High Concept vs New High Concept

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  • #76
    Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    Joe, stuff sells all the time that surprises me.

    But no matter how many ways you ask, I just don't understand the mindset of someone going "well, I know this idea is mediocre, but rather than spend time coming up with something better, I'm going to spend the next six months writing it."

    BTW, Goldman's quote is widely misunderstood/misused. Actual quote: "Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.-

    The three glib words that get quoted don't match up with the sentences that come after it. He believed that no one knows anything for certain, which isn't as quotable, but also isn't something that anyone really argues against.

    It doesn't mean "experience and wisdom don't have a place, because it's all random," which is how it's usually used.
    Six months is one thing -- and at my age too much time on the wrong idea -- but I think writers are spending years and years rewriting same idea. So maybe that's another thread "letting go" but it all plays. Write your passionate idea, try to sell it, but if no one seems excited, you can still love it forever, but write something else that will get you a career. Then you bring that passion project back out, or hopefully be too busy with new ideas/assignments to ever worry about it again.

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    • #77
      Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

      Okay, Joe.

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      • #78
        Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

        High Concept Idea = Listening to a pro screenwriter who has had a long successful career

        If Jeff Lowell wasn't on here personally as himself a successful writer, but wrote a book about HOW TO BREAK IN, people would be quoting him instead of fighting with him. That's what makes this all so funny to me.

        He's only given good advice to help you make it in screenwriting as a pro/paid writer. If that's not your goal, then that's cool. I'm trying to do the same -- give advice and make it as a pro.

        No one can stop any writer from writing what they want. You have to make all these choices for yourself at the end of the day.

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        • #79
          Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

          Reading this thread, I can see how things got so heated.

          Ideas like "bad concepts make bad stories", "screenplays that sold were probably doing something right", and "if you think your story idea sucks ahead of time, don't write it" are clearly hot takes, and thus should be debated thoroughly due to their controversial nature.

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          • #80
            Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

            Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post
            I'm not saying you're wrong. Great, high concepts are the fast track of getting Hollywood's attention, but if someone has the passion to write that mediocre story idea, I wouldn't say, no, it's a bad idea. Think of something better.

            I understand your opinion is that you're not telling a writer not to write something he's passionate about, but you think it's not the best way for a writer to expend is time and energy on.
            If it's any consolation, I've spent years (with a huge gap the last 4 years) working on a story I'm passionate about. I floated it as a script logline here, first, and the general consensus was that it's Indy fare -- and I agree.

            Still, people seemed intrigued. I decided to first write it as a novella with the intention of adapting it for the screen. It's somewhat in the vein of the movie, Winter's Bone, which was adapted from a novel.

            I'm sure there are plenty of people who would say I'm wasting my time. That I should write something more commercial, high concept. Thing is -- I went that spec script route for a few years with a manager. Got a teensy bit of traction here and there then nothing. Heck, there are former DD members who got far more traction than I ever did, then nothing....

            For me, the traditional spec script query route is like a freaking hamster wheel and I chose to get off.

            So, in my humble opinion, Joe, please yourself. You want to polish your script and float it out there, go for it.

            When you consider all the "content" produced by Netflix and Amazon (and I've been watching a lot of it in the midst of COVID), there are other avenues to a sale and production.

            Then there's a thread about a short horror story published free on Reddit that just sold for 7 figures with the writers adapting it for the screen. When they wrote the short story, were they thinking it would sell to a studio? Likely not. They just wrote it, offered it as free content, and now they have a 7-figure deal.

            I think we're entering a brave new world with the current crisis and the economic ripple effect. The traditional Hollywood way will have to adapt to survive. FA4 made a good point on page one of this thread:

            When I received THR article about how Warner was laying off 600 staffers, I couldn't help to consider that, maybe, the industry might change for a while.
            I agree. And who knows -- that change may create an opening for your rom com. I do have a fledgling opinion on your script based on the few pages you posted here. And that opinion is a result of what I know about Gen-Z teens like mine. They're certainly different -- especially when it comes to girl-boy relationships -- and it's a challenge figuring out what appeals to them.

            For example, right now, there's a feud going on, on TikTok, between Gen-Z and Millennials. The Gen-Z-ers are brutal in their take downs of the Mills. Clearly a cynical bunch.

            Then again, as my kid pointed out when she showed me some of these videos: "Millennials grew up with Harry Potter. We grew up with Hunger Games." She has a point.

            With my story, I'm considering changing the setting to the late 80s, early 90s because, frankly, I'm thinking Gen-Z as a target audience is a hard nut to crack. (Interesting that, John Tucker Must Die, appealed to my my Gen-Z kid and her friends a couple years ago because it was -- well -- a revenge story, not a standard boy meets girl romance.)

