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ScreenwriterBones

Stories from a seasoned screenwriter. Take heart! Your creative source is infinite and un-ending. Sometimes Hollywood just rips up the roadmap back to it. The bottom line is that Hollywood is not at all as bad as it sounds. Additionally, it's worse than you can imagine. Remember to pack a sense of humor.

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I am a screenwriter living in Southern California. I've written screenplays for most of the Hollywood studios over the past 20 years. One of the uncredited writers of FANTASTIC FOUR, I wrote FIRE DOWN BELOW starring Steven Seagal, and the TV Movie 12:01 PM starring Martin Landau and MANEATER with Gary Busey. I have directed short films. I have written on numerous Hollywood studio assignments, some for big shot actors, some for small shot nobodies.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Taking Meetings

Last week met at Dreamworks, Warner Brothers and Paramount, all on different projects. After each meeting we went to "the next step", ideas liked, producers meetings to be set up, heads of production to be informed, etc. Wow, did I luck out, or not?

How does one take a good meeting? There is no precise formula. You enter the room with your set of ideas, and the executives/producers have their pre-set notions/concerns.

Each of these projects I met on, by the way, is different, a re-make of an old famous film, a book adaptation, a re-write of an existing script.

But taking a good meeting on any project for a writer is always about the same thing.

Bring enthusiasm, genuine love of the material, and - ultimately - your own point of view, your own big idea. That's the one they're going to want to pay for, the one they can't come up with themselves.

So. You've got to walk in with the goods. So, how do you get the goods?

Well, whatever it is, make sure the idea you come up with, is an idea you love, one that thrills you, that you believe in completely. Don't try to anticipate what they will/won't like. Don't make it up for them. Make up the movie that you would want to see five times in a row. Because if they pass on that, at least you were being true to yourself and gave it your best shot.

That's where you put your intention - and then you start with an emotional story. One that will have to crack open your hero's heart, and make them face their true nature. Then in your plot add the unexpected element that can't fit, but you make it a central part of the story. Because that, is life, we are endlessly faced with the impossible in our lives, (cancer, heart attacks, car accidents, you name it) and then we make it normal to keep our lives going. So when it appears in our stories, it feels right, even if it's science fiction, and the unexpected is that you discover you are a robot. Something about the unexpected, that is organic to the center of your story, just always feels right.

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