I believe A S handed over a million for the test movie, not the script.
I don't think it's an issue of con men and sharks. It's just that Amazon doesn't know what they're doing and they're learning and making mistakes as they go. They originally thought they could offer lots of money and go around the writer's guild to find those scripts that people in Hollywood weren't seeing. A good idea, in theory. The problem is that any writer truly worth a million dollars is going to break in to Hollywood one way or another. If you have a million dollar script and haven't shown it to someone that can get it into the hands of someone important then you really have to ask yourself how much you really want to be a screenwriter. They also figured that if they went around the guild then they couldn't hire a pro to punch up a script if needed.
From what I've read, Amazon hired some reputable producers to take the material to production. I think the problem is that they are not yet a studio. There's no infrastructure to actually make a movie. Hollywood has been doing it for a hundred years. If Sony or Disney or Dreamworks gets a script, they also have the people and process in place to make it. If Amazon gets a script... well, they'll have to find a production company, they'll have to learn how to deal with the unions, etc. They don't own (that I know of) any soundstages. They probably don't have any talent or director's deals in place. In other words they are starting from scratch. And they have to be extra cautious because their first movie out of the gate is going to give them their repuation. It's easy enough for the big studios that have been doing this forever to have huge expensive bombs. I imagine Amazon is really sweating these first films. They have to make film in independent kind of way, but they'll be judged like a big studio.
They don't really have a brand yet either. Everyone knows what a disney film is or a pixar film or a newline. Amazon doesn't yet know how they want to define themselves. So they'll probably buy a lot of scripts "just in case" but then not make them. Most Hollywood studios have shelves and shelves full of scripts they bought "just in case".
It's going to take a few years for them to figure out what they are doing and what they really want. Until that time it's going to cause us and them a lot of anxiety. Eventually, though, they are going to have to figure it out because they need content. They sell Kindles just to sell content. The more they have to rely on outside sources the less control they have and the less money they make. It also makes them beholden to the industry that produces the content. Think of all the issues they had with book publishers (and still have).
Shane has touched upon one of the issues I currently have with AS.
They handed over a million dollars to a script that they couldn't sell and currently doesn't work. This makes me very worried that they have no idea what they are doing.
Their judges looked over all the entries of that year, and decided 12 princesses, with all of it's problems, was the best there was.
I only lived in Hollywood for less than a year, but I got the sense of the culture there; Sharks. I think AS is being taken for a ride by just a few very motivated con-people, who are out to give a false impression to AS of all the money they can make, the franchise potential, and the lucrative residuals everyone keeps talking about.
These Sharks will say anything to get you to hand over money, they did the same thing to the video game industry a few years back. They went to different video game studios and told them grand schemes of making their games into movies. There were rumors of "Halo" and others, but they just fleeced them for millions and gave them cheap productions just to show that they did something with their money.
If these sharks have infiltrated AS, there's no telling what they're up to.
I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, because I'd like to stay positive, but when I read 12 princesses a few months ago for the first time, I was like, "What? This got a million dollars?"
I know people in Hollywood like to put up a positive face, they really don't say anything totally negative to you to your face. There is no Simon Cowell there. But if no one is buying your script, no matter how many positive things are said of it, they absolutely secretly hate it.
No buyers = no love.
AS seems like they realized they were being taken for a ride, and so they got rid of their million dollar contests, and seem to have much more realistic expectations. Two years of not selling anything and millions of dollars later will do that to a business.
Anyway, I am cautious of handing my scripts over to AS. I don't really have any other options currently. But the way they've handled past decisions makes me question whether or not they know anything about this business and how much hard work and dedication and skill goes into making a great movie. If they can't respect this craft, then how can I expect them to respect my ideas?
If you can't handle an opinionated discussion then disconnect from the internet (especially forums) and give up your dream of being a screenwriter because you'll cry yourself to sleep after you get your first studio notes.
Dismissing either side's argument as "haters gonna hate" or that they just aren't good enough writers is pointless hot air. It's okay to disagree. It makes you rethink your argument and either strengthen it or evolve to a new viewpoint.
I believe this thread began as "I see having 12 princesses as a problem. Anyone else dealing with that problem?" I don't think Luke ever said it couldn't be solved, just that it was a problem. I think a lot of people are jumping on his question because if you didn't think it was a problem then you may feel (consciously or not) that it reflects on your story or writing ability if you didn't see the problem and solve the problem.
12 Princesses can work. Sure. It's probably not impossible. But it doesn't work currently - thus Amazon is looking for rewriters. It's also the reason why the majority of great movies involve only one or two main characters. You have 90-120 minutes to take the audience on a journey. With one main character you have one road to travel (twisting and colorful as it may be). You can cover a lot of distance emotionally or physically on that one road in that amount of time. And that gives the audience a great journey and feeling of epicness and transformation. The more characters you add the less screen time you can give to each of those roads and the shorter the journey you can take them on. Fantasy almost requires epic scope. So not only are you fighting providing a great enough character arc and development for 12 characters, you're also fighting the genre. You can't fix the script problem with close-ups because you're not the director or DP. You can point to the exceptions to the rule like 7 Brides for 7 Brothers and Ocean's 11, but you also have to examine how they dealt with the problem of having so many focus characters. You can't simply say "it's been done so it's not a problem".
I think these conversations are great for exploring ideas, getting feedback and insight from others and bettering ourselves as writers and thinkers. The question is never moot even after Amazon chooses a writer because the answers apply to future stories and problems. For those of you that want the discussion to end just because you disagree with what is being said then you simply have to stop reading. Don't bore us with posts about how there's nothing to discuss. It only becomes a pissing contest when all you have to offer is piss.
Thirty days has September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty one, except for she who's time has come.
This little rhyme would be used to identify February as the heroine of the story if I were to re-write the Twelve Princesses. Maybe this would be something overhead by the hero when spoken by a villainous witch who is trying to cast a spell on his girl to get something from him? Just thrusting a few ideas into the fray for your consideration. Feel free to use it.
I haven't read this entire thread, but using 12 characters is not impossible. You must simply let go of thinking about the number as a restriction - create an orchestra with these gals. As in a symphony, all the instruments do not play at the same time all the time. Pair these girls up and now you're down to six characters. Section them apart according to personality types, occupations, or even locations and now your down to very few players to interact with. I wish I had time to work on this story myself as it sounds like a fun challenge, but alas, my own projects beckon.
"It's all a moot point now, though, isn't it? I mean, treatments are in, AS will pick who they want. "
Absolutely. I just wanted to see if there were like minded people willing to express themselves and their concerns honestly.
I'm not trying to hate, or keep anyone down, nor was I expressing an impossibility of the script being made. I totally think a script will eventually get made if AS keeps throwing money at the problem. The question is, will a studio keep throwing money at the problem if they decide to pick it up? This is even less likely.
I have thought of many ways to solve the problems, none of them are pretty or elegant. There are of course better writers out there, no doubt, but the problems I have presented are matters of time and money, which have nothing to do with how beautiful one's prose is.
There are many beautiful books that Hollywood has hacked to shreds making it into a movie, because the two mediums are at odds sometimes. To recognize when there will be a conflict and to minimize it, is the scriptwriters greatest contribution. 12 princesses may look beautiful on page, but on the screen is a different story.
Perhaps I am wrong.
"I'm quite enjoying this literary equivalent of the cordial cage fight."
Lol, I do this type of thing all the time. I just simply state any problem I find as clearly as I can. If people assume that I am hating on them, I cannot change how they feel.
I like well reasoned arguments and examples from great movies.
Aliens is a good example. Very few people could watch that and not be able to articulate, at least, a few sentences describing some of the characters. They are; Ripley, Hicks, Newt, Vasquez, Bishop, Gorman, Apone, Hudson, Drake, Dietrich, and Burke. The lesser characters and less descriptive are; Crowe, Frost, Wierzbowski, Ferro, Spunkmeyer, and the review board at Ripley's hearing (we can leave these guys out because nothing was really said of them).
That makes a good eleven characters that people can describe about their personalities. Half-way through the movie these main characters die; Drake, Dietrich, and Apone. All the other secondary characters die as well (which is why the scriptwriter didn't focus too much on them).
