The basic structural element of your screenplay is the idea itself — a few sentences that describe your movie at a high level.
The story idea is vital to all phases of the filmmaking process. It’s what you’ll pitch to producers to attract financing. It’s what you’ll pitch to directors and actors to attract talent. And finally, it’s what will be pitched to moviegoers on opening weekend at the box office.
Next time you’re thinking about writing a new script, use this simple exercise to test your idea before you sit down to write.
Tell ten people about your movie and pay attention to their reactions.
How many of those ten people are excited about the idea? How many tell you they would pay to see your movie in the theater? How many follow up with you later to tell you how much they like the idea?
Set a high standard for yourself. Only pursue the script if nine out of ten people show genuine excitement about the idea.
You will likely spend hundreds of hours writing your screenplay. Don’t spend that time writing unless you know it’s an idea that people are really excited about.
Use people’s excitement as fuel to propel you through the writing process, which can be long, arduous and plagued with fear and self-doubt.
If you ever find yourself low on energy, tell someone new about your script. Their excitement will refill your tank and get you moving again.
The knowledge that people find your idea compelling will give you the confidence to focus on writing and finish the job.