From Conception to Celluloid A Crash Course in How Movies Get Made
The Process (a painfully basic analysis) <ul><li>Part 1:  Idea is born </li></ul><ul><li>Part 2:  Idea is sold </li></ul><...
3 Basic Ways an Idea for a Movie gets Sold <ul><li>Someone  pitches  the idea to someone else who then buys it. </li></ul>...
The Pitch <ul><li>“When someone asks you what your screenplay is about, and you tell them, you are verbally pitching your ...
The Pitch <ul><li>“ Pitching a script is an art form, and although it can be stressful, it's something every writer has to...
The Pitch <ul><li>Who do you pitch to? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone with enough money to buy your idea – studios, producer...
Spec Screenplay <ul><li>If any of us were to write a screenplay right now, it would be considered a  spec screenplay . </l...
Acquisition <ul><li>Very common way for a film to get made. </li></ul><ul><li>Someone, anyone, can acquire the theatrical ...
Key Terms: Option <ul><li>Most ideas are not bought outright, they are  optioned . </li></ul><ul><li>When an idea is optio...
Key Terms: Development <ul><li>The process of getting the idea in a state that is ready to be shot. </li></ul><ul><li>Invo...
Key Terms: Development Hell <ul><li>When a movie gets stuck in development for a long period of time. </li></ul><ul><li>Re...
Key Terms: Attach <ul><li>When an  above-the-line  player (actor, writer, director, producer) agrees to do a film, they ar...
Key Terms: Adaptation <ul><li>This term refers to the process of taking material that already exists in some form and  ada...
Key Terms: Rewrite and Polish  <ul><li>Once a screenplay is completed, someone involved (either a studio executive, a prod...
Key Terms: Packaging <ul><li>Packaging refers to the process of using personal or professional connections to get actors, ...
Key Terms: Green Light <ul><li>A project is said to have a  green light  when a studio takes a film out of development and...
Key Terms: Pre-Production <ul><li>The script is broken down into individual scenes and all the locations, props, cast memb...
Key Terms: Production (principal photography) <ul><li>The movie is actually shot. </li></ul><ul><li>Usually the most expen...
Key Terms: Post Production <ul><li>Editing the picture.  </li></ul><ul><li>Editing the soundtrack.  </li></ul><ul><li>Writ...
Key Terms: Distribution <ul><li>The physical production of film prints and their shipping  around the world  (a process th...
Peter Bart on the Development Process <ul><li>Is awareness a good thing or bad thing as far as studios are concerned? </li...
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Jonathan Powers "Writing and Development Lecture"

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This lecture was given in Baylor University's Production Methods One course on 11/1/06.

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Jonathan Powers "Writing and Development Lecture"

