“First of all, this script is way too long. 180 pages is 80 pages more than anyone in Hollywood is willing to read. Next, you’ve got this overwhelming theme of saving the planet that’s obviously a political message. Nobody wants political messages in their movies. They just want to be entertained. Your main character, Jake, is boring. He’s a lughead without any personality. A movie that’s going to cost this much money needs a way more interesting main character. And let’s not even get into how ridiculous this mythology is. I was confused half the time. So, they’re on a planet with aliens and then they become the aliens by growing the aliens and putting themselves inside their heads digitally. Basic questions like, what happens when their avatars need to sleep, are never adequately answered. A movie like this is a bridge too far, too weird, and too expensive to ever get made.”
Worldwide box office: 2.7 billion
“There are so many things wrong with this script, I don’t know where to start. Maybe start with the fact that in a movie about people living in a simulation, that whenever people fight each other, they can only use kung-fu. Why don’t they fight like normal people? Why only kung-fu? The script is packed with pseudo-philosophy that is consistently eye-rolling. I kid you not, one of the lines is, “Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth… there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.” Good lord. This doesn’t even get to all the logical faults in the movie. Why do they have to go through this entire song and dance to get Neo out of the Matrix? Why not just take him out right away? This whole script is ridiculous.
Worldwide box office: 467 million
Also, the most successful DVD of all time
“This is one of the most disjointed scripts I’ve ever read. It has a great opening sequence that pulls you in but then, inexplicably, you leave that storyline and follow another one with a douchey Hollywood sex offender who we hate. Why would you build a story around this guy? Eventually, we get back to the house where all the good stuff was happening and that’s when you introduce the most ridiculous character I’ve ever seen, a giant naked orc-woman with superhuman strength who thinks everyone is her baby. This went so far away from your cool opening that it made me completely lose faith in both you and the script. This would never get made because everybody who watched it would leave the theater fuming.”
Budget: 4.5 million
Worldwide box office: 45 million
Turned its director into one of the hottest names in Hollywood
“I’ve never seen a dumber idea in my life. You’re making a superhero film with a main character that doesn’t have any superpowers. And, oh yeah, you’re not focusing on the superhero. You’re focusing on the supervillain. Why in the world would we root for the bad guy???? He’s one of the most diabolical awful human beings in existence. We see that here in spades. His primary storyline is stalking the single mom who lives in his building. Who’s our target demo here? 4chan? The script doesn’t have a narrative either. The character just drifts through life, occasionally trying to be a stand-up comedian. This is too heady and slow for superhero fans and cinephiles have no interest in watching superheroes. I don’t see any audience for this movie.”
Budget: 55 million
Worldwide box office: 1 billion
“I don’t understand why we’re considering this script. This is a horror film, which is a genre that plays to 13-21 year olds, and the whole thing is a silent film. Nobody speaks! What Gen-Z moviegoer that you know is going to pay to watch a silent film? The script is so desperate to be seen as clever. It makes the daughter character deaf. Get it!? The monsters hunt on noise and she can’t hear any noise! Oh, the irony! Give me a break. The rules dictating this world don’t make sense. As humans, we always make noises. We sneeze, we cough, we fart. All of this is ignored in the movie. Audiences would tear the logic of this film apart. And teens – our primary audience – are going to massacre us online for a horror film where nobody talks.”
-A Quiet Place
Budget: 17 million
Worldwide box office: 340 million
“So let me get this straight. We’re going to go all in on making a period piece about a boat sinking and the whole thing is going to rest on a love story? I get it if this is Dirty Dancing and we’re shooting in a small town for 10 million bucks. But we’re recreating 1912! We’re recreating an entire boat down to the last detail and we’re shooting on multiple sets with hundreds of extras and endless costuming. This is going to cost us a fortune. There’s no scenario whatsoever where enough people will pay to see this movie to make up for that cost. We’re literally throwing money away.”
