Film Courage: Erik, you have a book that’s coming out, right now it’s…we’re filming this in August, but by the time this airs it will be September I believe and your book is called The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction. Curious what prompted you to write the book?
Erik Bork, Screenwriter/Author: Yes, so I’ve been a screenwriters for 25 years and for the last 10 years I’ve been teaching screenwriting, I’ve been working one-on-one with a lot of writers as like a consultant/coach and I’ve just been reading a lot of scripts (film and TV scripts). Many, many, many, many scripts, right?
In trying to help writers and try to kind of codify principles of writing which is always a touchy thing because sometimes people think writing can’t be taught or shouldn’t be taught, I really try to figure out what are the things that one really needs in a story idea because people don’t really seem to know when they’re writing. But when someone reads someone’s script they often are having negative reactions and what are the reasons for those reactions? I made it my business to figure out what are sort of the essential things that people are reacting to. Not only when they read a script but when they hear the idea for a script because the reason the book is called The Idea is that I’ve really come to believe that the most important part of the process most writers bypass too quickly which is selecting the idea and understanding what makes a viable idea. That is so important to the eventual success of any project and I mean that might seem obvious but the average writer (myself included) tends to want to get to writing. They tend to want to just start structuring, outlining and writing the script. So you pick an idea you often don’t vet the idea with professionals or friends you’re just kind of like I sort of like this idea. I think I’m going to write this. And then you go about writing it.
Whereas in the industry if you have a manager or an agent what I’ve learned is they’ll want you to run your ideas past them before you even start one. They don’t want you to spend your time and energy on something that they don’t think is viable in the marketplace to begin with.
So if you’re trying to write for that marketplace, if you’re trying to get or maintain a manager and an agent and move forward in the Hollywood marketplace, what’s going to happen to you is your representatives are going to shoot down a lot of your ideas which has happened to me. And they are going to want to stop you at the idea stage and want to hear the log line or the basic premise or pitch.
So I (as a writer having agents) had to live that lifestyle of I have to impress my agents first, right? Once I’m lucky enough to have one.
As someone reading people’s scripts as a consultant or teacher I now realize what my agents were thinking because most of the things people bring to me (finished scripts), most of the notes I have on the scripts are notes I would have had on the basic idea if they had just brought it to me…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
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