So you can read my books

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Take the new STAR TREK. The beginning made me root for and like Kirk's father. He cared about his crew, loved his wife, and died so that she and his son could live. I wanted to watch a movie about him. What happens? We get a scene of kid-Kirk being a jerk and nearly getting killed. We get another of punk-Kirk getting rightly trashed by cadets in a bar. I didn't like Kirk. And that's how you tell a bad story, making the hero one you don't like.

They wanted Kirk with authority issues and attitude from being fatherless. Fine. Kid-Kirk sees his younger half-brother being roughed up by his step-father for touching his antique car. Kirk steps in for the boy, gets slapped, makes a smart remark {"What? You working your way up to old ladies and cripples?"} Step-Dad leaves. Kid-Kirk cocks an eyebrow at his brother and goes, "You want to go for a spin?" Now, you have the attitude, neurosis, plus a kid who you care about and like. And the neat car chase.

Punk-Kirk in bar. Hits on Uhura. She fluffs him off. "Your loss, babe," he shrugs. Up struts an oaf of a cadet who paws Uhura. She protests. Oaf grabs her arm. Uhura winces in pain, just about to hand the guy his head on her own. But Kirk steps in and says, "The lady said no, bruno." Fights insues. Kirk gets lecture that turns his life around. But now you care about Kirk and like him. You want him to win, not just because you know his legend, but because of who he is at the moment, flaws and all. That's good story-telling -- making the audience care and root for your hero right at the start.

Hollywood has confused "cool" with character.

You care about Neo from the start of THE MATRIX. Any daydreaming shift worker identifies with Arnold right from the start of TOTAL RECALL. Inside most Sci-Fi men you will find a Walter Mitty or a Chuck from the TV series of the same name.

Hollywood loves its pre-sold franchises. Sometimes they work. Most times they don't. I shudder to think what the movie A-TEAM will be on the screen. But the studio executives know that people reading their computer headlines will know the answer to that most important question : "What is it about?"

Franchises gives the reader of the movie ad a clear mental image of what the movie promises. If the story is lousy or the film veers too far off the historical image. Low traffic. Sink hole where ticket sales should be.

Domestic ticket sales used to account for 60% of a movie's overall profits. Now, it's down to 40%. Worldwide ticket sales are now the make or break aspect of a movie. The movie must be readily understood universally. Franchises are ideal for that. Also killer titles : Legally Blonde, Crazies, 4 Christmases, and FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE {the title for my book -- hey, I can dream, can't I?}

Hollywood is not about art or about quality. It is about profits. showBUSINESS it is called for a reason. Hollywood has its beloved "4-quadrant" pictures {in essence both sexes under & over 25 are drawn to watch the film.} If on top of that it is medium-budget, filmed entirely in one location, and you are the screen writer, you may have to run out of the exec's office to keep him from giving you a wet kiss.

Well, that's it for my thoughts on Hollywood's deficiencies. It's easier than looking at my own! And for all of us dreamers out there who refuse to quit, here's Diana Krall :

1 comment:

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