Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mining for Gold - Seek out the good stuff!

What is your script's USP? What the thing about it that makes people go "Wow" or even better, "I'd pay to see that!"

It's the thing that you always emphasise in pitches or in your logline, the part of the story you feel happiest talking about. The bit that the marketing boys will headline in the trailer.

That's your gold.

It may sound obvious, but it really cuts through a lot of crap that's talked about screenwriting - all the technical stuff that makes it sound like you're creating a mathematical equation instead of a creative work. Find what brilliance is in your script, be it a great concept, a compelling character or the humour running through it. Then sprinkle the gold in wherever you can, throughout the script.

And make sure to showcase your USP. Take out anything else that doesn't fit - you don't need it.

An exec read the script and liked the concept - don't tease her! People saw the magic in the trailer - that's why they're sitting in the cinema with a jumbo popcorn and Coke combo. They want to see it. So give it to them. Show them the gold!

I've seen too many films with an amazing idea behind them, that utterly failed to mine the concept for its potential. Or movies with a great character who should have been centre-stage, who ended up under-used.

And I've been guilty of it myself. Well no more. The gold is staying and any other parts of a script that don't work are going to be cut to make way for more golddust.

I'm hoping this film will bring the gold - it's one of the best concepts I've heard in ages. Hollywood execs were probably killing themselves to buy the rights, cos it's (whispers) a foreign language film. Yep, one of those...

Cell 211 is about a young prison guard who's caught up in a prison riot on his first day on the job and must pose as a prisoner in a desperate attempt to survive the ordeal. He becomes reluctant friends with the charismatic rebel leader and begins to wonder where his true loyalties lie.

Paul Haggis is directing the U.S. version, which has this one to live up to.

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