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Posts Tagged ‘Disney Memo’

“Even in my own life, after 35 years, I feel that I have never done that one thing, that noble thing that defines a life.”
Jerry Maguire’s Mission Statement

“I came here to fire you Jerry.”
Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr) in Jerry Maguire
Written by Cameron Crowe

The now ledgendary 1991 Disney memo written by Jeffrey Katzenberg is said to have inspired Cameron Crowe to write the Jerry Maguire mission statement.  Couldn’t find confirmation of that but both memos stress passion for improving their businesses. Here’s the  entire Jerry Maguire Mission Statement, and below is the abridged version from the film.

“The event you’re writing about should be the most important moment of your hero’s life. If your movie isn’t about the most important moment in your hero’s life don’t write it. Write about whatever WAS the most important moment in his life, because that’s  likely to be more interesting. When we meet Jerry Maguire, his entire life has been derailed. He’s lost his job, his confidence, his financee, and his future. It’s never been worse for him than at this moment, which is excatly why this moment is worthy of a movie.”
Carson Reeves
Scriptshadow Secrets Tip 282

I just realized I haven’t written about the new book Scriptshadow’s Secrets yet so I’ll do that tomorrow. In the meantime here’s another Jerry Maguire nugget from that book:

“Every scene you write, the characters in that scene should have a goal. When Jerry Maguire gets fired by his rival, Bob Sugar, he has a clear goal: keep all his clients. So he starts calling every athlete on his client list to make sure they stay with him. Bob Sugar also has a goal: to STEAL all of Jerry Maguire’s clients. Sometimes goals will be big and sometimes they’ll be small. But in most good screenplays, goals are what keep the energy up and the story alive. ”
Carson Reeves
Scriptshadow Secrets

P.S. “Original idea [for Jerry Magauire] was inspired by a magazine photo (of late agent Gary) Wichard and The Boz (Brian Bosworth).”
Cameron Crowe
CNBC article by Darren Rovell

Related Articles:
Where Do Ideas Come From?
Hope & Redemption
Starting Your Screenplay (Tip #6)
Orphan Characters (Tip #31)
The Idea Is King
DAVID MAMET’S BOLD MEMO: “DRAMA, AGAIN, IS THE QUEST OF THE HERO TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT HIM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC, ACUTE GOAL.”—David Mamet

 

Scott W. Smith

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The-Lion-King-the-lion-king-541187_1024_768

“In the dizzying world of moviemaking, we must not be distracted from one fundamental concept: the idea is king. Stars, directors, writers, hardware, special effects, new sound systems… all of these can have a role to play in the success of a film, but they all serve as humble subjects to the supremacy of the idea. If a movie begins with a great, original idea, chances are good it will be successful, even if it is executed only marginally well. However, if a film begins with a flawed idea, it will most certainly fail, even if it is made with ‘A’ talent and marketed to the hilt.”
Jeffrey Katzenberg, former Disney Chairman (’84-’94) & current CEO of Dream Works Animation
1991 Disney Memo The World Is Changing

Again, file this 22-year-old memo under— We need to be reminded more than we need to be taught. The thing that sticks out to me re-reading this memo after more than a decade is where Kazenberg says, “even if it is executed only marginally well.” When I did a concept consultation with Adam Levenberg last week he said I had a good idea now I needed to write “a decent script.” You won’t find too many people telling you to write a decent script.

But perhaps words like decent and good need to be reclaimed. Strip away all the hyperole. Here are a couple of  definitions found in Merriam-Webster:

Decent: Appropriate, satisfactory, well-formed

Good: Bountiful, attractive, suitable, well-founded, commendable, skillful, commercially sound

But perfection is really unattainable and can be paralyzing. I think Anne Lamott’s phrase is “perfection is the enemy of the good.” There are many examples in Hollywood where a writer’s script is sold mainly on its idea and shaped into a successful film.

Even Sylvester Stallone says only 10% of his original Rocky script made it into the finished Oscar-winning film. He did the rest in the re-writing stage working with producers after the script had sold. What got Stallone on the producer’s radar is he wrote a “decent script”/a good first draft…in six days. Script readers and producers mention time and time again that there just aren’t that many good scripts out there.

“Why do imperfect (for lack of a better term; no screenplay I’ve ever read is perfect) screenplays finish high on the Black List? You have to understand that most of the scripts out there range from terrible to mediocre.  It’s not just that a lot of scripts are bad, it’s that they’re blandly bad.  In that sea, a script that makes bold choices will stand out more.”
The Bitter Script Reader
If this script is flawed, how did it end up on the Black List

So avoid writing a blandly bad script and go write a good and decent script with a great idea.

P.S. Check out the post by WME Story Editor Christopher Lockhart called The Right Script:
“‘Great’ is a buzz word…I suggest writers write the ‘right’ script. The notion of the “right script” selling is just a more realistic approach to the way the business operates.”

Related post:
Concept, Concept, Concept (Tip #80)
Writing “Rocky”
Writing & Rewriting “Pretty Woman” (Part 1)
Writing & Rewriting “Pretty Woman” (Part 2) “Movies are all about rewriting.”—Garry Marshall
Coppola & Corman Aiming to make a living on the way to the Oscars
Christopher Lockhart Q&A (Part 1)What make a script a “right” script?:
1) CONCEPT
2) EXECUTION
3) MARKETING

Scott W. Smith

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