It’s Better To Work With Hollywood Than Against It – Daniel Stamm

It’s Better To Work With Hollywood Than Against It – Daniel Stamm

Film Courage: Someone on Twitter had responded
to a Tweet that we sent out. The Tweet was one of our videos which was
“Which scripts does Hollywood want? Most screenwriters are writing the wrong ones.” So we had a gentleman ask well “This is
a pivotal issue. Do I write what I know and what moves me or
do I write what producers are looking for?” I realize this is a ever going question. Daniel Stamm, Writer/Director: It might not
be as black and white because what you know and what moves you might not have to be so
literal. Just because you were (whatever) a painter
doesn’t mean you have to write a script about painting but it can be any creative
expression or any subtext in that or anything that I think emotionally you know is different
from the specifics of the literal translation of that. So if you can make those two things overlap. Of course I’m working on a TV show right
now that has a lot to do with ambition. And obviously the protagonist on that show
pushes it to the maximum where I in real life have never pushed it. But I know what it feels like to have an ambition
to the point of I would do anything, I would die, I have to do this! So then I can take that feeling and infuse
it into my character but that does mean that the character necessarily needs to literally
(wants to) achieve the same thing that I wanted to achieve back then. So I think if there is any way to…I think
it’s definitely wrong to reject this notion because I hear that again and again at film
schools when I meet the graduating class or something there is this vibe of stick to your
plans, don’t sell out. Where I’m always like “Good luck with
that one!” But if there is any way for you to not stick
to your plans, not sell out and still tell the story that you want to tell well…that
might be the greatest version of it all because you will not change Hollywood, your stuff
just won’t get made. And if you want to do the indie thing, great. And there might change and you might be part
of change but that’s a very slow process. So instead of rejecting what producers want
and what the mainstream is and instead of labelling that as pure negative but just going
“Can I give them what they think is going to be commercial and popular because I want
my movie to be seen by as many people as possible too. If I don’t have to compromise and sacrifice
the essence and the DNA of the story I am passionate about then I will try to achieve
that. So maybe that’s an answer to that? I don’t think it’s either/or. You just have to ignore the screaming of both
sides that are making it sound as if it’s one or the other and just come from your story
side and see if you can combine both and want to make both worlds work for your story rather
than working against either of those. Film Courage: It reminds me of a quote I saw
on someone’s car (it was a bumper sticker). Even though it was many years ago I still
remember the exact scene and it is ‘In order to change the system, you have to become part
of the system.” And I’m sure I’ll look up the quote and
it will be “Oh? So and so said that.” But it sounds similar for making movies in
some sense? Daniel: I’m sure they are a lot of different
ways to go. I just know that the single focus on stick
to your plans and don’t compromise is not the wisest answer. And there are definitely examples, probably
where people who did that changed the world and they changed film and all of that so I
don’t want to negate that either but it’s not as easy as film schools will have it sound
as if it’s the go to thing “Of course I’m an artist. Of course I won’t compromise. Of course I’ll stick to my plans.” If you are in Hollywood and you can work with
Hollywood you might go faster than if you have to work against Hollywood. Film Courage: Makes sense.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. This couldn't be more true. The Avatar The Last Air-bender creators had a completely different idea in mind that was a sci-fi but nickelodeon declined it so they asked the nickelodeon producers what they were looking for they told them something mythological, legend and lore. The creators Michael DeMartino & Bryan Konietzko went back and changed everything, rewrote the entire concept and story to match the producers but they kept the heart of the story and the characters WHICH IS WHAT MATTERED. And what came of it is Avatar:The Last Air-bender which went on to being one of the greatest shows ever created and is still influencing people to this day.

  2. I think a balance of creativity and mainstream marketing would make a good partnership for releasing good films. The problem is Hollywood trying to commercialize and deadline every aspect of film and even TV and the end result is either a film that’s a box office hit but is really terrible or a film that’s great but under appreciated. The disputes between the film companies and artists/writers/etc can become so bad, it’s like Hollywood’s own version of bureaucracy.

  3. This implies there's some kind of mainstream formula that you can just follow and make money in hollywood.

    I don't think the reason people say "stick to your guns" is to follow some kind of artistic integrity… it is because following what the mainstream wants is almost impossible… If following a mainstream formula was so simple, we'd all be rich. So you might as well make the best movie you think you can make and hope for the best. You try to follow a trend, then by the time your film gets made, the trend is over, and your movie is no longer fashionable.

    If there was a formula, then why do box office flops happen?

  4. I love Daniel’s accent. He seems as if he’d be an incredible actor. He’s very cool to watch.

    He’s a perfect example of engaging success by emanating a charismatic film character.

    Just pretend you’re in a movie for added excitement as a screenwriter. No one will know at first that it’s not really you. Pitch your project as a different character to different places and see which character has more success.

  5. Shoot your own indy films, "please the viewer." They will respond weather the film is good or bad. There is a market for digital content. Write according to your own budget. You can't wait on Hollywood, you'll never get a project greenlit. There is always the exception, but don't waste time… make a film. You can do it!

  6. A perfect example of what Daniel is saying was the creation of the HBO series DEADWOOD. David Milch pitched a show to HBO about Rome and they said "We've already got a Rome project on the go. How about doing something with a Western theme?" Milch, apparently HATES Westerns but decided to transpose his story line onto a Western-themed base, just so he could keep the ball rolling. As a result of this "compromise", David Milch created, IMO, one of the best shows ever produced(not the Deadwood movie that came out this year, but the three season series that ended in 2006). He "kept the DNA" of his creative idea and made it work.

  7. Yes id agree. Ive heard it before. It depends on what your goals are. Regardsless of the genre of movie, id say" just write." Keep doing it bc thats how anyone gets better. There are multiple avenues of distribution today so it seems anything is possible.

  8. The problem I see is the logline/premise itself… writers are coming up with
    loglines that anyone else could of came up with… and most of them that I read
    (in various genres) are just not captivating enough.

    I suggest shooting for a high-concept and executing it in screenplay
    form in a way that only YOU could manage…

  9. I think that we have run out of concepts for different movies. Everything has been done before, it's just a matter if the film industry can make something that is very genuine and no one has ever done or thought of, which is almost impossible. I think that films from the 70's to the late 90's have basically made tons of different movies in each genre, and there is just not really nothing left that will surprise an audience. I don't even watch films anymore because I have seen the same type of movies over again and again. I think you can only push it so far, and that's what Hollywood is doing, they are just pushing out more and more and more material that is played out sorry to say.

  10. I completely agree with his perspective and I'll frame it within the context of breaking into the industry. If a filmmaker can find a way to combine the traditional means of break into the industry (Film festivals, Film set work, Auditioning, Production company work, studio work) with non-traditional means (Youtube, Blogs, filmmaking websites, film critics, film reviews etc) than the filmmaker will constantly be finding ways to stay encouraged and informed while building career momentum (building an audience) when traditional means appear to be slow.

  11. If you want to write to trends, write lots of novels quickly and self publish. Movies take too long to reliably catch trends.

    As to what he said, if someone writes me a sufficiently big check to write a vampire romance, I'll write a vampire romance. Hopefully it won't suck.

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