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Old 09-23-2009, 10:32 AM   #1
heavenlysurfer
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Default Period Pieces dead?

I just had a script consultant/former creative exec, in LA tell me not to waste my time on writing a "period Piece" (set in the early 1800's..)..He said no one is buying those out there...before I give a year of my life to this project-includes traveling to key locations for research...wondering how you guys feel..if you're passionate about a story should you go for it despite what the so-called "experts" in LA tell you?
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Old 09-23-2009, 10:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

I will tell you that I have a period piece, received good feedback from experienced readers, but most managers and agencies are telling me to write something contemporary since no one is buying period pieces.

That doesn't mean I won't keep trying, but I'm working on something modern day.

From what I can see period pieces are selling, just not many by new writers and certainly far less frequently than the other genres.

Good luck with whatever you decide!
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

In my experience, period pieces have always been a very hard sell when penned by unknown writers because:

a) They are thought of as expensive.

b) They are coveted projects, generally only a few made in any year in hopes of garnering critical accolades and awards for the players, so the competition is fierce.

But, there isn't any reason to let that stop you. If your heart is in this, it may not pay off immediately, but may be something you pull out of your hat years from now, after you've had something easier to produce produced.

Period films generally take years to develop, so I would look at it as a long term investment and keep writing simpler fare in the meantime.

Sometimes writers go the way of the novel with something like this since most period films are based on books.

If you have the wherewithal to take a year and travel for research, how could it be a waste of time? On the other hand, if you would have to live on credit cards in hopes of a speedy return, that probably isn't very realistic.

I wrote an animated movie several years ago, despite the market for such being almost completely sewn up by the powers that be (same reasons, they are expensive and take a long time to develop and produce), but I don't regret it at all, even though it hasn't sold. It was read by some major players at the studios, who really liked it and said I was a talented writer and would read anything else I wrote, so it paid off as a stepping stone. I learned a great deal and will pull it out later. Also, it's made writing "regular" screenplays seem much easier to write.
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

Honestly, I'm the sort who believes you should write what you're passionate about, and write it so well people *have* to take notice of you.

That said, breaking in is torturous enough without making things more difficult for yourself. And by writing a period piece, unless it's something with a ludicrously catchy hook, you're truly making life difficult for yourself.

It will be (at least) twice the normal struggle at every step: getting read, getting a rep, getting them to take it out (rather than asking you to write something contemporary), selling it, or in the event that it doesn't sell, getting work from it as a sample.

Also, if it's based on historical events then the chances are that there are already versions of it floating around. For example, I personally, as a writer with only a very modest amount of experience as a prod co. reader, have seen four or five different versions of the Anne Bonny / Mary Read piracy story. I can only imagine how many versions a seasoned reader, exec, or rep has been offered or had to read. How do you stand out among that crowd?

*shrug* There's no right answer. It's your year to spend. Spend it doing what will fulfill you.

But if you have another (contemporary) idea that you're passionate about it will be easier (though by no means easy) to get it read*, easier (but by no means easy) getting a rep to take it on*, and, well... you get the picture.



*So long as it doesn't involve terrorism or the Iraq situation.
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Old 09-23-2009, 12:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

Campion's coming out with another period piece soon, but then again, she's Campion. Haas and Brandt did 3:10 to Yuma when no one was doing westerns, but...

It's just a harder sell.
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Old 09-23-2009, 01:03 PM   #6
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chakala View Post
Campion's coming out with another period piece soon, but then again, she's Campion. Haas and Brandt did 3:10 to Yuma when no one was doing westerns, but...

It's just a harder sell.
That was an assignment.
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Old 09-23-2009, 01:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

Turn the chronicle of your year long trip INTO the more contemporary script while you research your passion project. Win, win
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Old 09-23-2009, 02:08 PM   #8
Geoff Alexander
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by heavenlysurfer View Post
I just had a script consultant/former creative exec, in LA tell me not to waste my time on writing a "period Piece" (set in the early 1800's..)..He said no one is buying those out there...before I give a year of my life to this project-includes traveling to key locations for research...wondering how you guys feel..if you're passionate about a story should you go for it despite what the so-called "experts" in LA tell you?
Going to locations? Really? Don't do it.
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Old 09-23-2009, 02:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

Well I guess it depends on what you mean by period piece. Indiana Jones? Medieval? Dead Snow? Pride and Predator? The Scarlett Letter? Glory? Lord Higgenbottom's Delightful Tea Party?

I'm initially thinking that since you're doing research, you're talking about a period drama. I have a hard time coming up with a list of movies like that that have come out lately, or big script sales.
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Old 09-23-2009, 02:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Period Pieces dead?

Period drama... nearly impossible.

Modern twist on a period set story... possible.
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