We know that every great screenplay begins with a great idea. But how do you know which idea to pursue? Don’t sweat it. Here’s some advice from past AFF panelists on how to open your eyes to which is your next great idea.
1. Ask Yourself BIG Questions
“I think if you’re the kind of writer you want to be, you look at your point of view about life and say, “What is life about? What is being a human being about? And how are we trying to all cope and deal with these drives that the ego has versus our heart? And where is God? And is there a God?” And you start that deep, quite seriously…that’s how deep it starts. Then you look at the characters and make sure that you have the conflicts that you need.”
– Garry Shandling, 2004 Outstanding Television Writer Award Recipient (writer/creator/star The Larry Sanders Show, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show; writer Sandford and Son)
“You cannot let your audience tell you what to write. It’s not honest, it’s not what’s in your heart, and if people don’t like it, they don’t like it. You’ve got to do what you believe in, what you’re passionate about.” – Marta Kauffman, 2016 Panelist (writer/creator Friends, Grace and Frankie, Dream On)
3. Personal, Human Connection
“You are going to be infinitely better if you tell the stories that you would sit on a porch and tell your grandfather instead of telling- saying, ‘Ok, you know what’s really hot right now is this. I’ll go write that.” – Anne Rapp, 2001 Panelist (writer Dr T and the Women, Cookie’s Fortune; script supervisor Funny People, This is Spinal Tap, The Color Purple, Death Becomes Her, That Thing You Do!)
“The first big break I wrote- I wasn’t writing for a studio or anything. This was just something that I wanted to write.” – John Lee Hancock, 2001 Panelist (writer/director The Alamo, The Blind Side; director The Rookie, Saving Mr. Banks, The Founder (2016); writer A Perfect World, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)
5. Honor Your Passions with Pages
“I think you can’t condescend. You can’t, ‘This one’s for Hollywood. They’ll like this.’ I mean, try to tell a good story and throw your passions into it. To work within a story, the only people who can really write it are those who absolutely love it.” – Ed Solomon, 2002 Panelist (writer HBO’s Mosaic, Men in Black, Untitled Steven Soderbergh feature; co-writer Bill & Ted Face the Music, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Now You See Me 1 & 2, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Untitled David O Russell feature)
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