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Rantanplan
02-06-2011, 10:58 PM
Or should I say to the test.

I think I speak for a lot of writers when I say that one of the most puzzling / contradictory / frustrating aspects of the biz is that on the one hand you're told you should be writing incredibly great, unique, original material, and that yet on the other hand, that kind of material is not necessarily what comes out at the multiplex.

I mean let's face it, most films that HW spends 50 + millions of dollars on have completely left our consciousness by the time we reach the parking garage. That's the extent of their impact.

Now I know people will often say the scripts were pure works of genius before the studio execs got their hands on them, but... um, really?

It's the same with a lot of creative fields. I'm sure we've all read novels we thought were pure crap, written at barely the level of a high school graduate, yet the author made tons of money.

So, is it possible to have a rational discussion about good script versus marketable script? Someone here said recently that HW was looking for fresh, original, never before seen characters, and I almost laughed out loud when I read that. Because well, there just isn't a whole lot of evidence to support that.

Please let's not get into the discussion of unproduced writers being bitter or the whole, well if people pay to see it, it must mean it's good. People pay to eat crap food at McDonalds by the billions, it doesn't mean it's good, it just means people like cheap crappy food and expensive medical bills.

So yeah, rational discussion please. Pros, what have you had to compromise? Do you think HW could make just as much money with better films?

Because to me the difference is, the best chefs in the world are not working at McDonalds. But the best of EVERYONE is supposedly working on a studio film. So why are so many films so forgettable?

Personally I think the audience is highly underestimated, and that if you give people better food, they will eat it and (grow to) like it.

I hope Brian weighs in with SOLITARY MAN, because I think this is the type of film that would have gotten a lot more attention a few years ago. That's not my own theory, I read that about a similar film a while back, a smart, serious, insightful "grown-up" type flick (sorry, can't remember which one), and the reviewer was lamenting the fact that a decade ago, that film would have been considered mainstream, but that now, it was relegated to art-house status, which of course seriously limited its revenue potential.

Thoughts?

belac
02-06-2011, 11:27 PM
Writing a good movie is difficult business, even for the working writers.

Rantanplan
02-06-2011, 11:56 PM
Writing a good movie is difficult business, even for the working writers.

I am certainly not blaming the writers. I'm questioning the system. I understand that ultimately money is the end result, not "excellence" or critical acclaim. But presumably a lot of the people involved in the making of a film, from the writer to the actors to the director to the producer, are all people who have a passion for film and who have struggled like hell for years to get onto that 50 M dollar set. And they KNOW film, inside and out.

So if you put all that talent, and all that drive, and all that passion, and all that money together, mathematically shouldn't a lot of films be a lot better? Even by default, for lack of a better word?

Screenplay Savant
02-07-2011, 12:05 AM
I pitched the head of production at a studio last year. When I was done he said "I'd pay to see that, but not to make it."

The most telling feedback I ever got from a pitch or submission.

Rantanplan
02-07-2011, 12:07 AM
I pitched the head of production at a studio last year. When I was done he said "I'd pay to see that, but not to make it."

The most telling feedback I ever got from a pitch or submission.

That's a great line!

BattleDolphinZero
02-07-2011, 12:14 AM
So, is it possible to have a rational discussion about good script versus marketable script? Someone here said recently that HW was looking for fresh, original, never before seen characters, and I almost laughed out loud when I read that. Because well, there just isn't a whole lot of evidence to support that.Black Swan is at 90 mill.

The Fighter must be close to 80 mill.

True Grit has probably passed 150 mill by now.

Social Network doing big numbers with no stars.

Look at Slum Dog just a few years ago.

And Grand Torino.

It's been a great couple of years for grown up movies.

Then realize tha tall those movies combined don't generate as much money as a Transformers flick.

Rantanplan
02-07-2011, 12:22 AM
Black Swan is at 90 mill.

The Fighter must be close to 80 mill.

True Grit has probably passed 150 mill by now.

Social Network doing big numbers with no stars.

Look at Slum Dog just a few years ago.

And Grand Torino.

It's been a great couple of years for grown up movies.

Then realize tha tall those movies combined don't generate as much money as a Transformers flick.

You're right, I mean for the time being, I am personally grateful that there is still quite a lot of variety out there and some really good "smart" films being made on a regular basis. Most of the ones you mention have well known directors attached to them though, which is still great news for audiences but also probably means that without them they wouldn't have gotten made.

