Hello, I could use an advice.

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  • Hello, I could use an advice.

    This is my first post, joined two days ago so first of all, hello everyone, I must say this is a great community and I'm happy to be here.

    Now on to business.

    For some time now I was thinking about writing a screenplay. I tried a few times but I never really had the full story set before I started writing so you all know what happened, after a few pages (or a few dozen pages) I had no idea where to go with it so I ended up adding characters or subplots that would keep the story moving...it was, as you all know, bad, very bad.

    I always had some great scenes in my head that I would love to see, that I think other people would pay to see but no script, no story.

    It was impossible for me to make my little ideas, pieces of characters/plot/atmosphere that I had in my head in to a nice, logical story with acts I,II and III, plot points and all that.

    So couple of days ago I started thinking a lot more and a lot harder, I wanted to come up with a great concept, great "tagline", something that can be produced more/less easily but still has a high concept behind it, something epic (not in terms of size), I figured that's the best way to go if I actually wanna sell something.

    I switched a lot between quite a few ideas and then, one great idea hit me. One concept that I think it's a good one, and after a couple of hours and some tweaking everything got in to place with incredible easiness, ACT I, plot points, ACT II full of possibilities, plot going to the direction smart viewers/readers are probably expecting, plot switching up the way smart readers are probably expecting and then turning everything around, without cheating (main character was lying the whole time etc, there's no such thing here )

    But now comes the possible problem.
    Is it a big risk not to have a "hero" for a main character, to possibly expose him as being not such a good guy or to have the "more bad then good" character get away with...whatever it is etc.
    I know there are quite a few movies that do that but what's the general opinion, are stories with "bad guy gets away with it" or possibly just slightly bittersweet endings not popular?

    The story gives me a lot of room to improvise, it will still hold up, what do you guys think, should I change it to accommodate the "I wanna root for the good guy and I know he's not going to die" movie going public or not?


    I'm writing a plot driven thriller, you all probably knew that already.

    Thanks again.

    Stefan

  • #2
    Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

    Oh Stefan. "We" don't know.

    "You" do.

    There's only one way to make this story great. Write it that way.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

      Thank you for your response Maralyn.

      From my modest knowledge of the industry I came under the impression that there are quite a few layers of writing and selling a good script and coming up and writing down a good story is just one of them.

      Yes, obviously first and foremost, the story has to be good, it also has to be a good movie story, which is not always the same thing, it also needs to be marketable, it has to be written properly and between that and bunch of other things you need to have luck.

      I will do my best to write this story but that's just one step of many, a big step but still, just one of many.

      Maybe I am wrong, maybe you just write the good story without paying attention to any rules and send it all over town but for now I think I will try to find a nice line between my vision of the story and what general movie going public wants, whats marketable, what will people actually pay to see, this is business after all. There wont be any big compromises because most of the time I am part of the general public and enjoy the same things but still, I think compromises are needed.

      What I asked, can the movie have the same chance of being produced without the classical hero in it, I did not expect the definitive "YES!" or "NO!". I just wanted to hear what you guys think, members of this forum, if someone already had this dilemma, what did he do, what would he do etc.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

        You might get where you're going faster if you put the cart behind the horse.
        If you really like it you can have the rights
        It could make a million for you overnight

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

          If it's your first one, the important thing is just to get it done. I wouldn't worry about how commercial it is. Chances are, you won't be happy with it and won't want to send it over town. Nothing personal, no one is happy with their first one.

          So just dive in and try to get a reasonably competent reasonably polished script. Then you've done something 99% of the people who've thought about writing a movie will never get around to. And you can be proud of that even if you think the script is not so great.

          Then start worrying about commercial potential on the second one.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

            The main character doesn't have to be a "hero" if he is written well. Couple of things you might want to consider though. If the main character is bad it sometimes works well to make the "villain" even worse. If you can't do that show the audience he isn't always bad. Something we can relate to and like or respect. Whats known now as a Save the Cat moment.
            If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base.
            Dave Barry

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

              Hi Stephan,

              There's something about the protagonist you have to like. Otherwise the reader won't care. It doesn't have to be a lot -- just some "soft spot," or the fact that he's really clever, or that he's "good" in comparison to the really, really bad guys. (Watch Mel Gibson's "Payback" for an example of a bad guy we like because he's up against worse guys.) But if he's just bad with no redeeming qualities at all -- it's going to be hard to root for him. If you're just starting, you might want to look into a couple books, "The Screenwriter's Bible" by Trottier (basics, formatting, what a spec script is, etc) and "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder for what makes different kinds of movies work. (One of his points is how to get people to like your main character.) Good luck. Consider posting some sample script pages in that section to get feedback.
              STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

                Originally posted by Centurio View Post
                The main character doesn't have to be a "hero" if he is written well. Couple of things you might want to consider though. If the main character is bad it sometimes works well to make the "villain" even worse. If you can't do that show the audience he isn't always bad. Something we can relate to and like or respect. Whats known now as a Save the Cat moment.
                Should have just deferred to your post. And sorry about the similarities in the name. I just used the name of my Linux "brand" (CentOS is a Red Hat "clone.") I didn't realize there was already a Centurio.
                STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

                  hi stefan,

                  welcome aboard.

                  for a starting point, it'll be much easier for you in the long run, if you think in terms of "protagonist/antagonist" rather than "hero/villian". as you've probably already noticed in films, the main character is not always heroic and the main opposing force isn't always evil. the important thing (as others noted) is to make them relatable for the audience.


                  life happens
                  despite a few cracked pots-
                  and random sunlight

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

                    Originally posted by Centos View Post
                    Hi Stephan,

                    There's something about the protagonist you have to like. Otherwise the reader won't care. It doesn't have to be a lot -- just some "soft spot," or the fact that he's really clever, or that he's "good" in comparison to the really, really bad guys. (Watch Mel Gibson's "Payback" for an example of a bad guy we like because he's up against worse guys.) But if he's just bad with no redeeming qualities at all -- it's going to be hard to root for him. If you're just starting, you might want to look into a couple books, "The Screenwriter's Bible" by Trottier (basics, formatting, what a spec script is, etc) and "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder for what makes different kinds of movies work. (One of his points is how to get people to like your main character.) Good luck. Consider posting some sample script pages in that section to get feedback.

