Yes, Your Original Blockbuster Screenplay is D.O.A. — And That’s a Good Thing!
From a screenwriting perspective, spec scripts are our calling cards.medium.com
Badass storyteller Jaime Nash posted the above article this week. I’ve been a fan of Jaime’s writing for some time but I especially appreciate the homework.
Representing screenwriters over the years I’m still amazed how many want to have ‘Save the Cat’ conversations and how few want to do this kind of work. If you haven’t read his article, do so, but the gist is a breakdown of original ideas, written as blockbuster specs, that get made by Hollywood Studios each year. In short, they don’t.
That’s not your job.
Here’s the skinny: If you interview to work at FEDEX and you start that interview with how the company can help you move, you’re not going to get the job.
If you go to work at FORD Motor Company and bring in designs for your new car on the first day, you won’t keep that job for very long.
The Drive Thru guy at KFC doesn’t get to mess with the 11 Herbs and Spices, see where this is going?
Any executive working in film today has a stack of billion dollar problems sitting on their desk at any given time. These represent sizable investments, already made by the company, investments for which they are responsible. Every time you meet them is your first day on the job. Every meeting. Don’t waste your interview by bringing spice #12 or the HOMER.
Day one, remember? New job. Your spec script is an audition for the job. It’s an application. The job isn’t to create original tent pole I.P. spec screenplays. Your job is to help them solve any one of the billion dollar problems already sitting on their desk.
I’m not saying don’t write it.
By all means, write the spec.
It should be big and loud and awesome.
Write one after another, after another, get skillz son, but if you want a job, you have to apply for the job they have, not the job you wish they had.
Look, original is hard but the honest to God’s truth is they’re all hard. Every story. Every script. You think Akiva Goldsman’s assembled a writers room for Transformer movies cause it’s easy? They have 30 years of cartoons, comics and video games and they’re still going to work their asses off to make long term franchise plays.
Once you’re awesome, once you’ve written enough to be tight, once you have it down, then slay a well-known Dragon. Try something often attempted, but rarely awesome. Snow and the Huntsman was Snow White, not an original idea. Noah was, well, Noah. Take your huge public domain idea and give us Pan or Huntsman.
Show the executive you can slay the Dragon already breathing fire down her/his neck.
You got original ideas, that’s awesome. Write novels, graphic novels, comics, chapters on Medium, get your cool, original stories out into the world but don’t walk into my office and ask me for a half a billion dollars (Production and Marketing) so you can go find a brand new dragon, when I got, like six of ‘em sitting in my office right now.
PS I promise, once you prove you can slay their dragons, they will let you slay your own, but not before.
Christopher Pratt is a storyteller and Hollywood jerk accidentally saying insensitive things to talented people. He’s learning to tame the dragon @futurePratt.