As a screenwriting instructor, I always advise my students to take the point of view of the buyers when conceptualizing their screenplay. How can you give yourself the best opportunity to break into the business?
To do this, you have to ask yourself what the buyers are looking for. For example, what genres are most commercial? As a beginning writer, should you start with a big budget project or something more modest? When the buyers appraise a project for commercial success, what are the selling points that get them most excited? And what makes them confident they can make back a return on their investment?
For the buyers and distributors the most important consideration is their ability to attract a star name for their film. So they are constantly asking themselves – how enticing is the role you’ve created for your protagonist? Do you have a great vehicle for a star?
Why is this such an important consideration when writing for the commercial marketplace? It’s simple – the reason your movie will get made is because a star agrees to do your film. When Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks or Reese Witherspoon or any bankable star attaches himself or herself to the project, it has a much greater poetential of being made.
That’s what studios are looking for, because they know it will give their films a greater chance for success, not just domestically but internationally as well. So, if that is the case, shouldn’t all screenwriters focus on creating a protagonist that will entice these bankable stars?
Obviously. But creating this star vehicle is not easy to do. In fact, it’s quite difficult. It’s not uncommon for the protagonist to be the least interesting character in a movie. The reason for this is that the hero or heroine has to carry the plot and give whatever exposition that needs to be delivered. For an actor, this is not desireable and more minor characters without this burden can easily steal the show.
When you think of the great movies you admire, whether it’s “Braveheart,” or “Lawrence of Arabia,” or “Jaws,” the protagonists were always memorable and gave the star an opportunity to shine. The minor characters did not steal the thunder from the star. When this happen, it results in commercial as well as artistic disaster.
We can’t let that happen. We need to protect the star at all costs. And that doesn’t mean great heroic moments necessarily either. We want to see the protagonist at their lowest moments as well as the highest. That is what motivates the star to commit to a film – a chance to show sides of themselves they haven’t necessarily explored before.
That is the topic of my webinar – Writing For Stars. We will not only cover strategies for creating a star vehicle but will also discuss character growth and development in general. Please join us live on Monday, July 1 for this exciting discussion. The webinar will be archived for a year so it can listened to any time during that period.
Glenn M. Benest is an award-winning writing producer with seven produced screenplays, including two that were directed by Wes Craven. His independent film, HUNGRY HEARTS, was nominated for numerous awards at film festivals throughout the country and is being distributed internationally by Shoreline Entertainment. Mr. Benest is a celebrated lecturer and instructor and his professional screenwriting workshops have launched five feature films, including SCREAM and EVENT HORIZON.
Screenwriting Webinar from The Writers Store
- This live webinar will teach you what a star is looking for when considering his or her next role.
- Discover the tricks of the trade that will create great dramatic moments for your protagonist.
- Find out how to enhance the character of your protagonist and attract bankable talent for your screenwriting projects.