An excerpt from my script review for Life which will be available 03/27/17:
1.) Marketability of the Idea
If you’re a querying amateur like me, you’ve probably been given this rejection multiple times…
“The script was well written, but the idea’s been done before.”
Or a similar variation.
Are these professionals just blowing smoke? Not if they’ve followed up asking about your other projects, or better yet, allow you to contact them with future scripts.
But what if each script or idea you pitch them leads to the same response? Are you really that unoriginal?
No, you’re not.
This script is the antithesis of the above argument, and proves that being previously successful writing other films is a gold ticket in Hollywood.
Truly, what is this story if not a “less futuristic” version of ALIEN?
(Shit, at one point they even make a joke based on the pitch line from that sci-fi classic.)
Most of you read these reviews looking for insight, but unfortunately the only thing I can take away to counter the argument of “too similar” in regards to your scripts and industry folks rejecting them is this…
Be successful in Hollywood.
Wait? How can I be successful if no one ever says “yes”?
Quite the paradox, huh?
Yeah it sucks, but here’s the honest truth…
No one wants to be a guinea pig.
Or in Hollywood terms, “No one wants to say ‘yes’ for fear of losing their parking space.”
(Credit to the person who tweeted that so many years ago…)
That’s Sales 101 right there, and once you get your first “yes” doors start to open up, because now your work isn’t as risky, due to someone else taking the chance first.
Again, I wish I had better news for you, or a clearer path, but what minor advice I can give would be to start small.
Write something that appeals to the independent filmmakers (especially those looking for foreign appeal), aiming for low budget AND marketable.
Most of those directors and producers are in the same boat as you, and before they get to the Big Leagues, they need to beef up their resumes.
But swinging back to the topic in this section…
Even with this “modern day ALIEN” script, do I agree with the “too similar” argument?
Sci-fi sells, and this script had an entertaining story. Remember, that’s the main reason most audience members fork over their hard earned dollars, to be entertained.
(NOT to fit in with Hollywood elites, suffering through two hours of a potential Oscar Winner.)
Look at the past few years of the contained/trapped space genre…
Gravity. The Martian. Passengers.
Hell, I’d even throw Interstellar in there, and that’s not even counting the lower budget Netflix/Amazon Instant Video type stuff.
All did well, all were entertaining, because people enjoy this genre.
So if you receive that sort of rejection, don’t take it personally, just realize the person telling you “no” is afraid to say anything else because their job depends on it.
And “too similar”? What is Gravity if not Buried in space? Or Moon? The Martian just a more realistic version of Armageddon set on Mars? Passengers just a grown up Wall-E? Interstellar just…Inception in space…?
Maybe your script just needs the right marketing angle? But don’t get discouraged, and keep writing!
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