  1. 1. From Conception to Celluloid A Crash Course in How Movies Get Made
  2. 2. The Process (a painfully basic analysis) <ul><li>Part 1: Idea is born </li></ul><ul><li>Part 2: Idea is sold </li></ul><ul><li>Part 3: Idea becomes a film </li></ul><ul><li>Part 4: Film is distributed to audiences </li></ul><ul><li>We Will Focus Today on Part 2 through Part 3 </li></ul>
  3. 3. 3 Basic Ways an Idea for a Movie gets Sold <ul><li>Someone pitches the idea to someone else who then buys it. </li></ul><ul><li>Someone buys the idea in the form of a spec screenplay (a spec screenplay is a script written by someone who is speculating that someone else will buy it). </li></ul><ul><li>Someone finds an idea in a piece of material that already exists in some form -- book, magazine article, another film, life’s right, etc. and then buys the theatrical rights to that idea (this is known as an acquisition ). </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Pitch <ul><li>“When someone asks you what your screenplay is about, and you tell them, you are verbally pitching your script to them. If they ask you for a written summation - a treatment - you are submitting a written pitch. Every movie ever made was made as a result of pitching.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Grove, E, Raindance Writers' Lab, Pitching Pt. 1) </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Pitch <ul><li>“ Pitching a script is an art form, and although it can be stressful, it's something every writer has to perfect before approaching executives or agents. So what is pitching exactly? A pitch is an animated summation of a script with emphasis on the main characters, the conflict, and the genre. When pitching a script, you use this summation to persuade industry professionals to option the work.” (More on optioning later) </li></ul><ul><li>(Preparing to Pitch Your Screenplay to a Studio, adapted from Screenwriting For Dummies) </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Pitch <ul><li>Who do you pitch to? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone with enough money to buy your idea – studios, producers, actors, directors, anyone. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Can anyone go into a studio and pitch an idea? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No. You have to be able to get a meeting, which is very hard to do. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Spec Screenplay <ul><li>If any of us were to write a screenplay right now, it would be considered a spec screenplay . </li></ul><ul><li>Most never get bought, or even read. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No one will read your screenplay unless you have an agent. No agency will read your screenplay unless someone of note tells them to. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There are a few rare cases of specs being bought. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our own BU alumni Michael Brandt and Derek Haas </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Acquisition <ul><li>Very common way for a film to get made. </li></ul><ul><li>Someone, anyone, can acquire the theatrical rights to an entity if they have enough money. </li></ul><ul><li>Shrek, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Batman were all acquisitions. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Key Terms: Option <ul><li>Most ideas are not bought outright, they are optioned . </li></ul><ul><li>When an idea is optioned, the buyer has not actually purchased the idea, he or she has simply purchased the right to purchase the idea at some point in the future. </li></ul><ul><li>Once an idea is optioned, the buyer then attempts to take the idea through development and into production. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Key Terms: Development <ul><li>The process of getting the idea in a state that is ready to be shot. </li></ul><ul><li>Involves getting the screenplay written (if it isn’t already), attaching all the key players (director, additional producers, actors, etc.) and getting the money to make and distribute the film (usually from a studio, unless you go independent which means that 51% or more of your funding comes from outside the studio system). </li></ul>
  11. 11. Key Terms: Development Hell <ul><li>When a movie gets stuck in development for a long period of time. </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons for this happen include the studio executives who bought the idea change and the new execs don’t like the project, constant rewriting and polishing of the screenplay, recasting, creative differences causing key players to drop off the film, etc. (More on polishing later) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Key Terms: Attach <ul><li>When an above-the-line player (actor, writer, director, producer) agrees to do a film, they are said to be attached . </li></ul><ul><li>Getting a star above the line person attached to your film is almost always the best way to get the film financed. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Key Terms: Adaptation <ul><li>This term refers to the process of taking material that already exists in some form and adapting it into a screenplay. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, writer/director/producer Alexander Payne adapted the film “Sideways” from a novel by Rex Pickett. </li></ul><ul><li>“Shrek” was adapted from a children’s book by William Steig. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Key Terms: Rewrite and Polish <ul><li>Once a screenplay is completed, someone involved (either a studio executive, a producer, an actor, a director, etc.) will usually demand a rewrite. This can mean anything from rewriting a scene to scraping everything but the basic idea. </li></ul><ul><li>A polish is a type of rewrite that is usually less dramatic and highly specific (for example, the dialogue is polished). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>John Lee Hancock and Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor.” </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Key Terms: Packaging <ul><li>Packaging refers to the process of using personal or professional connections to get actors, directors, producers and/or writers attached to a project. </li></ul><ul><li>Packaging is considered by many to be the most effective way to get a project green lighted by a studio. </li></ul><ul><li>Packaging often takes place in agencies. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Key Terms: Green Light <ul><li>A project is said to have a green light when a studio takes a film out of development and agrees to start production on it. </li></ul><ul><li>Of all the films bought by studios, roughly 20% actually receive a green light. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Key Terms: Pre-Production <ul><li>The script is broken down into individual scenes and all the locations, props, cast members, costumes, special effects and visual effects are identified. </li></ul><ul><li>An extremely detailed schedule is produced and arrangements are made for the necessary elements to be available to the filmmakers at the appropriate times. </li></ul><ul><li>Sets are constructed, the crew is hired, financial arrangements are put in place and a start date for the beginning of principal photography is set. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Key Terms: Production (principal photography) <ul><li>The movie is actually shot. </li></ul><ul><li>Usually the most expensive phase of film production and generally marks a point of no return for the financiers. </li></ul><ul><li>While it is not uncommon for a film to lose its greenlight status during pre-production, it is extremely uncommon for financing to be withdrawn once principal photography has commenced. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Key Terms: Post Production <ul><li>Editing the picture. </li></ul><ul><li>Editing the soundtrack. </li></ul><ul><li>Writing and recording the soundtrack music. </li></ul><ul><li>Adding visual special effects - mainly computer generated imagery and digital compositing. </li></ul><ul><li>Adding audio sound effects - like ADR, Foley, sound design and sound designers' actions. </li></ul><ul><li>Color grading </li></ul>
  20. 20. Key Terms: Distribution <ul><li>The physical production of film prints and their shipping around the world (a process that may soon be replaced by digital distribution) as well as the creation of posters, newspaper and magazine advertisements and television commercials. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Peter Bart on the Development Process <ul><li>Is awareness a good thing or bad thing as far as studios are concerned? </li></ul><ul><li>What is William Goldman's famous quote? </li></ul><ul><li>What is a development chart? </li></ul><ul><li>What percent of films that are bought actually get made? </li></ul><ul><li>Who does a literary agent represent? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the king of the pitch in Hollywood? </li></ul>

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