Do you make the same mistake so many other screenwriters make when writing screenplays? Do you overlook the fact that in order to get produced in Hollywood, you need to write screenplays that Hollywood produces?
I’m not sure where I read this, but I read where the best movie of 2001 to date is “Shrek.” The article went on to describe the reasons why. “Shrek” made more money at the box office 123 movie and is the longest running movie of any movie released in 2001. Also, “Shrek” covers the largest demographic, as people of all ages go to it (kids, teens, adults and seniors). Perhaps the key thing that has made “Shrek” so popular is word-of-mouth.
“Shrek” and “The Prince of Egypt” are Hollywood-produced movies. What do they contain that your screenplays do not contain? Remember, I am writing about how to write screenplays that get produced; not how to write screenplays.
The first element “Shrek” and “The Prince of Egypt” have that your screenplays should also have is a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. “Shrek” and “The Prince of Egypt” take us from dire beginnings, to riveting middles, to powerful endings that touch our hearts. “Shrek” and “The Prince of Egypt” also track a main character.
“Shrek” and “The Prince of Egypt” introduce us to and immerse us in the main character’s world. They present a dramatic premise. They show us the main character’s fatal flaw which they must overcome if they are to win what they want to win. What they want to win is more dear to them than anything else in their lives at the time. It is a universal “dear”. And as well, what is dear to these main characters is also dear to us. This is one way we are hooked into each movie.
At the end of Act I, in “Shrek” and “The Prince of Egypt” situations occur that devastate the main characters and us. The situations spin the main characters and us around and shoots us and them off into Act II. In Act II, they take the main characters and us through a labyrinth of experiences that pull the main characters to the edge of breaking and us to the edge of our seats. And it is all because we have been transformed from viewers to main characters ourselves.
We think and feel as the main characters think and feel. We’re pulling for them regardless of how reckless they might be. Just about the time, we think all is lost, and we’re going to have to limp off home to mend our wounds, something occurs that brings the main characters new hope. With this newfound hope, we sweat with the main characters as they overcome superhuman odds to win. In the end, we see the main characters transform, and somehow, inside of us, a transformation also takes place. And we go home with a happy heart and a good-feeling mind about ourselves and our lives.
There are a number of less-than-spectacular movies that are churned out of Hollywood each year. The fine point of writing screenplays is contained in the elements and structure that have been described previously. If you are skeptical of this, or if you still feel you write screenplays that Hollywood should produce, then you might want to take time out to study movies that Hollywood has produced. Be certain your screenplay writing contains aspects of the kinds of movies Hollywood produces to give you confidence in your convictions.
You should also read the screenplays of these movies. Once you have accomplished this, outline the movies/screenplays scene-by-scene. By doing this physical and mental activity, you will discover elements of these movies that you otherwise may overlook. In your findings, you will learn about critical turning points that are so crucial for good storytelling. You will also ascertain transformation arcs the main characters go through as they move forward to accomplishing the goals that are set up for them during the execution of the dramatic premises. You will clearly recognize the elements containing universal elements which hook.