I was talking to a writer I was doing a consult with and he said that, talking to someone else industry, the thing that stood out to him in the conversation was they said, “This is a movie.”
And I said, “They are exactly right. This is a movie.”
The reason that writer’s script is a “movie” is that script has, well okay, a lot going for it going in. Good pacing. Really strong fast turning points. Good action. Unexpected and fun reversals of expectation. Smooth dialogue. Solid characters. But more importantly —
“Movie moments” are moments on a screen that are big, that are visual, that turn story, that hit genre just right and tone just right and that, if some poor bastard is trying to splice a trailer together? Work in a goddamn trailer.
I binge watch Twilight a lot. Twilight has a story I know and have seen many times and also it is pretty on a screen and good for keeping me company while I work. But, more than that?
I am freaking in love with Vampire Baseball.
If there is one really great example of a movie moment? It is vampire baseball in Twilight. It’s fast, it’s hot, it’s beautiful on a screen, it’s bigger than life or any real life baseball on this planet, there is lightning blasting, there are bats cracking like bats have never cracked before, characters spinning baseball bats like they weigh less than dandelions, characters leaping the height of small sky scrapers to catch baseballs midair against storm sky lightning —
Is a movie moment.
I think sometimes writers get so caught up in “telling a story” in a lot of small precise trivial details of story and character logic and getting a character from point A to point B, writers sometimes forget the big most important detail.
Writers forget they are writing —
MOVIES need movie moments. Moments big and powerful and visual and wonderful on a screen. Moments that can support a pitch in a room. Moments that can support a trailer on the screen. Moments that can support a MOVIE.
You’re writing a MOVIE.
Not a script.
Don’t forget that.
PS: Dear Twilight Peeps, please don’t sue me for using a twilight shot for this post. It seemed relevant at the time.
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.