I do think though that with Social Network, the director, the writer, and the topic were the stars, it didn't really matter who acted in it. Personally, I'll go see anything Aaron Sorkin writes, even if to me SN couldn't hold a candle to a single episode of The West Wing. But it's still Sorkin, and it shows. As far as I'm concerned, that guy can do no wrong. He's fvcking brilliant.

LauriD
02-07-2011, 12:38 AM
I pitched the head of production at a studio last year. When I was done he said "I'd pay to see that, but not to make it."

The most telling feedback I ever got from a pitch or submission.

Along similar lines, I was told a few months back that a script of mine was "too good" for current studio buyers.

So what do you do with feedback like that?

Good (and original) movies DO get made and DO bring in audiences. But it seems that newbies are expected to stick to the trite and formulaic in order to break in?

belac
02-07-2011, 12:41 AM
In other words Lauri, he couched his sentiment. Instead of saying, it has zero marketability.

Rantanplan
02-07-2011, 12:48 AM
Good (and original) movies DO get made and DO bring in audiences.

Well, depending on which films you're talking about, a lot of those "good" films are director-driven and sometimes passion projects that those directors had to struggle to get made, despite their reputation.

As far as audiences, as Dolphin pointed out, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the talking semi-trucks.

LauriD
02-07-2011, 01:23 AM
In other words Lauri, he couched his sentiment. Instead of saying, it has zero marketability.

Right, which implies good doesn't equal marketable, despite the success of many "good" (but non-formulaic) movies as listed above. And this also contradicts the conventional wisdom that a good/great script will eventually find a home.

Savant's post suggests that execs know "good" when they see it, but believe the market doesn't want it -- again, in the face of evidence that the market does in fact like good films, of whatever genre, with and without stars, and even in Hindi -- as well as "bad" ones.

Nothing new here.... It's just sad.... :(

Brian Koppelman
02-07-2011, 05:25 AM
I don't have time for a long response to this right now. But I will say that I never, ever think about...
revenue potential. when I am creating original material. Half the films David and I make are in the independent world--Solitary Man, The Illusionist, The Girlfriend Experience. I wouldn't change anything about the experience of making those movies. They were all almost impossible to get financed, released, etc...But, and here's the the thing that might be hard to believe or understand: we made them because they were stories we had to tell. This is an art form. That might sound like a naive position, or a pollyanna view of it. But I have never thought that the movie business owed me a living. Or that I could calculate how to get one. I do understand how our choice of subject, tone, et al will affect how much money we will have to make a given film. I knew when I was writing Solitary Man and when David and I decided to direct it that we were going to have to get Michael Douglas to play that part in order to get financing. But that's how it should have been; I wrote it for him (without ever having met him). I knew that the four years of writing the screenplay were going to have been wasted if we couldn't get him to come do the movie. But, as a writer, I needed to tell that story. So I did. The OP says that in a different climate the movie might have gotten more attention. And it might have. But that's not in my control. Beyond that, I am elated by the reception that it did get. If you would have told me when no one wanted to finance it, when no one wanted to release it, that it would have ended up on Roger Ebert's year end best list or AO Scott's in the NY Times, hell, if you would have told me that it would come out on 200 screens and make back all of its money for the financiers, I would have signed on the dotted line.

Now, of course, when David and I are hired or when we are pitching a Hollywood movie, we do consider the marketplace. And what the expectations are. Because we are taking other people's money and have an obligation to protect that and serve their interests. But that's a different conversation. Like I said in that other thread: calculate less when it comes to your original material. Find a story you have to tell and write it to within an inch of its life. The rest really will take care of itself.

zenplato
02-07-2011, 06:32 AM
Find a story you have to tell and write it

Hi, just going to piggy-back on this and say that this is my raison d'Ítre. It is innate.

It's almost like a curse, but I don't feel like I suffer because of it. In fact, I feel like it makes me a better person. I just suffer trying to execute it, which is a whole different discussion as well.

Thanks for taking the time to clarify how things work from your perspective.

schnipple
02-07-2011, 07:13 AM
I agree with this and one of the problem is people who are not great storytellers becoming proficient screenwriters. Not everybody can come up with great characters and strong plots that unify theme with action. But a lot of hacks can learn the technicalities of screenwriting.

