The Black List and Plato

Well, the 2012 Black List is out, and I for one am surprised by the number of low-concept movies in there.

Maybe it’s because many of those writers are already established in Hollywood and feel they have no need to create “hi-concept” pitches. Maybe it’s because so many of them are based on true stories. I dunno.

Other trends I have noticed is the lack of horror, the prevalance of Mexican crime stories, and the use of “soft” sci-fi like time travel. On the whole there’s nothing in there that makes me go “Wow!  What a great story!”, unlike the last couple of Black Lists.

On the other hand, maybe this is a welcome change from some of the sillier “high-concept” movies of the past few years.

On a side note, have you noticed how “hi-concept” works much better for comedy than for other genres? Probably because it produces so many absurd composite ideas.

Anyway, 2012’s list makes me think there is hope for us all, if we can find the right story.

My final note to this somewhat rambling post concerns Plato.  I will tie this in to the black list, I promise.

Plato believed that every form had an “everyday” form and an “ideal” form. The ideal form is the ultimate natural expression of whatever thing we are thinking about.

It made me think about screenwriting. Isn’t that we do? We find a great idea and then try to unlock the ideal expression of that idea.

The trick is in unlocking the various levels of the idea. Sure, we can find the perfect logline, but can we translate the logline into the perfect structure? Can we fill it with the perfect turning points to do justice to that logline? And then can we find the perfect scenes to express the turning points? And so on.

So perhaps we too can end up with the likes of the Black List writers (and beyond) if we find a great idea, and then tell it how it wants to be told.





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