Writing Religion

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  • Writing Religion

    I am writing a screenplay that deals with the relationship between different religions. In essence it confronts all belief systems, Christian, Muslim, Hinduism, Jewish, Atheists, etc. The word god is never mentioned, it’s more allegorical (comedy? / drama ?).

    While I have outlined a concept, I very much hope I have made the protagonists’ transition, character and context real.

    As a goal and deadline I wish to submit my screenplay for consideration in 2009 for the Nicholl's fellowship. Am I wasting my time - does ‘religion’ not sell to competitions as well as the marketplace? Are competitions judged on writing or market potential?

    PS I know the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
    Last edited by hats; 02-24-2008, 05:44 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Writing Religion

    Some scripts that do well in the Nicholl will be dramas, coming of age stories, etc. that agents would not consider easy to sell... but these scripts probably deliver a real emotional impact.

    I can picture a potentially great, award-winning script with deep characters and involving events that might shed light on different religions. I can also picture a film that's more like a lecture without much of an involving story. I can't tell which yours is from what you've told us. If you're telling a good story that touches us emotionally, you stand a chance, IMHO.

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    • #3
      Re: Writing Religion

      Knowing nothing about the content of your movie, I can suggest only that when you tells us it "confronts" all religions ... and then doesn't 'mention God(s)' ... you have described something that cannot possibly work because it cannot possibly EXIST.

      Here, I will say it out loud: WRITERS -- do not dream you can write a movie about "religion" (or whatever watered-down treacle you imagine "religion" is) without taking religion seriously.

      When I say "seriously" I mean that in the broadest sense of the word: imo THE LIFE OF BRIAN takes its "religion" as "seriously" as THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST.

      By the skull-necklace of bloody Kali, my friend: you cannot have done this:

      I am writing a screenplay that deals with the relationship between different religions. In essence it confronts all belief systems, Christian, Muslim, Hindi, Jewish, Atheists, etc. The word god is never mentioned, it's more allegorical (comedy? / drama ?).
      You cannot not know whether it is
      comedy?
      or
      drama ?
      It can be either, or both, or neither. But you have to know which it is, yourself, or it is a mess.

      That's just my opinion. But it is my jaded opinion. Leave writing "religion" to those who KNOW.

      I don't presume to say WHAT they 'know' ...

      I don't presume to say I 'know' something they don't ...

      What they 'know' I might disagree with utterly, and their 'knowing' would still suffice utterly.

      But I know that too many think they can approach it without 'knowing' and they are instantly in way over their heads.
      sigpic
      "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world -
      that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves."
      -Mahatma Gandhi.

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      • #4
        Re: Writing Religion

        One of my scripts made the top 30 in last year's Nicholl, and the main character was a person of faith. I've certainly never heard that "they" (and remember that "they" are scores or hundreds of readers for the first cut) discriminate either for or against any particular theme.

        What the Nicholl judges seem to care about is great stories and good writing.

        And why are you waiting for 2009? You've got until May 1 for this year's contest -- get off the board and get writing!

        L.
        "People who work in Hollywood are the ones who didn't quit." -- Lawrence Kasdan

        Please visit my website and blog: www.lauridonahue.com.

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        • #5
          Re: Writing Religion

          One of last year's Nicholl fellowship winning scripts was a very funny, well-written comedy that had everything to do with God and religion. Here's the log... A devout atheist must assume a Christian identity in order to win the heart of the pastor’s daughter. But doing so just might send him straight to Hell. ... And it mentions the word God many times.

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          • #6
            Re: Writing Religion

            I am writing a screenplay that deals with the relationship between different religions. In essence it confronts all belief systems, Christian, Muslim, Hindi, Jewish, Atheists, etc.
            I think you can write such a script.

            But you have to figure out some kind of plot that brings representatives of belief systems together in a way that is interesting. Trying to avoid the word God is probably not a good idea. You could probably do it, but why?

            The German dramatist Lessing did something like this in his Nathan der Weise (Nathan the Wise) in 1779. See the Wikipedia entry here.

            By the way, it is Hindu / Hinduism, not Hindi (Hindi is a language).

            "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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            • #7
              Re: Writing Religion

              Movies with religious themes are very, very difficult to sell.

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