Archive for the screenwriting Category

Screenwriting is Easy!

Posted in easy, screenwriting on August 16, 2009 by alaindominic

It’s just a constant process of figuring out how to precisely say what you need to say without really saying it.

Oscar Thought for Writers

Posted in concept, familiarity, originality, oscars, screenwriting on February 24, 2009 by alaindominic

Concerning the nominees for Best Original and Adapted screenplays and Best Picture, I was trying to look for some pattern in these categories that may be of some help to us aspiring screenwriters. My question was, regardless of their individual merits or shortcomings, what was it specifically about these individual and vastly differing projects that got them to the pinnacle of the Hollywood game? What do they all have in common that directly contributed to their success?

The answer is a two-parter:
1. Excellent Writing – writing that got readers (agents, producers, studio execs, directors, stars, etc.) excited.
2. A Champion – someone like a producer or director who were so excited by the material that they fought for it and protected it the whole way through, from gestation to finished product.
Put those two together and my conclusion is for any writer – beginner or otherwise – to get their screenplay not just bought (if a sale is your end-game, you’ll be playing one very short game) but actually seen in a real, live movie theater, the writing must be so engaging as to gain not one or two, but a literal army of Champions – all the people a film requires who will do the hard work of transferring your blueprint sketch into a complete, living, breathing work of art (or at least, cinema).
So when you’re considering your next writing project, and during the actual writing, always remember that many very smart, powerful and talented individuals MUST respond to your material in such a way that they dedicate 2 or 3 years of their very lives, perhaps even more, to seeing it through to fruition in as accurate an interpretation as possible (a real Champion is one who not  just gets behind, but also protects the material).
Everyone’s different though, so what key ingredients will make all these different people with different agendas come together to champion your screenplay?
I believe the answer is a combination of superlative, unique storytelling coupled with a clear, distinctive marketing concept. There, the “M” word, I said it.
Now, you may not think of films like Doubt, Frozen River or Slumdog Millionaire as obviously marketable. But if you examine their loglines or overall concepts, I think they are all clearly distinctive from other films out there, and also share universal stories. “Distinctive” is a good place to be in any market, and in marketing terms “universality” translates to wide audience appeal. 
Why am I focusing on marketability? Because in the end, you need to sell your work, and agents, creative execs and producers are basically all just salespeople. They need product, plain and simple, and in order to sell the most product that product must be familiar to the buyer yet also stand out as unique in the marketplace, an attribute I’m calling “original familiarity”. Think about it, these players want to take risks, but not if it means losing their jobs or industry clout. So they like different. But they need familiar. And that’s the trick in crafting your screenplay.
The classic actioner Lethal Weapon has ridiculously familiar plot – two cops team up to bring down a ruthless drug cartel. How many times have we seen that before, right? But it was the writer’s specific take on the details of the story – mainly the interaction and relationships of the main characters – that gave Lethal Weapon its uniqueness. It was the telling of the story that made it seem like an original. Try the original/familiar approach when looking at the concepts & premises behind 99.9% of “successful” films, I bet they’re all originally familiar.

The Who, the What and the Why

Posted in Alain, breaking in, Dominic, Hollywood, screenwriting, writers on January 4, 2009 by alaindominic

Welcome. My name is Alain Dominic, and this blog was created to connect and share the highs and lows, insights and outsider perspectives of just another poor schlub trying to break into the Biz. Well, maybe not “just another” schlub, because although I am a relative beginner, I happen to take this pretty seriously (the job, not myself).

I’m dedicated to my craft in every way, from living the life of a writer to developing the mind of a writer to paying attention to the busine$$ of writing. It’s not a job or a dream but a lifestyle, and so far, not a very glamourous one. But if you truly embrace the journey, every step – every – step – becomes rewarding. Every moment of your life becomes richer and more intense than the bland seconds, days and years other mere mortals let slip through their fingers.

I have written six scripts. I have yet to sell one. I am about to start submitting my first spec that is solidly commercial and I feel is ready for the market. If you’re curious to see what happens next, keep checking in. I’ll try to update at least every couple of days. If however, you’re pretty sure you’ll never visit this site again, then in the well crafted poetics of the first girl I ever asked out — beat it, freak.