From a screenwriter in a forum:
“F The Rules…
…Is an idea swirling around in my head these days, despite being relatively new at this (I started writing a year and a half ago). I notice that people respond to my scripts when I ignore the rules (by rules, I don’t mean format), yet when I consciously employ them, I fail…miserably.
I’m beginning to think that I may be one of those guys who cannot abide by rules, at least consciously. I’m beginning to feel that, for me, they are somewhat of a creative mouse trap. Do I know them? I can’t say that I know all of them, I know that if I were to be generally interrogated (I meant questioned), that I could point to various fundamentals, but I’m beginning to feel that my brain isn’t hardwired in such a way where The Rules facilitate my best work.
So…”F’ The Rules?”
Strike you as a crazy idea? Why or why not? Anyone relate to this?
The short answer: It’s okay to “F” the rules when you no longer need anyone else to buy your script or anyone’s money to make your movie. Here’s my thoughts on this question: If you F the rules; the rules F you back. And if you’re not established yet, they F you without protection, and then discard you like a spent whore. The good thing is, you can wash up and try again.
My experience says this is not so much related to your style or skill as a writer, but to the realities of the Hollywood marketing engine. Your breaking the rules might result in a very good story, but it won’t sell. So you’ll have a great screenplay sitting on your shelf, waiting for you to get humble and change it or to finance and film it yourself.
Everything is subjective in Hollywood. No one knows what will work so everyone is paranoid. One of the only things prodcos, studios and those with the money believe they understand is rules–what a screenplay should look like, three act structure, how it should be marketed to which demographic, etc… If you want to make them more paranoid, change one of these elements. They are skiddish enough, they will be absolutely terrified if you F around with the rules.
The artist in me says, “this is bullshit! ” And it is…to the artist in me. Although, when I think about it, I’m not a fan of the avant-gard, so maybe I don’t actually like when the rules are broken either. But if all you had to impress were other writers or readers, I could at least understand it. But the name of this particular game is not “Great Stories,” it’s “Show Business.”
In tennis, they call it a low percentage shot. F the rules if you want. But do so at your own peril.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
T. R. Locke
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