Questions A Screenwriter Must Ask Before They Write A Screenplay by Jeffrey Reddick

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Film Courage: What are some of the most important questions you are asking yourself when you are developing a story idea?

Jeffrey Reddick, Screenwriter: I think who my audience is. Is the story interesting enough? Usually for my horror stuff, is there enough stuff here to care about the characters, but are we coming up with enough scares that we haven’t seen before? Those are the kind of things I ask myself.  It’s interesting because I love doing it and I’ve done it for so long and it’s not easy work at all because people don’t understand especially when you are threading a script together and dissecting it and making sure everything kind of lines up and pieces together, you want to put your best foot forward.

But you also realize that once you sell and it’s out of your hands, a lot of that stuff just goes out of the window. So that’s why I’m not as harsh when I see a movie. I reserve judgment on the writer until I read the actual screenplay because you just never know what changes from page to screen.

But for me it’s usually (because it’s always horror), also do I think this is going to strike a chord with people. FINAL DESTINATION deals with death which is kind of a universal fear which will reach a wide audience (I’m not going to lie about that). You want to hit as many people as you can with your concept. That’s what I love about the horror genre. I think the fears that we have are a universal fear that aren’t regulated to one region or one part of the world. I think we all kind of have the same fears deep down so I think you can kind of tackle a whole bunch of different kinds of stories and still have it play well all around the world.

Film Courage: I like how you use the analogy of it’s like knitting. And if you, let’s say you are knitting or crocheting something and you pull one little string here, that it can really effect the whole sweater or whatever?

Jeffrey Reddick: Yeah and a lot of people don’t realize that especially when they give you notes…like I know one time I had a project where the producers came in and they were like “We think he’s full of sh*t but we’re going to give him a shot at directing,” because he directed some things before. But his pitch…he kind of came in…he had this opening scene because this whole movie built up around this plot twist about these characters not knowing each other and his opening scene was basically it was very clear that these characters knew each other. And in my first meeting with him I was trying to be very diplomatic. I was like “How do you propose we do that opening scene so we don’t spoil the fact that they know each other because that was kind of the whole twist of the script and it was one of those “Well, you’re the writer. You figure it out.”

It’s kind of like, I will spoil the end of USUAL SUSPECTS if you haven’t seen it. But that’s like going pretend Kevin Spacey didn’t make it all up and Keyser Söze is a real person. But you are like “The whole point of the movie is…” Or like the end of the SIXTH SENSE, pretend Bruce Willis like is a real person and not a…But when they come to do something like that, they obviously don’t understand, you are taking the core of what makes this movie like the core mystery and you are giving it away at the beginning and so it’s going to change the whole movie. And you’re like “Aahh, you’ll figure it out.” So it shows a certain level of understanding of how much thought you do need to put into a  good screenplay.


Questions For The Viewers: What are questions are you ask when developing a screenplay?


Watch the video interview on Youtube here


Bio (via IMDB):

Jeffrey Reddick is best known for creating the Final Destination (2000) film franchise. He also co-wrote the story for, and executive produced, Final Destination 2 (2003). Jeffrey lives in Los Angeles. He grew up in Eastern Kentucky and attended Berea College. Jeffrey made his first connection to the film industry at age 14, when he wrote a prequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and mailed it Bob Shaye, the President of New Line Cinema. Bob returned the material for being unsolicited. But the young man wrote Bob an aggressive reply, which won him over. Bob read the treatment and got back to Jeffrey. Bob, and his assistant, Joy Mann, stayed in contact with Jeffrey for over five years. When he went to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York at age 19, Bob offered him an internship at New Line Cinema. This internship turned into an 11-year stint at the studio.

Aside from Final Destination (2000), which spawned four successful sequels, Jeffrey’s other credits include Lions Gate’s thriller, Tamara (2005) and the remake of George Romero’s classic, Day of the Dead (2008).

Jeffrey has several feature and TV projects in development and he directed his first short, Good Samaritan (2014) in 2014.





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