Screenwriting : What really sells a screenplay? by Jeremy Hunter

Jeremy Hunter

What really sells a screenplay?

I've always wondered, with screenwriting, what is the first thing to pique peoples interest and stop them from setting down what their reading? The subject matter, the charecters, hooking the reader from the first page or is it all in the TITLE. There have potentially been Acadamy Award worthy scripts that have gone nowhere due to an uninteresting title which doesn't garner attention like the titles of previously produced movies such as "Pulp Fiction" or "Boogie Nights". So my question to all of you is what makes you pick up one script and not another and what makes you keep on reading until the end?

Don Thomas

Never judge a book by it's title or it's cover. Most scripts have working titles, completely meaningless. But if you can come up with a title which in it's own way can perfectly describe your story, than it has value. Not exactly an easy hat trick, but I've got one that is like that. Only pitched it a couple of times, but every time I do the whole song and dance of the pitch getting to the very end I wait for them be so filled with interest they at least want to give me the common courtesy of asking what the title is. Then I tell them and either they nod in agreement or their mouth drops open like a ton of bricks.

Don Thomas

Also for the record young Padawan, the word is pique.

Jeremy Hunter

I recently finished a 160 page epic I'd like to call "White Dragon". I think the title works perfect because it describes exactly who this person is-- of course most people might misunderstand the title to reference a really bad kung-fu movie set in China during the 70's which it isn't. For me though, there are some scripts I'll read and some scripts I won't simply based on the title. If I don't like the title I'm not gonna read the script-- or in some cases watch the movie, it's as simple as that and I think there are some potentially great scripts that never get the attention they deserve simply based on the title.

Don Thomas

Yep my girlfriend is same exact way. She's real big on everything under the sun having the right title. Most of the things you are saying I've heard from her too. Titles aren't my strong suit. Along the lines of why I don't do poetry or much Twitting. Good poetry is the essence of choosing the most minimum amount of words to convey the greatest amount of things. Titles are similar in nature. That coupled with my overall output of story material in different mediums sometimes results in good stories having not-so- good titles. But with that said I did have to shout out a quick "Hell Yeah!" When Thor used the word "Recompense" in the Avengers movie. ;)

Rachael Saltzman

'pique'. The logline. Then the synopsis. Demonstration that the writer is literate helps a great deal.

Mark Ratering

When I got to Hollywood I found the biggest Stars were the nicest people. The A-holes coming up were just that. A experienced smart producer is looking for a great idea. All this garbage about every word has to be perfect, that's for the beginners.. I just don't think a pro cares. Title's can always be changed.

Rachael Saltzman

That's a great statement, Jacqueline. Finding the right chemistry and buyer can be difficult. An easier question to answer is 'what will get my screenplay binned'. Mz. Drury hit some of those on the head. Others include improper formatting, word misuse, flat characters, and nothing happening in the first five pages. Nobody has a story so great that people will 'overlook the errors'. The SP explosion has more than proved that. Now, you're asking for a busy reader's time and effort, and for them to risk their job by passing your work up to the next level. You've got to not give them reasons to throw it away.

Rachael Saltzman

What these and similar errors say, is that the writer is unfamiliar with writing and language. That means they haven't really studied their craft, and don't care enough about doing so to present a clean manuscript. That also indicates that the story is going to have really big problems.

Mark Ratering

As a producer I read the LOGLINE and SYNOPSIS. If I love that idea a period is not going to get me off the trail. I can hire ten writers that will get it right but don't have AN IDEA.

Rachael Saltzman

That's nice. Everyone who is or wants to be a writer has ideas. Last time I went looking for a script, my inbox had two thousand responses in under two days. I need a fast way to weed down potentials. And zero aspiring writers who couldn't write clearly and error free could craft a logical story, let alone a decent one.

Mark Ratering

So you get a perfect LOGLINE and SYNOPSIS. Everything is perfect. You love the idea, which I say is harder then you do, find a great great idea. You love everything. Writer has experience up the kazoo. You get the script and you quit it cuz it's a tad sloppy.... Not me. I pay the $500 and hire you to write for 20 grand.

Rachael Saltzman

Never happens. An experienced writer is not going to be that sloppy. Also, the loglines for new writers are a good gauge. If there are serious spelling and word usage issues in a one sentence log line, that's an easy pass decision. While almost every script goes through development, why on Earth would I waste the five hundred bucks? Just have the good writer come up with a new concept.

