I’ve been thinking about the idea I’m going to be working on. I decided what it will be. It’s an idea I once expanded on and kind of lost my way. It turned out okay and it almost became something, but ultimately it struggled with identity issues which I think opens up a great opportunity to discuss genre.
I notice a lot, particularly with indie films, that movies can be overburdened with too many genres. Maybe it’s due to an effort to be more distinctive. Maybe it’s because of an ultimate lack of vision. crossing genres is not bad, Hot Fuzz springs to mind as an example of that, but it adds much more work and concentration to your job and if you are not careful your script could get away from you before you even start writing it.
I’m talking about movies that take elements of the story or a style choice and exagerate their importance. If you want to get accross too many things it becomes overwlming to you as a writer and confusing to the audience. If you try to come up with a logline to sum up your script in a few short sentances, you have to work extra hard to do something that should be very simple. the logline, or three liner, should be the constant of your script. It’s the one thing that you can refer to that will keep you on track at any point in the writing process.
We’ll have to do a couple of things first before we can come up with an awesome logline, but the first thing we really need to do is determine our genre. My advice is to settle on a simple genre that doesn’t get too mixed up in subgenres, but if you feel you absolutely need a subgenre to pinpoint your story’s feel, or it’s got to be an action/comedy, or a sci-fi/horror just use your best judgement.
The problem I’m really addressing here is when you get into period pieces and you want, sort of, spaghetti western influence and a little bit of horror, with super natural elements, but it turns out to be sort of a mystery or a detective movie. That could work, but we are not focused on “could”. We need to determine what this movie is in a recognizable palateable way, forgoing romantic notions of whether it’s a noir piece or post apocolyptic, but also a love story, etc. In attempting to embrace every cool thing you can think of about what your movie can be, you lose all of the rich value of picking one thing and really digging in.
The western I’m thinking of might have supernatural elements but does it define the picture? Is the picture going to be more of a horror film in a western backdrop? If there’s a detective involved does the western notion become more a motif or simply the time period for what is really just an X Files type drama? What takes the front seat is going to directly impact how your story turns out and how well you will be able to communicate it to producers, agents etc.
If you find yourself sinking and these elements are floating around you like debris grab for one or two to stay afloat. this is an analogy, so you have the luxury of taking your time to pick and choose, which might serve you better as a flotation device.
The story I chose has a great mixture of elements. I’m a victim of too many influences, and while I am driven to be original and distinguished in my writing, I can’t help but try to follow in the footsteps of my many heros. That is what got me in trouble with this script in the past, so I’m wiping the slate clean and starting over. The first step is to evaluate the aspects of the story that I find most intriguing and really want to explore. I have to embrace a genre that will serve me in fleshing out a story and try not to let it get away from me as I attempt to define the script’s features into a unique, but communicable storyline.