Q. Finding it hard to determine if producers would consider a story totally unique. How many plots have similarities to other stories? I wrote a screenplay based on a true story which has never been told in film format before - but some people have said, it's kind of like this or that.
This is one of those tricky notes. It rarely means that your story is too similar to another movie. Lots of movies come out that are similar to other movies. For example, almost every Will Ferrell movie is like almost every other Will Ferrell movie.
What this note means, in fact, is that your material is generic. You have not given the plot enough fresh twists and turns. You have not given the breath of life to your characters. Your scenes don't jump off the page.
In other words, the problem is rarely that your concept is actually too similar. The problem is almost always that your execution
of the plot is too similar. Once you find fresher ways of telling that same story -- with cleverer twists, a scarier antagonist, more surprising obstacles, a more compelling hero, more alarming jeopardy, once you give each character their own unique voice -- you'll stop getting this note.
I find that to be true.
But I also find, that most people are trying to grasp on to the idea of what your screenplay is. And for them, it is easier to say, "That reminds me of such-and-such."
Humans are pattern finding machines. We find patterns were they may or may not exist.
I find, you will ALWAYS get people comparing your screenplay to other movies regardless of how similar or dissimilar they may be.
I agree James. From my experiences, script readers, agents and producers brand most material as "generic" - and not necessarily because it is. They seem to develop a great skepticism for original material, and assume that most of what comes their way "must be crap". Alex however, does have a point. Many screenwriters struggle to reveal plot in exciting ways.
Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.