Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The kind of script you should be writing

I'm going to try as much as I can and without causing myself trouble, to blog about things I'm learning that nobody told me about when I was hunting for a rep.

Today, I'm going to talk about the biggest challenge ever: THE NEXT BIG IDEA. People will often tell you to write commercial, but they don't tell you what else you need to write. Just having one good script is not enough. You need to show that you can continue to produce work the town will want to read, and hopefully buy.

So I've got a script worth reading. Heck, I've got two scripts worth reading. I'm taking meetings, working my thing, getting introduced to the town.

Meanwhile, I have to figure out what to write next. Those ideas I've been saving up for years on little color coded index cards? USELESS.

When you're on your own you can write whatever you want. Want to write a Civil War martial arts story? Knock yourself out. Passion can drives your work. You write the idea that excites you the most.

Once you start building a career, you write the idea that excites you the most but which also 1) has a commercial concept, 2) fits within the genre of your previous work, and 3) can have a star in the lead role so you can make attachments.

Never underestimate the importance of a star vehicle. When you're writing a script to get the attention of a rep, you need something that will attract a star, and not just one or two stars. If the only person who can star in your movie is The Rock, it's going to be a hard sell. What happens if he's not available, or if he doesn't want to do an action movie right now? You're stuck.

So the best thing you can do to get noticed is write something commercial with a lead who is a white male in his early 30s. Then write another one.

This is a lot harder than it sounds. That's where I am now, trying to beat out an idea that fits that criteria and has obvious potential to make money. I think getting my masters degree was easier.


  1. I think I see the dilemma: how to grow; how to change, without changing. Afterall, ICM and COC both signed you, so they must like your style.

    Elvis Presley faced the same challenge, when he moved from SUN to RCA...

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  3. I'm trying to get out of the habit of writing white male 30s protags, since there is so much talent in other shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities. It's important to have salable work. It's also important that there is work for actors who aren't white male 30s. And as writers, that starts with us.

  4. I totally agree in theory, Claude. The scripts I have in circulation both have female protags.

    But if I want a successful career, I need to get used to writing for 30-something men. It's not fair, it's not ideal, but it is how it is. So do write the best script you can with whatever protag you want, but your BEST chance of breaking in is with a young white male as your lead.

  5. Maybe a potential angle is to have male-female co-leads. A bit of action-rom-com play that are gold nuggets... From ROMANCING THE STONE to LONG KISS GOODNIGHT to MR & MRS. SMITH. THIS MEANS WAR has a bit of that hybrid: Reese W. got two young up-&-comers.

    You'll get to have your strong suit while hitting the male-gaze-demo. Why not have Gina Carano AND the Rock? Or a "better" acting duo...

    What I got from NICE GIRLS and your sensibility is getting that PG-13 rating. How to get the dark, messy parts into that sub-genre. Or in your sweet spot. I'm confident you'll dig-&-mash-it-up and be a writing demon.

  6. i've been dealing with this issue a lot myself lately, and i very much agree with you.

  7. So I guess it doesn't stop even when you're marching up the food chain, huh?

  8. it never stops. and i don't feel like i'm marching!


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