This drops it down to only 8 left. Then we enter the third act (after the aliens attack HQ) and more characters die; Gorman, Bishop, Vasquez, Burke, and Hudson. This leaves us with only 4 characters left for the next thirty or so minutes (not sure, haven't timed it).
Is this what you are suggesting? To slowly kill off the princesses until we only have to deal with a few at the end? That's not such a bad idea! Lol!
Anyway, it's futile now.
I'm quite enjoying this literary equivalent of the cordial cage fight. Nothing like formal language when it enshrouds primal emotion. This is why I continue to check the 12 Princesses Page. I think one of you has a great point, btw. But that's neither here nor there.
Hey Luke, how's this for wise -
"Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours."
-Internationally best selling author Richard Bach
I'll keep this brief so you can't misinterpret what I'm saying - just because YOU can't think of a solution doesn't mean there isn't one.
It's all a moot point now, though, isn't it? I mean, treatments are in, AS will pick who they want. And that person (or persons) will write a script (or scripts). Any of us telling AS what we think CAN'T happen with the storyline is just a pissing contest...that you (Luke) seem to be the only entrant for. If anyone that gets picked is looking for your words of "wisdom" I'm sure they'll contact you...or not, as the case may be. In the meantime, have fun pissing all over stuff.
And, for everybody else - haters gonna hate. don't let the man get ya down. keep on keepin' on. and, just for funzies - go hog wild!
LOTR: The 9 members of the fellowship, Bilbo, Elrond, Arwen, Saruman, The Withch King (rest of the Nazgul were just decoration), Isildur, Sauron, Haldir, Lady Galadriel (not going to count Lord Celeborn), The Uruk-Hai commander, and I am going to count The Balrog. That's 20 already in the first film and while not all of them had major amounts of screen time, they were all significant to the story. There were a host of other minor characters as well (Rosie, Gollem, the inn keeper, the proudfoots (proudfeet!), Sauruman's servants, the cave troll, etc.).
Now I will recognize the fact that LOTR is a long movie. It is also an action movie however, with several extensive battle and chase sequences. A musical comedy, such as 12P, is far more character focused and can therefore do the same amount of charatcer development in a smaller space of time.
So Luke, I'm afraid you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree on this matter. I really do not see any issue with having 12 princesses.
Having been brought up in a very large family, I did not see this as much of an issue. We kids had our own alliances within the larger group. I broke down the 12 princesses into 3 groups, each with a leader promulgating a different point of view. My antagonist was an evil duke intent on usurping the King's throne, and so, I had one group of princesses intent on using force to take him down; a second group which saw diplomacy as the primary means; and the third, which sought to gain allies through their beauty and charm. By grouping the princesses into smaller groups, you got to see them intimately, and perhaps more important, hear their arguments carefully. I do not think AS was looking for a story where each princess had a completely unique way of dealing with the conflict at hand. But I do think it was important to show the sisters at odds with one another (as siblings often are) before finally coming together to defeat their common enemy.
One of my all time favorite movies is Aliens, a movie with a sizable supporting cast. In that film, the crew is similarly divided into like-minded individuals--the ones who were courageous; the ones who were reluctant; the ones who were cowards. When a problem is large and unwieldy, I find it often helps to break it down into smaller, more manageable, pieces.
I have a hyphenated word that solves all the problems of having to engage the audience with each princess; "close-up", any other problems, questions or queries?
I'm not sure if I can take what Kenny says as wise. I'm not sure how anyone else can either.
Now, if everyone's feelings should be taken into account before discussing actual writing rules and problems associated with scripts, then nothing would ever get done.
I am presenting a valid problem that I have seen and have (I hope) described adequately. One must fully flesh out 12 characters, on top of a believable villian, king, servants, hero (maybe more than one), fairies, magical creatures, suitors, a few guards, and any other character that needs to move the plot along. That would make well over 25 characters, at least.
The film you mention '7 brothers for 7 brides'; I had to look it up on wiki. The list of the cast lists 18 people. And 14 of these move along the plot which (as far as I can read) is about the seven brothers learning how to behave like gentlemen, but end up kidnapping seven girls and keeping them at a ranch during the winter time. The two focus characters are Adam and Milly. So what we have is two focus characters, seven brothers, and then they get seven brides as love interests, and they interact with eachother mostly on a ranch during winter time. That's it.
