ACTOR BAIT

There’s a great anecdote in the book “Your Screenplay Sucks: 100 Ways to Make It Great.”

It’s the year 2000 and William Akers, the author, is standing in line at a movie theater to see Finding Forrester. Two guys are in front of him and one says, “What’s it about?” And the other says, “Sean Connery.”

Let that sink in.

Akers says scripts are “actor bait.” He’s not wrong. Someone, hopefully a movie star people will show up to see, must want to play your protagonist. Or, no movie.

Take your protagonist’s dialogue in the first fifteen pages of the script and lay it alone on a page. No action, no scene description, no other dialogue. Just the protagonist’s dialogue.

That’s your main character. His or her introduction to the world. In those words.

What’s hot about that dialogue?

About that character?

What’s interesting?

That’s your “actor bait.”

Does an actor want to play that?

Don’t just knee jerk say “Yes!” and scamper off doing the same old same old. Go find at least three scripts with particularly strong lead characters and read those characters’ dialogue in the first 15 pages of the script, alone.

Then read your lead’s dialogue in the first 15 pages of the script, alone.

Compare.

 

~ max 

Screenwriter and author Max Adams

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Max Adams is an author and award winning screenwriter. She has written for Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, Tri-Star Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures – and a couple others to remain unnamed because no one around here wants to get black listed. Max is a former volunteer AFI Alumni reader and WGAw online mentor, has appeared as a speaker at AMPAS, USC, and Film Arts Foundation, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at University of Utah, is the author of The Screenwriter’s Survival Guide AND The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide, is the founder of two international online screenwriting workshops, and has the dubious distinction of having been dubbed “Red Hot Adams” by Daily Variety for selling three pitches over a holiday weekend – which made her agents cry. [In a good way.] She answers now to both “Max” and “Red Hot” in crowds and dog parks.

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