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Thread: Scripts, screenplays, and alternatives

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW laroche's Avatar
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    Scripts, screenplays, and alternatives

    Hello Everyone,

    I've been mulling this over for a little while and need some outside opinions.
    I'd like to think I have some good ideas for TVs and movies.
    I'd like to think if only I could get 5 minutes with Jos Whedon, I'd be golden.

    But I'm also realistic, and I want to be economical with my time.

    And I also realize that in the best ideal impossibly unreal scenario, even Jos Whedon would take my idea and say, "y'know, that's a good idea, I'll have my writers tackle it".

    So, given the improbability of a screenplay ever being picked up;
    -Given the likelihood that in best possible situation if/when it is, it's going to be hacked up by the director/producer/dolly grip and other writers;
    -Given that I really just want/would be really tickled if just the IDEA (and not the screenplay itself) were picked up
    -and finally, Given I don't want to completely waste time and effort writing a screenplay that has no chance of going anywhere...

    What's the alternative?

    I've read screenplays for fun (there's an excellent version of Aliens vs. Predators that's far better than any of those movies that were made).

    I've read books that really read like screenplays (directed the eye as if it were a camera).

    I've read comic books -that is, Graphic Novels- that were essentially (and I say this with all due respect) written for the screen but would never make the screen. (And there are lots of parallels between GN and movies).

    Instead of writing out a complete script, is there a format that could be broadly appealing while also capturing the essence of a screenplay?

    Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW LIVIN's Avatar
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    1) Ideas are a dime a dozen.
    2) It's not so much about the idea as it is about the execution of the idea.
    3) I have this great idea for a world-transforming invention, but I want to be realistic and economical about my time, what do you think I should do?
    4) When I read comments like, "far better than any of those movies that were made" I often think, "how do you know? have you ever made a movie?" Also, what is better? Your subjective opinion?
    5) I suggest you write a haiku and post it all over the internet - it's sure to be adored by millions. Then, you'll meet Jos Whedon and you'll be golden.

  3. #3
    Scribbler SuperModerator dpaterso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laroche View Post
    Instead of writing out a complete script, is there a format that could be broadly appealing while also capturing the essence of a screenplay?
    Well, you do say:
    Quote Originally Posted by laroche View Post
    I've read books that really read like screenplays (directed the eye as if it were a camera).
    Maybe you ought to consider writing one of those books that read like movies?

    Build up a big enough fanboy audience and Joss Whedon might notice it.

    Of course, nobody said that would be easy...

    -Derek
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW laroche's Avatar
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    LIVIN: have you seen AVPR? This is not my subjective opinion, but scientific fact that it is horrible. God actually decreed a new commandment after the making of that movie: "Thou shall not make any more shitty Alien vs Predator movies. Let this guy on the internet, 'laroche' read and approve them first".

    dpaterso: yeah, I guess that's what I'll probably do. One idea I have is more like a TV show, and don't know how to translate it to a novel. I'm also 'researching' graphic novels, but I'm not an artist nor do I know a lot about the genre, so it's a steep hill.

    I'm just looking for shortcuts to fame and fortune, in case any of you want to share.

  5. #5
    Scribbler SuperModerator dpaterso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laroche View Post
    LIVIN: have you seen AVPR? This is not my subjective opinion, but scientific fact that it is horrible. God actually decreed a new commandment after the making of that movie: "Thou shall not make any more shitty Alien vs Predator movies. Let this guy on the internet, 'laroche' read and approve them first".
    See, here's where subjective kicks in... and "scientific fact" gets a giggle reaction... I liked that movie!

    And yeah I'd read other AvP screenplays that were floating around the internet, and sure, they would have made good movies, too. Still didn't stop me from liking AvP.

    -Derek
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    Agent "want" tweets and word wars!

    Check out my story in Timeless Tales Magazine's Perseus & Medusa issue!
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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW
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    Here is the short answer. There is no other viable alternative. If there are 100,000 people with scripts, there are 20 million with ideas that they are SURE will make great TV or a movie.

    When I tell people I write screenplays, they always say, "I've got this great idea for a movie."

    So I think my estimate of 20 million is low. How are you going to distinguish yourself is the question?

    Some day you may be able to walk into a guy's office and pitch an idea. And then he may say, if he likes the idea, "Can you write me up a quick 4 page treatment?"

    But he is only going to say that if he knows you can write a script. After all, he wants to be economical with his time too.

