Friday, August 26, 2011

The Screenwriter Think Tank Session of Brilliance

Some of the best advice I was ever given was by Will Akers.

He told me, "You're a good writer. Now start making short films. Learn every aspect. That way, you'll always have work."

I am passing that on to you today, dearest reader.   He was absolutely right!

Now, on to screenwriting stuff.


It was truly one of the most outstanding times I have had as a writer. Here's the back story:

I am working on a supernatural thriller script.  I had a vague outline of who and what would go on with the story, but I was stuck. I didn't know how to raise the stakes for our hero. I didn't know what occupation my villian should have.  I have a decent concept for a script, but this was driving me nuts. 

So I called the meeting.

I invited a group of friends.  All were from different backgrounds.  Since my story is about a hero paramedic, I had a paramedic there. I read them the outline from my script, and then for two hours picked their brains.  What a great time!

Folks had AMAZING insight. When all was said and done, I had a full fledged outline, and will get this written probably in a couple of weeks before I start the rewriting process.

The point is, DON'T keep your story to yourself. Pitch it to folks.  See if they'd be interested. I pitched the CONCEPT of this script for about two years to folks.  I would say, "Hey, would you see this movie if this happened?" 

With a group of folks who are from different backgrounds, you will be amazed at some of the ideas that will pop up.  Brilliance!  Even my 14 year old daughter contributed, and I am using her idea.

Now, don't get folks who won't speak the truth. If something doesn't make sense, you want to know BEFORE  you start fleshing it out.  Sometimes people will be 'nice' and not 'honest'.  Honesty is what you want. 'Nice' just wastes your time.

So, if you're ever stuck on writing, hold a meeting and pick brains!  We had a great time and got TONS accomplished!


  1. I'd make short films if my friends were reliable.

    Likewise, I don't know a lot of people I can trust to bang ideas off or even to read the finished product.

    To tell the truth, if I had five people who wanted to be in a movie I'd come up with something to suit them rather than work on a script with them.

  2. I see where you're coming from.

    The point of this session, though, was to throw together a group of people from different walks of life, so each person could give a different take on the idea I was fleshing out. A few of them are in the business, a few of them are not.

    We had a great time and they offered some wonderfully innovative ideas that I will be using.

    And speaking of the trust factor to bang out ideas, I will ask complete strangers if an idea I have would be a movie they would go and see. If I can hold a stranger's interest, then how am I going to hold the interest of a paying movie goer?

    Not everyone I know wants to be in a movie. Which is even better. It's a free focus group. And they can see holes where you can't... they can tell you if what you have written is suspensful or just plain stupid. Everyone needs feedback.

    Like I said, this was a great session and I will have a LOT more. :)