Worldwide box office – 2.3 billion
“I have never read a script with a more passive main character in my life. Nothing that happens in this story happens because the main character made it happen. It only happened because he fell into it. For that reason alone, we have zero shot at getting an actor big enough to convince a studio to finance the movie. But even if we somehow trick someone to be in the film, it’s three hours of a wandering narrative that doesn’t have a clear destination. We’re in Vietnam, then we’re playing ping-pong at the Olympics, then he decides to walk across the US for no reason. It’s like the writer couldn’t make up his mind what kind of story he wanted to tell. I feel certain in my assessment that if we make this, it will be one of the biggest flops the studio has ever made.”
Worldwide box office: 678 million
“This was a good script but these movies don’t make money! Small town crime dramas have a ceiling of 10 million at the box office if they’re lucky. Their audience, older men, is too small. Also, with everything moving online, people are getting more and more used to watching these kinds of movies at home. Not to mention, the golden age of TV is allowing audiences to get their fix of this genre in TV shows, which is probably what this movie should be since it’s so character-driven. No way this justifies the cost.”
-Hell or High Water
Budget: 12 million
Worldwide box office: 37 million
The movie is the first step in the writer creating a billion dollar franchise (Taylor Sheridan)
“This is the most generic laughable action movie I’ve ever read. It starts off with some Russian guys killing our protagonist’s dog. That becomes the primary motivation in the film – to get them back. No, actually, they kill his dead wife’s dog. It wasn’t even his dog! That would actually make more sense. So he decides to unretire and kill an entire Russian crime organization because of the dog. I kid you not. And then we get five standard gun shootouts and that’s the movie. We’ll be lucky to get 20 rentals on digital video if we make this.”
Budget: 14 million
Worldwide box office: 86 million
Begins a billion dollar franchise
A story that’s always stuck with me is Zach Braff’s pursuit of making Garden State. Everyone told him that script was terrible. And, to be fair, it wasn’t very good. But he pushed through all that resistance, made the movie, and it was the big surprise hit at that year’s Sundance. It then went on to have a long successful theatrical run.
That story made me realize that every single script that ever gets written is going to be criticized. In fact, more people are going to criticize your script than not criticize it. No matter how good it is. Without going into the weeds, art is weird. It is the most criticized of any pursuit in life. Everybody has opinions on why a piece of art doesn’t work. And if every artist and writer gave up because of those critiques, nothing would ever get made.
Everything you read in this post is something I’d heard was said or was likely said. Yet, in every case, the writer pushed through regardless of the criticsm. Which is exactly what you should do if you believe in your screenplay. It doesn’t matter what anyone on this board says, what I say, what some random agent says. You will get negative criticism no matter what. Once you understand that, you have a superpower. Cause now you know you can ignore those people and find the people who do get your script. That’s the only way movies happen, is people pushing through the criticism and finding a way to get their art produced.
Do the same and your movie will be on my sequel to this post!
澳洲幸运10 澳洲幸运10正规官网开奖记录 One of the more controversial new screenwriters on the scene comes at us with yet another one of his high concept ideas
Premise: (from Black List) When her domineering director makes her film the same scene 148 times on the final night of an exhausting shoot, actress Annie Long must fight to keep her own sanity as she tries to decipher what is real, and what is part of his twisted game.
About: Screenwriter Collin Bannon routinely makes the Black List. He’s done it again here, as this script finished with 12 votes on last year’s list, the unofficial compilation of the “best screenplays in Hollywood.”
Writer: Collin Bannon
Details: 109 pages
Scarjo for Annie?
All right, now that we’ve got all of that conflict out, let’s take things down a notch and review a screenplay about going crazy!
I remember reading these stories about Stanley Kubrick forcing Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to do a million takes on Eyes Wide Shut and how Kidman, in particular, almost went insane.
Then later, probably because he was inspired by Kubrick, David Fincher did the same thing to his actors. I remember Edward Norton being particularly thrown by the first scene he shot for Fight Club. Norton thought he did a pretty good job on take one. But Fincher ended up making him do 20 more. And not just doing the takes, but not giving any direction. I got the feeling from Norton that it was a bit of a mind f—k.
