Friday, November 18, 2005

EXPO'd out!

Hi all,

I've returned from the 4th annual Screenwriting EXPO in LA. There were over 4000 screenwriters in attendance, none stop activity from 8am until midnight or longer if you could hang. Very exhausting but the air was filled with so much inspiration and motivation. If you didn't have a chance to go, I would seriously consider going next year. I have a lot of information that I need to transcribe. When I do, perhaps after the holidays, I'll share it with you. What was so great about this conference is that you were able to meet face-to-face working screenwriters and producers in the industry. It's not every day that you can participate in a 1.5 hour talk with an Emmy nominated television writer or chat over cocktails with one of the writer's of Scary Movie or be able to rub elbows with a top producer who just may say, I like that idea, send me the script or spend the day at Fox Studios where you actually feel like you are one of the ones who have earned the priviledge of being there. What about meeting Shane Black and prescreening his latest movie? All of that and more happened at the EXPO. It was an unforgettable experience and has given me the extra umph to continue to pursue the dream and the motivation to do it.

Best wishes in all your creative endeavors.

Write on!


Would you believe that at one of the cocktail parties, I actually met Chris Soth,a produced screenwriter and teacher who has hit the million dollar mark. When he sat down at my table, I had no idea that he had been where I hope to be...on the screen and a million dollars richer. The odd thing is that he has a website called Milliondollarscreenwriting. Who'd a thunk it? We hit it off immediately. He's such a nice guy and has a great method on sequencing called the Mini Movie Method that will be revolutionary to the entire screenwriting process. This guy is the McKee for our generation. Check out the site when you have a chance:

Be sure to check back after the first of the year for my notes from the workshops I took.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Let's get ready to EXPOOOOOOOOO!

Hi all,

It's EXPO time again. I'll be there in La La Land socializing and
networking with the best of them. I arrive on Thursday late afternoon
and have my first party that night. Then it's a busy busy schedule for
the entire days on Friday and Saturday with a party each night! My oh
my! I guess I won't be getting any writing done especially with a
deadline fast approaching at Dec 31st. Oh well, at least I will have
learned something new that perhaps I can incorporate into the script
and hopefully I will have met someone who I can send my next script
project to.

At any rate, I'll be sharing what I learned for those of you who are
unable to attend.

Best wishes in all your creative endeavors,


To Be High Concept or Not...That is the question!

Here's an article featured in Unfortunately, for an idea not to be High Concept is not an option if you want to make a sell in Hollywood. Sure it's possible but with the competition out there, it's easier to break-in and get noticed with a high concept script that sizzles than a well written drama. Sad but true.

Since people in H-town are always beating us across the head about the HIGH CONCEPT! Here's a great article to understand exactly what in the world a high concept idea is and how it differs from a regular idea.

Happy reading and learning!


by Steve Kaire

High Concept has been a Hollywood term that's been misunderstood and used incorrectly more than any other I can think of. Ask most writers how they would define it and most will say it's any project that can be pitched in one sentence. A boy searching for his lost dog is one sentence but it's not even close to being High Concept.

The premise or logline is the core of High Concept. The premise is a condensed summary of what your story is about. My definition of High Concept is comprised of five requirements. They are in descending order of importance. Numbers one and two are the most difficult requirements to meet. But meeting only several of the requirements is not enough. All five requirements have to be met for success in trying to achieve the "slam dunk" project everyone is looking for.

First Requirement:
A logline is generally one to five sentences with the average being around three. Therefore, you have to pitch your material in a compressed, economical manner which captures the essence of your story and highlights its originality. Writers should practice pitching their work by boiling down their story into only one sentence regardless if their story is High Concept or not.

In seeking originality, we are not talking about reinventing the wheel. We can take traditional subject matter that's been done before and add a hook or to it which then qualifies the material as original. There have been dozens of films which covered the subject area of kidnapping. In the comedy, "Ruthless People". Danny Devito plays a wealthy man whose wife, played by Bette Midler, gets kidnapped. Challenging convention, Devito refuses to pay the ransom because he hates his wife and sees this as the opportunity he's been waiting for to finally get rid of her. Now, the bungling kidnappers are stuck with an impossible woman that they have no idea what to do with. It's that unique hook that makes this a High Concept film.

Second Requirement:
That means it's possible to meet Requirement #1 by creating an original story that's never been done before. But its appeal exists only in the mind of the writer who created it. An example would be a man who thinks everyone in the world is out to get him and refuses to leave his home ever again. While it's true that it's never been done before, who cares? Wide audience appeal means that virtually everyone you pitch your story to would pay ten dollars to see your movie first run. You have to decide either you're writing for your own enjoyment or you're writing to sell.

Third Requirement:
That means that within your pitch, you have to have specific details which make your story different. Let's take the bank robbing plot. If you came up with a story about three people who want to rob a bank by digging a tunnel underneath it, the response would be, "So what?" A twist on that genre is the old James Bond classic, "Goldfinger." The pitch would be, "What if a villain interested in world domination decided he was going to bankrupt the U.S. economy by robbing Fort Knox of all its gold."
Now that's not only unique but it contains specifics within the pitch that are not generic.

Fourth Requirement:
If you're pitching a comedy, then the potential for humor should be obvious within your pitch. People should smile or laugh when you tell it. If you're pitching an action movie, the listener should be able to imagine the action scenes in his head as your pitching. I sold a screenplay to Interscope called, "Worst Case Scenario." It was an action thriller about a government think tank that comes up with worst case terrorist and disaster scenarios. Its most brilliant member turns traitor and plans to pull off the worst terrorist act in American history using all the inside information he's gathered. The potential for action, thrills and big set pieces is obvious to anyone who hears that pitch.

Fifth Requirement:
Most pitches should 1 to 3 sentences long, five maximum. You are not telling what happens in Acts 1, 2 and 3. You are giving the essence of your story.

I've had thousands of projects pitched to me in over twenty years and writers mistakenly think that the longer the pitch, the better the story. No one wants to listen to a rambling pitch that goes on and on without any direction or focus. When you're pitching, you are telling what your story is about, not what happens in the story. The reactions you want to hear when you pitch is "Wow! Why didn't I think of that?" or "Why hasn't somebody made that movie before?" When the faces in the room light up after you deliver your pitch, you know you've got them. That's the sought after "slam dunk." That's what High Concept is all about.

STEVE KAIRE is a WGA screenwriter who has sold/optioned 8 projects to the majors including Warners, Columbia, United Artists and Interscope without representation. He's been featured in various industry publications and is a sought after speaker on the lecture circuit. He's also taught writing classes at the American Film Institute.

For more articles by Steve Kaire or to find out more about his groundbreaking CD entitled, "High Concept: How To Create, Pitch & Sell To Hollywood," go to: