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Old 04-02-2005, 08:52 PM   #1
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Default Is the western genre dead?

I just watched David Milch (Deadwood) on Dinner For Five. In discussing the "Deadwood" show, Jon Favreau made the comment that you can't get a western made anymore because most of the funding sources are foreign and they don't support westerns overseas. He said that even a movie like "Unforgiven" didn't make any money overseas.

So then David Milch made the comment that Great Britain is going crazy over Deadwood, that they're being offered a lot of money for syndication, because in actuality, Deadwood is a show that attacks America.

I've been working on a script that takes place post Civil War. The central characters are involved in a love triangle in the midst of anarchy and, yeah, the cavalry's involved, and I could throw in some worthwhile sex and nudity. But I've been writing into it an underlying theme which is critical of contemporary political policies because the Reconstruction era is when all these current failing strategies were first implemented.

So, given that my story, in effect, attacks America, am I just deluding myself that anyone would be interested in a period drama these days? And if the story is truly compelling, isn't that what really matters?

I would really appreciate some feedback because I've spent a year on this story already. And I may just pursue it in novel form.
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Old 04-02-2005, 09:41 PM   #2
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This is a tough one to answer. Westerns are typically not all that popular with the masses anymore and are a tough sell. The reason? The younger audience tends to view them as "period" or "historical" pieces and aren't all that interested in learning anything when they go to the theatre. They already take it in school.

The hard sell about any western is typically audience appeal. And that's taking into consideration that you may already have a fantastic script. How do you make a 14 year old group of teens head out to watch it? PG-13 or not. It better have an actor in their age group or who they can relate to. Among several other things but that tops the list.

Sales are not in blood and gore, not in guns, not even great characters (something that's a must for any script). Sales come from the proper combination of story elements that appeal to a wide range of individuals from 10-70. If you close that gap to 20-50 you just lost half your audience.

Westerns typically lay at 30 - 70. I would guess because of reasons stated above. And regardless of how well a movie does overseas, it has to aim to do well here. And attacking America isn't necessarily the greatest seller.

Westerns are tough. You have to sit down and figure out what elements to include that would appeal to everyone. Add fantastic characters, and go from there.

A list might look like:

Two original types of explosions
Character driven sex scene
Horse chase with original stunts
Extremely fancy gun handling

And the list goes on and on. Once you got that list. You can write your western. Understand the market, write a great character driven script, then make a sale. Because when you write with all the elements including demographics in mind, you're writing to make a production company money, and THAT'S a writer knowing their job.

Someone from Sony might say to you...

"Hey, Kid. Great script. Absolutely had me right to the last page and I cried when Brian died. Moved to tears. But I can't film it. There's no market."

As opposed to...

"Nice. I could picture that scene where the guy gets the rifle butt in the face. Jesus. And that teen, lookin' through the knothole in the wall when the protag was gettin' ready to do the Sergeant's daughter. It was like I was gonna blow my socks off. The tension was unreal. I'll tell yah what. Work on the scene where the gunsmith's shop blows. It's too cliche then call me and we'll talk. You really got something I can put on screen."
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Old 04-02-2005, 09:54 PM   #3
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you won't know what the "market" thinks about your script until you finish it and get it out to them. doesn't matter what it's about.

thousand reasons for you to not write anything. about anything.

write what you write.

and best of luck.
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Old 04-02-2005, 10:10 PM   #4
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I still think you have to know your genre to write it. And it's tough to write something "new" into a genre that's old.
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Old 04-02-2005, 10:11 PM   #5
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to me it sounds like the poster is knee-deep in writing a western.

i don't know anything but i'd suggest the poster finish his/her western.

tough to write anything new about anything.

it's not the horseshit or the cattle or the spaceships or the navy jets or whichever war that makes the story. that's the setting. the spice. the stuff that binds things together.

it's the story behind the props and costumes that's important, not what the actors ride into or on into town.

make it all work, and you got something.

the market is quite fickle seems to me.

just write your story.

then find out if the market likes it.

they'll let you know right quick.
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Old 04-02-2005, 11:36 PM   #6
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Great Britain is going crazy over Deadwood, that they're being offered a lot of money for syndication, because in actuality Deadwood is a show that attacks America.
:eek Huh?

Well, as I have said before, people choose their own reality to believe.

America is the country that it is fun to kick right now, so I guess that is what leads these people to interpret the show that way.
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Old 04-02-2005, 11:59 PM   #7
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Bizarre thoughts re Deadwood being a show that attacks America. Just never occurred to me. Having read the quote, it still doesn't occur to me. Someone's been smoking pot.

Bizarre squared, since casey's synopsis sounds uncannily like my latest W which contains all Revisionist's plot suggestions. Twilight Zone theme.

My Web Page - naked women, bestial sex, and whopping big lies.
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Old 04-03-2005, 12:05 AM   #8
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even more bizarre-

this thread got moved to the business section.

sticks out like a western.
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Old 04-03-2005, 12:10 AM   #9
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Who's actually designing a movie's action sequences, the stunt coordinators or the writers?

How much should the writer put into designing an action sequence in the script? Is it just a basic idea or is it a blow-by-blow description?
Make no mistake. It always starts with the writers. Those ideas only pass preproduction if they're fresh enough (usually). That still means, however, that a writer must know what they're talking about.

You can't write horse stunts if you don't know horses.
You can't write a cavalry charge with the bayonets pointed forward. Guess why?

Put all pertinent action in an action sequence. And nothing more, nothing less. And the action that takes place surrounding your protag must reflect your protag's personality. If your protag is a shy girl stuck in a fight scene and they kill a person. The fight must reflect that. Maybe her attacker trips and falls on the knife she's holding up with her eyes closed. A personality involved in authentic action creates emotion. Emotion creates audience identification and that is why we're here.

Depending on your 'action' you'll have other people involved, but you don't have to worry about that. Horse trainers, stuntmen, directors, DPs, actors, set technicians, all of them and more could have input on how a stunt goes down. It's your job to tell a story through that stunt and make it relevant to plot.

Read "Maverick" or "Tombstone" to find action within the script that reflects main character's personalities. Because that is your job. Write what happens as it happens. Let the Director deal with the rest.
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Old 04-03-2005, 12:11 AM   #10
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edited for haste and idiotic comments.
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