I think the idea of tons of takes is to strip the acting away from the actors. And just have them “be.” I’m not convinced it works. I guess if a scene requires you to look emotionally spent it might work. But it’s hard to give when you’ve been told you’ve failed 27 times in a row.
So I thought building a movie around this concept was cool. It’s also a unique way into a loop narrative. Whenever you can exploit a trend in a way that doesn’t feel like the trend, I always give writers props for that.
It’s 1981 and we’re filming an elevated horror movie (Think The Exorcist, not Friday the 13th) in the middle of some eastern European country. At the start of the script, Annie, our hero, is at her wit’s end. They’ve filmed the entire incredibly intense movie. There’s only one scene left. And Annie is desperate to finish so she can get home for her cancer-stricken mother’s surgery.
There’s one man in the way, though. Howard Bloch. I could get detailed about who Bloch is but just think: Stanley Kubrick. The final scene in question has Annie’s character fighting with her husband in their bedroom, who she seems to suspect did something terrible – maybe even murdered someone. Annie is screaming at him that she’s not crazy, she knows what he did, which leads to a physical altercation.
Every time they shoot the scene, Bloch says, “Let’s go again.” Annie asks what changes he wants but he never answers her. He just says, “Let’s go again.” That alone would drive a person crazy. But to make matters worse, everyone on set seems to hate Annie, who, by the way, is the only woman on the entire production (this is 1981 remember). So she feels super isolated outside of her assigned personal assistant, Laszlo, who’s a sweetheart.
As the night turns into day, and 1 take turns into 20, then 50, then 70, Annie really starts to lose it. She’s convinced the eye-patch that the DP wears has switched eyes. She thinks the wallpaper in the bedroom has changed color. The photo on the wall of her character and her co-star’s character turns into a photo of her and her mom. She repeatedly sees her mom in the back of the set. She thinks one of the stunt doubles wants to assault her.
Then the worst imaginable thing happens. The hospital calls and lets Annie know that her mom passed away unexpectedly. Bloch apologizes profusely. He tells Annie that he’ll get her on a flight home immediately. But now Annie is determined. She asks Bloch if he got the take. Bloch confesses he did not. “Then let’s go again,” she says. It’s clear that nobody’s leaving until they GET THIS TAKE RIGHT.
The byline of this post is, “yet another high concept idea.”
Since I know “high concept” can be confusing, I want to explain why this idea is high concept. The best way to do so is by showing you what the “low concept” version of this idea looks like.
The low concept version of this is the aftermath of an actress who’s had a long day after trying to film a scene that wasn’t working. We see her depressed and struggling and maybe her boyfriend has to build her back up again for the next day. Another version would be an actress trying to make it through a tough production in general. Every day is a challenge and she’s beaten down by the process.
In other words, straight-forward boring explorations of what it’s like to be an actress on a difficult shoot.
The second you make it 150 takes, the whole concept takes on an elevated feel. It feels bigger. It’s more intriguing. This is what makes the concept “high,” is the clever elevation of the common interpretation of an idea.
But what about the execution?
I’m, self-admittedly, not a fan of descent-into-madness screenplays for one simple reason. The screenwriter never gets the line right between keeping the script understandable and the story crazy. They always bring the craziness and messiness into the writing itself so we’re not sure what’s going on. These scripts have to be understandable even if what’s going on in the story isn’t supposed to be understood.
That’s a hard balance for even experienced writers to master.
While Bannon’s tackling of the problem isn’t perfect, he does a pretty good job. He definitely captures this character’s insanity but I still, usually, understood what was going on. I think the reason he was able to do this was because he kept the story simple.
Literally, we’re on the same set filming the same scene over and over again. So when there are crazy elements like, say, a mysterious woman that nobody else can see walking around in the background, we’re able to identify that as the lone variable that has changed and therefore an extension of Annie’s psychosis.
