Last week I wrote about a movie idea that just won’t go away. I have been wanting to write additional posts last week, but I didn’t. There was a reason. That story that I told you about took me over. That story that could be a movie and television series: I wrote the film script. It took five days and 106 pages. The original film concept was a trope, and even this new version is still trope-ish. However, I used some relatable concepts and made some choices that took it in a new direction.
You will hear, or have heard, “originality” or “we’ve seen this before”. The major problem is there are only a few original stories out there. Not to mention, the ones that gave themselves jobs to criticize films have the safe harbor of not having to make them. Many people will be able to tear it down, because they don’t have to put themselves out there. They can all make a better movie, yet none of them do.
“What’s It About?”
As someone who writes, think to yourself about an idea of a movie. You have the great original idea? Now, try to describe the movie without using another movie to sell it. You know what I mean. “It’s like ‘When Harry Met Sally’ meets ‘Die Hard’”. “Think ‘Lord of the Rings’ meets ‘Blade Runner’. My personal favorite, “Think ‘Crash’ but better.”
Many people will use movies that people can quickly identify as their source. The downside of that comparison is when someone reads your script, they wonder where the ‘Die Hard’ aspect of the movie is. You said it was ‘Harry Met Sally’ meets ‘Die Hard’. Where is the terrorists in the high rise? You come up with a reason that it was simply the ‘Die Hard’ aspect in action that you were pulling from. Suddenly, you lost the reader or backer because of a false promise.
For me, this script is a rom-com for an older generation. I have no other movie that I would even bother to match it with. It hits themes that many people, outside of high school, could relate to. Is it original? Not really. We have seen movies, television shows, and shorts like this. Yet, I would try and sell people on the aspects of my movie, then someone else’s movie.
“What Makes Your Story Different?”
Because I wrote it. When writing this script, I paused due to clichés. It is very hard to avoid them. You need to make a decision early on. It’s a tough decision. Do you want crowds to see this movie? Do you want critics to love it? Normally, in this climate, you can’t have both. Once you make the decision, you will be open to wherever the story takes you. I made the choice early on. I decided that I wanted people to go and have a good time.
Does that necessarily mean I have to give a happy ending? Yeah. Or, at least, a satisfying ending. An ending that people won’t feel they wasted their time. However, because I chose that doesn’t mean I have to be paint by numbers. I knew my character would end up with someone through his choices. However, I selected at the beginning who it would be. I was happy with it. Yet, nearly 60 pages in, I did something unexpected. Something interesting in the story. It changed.
“How Does It End?”
It has been a story I had for ages. Every version ended the same way. Through all its incarnations. Yet, this time, it ended in a spot that it never ventured before. Did I achieve my initial goal of the lead ending up with someone? Absolutely. What it the initial person you started with? Not at all. That random scene changed the entire run of the script. My ending was cleaner. Easier. Less cliched. Now, I have to make some changes to the first half. That is okay.
As with all writing, it is re-writing. I need to make some changes. Remove some characters because they didn’t amount to much more than window dressing. A comment from someone of liking the little things that flesh out characters. The re-write will be easier, as I know what it is happening. Now, I can go back and add my red herrings to make it seem natural.
My movie buddy told me once that he judges movies based on their objective. Did they accomplish what they set out to do? Did the story impact me? I gave up writing for a long time because I got caught up in the bog of “originality”. Listening to the internet’s view on making movies. Thinking all my ideas are old and unimaginative. Yet, I realized that I was focusing on the wrong people to please.
That is why I jumped back into this script. Many movies use characters for plot points. I had two that were simply that. I removed them. If a character couldn’t have some journey, then they weren’t worth keeping. I wanted to make a movie for my movie buddies. Not the internet. That is why I decided that I can do better than some of the stories out there. Unlike the internet, I am going to try it. Did I accomplish what I set out to do? Absolutely.