Mark Ratering

No I said the Logline was perfect..The SYNOPSIS PERFECT. IDEA PERDECT. I have someone wanting one of my scripts now but they have asked for a script doctor and that's not a big deal to me, I'll do it. But the idea is where it starts. I repect you and understand what your saying, but every deal has twists. LOL

Mark Ratering

I'm quoting Quentin Tarantino here: 'If you make a kick ass movie the whole world is going to know it.' The story is what counts

Chuck Dudley

What really sells a screenplay? - a screenplay that can be made into a movie How does a screenplay get made into a movie? -someone is willing to put up the money to get the movie produced How do you get someone to produce your movie? -convince the producer the movie will make them money How do you convince the producer the movie will make them money? -attach a name actor or director to your screenplay How do you attach a name actor or director to your screenplay? -get them to read it. How do you get a name actor or director to read your screenplay? -get an agent or manager How do you get an agent or manager? --write great screenplays and get someone in the business to read them How do you get someone in the business to read your great screenplays? --win top screenwriting contests, work as an assistant, send letters to agencies, writer's groups, inktip, Or... forget all of the above and simply make your own kick ass independent micro budget movie, distribute it, MAKE MONEY, and watch the actors, directors, agents, managers, and producers come to YOU.

Stephen Foster

contacts, contacts, contacts

Mark Ratering

You know Chuck..........I like the way you think.

Chuck Dudley

Likewise Mark Ratering! Your posts are always informative. Thank you.

Jacob Solinger

It's a little sad but what really sells a screenplay is prior branding. Things that will guarantee butts in the seats. Both movies and TV are hooked on preguels, sequels, copycat storylines etc. Originality is so far from Hollywoods mind that when an original movie breaks through it is an extrordiary event. Write what people think they want to see or read but find a way to tell them what you want to say or be seen. It's a real challenge but if you do not your screenplay will be relegated to the coffee table for those awkward dinners where you tell people what you wish they would have produced. Thank God for independent film where originality still has a chance.

Dylan Daniels

Tons of good replies here. I will tell you this 160 pages is a long script, and by the sound of it just from what you described, it's a big budget script. It's a rare thing to write a 3hr movie and get it made if it's your first and you haven't had something really successful before. I just had to cut a 120 page script down to 90 pages just to get the people who wanted to read it to read it. So my advice to you would be to look at the length of the script, because that is the first thing they are going to check. Second make sure you edit it and clean it up. Easies way is to read it out loud. Third look at it from a how much will it cost to make point of view e.g Sets, CGI, Actors, Locations. If it seems like it's going to cost a ton to make chances are no one will gamble on it, even if the story is great. You have a better chance with a good story if it won't cost much to make and is at most 2hrs long.

Mark Ratering

Dylan and I are in sync "Dylan's in trouble being in sync with me". People go after short one location 90 page scripts... you have a chance. 3 hour period pieces are a waste of your time.

Dylan Daniels

Look at Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino did it right with that one. Kept it small but made a name for himself. Even if it was a direct rip off of City on Fire.

Mark Ratering

My hero is even after she made it is Jodie Foster "Panic Room" some Airplane movie her kid is lost on a film where she learns to protect herself all cheap through her production company.All made money

Bob Galinsky

Why is this business so full of Pedants, think of how much natural talent will be lost due to spelling mistakes....

Mark Ratering

I don't want my work to go to anyone that chucks it cuz of a spelling error...Please. I'll burn it.

Don Thomas

No there are plenty of horrible spellers in the business who do just fine. Spelling will not make or break your career on it's own. An IDEA always trumps a typo or even a swarm of typos. People can get uptight about it, but the reality is most online communication is the essence of informal. My pique comment was far more meant for friendly banter than anything. I know plenty of successful writers who have made the same mistake he did, didn't hold them back, no reason to think for a second it would hurt him. Anyway he's obviously got his head in the game. Main thing is to keep on keeping on, and pay attention to the people who obviously know what the heck they are talking about.

Bob Galinsky

Thanks Guys, let's hope that the people who make the real Decisions, have open minds, after all; if your spelling is off, your grammar is bad, but your storyline is great, it must be better than a neat submission with a crap story. The Message is - Be Patient with those that lack writing skills, but have Bundles of Natural Talent....

Mark Ratering

Right on!!! You think there about a million changes to the story .... dialogue ...character... etc please. The producer will make your story in his image. And maybe we can buy a big mac when he picks our little story for the big time !!!

Bob Galinsky

Whatever the producer does, it's still your story, once you get your foot in the door, the better your chances with future work getting noticed...

