Friday, January 28, 2011

Part Two of how to make development execs hate you...

A shorter list this time. The screenwriting group I go to had another visit from a development exec, a lovely lady from Grand Pictures. I did ask her for her chief bugbears, and they were:

1. Lack of character development. Is this person even human? And if so, why don't they act like it?? If you're going to send a production company your script, the characters have to jump off the page.

2. People sending them stuff in Word. Why is anyone still doing this? It's under 100 quid for MovieWriter or Final Draft, and if all else fails, use a free programme like CeltX. Or make it a pdf file! Whatever idiot is sending scripts in Word should stop, pronto...

In other news, the Oscar noms. I'm going to read all the nominated scripts (Adapted and Original) and report back on them. They're all available online, folks!

First up, The King's Speech by David Seidler. This is a well-written script with good structure. The way it deals with the potential King's speech impediment and his unconventional therapist was brilliant. I did think it was a mite short, and the central idea is rather thinly-stretched. But it has a really feel-good ending, there are some great lines and Bertie, the main character, is a very sympathetic and interesting lead. I can see why Colin Firth is going to have to install a strengthened mantelpiece, and he should buy David Seidler a big drink once he collects the little gold man.

Then in the Adapted category, there's what I think is the one to beat, The Social Network. If Aaron Sorkin's script doesn't walk this category, there's no justice! It has everything: incredible structure with a clever flash-forward device. Well-written characters who belie the fact that they're wildly unsympathetic. A plot full of betrayal and intrigue, not to mention mouthwatering dialogue that just.. makes you proud to be a writer. I urge everyone to download this script and read it as an example of where we're all trying to reach. This is it. Once your script is as good as this, you've made it.

Here's a handy link to download some of the Oscar scripts. Happy reading!

2 comments:

Brett said...

Hate to say this, but increasingly I am of the opinion that a sad percentage of aspiring writers simply do not know what the hell "characterization" and "character development" are about, how to do it, or why it's needed. Instead, I keep hearing about and reading scripts and ideas that are just a premise and nothing else.

"Characters we are willing to watch for 90-120 minutes" seem a rather obvious requirement for a screenplay... right?

Eilis Mernagh said...

You would think, alright! I have to agree - the sad fact is that you notice and remember the few films where the characters ARE properly developed. And it's a very short list each year...