Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting Into His Story

I always like finding new blogs that offer lots of writing advice related in an interesting and entertaining fashion. Recently, I stumbled across Scott Myers' "Go Into The Story". Scott is a produced screenwriter (K-9, Trojan War), producer, and teaches screenwriting through UCLA extension.

His blog covers the usual 'crafty' categories, but he just finished a long interview with script reader DC Mar (works with New Regency, The Weinstein Company) that made for a fascinating read. Script analysts are generally the gatekeepers for companies, networks, and studios....the first line of defense your pitch/script needs to navigate past in order to get into the hands of the executives. The analyst's 'coverage' of your material can have a huge impact on how far up the ladder your project actually gets.

DC Mar tells it like she sees it...a few excerpts:

Re: what you look for when you are reading...

--As I start reading, the first page tells me a lot. Does the tone clearly signal what kind of movie I’m in for (genre)? Does the script have me hooked yet? Or am I confused? Indifferent? Bored? Or am I intrigued, excited, amused, unsettled and, in other words, emotionally engaged in some way?

--By page five, if something hasn’t hooked me yet, I’m scribbling peevish notes on the margins such as “what’s going on?” “what’s happening?” “too slow,” etc.

--By the end of act one, if I’m still not hooked, I’ve already formed enough of an opinion and am starting to write the comment for the coverage.

--As I read, I circle major characters and plot points. To be honest, I’m reading so quickly that I’m not always paying attention to whether ALL the major story pillars are in place. I don’t break down your script’s structure, but I am reacting to whether or not it’s essentially sound.

Re: which is most important: great story concept, strong characters, distinctive writing style...

In my experience, the scripts I give “considers” to almost always have GREAT or memorable characters to go along with a great concept. I often find that excellent characters are what make the difference between a concept that is familiar and one given a fresh slant. Often it is the characterization that elevates a run-of-the-mill script to a great one and the element that tips the scale from a “pass” to a “consider.”

A great distinctive writing style could also get you favorable coverage even if concept isn’t great or characters aren’t exceptional because Hollywood loves finding new writers with that fresh, new and unique voice. Even though their script may not get picked up, the writer gets buzz, which translates to meetings and sometimes even writing assignments.
The ideal, however, is a script that has all three elements working in tandem. These are the scripts that get readers excited and raving about the script in their coverage. These are the scripts that a reader happily rates a “consider” for both project and writer.

Re: your favorite types of scripts to read...

There are two types of scripts that readers love: the really, really good ones that are an obvious, easy, no brainer “consider” or “recommend” and the really, really bad ones that are an obvious, no brainer pass. This is because coverage for these are fast and easy to write. It’s easy to rave about a script or rip it apart. The much harder ones for readers to cover are those that have us on the fence because it’s much harder to justify why it merits a consider or deserves a pass. Obviously, writers should avoid making it easy for us readers to give their script a no-brainer pass. Even if your script is not an obvious “consider,” at least make it hard for us to justify giving it a pass. Then at the very least, you might wind up with a “consider” for the writing even if your script gets a “pass.”

Believe me...it's all about just getting a checkmark in that "consider" box.

Great stuff. Read all 6 parts of the interview HERE.

1 comment:

Callaghan said...

Great catch Will.