            So that's my 2-cents.
            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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            • #81
              Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

              Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post
              if someone has the passion to write that mediocre story idea, I wouldn't say, no, it's a bad idea. Think of something better.
              Why not? If the writer KNOWS it's a mediocre concept then why not advise her to write a better one?

              Add to this the wisdom - or at least likelihood - that a weak idea is going to need the hell written out of it and even then, will struggle to gain traction then why is it not sensible to focus on the great idea that will stand a much better chance of getting reads and sales irrespective of how weakly it's written?

              Whilst I understand the notion of a writer believing his idea is great whilst others don't, what I can't get my head around is the notion of a writer sticking with an idea that EVEN HE KNOWS is weak. Whichever way you look at it, the BETTER idea has way more chance of success than the POOR one (which, to get anywhere) will need to be knocked out of the park.

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              • #82
                Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                Sometime lurker, first time poster here.

                These most recent, and frankly reductive threads, have made me think about what I consider to be a good idea or a good movie. At the end of last year I shared a list with friends of what I thought were the 10 best movies of the decade. This was the list, not in any specific order:

                -Moonlight
                -Holy Motors
                -The Lobster
                -Inside Llewyn Davis
                -Leviathan
                -Pain and Glory
                -Paterson
                -Phantom Thread
                -Okja
                -A Hidden Life

                Each contains one or more ideas that, to me, made it stand out as exemplary. None of them, with probably the exception of Okja, are particularly commercial. Yet they were all made and will probably enter into the canon of great cinema. There are some caveats, of course. Some are foreign titles, made in some cases with government support and not subject to Hollywood market constraints, and others had a marketable auteur director, but not all.

                That all said, the only thing I think about in terms of marketability when I'm contemplating an idea is whether or not it's something I would want to see. I think a prerequisite for any aspiring writer is to have an evolved sense of what is good or bad, for any genre, only obtainable through experience, which in this case means watching lots and lots of movies.

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                • #83
                  Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                  I feel like we are having the "where do you guys want to have dinner" discussion? I always vote for pizza with a big group and some of you are like let's go to the place only I like to eat at.

                  And there are many find foods, but some of us are picking very specific cusine and I'm saying LET'S EAT AT THE FOOD COURT where there is stuff for everyone to enjoy.

                  So that's how I see ideas. My passion tends to me mainstream, so I'm lucky that way.

                  Big Ideas are the Food Court.

                  Smaller Passionate Ideas are that little restaurant around the corner that has two things on the menu and if you don't like those dishes, it isn't for you.

                  I love thinking of new ways to say the same thing, also I'm hungry.

                  So as always eat what you want (write what you want) but if you are picking a restaurant for a group of people to enjoy (get spec read/sold/loved by others besides you) than pick a place that everyone loves not just you.

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                  • #84
                    Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                    Originally posted by zetiago View Post
                    Sometime lurker, first time poster here.

                    These most recent, and frankly reductive threads, have made me think about what I consider to be a good idea or a good movie. At the end of last year I shared a list with friends of what I thought were the 10 best movies of the decade. This was the list, not in any specific order:

                    -Moonlight
                    -Holy Motors
                    -The Lobster
                    -Inside Llewyn Davis
                    -Leviathan
                    -Pain and Glory
                    -Paterson
                    -Phantom Thread
                    -Okja
                    -A Hidden Life

                    Each contains one or more ideas that, to me, made it stand out as exemplary. None of them, with probably the exception of Okja, are particularly commercial. Yet they were all made and will probably enter into the canon of great cinema. There are some caveats, of course. Some are foreign titles, made in some cases with government support and not subject to Hollywood market constraints, and others had a marketable auteur director, but not all.

                    That all said, the only thing I think about in terms of marketability when I'm contemplating an idea is whether or not it's something I would want to see. I think a prerequisite for any aspiring writer is to have an evolved sense of what is good or bad, for any genre, only obtainable through experience, which in this case means watching lots and lots of movies.
                    Welcome! Many of those films are by established filmmakers though vs me or you writing a spec trying to get them to read it. But I hear you.

                    I do agree "what do I want to see" should be the focus of writer ideas. Without that, how can you write it in the first place?

                    I'm one of the people saying though -- if you have 3 passionate ideas in front of you -- maybe consider which one is most likely to be liked by the masses.

