Friday, February 20, 2015

Why Screenwriters should think about "Shelf Life" when Writing



Modern culture moves fast. 
Every professional screenwriter should ask themselves this vital question – 
Does your style of writing include words, references, phrases; that are specifically chosen because they are -- cool, hip, the bomb (Feel free to insert your own phrase for “cool, hip, the bomb.”)? 
If this is the case, I have two words for you -- Shelf Life

Nothing ages faster than pop culture. 
And with that in mind, I advise the Professional Screenwriter approaches their work in in a way that doesn’t invite the content to suffer from rapid aging. 

Many writers convince themselves that the power of their work is their “cutting edge” insight and sensibility to what is happening in modern society. They firmly believe that what makes their work sing is when they incorporate references to the latest in style and trends. 
Hopefully their skill set has a wider range of creative weapons to draw upon. Those who feel compelled to employ the latest pop culture reference, or draw on what is happening this minute, will discover their work is headed for a short shelf life.   
Play the long game. 
Go deeper with your content. 
Work for a creative payoff that you've setup. 
Don’t settle for easy pop culture references for a laugh. 
Don't be lured into the easy score of writing homages to past movies or TV shows as an excuse for failing to come up with something original. 
What may be cutting edge now, I promise you will have a very good chance of being considered quaint and obscure just a few years on. 
Write with the goal of creating material that is "timeless."




If the goal is to seem relevant to the latest generation of movie lovers, I believe writing in a timeless way is still the way to go. 
In a recent movie poll, young people, ages 20-29, list “The Shining”  (Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson, based on the book by Stephen King) as one of their top five favorite horror movies. 
The original theatrical release of "The Shining" was 1980.  

Yesterday’s Madonna is today’s Lady Gaga. 
And Tomorrow’s Lady Gaga will be here before we know it… She’s probably already here and somehow I missed her arrival being announced in US magazine because I was too busy writing these words. 
When it does happen, how much you wanna bet much of media world will immediately rush to write their Dead-Artist-Walking obituaries of Lady Gaga. And when they do, don't look away. Pay attention because that is what the end of the road looks like for the cutting edge screenwriter trading on the latest hip phrase as a substitute for real content in their screenplays.