A recent look at the trades reveals that, as predicted, spec screenplay sales are up.
Just like the spec screenplay frenzy that occured after the writer’s strike in 1988, there is a similar rush to buy fresh scripts from fresh writers. The slowdown that occurred because of the strike has ended in major fashion. And like before there are a lot of opportunities for new screenwriters to break in.
What I keep hearing too is the repeated lament of studio executives about their ability to sell a movie. The top concern often is how a studio with a major release tells the public what it’s about. The competition for our attention has never been tougher — to get and keep an audience’s attention we all must participate and be welcomed to add to the solution.
Perhaps this is why Save the Cat! has been so embraced by executives, agents, managers, and producers as well as writers. Chapter One of Cat! is all about this ongoing challenge. And some of the tried-and-true solutions I laid out in that chapter are still resonating in the halls of filmdom.
Titled “What Is It?” this is the chapter that dissects that very problem: telling everyone all along the chain from you to your agent to the studio to the public what your movie is about. And though the phrase “High Concept” remains a dirty word, and the sense that a movie that is such is, on its face, “commercial” and therefore “lame,” it nevertheless describes the solution to the number-one problem we all face: communicating ideas. The non-lame high concept movie is only a matter of the same thing we’ve been talking about all along — avoiding cliche.
In my new book, Save the Cat! Strikes Back, I will again wade into this controversial debate with even more unique tools to figure out how to create ideas that grab us, or to re-configure existing ideas to identify the “white-hot center” of any story concept. The first chapter of my new book, titled “Wow! What a Bad Idea!” will cover not only how we go wrong in idea-generation, but will codify some revolutionary ways to fix lagging movie notions.
If it is the main hurdle that’s keeping an audience from “getting” what your movie is about — you and everyone who bet on you and your script — these new tools will be invaluable for those on the front lines of this communication challenge.
Meantime, our opportunites for “building a better mousetrap” have never been better. The smart idea, smartly executed and raised above the level of “formula” is being rewarded big time.
Be one of these writers, the one who is conscious not only of your own creative challenges,but also everyone connected to helping you launch your story, and you too will be listed in the spec screenplay pantheon.
And we all want to see that!
p.s. I will be discussing these ideas and others from the upcoming book in my special one day talk in Vancouver next weekend! Look forward to seeing everyone there!