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                    • #85
                      Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                      Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post

                      Why not? If the writer KNOWS it's a mediocre concept then why not advise her to write a better one?
                      Because I could be wrong, so I don't want to discourage that person from writing what he is passionate about. Who knows what will connect with an audience? Maybe this person wins the Nicholl Fellowship and gets the attention of Hollywood and they produce it, where it's a critical and commercial success. Or, it got the writer work-for-hire.

                      By the way, look at the history of the Nicholl Fellowship's winners' story idea and tell me there isn't at least one that you would have believed was mediocre -- if you were honest to admit it.

                      For example, if I was okay with telling a writer something was mediocre and a member posted the concept/logline to DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR, I would differently had told him, bro, that is one uninteresting concept. Think of something better, but I would have been wrong because it connected with an audience and it was a commercial success.

                      Yes, I wouldn't have written that story idea, because you know why? I wasn't passionate about it. The writer who wrote it was and it worked.

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                      • #86
                        Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                        When I pitch my friends or reps -- they just tell me the truth. I do the same to them. I do not see the benefit in not telling the truth when people ask. I mean if you post an idea on this forum in logline, story or pages -- that's all saying "Do you like this?"

                        How are you going to get from the writing stage to the querying stage to the repped stage to the selling stage unless you are able to take some hits and keep on going? So it's better to practice on here or with friends.

                        Some people are just happy to write and never show their work. I get that. It's safer. But if you want to actually get your script to screen -- you're going to have to put your work out there.

                        And when you do, you will not hear many positive statements back. You will probably hear nothing at all.

                        But when you do get that one person to say "yes" -- it's a great feeling. I want you all to have that feeling.

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                        • #87
                          Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                          When I have a new idea, I pitch it far and wide because I'm dying for someone to kill it. If it turns out it's been done or there's some flaw in it I can't answer, I want to know that before I invest all the time and energy in writing it.

                          It's the ones they can't kill that you should write.

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                          • #88
                            Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                            Originally posted by Bono View Post
                            I feel like we are having the "where do you guys want to have dinner" discussion? I always vote for pizza with a big group and some of you are like let's go to the place only I like to eat at.

                            And there are many find foods, but some of us are picking very specific cusine and I'm saying LET'S EAT AT THE FOOD COURT where there is stuff for everyone to enjoy.

                            So that's how I see ideas. My passion tends to me mainstream, so I'm lucky that way.

                            Big Ideas are the Food Court.
                            Okay, how about this then:

                            FOOD COURT LOVERS

                            Rom Com Drama

                            Rival family-run outlets turn a food court into a battleground after one outlet's daughter and another outlet's son fall madly in love.


                            Hmmm... that sounds somewhat familiar. Anyhow, is it low concept, or high concept, or new high concept, or future high concept? But, more importantly, is it a must read?
                            Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                            "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

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                            • #89
                              Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                              Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                              When I have a new idea, I pitch it far and wide because I’m dying for someone to kill it. If it turns out it’s been done or there’s some flaw in it I can’t answer, I want to know that before I invest all the time and energy in writing it.

                              It’s the ones they can’t kill that you should write.
                              I like this. I lot.

                              Also how much time passes for you in terms of thinking of idea and writing new idea once it has not been killed?

                              I noticed all the scripts I've had success with, I had idea and wrote it very soon after thinking of it.

                              However, I have ideas I'd love for years and years, never stop thinking about them, that I have yet to write for various reasons. Do you ever write an idea that's been in your head for 10 years?

                              Or is there something to passion coming to visit and if you don't write the idea in that time, it's never truly the same? I always wonder, should I let some old ideas go and just think of new ones?

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                              • #90
                                Re: High Concept vs New High Concept

                                Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                                When I have a new idea, I pitch it far and wide because I’m dying for someone to kill it. If it turns out it’s been done or there’s some flaw in it I can’t answer, I want to know that before I invest all the time and energy in writing it.
                                This is sound advice. This is what I do.

                                For example, years ago I posted a Thriller story idea in the LOGLINE forum:

                                When an introvert, undergoing psychotherapy for delusions, foresees a young woman's brutal murder, he must get close to her to stop the killer.

                                The protagonist wears gloves because when he touches someone -- skin to skin contact -- he foresees that person's future.

                                A member mentioned that a novel that was published in 2012 titled "Blackbird" by Chuck Wendig had a similar setup. I check out the novel and it had the same hook: When the female protagonist touched someone -- skin to skin contact -- she knows how and when your final moments will occur.

                                Then later, I came across a Christopher Walken movie titled THE DEAD ZONE, released in 1983, where after waking up from a 5 year comma, whenever he touches someone - skin to skin - he foresees their future.

                                So, I decided not to write that story idea and moved on to something else.

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