I've been reading through a slew of feature film outlines for the seminar I'm teaching in PEI this summer. A few things that just don't work:
- Don't write about successful Hollywood people if you are not one.
- Don't put camera angles in an outline.
- Don't tell me who the characters are up front, just tell them to me as they become relevant in the story. (In a TV pitch, of course, it's all about the characters.)
- Don't write in the past tense. That's a short story.
- Don't capitalize the name of every CHARACTER every time they show up. Just the first time.
- Don't write the action. ("John comes in.") Tell the story. Only write dialog if it is shorthand for what's happening in the story. (Actually these days you probably wouldn't even waste time on John coming in in the script.)
- Don't write about a group of friends who have gone their separate ways over the years, who return to their small fishing village for a funeral/wedding/reunion, rehash their past, and are somehow changed.
Don't write about a group of friends who have gone their separate ways over the years, who return to their small fishing village for a funeral/wedding/reunion, rehash their past, and are somehow changed.
Unless one of them has sold their soul to the devil and has to kill the rest to save himself...in the most funny, yet gruesome ways possible.
Preferably with nudity.
I'm just sayin'...
See now, what if Alex in The Big Chill hadn't been ENTIRELY dead...
"Don't tell me who the characters are up front, just tell them to me as they become relevant in the story."
Obviously this would make sense for a movie outline, but what about an outline for a TV series? Would it be unwise to divide it into sections such as character descriptions, themes, sample episodes, et cetera?
To clarify, just talking about movies here.
Ooh. I think Cunningham just came up with the perfect Kevin Costner comeback vehicle.
Something about unsuccessful Hollywood people might work for a newbie though.
Oooh, not sure I want to see another movie about wanna-be's in Ho'wood, either.
Sorry, Steve - No.
People who read your script "about unsuccessful Hollywood people" will think either:
a) You're talking about them...or even worse,
b) You're talking about yourself.
Bowfinger shows that good movies can be made about unsuccessful Hollywood types. But then Steve Martin wasn't exacty a newbie when he made it, and maybe it takes seeing both sides to get it right.
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