Saturday, April 17, 2010

Learning from a trip to the cinema

I'm going to the movies tonight. Earlier, the usual discussion ensued with my movie-going companion about what to see, which went something like this:

ME
So what do you want to see? There's this thing called The Ghost, and there's Remember Me, and Dear John...

SIDEKICK
Nah, Dear John looks shit. What's The Ghost?

ME
Roman Polanski flick. Pierce Brosnan is a dodgy politician and Ewan McGregor is his ghostwriter, who gets caught up in all kinds of bother when he agrees to do the guy's biography.

SIDEKICK
Yeah - it's that or Clash of the Titans? You're on.

Now, this was a particularly nerdy piece of pre-cinema discussion, because I am a film-geek and all. But this happens in a lot of houses on a weekend night all around the country. Movies get mentioned, dissected and dismissed in a five-minute conversation, and very often a film gets picked for the slimmest of reasons. It's a comedy and you feel like something funny. It's a thriller, and you want something you can get your teeth into.

So what can we learn from this about screenwriting? First of all, pay attention to the film you yourself dismiss when you read the title/logline. Why are you ruling them out? Do you not like the actors? Does it sound boring or grim? Or is it just a confusing, low-concept idea that you can't get your head around? Has it had terrible reviews?

I personally think the reviews aren't that important. A lot of comedies get terrible reviews and still manage to be hits. What is partially very important is genre. Sometimes I just fancy going to see an action movie or a romcom, and within reason, will go and see anything in that genre. I reckon I'm not the only one.

So a trip to the cinema is not just fun, it can be educational. That, and a chance to eat peanut M&Ms mixed with popcorn, but that's a whole other story.....

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