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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Q. Can you give me an example or examples of film where there was a good hook and story but they were underdeveloped or and the theme and subplots were highly developed? Perhaps a better way of putting it is where the hook plays second to the theme and substories of the characters. I want to see if this can still work and how if feels when it does not work.
Can you clarify your question?
Q. Ok, I have heard it said that if a film is not good "if it is about what it is about". So to make it good, it has to have a strong underlying meaning and not just focus only on the hook and premise. If the script is written and there is not as much technical detail and time spent on the hook but there is much more effort applied (succesfully) to the characters and how the hook affects and changes their lives, can this work and do you know if any films that show this? It seems it may make the audience feel like it was a bait and switch.
The point of the hook is to get people in the door. It isn't necessarily what the movie is about.

A strong example is FREE ENTERPRISE. The hook is "Two Trekkies meet William Shatner and agree to help him put on a rap version of JULIUS CAESAR, with Shatner playing all the parts." (I think the movie, incidentally, is where Shatner discovered that he could have a lot of fun playing a blowhard.) The movie is actually a romantic comedy about a geek guy who meets a geek girl.

It works. I really enjoyed FREE ENTERPRISE.

At a less obvious level, many movies develop far beyond their hooks. THE FULL MONTY is about a bunch of unemployed Sheffield steelworkers putting on a strip show, but a good bit of the movie is about the guys and their relationships and their personal problems. Those problems do affect the strip show, so the scenes aren't irrelevant, but you could make the case that the filmmakers were at least as interested in telling a story about unemployed steelworkers as a story about them putting on a show.

You have to serve your hook. At the end of FREE ENTERPRISE, there's Shatner, rapping about Calpurnia. If the movie didn't satisfy the hook, the audience would feel cheated. But you are always welcome to give the audience more than they signed up for.

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