Thursday, May 26, 2011

The age of loglines and synopses

 I finally finished my new Christmas screenplay, Christmas Carole. I wrote it on spec as I mentioned before, allowing me more freedom as well as it's almost impossible to get a producer interested.

What's really changed is that most producers want already written screenplays rather than meeting with a writer, having read some of his/her work and then hiring them to write something. The studios still do that to an extent.

But what's happened is a boom in screenwriters, albeit half of them are wannabes. What happens is this; bad scripts written by bad writers.

In the "old days", ending around 2005, it worked like this. You wrote a spec script and then tried to get an agent to rep it. It wasn't hard, there were far more agents then than now. You'd typically start at a smaller agency, maybe one or two agents. They'd pass your work around and someone would say "I'd like to meet Jim" or whomever.

And I'd go to meet the exec, usually at the studio. I was lucky in that I wrote Emperor of Mars, that script that has never been made. It got me meetings at every studio and network and anyone else who had studio deals including Jody Foster, Ridley Scott, Dustin Hoffman, and even Spielberg's Amblin' Entertainment. 

What happens is that you sit with them and toss around ideas. While this sounds great so far, the trick is that you rarely have an idea that they like. Because they tend to like the same thing as everyone else made.

One of my problems is this; I'm not really a genre writer, I realized this not long ago when I met the writer of 127 Hours who said that of himself. And that's not necessarily a good thing. What I mean by that is the stories I tend to tell are difficult to sell, King's Speech would be one.

I tried writing genre material but the execs would always say "it's not Jim". Meaning that they could tell when I was writing for genre. And in spite of the fact they loved my non-genre Emperor of Mars, they didn't really want to make it.

Go figure.

But what I did get was a lot of work, rewrites and some  original screenplays that came from the producers, and a handful of specs.

And as a reward for all those years, now with Christmas Carole, I've been asked to submit a synopsis.

I hate synopsis'. Hate 'em!

A synopsis is never as good as the script, that's sort of like looking at the cover of the movie rather than watching it. A synopsis can be dull and boring and just explaining what happens. 

And this is the "new Hollywood". I've even heard one exec who wanted a 1 1/2 page description of the screenplay that "rocks me and socks me" and he added; "if you can't come up with that, don't bother".

But that's another blog. 

Today I buy myself a great lunch for finishing yet another screenplay, my 35th I think.