This cannot be used as a comparison to the 12 princesses. AS has stated they want the 12 princesses to be more fully developed, which means giving them more focus. They said they want the magical kingdom to be more well difined, which means giving it more focus and possibly more characters. They said they also want the villian to be reworked and made to be actually evil rather than pseudo-evil as currently written; This may or may not require more focus from the current villian. They also want the love story to be more developed, which requires a LOT more focus than is currently written, meaning a lot of time the two need to spend together, possibly alone (because you don't want the hero falling in love with another princess, do you?).
Can this be done? Sure, the movie may end up being 3 or more hours long. Is that what they are looking for? Some epic, unmanagable script. The more characters you have, the thinner each character becomes. The more world-defining moments you have, means the less time you have focusing on the characters (Think of those shots that were just shots of the landscapes in Lord of the Rings; those were world-defining moments). Every time a writer creates something, there must be time to show the audience so that they can understand and appreciate it.
If AS cannot appreciate the art of managing shot by shot basis of a script and the way the film-maker inserts each thought about a character or scene into the mind of the audience, and the craftsmanship that goes into that, the painstaking hours spent refining each shot to get the desired effect, and instead are stuck in a mindset of absolute positivity and affirmation towards ideas that cannot be feasibly done, that are just simply impossible, unless you start to cut, cut, cut. Then AS will not be able to polish any script to get it ready for a buyer.
I am not arrogantly asserting that my way is the only correct way, I am just making people aware of a potentially fatal problem, through reason and argument, and I am suggesting a way to fix the problem. The only reason I am making a big deal about it is because AS specifically asked for all the above to be shoved into one script.
All Kenny has said is for people to go hog wild! Let the creative juices flow! What an absurd thing to say. This is the development slate. This is the time AS needs to spend to refine the script, getting it ready for production. Though, I do think this script needs a lot of work until AS can even begin to think about selling it; asking people to go hog wild is certainly not a wise thing to say. Good scripts are only ever made with mastery of the written language and knowledge of the tool sets of the film-making medium close at hand. They are not made with lofty visions of "sitting across the room in a meeting with AS about who's playing the lead in your movie", or the money potential of a successful franchise. That is simply wishful thinking, and will get you nowhere.
mmm...salt and vinegar chips...
Sorry. Was distracted for a moment there.
@Kenny: thanks indeed for the wise words. Much appreciated. I do feel that in a creative forum however that the occasional "butting of heads" is actually good for us. All in moderation of course. Supporting each other and encouraging creativity should be the main reason for our fellow writers to come here.
@Geoffrey: I've never seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. *bows head in shame*. Just ordered a copy though, so the situation will soon be remedied. Thanks for reminding me about one of the classics I've missed.
Thanks Kenny, I appreciate the compliment. Good luck to you too. I think you're all safe from my proposal though, it'll undoubtedly be the one that gives the reader a nasty paper cut as they pull it off the printer. Try charming someone whose finger makes them wince every time they turn the page. If I'm really unlucky they'll have chosen just that moment to snack on a packet of salt and vinegar potato chips.
Geoffrey, by bringing up 7 brides for 7 brothers, I think you have successfully put this issue to rest. You're right - it ain't easy, but anything is possible. Well put.
I sincerely wish you the best of luck while simultaneously wishing that you didn't get the chance to submit for this project, because, if those last 2 posts are any indication of your writing chops, the rest of us could be in deep doo doo.
Just wanted to add that anything is possible in a movie. As a kid I really enjoyed the movie Seven Brides For Seven Brothers - that too is a musical, a highly regarded one, and though it's been some years since I've seen it, I distinctly remember the individuality of 14 characters who were usually together in a group, being showcased brilliantly. ANYTHING is possible. That doesn't mean it's easy.
