Reader Question for Franklin Leonard: Is the ‘calling card’ script dead?

November 11th, 2011 by

A question for Franklin from GITS reader Annika W:

Is the “calling card” script dead? When I started writing scripts four years ago, I heard that phrase a lot. Now it seems like people aren’t interested in reading scripts that won’t likely get made but still showcase a new writer’s particular strengths. When it comes to new writers, it seems like people are more interested in finding scripts that can be made right away, cheaply, with a target audience in mind and built-in marketing hook.

Franklin’s response:

New writer or more experienced, yes, to some extent, people are going to generally prefer scripts that can be made right away and with a reasonable expectation of profit. It’s a rational response to the fact that time is finite and the number of scripts out there is infinite (at least for the purposes of one human brain consuming them.)

If your goal is to make movies, scripts that can be made right away and profitably (or with the reasonable expectation of profit) are always going to have an edge over those that can’t.

This is not to say that people won’t find, read, and develop scripts that are worth working on or those that are worth a greater financial risk for whatever reason. It’s also not to say that by reading those scripts those same people won’t find writers with whom they want to work on other projects. There are a number of factors that go into any individual decision to make a movie or read a script. Readiness and potential profitably are only two, but they are significant.

Consider it from another perspective: if your livelihood depended on making movies and you had to choose between reading two scripts knowing nothing of their quality, would you rather read one that can be made right away, cheaply, with a target audience in mind and a built-in marketing hook or one with none of those traits?

If you have a question for Franklin, please post in replies.

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