Maryam Rahimi Blogs!
Continued from “So You Want To Be A Producer” By Lawrence Turman.
What movies have you seen where the writing struck you as being particularly good? Mine was Juno! Great dialogue!
"Contact agents who represent writers and read samples so as to become savvy about whose work you like. Bill Goldman says ' Talent jumps off the page.' Since you're a newcomer, you'll have to sell yourself to the literary agents too. You probably don't have the money to hire a writer. Where can you get it? From the studios, of course, unless you have some unsophisticated friends you can hit up. But the studio execs don't know you, so how do you get to them? Most likely, by getting to someone whom they know, such as an already established producer. But you don’t know those people, either, so what to do? I can't tell you, but successful, entrepreneurial, would-be producers, myself included, do it every day- through enterprise, imagination, and hustle. I am very big on direct frontal approach, a brief, catchy fax or e mail."
I find that is what worked best when I was looking to get a job in the field. After applying to posting, I would directly e mail the person in charge and say “I work hard, I work for cheap in exchange for experience, I want this position”. Once I started using this tactic, I started getting callbacks.
"If you chose wisely in the first place, and know how to develop a screenplay, you'll have the most powerful magnet to attract everything else needed to make a film-directors, stars, and financing."
"Once the writer starts the script, if the characters and the writer's imagination take the story in some new, surprising direction, that's okay with me. I want to encourage, not stifle, the writer's creativity. But I do like to see each act as the writer finishes, so any possible new script direction doesn't go too far down a road I don't want to travel."
"Some producers push for delivery of a script; the way I see it though, whichever writer first said, 'Do you want it fast or do you want it good?' said it best"
"What you never want to do is what a so called creative executive at Sony-Columbia did in a first story meeting: Before the writer uttered a word, the executive began telling him what, where, when, and how to tell the story. I immediately jumped in, saying, ‘Hey, lets hear from the writer. We're buying talent and ideas; there is always time to say if we don't like a particular idea or approach and offer one of our own.’ ”
"Alfred Hitchcock, felt that making a movie was 'like telling a story to your seven year old niece, sitting on your knee. If at any point in the telling you stop, you want her to eagerly ask 'And then what happened?' "
Ernest Hemingway said "Writing is rewriting"
Remember, each scene should be an arrow into the next scene.
"Here is the example I know of; Three friends are having a heated discussion, which leads to an argument, during which one pulls a knife, stabs another, then flees. That's pretty damn dramatic, right? Wrong. It's theatrical. But what would make the scene a dramatic arrow into the next scene would be for the remaining person, after the stabbing to say, 'I'm going to get that son of a bitch if it's the last thing I do.' Now people are leaning forward in their seats, saying 'Whoa. What's he going to do? How is he going to get him? What's going to happen next?"
"Make sure the stories you want to tell, the points you want to make, are crystal clear"
"Who, when, what, where, why? I don't care if your working with the best screenwriter on the planet, if you don't understand something in the script, there is a good chance, others won't, either."
"If you do have an idea or suggestion (for the writer), offer it gently, as a question, a possibility. The writers rejection of your brilliant idea doesn’t mean you cant revisit it in a week or a month later ... If I don’t like a scene on the page, I wont like it when it’s filmed, I’ll be bothered by it when I see it in the dailies, then again in the rough cut, and if its still in the final version of the film, I’ll be annoyed as hell that we weren’t smart enough to cut it or I wasn’t dogged and persistent enough in cajoling and persuading the writer and director to improve it"
"Niel Simon, arguably the most successful playwright who ever lived (I'm not saying he is better than Shakespeare!), always asks himself whether his characters are doing what people do, and saying what people say."
“If the book, the story, you’ve optioned doesn’t have much conflict, look for ways to insert some into your script. Conflict is what drives most drama”
“Try to create colorful detail for your leading character. The same things that made Michael Jordan a star will make your character stand out from the run of the mill, and attract the actors you want and need. Make sure your main character wants something very much, and has a goal. He or she should face problems, obstacles, and conflict to achieve that. And after achieving it, or failing, the character is changed, or the direction of his or her life is changed, or both. For nearly all endings are new beginnings – the first day of the rest of your life… And I repeat, make all of that clear to your audience, but without bludgeoning them.”
STORY & PLOT
“Story is nearly always about character and character change, whereas plot comprises the events to illustrate, dramatize, and serve the story.”
“A pet device of mine to both attack and examine story structure is to have the writer do a paragraph on what the story is from the point of view of each main character”
Example – from The Graduate:
1. This is the story of bored, restless Mrs. Robinson, who seduces a young boy enough to be her son, only to learn to her horror that he’s in love with her daughter. She, of course, thinks he is unworthy and tries to prevent the consummation of that relationship.
2. This is the story of a young girl charmed by and attracted to a young family friend, only to learn to her horror that he had an affair with her mother. She is repelled, and on the rebound and with encouragement from her mother, agrees to marry a seemingly ideal, preppy young man, only to be swooped up and saved at her wedding ceremony by her true love.
3. This is the story of Benjamn Braddock, who, at loose ends after graduating college, allows himself to be seduced by the wife of his fathers business partner, only to be forced into dating her daughter, with whom he surprisingly falls in love. Undeterred that the daughter is revolted to learn that he slept with her mother, he chases her, woos her, and rescues her from an ill-advised marriage. Thus, ‘he saves himself through madness.’ ”
“These three points of view surely intersect and make a cohesive whole… But I have worked on scripts where examining the story from various point of view showed that they did not connect or add up to a unified story. This exercise is also excellent or making sure you and the writer are on the same page.”
“Every filmmaker, myself included, wants you to feel the emotion he has in mind at any given point in the story and, surely, at the end. Whether you are to feel happy or sad, nervous or relieved, is designed first in the script, then in the making, and ultimately in the editing and music… So far from being pejorative, manipulation is merely the marshaling of all the talent and resources of the filmmakers to make you feel (hopefully) exactly the way they – we – want you to fell. The best producers, the best directors, the best writers, are the best manipulators.
Stay tuned for How to get financing for your project tips/ideas.
“Dying is easy, comedy is hard”