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Script Cops: McKee Sting

These guys are starting to play hardball with writers.  But they did have it coming.  See the video here:

Tragic really.  Writers so addicted to the rush of script seminars, to some guru’s biting analytical approach, willing to sit through hours of frame-by-frame deconstruction of movies for what seems like educational purposes.

But what the video doesn’t fully reveal is why these principles are never really applied.  I’ve seen it myself, first hand.  Plenty of times.  A writer will become enamored with the hunt, unconsciously avoiding the hard work of “killing darlings.”  You see, more than likely they have a script that violates screenwriting law but they’ve fallen in love with their script, so they continually seek out a guru whose tenets validate them.

Don’t get caught in another sting.

Learn that Shawshank Redemption is NOT a template but a temptation.  Sure, Darabont succeeded, but that’s a one-time lightning in a bottle occurrence.  You’re staring at a passive protagonist problem, or a story with a “relay-race” kind of structure.   Or perhaps you never figured out who your protagonist was.  Take it from me: you’ll never get away with it.

Or you’ve got an Avatar.  Listen to me carefully: you’re not James Cameron.  When you produce multiple movies that bank hundreds of millions of dollars, you can get away with a lousy, derivative, CGI-extravaganza and still make money.

More than likely your story is “too weird to work.”  The audience doesn’t have a way in, a way of relating to all the strangeness you’re throwing.  Sure some fanboys will get it, but how well are Anime movies doing?

Right, not well.  Work your way up with an industry-safe genre piece.  And don’t violate common sense and pretend something like tribalism is better than civilization.  You couldn’t go back even if you wanted to.  And you don’t.

Or you’ve got a Garden State movie.  You call it a comedy.  But it’s not. It’s a drama.  It’s also a failure waiting to happen.  Garden State wasn’t structured as a comedy, its protagonist isn’t on a comic journey and the movie’s success is, again, a one-time thing.  Pick a clear comedy to model, like His Girl Friday, or Liar Liar.

It could save you years.  Even a death sentence in the screenwriting world.

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