Georgia Hilton

Interesting point about "It's still your story..." NOT SO FAST BUSTER.... Let's say you write a great script, brilliant synopsis, logline, and title... It's perfect!!! ... so you Option it. Ok good start. Now the production company gets involved and hires a couple writers to "tweak" a few things... and the Director makes some changes... and then the actors want a comment or two, and the producer's writers take another crack at it. and then PRESTO! it's ready for production.. and you see a copy of the script.. Now it as 2 or 3 new names on it. And your name is on the bottom.. and you complain and start bitching. and guess how this all gets resolved - Meet the Writers Guile of America.. and guess what, the guys who "tweaked" your story have actually made a LOT of minor and a couple major changes that affected much of the story, the characters, and THEY are members of the Writers Guild... you are now in danger of the dreaded CREDIT JUMPERS. All the people who touch the script are now possible writers and the Writers Guild reviews all the material and THEY decide just who wrote how much and who gets credit and who doesn't... So don't go thinking YOUR story, YOUR script, YOUR credit... It can surreptitiously become someone else's easier than you think.. oh, and to offer my thoughts on the initial question: in order: TITLE, LOGLINE, SYNOPSIS to get the script even looked at.. and then the SCRIPT quality and story.

Mark Ratering

You see I knew it...I won't even get a d**n big mac out of it

Matt Milne

yes, that's an increasing problem.

Bob Galinsky

Would you like fries with that???

Laura Koons

Hey Jeremy, I like your title and it would immediately intrigue me to find out more about your story. A 160 page script may be too long (for now). Cut it down to under 100 if you can (and save it) because you may be able to add it back in. I have a friend who had this same experience. She had to cut down her script just to get it read and is currently working with a producer who optioned it. Funny thing is.....she is now adding the additional pages she originally cut during the rewrite simply because he agreed they added value to her story. Go figure.

Laura Koons

I agree with Emmett in that it is extremely important to be flexible - nothing ever written is set in stone and to never assume a prima donna attitude. @ Emmett....you've seen GLADIATOR 742 times? Are you sure? LOL.

Rick McGovern

Well, at least he can get "story" credit lol even if not written by...

Edward Mangan

The title and genre gets me to open up the script.Depends on how the first ten pages go,I will read it to the end,butif it jumps around too much or the dialogue gets too mundane,I will read it all.

Rachael Saltzman

I see the 'natural talent' bullshit thrown all over writing boards by people who've published through vanity presses, howling and whining that no one's buying their books. If all you want is to massage your ego and wish on stars, go for it. If you want to actually sell work, learn and put effort into it. It's that simple. Either become someone who people want to read, or don't. Up to you.

Edward Mangan

The site SIMPLY SCRIPTS is great fun and research for me.Love the older stories fromthe 40's and 50's,then classics like Rocky,Alien,Working Girl.To see how the writers were thinking,how the story is changed from script to film.

Mark Ratering

Of course we all know Rachael is right. The fastest runner the best director the best car design wins the prize, it;s common sense. If the script was read by the producer maybe he wouldn't care but that da*n reader you have get by. I have other tricks to get my scripts read but sorry there a secret.

Marvin Willson

Enough posts people. GET WRITING!

Darren Brealey

just my personal opinion, a Title should describe the theme of your screenplay in three or four words. What makes a good screenplay; a concise clear and compelling story with action on every page, quirky and interesting characters, brilliant descriptive dialogue and scenes that fill the screen.

Eric Raphael Harman

God only knows! I would say Faith, Money, Connections, Time, more time. Lots of promotional work. Of course a good story and plot. Friends willing to work with you for nothing... Despair, Grief, loss of memory, just kidding OK>>!! It is all good.

Stephen James

Perhaps the question should read "What really UN-sells a screenplay?" First, the use of rogue apostrophes, such as its use in the title of this discussion. ("sell's"..? C'mon, really?) and "it's" when it should be "its" title or cover. And then, the use of "peak" rather than the intended word "pique"; typos such as "charecters"; and what on earth is "do to"? (You may mean "due to" here, which is a dubious construction, anyway). Incidentally, I believe the correct title of "Boogy Nights" may be "Boogie Nights". So, in answer to the question, "What makes you keep on reading to the end?" (The questioner omitted quotation marks.) I will reverse it and ask, "What STOPS you from even reading a script?" The answer to that is very simple: "Downright BAD English grammar and punctuation". It isn't difficult, folks, but if you want me to read your script, please make it readable to begin with, so that I may, at least, take your screenwriting abilities seriously.

Laura Koons

Can't argue with that. Ok, I'll go back to writing ; )

Edward Mangan

In the money end of filmmaking,it's title,talent and who will raise cashTom Cruise or Tom Nobody.Tom Nobody might have the idea that could make millions,but they see that Tom Cruise an make tens of millions of dollars.The pressure to make big money and satisfy the unions demands,is the reason great scripts,writers and indepenant filmmakers are left in the dust.The idea here is to build a profitable,attractive independant market.Then we all can make a living,starve Hollywood elite a little more.

Karl Kaufmann

How invigorating to read of people who still believe in original screenplays. Wasn't it at the Oscars that they had a hard time to find five movies still based on an original screenplays?

Jeremy Hunter

Good grammer in writing is like an ice cream with a cherry on top. The ice cream tastes good as it is but the cherry just adds something else to it. Now I'm not saying my grammer is perfect, which it isn't but isn't there a difference between good grammer on social media sites and good grammer in screenplays? When I go about writing a screenplay, especially in the rough draft I'm not overly concerned with grammer errors, it's the multiple re-writes which follow which I do however pay attention to. If the Producers who read "Reservior Dogs" were to simply chuck the script in the bin after finding the first bundle of grammer errors we could possibly be missing a hole in Cinema which has since been filled by such films as "Reservior Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction". Now good grammer shows how much the writer cares for his or her craft but what good grammer doesn't do is determine the talent of that writer and it never will. There have been many valuable comments in this post and I thank all those who gave me constructive feedback concerning my script. I realize that in order to have anyone take my script seriously I have to edit it down to a minimal amount and make sure it's only the best of quality which I will do as soon as I edit down the rough draft script I finished this weekend.

Don Thomas

Praise be Roger Avary.

Stephen James

Jeremy: Thank you for copy-editing at least some of your original question. (It took me only 10 seconds to refer to Google to check the spelling of "Boogie Nights" - research is also an essential element of being a successful writer. Rather than being the so-called "ice-cream with a cherry on the top", excellent grammar is also an ESSENTIAL element of excellent writing; whether you are writing a screen-play or any other works. So, Jeremy, if I as a producer, have your script titled "Reservior Dogs" [sic] on my desk along with half a dozen other scripts with their titles spelled correctly, which one am I likely to reject first? Producers and agents do not have time to wade through poorly-written scripts, and if even the title is spelled incorrectly, what does that say about the remaining 100-200 pages? Please, Jeremy, take that as a constructive critique; I mean it with good heart. You would be amazed just how many shoddily written screenplays cross my desk A first rule of being accepted as a writer, a performer, or in any business: be as perfect as you can be. You wanted to know what stops people from "setting down" a script. Now, you have also learned what STOPS producers, editors, and publishers from picking UP a work. Take heed. These are all busy people. I wish you only every success in the development of your writing career, Jeremy, and if I can help you further I am only too willing to do so. In the meantime, be the best that you can be. If your writing is the craft you are promoting, then do so even when writing in social media.

Mark Ratering

Edward of course your right but it all comes down to distribution. As we have gone on and on about here Red and cheap post has choked the Indy pipeline making it very hard to get a deal....making the studios even stronger. Happy to see an Indy placed 2nd in this weeks money list.

Mark Ratering

Stephen I think it depends if you let those mistakes drive you crazu. I worked with Jerry London and he loved pool. And was looking for a script to produce. Now if he had a script and he loved the title and loved the "idea" of the script, and he had only a few scripts available he wouldt let errors go!!! He did... the film was "Kiss Shot"

Mark Ratering

Don I'd watch that film it looks good

Don Thomas

It is not a bad movie Mark, has some great scenes in it, maybe not Tarantino but the opening scene with Zoe the prostitute? Ay, caramba! no foot fetish there. Something altogether different, that you will just have to watch to believe. Jeremy truth is they were friends and they were films fans that wanted to make their own movies. Avary was the one who knew the nuts and bolts of screenwriting, Tarantino knew jack and shit about screenplay writing, not even worthy of being a rank amateur BUT he was a big film fan and a good storyteller. Whoever originated the ideas simply the ideas depends on which one of them you are the bigger fan of as neither one of them is EVER telling or by now they've forgotten. Both worked together at the video story, they probably swapped ideas so many times they couldn;t tell the difference. But Tarantino was able to talk about his idea better in an informal situation and at a cocktail party he impressed the right people enough to where they said those famous words "Get me a script, let's make a movie." But he could not. All he could do is scribble together scenes on a legal pad. A chunk of disconnected scenes that had no resemblance to anything but a bunch of Tarantino's cool scene ideas. He needed Avary's help, the studio had to have something at least somewhat resembling a script to give Tarantino his shot. Avary was his friend and the worked together, going through those Tarantino scenes. Two buddies helping each other. Reservoir Dogs and True Romance are mainly comprised of Tarantino scene ideas. The problem is with Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction contains certain elements of Avary's work. Like for instance Avary's European travel which Tarantino had not done at the time of the initial writing of Pulp fiction. They were both good writers and fantastic collaborators, but Tarantino especially back then was the better filmmaker. Although in my opinion Tarantino will never top his first three movies. The Holy Trinity of Tarantino movies are the ones where him and Avary were professional friends. But then after Pulp Fiction received all that critical acclaim, Avary got jealous, and Tarantino had no choice but to distance himself, otherwise people might not think he was all that. And both men had evolved to where they don't need the other. Roger Avary writing a movie based on a video game. http://youtu.be/f5mT5LhbRJw

Don Thomas

Roger Avary working collaborating with the storytelling of Neil Gaiman. http://youtu.be/v9qpqyO_dmU

Mark Ratering

Whoa Don I don't know that much about my own movies.

