequence method.)

Back To The Future has one of the all time classics - the scene where they're trying to get the car to the right speed when lightning strikes and then the tree branch comes down and the Doc has to climb the clock tower and then the car almost hits the wall, etc, etc, etc.

The train crash in The Fugitive is one. So is the dam search/jump. So is almost getting caught in the jail and blending into the parade. So is the opening when the wife is killed by the one armed man. So is the chase in the hotel at the end.

In Meet The Parents there are a bunch. The whole movie is almost all set pieces. Racing home against each other, the volleyball in the pool, the fire, the dinner with the poem and pissing on grandma's ashes, the backyard getting flooded and the truck spraying the DeNiro, the cat destroying the house, the lie detector scene, etc, etc, etc.

They usually cost money. They don't have to - the waxing in 40 Yr Old Virgin. The scene in the boardroom in Liar Liar where he roasts the room.

Bono, to try to answer your question, I'd argue that one of the things about a great movie idea is that it suggests set pieces just hearing it. A kid's parents forget him when they fly away at Christmas, and robbers try to break into the house. Okay, that suggests scenes of a kid being scared when he realizes he's alone, then having a blast with no rules, then being scared discovering that someone is trying to break in, then setting up traps to try to scare them off... Sequences with the parents trying to get home but being frustrated...

I think coming up with set pieces is just as important as coming up with story, and they should be done at the same time. You've got your main idea - figure out the plot twists and the possible set pieces before you even start outlining. Of course, to keep it from feeling episodic, the trick is to have the plot twists take place during the set pieces.

Did I even come close to answering?

RogerOThornhill
12-27-2009, 02:22 PM
Thanks Mr. Lowell!

My grand project in progress has those. I think of them as 'trailer moments' or 'episodes', but they all fit the same general description. In my case, they can be used for promotion as an example of why to see the movie without giving away any really key twists or the ending. It's showing the premise being executed.



R.O.T.

maralyn
12-27-2009, 02:39 PM
I have one comedy that would be low budget, if it weren't for the special effects that are needed to create underworld creatures.

I heard that the cost of special effects is going down. Does anybody know how much it takes to turn an actor into an underworld creature? I don't mean make-up, masks, and costumes.



There isn't really a going rate, it depends on whether it's going to look like "Merlin" or "Avatar", but maybe between 20K and 60K for every page that he's the creature. And if you shoot on digital, the views from the windows are easy.

Bono
12-27-2009, 03:03 PM
First, ROT - a set piece is a sequence that is funny or scary or thrilling... The memorable pieces of the movie. They're should be built like little movies - beginning, middle, end, set backs and victories during them. (I'm not talking about the sequence method.)

Back To The Future has one of the all time classics - the scene where they're trying to get the car to the right speed when lightning strikes and then the tree branch comes down and the Doc has to climb the clock tower and then the car almost hits the wall, etc, etc, etc.

The train crash in The Fugitive is one. So is the dam search/jump. So is almost getting caught in the jail and blending into the parade. So is the opening when the wife is killed by the one armed man. So is the chase in the hotel at the end.

In Meet The Parents there are a bunch. The whole movie is almost all set pieces. Racing home against each other, the volleyball in the pool, the fire, the dinner with the poem and pissing on grandma's ashes, the backyard getting flooded and the truck spraying the DeNiro, the cat destroying the house, the lie detector scene, etc, etc, etc.

They usually cost money. They don't have to - the waxing in 40 Yr Old Virgin. The scene in the boardroom in Liar Liar where he roasts the room.

Bono, to try to answer your question, I'd argue that one of the things about a great movie idea is that it suggests set pieces just hearing it. A kid's parents forget him when they fly away at Christmas, and robbers try to break into the house. Okay, that suggests scenes of a kid being scared when he realizes he's alone, then having a blast with no rules, then being scared discovering that someone is trying to break in, then setting up traps to try to scare them off... Sequences with the parents trying to get home but being frustrated...

I think coming up with set pieces is just as important as coming up with story, and they should be done at the same time. You've got your main idea - figure out the plot twists and the possible set pieces before you even start outlining. Of course, to keep it from feeling episodic, the trick is to have the plot twists take place during the set pieces.

Did I even come close to answering?

Is that a joke Jeff? I think you nailed it. I thought set pieces were the trailer moments and it sounds in a way they are -- but it's almost the stuff you think about before the movie is even written and then it's the stuff you remember after you've seen it.

When I think of Back to The Future, I see that scene of him going "back to the future" -- duh. And Kelly Clarkson 40 Year Old Virgin scene.

So Jeff -- would you say 4 or 5 memorable set pieces are required for a good spec? I'm thinking in terms of comedy mostly.

If we take 40 Year Old Virgin set pieces are --

-- Speed Dating
-- Chest Waxing
-- Sex Meeting he went to with the daughter

I remember many scenes of that movie, but then I guess what makes it a set piece versus a funny scene? The poker game when we find out he's a virgin -- is that a set piece?

