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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.


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.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Prexy of Production

Meeting with a President of Production carries a certain weight to your time spent, in that you feel it's time well spent. To get where he is the guy knows what he's talking about and has experience making movies (more often than not).

So when you discuss theme, tone and casting you know he's not play acting - he's really done it.

Upside - he knows the dollar value of each sequence, the drawing power of a certain name, what story beat will appeal to what age group (quadrant) and are you making a 'four quadrant picture'? (Getting every demograhic into the theater - sort of neccessary in the 200 Mill and up club.

Downside - he'll want your picture to be four quadrant, may insist on a certain name to drive a film, get stuck on story points he's worried won't play for a mass audience.

I was in such a meeting today, discussing a script I'm writing and getting feedback. What comes at you -

1) What's the tone of this story? What are we going for here - is it broad, or is it real? (This is when you supply the films that this story is like, still a very tried and true Hollywood requirement, so they can feel it. "We're shooting for Pirates here, National Treasure say, not a Will Ferrel movie."

2) Who do you see starring in this? (More than likely he's worked with him.) Have your names ready in your head, often the list isn't long, and you'll know right away if you're both thinking of the same film. If you say Nicholas Cage, and he says Chris Rock, you're making different movies in your mind.

3) Fight for your characters, they will be what's remembered. The quirky and quixotic in the midst of major set pieces - they are what's remembered.

4) Is the hero emotionally tied into the ending - ? I got that question - and it's a good one. The people who have it together ask that note - as often act three becomes very situational, driving and intense but not emotional.

5) And what's the theme? It's really not an academic, or student film class question only - it is deeply important to good story telling. Know your theme - it often indicates the emotional drive.


Blogger wcdixon said...

A seriously long hiatus...welcome back!

Thursday, July 23, 2009  
Blogger Phil said...

Thanks. Yes, life pulls in many different ways....

Thursday, July 23, 2009  
Blogger Americana Confiscated said...

Do you come up with all the material you write yourself, or are you open to ideas? I'm good at stories, but new to screen plays. So far, I can't make heads or tails of it. I have loads of material, just no clear starting point and I really need to get some of these demons exorcised from my mind to make room for the next wave. Do you know any screen writers in search of good material?

Saturday, July 17, 2010  

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