Whatever degree of importance you attribute to your script’s story concept… it’s probably not enough. Here’s how I begin Lecture 1 of my Core II: Concept class:
The foundation of any movie is the screenplay. The foundation of any screenplay is the concept. Therefore it stands to reason which story concept you develop and write as a script is a critical choice. And that is precisely why I created the second part of the Core curriculum – to understand how movie industry insiders think, provide you with proven methods to generate story concepts, and develop analytical skills to help you decide which ideas are the most viable ones for you to write.
Don’t believe me? How about this:
“Most aspiring screenwriters simply don’t spend enough time choosing their concept. It’s by far the most common mistake I see in spec scripts. The writer has lost the race right from the gate. Months — sometimes years — are lost trying to elevate a film idea that by its nature probably had no hope of ever becoming a movie.”
– Terry Rossio (Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)
“Ideas cost NOTHING and require ZERO risk. And yet, oddly, the LEAST amount of time’s usually spent in the idea stage before a small fortune is dumped on a whimsy that’s still half-baked… Ideas cost nothing yet have the potential to yield inexplicably long careers and happy lives.”
– Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Zak and Miri Make a Porno)
In the Core content of The Quest, we work with eight screenwriting principles, and the second one is this:
Concept = Hook
On Monday, July 21, I will begin teaching Core II: Concept. In this 1-week online course, you will learn:
* The lowdown on high concept
* Genre, Cross Genres and Sub-Genres
* Hollywood’s obsession with ‘similar but different’
* Brainstorming and recycling
* Gender bending and genre bending
* How to test your story concept
And much more. The course consists of four components:
- Lectures: There are six lectures written by me, each posting Monday through Saturday.
- Writing Exercises: These optional exercises offer you the opportunity to workshop one of your own loglines and receive feedback from class members and myself.
- Teleconference: We will have a Skype teleconference call to discuss course material.
- Forums: The online course site has message boards where you may post questions / comments, a lively source of some great conversations.
For those of you who have not taken an online class, the interface is extremely easy. Plus online classes can be an amazing experience. Most of the activities you can do on your own time — download and read lectures, review and respond to forum discussions, upload loglines and track comments. In addition, I’ve been teaching online for over a decade and it never ceases to amaze me how much of a community emerges in such an environment with writers from all around the world including Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa.
Core II: Concept is one of eight classes in the Core curriculum. Here is the schedule for all of them this summer and fall, the only time I will be offering these courses in 2014:
July 7 – Core I: Plot
July 21 – Core II: Concept
August 4 – Core III: Character
September 1 – Core IV: Style
September 15 – Core V: Dialogue
October 27 – Core VI: Scene
November 10 – Core VII: Theme
December 2 – Core VIII: Time
Choose one or two depending upon your interests and needs. Or if you’re really serious and want to save some coin (nearly 50% off), consider The Core Package which gives you immediate access to the content for all eight Core classes which you can go through at your own pace, as well as the option of taking each 1-week online course.
I cannot overstate the importance of working with a strong story concept. Therefore Core II: Concept may be the single most important thing you do to put yourself in a position to succeed as a screenwriter.
For information on Core II: Concept, go here.
For The Core Package, go here.
I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!