BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

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  • #31
    Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

    so that means you spend your life writing specs to get sold, then you spend your life rewriting other peoples specs that got sold?

    vig

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    • #32
      Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

      "Be a writer. Write a Magic Script and prosper. " tao


      some of these were like three years ago rex. i remember the last one like it was yesterday cause the second after i read it i said to myself, that's what i'm going to do. i don't know tao from a hole in the wall but he makes sense.

      so what i did is trust him. i wrote in one genre, and i rewrote and cut my teeth, and reworked and reposted and did again and again until the mehcanics of the genre became almost second nature.

      and that has made all the difference.

      Vig

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      • #33
        Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

        Not sure if you're talking to me Vig, but if you are...then no that's not what I mean.

        To me there are 4 types of movie writers [huge generalisation but I'm a less is more guy ]

        Those who want to write commercial movies and understand the requirements

        Those who want to write commercial movies and don't understand the requirments

        Those who want to write Indie movies and what they want to say is meaningful

        Those who write Indie movies and only care about their own introspective vision trusting that the vision will hit a zeitgiest.

        That is what you have to sell unless you have a trust fund or a patron.



        There are also those who it appears simply can't write. But I would never..ever say that, because perseverance, hard work, good advice and an innate sense of storytelling can go a long way to negating that.
        English Dave
        Member
        Last edited by English Dave; 01-06-2006, 03:53 PM.
        http://wasitsomethingiwrote.blogspot.com/

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        • #34
          Gee, that wasn't supposed to be controversial, but...

          Actually, this post was in response to the current business climate as noted in Tao's latest post:

          http://scriptsales.com/boards/showthread.php?t=15905

          Which pretty much says what I've been saying for years - that eventually it all comes down to studios making safe bets by making the films that the majority in the audience wants to see. My focus has always been on writing scripts that actually get made (so that I'm not just some crazy person talking to myself) and that means writing the type of scripts that the audience (which includes me) wants to see. I predict the amount of "make work" development will decline in the future, and the assignments that were pet projects instead of scripts that might actually become films will disappear. Why pour money into a project that has little or no chance of being made?

          Which leaves genre scripts.

          As an avid moviegoer, genre movies are what I pay to see every week... those are the films Hollywood makes (and always has made).

          I think you'd have to be pretty closed minded to exclude genre writing... and to the idea that non-genre dramas are somehow superior is completely ignoring a century of great films. Drama is the default for any genre, which is why THE THIRD MAN was selected as the best British film of all time - it's a thriller filled with juicy dramatic scenes as well as suspense.

          As for drama in horror? Heck, great dramatic writing is how a horror movie becomes a classic. Check out the original version of THE HAUNTING - running parallel to the ghost story is a great dramatic story about psychic Claire Bloom and her twisted romance with the ghost-busting scientist in charge. The film is full of huge dramatic scenes...

          But a better example of drama in a horror flick might be Brent Hanley's FRAILTY. Gut wrenching coming of age story that probably milks more emotions from the father/son relationship than the horror aspects... except the two are impossible to separate. I doubt that anyone here can name a more emotional non-genre coming-of-age drama.

          But I can easily name another coming of age movie jam-packed with drama that's a genre flick: AT CLOSE RANGE, with Sean Penn and Christopher Walkin as two generations of armed robbers. Great, tense, action packed. Like FRAILTY it takes a coming-of-age story and drops it into a genre to increase the stakes and dramatic content. It's one thing to have a teenager butting heads with his father, but give them both guns or give one an axe and a mission from God and you have even more drama and more dramatic situations plus a way to delve deeper into character...

          And explore themes that are relevant to society. FRAILTY isn't just a horror movie, it's a horror movie that deals with religious fantatics. Timely stuff.

          Studios are going to make genre films, make the kind of films that audiences pay to see. Sure, they may make a genre film that flops - not every film will be a hit - but gener films have much better chance of being hits. The reason why most of the non-genre drama films are independent is because they don't attract a large enough audience for a studio to make. Check out the top films for 2005... and the top films of all time to get an idea of the kind of films that are popular with audiences. When you do see a studio non-genre drama like MEMOIRS, it's probably based on material from another medium like novel or short story or stage play (so *that medium* is where you should write your stories).

          If you want to go indie, there's nothing stopping you from finding the money and making the film yourself. Go for it.

          If you want to write scripts with no intention of ever selling them, go for it.

          But if you plan on *selling* your scripts instead of spending your money to make the film, you need to write the sort of thing that the filmgoing audience pays to see... and the type of thing that studios and producers want to buy.

          Read Tao's recent post again.

          - Bill

          PS: I'll try to link some articles that say all of this stuff - studio belt tightening has been getting lots of press lately.

