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Paul Buscemi's Column for Monday March 26, 2001. Buscemiarts@hotmail.com

Last week, as you recall we left our little script in peril somewhere within the depths of...the script factory! Our 110 page, expertly formatted, fast moving masterpiece with compelling characters was waiting on its conveyor belt for some Reader to discover him. But would the Reader find him? Would the Reader read him? And most importantly, would the Reader... recommend him?

Well, he might if the writer followed the great advice in last week's column from Ryan Johnson, a Development Executive at Mandalay Pictures. And if YOU have followed that wisdom, I can only say, ?but wait, there's more!'

3. Story & Concept

Johnson explains the catch 22 of screenwriting as this, "Usually the characters
will be good with a lousy or tiny story OR the story/concept will be great and the characters will be wooden and dull." For a writer to make his mark and for that little script to be rescued from the conveyor belt to nowhere, it must have "a great story and great characters," notes Johnson. "When these two parts come together, that is when studios are going to take notice," he adds. Bottom line, your story needs to impress. If your movie is ?like' another movie - that's not good enough. It has to be better than the other movies ?like' it. "Create visuals that have never been seen before. Create visually in the action but don't make it dense," Johnson recommends. "If it is a comedy, make it funny! Most comedies have smiles and not laughs. If you have someone laughing out loud a few times by page 10, they will keep reading," he adds.

Johnson's recommendation for Romantic Comedies or Serial Killer scripts is originality. "These movies have been done to death so (your script) had better be incredible and very different," he explains. "Know how high the bar is on certain types of projects. If you just saw Armageddon, then you know how much better your end of the world movie will have to be. Don't see Sixth Sense then try to re-create something comparable to it. Be a step AHEAD instead of a copycat step behind," he adds.

For Johnson, it all comes down to this (take heed): "Much like any audience member in a movie, you want a script to take you into another world for an hour or two. A script that introduces you to people and places that completely engross you with a story that is compelling, new, and interesting from start to finish."

4. And now for your, Writer's Workout.

Johnson also offered this analogy - that writing is like exercising. "You don't run a marathon your first day of running. So your first script, almost without exception, will probably be nauseating. You have to keep writing, keep telling stories, keep creating and sooner or later you'll feel like you have grown and really created something amazing."
When this happens Johnson suggests you get feedback from trusted and critical friends.
"Know that when you print it out, that is the last time it will ever be 'done'. It will
continue to change throughout the process," he adds.

In other words, be prepared to rewrite A LOT. Do you recall (in a recent column) how many times Jeff Probst had rewritten "Finder's Fee" ? Nineteen times! Just remember, it's never done - but always improving.

So where has that script gone anyway? It was on a conveyor belt just a minute ago. I think it moved up a level or two. Through Development on it's way to a producer and director. We'll talk with them next time and find out what they expect from the-little-script-that-could.



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