Kevin S. Birnbaum

Well, that is the million dollar question, isn't it? It's all a crap shoot. It's HOLLYWOOD. Totally subjective from the mood of the decision makers to the off handed comments of agents. As William Goldman said in his book, "Adventures in the Screen Trade," "no one knows anything." I think a lot of writers would be better off thinking of learning to become small indie producers than wait for someone to snatch up your stuff. And really, screenwriting, asides from the basic story telling principles, isn't really writing to the big boys and gals. Writing is more tinker-toy scene snippets and the producer hopes his/her editor can make something out of it.

Don Thomas

Someone mentioned one time that there have been people who have just changed all the names of Casablanca and sent it out to all the various studios, and it was quickly rejected all over town. And I think they have done similar things with other scripts. Guy who wrote Paranormal Activity was told on a message board online that his script was downright horrible and he should give up trying to write. How many sequels is that one up to now? Follow your bliss, but at the same time you need to understand exactly what it is you are doing all the dreaming and wishing about. If you want to see the full execution of your screenplay as is with no changes, probably better to film it yourself and make it so. The problem is if you don't figure out how to fund or direct it yourself than more then likely someone is going to be exerting pressure for changes to be made. Not to mention that end result even then will probably not measure up to exactly what you want, because your expectations might outdistance your capability..

Kevin S. Birnbaum

Don is so right. But the thing is you'd have something "in the can." Think of the 100K plus you saved not going to UCLA film school. Make the connections of people with equipment, (because every late teen or early 20 something thinks they're the next greatest DP and sound person,) and do something. No excuses. Get the hell out of L.A. and all the naysayers. Find a cool location, write something for like 4 people, and make it. And screw shorts. If you have the time and energy and resources to make something then MAKE SOMETHING.

Chuck Dudley

Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity was most likely not a good enough screenplay where a producer could grasp his vision. Therefore it was passed all over town. (Like Rocky, like Star Wars). Peli didn't give up, he put on his producer/director hat and prepared for a year to make Paranormal Activity in his home. But here is the depressing part -- despite backing by CAA and Mirimax, Sundance STILL rejected the film!!! From wiki: The film was screened at 2007's Screamfest Horror Film Festival, where it impressed an assistant at the Creative Artists Agency, Kirill Baru, so much that CAA signed on to represent Peli. Attempting to find a distributor for the film and/or directing work for Peli, the agency sent out DVDs of the movie to as many people in the industry as they could, and it was eventually seen by Miramax Films Senior Executive Jason Blum, who thought it had potential. He worked with Peli to re-edit the film and submitted it to the Sundance Film Festival, but it was rejected. The DVD also impressed DreamWorks executives Adam Goodman, Stacey Snider, and finally Steven Spielberg, who cut a deal with Blum and Peli.

Mark Ratering

Kevin has it 100% right. 3/4 of all my scripts...1 location 4 people...1 million. I'm on an island in the jungle writing every day.

Leon Reaper

not selling mine, my projects! my writing! my vision! i can squash Hollywood horror movie scripts like ants with mine.

Kevin S. Birnbaum

Go, Leon, Go!

Mark Ratering

But Don you forgot the most important thing ...distribution. The hardest element. Now you can say Film Festivals but I can't make a million dollar film and maybe sell it. Boggy and Lauren made Casablanca. Very simple story.

Leon Reaper

lol

Joe Shapiro

I'm all for producing indie scripts - heck, I'm a director looking for a really good script. However, most of the films I've seen that didn't make it to festivals - or distribution - just weren't good enough. Sure, there's a lot of Hollywood fare that's not very good. Once you're in the system you have a pass - for a while at least. But that doesn't mean that an equivalently-poor movie that comes from outside the system should get in. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Mark Ratering

Don't believe it, you screw up in Hollywood your gone untill you try to come back. The big question where do these people get the money to bad movies???

Leon Reaper

i think most of the movie budget goes on: actors wages, fancy hotels and trailers.

Leon Reaper

(in my opinion)

Joe Shapiro

Keep your eye on the ball: 1 Write the best script you can 2 Listen to others when they don't get it 2a Mostly ignore HOW they say to fix it - unless you love their writing 2b Listen carefully to WHAT DIDN'T WORK for them 3 Figure out how to fix the problems you've heard. If you hear the same thing from multiple people you've really got to fix it. If only one person "doesn't get" something you MAY be ok. repeat your rewriting until it's really working or it's time to move on Sure, we can gripe about Hollywood, money, etc. but the best way a screenwriter can get ahead is to write really great scripts. There just aren't that many around.