Plus, Bannon added some smart elements to his screenplay that exploited the idea. For example, at one point, Annie’s P.A. accidentally lets out that Howard has been telling everyone on set to be mean and isolating to Annie so he can get the performance he wants out of her.
There’s also mystery elements. The hospital calls to inform Annie that her mother passed away. But we’re immediately questioning, did that really happen or did Bloch make that up in order to get a better performance out of her? So now we have this carrot dangling in front of us, pushing us to keep walking, cause we want to know if her mom really is dead or not.
In other words, it isn’t just about doing the scene over and over again. There are other unresolved threads. Thank God for that because the movie would not have worked if that was the only thing propelling the narrative. Lots of newbie writers would make that mistake, by the way. They’d only focus on what’s in the logline – the bare-bones interpretation of the concept. But movies are too long for that. You need to keep feeding the beast – the beast being the reader – new meals every ten pages or so to keep them interested.
The irony about this script is that if it was ever tuned into a real movie, it would have the exact same effect on the real actress who took the part. She would be shooting 300-400 takes of the same scene. Cause she’s shooting multiple takes to get each of the takes right within the story itself. You’d have to be crazy to volunteer for that. But maybe that’s the point.
[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Your most clever dialogue lines are going to stem from YOUR CONCEPT. Your concept is the primary generator of all that is unique within your script. So if you want to write clever lines, lean into the concept. For example, early on, the hair and makeup guy comes up to Annie before she’s about to shoot her scene and he says, referring to her exhausted face, “Are those dark circles mine or yours?” Annie responds, “I think they’re mine.” “You make my job easier every day.” So, why is this a clever line? Cause the obvious line is, “You look like s—t. We need to get you back in makeup pronto.” That line contains the exact same sentiment, but is on-the-nose and, therefore, boring. A compliment that’s actually an insult delivered in a way to make the heroine feel bad about herself – that’s good writing.
Would you like to know the winner of last week’s grudge match?
Before I give the final tally, I have to say that this was CLOSE. I’m not sure what I was expecting. But I didn’t think the competition would come down to the wire. There were too many voters. You figured someone was going to run away with it.
I wanted to read both scripts this weekend but I didn’t have time so I read the first scene of each. And I have to say, I liked the opening of both scripts. Grendl’s opening is more of a sequence but I found it clever the way the separate plotlines collided in an interesting and shocking way.
And I thought Kagey’s scene was good as well. When the friend decides to go steal some extra fishing gear and the drug guys pull up, my stomach dropped. So, for all the pomp and circumstance – of which there was plenty in the comments section, believe you me – this ended up being a good old fashioned writing contest. Two very capable writers bringing it.
And with that, the winner of our first ever Grudge Match was…..
His script, For Good Men To Do Nothing, received 25 votes. Grendl’s script, Haddegon Tails, received 22 votes (23 if you count Brenkilco’s late vote).
Congratulations, Kagey. And good job Grendl for keeping it exciting. I was checking the vote count multiple times a day all week. So I was into it, man.
I want to thank everyone who voted, everyone who tried to read the scripts, and especially those of you who read both scripts all the way through. And also those of you who left notes. It sounds like Kagey got some really good ideas for his script. And while we all know Grendl is a little tougher to puncture on the suggestions front, I wouldn’t be surprised if he incorporated a few notes himself.
That’s what I like about our showdowns – it’s the only place in the world where you get a ton of people reading your script and giving you feedback. They don’t even get this in the pro ranks. A few people read each draft, and that’s it. So if you’re smart, you can really take the feedback and make your script awesome.
I have a final thought before we wrap this up.
One of the themes of this battle was LUCK. Kagey’s argument was that the best writers will rise to the top and get noticed no matter what. Grendl’s argument was that it all comes down to luck, being in the right place at the right time. That’s what the grudge in this Grudge Match centered on.
Kagey said, if your old script is good enough, Grendl, someone would’ve bought it. Grendl stands strong on his belief that the only reason the script hasn’t been purchased is because Hollywood is a sham and there’s no difference between pro and amateur other than nepotism and luck.
