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Friday, September 4, 2009

Please No More Scripts about Screenwriting

The one thing you shouldn’t write about?

Writing.

Specifically screenwriting.

No I’m not contradicting myself. I’ve started reading for another contest and here as with PAGE one of the things that really sets off the alarm bells is a story about a screenplay or a screenwriter. They’re almost all the self indulgent or just wrong. They fall into either the wish fulfillment or revenge/therapy categories. Please for the love of Syd Field, stop writing them.

I’m not sure why this is a trend in contests. One person told me it was because of Adaptation and The Player. People should remember who was behind those pictures.

Writing about screenwriting or the entertainment business in general is always full of hazards because the writer is damned if he gets the screenwriting world right and he’s damned if he gets it wrong. The real business of movie making is boring and slow. Right now it’s really slow and boring because nothing is actually being greenlit. They say an overnight success takes ten years to make. It’s probably gone up to twenty. And success usually means becoming the sixth writer on GI Joe 2: Electric Bugaloo.

Even worse is when a writer tries to tell an “inside Hollywood” story and gets things wrong. For instance one script I read was supposed to be a warts and all look at the television industry. Unfortunately it broke a cardinal rule right off the bat and made use of a well known song, even naming the script after the tune. Any “insider” knows you never count on being able to secure the rights for a particular song because you might not get them. Another big myth is that once the producers say yes it’s a clear route to easy street. I’ve a friend who got his script packaged and ready to lens years ago. He’s still waiting for his payday.

Before any writer wants to spend months on such a script he or she should take a trip down to the nearest Borders and look at movie section. There are rows of inside stories about the movie business and the creative written by famous actors, writers and directors. None of those are being seriously pursued as film material.

What chance does an unknown outsider have?

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