Your Screenplay Sucks, 100 Ways to Make it Great

September 4, 2009
posted by sheric

Continuing on from the last post about screenwriter and instructor John Truby, I thought I would share this excerpt from an article in Microfilmmaker Magazine this month from William Akers, author of the book referenced in the post title. Warning: it is going to be harsh, but he is speaking from experience.

“Everybody complains and whines and bellyaches about the lamentable state of distribution for independent film.

 “They don’t want drama. They don’t want period. Whatever happened to emotion?”
“I can’t get a distributor for my mooooovie.”
“My investors found out where I live and they’re on their way over with molten tar and pillows…”

You wanna know THE problem with independent film? That it’s independent.

The wonderful thing about studio executives, fingers-in-your-pie master manipulators they may be, is those folks exist to help make your movie better. You may not believe it, but it’s true. Writer-Producer-Directors (WPDs) screech they don’t want their vision adulterated by Brioni-suited pinheads, but the problem with most WPDs is what they desperately need is someone to adulterate their vision.

Allow me to explain.

“Everywhere I go, I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.”
-Flannery O’Connor

What independent film needs is universities, obviously.

I was on the screening committee of the Nashville Film Festival. One of the oldest festivals in the country but, admittedly, not Sundance, and they got hundreds of entries. Hundreds of completed feature films. Most were dreadful dreck. I’d watch five minutes at the start, want to jab my eyes out with hot pokers, skip to the middle, note zero improvement, and then squander five more precious minutes at the end, by now in the throes of mortal depression. Finally, I’d heave the DVD across the room, curse my fate, and drag out the next crud by the next hopeless loser.

Harsh? Probably. True, without a doubt. Plus, a story repeated at every single film festival across this great land of ours.”

To continue with this article, go here.

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