12 Questions A Screenwriter Should Be Able To Answer About Their Screenplay by Producer Mark Heidelberger

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: 12 questions every screenwriter has to be able to answer about their screenplay?

Mark Heidelberger: 12 questions? Why does it have to be 12 questions? How did you get the 12 questions?

I mentioned earlier that I was a manager, a literary manager. So I did writers and directors for about 8 years. So I had…I’m going to give Meg LeFauve who I mentioned earlier (Jodie Foster’s producing partner) was a great influence on me and she had this series of questions (might have been eight or ten) to get us thinking about the story we wanted to tell.

When I started managing, I sort of took those questions and expanded on them a little bit (re-appropriated them a little bit) so I came up with 12.

And so every time I had a writer come to me with a story they were working on….you know, it could have been in the synopsis phase or the treatment phase or the finished script but had a lot of problems…okay, let’s rewind and let’s go back to the fundamentals or even if they just had an idea and they hadn’t written anything yet. Take a look at these questions, can you answer these questions?

The questions are things like:

What’s the genre?
Is it studio or independent?
Who is your protagonist?
What is their goal?
What is their flaw?
Who is the main relationship?
What is driving the story?
Who is your audience?
Who is the antagonist?
What is their goal?
What is their flaw?
What is the narrative question driving the film?

So you should be able to sum it up into one big question.

Like DIE HARD: Will the New York cop free his wife and hostages from some European terrorists who are all trapped in a skyscraper? Like it’s one question.

What is your narrative question driving this story?
What is your theme?…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
Image courtesy of MarkHeidelberger.com

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