Many professional scripts read like well written scripts but lack great plots, memorable characters, and originality. This was always the case because there will always be levels of quality but the cookie cutter feeling is getting extreme.

These days, I can watch an indie movie or a studio film or a foreign movie and a lot of them feel the same because they all have a hook concept with inciting incident two minutes in, plot twist twelve minutes in, main goal revealed thirty minutes in, second act in two halves, etc...

You can argue this is good dramatic writing since Aristotle but like the pros are saying, rules are meant to be broken.

Screenwriters, directors, studios, and Wall Street all think they know what a good story is now that everything has been figured out. It's like the good, the crap, and the great are all merging into a strange blur.

I honestly don't know why some films get hype now and some are panned. They all seem pretty similar at this point.

mariot
02-07-2011, 07:20 AM
Along similar lines, I was told a few months back that a script of mine was "too good" for current studio buyers.

So what do you do with feedback like that?

Good (and original) movies DO get made and DO bring in audiences. But it seems that newbies are expected to stick to the trite and formulaic in order to break in?


I might be alone in this but I disagree so strongly with that opinion.

I'm sure the quality of your writing is very good but I would guess that your commercial sensibility is off.

If you're dismissive of that sensibility and don't want to work to acquire it then you might be better off focusing on independent film.

catcon
02-07-2011, 07:31 AM
Before I get away from DD and onto my writing project for the day...

I could have responded on the "When will you feel you've made it" thread, but I'll drop it in here because it resonates on this topic: I'll feel I've made it when "I'm given some life-time achievement award for being an outsider."

That is, the efforts of writer-directors such as Terry Gilliam have always appealed to me more than, sorry, I won't mention names of other writer-directors of note these days. Gilliam's metaphor and allegory (eg. Brazil) stands the test against the others, whose present and popular works are mostly eye-candy, even if they throw in large doses of noise and confusion to make the stories seem "cool".

My point is that we write them, and we certainly expect the credit for them, but then we ask why things are like they are.

The system hasn't changed people like Gilliam and I hope it doesn't change me. I've written 13 scripts, only one of which would be considered mainstream.

Yesterday, there was an interesting metric of a survey of "pros" (by JShurlett?) about how so few of them have notes done on their scripts.

It surprised me and made me feel less like an alien in my aspirations, because I don't bother with notes or coverage either. Almost without exception the comments on my earlier works were always toward contrasting my stories with the latest trends, or that my drama didn't have enough pyro or car crashes, nor a hero that saves the world, and why isn't he in every scene!? Never mind if anything metaphorical or allegorical happened in my stories. "Whazzat?"

What would happen if we aimed for a high message content in our writing versus a high death count?

mariot
02-07-2011, 07:38 AM
I agree with this and one of the problem is people who are not great storytellers becoming proficient screenwriters. Not everybody can come up with great characters and strong plots that unify theme with action. But a lot of hacks can learn the technicalities of screenwriting.

Many professional scripts read like well written scripts but lack great plots, memorable characters, and originality. This was always the case because there will always be levels of quality but the cookie cutter feeling is getting extreme.

These days, I can watch an indie movie or a studio film or a foreign movie and a lot of them feel the same because they all have a hook concept with inciting incident two minutes in, plot twist twelve minutes in, main goal revealed thirty minutes in, second act in two halves, etc...

You can argue this is good dramatic writing since Aristotle but like the pros are saying, rules are meant to be broken.

Screenwriters, directors, studios, and Wall Street all think they know what a good story is now that everything has been figured out. It's like the good, the crap, and the great are all merging into a strange blur.

I honestly don't know why some films get hype now and some are panned. They all seem pretty similar at this point.

I can think of a lot of great, old movies that have similar structure. Time them, break them down, and you'll see that it's there.

The difference is that the writers were so skilled at hiding the structure.

I enjoyed The Expendables but the structure was like a screenwriting book come to life. (Spoiler coming) The scene where Mickey Rourke tells Sylvester Stallone a story that triggers the inner need of Stallone's character was so screenwriting 101. But the friend I saw it with doesn't know anything about screenwriting so he didn't see the gears turning to push the story forward.

Maybe executives today are so steeped in "Save the Cat" that if they don't immediately see the expected beats they assume they're not there. Or, maybe they think the audience needs the turning points to be obvious. Or, maybe it's just really hard for writers to learn to hide their plotting.

JeffLowell
02-07-2011, 07:43 AM
This thread is pretty much a replay of this thread (http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=52632), if anyone wants to crib arguments.

But basically, the question is "why do movies I don't like get made?" The answer is that other people do like them. Not only are movies doing well in the theaters, but when Cinemascore surveys the audiences, most hits gets As and Bs, including widely derided movies on screenwriting boards.

And the OP is missing one ingredient - maybe that incredibly well written screenplay doesn't immediately (or ever) get made, but it can get the writer hired on other movies. Which is why Brian and others are telling you to write a great script and don't get caught up in the calculating bullshit.

sarajb
02-07-2011, 07:49 AM
What would happen if we aimed for a high message content in our writing versus a high death count?
What would happen if we did both?

I really don't feel "cool" must be shallow or that "important" has to mean the opposite of cool or even the opposite of commercial.

On top of that, I wouldn't want every movie I see to be serious, life-changing, and/or overly thought provoking. I do want them to be good, though. A fair percentage of them are in my, perhaps, pedestrian opinion.

Hamboogul
02-07-2011, 08:10 AM
From my experience, I never found "high message content" scripts from novice screenwriters to be particularly interesting.

sc111
02-07-2011, 08:33 AM
I had somewhat of an 'ah-ha' moment pondering various things as I wrestle with my current script (future-set thriller/action). I've also developed a protag that's far less talky than any other I've developed. Lots of challenges as I tackle a bunch of things totally new to me after changing genres.

If it has any chance, it has to marketable. And in mentally reviewing box office hits - through memory, not rewatching films or reading their scripts - I realized I can recall the characters quite clearly, but I'm foggy n the plots.

I'm thinking maybe we underestimate how character driven marketable films really are. Think of all the favotites, especially the films that went into franchise (not comic book adaptations - those are different).

Lethal Weapon -- for the life of me I can only recall the foggiest details of any of those franchise plots. But the characters -- I feel I know them.

Diehard -- I remember the plot to the first I think because the bad guy was as compelling as the good guy.

Indiana Jones -- sure the stories are interesting but aren't we really waiting to see what Indy does next? Ditto on the Pirates franchise.

And the films we watch over and over. Of course we know what's going to happen, we've seen them before. Why do we watch them again? I think a good portion of the many reasons we do is related to characters. It's like visiting old friends.

These are just a few... I'm sure you can think of others.

Have there been highly forgettable "marketable" films. Of course. But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

My umbrella point is this -- the best marketable/high concept films, those that become iconic, incorporate all the writing skills required to write a character-driven drama. I guess what I'm telling myself is - no excuses.

:)

NikeeGoddess
02-07-2011, 08:56 AM
Black Swan is at 90 mill.

The Fighter must be close to 80 mill.

True Grit has probably passed 150 mill by now.

Social Network doing big numbers with no stars.

Look at Slum Dog just a few years ago.

And Grand Torino.

It's been a great couple of years for grown up movies.

Then realize tha tall those movies combined don't generate as much money as a Transformers flick.true that the youth market still makes loads more for the studios... but a recent article in the hollywood reporter, box office: you in revolt states that the under-25 crowd is not taking over like it used to and the studio execs have taken notice.

BACK ON TOPIC:

I think I speak for a lot of writers when I say that one of the most puzzling / contradictory / frustrating aspects of the biz is that on the one hand you're told you should be writing incredibly great, unique, original material, and that yet on the other hand, that kind of material is not necessarily what comes out at the multiplex.maybe the real issue here is you need to be standoutish to break in the door. and once you're in then they say, stop trying to push that "unique" stuff now but we trust you to do more of the same crap that we know works.

Derek Haas
02-07-2011, 09:02 AM
Well, here's another side of the coin.

Some of us LIKE to write popcorn movies. You know what movies I loved more than anything growing up? DIE HARD, LETHAL WEAPON, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, CRIMSON TIDE, BACK TO THE FUTURE, ET...

I remember getting asked at my alma mater what it was like "selling out" when Michael and I wrote the sequel to the Fast and the Furious.

I said: "Sell out? I got to sell in!" Because of a spec script followed by about four assignments, we were hired to write the second in what they were hoping to be a franchise. Now, you may look at what became 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS and say "that movie sucks balls," but let me tell you, we had the times of our lives writing it and making it. We put the same level of excitement, pace, punch into that script as we did anything else. And even though there are parts of that movie that make me cringe (and I was on set the whole time watching it happen), there are other parts where I say, "damn! That worked!"

That said, I'm a 100 percent behind BKopp's "calculate less" notion. If you didn't grow up loving popcorn movies, if you felt they are all pounds of garbage and immediately forgettable, if you wouldn't dare to set foot in a summer movie theater, then of course you shouldn't stoop to try to write a big commercial movie. Write what YOU love and your script will be better for it. Calculate less.

(And now I see I made the same point as SC111.)

emily blake
02-07-2011, 09:17 AM
Know what my students want to see? The Roommate. It's got older kids in it, hot chicks, maybe some lesbian action, somebody stalking and trying to kill someone else. You may say, but ah, Black Swan appears to have all that! But Black Swan looks like I have to think about it. The Roommate feeds me my story without a lot of extra thoughts.

Teenagers want a movie to be pretty, to make them feel good. They want the bad guy to get his comeuppance in the end and the pretty boy to end up with the pretty girl. They use films for wish fulfillment. They're forced to listen to people talking about boring crap all week and then they have to go home and work on more of that boring crap. They do not want to risk being bored in a movie.

They often end up liking those "boring" movies when they see them in class, but they're often surprised by this. They don't think a movie that makes them think will be any good. I bet they'd love Black Swan, but good luck getting them to see it on purpose.

They don't have a lot of money or power, so they see a lot of movies, and they often travel in packs.

So there's one reason.

BattleDolphinZero
02-07-2011, 09:21 AM
Right, which implies good doesn't equal marketable, despite the success of many "good" (but non-formulaic) movies as listed above. And this also contradicts the conventional wisdom that a good/great script will eventually find a home.

Savant's post suggests that execs know "good" when they see it, but believe the market doesn't want it -- again, in the face of evidence that the market does in fact like good films, of whatever genre, with and without stars, and even in Hindi -- as well as "bad" ones.

Nothing new here.... It's just sad.... :(


I think in your other post you said an exec said 'your script was too good for the market.'

One thing you've got to learn as a screenwriter is not to believe comments like that. We all get them. They're not true. It's called smoke.

I mean, plenty of execs will say 'our studio will never make this' but not 'this is too good.' I'd be very suspect of that comment. And remember guys, you're objective is mostly to break in. Getting a movie made this early would be a bonus. It's been said a million times, if you write a great script, it'll break you in.

It's not normal for an exec or manager to read a great script and say, "this is too good for me." If they read something that stands out, they wanna meet.

I almost never spec "marketable" movies but my specs just about always get me work. I wrote a noir that will never get made and it got Derek interested enough to pass it to his manager, and I got repped. The spec I wrote last year will never get made--not by a studio, and it's gotten me two jobs and a ton of meetings from places like DiBonaventura and Bruckheimer.

They all say, "look, we'd never make this movie but we wanted to meet because we loved it, what else do you got?" (which leads to Derek's statement about being able to pitch)

Look at Diablo Cody's career. She wrote a small dramady and she's the hottest thing out.

sc111
02-07-2011, 09:25 AM
(And now I see I made the same point as SC111.)

Yeah. And I neglected to elaborate -- a good popcorn movie requires all the skills needed for a character-driven drama PLUS everything else that's required (story, set pieces, etc.) to ALSO be a good popcorn film.

Onto to another Ah-Ha moment I had over the holidays.

We went to a party, lots of people we didn't know and therefore lots of "what do you do" conversations. I rarely tell anyone of my screenwriting aspirations. I've found it's akin to telling someone you're a cop or a lawyer. But instead of hearing lousy cop, lousy lawyer stories, I hear about recent movies that sucked.

So I tell this guy what I do for a day job, but then my guy chimes in, "She also writes film scripts." This guy launches into his "I could do better than Hollywood, I have better ideas, blah-blah-blah."

So I invite him to share those ideas. He throws out a foggy concept -- tells me the ending, I say, "What happens in the middle?" His eyes glaze over.

"Okay, here's a better idea," he says. "Blah, blah, blah. Blah-blah-act 3 moments-blah blah."

I say, "You may have something there -- what do you see happening in the second act?"

"Second act?"

"Yeah, the middle part." And he admits he hasn't really thought about it.

On the way home I realize that's a problem I see in many newbie scripts (including mine), we haven't thought as much as we should about the middle part.

But when you look at the popcorn movies folks tend to pooh-pooh as so much fluff, the middle part rocks.

Todd Karate
02-07-2011, 09:40 AM
It's been said a million times, if you write a great script, it'll break you in.

<...>

I almost never spec "marketable" movies but my specs just about always get me work. I wrote a noir that will never get made and it got Derek interested enough to pass it to his manager, and I got repped. The spec I wrote last year will never get made--not by a studio, and it's gotten me two jobs and a ton of meetings from places like DiBonaventura and Bruckheimer.


I want to add to this along with echoing Derek's comment from an earlier post:

You have to write the kind of movies you like. I could, in theory, write a romantic comedy. I suppose I could study the structure and hit all the beats in the right place, but it would lack magic. It wouldn't pop or feel special because I have no idea what makes those movies good. I watch them and groan.

But big stupid action films? Got it. Rambo (2008)? I saw that in the theater three times. I'm not exaggerating. Someone even bought me the poster for my birthday that year.

I can those movies because I love them; I know what makes them awesome because I'm my own target audience. I'm telling the story *I* would want to see.

So write what you like. Write the movies you want to see. Don't worry about the marketplace... you're trying to hit a target that isn't just moving, it's randomly teleporting all over the place. I'll share a personal story to illustrate that point:

I broke in by writing a massive epic fantasy with the same protagonist (historic figure) as a massive epic fantasy that was already in production. On paper, you say to yourself "Todd's an idiot. No chance that sells." But I got a lot of meetings. It opened a lot of doors.

And a year and a half after it first went out? It sold.


_____

I hope this doesn't read as any kind of admonition; I want it to be a pep talk. I'm repeating something a lot of people have already said, but please, please, please, write the story you want to tell. Write what you like.

emily blake
02-07-2011, 09:42 AM
Michael is obsessed with The Terminator. Not the first Terminator, mind you, or even Judgment Day. No, his favorite is Terminator 4. Just now as he was working on a project he said this to me:

Michael: Miss, have you seen Semi-Pro?
Me: No.
Michael: You make me cry, miss.
Me: Why?
Michael: Because you haven't seen any good movies.
Me: :sigh:
Jessica (sitting beside him): You just said it sucked.
Michael: Well it was boring, but it was still good. Kinda. No, it was good.

NikeeGoddess
02-07-2011, 09:46 AM
i think it was Clueless where the english teacher had the students read romeo and juliet and their comments all came from the movie with leonardo decaprio and claire danes. that clueless was priceless!

sc111
02-07-2011, 09:58 AM
The only problem for me - personally - with the "write the movies you like to see" is that I have very eclectic taste in terms of films I like to watch (much to the chagrin of my intellectual/pseudo intellectual aquaintances), and, as a result, find my mind wandering around a wide range of story ideas/genres. From rom-com, drama/dramedy and sci-fi to action, thriller and even a horror concept or two (though I like few horror films). My list of back-burnered ideas is all over the place. Yet I have a place in my heart for all of those concepts.

Rantanplan
02-07-2011, 11:03 AM
Which is why Brian and others are telling you to write a great script and don't get caught up in the calculating bullshit.

Personally I never take the market into consideration. Two of the three scripts I wrote last year were low budget indies, which is not what most people in HW are dying to make. One is about grief and suicide so even less commercially appealing (though it's the one that's gotten the most attention). The third was a tentpole, but still a pure passion project. I always agree with anyone who advises to follow one's vision.

Anyway, now I agree this was a stupid thread to start, it's the age old discussion that's been around ever since movies have existed, even before the 18 year old male was the target audience. I remember reading about some famous novelist complaining over a hundred years ago about the sad, crass, profit-driven state of publishing, so yeah, some things never change.

ETA: Oh, and I love popcorn flicks. In my opinion, quality is not genre-dependent. There are great action flicks where you come out quoting the lines because the dialogue was so great and the lead so kick-ass, and there are cerebral indie art flicks that make me want to put a bullet through my head. There are excellent and crappy films in all genres.

jamypac
02-07-2011, 12:09 PM
On the way home I realize that's a problem I see in many newbie scripts (including mine), we haven't thought as much as we should about the middle part.