Jeremy Hunter

I think I have grown a lot as a writer in the past year, when I first started really writing, I'll admit it, the dialogue was SHIT! It doesn't matter if I wrote the script in only a couple of days, it doesn't take away from how bad the writing was and how stereotypical the charecters I created were. Today, I'll go through one of my screenplays fifty times and obsess over a single piece of dialogue. As a writer you really do need to read the dialogue and the actions out loud and even for me it helps reading it in a voice you imagine this charecter to have. If it doesn't sound like something this charecter would say rewrite the F'en dialogue, screenplays don't get sold by lazy writers, unless of course you are someone like Adam Sandler who can write complete shit that still does get produced. After reading a lot of these comments it has changed the way I go about writing. Dialogue and Charecter Development, although once my weak point is now the thing I am most confident in. It's just a matter of fitting the story into 120 pages that I really need to work on now.

Kevin S. Birnbaum

Yep - better watch out for that dialog 'cause let me tell you, once your words are set in stone on a screen that's it, bud. Can't do anything about it. Make every line count or it has no place being there.

Mark Ratering

Adam Sandler is very funny to me. Zohan and Click and Waterboy made m laugh. You can overwrite. As a director I have let my actors use the words from them but the idea's of the writer. So mdon't kill yourself with me.

Jeremy Hunter

He is funny but "Jack and Jill" that was too much. He still is a box office draw and everything he's been a part of makes a pile of money. Sometimes I don't get it with him, not everything he's been a part of has been bad and every film he's been in has made me laugh but every time the Razzie Awards come around he's nominated for something. They must really hate him.

Don Thomas

Adam Sandler needs to take a break, take about three years off, concentrate on keeping his workload light and stop worrying about having another project lined up. Studios are just parading him out every so often in a film like a trained monkey cause they know it will make X amount of money. Maybe do a comedy stand up special for HBO and concentrate on that for a year. He's just getting too damn old to play Man Child. Now it just comes of sort of creepy, gives you the impression if he was just an average Joe he'd be sort of pathetic. Time has moved on, the moment has passed. He's like one of those old pre-Lenny Bruce stand up comedian guys who show up at the same restaurant every so often and lament the good old day when Jerry Lewis hired several of them for roles in his period movie the Day the Clown Died.

Mark Ratering

I mostly agree with you Don but we are a country of man-children. He is what my generation, 1956 my b-day, and your generation are. That's why our country has gone to sh^^. We all play with children's toys and our men are woman and our women men. Word

Don Thomas

Perhaps Mark. Perhaps that is what gives me my advantage over the average norm. Six months after being born Walter Cronkite was telling millions of Americans my life was one incredibly violent turd sandwich. C'est la vie, I guess Nietzsche was right "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." To put it simply I never knew what it was to be a Man Child, even when I was a child. Probably partially explains why Adam Sandler's same old continual schtick has grown so dreadfully old with me.

Don Thomas

Steve Martin is brilliant. First stand up comedian who ever sold out stadiums. And that was early on for him. Real pleasure seeing his occasional Facebook statuses show up on my newsfeed.

Mark Ratering

I produced the film "Flower's In The Attic". I had to rush Victoria Tennant's scenes because she was going to marry Steve Martin. Lasted for 30 seconds and she would never tell me what happened.

Matt Milne

@Mark of course not, a private life is not private if you tell people.

Don Thomas

Well no one would ever claim Charlie Chaplin in his younger days had an easy knack for long term relationships either. Strange I'm sensing a pattern with truly brilliant male comedians who enjoyed highly successful film careers. ;) @Mark I have you know I began my relationship with the first girl I ever thought I might have loved at the theater watching "Flowers in the Attic". We worked with each other while going to High School and by chance she saw me in the theater during the movie. She had a highly overprotective father to say the least, but he allowed her to sit next to me while we watched the film. Thanks for providing an adequate distraction. :)

