Screenwriting : Knowing what to write about by Nina Berlin

Nina Berlin

Knowing what to write about

I had a chat with an LA producer about two ideas for screenplays. I sent him the loglines and he was enthusiastic about one of them and told me forget about the second concept. He stated another one of his colleagues had something pretty similar to my idea and has been unable to secure any interest or financing. I'm glad I chatted with him but how do you decide whether you've chosen a worthy topic for your screenplay? I read a recent article by Quentin Tarantino where he explained how he misjudged what audiences would like when he made his 2007 grindhouse film Deathproof. So even really successful filmmakers can take an occasional misstep when choosing ideas.   

Brian Walsh

Write the story you want to write. If you write basing your subject on what you 'think' Hollywood will want you're already behind. Just tell your stories. That's where the best and most honest work will appear.

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

Just because they have a similar idea doesn't mean you shouldn't write yours. If your idea keeps playing in your head and keeps you awake at night go write it. Maybe you have the missing bit of story in yours that will make the sale. The second point is this ... why are you letting them determine what you do? Hope you're well, Nina!

Dan MaxXx

I told a UTA agent I wanted to make a coming of age story about a student running an escort service. He passed. Then, I said I have $250,000 cash. He quickly changed his mind.

Basically folks pass all the time because movies require Time and effort. Everyone has something similar in development.

Dawn Greenfield Ireland

Remember, when you discover a trend, you're too late. The trend has already trended. As Brian mentioned, write what you want to write. When someone rejects a concept, someone else picks it up and discovers gold. So, that producer that said to forget about #2 -- DON'T.

William Martell

I have a list of criteria in my Ideas Blue Book, but one of the things that I do is pitch my ideas to "ticket buyers".

I drove a forklift for 10 years in a warehouse and we all used to go to the movies once or twice a month.

So, after I narrow down my 100 ideas to the two or three best ones, I often call the guys I used to work with and tell them I just saw a sneak screening of a new movie starring "that guy who played Thor" and then I pitch one of the ideas to them and ask if they would see it on opening night, or wait for Netflix, or not see it at all.

That helps me decide if I should write it.

But one of the (10?) criteria in my book is to make a list of recent financially successful films that are similar. That will give you an idea as to whether people are buying tickets for that type of film.

Christopher Phillips

There was a movie awhile back called Seduced and Abandoned (2013) with Alec Baldwin and James Toback. They head to Cannes to raise money for a movie that Alec would star in. When you watch the documentary, you'll understand the decision making behind movies. Writers are often working in a vacuum. The documentary does a great job of clearing up the decision making process.

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