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OK, who cares, right? Everyone knows that. But, the point is that both the novel and the film are about a monster terrorizing mankind, much like many of its predecessors and followers. It's filled with great characters, but at its heart, it's about a shark terrorizing a beach community. Period.
There's a little more to it than that. There's also the conflicting characters who chase the shark. There's more going on between the three than there is with the shark. That's why people still talk about Jaws after all these years and similar movies went straight to the discount bins where they die.
There are themes and the like present in every form of entertainment, and they don't even have to be consciously put in there. They're part of life itself and will always be present in a well constructed story/script. You don't even have to search for them or try to make it a big deal about what they are and why they matter...cause they don't matter.
Jeff, I cannot argue that themes are "forced upon" some stories where they might occur by accident.
That does not mean that some stories are not crafted with theme at their heart.
Do not tell me an artisan as skilled and accomplished as Speilberg does not infuse his work with deeper meaning at every possible turn.
This is what makes Jaws resonate more so than any of its imitators.
To steal your words, it is "shocking" that you cannot see that.
And don't forget that the shark is Quint's "great white whale". And the story he recounts about dozens of people dying in a shark feeding frenzy actually happened - I forget the military vessel but I think he names the actual one it happened to in the film...
Your point is worthless as far as I'm concerned, Jeff. How much sweat is it off your back to incorporate subtext into your scripts? All it really involves is something you as a screenwriter should be doing anyways: thinking.
Of course, you're right (to a point, anyway). If you're trying to write another Jaws or Die Hard, most of your audience probably won't care if your story is multilayered or not and if it is, most of them probably won't realize it... but some of them will and they'll appreciate it. Better yet, they'll realize it on an unconscious level.
There's nothing wrong with straight entertainment. But why argue against a little more? Why even say it doesn't matter? Incorporating themes and subtext may or may not boost your story but neglecting to do so definitely won't. It does no harm but it does no good either. Again. Worthless.
Unless someone's arguing against straight entertainment, which no one is, what's to be gained from your argument?
The way I see it though, if you have a feature script on its own...it seems very hard to get traction on it in any way. It just kind of sits there. You can send it to competitions maybe, to some agents who won't look at it unless you've got a name. It just seems a very difficult way to get in and one that relies a lot on luck.
On the other hand. Write a short 6-10 promo of that feature, get some people together to make it, get it in festivals, meet people pitch the feature, stick it online, market the hell out of it and get people talking...you've got a bit of buzz behind it and the start of an audience...you've got proof of concept and you've already laid the groundwork for the distributor...just seems a more potent way of doing things and gives you some kind of active control over your destiny.
Promos and teasers are invaluable for the development of features and self-contained shorts are invaluable for filmmakers who want to work themselves up for that bigger project. I'm of a mind to work myself up to a feature directorial debut with a few shorts of my own. It's been a real challenge to come up with smaller ideas that can still define me as a filmmaker.
But as a non-filmmaker screenwriter, writing shorts feels like the easier though not necessarily more fruitful way out. There's plenty of produced shorts out there that become nothing and no one gives a second thought to. If a feature becomes nothing, it's a colossal failure on the part of the filmmakers. It requires more drive to produce a feature and the people behind it will push it infinitely harder than they'd push their short.
Of course, there're exceptions; I'm AC'ing one right now.
But I digress. As a screenwriter, I feel like I can either write some mediocre shorts and give them away for free or write a great feature and get paid for it. In the event that neither get produced or get produced and become nothing, the feature will at least have brought me a few bucks and the experience of writing it. The shorts... meh. Maybe the DVD'll be cool to show some friends but that's about it.
I feel an inherent need to write my features and don't feel I've lost anything if nothing comes from it. Writing shorts for other people to produce is a split between business thinking and passing the time between features. It's not something I think much about.
Well, I'm obviously not getting my point across very effectively, and again, I do apologize for that.
I am not against adding depth to a script, as long as it doesn't detract from what the script is, but again, much of what you guys keep bringing up is inherent in most stories/scripts that are well conceived.
Steven Spielberg is indeed a genius film maker, but let's be honest here. Before Jaws, he hadn't done all that much (and there's no need to throw up a list, because I know exactly what he did and when he did it). You can say all you want about how his genius made Jaws what it is, but as far as I'm concerned, the credit needs to go to Mr. Benchley, as it's his novel, his idea, his story, his concept.
So I'm out at this point. I will continue to enjoy movies for exactly what they are...a couple hours of escapism and entertainment. I'll also continue to write the same way I appreciate film. You guys can continue to read all you possibly can into every movie that hits, and if you don't see certain themes or whatever you want to call them, rest assured, someone else will bring them up and you can jump on board.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
As a screenwriter, I feel like I can either write some mediocre shorts and give them away for free or write a great feature and get paid for it. In the event that neither get produced or get produced and become nothing, the feature will at least have brought me a few bucks and the experience of writing it. The shorts... meh. Maybe the DVD'll be cool to show some friends but that's about it.
More than friends have seen my shorts... That didn't come out right.
If you crank out short scripts, you might get the attention of the beginner filmmaker. If you write an exceptional short, you'll be able to pick and choose who produces it and end up with a very good film to show more than friends.
It'll be easier to get anyone interested in your feature if you can grab their attention with a high quality short. One of the fellowships that I'm entering wants a writing resume. Mine lists my short that have been produced and the others that are in some stage of production. These definitely helped me get my feature scripts optioned.
No one in Hollywood cares if you wrote one script or a hundred; they want to know what you had produced (competitions also help). It shows that someone was willing to spend time and money to produce your work.
I understand the idea behind writing shorts but it's not the main avenue I'd like to pursue. Shorts are not my forte and I think the majority of the ones I've written range from mediocre to poor. I could develop my short skills further but it seems like a waste of time at this point. I've got two features in pre-production, one in post, one I'm writing on assignment now and two more with prospective productions in the near future. ...and one short that got produced by a film student; I'm actually quite happy with that one.
I've built my strengths and resume on features. I'm of a mind to shoot any shorts I write myself so they're really not integral in any professional screenwriting prospects I have at this point.
Of course, that's strictly personal. But I still feel there's more fruit to be bore from features. Most of the shorts I read, I'll forget within a day. Earlier this year, I crewed a short. Where is it now? Oblivion. There's plenty of filmmakers out there that don't care about the shorts they make or writers who wrote them. Features are too big a risk for filmmakers to throw them away in the end.