Film Courage: Is someone writing for themselves or for the industry?
Lee Jessup: That’s a good question. Somebody is writing the stories that they love, that they are passionate about. I don’t believe in writing to the market because ultimately you will also be behind. What you’re writing now, if you’re with whatever is happening in the industry, whatever is happening in the industry right now, in six months it is going to be dated. So I think writing to the industry can be a losing battle. While you should write with an awareness of your audience (who you audience is) whether it’s television or film, who would watch this show? Where would this show belong? What season does this film get released? Is this a summer blockbuster? Is this an end-of-year movie? Is this a February movie? Is it going to be a movie for 16-to-24-year-olds? Or is it going to be a movie for 49-year-olds and older? What are we talking about? You should be aware of all of those things but you shouldn’t write to them. I think the moment when you try to engineer your work toward something, it loses its brilliance.
“I think the moment when you try to engineer your work toward something, it loses its brilliance.”
I know somebody (a manager) who was working with his girlfriend to engineer a script for the blacklist, for the list (The Blacklist). Ultimately, that script was never finished because it was engineered. And the manager then came back to me and said “Yeah, we tried to engineer it. Clearly a bad idea.” So you have to listen to your heart song in that sense. You have to really write the original, exciting material that is uniquely yours that is the story you are dying to tell with some awareness of how the market will and won’t receive it. If you want to write a script that is going to be full of singing and speaking eels, it’s likely going to be a challenge. But if you have to do it, do it. But write it in a way that is true for you. Write the story that you want to tell in a way that is exciting to you but can be digested for the market that it’s for.
Question for the Viewers: Do you write scripts you know you can sell?
Watch all of Lee Jessup’s Film Courage video interviews on Youtube here
Getting it Write: An Insider’s Guide to a Screenwriting Career by Lee Zahavi Jessup
CONNECT WITH LEE JESSUP
COLD LOVE – Cold Love highlights three expeditions spanning many years of Lonnie Dupre’s career — the first non-motorized circumnavigation of Greenland, the first summer expedition to the North Pole, and the first attempt of a solo January ascent of Denali. The film’s powerful footage reveals up-close the beauty and life-giving forces of these icy realms. And in seeing, we can’t help but be inspired to love and protect our earth’s frozen places. Not only are they beautiful and fragile, but they are the global engine that regulates the climate and provides a stable environment for all life on the planet.
IT’S NOT MY FAULT AND I DON’T CARE ANYWAY – A rich and famous self-help guru’s controversial philosophy of extreme selfishness is put to the ultimate test when his only daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom (featuring the late Alan Thicke)
VALLEY OF THE DITCHES – A young woman bound in the front seat of a parked car watches helpless as her captor methodically digs a grave in the desert ground. The bloody lifeless body of her boyfriend lies framed in the rear-view mirror, a fate she will fight at all costs to avoid for herself. But this is only the beginning of a brutal struggle where survival could be worse than death.
From The Film Fund – Get up to $10,000 to make your short film by writing one sentence.
The Film Fund is providing funding up to $10,000 for a short film in a way that’s a lot simpler than screenwriting contests, crowdfunding, or applying to grants – read more about Founder and CEO Thomas Verdi’s The Film Fund here via his website.
LEFT ON PURPOSE – Midway through the filming of a documentary about his life as an anti war activist, Mayer Vishner declares that his time has passed and that his last political act will be to commit suicide— and he wants it all on camera. Now the director must decide whether to turn off his camera or use it to keep his friend alive. Left on Purpose is an award winning feature length documentary that confronts the growing issues of aging, isolation and end of life choices through an intense character driven story of the relationship between filmmaker and subject. With humor and heart it provides a rare cinematic look at what it means to be a friend to someone in pain.