Kenny, I salute you and your wise words. I'm new to AS too, and I was getting confused - I thought I was reading a critics' forum instead of a creators' forum. I don't want to cause offence to anyone though by implying there is anything negative about critics, so if you are an actual critic or one of your friends / family are, then please replace my every use of the word 'critic' with 'cricket'. The noise crickets make is just annoying (I think It's safe to assume no crickets are reading this). Anyway, as writers / creators who are all battling to some degree to have our creative voices heard it would be nice if we could support each other a little more - no-one else will. Oh, and I just wanted to add that I'm glad someone did not decide beyond a shadow of a doubt that 12 months was far too many to have in a year, for if there were only 6 months I would now be 86 instead of 43.
A good read from "Hollywonk", AS's own blog talks a LOT about working with positive people and being a great creative partner with your studio, as opposed to a pain in it's side. And, basically saying that it's the only way to do it.
wow. when did this forum become a place to intimidate other writers and belittle their ideas? I'm new here, so maybe that's the way it's always been. Which would make it doubly wrong.
So, P.R., Suzanne, anyone out there that made it work with 12, you rock. Folks that see franchise potential, yeah, sure - that makes sense. Anyone else that's got a crazy idea about this flick, write it down, work it out and make it happen. Go to a coffee shop or sit by your fireplace, pet a cat and CREATE. New to this game? No biggie. This seems like a good place for people with great ideas to gather SUPPORT and encouragement (and even some great ideas) from like minded folks and maybe, just maybe get your silly story looked at and perhaps even developed by folks that have the money to make it a real, live, breathing movie. An actual THING.
This forum is what people make it. And, from what I see, it's a chance for creatives to collaborate and make something greater than they could on their own. From what I'm seeing from a few people though is that they know what to do and if you do it (or DID it) any other way, you're wrong. Personally, I think that attitude sucks.
So, whether you made it 12 princesses, 2 or 1, whether they're related or mortal enemies, or, heck, even if they're from space....good job getting something in. Hopefully you've got some creative solutions to the issues at hand, have developed some interesting characters and above all told a good story. can't wait to see what AS chooses. I'm not a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist and I'm not the CEO of AS, so, at this time, they've got the cash and it's their playground that we're playing in. So, if they tell me 3 things that have to be in the movie they make, I'm gonna say "OKAY!" instead of telling them how wrong they are. Especially if those 3 things are incredibly broad and leave me TONS of creative freedom to tell the story however I see fit.
Again, rock on people. Be creative. Have fun. Enjoy the ride. Write write write. play. drinks copious amounts of coffee. Pet a cat. And ignore the naysayers. They'll be the ones that are still here complaining when you and your genius idea are sitting across the room in a meeting with AS about who's playing the lead in your movie.
I'm glad that someone else is understanding what I am getting across. If the writer begins to cut down the princesses, there is no clear reason against cutting a few princesses entirely. And if you start cutting away princesses, then the question becomes, how many should be left standing. This is a completely reasonable question that AS should be asking themselves at this point in development. Since they made it a requirment to have 12 princesses it makes me worried they haven't fully thought out about the end product.
Crowe said, "this is a project with clear franchise potential". I think this is the actual problem that AS is having. They have a bunch of money symbols in their eyes about this project, thinking about the long term goals without even considering getting the actual story off the ground.
They may have been sold this idea of a franchise, well I got news for you, you don't ever create a franchise. It cannot be done, nor can it be predicted by anyone. If anyone comes to you wanting money to create a franchise, then lock your money up and run away from that person as fast as you can!
Franchises just happen. They aren't predicted by the creators. Take 'star wars' for instance. If the first movie bombed they wouldn't have made the second one. 'Lord of the Rings' is different. They decided to make all three films together, this was because the books had an entire fan base around them, so they reasonably predicted a good outcome.
This script has no clout, it has no fan base, it has no books published. There is absolutely no reason at all to think this has 'franchise potential'.
To further illustrate the silly idea of creating a franchise before the first movie is made is 'John Carter'. This was intended to be the first of many films. It is now considered a huge flop. A distaster that has fortunately been covered up by the success of 'The Avengers' (which has a bigger fan base than Carter).
I would never listen to someone who tried to tell me that anything has franchise potential. That's just nonsense that a con man tells to get a rich person to hand over all their money. If this is the mindset of AS then they are in an even sadder state than I previously thought.
It might take a few more millions of dollars for AS to sink into this project until they come to the sober decision of just making a movie that people can enjoy watching, rather than have lofty goals about creating a franchise.
AS needs to be shaken hard awake about these issues, if they hope to ever sell this script.
I have to agree with Luke. Once you choose to focus on two or three leads and one bad guy then you really have to justify the inclusion of the other sisters. If you only focus on two then why not narrow it down to 8 or 7 or 6 sisters and have them spread a little less thin? Scripts are about economy and structure. You can't have April say a line vs March, April, or September just because she hasn't spoken for 10 pages. That's not good writing, but that's the kind of tricks you have to pull to get 12 Princesses represented on the screen. Forcing yourself to keep 12 once they are unnecessary to the plot only handicaps your writing. It diminishes the structure and development. Not all challenges result in better work. How many of Ariel's sisters do you remember from the little mermaid? She had 6 or 7. I can barely remember all 7 dwarves. If I think real hard I can remember most of the Ocean's 11 crew, but they worked in pairs and mostly in separate scenes and each had a specific function to move the plot forward. And there was only a bad guy and a love interest on top of the 11. Children have shorter attention spans and memory. You can not have 12 memorable princesses + Yannick, Bob, Franc, and Bad Fairy in a family movie.
^^Interesting take on it Suzanne. I hadn't though of that possibility.
@Luke: I thnk we are mostly in agreement about how to divide the creen time and the amount focus we place on the characters, I feel where we disagree is on the concept of cutting the characters out. the impression you give is that the characters need to be removed entirely. I disagree. The will be minor and perhaps not explored in any depth at all, but they can still be present and function to the story line. I belive your comment sums it up best: "I am afraid there will be information overload on the audience if it is not done correctly." This is VERY true. If you try to put too much attention on too many characters the film will become messy and incoherent. I do not believe however that this requires characters to be scrapped. You just need to find the right ballance between the major and minor roles and focus your screen time accordingly.
In addition: this is a project with clear franchise potential. The easiest way to expand on it is to create stories for the other 12 princesses. So best to do the preparation work now. It might not show on screen in the first film but does leave you with more options for developing the sequels.
In my version the 12 Princesses are not sisters. I followed the rules by keeping 12 princesses but made them unrelated, which isn't against the rules but solves the problem Luke mentions.
I completely agree with your assessment about the clothing. Picking out what the character wears is extremely revealing and important. I would have elaborated more on what I was thinking, but I wrote too much anyway and left out the complete thought.
What I meant to reflect upon is that when you choose what a character wears that it is only the beginning of the process. You will then have to find a way to show this to the audience. No matter how much time you spend thinking about how your character looks it would be for absolutely nothing if the audience never gets to see it.
Which is the problem of having to distinguish between 12 different people. I am afraid there will be information overload on the audience if it is not done correctly. If you have one princess dress like 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and then another one dress like barbie, the audience could make a huge amount of assumptions about the characters and their personalities. The problem lies in making twelve different characters all with unique attributes. This would require time to be spent on each character so that the audience can digest and process the information correctly, rather than dumping a bunch of MTV style hyper editing shots unto them. Some peoples brains would probably explode (not literally).
If one chooses to go the MTV route of editing, then that would fundamentally alter the way the audience percieves the film, and processes information. If one chooses to go a route of slowly revealing them, then how much time to spend on each one must be throughly thought out, which also changes the entire feeling of the film.
This is also a problem when you want to flesh out the characters even more with deeper subtlties of their personalities. Such as having a heart of gold, or an obssession with getting attention. These will also have to be conveyed to the audience in a matter attentive to the problem of sensory overload balanced against time constraits of the film medium.
You have said that you simply focused on the sisters January and December. And that's what I am ultimately talking about. There really is no need at all for there to be 12 princesses. Every writer here (worth their salt) would simply cut most of them out anyway, one way or another. And for AS to make it a requirement to have 12 princesses means they haven't simply wrapped their mind around the complexities of the end product (delivering moving images into the minds of the audience). Since they have not fully realized this, it makes me feel that they are not very serious about trying to make this into a movie.