What To Write

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  • What To Write

    Hey all. Mighty quiet around here lately, which is unfortunate because DD is a great resource.

    I wonder if anyone struggles with I do about what the next idea to write should be, and whether one might be better than another. Like many writers I have a LOT of ideas, but if you choose the one nobody cares about, you might be totally wasting your time.

    What do you consider before you commit to tackling the beast that is an original spec screenplay? For example I have a wildly original (IMHO) and pretty expensive and experimental thriller in mind, but also a single-location Horror. And don't get me started about my comedy ideas....

  • #2
    Originally posted by muckraker View Post
    I have a wildly original (IMHO) and pretty expensive and experimental thriller in mind, but also a single-location Horror.
    The eternal dilemma.

    The single location horror is the kind that gets made but unless you have come up with a new way of doing it, it's very familiar so hard to get attention for it when there are hundreds of them floating around Hollywood.

    The other is hard to make but if it is truly "wildly original" then this is the one that will take you career further even if it never gets made.

    Producers want a project to make. Reps want to take on a writer who will have a long career.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by muckraker View Post

      What do you consider before you commit to tackling the beast that is an original spec screenplay?
      In my case I just write what will demonstrate my strongest voice.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mark Somers View Post

        In my case I just write what will demonstrate my strongest voice.
        This is what I usually end up doing, which results in wild dark comedy thrillers that no one wants to buy (I wrote Dark Triad btw, thanks again for the notes Mark).

        It's always some combination of genre, concept and character that gets me excited about a new spec. The last thing I finished was a meta-Hollywood black comedy where I wrote myself into a lead role alongside Johnny Depp playing himself, so I've been thinking more about getting my writing noticed than worrying about how producible it is.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jimmy View Post

          This is what I usually end up doing, which results in wild dark comedy thrillers that no one wants to buy (I wrote Dark Triad btw, thanks again for the notes Mark).

          It's always some combination of genre, concept and character that gets me excited about a new spec. The last thing I finished was a meta-Hollywood black comedy where I wrote myself into a lead role alongside Johnny Depp playing himself, so I've been thinking more about getting my writing noticed than worrying about how producible it is.

          I hope not to derail this thread. I'm following the advice of Jeff Lowell that a spec is a writing sample and not necessarily a movie. Your script "Dark Triad" is not your usual fare. It would be an independent project. At least that is my thinking. I'm not a Producer and far from a professional writer. I've read hundreds of produced scripts and amateur scripts and yours has voice. It is dripping with voice. If I had written it it I would be spending night and day trying to get it front of any and all bodies face's not get it made (of course that would be great too) but just so the industry is aware of my talents. I've also read scripts that were rated an 8 on the Black List and if yours doesn't get at least that I'd tell them they've got their heads squarely up their asses. Just my 2 cents.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mark Somers View Post

            I'm following the advice of Jeff Lowell that a spec is a writing sample and not necessarily a movie.
            This is how I've always kind of approached it.
            Of course with every spec, I'm fully intent on the movie getting made... but I'm not holding back in the story for budgetary concerns or trying to do some minimalistic gimmick movie. I'm writing literally what I would want to pay and go see on a big screen. For better or worse, I take home run swings.

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            • #7
              In general, the idea I'm most excited to write next, the premise that engages me the most to spend the next 6mos-1yr with. Second-order factors then are whether it's a feature or a pilot (I tend to switch it up from project to project just to have a wider range in my portfolio) and any marketing considerations, e.g., period piece/biopic v. contemporary/fictional

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              • #8
                I'm really procrastinating today...

                Re:
                I'm following the advice of Jeff Lowell that a spec is a writing sample and not necessarily a movie.
                I hear this all the time and that is what I've written. They were kind of expensive but when I showed them to an established and multi-produced producer and director couple, their responses were a combination of too expensive, too many characters, too many locations, not commercial enough, etc.

                So they clearly were looking for something to make... they wanted to make a movie.

                I think I've burned my bridges with that couple since the two they read didn't fit in with what they're looking for.

                Don't know what the real answer is but thinking of writing a Christmas script since I've read that the streamers are looking for those. Anyone writing in that genre? Any advice?

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                • #9
                  I hear this all the time and that is what I've written. They were kind of expensive but when I showed them to an established and multi-produced producer and director couple, their responses were a combination of too expensive, too many characters, too many locations, not commercial enough, etc.

                  So they clearly were looking for something to make... they wanted to make a movie.

                  I think I've burned my bridges with that couple since the two they read didn't fit in with what they're looking for.

                  If you gave them a script and they really responded to the writing, even if they didn't think they could get it made, you didn't burn any bridges. They'll be eager to read your next script, or develop one with you that they can make.

                  Writers never hurt their career with a great script, even if it can't be made for whatever reason.
                  Done Deal Pro
                  Administrator
                  Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 09-22-2022, 06:24 PM. Reason: Tried to fix the quote code. :|

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                  • #10
                    And to the OP: my advice is to take all your ideas, write the best logline you can, and start sharing it with everyone you trust and have them help you pick the best. No one has ten great ideas ready to go. I'm always sending lists of ideas to my reps, and I'm humbled by how unenthused they are by most of them. https://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/core/image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw==

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                    • #11
                      For whatever very little it is worth, here are my thoughts based on a number of things I will try not to restate or bore all with…

                      One of the first things people will always note, is write something you are passionate about. That’s always great/best. But, if you are passionate about talky scenes with two people sitting together and that’s pretty much it, you are in for a long haul of not ever getting anything made, most likely. The top 1% or smaller number of writers might be able to get away with something like that, but quite frankly, “you” will not.

