Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"How do you come up with your ideas?"

This question was left in comment in a post I wrote about my screenwriting process.

Gigi, in St. Martin (where my family is from) is one of my favorite blogs. I told her I would write a separate post regarding her question.

My original ideas usually start with questions like:

What if...
If only...
I wonder...

I tend to write scripts are more character driven than plot driven. However, Hollywood wants films that are plot driven. Sigh. I'm trying to come up with "bigger" ideas.

Most of the things I've written have been comedic. Unfortunately for me I love comedies, one of the toughest genres to sell (it's very subjective) and to execute.

The saying, "write what you know" exists for a reason. You may not have lived through the exact same experiences as your characters but you might understand them emotionally.

I read the idea for The Hangover came from one of the producer's own bachelor party in Vegas. Did he steal a tiger from Mike Tyson? No, but the kernel of the idea came from him.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about working in film was from Forest Whitaker. He said, "how can you be a creative person if you're not living in the world?"

I agree. You can't be inspired if you're not paying attention to the world around you. You have to be open. A great idea can come from anywhere, anyone or anything... a song, a funny sentence your friend says, a dream, one word in a book or newspaper/magazine article, a really bad date with a guy who then tries to push up on you for a kiss, a photograph, your family, etc.

Where do your ideas come from?

9 comments:

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Just like you said -- living. So true! Also just communicating with others. People will say or write something, and it sticks in my mind until my mind takes it and runs away with the what ifs and I wonders. Such an exhilarating process...when it's working of course! ;)

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about the character- vs plot-driven conundrum and was particularly inspired when I watched "Deadwood" (please, please say you've watched it, and if you haven't I totally envy you because you have something amazing to look forward to). Anyway, the DVD extras include a segment on the writer/producer David Milch's process, and it's completely insane and makes absolutely no sense to me (I'm not a creative type at all). However, the dialogue and plot twists are magical, and each of his characters (down to the most minor character) are rich and beautifully drawn out. It's a wonderful mix of character and plot and is quite possibly the best tv series I've ever watched. But mainly I was particularly drawn to the dialogue which (despite the insanely colorful language) is something to behold. I really believe that at the end of the day, the most fantastic plot will fall apart if the characters are not well fleshed out (and for me, that means making them somewhat relateable, whether it means loving or hating them) and good dialogue. What do you think?

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Michelle - So true...that "working" part is key. heh

anon - I have seen Deadwood and I'm a big fan of Milch's other work (though not his statements regarding writers who are black, but I digress). TV shows like Deadwood, The Soporanos, Mad Men etc. have fantastic characters as do many indie films. I agree a great hook with poorly drawn characters does not work emotionally. However, most of those movies make a TON of money so Hollywood will keep making them.

Kim B. said...

How amazing that you've received career advice from Forest Whitaker! And cool about your exec having a good week with KK2.

Also . . . I'm intrigued by the creative prompt of bad-date guy pushing up on a girl for a kiss . ..

I lack that creative spark so am always so fascinated by you who have it!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

kimb - He probably doesn't know but when he said that to me a light bulb went off. I really started to think about where I was going (or not going) in my life.

Prutha said...

love this piece...it applies to more professions than one... i am an architect whos in love with fashion and a million other things... a lot of the times my varied interests inspire each other... like my fashion sense gets influenced by my architectural ideas sometimes and visa versa.. even random non physical things like music inspire u...right?

just being observant is clearly super imp though

http://donotshoeme.blogspot.com/

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

prutha - I find music very inspiring as well.

I love fashion and can't wait to read your blog.

My Roman Apartment said...

Hollywood is stupid. Keep writing, Fancy Lady. Someone's got to make that expat life work. It might as well be you, right?

By the way, I just added you to my blog roll...because it was sad without you.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

My Roman Apt. - Grazie. I will add yours as well.

You know it's partly your fault I live here. :)