They can stop me, but they will never stop my Flip Cam.
I’ve once again turned my tiny (yet 1080p!) lens on an unsuspecting batch of celebrities and asked them what they want to see in a screenplay. Here’s another clip from my video interview of the cast of the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
What do you look for in a movie script?
What’s interesting to me now, is that I originally posed the question to the younger cast members, without realizing that I had a 40 year veteran of movies and an Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor, producer and director sitting to the left, in Danny Devito. I’m really glad he spoke up, and although his advice may seem obvious at first, it is absolutely crucial, highlighting the importance of the dramatic need of your characters.
“They have to really want something.” He’s talking about strong goals, motivation, story logic and stakes! We want to see a protagonist who has a unique dramatic need with strong consequences should he/she fail. Not just another generic goal (E.g., the man-child has to save the rec center for the underprivileged kids before the greedy developer knocks it down.)
Then Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day talk about their pet peeve: when characters in a comedy do something “funny” but you don’t know why they’re doing it. This speaks to motivation and how comedy must come from character.
The conversation shifts to the characters on the show having heart amidst the bleakness and sarcasm that is the norm in Paddy’s Bar. As many great shows have done, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia started with characters with cold, cold hearts but slowly introduced bits of sympathy for them as the show went on. (And how cool is that term, “buying it back?”)
To wrap it all up in style, I had to ask about “Bird Law,” which is one of my favorite bits from the show. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I hadn’t asked about Bird Law.
Good Luck and Happy Writing,
For more detailed analysis and lessons from the pros, please see my Story Maps book series…
The E-Books Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay and Booster Pack #1 include Full Story Map analyses of 19 hit movies, primarily from the last decade.
These successful films are great examples of professional screenwriting in many different genres and budget levels aimed at varied audiences. I stand by each title as a strong example of its genre and as a primer to learn the screenwriting craft at the level that you need to be: the “submission ready” tier that makes a good script into a GREAT script.
Read more about the Booster Pack.