Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SOUND STRUCTURE

I just finished reading a decent new book called "The Screenwriting Formula: Why It Works and How to Use It" by Rob Tobin. It's a short read and very helpful. Tobin claims to have read over 5,000 screenplays working in Hollywood so he knows what eventually works and doesn't when it comes to writing and selling your work. I know, I know... we all want to break the rules and be innovative... but 99% of the movies we see on the screen follow a formula... whether it's making a cheesecake or building a new house... certain elements must go into it. And let's face it, we all know when a movie is working and when it's lost.

Tobin's 7 Basic Elements for writing a solid script are:

Your Hero
Your Hero's Character Flaw
Enabling Circumstances
The Opponent
The Hero's Ally
The Life Changing Event
Jeopardy

Look at your favorite movies. Can you identify these 7 basic elements? One of my favorites that I reference a lot is ROCKY. That script/movie has all of the above and does it to perfection in my opinion. That is a rock solid story (pardon the pun).

But also a comedy like MY COUSIN VINNY works with the above elements. What better Hero's Ally is there than Marisa Tomei?? When her boyfriend/lawyer Vinny (the hero) accuses her of being a hostile witness on the stand, she replies , "You think I'm hostile now wait until tonight." Well, no wonder Marisa T. won the Oscar -- between that line and the "my clock's ticking" --she stole that movie and it was a very good movie overall.

So enjoy the book.

A friend of mine who love going to the movies is complaining that Hollywood is missing the mark. She hasn't gone in weeks and weeks to the movies. She says the movies are boring or a waste of time. Is Hollywood missing the mark? Is that why the Oscars were so poorly rated this year? Where are the great filmmakers and writers? And not just the usual suspects... where is the undiscovered talent hiding?

Hollywood needs new blood if you ask me -- and new writers -- and new producers -- and new directors -- and new talent. It's like what's going on in the political world... think we all want change even on the big screen.

3 comments:

Lucy said...

Your Hero
Your Hero's Character Flaw
Enabling Circumstances
The Opponent
The Hero's Ally
The Life Changing Event
Jeopardy

All of those seem *so obvious* but so many spec scripts out there don't have one or more of those things.

djc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
djc said...

You wonder whether Hollywood producers are able to imagine a story line that they have not previously watched on TV. Or read in a comic book. The whole business has been taken over by
people whose inner, imaginative life does not include reading.
Sometimes a story requires special fx, but these days, special fx no longer require a well told story.