Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A little bit of heart

Finished the "treatment" on the project I was hired on. Yesterday I sent it away to the person who has a title of "Director of Script Development", usually a woman because they are paid less and work harder. Don't blame me, you want the reality, that's the reality.

I worked on a TV show back in the 90's as a story editor for one big episode as well as working on some of the hired writers' scripts. The three writers had an assistant, a woman who was learning from these guys. However, it didn't take long for me to realize that all she did was bring coffee and copy scripts.

I took her aside and told her to tell the male writers to get their own coffee and to tell them she's supposed to be here to learn. She didn't really want to push it, but instead worked with me on the big script I was doing and learning a hell of a lot more than bringing coffee.

The payoff was about five years later when I was at a production company and she appeared and now was a story editor and writer and told her co-writers about how I gave her more ideas and work  ethics than any of the others on the previous show.

Yeah, sometimes I can be nice. And it's not because it's a woman, it's because someone wanted to learn and some others didn't want her to.

Anyways, yeah, a nice guy, that Jim... blah blah.

But getting back to the treatment.

The treatment is basically what I built from a handful of ideas from the producer and director, which wasn't very much, basically they wanted a story around a family in jeopardy. It had to be in the woods and they had to be threatened by hunters.

And the family had to have their own problems, basically a screwed up family who needed some major "time out."

I always like to start this kind of story with a heart, so to speak. You can always bring down a complex story with heart. But how?

My way is this, watch Die Hard.

Bruce Willis killing bad guys?


The heart of Die Hard (hey, that sounds like a song!) is very simple. Extremely simple.

It's about a man trying to win back his wife.

Now most of you have probably not seen the first Die Hard, and to speed it up, the movie shows Bruce Willis coming into LA on an airplane, In those first ten minutes we learn this:

He's an average NYC cop coming to see his wife.
He's scared of flying.
He carries a gun.
His wife works in LA.
It's Christmas.

It's all there, the story is plain as day.

He's a guy trying to win back his wife.

What about the terrorists?

They're one hell of an obstacle to overcome and Bruce has to fight them in order to win his wife back.

The movie is basically that.

And that's why the first Die Hard worked so well. It had a story with heart. The sequels were okay, but would never be as good as the original. 

And now you know why?

And why good movies always have that heart and bad movies don't.

While I don't really like the Furious movies, I noticed that this last one, Furious 7,  had heart. People cried. Not because of the stunts but because of Paul Walker. Ironically that gave the movie it's heart.

And with heart, you can never lose. Two good examples.



1 comment:

  1. You know the big thing about that movie for me is that throughout most of the film he isn't wearing shoes. He fights, jumps and beats the bad guys - in his socks.