source: @scottwsmith_com & Screenwriting From Iowa
#screenwriting #film #story
“In my last post, Tootsie at 30, I mentioned that Tootsie was number one at the box office the week it came out in December of 1982. The weekend Toostie was release, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial came in at number 7 at the box office. That may seem surprising. But as they say, “a number without a reference is meaningless.”
I doubt E.T.’s director Steven Spielberg was disappointed by being beaten out by Tootsie, or even Airplane II: The Sequel (which came in at #6), because E.T. was released way back on June 11, 1982. Spielberg says in the book E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, From Concept to Classic, “Never in my wildest, wishful thinking did I imagine that our film would reach beyond a handful of family and friends.” So the fact that E.T. was still in theaters—and in the top ten moneymakers—six months after its release is pretty amazing.
The movie went on to have a worldwide gross of just under $800 million. And who knows how many more hundreds of millions in merchandising?
From a screenwriting perspective what you’ll like about the book on the making of E.T. is not only Melissa Mathison’s screenplay, but the rules of E.T.’s universe that were set in place in telling the story. Things like, “All adults in the movie are shot from the waist down, except for mom,” and “Everytime E.T. says a word he has to say it twice.”
“Melissa delivered this 107-page first draft to me and I read it in about an hour. I was just knocked out. It was a script I was willing to shoot the next day. It was so honest, and Melissa’s voice made a direct connection with my heart.”
E.T. received nine Oscar-nominations, including Mathison for her screenplay, and…..”
Debunking Screenwriting Myths, Part 3: The Logline
by Geno Scala
As a screenwriter who is actively involved in networking, I am a member of dozens of professional writer’s groups, forums, and networks that discuss a multitude of screenwriting topics. A day rarely goes by where someone doesn’t post a request for help with their logline.
This is when the fur begins to fly.
It would help if you were to start with the definition of what a logline is. The definition I use is “A logline is a one or two sentence description that captures the unique & conflicting elements of your screenplay” (by the way, “logline” and “log line” are acceptable).
Now that you’ve defined it, what exactly does it consist of? I try to include certain elements of my screenplay into the logline, then edit from there. I include the protagonist, the antagonist, the goal, the “inner conflict” (or personal issue for the protagonist to overcome), the “outer conflict” (or issues that threaten the antagonist), what’s at stake, the genre, and the “hook” (what separates my story from others in this genre). If I hit on all, or most of these elements, then I know I have a strong logline.
What is often the basis of the arguments is the amount of words that should be included in these loglines. There is documentation on just about every amount, but in most respects the following is considered Hollywood standard- “twenty five words or less, thirty at the most.” They may be in one or two, even three sentences, if necessary, but still within the 25-30 word mark. I’ve heard arguments for the standard changing towards 20 words or less, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Twitter standard of 140 characters will be the rule. Some argue still that word count doesn’t matter, based on the fact that many a screenplay had been sold with a logline exceeding these standards. This is probably true, but since time is money, time efficiency is premium, so word efficiency should be as well. In this case, I believe “the shorter the better”, as long as it still contains the elements.
Obviously the key to the logline is making it the most accurate and effective logline you can. Keep in mind that the purpose of the logline is to attract enough interest from an industry professional that they’ll request to read your screenplay.
What a logline isn’t, is a tagline, and should NOT be confused with that which is often found on movie posters. “In space, no one can hear you scream” is not a logline, but a highly effective tagline for “Alien”. The tagline contains none of the aforementioned elements.
In 2003, I was the stage manager for the Saturn Awards, and found myself backstage with Steven Spielberg, who had come by personally to accept his award for the movie “Minority Report”. He had arrived a few minutes earlier, but waited in the limo until just before the announcement for his category. I had about forty seconds- a lifetime, actually- of quiet and uninterrupted seclusion with him as my captive audience- my filmmaking idol and “secret mentor”. I certainly had enough time to throw him one of my well-developed, thoroughly enticing, loglines and garner the meeting that would launch my screenwriting career!
The moment came, and…
…instead, I thanked him for appearing, congratulated him on the award, and proceeded to trip him as he walked up onto the stage from the rear curtain.
Opportunity lost, but it instilled an important rule that I follow to this day: Keep the logline short enough in case you’re stuck behind a curtain with the likes of a Steven Spielberg.
Geno Scala has been writing for over twenty years, and was one of the Executive Directors for the 1999-2000 Academy Awards presentation. He is an optioned screenwriter with nine screenplays to his credit, and is an alumnus of ScreenwritingU. He maintains a business in Hollywood, and resides in beautiful Huntsville, Alabama with his rocket-scientist wife, a daughter in grad school, another daughter in college in CA, and two teen-aged sons.
#screenwriting #film #business
“As I mention in an article I wrote for the March 2011 issue of Script Magazine, you can have the best script in the world – but unless you can get people to read it, it might as well be a paper weight.
Now, if you’ve already got your action lines perfect and your dialogue crisp, then it’s time to embark on The Voyage To Getting It Read.
There are basically four main ways for an unknown to get their script read, and I’m going to put them in order of effectiveness. The four ways are: Contacts, Coverage services, Competitions, and Email/Query Letter Campaigns.
Ready to dive in? Let’s go:
As we all know, being best friends with Steven Spielberg or Judd Apatow has its perks. And we’re all buddies with them, right? Yeah, right. I wish.
So the first aspect of contacts is already having your own. Unfortunately, 95% of aspiring writers aren’t related to hollywood hot shots and don’t have a friend of a friend of Steven. But don’t despair, because it’s important to understand that you don’t HAVE to be best friends with Will Smith or get jiggy with Jada on Tuesday nights.
Let me start by saying this: you dont need FAMOUS or HIGH POWERED contacts in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, it helps tremendously, but that’s not your goal when it comes to networking and accumulating your group of contacts. Your goal is simple: have as many contacts as possible, but especially contacts that are at the kind of companies or who come in contact with the kind of high powered people who would like your particular material. For instance, if you wrote a stoner comedy, you would have contacts in the Judd Apatow clan, or the James Franco and Danny McBride circle of friends (I’m looking at you Your Highness).
Here’s the great news: notice how I said “clan” and “circle of friends.” You don’t have to be best friends with Apatow or Franco, you just need to know their interns or assistants or other people they trust. Because the name of the game is getting champions of your writing. If an intern for a high powered producer reads and loves your script, and believes wholeheartedly that This Is The Next Big Thing, he’ll lobby hard to get his boss to read it. He or she will fight for you, and for the script. Why? Well, frankly it makes them look good to their bosses that they found the material, and they can parlay that into more opportunities for themselves. Many an assistant at an agent’s desk got promoted for being able to find talent – and many an intern has gotten associate producer credits from bringing in a script. So as long as you have a champion – at any level in the company – in your corner, you’re ahead of the game.
As a side note, this can even include personal assistants (or hair dressers, etc. – I’m looking at you Jon Peters). One of my favorite examples is how producer Matt Alvarez got his start in the business – as a personal assistant. And now he’s a well-known producer with tons of credits under his belt and an eye for good scripts. So the good news is, basically anybody who knows somebody can be your champion…..”