Deconstructing The Script: Guardians of the Galaxy

From Concept to Script to Screen and Beyond
Hosted by Ross Putman

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Ross Putman

Webinar hosted by: Ross Putman

Producer

Ross Putman is the co-founder of PSH Collective, an independent film production company with a focus on unique and fresh cinematic voices. As a long time development executive at Ineffable Pictures, Ross has worked on many films and with many writers to get films from script to screen. His own second produced feature, The Young Kieslowski, won the Audience Award after its premiere at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival. It has been picked up for distribution by LA-based Mance Media, who will be releasing the film in theaters and on all VOD platforms in February 2015. He is producing the upcoming film Eskimo Sisters, with notable comedy director Danny Leiner (Harold and Kumar, Dude Where’s My Car?) at the helm, the con-man comedy My Future Ex-Wife with acclaimed comedy production company Mosaic, and the follow-up film from Kieslowski writer/director Kerem Sanga--a touching young romance set in Los Angeles entitled First Girl I Loved. He sold his original screenplay, Hoods, to Fox Digital Studio, which he will also be co-producing. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Learn directly from Ross Putman, an award-winning producer and founder of PSH Collective!

Transformers. Godzilla. Captain America. Groot...?

Who knew that this summer's biggest success story would be Marvel's band of unlikely heroes, known as The Guardians of the Galaxy? With their biggest star (Bradley Cooper) playing a talking raccoon, a director whose previous film grossed just $300,000 at the box office, and with a cast of characters so unknown that an entire teaser trailer was devoted just to introducing them, the odds seemed long for Guardians to make any impact at all. And yet it's the only film to gross over $300 million at the US box office--something not even Michael Bay's fourth Transformers movie could accomplish (and that had Marky Mark Wahlberg)!

It's a little known fact that Guardians was based on source material that Marvel all but buried. So why did it work? Regardless of whether a good story is based on source material or original material, Guardians would not have been a success if the script, filmmaking, casting and marketing weren't all thought out and executed perfectly.

In this webinar, we'll deconstruct how Marvel "flipped the script" on... well, its own scripts. A focus on quirkiness, the establishment of a unique tone, and bringing their first female writer in the fold added up to a great finished product. Whether it's the very specific character traits (like Drax's inability to understand metaphor) to the very clear stakes (even when things go deep into sci-fi), Guardians has all the right moves to please movie-goers tired of the same-old-same-old. Yet it becomes truly revolutionary by sticking to the basics; it's a script that puts one foot in front of the other and never stumbles.

What You'll Learn

Deconstructing the Script

  • How Nicole Perlman found Guardians in Marvel's back catalog and recognized the potential in a band of misfit outlaws.
  • Why did Guardians succeed despite having an entirely unknown mythology? The script boiled things down to the bare minimum and keeps the action moving.
  • We'll talk about how finding interesting, lesser known IP can be an avenue for young writers to pursue without having to spend much money
  • Why did Marvel bring in James Gunn, who cut his teeth as a screenwriter, as a "closer" to finish the script and direct the movie despite no proven track record with blockbuster films?
  • We'll talk about how Gunn's background as a writer made him uniquely qualified to handle something with a tricky tone, and how sticking to the basics in his script actually helps elevate it beyond other blockbusters.
  • The script is the reason major actors like Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel agreed to voice off-beat characters--a major contributor to the film's success.
  • The story breaks down very cleanly, and allows the characters to go on a journey filled with strange places and characters, with the audience having little trouble following along.
  • How the script fits a great three-act structure while still allowing room for banter, meaning that it never sags but always stays on task. Even the silliest, most memorable scenes, have a strong central conflict and point in the plot.
  • Building a movie where the stakes barely matter. Guardians knows its strengths and sticks to them... a hilarious ensemble in fun situations. Does it really matter what they're trying to accomplish? Gunn and Perlman establish the task (get the orb) and send their characters off to do it.
  • Humor as your best friend, something that's been missing from many contemporary blockbusters, and how it's worked well in the past.

Deconstructing the Marketing

  • How social media, especially on Vin Diesel's part, played a big role in building hype throughout the preproduction and production process.
  • How Marvel recognized that having a unique product in an overcrowded marketplace can fight the laws of diminishing returns that we see with other franchises, like Spider-Man.
  • We'll talk about the marketing campaign: how it found a hook and tone and stuck with them throughout, building a clear and fun milieu.
  • Recorded, in-depth Q&A with Ross!

About Your Instructor

Ross Putman is the co-founder of PSH Collective, an independent film production company with a focus on unique and fresh cinematic voices. As a long time development executive at Ineffable Pictures, Ross has worked on many films and with many writers to get films from script to screen. His own second produced feature, The Young Kieslowski, won the Audience Award after its premiere at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival. It has been picked up for distribution by LA-based Mance Media, who will be releasing the film in theaters and on all VOD platforms in February 2015.

He is producing the upcoming film Eskimo Sisters, with notable comedy director Danny Leiner (Harold and Kumar, Dude Where’s My Car?) at the helm, the con-man comedy My Future Ex-Wife with acclaimed comedy production company Mosaic, and the follow-up film from Kieslowski writer/director Kerem Sanga--a touching young romance set in Los Angeles entitled First Girl I Loved. He sold his original screenplay, Hoods, to Fox Digital Studio, which he will also be co-producing.

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