Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is it FUN?

Two years ago, I watched HOME ALONE on my flight back to Buffalo for Christmas, and I was shocked at how funny it still was. That movie really holds up. Why? It's fun. It's clever. It's something you actually want to watch.

I'm working on another draft of a comedy feature I've been writing for a long time, and I recently got the note: "Think about why people would actually want to watch this movie." It sounds silly and elementary, but it was something I had forgotten about amidst multiple drafts, new characters, social commentary, arcs and themes. Why is this an interesting premise? Why should people pay fifteen bucks to sit in a dark room with strangers and watch this? What adventure are we going on? What is FUN about it? Not all scripts are comedies, but the good ones in all genres generally have some element of excitement, fun, wish fulfillment, etc. It's walking past a cop, wearing a nun mask and holding an automatic weapon in THE TOWN. It's fast-forwarding through the boring parts of your life in CLICK. It's outsmarting robbers with Hot Wheels and marbles in HOME ALONE. Stuff you can't do in real life, but kind of wish you could. Wouldn't it be cool if... ?

Sometimes I read or hear loglines and think, really? Why would anyone want to see that? It seems crazy that a writer would spend weeks, months, even years working on that idea. But I understand that there's always something that draws you to your project. Maybe it's a social phenomenon, or a complex character, or something you've always feared. There are lots of reasons you might be attracted to a story - but how can you attract readers (and audiences) to it? Are you really milking your premise? Is it fun?

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Rachel Upshaw said...

I still love Home Alone (and Home Alone II)...Like DVR-them-when-they-come-on-ABC-Family kind of love... and this is a great writing reminder!

Dan Williams said...

You raise a good point: "why would anybody want to see this script I'm writing?"

My guess is, that people in the culture are all going through the same thing, which is, applying the latest cultural ideas to their everyday reality to see if these ideas work for them. Along the way, certain questions will arise for lots of these people, and they want answers. The writer/artist is sensitive to this ethos. And the stories that should be written will provide answers to the top questions in the minds of the audience. And these should have the best chance of being successful.

This is one reason why reading a book on "PostModerism" would be a good idea, as this is the sensibility of our era, now.

Anyway, it's just a little pet theory of mine. "Lone Star" might reboot next season on cable with a name change, and could still succeed.

Jenny said...

It's true what you said about having a hook. A lot of good comedies have that and essentially I think some people, along with those you just want to laugh, are trying to find out something about themselves since comedy oftentimes reveals truth about one's humanity. I agree with Dan's comment about how some people just want answers. They may not see someone on the screen that are like them exactly but they can relate with their situation, and that is where a writer's ethos comes in.