          What's happening with Indie Distribs:
          http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060105/...lm_indies_dc_1
          wcmartell
          Member
          Last edited by wcmartell; 01-06-2006, 06:58 PM.
          Free Script Tips:
          http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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          • #35
            Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

            I doubt that anyone here can name a more emotional non-genre coming-of-age drama.

            Off the top of my head:

            Mean Creek
            Whale Rider
            Cinema Paradiso
            The 400 Blows
            The Bicycle Thief
            Catch Me If You Can
            Boyz 'N the Hood
            Dead Poets Society
            Europa, Europa
            Au Revoir Les Enfants
            Children of Heaven
            Fanny and Alexander
            The Man in the Moon
            My Dog Skip
            Searching For Bobby Fischer
            Shine
            I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

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            • #36
              Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

              Originally posted by wcmartell
              As for drama in horror? Heck, great dramatic writing is how a horror movie becomes a classic. Check out the original version of THE HAUNTING - running parallel to the ghost story is a great dramatic story about psychic Claire Bloom and her twisted romance with the ghost-busting scientist in charge. The film is full of huge dramatic scenes...

              But a better example of drama in a horror flick might be Brent Hanley's FRAILTY. Gut wrenching coming of age story that probably milks more emotions from the father/son relationship than the horror aspects... except the two are impossible to separate.
              Signs is another good example.
              Biohazard
              Member
              Last edited by Biohazard; 01-07-2006, 10:40 AM.

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              • #37
                Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

                Interesting stuff... though I would disagree somewhat with the comparison of the movie industry and the music industry.

                I'll be writing because I love to write. And I'll write those stories that I would pay to see as a movie. I also think that others would watch a movie of a story I wrote... but I'm not chasing the next big hit... I'll write from the heart.

                I spent 20+ years as a musician, song writer, etc. In the music business if you haven't broken in by the time you're 25+/- years old, forget it. No one wants to see "new" artists that are fat, ugly, balding and old.

                Yet every few years there is a new trend in music...same as movies. I doubt musicals will ever come back (thank God), and I don't see a lot of drama specific movies being made...unless it's for a big star who wants that elusive Oscar.

                There are many actors whose movies we love to see that have never been recognized... yet they make action, comedy and horror movies over and over.

                If there was a Die Hard 4 tomorrow I'd go see it.
                Writer / Director available for your project.

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                • #38
                  Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

                  Bill -

                  Yes, I posted Tao's more recent thread to support your comments on genre in your original post in this thread.

                  I agree with you on the genre issue. All one has to do is look at the sales boards to see all virtually every drama sold is a book adaptation. And I really don't think - with all the pro writers around - someone is going to hand a book adaptation to a new writer in today's current climate.

                  :-)
                  Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                  • #39
                    Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

                    but what I don't get is the gnashing of teeth by writers with indie/arty sensibilities over Hollywood's chilly reception of most of their material.
                    Who's gnashing their teeth? Most of the writers I know with "indie/arty sensibilities" are out there figuring out how to make their own movies or finding people in the industry who share their cinematic vision. Very few of them are spending any time lamenting the lack of arty fare in mainstream Hollywood films.

                    Sc111 -

                    Nowhere in that post did Tao say a writer should attempt to write in a popular genre s/he was unfamiliar with or didn't like just because that's what is selling.

                    Tao has never said anything like that on this board. (Unless I missed something.)

                    What he does say is that you should find out which genre is yours and become a master of it (i.e., find your voice); become the go-to guy/gal for that particular genre.
                    Last edited by Rex V; 01-07-2006, 12:35 PM.
                    I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

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                    • #40
                      Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

                      In fact, here's what Tao has to say about indie/arthouse writers in the new Hollywood climate:

                      Our economic lifeblood is tied in with the power of talent (at least writers that write hybrid indie-studio "art" films like me). I am dependent on A-list actors and directors pushing to set up my projects, and the studios acquiescing to this reluctantly. More and more the studios would prefer brave independent financiers to finance paying me to write the scripts and then entering the process late in the game, either by buying the "package" (my script attached to a major director and one or two stars) or the rights to distribute.

                      This is a risk and an opportunity. There are no shortage of billionaires eager to spin the wheel in Hollywood. And often these people can be less creatively intrusive. But it will probably mean less money. I'm perfectly okay with that. I think less money in this business will separate the lottery crowd from the true artists.
                      I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

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                      • #41
                        - Tomas

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                        • #42
                          Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

                          Originally posted by Rex V

                          Sc111 -

                          Nowhere in that post did Tao say a writer should attempt to write in a popular genre s/he was unfamiliar with or didn't like just because that's what is selling.