Chuck Dudley

Adam Sandler Movies: Lifetime Gross Total: $2,230,179,641 Average: $82,599,246 Opening Gross Average : $24,950,270 Which is why Adam Sandler movies will continue to get produced. There is a MARKET for HIS kind of movies. Make no mistake. Adam Sandler, the screenwriters, and the producers know EXACTLY what kind of movie they are making. They wouldn't dare detract from that silly, no brainer tone that has brought them success in the past. Screenwriters who have a desire to WORK under the studio system have to understand this aspect of the BUSINESS. Your writing, your pitches, your treatments, have to fit what the studios are looking for. Here's what tends to happen: YOU the SCREENWRITER write an awesome original, funny, spec with a unique voice. You might not sell that spec, but... you finally get an agent. The agent sends your awesome script around town and you get meetings with producers. These producers want you to write an Adam Sandler type comedy. You PITCH. They BITE. Now you as SCREENWRITER must sit down and write that tone. Sure make it original, be YOU, however keep in mind what they are asking. 3 months later you hand in your Adam Sandler type script, the producers like it -- sort of. They PAY you. FIRE you. And hire Steve Koren -- writer of Jack and Jill to REWRITE your script. It becomes another silly Adam Sandler movie that grosses $74,158,157 domestic! Welcome to Hollywood.

Mark Ratering

You owe me or.... maybe I owe you. I fought with the Exec. Producer how shity that film turned out. They ripped me and my partner for 10 million smackers.

Mark Ratering

I have my Sandler style script in my Arsenal and it's good and very funny.

Don Thomas

Oh yeah Mark, I am usually focused on a film when I watch it. Beginning to end I give any film its initial due. But wasn't long into that movie you worked on, I realized perhaps if I just concentrated on my best teenage dark and mysterious Bela Lugosi hypnotic come hither look, that possibly I could entertain myself until the credits rolled.. I liked her and enjoyed her company. Incredibly nice upper class Catholic girl, very caring, highly respected family. Had never ever seen a James Bond movie in her entire life, not even on television. Something which struck me as incredibly odd. Went out on a double date with her and a friend of mine and his girlfriend, and his girlfriend picked out this movie just by "chance". http://youtu.be/D5I3Lt8PwyQ .

Mark Ratering

When I worked at Warner Bros. got to meet two of my heros V. Price (Supertrain) and Ray Milland... I think he was visiting Irwin Allen whom he was good friends with.

Don Thomas

One time completely by chance myself, Stan Lee, and George R.R. Martin were all trapped in an elevator at a convention for nearly 30 minutes. George R.R. Martin later wrote the exact same scene except more dramatically of course with several major characters in one of his books that was published in the late 80's or 90's. Told them I wanted to write comic books, novels, and feature film. They both sort of laughed and said I should probably lower my expectations. I doubt either one of them even remember who I was back then. Be nice to remind them. ;)

Mark Ratering

For a while before the effects could be done in his films Stan Lee I think had a store selling Mavel comic stuff ???? And he used to hang out there and I met him.

Don Thomas

Stan's pretty cool. Although only met him at conventions. Never casually outside one.

Mark Ratering

Could be but then the weiter is in for points...poor xucker. no sarcasm

Joseph de Cross

The first 8 seconds are so important! So, suspense and a thrilling beginning is essential

Michael "Cap" Caputo

103 comments later, did I learn anything? Yes. I learned that the punctuation and spelling Nazis all had punctuation and spelling errors. The most egregious was the use of 'there' in place of "they're." For me, a typo is a typo. I often type 'hte' rather than 'the' when trying to keep up with my thoughts. There is a profound difference between pressing an incorrect key sequence and writing incomprehensible sentences. A true typo, or a few of them, are more easily overlooked than a malapropism which causes distraction. If you want someone to read your work it should be legible. Since you are not delivering handwritten sheets the concept of legibility extends to spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax. To answer the initial question, certain subject matter is of no interest to me. Termination of my read is at the point where I decide the style or quality of the work doesn't matter because the subject is outside my scope of interest. What keeps me involved in the story is a combination of believable characters and believable, even if unlikely, circumstances which cause me to want resolution.

Mark Ratering

Thay's good Cory but some films don't really have a message just eye master***ion. Many make the most money.

Mark Ratering

Reply...

Mark Ratering

Reply...

Ted Mangan

I was told it is picked within the first three minutes of the script.My film What They Let In starts with the horror right off the bat.Interesting characters and dialoug.Funny in the midst of crisis without going overboard and tenderness when needed.Sex rarely portrays well on paper and can be kind of cheap.Read Simply scripts,read the classic movies and not so classic.It will give you feel for what is going on in the industry and creative powers of some our greatest film writers.A great resource for industry standards and concepts.Or just great reading fun.

Rachael Saltzman

I've made my living being a reader a couple of times. So listen or don't, that's up do you. These are the criteria we look for.

