The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.
This topic is closed.
X
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

    ...is that they aren't excellent.
    That's all. And then all the chatter is just rationalizing. Note: I did not say they suck. Or even that they are bad. Some are quite good. But good is not good enough.
    Your screenplay has to be excellent. It has to have a story that's compelling, so compelling that the reader waits to eat dinner or turn on Howard Stern or go in the other room and have sex. It has to have dialog that actors will fight each other to say. It has to have a few moments that make someone want to email someone else to say: I just read this scene that's so twisted or funny or dark or sexy or insane or brutal or magical.
    It has to ****ing announce itself the way Obama with his 2004 convention speech.
    I can tell you why each and every one of my original screenplays that got made got made. And I can tell you why the ones that didn't, didn't.
    Just flipping write. And send em out.
    People, friends of mine, will say 'it's harder now' 'more difficult, fewer buyers.' All true.
    But it was always hard. I remember the year we sold our first spec a stat came out that 90 scripts had sold out of 100,000 submitted. And that out of those 13 were made. If I had known those odds, maybe I wouldn't have started. Now everyone knows those odds. And I understand that it's daunting. if you can be happy doing anything else, do it.
    But please, if you do this, stop trying to look for the Magic Formula.
    There is none. There is only your natural curiosity, enthusiasm, intellect, vocabulary, people skills, sense of humor, and critical thinking ability.
    And then, most importantly is the discipline to shut the world out--the 'rules' guidelines, advice, harsh realities--to sit down and write every single day.
    Guess what: you can sell your first screenplay. You can use voiceover. You can use We See. You can do whatever the **** you want to. If you do it so well that it is undeniable.
    Anything less and it probably won't happen.

  • #2
    Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

    Oh, please. We all know what you have to do to get ahead in Hollywood.

    Excellence, my ass. (Though, if my ass were excellent, I'd probably be doing a
    lot better.)

    Seriously, brilliant writing is the first class ticket. Everything else is coach, or flying in a crate with the luggage.
    If you really like it you can have the rights
    It could make a million for you overnight

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

      So my script has to be so good that a reader will delay a trip to the other room to have sex with Howard Stern?

      Or does it have to be so good that a reader will want to go in the other room to have sex with Howard Stern? And what about dinner?

      This IS a tough business. I mean, I thought I only had to top Bobby Jindal's 2009 reply to Obama's State of the Union.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

        99% of all screenwriting topics can be answered with...

        ...


        write.

        a.

        great.

        screenplay.

        ...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

          Brian:

          Church.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

            So my script has to be so good that a reader will delay a trip to the other room to have sex with Howard Stern?

            Or does it have to be so good that a reader will want to go in the other room to have sex with Howard Stern?
            Only if the reader is a gay Jew.
            If you really like it you can have the rights
            It could make a million for you overnight

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

              This is a well timed thread with people talking about Bechtel tests and nepotism and hot genres.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

                Sadly, this thread will likely go unnoticed by those who need it the most.

                As always.

                You're literally preaching to the choir.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

                  Originally posted by Brian Koppelman View Post
                  It has to have a few moments that make someone want to email someone else to say: I just read this scene that's so twisted or funny or dark or sexy or insane or brutal or magical.

                  Are these the big set pieces everyone always talks about?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

                    I am learning the names of DDers who shouldn't write comedy.


                    And excellent post, Brian.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

                      Originally posted by Hamboogul View Post
                      I am learning the names of DDers who shouldn't write comedy.
                      1. Joseph McCarthy
                      2. Allen West
                      3. Hamboogul

                      Name three list-keepers who are not good prospects for a comedy pitch.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

                        Originally posted by Brian Koppelman View Post
                        ...is that they aren't excellent.
                        That's all. And then all the chatter is just rationalizing. Note: I did not say they suck. Or even that they are bad. Some are quite good. But good is not good enough.
                        Your screenplay has to be excellent. It has to have a story that's compelling, so compelling that the reader waits to eat dinner or turn on Howard Stern or go in the other room and have sex. It has to have dialog that actors will fight each other to say. It has to have a few moments that make someone want to email someone else to say: I just read this scene that's so twisted or funny or dark or sexy or insane or brutal or magical.
                        It has to ****ing announce itself the way Obama with his 2004 convention speech.
                        I can tell you why each and every one of my original screenplays that got made got made. And I can tell you why the ones that didn't, didn't.
                        Just flipping write. And send em out.
                        People, friends of mine, will say 'it's harder now' 'more difficult, fewer buyers.' All true.
                        But it was always hard. I remember the year we sold our first spec a stat came out that 90 scripts had sold out of 100,000 submitted. And that out of those 13 were made. If I had known those odds, maybe I wouldn't have started. Now everyone knows those odds. And I understand that it's daunting. if you can be happy doing anything else, do it.
                        But please, if you do this, stop trying to look for the Magic Formula.
                        There is none. There is only your natural curiosity, enthusiasm, intellect, vocabulary, people skills, sense of humor, and critical thinking ability.
                        And then, most importantly is the discipline to shut the world out--the 'rules' guidelines, advice, harsh realities--to sit down and write every single day.
                        Guess what: you can sell your first screenplay. You can use voiceover. You can use We See. You can do whatever the **** you want to. If you do it so well that it is undeniable.
                        Anything less and it probably won't happen.
                        Talk about inspiring and simultaneously making one want to jump off a bridge!