                          Tao has never said anything like that on this board. (Unless I missed something.)

                          What he does say is that you should find out which genre is yours and become a master of it (i.e., find your voice); become the go-to guy/gal for that particular genre.

                          Right - he said be the go-to person for your particular genre.

                          But how does that apply in today's Hollywood climate when Cinderella Man - replete with A-list talent & a top director - doesn't do that well?

                          Okay - so you take the risk that you'll impress them so much with your unproducable drama you'll land an assignment - maybe. Of course, you'll be competing for that assignment with a hell of a lot of working writers with IMDB credits. Look at the contests like Nicholls - dramas usually win. Track the careers of recent Nicholls winners - tell me what you find.

                          Add in the factor that when you write a spec drama you're also competing with thousands of novels being offered to Hollywood for screen rights. Go look at the sales boards - drama sales are book adaptations not specs.

                          Also remember Tao & other pro writers broke in at a different time. Five-six-eight years in Hollywood is an eternity. HW is making fewer films now. The core of Tao's recent post is that the HW landscape is radically changing and spec writers have to be aware of this reality.

                          In that same post Tao said the new trend is that studios want someone else to package the thing before they get involved. And if you read it again you'll see he's saying THIS reality tightens the reins on him. Imagine how it increases the odds against a spec writer.

                          I'd love to write drama - I have 20 pages of a drama written that I will keep on a back burner indefinitely. Why? Because I feel - after analyzing all the above factors - I lessen the odds against me if I stick with comedy focused on female leads to attract female actors. I'm specializing.

                          Yet I don't feel this inhibits me as a writer. A commercial hook does not exclude the opportunity to write intriguing characters and compelling dialog. It doesn't make me less passionate about exploiting the dramatic or even tragic themes from a comedic POV.

                          The bottom line - everything Martell said is valid set within the current climate in HW studios.

                          If you want to disregard it and continue writing drama - fine - more power to you. But don't ignore the fact that it increases the odds against you if your goal is to sell to Hollywood. That's all I'm saying.
                          Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                          • #43
                            Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

                            i think you're missing the point sc. the hollywood blockbuster is a dying animal. that's what tao's saying. if you track the careers of those who broke in with a small indie type movie that was drama, much like tao did, i bet it's larger than the ones that broke in with the high-concept spec.

                            the spec writer has a much better chance of roping or hooking an indie, or small time producer, move up through those ranks then selling the next highconcept liar - liar.

                            i would argue immensly with tao, and anyone who told me there are less movies being made in this country. that's not true.

                            the indie, and investment capital that's flowing into the movie business from wealthy individuals is huge and studios are pumping movies out.

                            there are more opportunities to get noticed, maybe there are less jobs for pros, but there are more in's for us.

                            then the next step is what we have to worry about as pros, and that is why tao preaches not to be a 'spec monkey,' and write a script that is close to you, and personal because that's the kind of writing that will get you nimbles and crumbs from the network of small fishes which will eventually get you to the whale.

                            the whale is to far out to see to catch. you have to work your way to the whale.

                            that's what i gleaned from his posts.

                            vig

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                            • #44
                              Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

                              Vig -

                              If you track the careers of people who broke in eight years ago you'll get a different result than tracking the careers of people who broke in last year.

                              Maybe the thing would be to ask Tao what game plan he would use to launch his career if he was starting out today from point zero like you or me. Would he go the indie route?

                              Here's what my manager had to say about writing spec dramas for indies:

                              "The indie world is such a bizarre and fruitless landscape that peddling scripts to the countless "indie prods" is a waste of postage and phone calls. At the end of the day, the meaningful indie prods are also star fvckers. "

                              Look at Tao's post - he essentially said the same:

                              "Our economic lifeblood is tied in with the power of talent (at least writers that write hybrid indie-studio "art" films like me). I am dependent on A-list actors and directors pushing to set up my projects, and the studios acquiescing to this reluctantly."

                              So tell me Vig - how easy is it for a spec writer to get A-list talent behind an indie drama spec?
                              Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                              • #45
                                Re: BE INDISPENSABLE - Part 1 & 2

                                i guess i can answer you with this. i think you're completely misinterpeting tao's post. i think tao would always say write what you are close to, whatever genre, and don't chase the spec market, as spec a writer.

                                i also think he said, that pros are different, and because he's a-list writer he has different agendas. he has a pay scale, needs, and track record but it's still tough for him at the top of the food chain. there are differnet jumping in points.

                                nobody said getting a-list talent for indie's was the goal, or reasonable facimile of what happens. for instance right now, alec baldwin, jeff daniels have a price, that price is 500,000 grand to do an idie that they like. times are tough everywhere.


                                vig

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