WriteByNight
12-27-2009, 03:09 PM
Good thread, guys.

JeffLowell
12-27-2009, 03:45 PM
So Jeff -- would you say 4 or 5 memorable set pieces are required for a good spec? I'm thinking in terms of comedy mostly.

I'd say six to eight would be a good goal.

If we take 40 Year Old Virgin set pieces are --

-- Speed Dating
-- Chest Waxing
-- Sex Meeting he went to with the daughter

I remember many scenes of that movie, but then I guess what makes it a set piece versus a funny scene? The poker game when we find out he's a virgin -- is that a set piece?

Yeah, I'd call the poker game a set piece - it had a dramatic throughline and it was funny. It's obviously talky - like the boardroom Liar Liar one. (But if you don't want to call it a set piece, the screenplay police won't come to your home.)

And I think you missed a few - driving home with the drunk girl would definitely be one. The condom/sex scene would be one. The bike chase. The ending song. (And note all of these have a physical element - set pieces usually do.)

BattleDolphinZero
12-27-2009, 03:49 PM
Look how helpful Jeff Lowell is. He's not malicious at all. He's benign.

Great advice, Jeff. I just wished I'd listened to your advice to me. Would have saved years had I quit a long time ago.

maralyn
12-27-2009, 04:13 PM
I think if you want to have a fight with Jeff you're going about it the wrong way. You'll have to be meaner than that. Like, tell him that his writing is just average. Or merely competent. That will get him going.

Alright alright fine, I'm never going to forget the loss of boski.

I mean, anyone can say any crap they like about my writing and I don't give a dam. If anything, I find it entertaining.

I just think if you're up there making the films you want then nothing anyone says, especially anonymous message board posters, should get to you.

Laura Reyna
12-27-2009, 04:30 PM
I don't write Indie movies or scripts i want to shoot myself. I want to work within the HW studio system so i write the kinds of movies HW makes. Right now I'm writing action/fantasy stories, stuff with lots of CGI.

I think about budget-- it crosses my mind-- but I don't let it hamper my creativity. I think it was Lowell who mentioned that if you want to get hired to write these types of movies (100 mil+), you have to show that you can write these types of movies. They way you show you can write these big budget movies is thru your spec scripts.

Re: set pieces... I definately write with set pieces in mind. I think you have to when you write the types of movies I'm writing. Wish set pieces were talked about more often on SWing boards. There were only a couple of threads here on DD on set peices when I was searching for info a while back.

Rantanplan
12-27-2009, 04:34 PM
Well personally I thought set pieces were cool sequences in really cool settings --like Bourne chasing a bad guy across the rooftops of Tangiers. So what do I know. I didn't realize a set piece could be some guy having his chest waxed. I thought that was just a funny scene for people who think that stuff is funny.

Bono
12-27-2009, 05:24 PM
I'd say six to eight would be a good goal.



Yeah, I'd call the poker game a set piece - it had a dramatic throughline and it was funny. It's obviously talky - like the boardroom Liar Liar one. (But if you don't want to call it a set piece, the screenplay police won't come to your home.)

And I think you missed a few - driving home with the drunk girl would definitely be one. The condom/sex scene would be one. The bike chase. The ending song. (And note all of these have a physical element - set pieces usually do.)


Good stuff. Yes, I totally forgot that Leslie Mann scene and I just watched it on USA 2 days ago.

You know, lately I worry so much about structure and the beats, that sometimes I forget just to think of funny sh$t to do based on the concept.

I know some people that's the first thing they do. Obviously I think of set pieces w/o realizing it, but it's good to think in terms like that. The comedies I love have them and so should I.

Ulysses
12-27-2009, 05:51 PM
Set pieces are those people talk about after they saw the movie.

Sometimes they can by quite low key. I guess the scene when Russell Crowe finds a bullet in his mail box also qualifies as a set piece, even though it's a very simple scene.

wcmartell
12-27-2009, 09:08 PM
One of the things I said somewhere (maybe while drunk) is that you want to find a true high concept idea like THE MATRIX rather than an idea that requires a lot of expensive crap to make it work like 2012. The true high concept idea has an *idea* that is cool. You could make THE MATRIX on the cheap if you wanted to, and the concept that the real world is fake would still work.

The SIXTH SENSE is my new model for specs - and GHOST is also a good one. Though, um, I'm still writing scripts with lots of explosions, too.

- Bill

Rantanplan
12-27-2009, 09:18 PM
One of the things I said somewhere (maybe while drunk) is that you want to find a true high concept idea like THE MATRIX rather than an idea that requires a lot of expensive crap to make it work like 2012. The true high concept idea has an *idea* that is cool. You could make THE MATRIX on the cheap if you wanted to, and the concept that the real world is fake would still work.

- Bill

MATRIX may have been cool on a lower budget, but oh so LESS cool... those fancy camera effects are what made it totally rock. Some of the enemy hardware was pretty impressive too. And the pods.. and....

maralyn
12-27-2009, 10:11 PM
Keanu.


:love: