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Old 05-04-2009, 06:14 AM   #1
filmklassik
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Default Do executives give a damn about movie history?

My experience is that no, they do not. I've been out there pitching my ideas for a while now, two years at least, and this notion (which I've frankly always resisted) of executives regarding any movie made before THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM as ancient history and anything produced pre-STAR WARS as having never even happened... well, it's all true, kids.

So next time you are "in the room" with some development execs, do yourself a favor and keep things current.

Trust me, any movie made before 2005 is off limits. Mention George Roy Hill at your own peril, because they won't give a damn. And any movie made before 1960, with the possible exception of THE WIZARD OF OZ? -- you will receive, at best, a fusillade of blank stares and, at worst, expressions of outright contempt.

Sad but true.

Last edited by filmklassik : 05-04-2009 at 06:18 AM. Reason: Typed the word "fusilage" when what I meant to write was "fusillade"
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:06 AM   #2
Joaneasley
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

Sorry you had to learn that the hard way. Whether or not execs are film scholars in their personal lives, their job is to find stories that will appeal to current audiences. They gauge that by whether your story is similar to a recent hit, but with enough of a twist to make it fresh.

You're doing what writers have always done when you borrow from past works. Nothing wrong with that, (as long as you can't be sued for plagarism and as long as the ideas you borrow and twist around seem fresh and appealing.)

But when you borrow from the past, you have to be planted in the present like the execs are so they can see how your screenplay will appeal to today's audiences. There may well be a recent hit that borrowed from the same source material that you did, so how is your script similar to that one but just different enough?
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:08 AM   #3
suzeaa
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

Makes one want to cry. The ignorance and stupidity of that attitude is indescribable.

Hollywood -- there beats the heart of 'dumb America' -- producers who cater to the sheep that happily cave in to prequels, sequels, remakes, and rip-offs.

Someday that trend has to change, but for now, whenever I see things like blatant product placement in films (as one example) I bet I will not live to see it.

How sad that anyone associated with films has no desire to develop a love and knowledge of film history. They miss out on so much. They also become partly responsible for the eroding taste levels of the general public.

Last edited by suzeaa : 05-04-2009 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:16 AM   #4
Ben
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joaneasley View Post
Sorry you had to learn that the hard way. Whether or not execs are film scholars in their personal lives, their job is to find stories that will appeal to current audiences. They gauge that by whether your story is similar to a recent hit, but with enough of a twist to make it fresh.
Awesome comment on a Monday morning.

Thanks.

Neat insight.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:18 AM   #5
Joaneasley
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

Strong reactions! Well, nothing I say or anyone else says about Hollywood will apply universally. Hollywood is a bunch of individual people making individual decisions about what movies they wish to make.

Some of them love George Roy Hill and would be open to a project inspired by his work. One of them may even want to remake his favorite George Roy Hill movie as we speak and may have the power to do it. There are people who make the kinds of movies that win Oscars, and there are more people who make the kinds of movies that appeal to teens, couples on dates, comic book fans, etc.

In a tough, competitve business, people are looking for projects they like and feel will be successful while trying to avoid expensive bad decisions that could cost them their career. So if you or I don't already have a great track record of hit movies, IMHO most of them are more likely to take a chance on our screenplays if they can see the reassuring resemblance to a recent hit along with something unique and appealing about yours.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:19 AM   #6
winter dreams
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

Maybe you can use their ignorance to your advantage. Update a classic from the 20s or 30s and they'll think you're a genius.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:35 AM   #7
cdn
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joaneasley View Post
Strong reactions! Well, nothing I say or anyone else says about Hollywood will apply universally. Hollywood is a bunch of individual people making individual decisions about what movies they wish to make.

Some of them love George Roy Hill and would be open to a project inspired by his work. One of them may even want to remake his favorite George Roy Hill movie as we speak and may have the power to do it. There are people who make the kinds of movies that win Oscars, and there are more people who make the kinds of movies that appeal to teens, couples on dates, comic book fans, etc.

In a tough, competitve business, people are looking for projects they like and feel will be successful while trying to avoid expensive bad decisions that could cost them their career. So if you or I don't already have a great track record of hit movies, IMHO most of them are more likely to take a chance on our screenplays if they can see the reassuring resemblance to a recent hit along with something unique and appealing about yours.

Which is why I recently changed my query tactics to use the film comparison feature of "The Meeting Game" which I had read several places to not use. It resulted in a read request within a couple days as I compared my script to two well known flicks though they were both pre 2005,most young executives would know them.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:46 PM   #8
mlongton
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

From the stories I've seen about Hollywood in the old days it was never any different. Remember BARTON FINK? Producers deal in money, not art. Directors are different, though. The amazing thing is that people like Tarentino, Zwigoff and Charlie Kaufman survive in this environment ... more than that, they make movies.
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Old 05-04-2009, 04:01 PM   #9
Pasquali56
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

Sad but true. I used the African Queen as a reference once when talking to my former agent. He hadn't a clue. I swear he thought it was about gays in Africa. I said Humphrey Bogart...Katherine Hepburn. Still no clue.
Sad but true.
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Old 05-04-2009, 04:51 PM   #10
doubler83
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Default Re: Do executives give a damn about movie history?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquali56 View Post
Sad but true. I used the African Queen as a reference once when talking to my former agent. He hadn't a clue. I swear he thought it was about gays in Africa. I said Humphrey Bogart...Katherine Hepburn. Still no clue.
Sad but true.
Quick slap across the face would give them a clue. Jesus.
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