Horror Factoid: In The Orphanage (2007) Laura's necklace, a St. Anthony medallion, makes a clever reference to her plight. In Catholic religion, St. Anthony is a doctor and patron saint of lost items.






« Julie Gray on Trends »

Trends at the box office are fascinating to watch. The popularity of the Japanese horror film remake had a short-lived but healthy run. And remember the profitable teen-angst run John Hughes had, starting with THE BREAKFAST CLUB? And certainly, gore-nography has had a run, with titles like SAW, SAW II, HOSTEL, HOSTEL II and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. Zombies are back, they say, and we should be seeing a number of zombie movies in the next year or two. KNOCKED UP and THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN tapped into a boomer, reality-based comedic vein that obviously hit pay dirt in the zeitgeist and paved the way for the hilarious THE HANGOVER to do the same.

 Where do these trends come from? Does the public get what they want or do they get what they think they want because we write it? WGA writers who are actually in the thick of it, pitching, selling and seeing their work produced are naturally very tied to trends. But newer writers hoping to break in are ill-advised to write trend-driven material. Why? Because by the time you get rep, much less try to actually shop a spec, the trend is long over. Your script might make a great sample but why settle for a great sample when you can have a good original piece of material that is saleable because it isn’t tied to the flavor of the month?

Regardless of genre, a unique, compelling story with universally resonant themes is what Hollywood is looking for. Sounds simple enough, right? Until you get about ten different opinions as to what that means. The truth is that as a writer, all you can do is continue to hone your craft; write relentlessly, promote yourself constantly and get Zen with the fact that Hollywood isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense.

Writers are visionaries. We are the zeitgeist. Because we live it. We reflect and refract the collective attitudes, hopes and fears about love, fear, politics, aging, culture and so much more. So stay informed about the industry that you hope to work within but in the same breath, stay true to your heart and to your vision at all costs. Therein lies the secret to your success. 

-Julie Gray

Julie Gray is the founder of The Script Department, Hollywood’s premier script coverage service. She also directs the Silver Screenwriting Competition and authors the popular screenwriting blog, Just Effing Entertain Me. Julie consults privately with a wide variety of writers and teaches classes at Warner Bros., The Great American PitchFest, The Creative Screenwriting Expo and has taught at San Francisco University in Quito, Ecuador, Columbia College in Chicago, West England University in Bristol and The Oxford Union at Oxford University. Julie lives in Los Angeles, California; her book Just Entertain Me is slated for release by Michael Wiese Publishing in April, 2011. 


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