Breaking Out of the Box



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  • Breaking Out of the Box

    A writer gets 'discovered' (whatever that means) gets a great agent, gets 'on the map' to some modest degree.


    His / her agent suggests - in the nicest possible way - writing films in the same style / genre. You write great 'action' give me another action script. You write 'comedy', stick to making people laugh, it's what you do best! (or whatever)

    So, my question to those who have been around the block more times than they care to remember, is:

    What's the best way for a writer to break out of the box, so they can more readily flex their creative muscles?

    Winter in New York

  • #2
    You know what they say, Jack of all trades master of none. How many political thrillers has Nora Ephron written? How many rom-coms has Tarintino written? How many goofy gross-out comedies has M.Night written?


    • #3

      it's a business. like any business, it all comes down to one word: branding.

      your reps are branding (or attempting to) you as the NEXT BIG (insert genre here) WRITER.

      it's unfortunate and it really sucks, particularly if you have ambitions that transcend writing one genre. my best advice: suck it up and write that script. keep writing it


      • #4
        Re: stasis

        Once you've gotten some screen cred you might get the opportunity to try something different. But not eveybody CAN write films from The Princess Bride to Marathon Man. Of course, PB has a dark side.


        • #5
          Re: stasis

          The most realistic scenario is that even after you "break out," you will be doing mostly writing assignments, which would logically be offered in the genre you have had success with.


          • #6
            Re: stasis

            Not that I have a first-hand opinion or anything, but you can always write whatever you want on spec. So the question would then be "once I've been branded in one genre, how do I get them to take me seriously in another genre?"

            I'd say "the same as you did before you were a bigshot â€"*by writing great scripts." At least as a Brand Writer, you will have access to a network of people who know your name. Perhaps will just need to wait until you've made it as a big enough Brand.

            My 2¢.


            • #7
              Re: stasis

              From IMDB:

              "During the Watergate Affair, Carl Bernstein was married to future writer-director Nora Ephron, both of whom had a crack at polishing a script that would go on to win William Goldman the Oscar."


              • #8
                Re: stasis

                And have you read WG's version of that? I actually met the Princess Ephron, er, I mean Nora in my bartending days. I think Goldman was being polite.


                • #9
                  Re: stasis

                  I think you'll enjoy this, from a Peter B editorial on Redford in Vriety (perhaps the lawyers won't come after me if I ref it):

                  In his career as an actor-filmmaker, Redford has managed to stay in character.

                  On "All the President's Men" he elicited a greenlight from Warner Bros. based on William Goldman's superb script and nailed down Alan Pakula to direct and Dustin Hoffman to co-star.

                  Shortly before the start of principal photography, however, Goldman was summoned to a meeting. He found Redford sitting at a table with Carl Bernstein and his then-girlfriend, Nora Ephron.

                  "Carl and Nora have written a new script for our movie," Redford intoned coolly. "You might want to read it."

                  Goldman was understandably indignant, pointing out that his script had been approved by the studio as well as the director and that this was a "go" picture. Redford simply pointed to the script sitting there atop the table. And Goldman realized instantly that he was living through another Redford Moment.

                  Having worked with Redford on several movies, I guess I can rightfully suggest that I know him. The trouble is, I don't.

                  hard to believe, in a way...