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04/16/2001
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A ?VOICE' THEY THOUGHT or WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR SCRIPT AFTER IT'S SUBMITTED. Part Four

Paul Buscemi's Column for Monday, April 16, 2001.

Little-Script was out of breath and exhausted. His sweat had caused some of the printer ink to run. "I should have copied myself," he said. Little-Script was tired yet proud of how far he'd come in the Script Factory. He was reaching the top and could almost envision facing that Green Light on the factory roof.

We are nearing completion on this series of columns focusing on various bridges your screenplay will have to cross as it struggles for an option. It is a struggle after all. Competition is fierce and the industry is fickle. The purpose of this series is to understand not what the Development Executive, Producer and Director are ?looking for' but instead, HOW they look. How your script will be evaluated.

As the producer of such inventive and unique films as "Fight Club," Ross Bell has demonstrated an ability to merge the best elements of a studio film with the boundary pushing nature of an independent feature. This creates a commercial entertainment that leaves you thinking long after you've left the theater. It is that sensibility that we must tap into, for it is essential knowledge for any writer in today's Hollywood.

When Bell reads a script he knows "very quickly, in the first ten or fifteen pages" if the writer has got it or not. "It's a voice. You look for something that stands out as distinct. And that can be in the prose's, the stage direction as well the dialog and situations," he adds. "What I look for is characters that break the mold. Characters who are outside the box and do the unexpected," states Bell. "The material I'm drawn to, things like ?Fight Club,' are revolutionary and those kind of characters interest me. Now if I solely focus my career on revolutionary characters, most probably I would not make many films because it's not necessarily what the studios look for." He adds. "With that in mind, what it comes down to is rich good characters."

Bell goes on to clarify that sometimes a script is read not as a potential purchase, necessarily, but as an evaluation of the given writer - their strengths and weaknesses. "There are different things you look for. Sometimes you can look for a good concept and the screenplay is not particularly well written. However, you still might buy the screenplay for the idea. And often Hollywood does this and brings in other writers to make the characters more rich." The freshness of the idea, or lack there of, can make or break your script as well. Bell's concerns with potential concepts are these: "Have we seen this before? What is fresh about this?"

To Be Continued....
Next Week: Ross Bell gives more insight into the Producer's point of view.

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