MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Attention Screenwriters, Storytellers, and Writers


“My approach was to find good writers that didn’t necessarily have the most commercial instincts and marry them to my commercial instinct by giving them ideas and working together with them on scripts.”—Neil Moritz, Produced By

It was delightful to run across this quote from producer Neil Moritz (“Cruel Intentions,” “Fast & Furious,” “Made of Honor”), which reinforces the approach we’ve been focusing on at AEI. It’s as frustrating to us as managers as it is to our storytelling clients that good-to-excellent stories have such a hard time making their way into the marketplace. When we can convince our writers to take the marketplace seriously, we hook them up with concepts we know are low-resistance to buyers. At the very worst, this approach gets our clients’ work in front of the buyers so they can appreciate excellent writing and storytelling ability. At best, it leads to sales and financing progress.

Whether you’re a client of ours or not, think high concept. Think how you can make a buyer look at your project out of all the others that are raining down on the desk every day. One way we highly recommend: find a classic that is in public domain (so there are no rights issues). ADAPT it to today. On your title page, put, “Based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky,” or “Based on the short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.” It’s hard for editors and creative execs to resist a story that retells a classic. It’s what they call

a “pre-sold” concept.

If you’re a screenwriter with a fantastic script, consider writing it as a novel, then sell it to a publisher. It then becomes an “underlying right,” which gives the studio exec the incentive and security needed to acquire it.

Think outside the box!

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