                        Excellent, Brian. All it needs now is a dose of BDZ awesomeness and we're done here

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

                          Beyond the ones that are good but not excellent, here's my (grain-of-salt-I'm-basically-a-nobody) opinion of what contributes to the just-plain-bad pile:
                          1. Screenwriting has a low barrier to entry and can be done quickly in comparison to a long-form novel. It's possible to pump out a bad screenplay in weeks. Even a very bad novel takes longer than that. As anyone who has tried knows a screenplay can take forever to write, but simply because of the lower word count a horrible screenplay can be bashed out in a shorter time period.
                          2. People get into it for the wrong reasons. It's like people who want to become actors, and you wonder why. To be an actor, it's not enough to just be good looking or really-really-pretty-please-I-really-want-to-just-because. Good acting comes from the inside -- if you don't have it going on internally you'll never convince anyone else that you are the character you're playing.
                          3. Here's the controversial point: IMHO way too much sci-fi and (to a lesser extent) fantasy is written. Both can be brilliant, they're obviously popular, and if it's your bailiwick you should go for it. But very often it's stuff that's written from the outside in -- they've seen it done elsewhere, know what they like about it but don't understand that lasers, visuals and ummm... "referencing"... won't do the job. A good sci-fi movie is not really a good sci-fi movie -- it's a good movie that has a sci-fi setting. The setting must be subordinate to the story, not the other way around. You can stretch this to any genre -- i.e. rom-com. Going through the paces is not enough. You've got to deliver freshness as well. If you don't, it won't have a chance of getting made.
                          4. With all the emphasis on needing to say something, there's an added degree of difficulty -- you need to say something without being overly didactic OR overly obscure. This is tremendously hard, and filters out a huge amount of fundamentally well-written and OK-structured but over-earnest pieces. Subtlety is so hard to deliver, but it's so easy to detect when it's not there.
                          The mathematics of it all virtually guarantees that the vast majority of screenplays are going to be bad-to-tepidly-ok. Given that these things takes years and miillions to many millions to make, the proportion that ever see the light of day to those that don't is justified.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

                            Originally posted by Brian Koppelman View Post
                            But please, if you do this, stop trying to look for the Magic Formula.
                            There is none. There is only your natural curiosity, enthusiasm, intellect, vocabulary, people skills, sense of humor, and critical thinking ability.
                            But will ****ing Howard Stern *help*?

                            I always end up using the basketball analogy when looking at the difficulty of actually working in this business. But look at any pro basketball player and they didn't find some trick that suddenly made them Kobe Bryant - they worked their asses off practicing. They also learned from experience, and maybe some coach corrected a problem they were having with free throws or showed them a technique for getting past someone guarding the net, and then there' the T word.

                            There's a quote, I think from John D. MacDonald. that 10 writers can look at the same thing and come up with 10 different stories. But if you just grabbed 10 people, most may look at that thing and just see the thing. They can't see a story at all. And some will look at the thing and come up with a story that is bland and uninteresting. And some look at the thing and come up with an okay story... and the reason why John D. MacDonald is famous is because he could look at that thing and come up with an amazing story that you have to read NOW and makes you wonder how the hell he could come up with that...

                            The way Kobe does stuff that you think is impossible for a human to do.

                            And the problem is - that's how you make the team.

                            I know a few people who are not good at "real life" jobs so they think they will become artists because it's much easier than working a drill press or driving a forklift or mudding a house wall. Except it's not easier, it's a zillion times more difficult. Writing is not the easy way out - it's the freaking close to impossible way out. The one where 99% fail. Where you can still work your ass off and fail - but *many* do not work their ass off at all. They'd rather pretend to be a writer than actually be one.

                            Now I have to get back to my pages...

                            - Bill
                            Free Script Tips:
                            http://www.scriptsecrets.net

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: The problem with 99% of all unsold/unmade screenplays

                              yet, every year the industry spends mega millions on projects that are NOT excellent.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X