I disagree with both writers to an extent. I don’t believe that you either have it or you don’t and if you do, you’ll get noticed. Nor do I believe that there’s an endless number of terrible writers making a living strictly due to luck and connections. Sure, they’re out there. But I don’t think they make up a huge percentage of working writers.
May I present a third option: WORK YOUR BUTT OFF. Work your butt off learning as much about screenwriting as possible — writing as much as possible. And then work your butt off as a salesman. Hustle, market yourself, cold query everyone in town, get your scripts into all the major contests and on all the major screenwriting websites.
Most writers are only good at one of those two things. So if you can be good at both, there’s a good chance you will find success as long as you keep at it. But if you’re average at both, it’s not going to happen. And that’s what most writers are. They’re average when it comes to learning and improving and they’re average at hustling.
So Grendl is right. If you’re only good at the writing part and crappy at the marketing part, you will need luck. And Kagey is right. If you’re really good at the marketing part but crappy at the writing part, you will need to put effort into learning so that your ability improves to a point where you’re writing good screenplays.
If you’re struggling in either of these departments, come up with a plan. TONIGHT. Write down how you’re going to get better at writing or marketing, set realistic goals for yourself, and get to work. Cause I guarantee you, you know where you’re weak. And knowing is half the battle. Now do something about it. Yes, I just quoted G.I. Joe.
What’d you guys think? Pro vs. Amateur. Is the line as clear as they say it is?
Oh, and let’s not forget the obvious question.
Some really fun stuff in this newsletter. David Aaron Cohen gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like dealing with Austin Powers himself, Mike Meyers. Let’s just say that his spidey-sense was screaming at him that this supposed amazing opportunity might not turn out so well. I also give you a review of another short story sale, this one with a unique action protagonist (to say the least!). We’ve got my thoughts on that impending huge book sale, “Drowning.” Also some thoughts on that Heat sequel. Will it be good?? Oh, and I can’t not comment on that Marvels trailer. I mean, come on, I’m only human.
This post may stay up all of Monday. I’ve been overworked and I don’t know if I have the energy to put something together. But at least Tuesday, we’ll be able to discuss who the big winner is in the Kagey-Grendl smackdown.
If you want to get on my newsletter list, e-mail me. I’ll send this over to you immediately. firstname.lastname@example.org
Every second-to-last Friday of the month, I will post the five best loglines submitted to me. You, the readers of the site, will vote for your favorite in the comments section. I review the script of the logline that received the most votes the following Friday.
If you didn’t enter this month’s showdown, don’t worry! We do this every month. Just get me your logline submission by the second-to-last Thursday (May 18 is the next one) and you’re in the running! All I need is your title, genre, and logline. Send all submissions to email@example.com.
If you’re one of the many writers who feel helpless when it comes to loglines, I offer logline consultations. They’re cheap – just $25. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
Are we ready? Voting ends Sunday night, 11:59pm Pacific Time!
Good luck to all!
Title: 1 v 1000
Logline: During the Bali holiday of Nyepi, where it is illegal to be outside, an AI engineer, marked for death by the Yakuza, must flee a thousand pursuers across the empty countryside.
Logline: Two teenage porch pirates become entangled in the deadly world of illegal drugs and organ trafficking after they unknowingly steal a package that contains a human heart.
Logline: As Disneyland prepares for its 50th Anniversary, an unfrozen Walt Disney starts a murderous rampage through the park and it’s up to Roy E. Disney, his timid 75y.o. nephew, and Michael Eisner, the brash CEO he’s trying to oust, to stop him.
Title: Every Other Day
Genre: 1 Hour Drama
Logline: An emotionally unavailable artist and an unhappily married ad exec, who have been involuntarily switching bodies every night for twenty years, find their delicate situation complicated when the exec’s mistress turns up dead.
Title: Nice Guy
Logline: Over the course of one day, a resilient young woman is terrorized by a self-proclaimed “nice guy” who refuses to take no for an answer after asking her out.