Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Screenplay Question

Dear Long Dark White Board,

I am working on a screenplay that I intend on selling to Steven Spielberg. I am aiming for a seven figure deal, but I would accept anything down to a polite handshake. It is a small, indy character piece set half in 1887 and half in 3143. I won't spoil it by telling you which half is which. Lol. I'm pitching it as Air Force One meets Snakes on a Plane, with a twist - the snakes are the president. It stars Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, Ben Stiller and my wife, who is taking singing lessons for the role.

Here's the background to my problem: I know that by page 25 my main character must turn his or her back on their quest, only to find there was no returning from the magic kingdom by mid way down page 26. (As I'm sure you can tell, I'm not someone new to screenwriting. I have started 16 screenplays in the last month.) But I have four mcs (main characters). How do I structure that, while still having my theme reveal itself on the third line of 31? What I am doing is I have been writing my movie as four separate scripts, (so 4 page 25s, 4 page 31s, etc). I keep each character's dialogue and actions to their own screenplay. So far this is working. My wife gets confused when there is dialogue that she's not supposed to say out loud.

My question is, when I publish my screenplay for future film students and aspiring studio executives to study, should I bind them separately, or as one volume?



P.S. Tom Hanks and Ben Stiller are on my wife's "Celebrity List" and Angie is on mine. So no worries there!!!!!!!!! Lol.

Dear Fred,

First of all, great job in describing your screenplay so effectively! I can "see" Tom Hanks in the role. And that twist - I totally did not see that coming! (Remember, don't reveal the twist until page 72 for maximum "Wow!" Audiences have shown they don't like twists that come any earlier than page 71. Unless you're doing a reverse Red Riding Hood plot in a puppet comedy genre. Then you'll definitely want to put it on page 6.)

For the answer to your question, I suggest you pick up my latest screenwriting book, "What to Put on What Page When, 4th ed." In fact, I suggest you buy five or six, just in case you lose the others. Be careful, if you don't follow my instructions closely, not only will your movie never get made, but audiences will storm out of the theater in disgust and most likely hunt you down for making them watch a movie where things happened on the wrong pages.

Oh, and best of luck on your "Celebrity List." The wife and I recently extended ours to include over a thousand names each! Remember, it's not cheating if it's a famous person on a list!

All the best,

Long, Dark White Board

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