This Ain’t Legos

I was talking to a writer in a lab, it was The Logline Lab and that’s a lab very much focused on what is driving story, for whom, and putting the pieces together for reps and a development executives and talent who, One, need to know there is a movie in play, and Two, need the pieces to be as simple as Lego blocks so that they can repeat it upstairs in a game of telephone tag that will translate over multiple tellings to the original concept and —

A Movie.

So maybe my title is wrong. Maybe this is Legos. Oops.

But —

I was saying, if this place and locations is specific, if this is a piece of story that can have mental real estate in play, go for the mental real estate.

(Mental real estate is a story element that gives a story a sense of reality and a recognizability factor that imparts a sense of cachet and reality to the story. For example, story action could be taking place on any bridge. Or story action could be taking place on the Golden Gate Bridge. Generic Bridge. Golden Gate Bridge. One of those has cachet. You know which one, right?)

And the writer said to me she had been told by other people to make things as generic as possible in scripts so that anyone coming in to attach to the film could bring their own “thing” or “ideas” to the film.

Okay. Back the fuck up.

What “film”?

See, if a script is so generic anyone can plug anything in, anywhere, location, character, dialogue, action, what have you, there is no “film.” And if there’s no “film”? There is nothing to sign on to.

People do not sign on to “generic.”

And people do not sign onto projects (aka screenplays) to fill in the blanks.

A lot of people who make movies are not writers. They don’t know how to write movies. They know how to act in them. They know how to produce them. They know how to light them. They know how to cast them. They may even know how to “develop” them. (Though that one sometimes has me wondering.) But they’re not writers. They are not signing on to write the script for you.

Writing movies is not their job. That’s our job.

They do sign on to make movies. And they sign onto movies because the script, AKA THE MOVIE, isn’t a whole lot of blanks. The script AKA THE MOVIE is exciting and cool and doesn’t have blanks. The script AKA THE MOVIE has characters and locations and action and plot and dialogue and is just fucking fantastic. And maybe even has some cachet and mental real estate in there too. Yay!

There must be a movie to sign on to. Not a list of generics.


On the page.

I’m going to keep coming back here and telling you guys you are writing “movies” till this sticks.


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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