                    Oh, yes, I realise all that (not in a cocky kind of way ).
                    To go in to the specifics, during the development of the idea (turning it in every direction in my head) main character was a good guy, not 100% good but hell, who is? And after some further thinking story went in to some unexpected directions and in the end, the main character doesn't make it, obstacles get to him in the end. So I don't have a bad guy that I need to make a lil' bit better but the opposite, I need to make the audience be ok with him failing.



                    And I'll try to get the books you suggested, I live in Serbia (moving away soon) but you can get everything over our precious world wide web.



                    Originally posted by Centurio View Post
                    The main character doesn't have to be a "hero" if he is written well. Couple of things you might want to consider though. If the main character is bad it sometimes works well to make the "villain" even worse. If you can't do that show the audience he isn't always bad. Something we can relate to and like or respect. Whats known now as a Save the Cat moment.
                    As I said, the story started with him being a good guy that made some terrible mistakes, but now he's turning in to a family oriented version of Gordon Gecko

                    Thank you for your suggestions/opinions, not just Centos and Centurio but also everyone else.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

                      Originally posted by Stefan850 View Post
                      But now comes the possible problem.
                      Is it a big risk not to have a "hero" for a main character, to possibly expose him as being not such a good guy or to have the "more bad then good" character get away with...whatever it is etc.
                      I know there are quite a few movies that do that but what's the general opinion, are stories with "bad guy gets away with it" or possibly just slightly bittersweet endings not popular?
                      Hi Stefan and welcome. As to your specific question, it's not necessarily a big risk to have your main character not a hero, or for him to turn out to be more bad than good, but you need your audience to empathize strongly with the good in his character, and to find him really engaging despite his flaws. It probably needs to be deeper than just a bad guy gets away with it.

                      However, I agree with another poster's comment - treat this first screenplay as an exercise. Just try to write 90-110 pages of movie with a beginning and middle and end, some interesting characters and interesting circumstances and challenges. The read some (more) screenplays and try writing something better.

                      With screenwriting, most problems have more than one solution, and there are variations on many of the 'rules' or guidelines. Imitate the structure and style and format of successful scripts that are similar to what you want to write. Eventually, if you have the right instincts, you'll get better or even good. It's hard to be more specific than that, but reading and writing are the only two things that will work. You'll find many useful discussions by searching old threads on this board. Good luck.
                      "Friends make the worst enemies." Frank Underwood

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

                        Originally posted by Stefan850 View Post
                        Is it a big risk not to have a "hero" for a main character, to possibly expose him as being not such a good guy or to have the "more bad then good" character get away with...whatever it is etc.

                        and then...

                        can the movie have the same chance of being produced without the classical hero in it

                        Stefan
                        Can you write it any other way? What does chance have to do with your way of writing?
                        Side note - I write fortune cookies for a living.
                        Angeloworx
                        Member
                        Last edited by Angeloworx; 07-02-2009, 01:21 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

                          I was so pleased with "Grand Entrance" my first script. Then I wrote my second one and realized how much holes were in the first. That's then I was displeased with G.E. but now that I've reworked Grand Entrance and redone what needed to be redone I'm pleased with it.
                          I rock it for Jesus and I'm in love.

                          Dreaming the impossible dream, working towards realizing it one day at a time.

                          http://johnnyatthemovies.wordpress.com/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

                            Stefan,

                            You won't find two better models that answer most of your present questions than these:

                            "The Unforgiven" (Clint Eastwood's multi-awarded western)

                            and

                            "The Departed" (Boston mob story)

                            Both wonderfully broke a few conventional genre rules and are quite provocative with regard to treatment of, and questions about good guy/bad guy and protagonist/antagonist.

                            Try to obtain and view both (or view them again studiously) and/or obtain the scripts for further scrutiny. You'll learn a lot by doing so. Guaranteed.

                            Ernie

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Hello, I could use an advice.

                              I think you'll love Trottier's Screenwriting Bible (mentioned in a previous post). I'm going through it now, having already had a few projects go into production, and it's giving me a lot of insight.

                              I think the key to answering your question is to look at the character's objectives. Many movies end with a protagonist "failing" in his primary objective but are still satisfying because he succeeds in a deeper, unspoken objective. It's about personal revelation.

                              If you have a protag who reveals himself to be a dick, then I think having him fail at his primary objective is fine as long as he realizes what a dick he's been and begins to make amends. For me, the sugary ending is when he has his revelation and wins his prize anyway. A satisfying ending is when he loses his prize but has the revelation. The cynical ending is when he gets neither and is a broke dick at the end. That's also called an indie and will kick-ass at Sundance, win some awards, but not make any money. So I guess it all depends on what you're going for.

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