    The good news is that the grip, best boy, 1st., 2nd., 3., and 4th. Assistant Directors, make up and wardrobe persons, hair dressers and craft services and the art director don't get to have any input into your script.
    Last edited by ricetalks; 02-13-2013 at 09:01 AM.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW LIVIN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricetalks View Post
    Here is the short answer. There is no other viable alternative. If there are 100,000 people with scripts, there are 20 million with ideas that they are SURE will make great TV or a movie.

    When I tell people I write screenplays, they always say, "I've got this great idea for a movie."

    So I think my estimate of 20 million is low. How are you going to distinguish yourself is the question?
    All of the above, dittoed.

    Or people say, "my life would make a great movie." I read a statistic once that said like 68% of people thought their life would make a great book.

    And, speaking of being economical, it's not very to be spending time on this thread, so peace.

  8. #8
    wshhhhhshweshhhwwweshh gp101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laroche View Post

    I'm just looking for shortcuts to fame and fortune, in case any of you want to share.
    There's your problem. If you're seeking a shortcut, that means you're not willing to do the work that is normally required. If you're not willing to put in the time and sweat to bring an IDEA to fruition, why would someone else put in the work for you? You've got to prove that the idea works, ie a kick-ass script.

    And if you're looking for fame and fortune, you're in the wrong line of work in this industry. Few writers achieve true fortune and even fewer, fame. Most writers in the game can earn a comfortable living if they're talented and provide a good track record, but they're not picking out yachts. And as for fame, there are only a handful of screenwriters that most (in the industry) admire or might command the attention of others in the industry if walking along the street--Esterhaus, Black, and Goldman come to mind. But the general public? They can't name one.

    You got better odds of achieving said fame by pursuing acting or directing, if that's your need. But if your need is to create an amazing story and watching it on the big screen? You have to put in the work and sweat, forget about shortcuts, and forget about fame. Even if your script wins the Oscar, you'll be forgotten by the public within a week or less. Who remembers the winner for best Cinematography? Same importance to the public, which is to say none.

    Fortune, you have an outside chance of attaining if you write a bang-up script that rouses a bidding war, which is rare in today's spec market, or if you land steady work writing for a studio or script-doctoring studio scripts. But "fortune" is very subjective. It won't be the 20 mil the actor in your script might make.

    If you nurture a TV show to production--that is, you've come up with a great idea for a show and have written the first few episodes, created the show's Bible guidelines and proper treatment, and are fortunate enough to get the pilot episode in front of someone who can make it happen, then you can make considerable money if you're asked to remain on as head writer or get Producer's credit. If the show takes off and gets several years of good ratings and goes into syndication, some very good money can be had.

    Good luck with your endeavors.
    Take the money and run!

  9. #9
    figuring it all out
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    Re: Fame.

    When I teach screenwriting, on the first day I give my students a quiz. It has one question.

    1. Name a screenwriter who isn't also a director.

    I give them as much time as they need. Usually, about 20% of my students can name one. And these are media and communications majors, English majors, Film majors (!), etc... people who are interested in movies.

    Most can't name a single screenwriter. Period.

    So that's how famous you'll get. If you write and sell twenty films, maybe one kid in a hundred will know your name.

    You wanna be famous? Go on reality television.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by laroche View Post
    LIVIN: have you seen AVPR? This is not my subjective opinion, but scientific fact that it is horrible. God actually decreed a new commandment after the making of that movie: "Thou shall not make any more shitty Alien vs Predator movies. Let this guy on the internet, 'laroche' read and approve them first".

    dpaterso: yeah, I guess that's what I'll probably do. One idea I have is more like a TV show, and don't know how to translate it to a novel. I'm also 'researching' graphic novels, but I'm not an artist nor do I know a lot about the genre, so it's a steep hill.

    I'm just looking for shortcuts to fame and fortune, in case any of you want to share.
    I loved that movie, and that's a fact, too.


    There are only four shortcuts to fame and fortune, at least that I know about. 1. Be born with a famous name. 2. Do something great that makes your name famous. 3. Hit a record lottery. 4. Have a lot of talent, a strong work ethic, and use both.


    You can't control the first, the second can be dangerous to life and limb, the third is damned near impossible, so I highly recommend the fourth.


    There isn't a writer in the world who doesn't have a thousand wonderful ideas at any given time. Who cares? Ideas are all worthless. It's the talent of the writer behind the idea that matters. As someone once said, "Masterpieces have been written about rabbits, and crap has been written about God." It ain't the idea, it's the writer behind it.

    Write a screenplay, start to finish. If it's good enough, you'll be holding your shortcut in your own hand. If it isn't good enough, no other shortcut will help.

    Too many people waste more time looking for shortcuts than actually sitting down and doing the work would take.

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