Saturday, June 20, 2009

Writers on the Storm update - a note from Portia

Greetings, Stormies!

We’re now in month two of our Writers on the Storm screenwriting competition, which means… the deluge is upon us! As the submissions start to pour in, so do the questions. Is my script going to be disqualified if it's got a few typos? Can I include the research I did for my historical epic for reference? Am I going to lose just because I'm a guy and I wrote a RomCom? The answers, Of Course, are Nah, Please Don't, and, Uh...What? ;)

I wanted to take a moment to discuss one of my favorite — and least favorite — types of scripts — Romantic Comedies. Let me explain. Often maligned, tragically misunderstood, this genre is the warm and fuzzy cockroach of the screenwriting world – it's the genre that cannot be killed. No matter what the state of the industry, RomComs persist, adapting to their environment, but never disappearing entirely. But they are deceptively difficult to write – how hard could it be to come up with a twist on "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back?" Show of hands, how many of you have stared down your RomCom and wanted to hurl the laptop out the window? See, the main problem is that the audience KNOWS everything. Y’all have SEEN everything – cute and quirky guy with self-esteem issues or self-confident jerk with a good heart who needs to be taken down a peg meets bohemian artsy chick or tough-as-nails businessgal who really only needs to be loved. Insert infidelity or misunderstanding, add a meet/cute, and stir.

So what's a RomCom writer in search of originality to do? How do you mix it up enough to make it different without losing the audience?

A) Adjust the focus. More often we see the love story taking a backseat to the protag's journey - SEX AND THE CITY is far more about the women's friendship than it is about their relationships; HIGH FIDELITY is about John Cusack learning how to grow up, but there are still romantic hijinks throughout the story.

B) Change the audience. Judd Apatow came along and upended everyone’s notion of what the genre should be with The 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN and KNOCKED UP. There's no reason a great Romantic Comedy has to be something girls have to drag their boyfriends to. There's no reason men can't write a funny, heartfelt love story from their perspective and have it appeal to a wide audience of men and women. In fact, what’s in demand right now are what’s called ‘bromances’— AKA male-driven romantic comedies!

So don't be afraid to try new things with your RomCom! Be creative! Try new angles and settings, play with the genre. The readers, and ultimately the audience, will appreciate it. Sad to say but the old paradigms — the SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLES, etc. — just aren’t going to fly anymore. I know, Ilove those movies, too. It’s just, if it seems like a Meg Ryan movie, well, no offense to Ms. Ryan, but that is no longer what the town wants.

And remember, we’ve only got a little more than 6 weeks till our regular deadline! I expect y’all to bring the greatness. Everyone here at Writers on the Storm, we are hungry to find great scripts, we really are, one that gets us really excited, makes us want to jump up and go, yeah! I got a live one here! So bring it, y’all!



Writers on the Storm 4
Regular deadline: 7/27
$10,000 Grand Prize
Over $28,500 total prizes - 140 companies - - Producer meetings - top ten finish in the money - top 50 receive prizes - all entries receive feedback!
Enter online right HERE!

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