Some Sage Advice from an Exec from ICM



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  • Some Sage Advice from an Exec from ICM

    Hello writers,

    I recently interviewed an exec from ICM and he had some amazing advice that I wanted to share with you all. We were talking about pitching and about writers crafting really big, complex stories. I really wanted to get his insight on how he feels writers can create big stories that studios and audience members can still wrap their heads around.

    Here was his advice:

    Ground your bigger stories with something we can latch on to. You can build big worlds but you need to have accessible characters that an audience can relate to. Studios are always looking for unique world building, but accessible characters need to be in the forefront of your story.

    If you have a complex, unique world then your plot and driving force need to be simple. Movies like Mad Max:Fury Road and Terminator 2, as two examples, contain a very unique backdrop and a very streamlined, simple, focused throughline. You should not try to balance a unique world with a complex plot.

    When pitching stories with a complex world and unique set pieces, focus on the character relationships. An executive will have an easier time grasping onto the throughline if you focus on something they can relate to (i.e. character dynamics and relationships). Don't let your protagonist get swallowed up in complexity.

    When contemplating how to create your protagonist consider making him/her a fish-out-of-water. Most people feel like a fish-out-of-water in their own lives, which is why those types of protagonists are usually the most engaging and universally appealing.


    Joey Tuccio
    President of Stage 32 Happy Writers

  • #2
    Re: Some Sage Advice from an Exec from ICM

    Good Advice!

    Something that's stuck with me recently was a series of tweets I think Gary Whitta posted (could be wrong) on why personal stakes matter more than global stakes.

    He used the example of Ant Man, where the global stakes (the yellow jacket suit being sold to Hydra) were resolved in the second act, but the finale battle took place at Paul Rudd's character's home, where he fought to save his daughter.

    As an audience, we cared much more about him saving his daughter than him saving the world.


    • #3
      Re: Some Sage Advice from an Exec from ICM

      Lindsay Doran's been talking about this for years: character investment. If you get the chance to hear her speak, you definitely want to take it. Pretty sure there's a TED Talk of her session out there on YouTube


      • #4
        Re: Some Sage Advice from an Exec from ICM

        Thanks for the tip on Lindsay's video!

        I totally agree with you on Ant Man, and these types of movies in general. We tend to care more about the real personalized obstacles/resolutions than the grandiose ones.