Big Ideas!

Had a wonderful conversation on Thursday with Derek Haas, who wrote WANTED and 3:10 TO YUMA and seems to be writing every movie that is in development in Hollywood. He’s a hell of a writer and a delightful guy. He was terribly helpful to my class. I’ll be drawing on what he told the students for a long, long time in my teaching and in my own writing.

I asked him what was the best piece of advice he’d ever gotten. He went into an executive’s office and the guy had a sign on his desk that said BIG IDEAS. That’s the advice. Big Ideas. Nothing small. Small is a poem or a short story. A movie must be about something big.

That is what Hollywood wants. Something that can be huge.

They want franchises. They want a massive property they can do again, and then do again. They want the next Bourne, or Bond or anything with Angelina Jolie. So give them that.

A distributor’s expenses are so astronomically high that they can’t be assured of making money unless there are gobs of ancillary tie-ins, so you have to give them something they can brand out the wazoo. A little movie about little people having intense, but small conflict may get made, but it’s got a looooooooooooong shot at getting distribution.

Don’t forget. Getting your movie made means you’re only halfway around the track. To actually finish the race, it has to be distributed.

Big ideas. That’s a simple concept. Is your idea big? For that matter, is mine?


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Filed under Screenwriting, The Business, Writing Process

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