Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Script Editor X: 5 Tricky Genres to Write...

This week our studious script editor ponders 5 particularly challenging genres to operate in, if you're a screenwriter...

1. War

This hasn’t always been the case – see All Quiet on the Western Front, Paths of Glory, The Deer Hunter et al – but latterly film has struggled with the genre, especially when it comes to successfully portraying Middle Eastern warzones. Redacted? Rendition? Jarhead? Stop-Loss? Combat and politics are a volatile mix, often producing ugly results; perhaps this why The Hurt Locker, which skipped over political attitudinising, was unusually appreciated by the critics.

2. Gangster

Indie producer Christine Vachon, whilst advising aspiring filmmakers, declared “NEVER compare your film to Mean Streets”. Or, to amend her injunction, stop trying to make films like Mean Streets. Ordinary Joes getting mixed up in trouble, ex-cons trying to go straight and wretched mockney impersonations have made cinema’s gangland a dreary scene.

3. Terminal Illness

Yup, hardly the most cheerful subject but not to be underestimated – see Terms of Endearment, Ikiru and... Stepmom – although it’s a struggle to pull in an audience. People are wary of films which more than hint at the wound of reality and so filmmakers pander, trying to extract the sting.

4. Romantic Comedy

Yes the rom-com is still a mainstay at the box office but, revenue notwithstanding, how many of these silver screen couplings actually live on in an audience’s memory? The Gary Marshall ensemble movies – Valentine’s Day, the forthcoming New Year’s Eve – are a reminder audiences are indifferent to – or have despaired of – good scripting and will settle for a crowd of actors vaguely familiar from other romantic comedies.

5. Road Movie

Thelma and Louise drove off a cliff in a show of defiance; recent Road Movies could provoke an audience to entertain similar thoughts. The road movie offers a too-literal geographical parallel to characters’ private emotional journeys, incidents are few and you’re stuck with the characters in their car the whole way.

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