Thursday, August 31, 2006

Side-Topic: Perfect Formatting


It’s certainly no secret. I believe that all the screenplays we write today must be flawless in terms of formatting and grammar simply because of the competition. Everything counts.

And in
my recent review of Mickey Lee’s great new story, The Other Side, which you really should read if you get the chance, I did a little bird-walking on this topic, and I thought it might be worth sharing with my blogger friends…


“SOAPBOX - We have a century of filmmaking behind us. It's high time we collectively admit what we already know, that screenwriting has become its own art form. I firmly believe that we are entering a new era where the next generation of screenwriters must write at a more heightened level of craftsmanship than ever before (because of history and competition and also) because if your film gets made and it's popular, it's inevitable that your script will hit the web and people will study your work and make judgments on your craftsmanship. You cannot make a good movie from a bad script. But it's very possible (and easy) to turn a good script into a bad movie. And if that happens to you, if your script hits the web, you want people to look at it and maybe they'll say (like they said of Shane Black's The Long Kiss Goodnight), ‘hey, you know, the movie didn’t live up to the script.’

It's not enough to have an idea and get a sale. In this day and age, you're only as good as your last script, and you must deliver the storytelling goods every time you're at bat. When The Da Vinci Code came out with all of its endless talk and exposition, Akiva Goldsman was no longer written about as the great screenwriter who won an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind. In fact, critics just HAD to remind us that this was the dork who wrote Batman & Robin. Your screenwriting career really depends upon how well you adhere to what you know are the principles of great screenwriting, because once you get sales and climb to the top, you enter a world where there is no discipline, where people tempt you to abandon what you know and write shit for them, which will bomb, and then the world rips you apart and sends you packing back to amateurville. I certainly don't need to explain that it's a cold, vile, vicious world out there, and frankly, I find comfort in like-minded writer-friends. The constant back and forth in feedback, I push them to do better, they push me to do better, and we both stay focused over the long haul on what's important about the art of storytelling.”


7 comments:

wcdixon said...

Well stated...but being my usual dense self - is this your speech to the troops, or Mickey Lee's?

Mystery Man said...

I sometimes bird-walk a little in my reviews for the benefit of the people that regularly read them.

Before my writing assignment last July, I amassed quite a following on TriggerStreet. I used to get emails every day from people who would study my reviews and ask me questions. It got kinda crazy.

-MM

crossword said...

Well said, MM :)

I think it's real important to hear this kind of stuff. It's like a recapitulation scene in a movie... when there's so much going on around us anyway, a little grounding now & again is a great thing.

Mickey Lee said...

wcdixon --

You shoulda read the review he posted for my first TS Script! It was very much a Screenwriting 101 syllabus.

Mystery Man said...

Mickey Lee,

That's a good idea. I'll have to put that review on my blog...

-MM

Mickey Lee said...

I saw "Da Vinci Code" this week and I see where Akiva Goldsman went wrong. He didn't bother to correct any of the flaws from the novel!

Ron Howard must've been so intimidated by adapting such a popular book that they basically didn't write a script at all. They just shot the book almost word for word. So everything that was wrong with the book (weak protagonist, too much exposition) was grafted into the film.

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