It's a journey. The how we get there is often way more interesting than the destination.

mariot
02-07-2011, 01:24 PM
I don't have time for a long response to this right now. But I will say that I never, ever think about...
when I am creating original material. Half the films David and I make are in the independent world--Solitary Man, The Illusionist, The Girlfriend Experience. I wouldn't change anything about the experience of making those movies. They were all almost impossible to get financed, released, etc...But, and here's the the thing that might be hard to believe or understand: we made them because they were stories we had to tell. This is an art form. That might sound like a naive position, or a pollyanna view of it. But I have never thought that the movie business owed me a living. Or that I could calculate how to get one. I do understand how our choice of subject, tone, et al will affect how much money we will have to make a given film. I knew when I was writing Solitary Man and when David and I decided to direct it that we were going to have to get Michael Douglas to play that part in order to get financing. But that's how it should have been; I wrote it for him (without ever having met him). I knew that the four years of writing the screenplay were going to have been wasted if we couldn't get him to come do the movie. But, as a writer, I needed to tell that story. So I did. The OP says that in a different climate the movie might have gotten more attention. And it might have. But that's not in my control. Beyond that, I am elated by the reception that it did get. If you would have told me when no one wanted to finance it, when no one wanted to release it, that it would have ended up on Roger Ebert's year end best list or AO Scott's in the NY Times, hell, if you would have told me that it would come out on 200 screens and make back all of its money for the financiers, I would have signed on the dotted line.

Now, of course, when David and I are hired or when we are pitching a Hollywood movie, we do consider the marketplace. And what the expectations are. Because we are taking other people's money and have an obligation to protect that and serve their interests. But that's a different conversation. Like I said in that other thread: calculate less when it comes to your original material. Find a story you have to tell and write it to within an inch of its life. The rest really will take care of itself.

Were you writing other screenplays during those four years?

I write slowly (compared to the speeds I see posted here) and reading that made me happy. But then I wondered if you finished 20 other scripts at the same time.

Thanks.

Brian Koppelman
02-07-2011, 01:44 PM
Yes. Wrote at least two produced movies and another three screenplays during that time. But would work on Solitary Man whenever I could.
Were you writing other screenplays during those four years?

I write slowly (compared to the speeds I see posted here) and reading that made me happy. But then I wondered if you finished 20 other scripts at the same time.

Thanks.

mariot
02-07-2011, 02:00 PM
Yes. Wrote at least two produced movies and another three screenplays during that time. But would work on Solitary Man whenever I could.

Oh.

How speedy do you think a screenwriter needs to be to work professionally?

I've read there are deadlines of 8-12 weeks for each draft. Do you agree with that?

Thanks.

Brian Koppelman
02-07-2011, 08:42 PM
Oh.

How speedy do you think a screenwriter needs to be to work professionally?

I've read there are deadlines of 8-12 weeks for each draft. Do you agree with that?

Thanks.

Yeah, that's about the range.

The lady green
02-09-2011, 04:15 AM
On the way home I realize that's a problem I see in many newbie scripts (including mine), we haven't thought as much as we should about the middle part.

I've only dabbled with novels before and this was my problem too when I started out, but now that I've tried to write a screenplay for the first time I find myself really struggling with the beginning while the middle sails along smoothly (oh well). There is allot you need to do in a few word on the first few pages.

The lady green
02-09-2011, 04:22 AM
I remember getting asked at my alma mater what it was like "selling out" when Michael and I wrote the sequel to the Fast and the Furious.

One off my pet peeves is the notion that there exists fine culture (contrary to to bad culture I suppose) Fine culture obviously goes hand in hand with the elite in society while the rabble likes the bad culture. When you start do dissect that kind off thinking you'll find that it's actually anchored in some oh so unflattering elitism. Better to talk about personal taste...

Why One
02-09-2011, 05:44 AM
Hello all,

Am a noob on this forum, but thought I'd send out a formal 'wassup' to fellow members. Hi! :D

The info and discussions are both entertaining and informative. I've learned so much, been challenged and stirred in the last few times I've come to the site...pretty much a 'lurker' mostly, but glad to join in.

Whassup!!!

We are so 2002...

Welcome tinKupp :)

carcar
02-09-2011, 08:36 AM
Even if your taste in movies is eclectic, someone has made those movies. So someone else has that same taste. Write your scripts and find those moviemakers.