Jillian Bullock

Along with being a screenwriter who has sold two scripts so far in my career, for the past seven years I have also been a screenwriting judge for the Greater Philadelphia Film Office's Shoot in Philadelphia Screenwriting Contest. In selecting who should be the winner of the grand prized among the five finalists each year, I look for a story that hooks me right from the beginning and includes - interesting characters, great dialogue, believable dialogue that matches the characters, no grammatical or spelling errors, an interesting plot. Even if the story has been done before, adding a twist to make it different is a plus. Do the scenes transition well and move the story forward? I could go on, but this is a good start to get any professional reader to continue reading instead of throwing the script in the trash or deleting it from their file.

Michael "Cap" Caputo

@ Mark Ratering Ok, so what do you REALLY think about my Treatment / Synopsis. how about less rhetoric and some assistance getting a really fine story on the screen?

Mark Ratering

I think I would like "Souvenirs" better if it was the story of one guy finding a souvenir that may or may not make him "them", because he may shares the item with his mates, making them... one at a time ...invincible.

Daniel Johnson

It's a magical mystical mixture of all those things.

Michael "Cap" Caputo

hmmm Interesting Mark. Unfortunately the Novel is the way it is. Second edition of the novel hits the streets in 60 days or less. Would be nice to see the movie and Novel propel each other. I suppose we COULD create a movie as an entity all its own but that would be more than a rewrite and the story would be about the expanding effect of an item rather than the experiences of the squad. A totally different story altogether and no longer SOUVENIRS. Maybe a second movie...

Stephen Foster

SEX.

Stephen Foster

cougar.

Babz Bitela, President

this is an older post but I have a minute (waiting for java). The whole "it's an Academy Award" thing caught my eye. Is the story brilliant? is it superb in the telling, in the voice (One Shot for example no AA but terrific script? uh. yeah.) does the script YANK YOU and I mean DEMAND you read all the way through (Kill Her) was like that for me (not out, but darn it should be shot already). Point is, that AA scripts are the result of PURE LIGHTENING - that is to say right place right time right investor and more 'right' to it. And then once you have the Award? Well look at someone who won an Oscar, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Christopher McQuarrie - and look at the gap thereafter. Now, he's working yeah (the guy's a genius, let's face it talent like that always surfaces), so think about YOUR STORY. If I may (and I say this will total respect ok, so don't email all mean and pissy); work your story, do a table read, make sure it's MARKET ready. Not done. MARKET READY. Then on to the next. Because so many writers hold their breath for the big 'deal' (better off buying a lotto ticket) that they don't really enjoy the experience. LIVE YOUR LIFE. WRITE. and keep writing but most of all keep rewriting. Hugs to you all. COFFEE'S READY! BB

Jeremy Hunter

I'm in the middle of applying for film school, this year I've finished four full length screenplay's and twelve T.V pilots. I've only shown them to a few people and besides having sex addicted womanizers as main character's people seem to enjoy the scripts. I find it hard to write likable character's without making them seem fake and that is where I believe I struggle the most as a writer, the latest script I wrote, the character is so hard to like that I found it hard to read the script myself but I do think it had an intriguing enough story that would keep the reader hooked until the end. Hopefully I get into this school and improve with both my writing and filmmaking, until then I won't bother trying to sell my scripts, I will just live and write because whether any one aggress with me or not living and observing makes you a better writer.

Nkosi Guduza

Producer's that like your script. Director and actors that like your script. Trailer... hype... movie goers are the aim... write them your heart when you do. Actors want the truth, I want the truth when I write, the audience want the truth. Of late there's been terrible movies, no truth in it, but for cash gain, meaningless entertainment or assumed entertainment. It's disgusting. If you want a girl, the woman of your dreams, she will want you to prove, show her, your intentions, the same when writing. Win the dream girl, win her heart so to speak. But keep her, can you (Yoda voice) lol.. Keep her by your whimsical appeal, you will have a great script. Therefore, producers will want to keep your script, actors, studios, director, consumer… dvd sales. Done.

Diane Liberman

High concept and good genre beats and well executed dialogue.

Babz Bitela, President

luck. and I know her. seen her around. She's a tramp. Lady luck my ... oh never mind. Tenacity and luck. bb

Lee Jessup

Just got one of my favorite readers to talk about all of this. Check it out: http://leejessup.com/lee-s-blog/impressing-right-people-conversation-ana...

Richard "RB" Botto

Thanks for the share, Lee. Terrific!

Tshib'ls Kadima

Is all about connection da sells a scripts. So fo U to get connected U better much know and focus on B movies da Hollywood usually produces....,

John Keedwell

Firstly it has to be formatted correctly, and many forget this. A great first few pages will get them started, and this is just to make them turn the page to the next, then the next page, then the next... I personally like the software to format it for me and I have used different software, and found Final Draft good, but expensive. I have a Word template I use that is really great. It is found here if you would like to see it in action. http://tinyurl.com/scriptadvice Best of luck to you all scriptwriters, it is a difficult task when it is going badly.

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