I wish to make THREE Observations in this edition of On Location. They are designed to give your script more depth, focus and power.
Who’s the AUDIENCE?
Something often ignored by unproduced spec writers is, who’s it for? The movie “business” in essence looks at this question in terms of quadrants. Males and females over 30 and under 30. Will the film appeal to the 4 quadrants or to just one or two? Also disregarded by many spec writers is the ‘rating’ a film will receive. I do ask new clients where they see their movie going. Theatrical, broadcast or cable TV, straight to video? Who’s the Audience? Sooner or later someone will ask, as you market your spec script. You need to have a sense of audience. If your script lacks this, it will often lack a sense of identity.
Concept is KING.
Without a clear concept your story won’t ‘pop’ off the page. Remember the competition even among spec writers is fierce. Your concept, your BIG movie idea, must be unique and arresting. All the screenwriters and filmmakers you admire had one thing in common. A ‘million dollar’ concept. It was unique, concise and sold not only the script, but the writer. Important as a logline is – concept is much more than a logline. “Let’s make dinosaurs from old DNA – Jurassic Park”. “Romeo and Juliette on board the Titanic.”. “A Robot from the future comes to kill – The Terminator”
One THEME and only ONE.
It took me several years before coming to grips with idea of THEME and for me there’s STILL more to learn about this fundamental pillar in screenwriting. THEME is what your movie is about UNDER the surface. China Town, 1974 is about WATER on the SURFACE. UNDER the surface it’s about MONEY and if you have enough of it you can get away with incest and murder. THEME is associated with the hero’s internal need. It unites the inner story with the outer story (plot). Some aspect of your theme must show up in every scene in your script. I’ll discuss this subject more in the next edition of ON LOCATION. PLUS, answer the Question: why does MOVIE DIALOGUE sound like normal everyday conversation?