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Bulletproof? Or ‘good enough…?’

March 23rd, 2010



If you write a screenplay today, you had better make it ‘bulletproof.’ What does that mean? It means a studio ‘creative executive’ won’t be able to shoot it down with a single, well-aimed question. It means you’ve checked your months of hard work out for any glaring errors or deficiencies – with a professional who can provide help and guidance.

Still confused? OK, here’s an example: let’s say you’ve written a script about ghosts – a popular subject these days, especially with the uber-success of “Paranormal Activity,” or Sony’s upcoming “Ghostbusters” threequel. But what if your script, your-worked-and-reworked-and-reworked script gets you a meeting with a ‘suit,’ and he asks you a question you really can’t answer about your story. What if you’re asked “What makes this different from “XYZ, the horror picture that just failed for MGM?” Or, even worse, “You know, they’re making something similar over at Paramount.” If you don’t have an answer or response for these comments, your script isn’t bulletproof, and you’re done.

Your script has to be able to withstand the pounding it’s going to get from studio executives. We’ve all heard the jokes: How many Development Execs does it take to screw-in a lightbulb. Answer: Does it HAVE to be a lightbulb?… What you need in this case is the tried-and-true story development methods that have proven themselves in the past. It takes film knowledge, script experience, creativity, and – above all – strong writing, except not necessarily in that order, just to get a script read and considered for production.

After a career involving reading thousands of film scripts, I’m often curious if the world has run out of new ideas. But every once in a while there’s that gem, that unexpected story that just blows you away as a reader and analyst. And which will ALSO blow away the audience… Provided it’s bulletproof! So write your story – and ensure its livelihood by getting it checked out by an experienced reader/analyst. After all, you wouldn’t take your KIDS to a discount pediatrician, would you?  Treat your ideas the same.

Hollywood LOVES new ideas. But it only seems to make movies out of the ones that are well-written. Go figure.

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