Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The difference between a good and a bad idea.

One of the things that I started thinking when I got my script idea is how important and precious good ideas and good premises are. You can't really overstate how important it is to come up with an idea that has potential to become a good screenplay.

If your premise isn't strong or clear enough, there's almost no chance that you're screenplay is going to be any good. In that case you're almost certainly just going to waste your time and your energy writing that script.

In order to give you a good example on a great movie idea and a pretty awful premise, let's look at two films that are 'roughly' the same. Both these films are about reality tv and about following an every-man protagonist around the clock. 

The first movie in question is Peter Weir's 'Truman Show' that stars Jim Carrey in it. This is a movie that was not only a pretty big success financially, but it also managed to get universal praise from the critics.

In any case, this is a film about a character called Truman Burbank, who lives a seemingly ordinary life in a peaceful city called Sea Haven. Everything in Truman's life seems so perfect and things always tend to work out for him. 

The only thing that he doesn't know about his 'perfect' life is that everything about it is fake. Truman is literally living inside a bubble where cameras are tracking his every move so that audiences at home could follow his every day life.

He simply doesn't know that he's the star of a reality television show and that nothing about his life is real. He doesn't know that he's being exploited mercilessly and that nothing important about his life is private.

When it comes to this film as a whole, the biggest reason that it works so well is because of its 'hook'. The premise of Truman not knowing what's going on and being an unsuspecting celebrity keeps us in the audience involved.

As an audience member, you can't wait for him to figure out that he's part of a huge reality show. You can't help but to root for him when he finally decides to escape from his prison and wants to start a life on his own.

The movie hits all the right notes when it critizices our current celebrity & consumerism culture. 'Truman Show' not only manages to be both funny and dramatic, but it also is a film that has a lot of say about our society in general. 

The second film in this reality genre is Ron Howard's EDtv. This was a movie that not only did not manage to garner universal praise from the critics, but it was also a movie that failed rather spectacularly at the box office.

In this case, our main protagonist is an every-man called Eddie Pekurny, who is played by Matthew McConaughey. Eddie works as a video store clerk and lives a fairly normal and uneventful life that isn't particularly interesting.

Unlike in Truman Show, Eddie's life changes when he knowingly invites cameras to follow his life 24/7.  He becomes a reality tv star because he thinks that it won't be that big of a deal and that it could even be a cool experience.

Not surprisingly, the biggest reason that the movie doesn't work is because the film isn't about anything meaningful. There's no actual 'hook' in the movie that would keep the audience interested in what is going on.

There's no defining idea or premise in EDtv that would help create momentum for the film. There's no real drama, no genuine comedy or actual entertainment in this movie that would keep us on the edge of our seats. 

The film just keeps dragging itself to the finish line and seems to almost glorify reality television. The fact that it doesn't take a stand against this kind of reality television is what should bother anyone who cares about our society. 

In the end, when it comes to EDtv, the writers and the producers of it probably thought that it wouldn't matter that much whether they would pay enough attention to the premise and to the idea of their movie.

They falsely thought that an average (bad) premise and an average (bad) idea could still be turned into a quality screenplay and into a quality movie. They thought that they would come out smelling like roses no matter what they did.

Unfortunately for them, of these two films, Truman Show is the one that turned out to be a wonderful movie. EDtv, on the other hand, is so disappointing and has so little to say about anything, that you have to wonder why it was made in the first place.

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