                      I’ve read over 38,000 plus loglines on/for Done Deal alone. Thousands and thousands more in my professional life of reading & covering scripts, providing feedback, etc. Okay, I’m boring some, I’m sure.

                      I suggest writing your most entertaining and commercial & saleable of ideas. If you just don’t have it in you to do that, that’s fine. Be honest with yourself.

                      Write something that people want to make. It’s that simple. It doesn’t simply have to be comedy or horror or action or thrillers. But write something that audiences would like to see. If you don’t know what that is, you are already in lots of trouble. Do some research. It’s not that tough to do and ultimately figure out. Test your ideas & stories out on some friends. I do, and it is a solid way to go. Yes, it helps if they work in the business and know what they are talking about. (I’m lucky to have that around me.) But even the person on the street, that ultimately buys tickets, can tell you too. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize a good, solid, fun story. A "genius" can help in fixing, editing & polishing it, yes. But just hearing it and going, “I like that a lot” is simply not that tough.

                      socalwriter1
                      Member
                      socalwriter1 - As for Christmas movies, those are pretty tough, especially in this day & age. Literally everyone and their mother has an idea for Christmas script. So before starting, you’ve got to understand the “rules” of writing these movies. It’s not the same as most feature length Romantic Comedy Dramas. Know this genre/world inside & out and back in again. They’ve heard it all at this point. The story needs to be as clever, interesting, & fun as you can make it; and again follow all their rules. Read as many of the online articles as you can about writing a Christmas movie for Hallmark, Lifetime, etc. They are out there. And there is even a book about it: “The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Made-for-TV Christmas Movie.” Study up and be prepared before even starting writing.

                      Hope this can help someone in someway at the very least. It is always tough to figure out what to write next, particularly due to the time it requires per script.

                      Added: And listen to Jeff.
                      Done Deal Pro
                      Administrator
                      Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 09-23-2022, 06:12 AM. Reason: Rewrite to tighten up.
                      Will
                      Done Deal Pro
                      www.donedealpro.com

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                      • #12
                        I agree with all of that, Will. If your logline doesn’t seem clear and commercial before you write, it’s trouble.

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                        • #13
                          It's hard to explain what a painting will look like before you paint it. But it shouldn't be hard to explain what your spec is about before you write it.

                          And that's where the artist mind and commercial sell out mind have to meet, shake hands and come up with a way to express the idea to writers and non-writers alike.

                          Best loglines are ones other writers wish they thought of and the guy at Home Depot would get excited to see at 7pm on a Friday after work. Ones that the rep would request to read and your sister would go "cool idea, I want to read that."

                          Point is, it should be accessible to all and easy to understand.

                          If you are writing for fun or to make it yourself, do whatever you want. If you are just doing it for fun, go crazy. But I don't see the point in NOT writing something you are passionate about and may have a chance of selling.

                          Now I find it very freeing to know, look this thing won't sell, so take some chances. That don't pick the "safe" idea because that doesn't exist and pick your favorite/best one.

                          Sometimes I feel (me included) writers get in their own way. They aren't writing great movies they want to see themselves, but trying to show off to other writers and reps "look how great I am at writing?" When it's much more impressive to write well in a very sellable spec. Do both!





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                          • #14
                            On the point of pitching people your ideas before you write them and audiences as a whole.

                            This is just kind of an observation I've made, and maybe it's just because the only circles I run in are among set workers and artists who are naturally eccentric, but pitching average people your ideas is not indicative of how the industry will respond to those same ideas.

                            Regular people tend to get very excited about ideas that sound original, unusual, and fun. Those same ideas typically get a very cold reception from managers in the query process.

                            From my experience, the more normal, conventional, and easy to produce your idea sounds, the more likely you are to get a read request.

                            Based off my regular interactions with other human beings, there is a growing disconnect between the general movie watching public and the decision makers in the industry.

                            I'm not giving any kind of advice. This is just something I've noticed.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Prezzy View Post
                              Regular people tend to get very excited about ideas that sound original, unusual, and fun. Those same ideas typically get a very cold reception from managers in the query process. From my experience, the more normal, conventional, and easy to produce your idea sounds, the more likely you are to get a read request.... there is a growing disconnect between the general movie watching public and the decision makers in the industry.
                              The disconnect is massive between reactions I get from my personal circle/other writers and the "industry." I hear glowing reviews from the former group, my loglines get a ton of read requests, then nothing but weeks and months of radio silence from the latter. It's maddening because I have no idea what "criteria" they're looking for in a spec or why the disconnect exists, and it's hard to gauge the quality of a read from a cold query, because I'm sure that kind of submission is going on the bottom of a script pile that maybe someone's assistant will eventually get around to.
                              The general feeling I get is that the enthusiasm for breaking a new interesting writer or taking a risk on an original spec is close to zero. The "industry" seems content to keep recycling itself until it gracelessly expires.

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