By Elizabeth Fowler, President, Clear Pictures Entertainment
I have gotten movies set up i.e. sold to all the Studios as well as the Networks and Cable Channels and they are all in various stages of development and production. My first stage of criteria for projects is three questions: 1. Is it a good story? Is it entertaining? 2. Is it about something? and 3. Is there a reason to make this story into a movie? Why should this story get made into a movie vs. another? Is there something fresh and unique to it?
Beyond that and with particular regard to books I am looking for “translatable action.” And by this I don’t just mean car chases and bombs going off –but “action” –do people do things? Or is the majority of the action in the character’s head in the form of an inner dialogue? If so –that’s hard to make into a movie. Film is a visual medium. A lot of the story should be told through images, not words.
If a book passes those tests, my next set of criteria is more classic story analysis i.e. is there a definable Act One, Act Two and Act Three? In a screenplay, the general rule is there must be an “inciting incident” by page 30 which is approximately the end of Act One. The same should hold true for a book. By the end of the first third –some defining incident needs to have occurred. And then beyond that a discernible Act Two and Act Three with a strong finish. And within that strong Act One, Two and Three (beg-middle-end) structure -are there good memorable characters that have an arc? Does the action of the story impact the characters in a way that changes them? If so, that is the character’s “arc” and each major character needs one. If your book possesses all of these criteria – I want to see it! Because the odds are, I will be able to sell it for adaptation to the Big Screen