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J

You're just awesome.

I HATE the Zom Com...because it feels so contrived and SO. WRONG. Like giving a small baby Hershey's candy. Some people might not see anything wrong with it, but just imagining that poor baby gumming that horrible fake sugar makes me want to cry and barf at the same time.

The Script I've just finished...it's supposed to be a romantic comedy. That's what the studio asked me to do - and I almost did that cry / barf thing - because of how much the genre bothers me.

But all I could do was hike up my pants and write something that didn't make me want wring my own neck. I knew what I was "supposed to do," ... and I did it, but in my way.

Fingers crossed.

Frank  Conniff

It was hilarious how in the Leap Year trailer they literally gave away every plot point in the movie, including the the part in the end where the guy she wants to propose to shows up and proposes to her, but she's in love with the guy she met along the way. The genre has become so predictable that not only is the studio not trying to surprise you, they're using the predictability as a selling point. "Giving away" the ending in the trailer is a moot point because everybody knows what's going to happen when they come into the theater, and if they don't, the studio is going to make sure that they do.

E.C. Henry

Billy,

Love the new moninker, "zom-com." It's yet another feather in your cap for an updated "Writing the Romantic Comedy" book, right...?

Did read the Uproxx "How to Write a Hollywood Rom-Com in 10 Easy Steps" by "Vince." That article makes me twinge with anger. Shows TOTAL DISSRESPECT for a genre that I feel quite passionatly about.
Scott Myers posted on this article on his blogsite, "Go Into the Story", a couple days ago as well, and I flipped-out there too.
Why? Because I feel the exact opposite; it's VERY HARD to write a GOOD romantic comedy. You hafta be romantic, AND be funny, AND balance that mix over the course of a story. NOT EASY!

I'm assuming Simon Beaufoy did a polish on "Leap Year," because IMBD sites Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan with writing credits -- not Beaufoy.
Elfont and Kaplan are a writing team who meet in NYU's Tish school of the Arts, and their past credits include: "Made of Honor" (2008: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan), "Surviving Christmass" (2004), "Josie and the Pussycats" (2001), "The Flintsones in Viva Las Vegas" (2000) "Can't Hardly Wait" (1998), and "A Very Brady Sequel" (1996).
Deborah Kapan is a looker too! Geesh, if she looked at me I'd have a hard time not nodding along with whatever she opinion she held to. In real life Deborah's married to Breckin Myer -- another looker!!

I'd be curious to know when Amy Adams signed on to "Leap Year?" She's SUCH a good actress, I'd have a hard time saying no to ANYTHING she's willing to do. Maybe this was made JUST because she was available, and committed to it...?

To me, from the TV trailers, "Leap Year" looked like a rip-off of "P.S. I Love You." Sooo for me the marketing campaign failed this film. The same but only different?! Didn't seem different enough to warrant going to the theatres to see it. STILL, I'm glad this rom-com made some money for Universal. 2009 was rough year for Universal, as compared to other studios. And I'm HOPING 2010 goes much better for Universal Studios. They've made hits in the past. No reason they can't crank it back up and have hits in the future. The talent's there, right Billy...?

Sounds like those giving the coveted "green lights" are the real culprits failing the public, and putting us at the unnessary risk of being bitten by a roaming zom-com. Where is their sense of pride? Ownership in putting something out that they can be proud of? It's a matter of professionalism. If you can make money with a zom-com that you're NOT proud of, vs. making a romantic comedy that makes money and is something that you ARE PROUD OF and will be talking about FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, why not choose the latter?! You'll feel better in the short and long term.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Dave

The novel is dead-agreed, that's why my 5 and 10 year old keep pushing us to take them to the library and yes the 10 year old is already burning her way through at least one a week.

ready to sing an old '80s tune - loved the music in Grosse Point Blank!

Many moviegoers still go to the movies to see movie stars - the sports fans of Hollywood and Hollywood still looks to which star can "open" a movie, I'm guessing the elitists aren't let anywhere near the purse strings of the studios.

My definition of romance, working hard for several years to buy that block of land to build the dream house for your wife out in the country, moving the family out there. Then have her tell you 4 days before school starts that she can't live out there. Sigh, hug her and turn a full 180 and move back to the suburb you just moved from 2 months prior.....hence my delay :)

cheers
Dave

Jonathan Tipton Meyers

Awesome post. Especially since the vibe I get from it is not simply, "this is evil and we're responsible" but the importance of acknowledging:

a) the realities of marketplace
b) that those "realities" work in our favor if we're rom-com writers.
c) that a good Zom-Com isn't easy to write and showing your proficiency in delivering those goods means you get to have a career.
d) that while we can all strive for challenge and excellence, there's unlimited potential for joy in writing anything ( or perhaps we should be considering other, more linear occupations ).

P.S. Dave, I'm assuming you're into your current re-write of the City/Country rom-com. I'll be first in line to see it.

beth

alternate perspective: the zom-com is a ritual, not a dissertation. rituals are supposed to follow the same structure over and over again--they are predictable for a reason. zom-coms are rituals that are made for the emotions, for a very deep and unsophisticated part of the brain. they're not intellectual. that doesn't mean they don't serve their purpose.

mernitman

J: Write something that won't make you want to wring your own neck! A great code to live by.

Frank: Soon to be playing on an airplane, near you.

EC: It's the fear factor. Many execs aren't afraid of doing what's been done (if their movie tanks, they can say, "But we just did what we're supposed to do"); it's scarier to take a flier on something that's unproven.

Dave: A sigh and a hug, eh? Your candidacy for sainthood has just officially gone through, and meanwhile, as Jonathan said -

Jonathan: I'll be right behind you in the line to see Dave's rom-com, and I like your A through D (especially D's parenthetical).

Beth: Good point. It's just that living, breathing, intriguing rom-coms (as opposed to zom-coms) manage to get through that basic structure - and hit the requisite emotions - with far more panache, credibility and depth.

Bill

My first thought was that there is nothing wrong with either zom-coms or genuine rom-coms that 3-D can't fix.

But as I thought further, I realized the death of newspapers, books, romantic comedies -- you name it! -- was predictable and even foreseen. By me! About a year ago I wrote a post, "Forget newspapers - everything is dead!" where I quoted numerous unnamed sources describing this eventuality. The upside of all this is the elimination of any need for sustainable business models. Who needs budgets or profits when everything is dead, including budgets and profits?

http://writelife.net/2009/04/03/everything-is-dead/

Bill

More seriously, I agree with Beth's point about rituals. I think the problem with "breaking through the structure" is that sometimes when it is attempted, people try to hard, sometimes neglecting the structure, and there is a disconnect with the audience. I think it's probably quite difficult to finesse something like this. (I'm also amazed at how many people like, and like a lot, some of those zom-coms you speak of.)

Judith Duncan

Must admit,'Shaun of the Dead' is one of my fav's.
It's interesting to see there's a lot of zombie mrchandise around.I found a book of zombie haiku on Amazon that made me laugh out loud,so I'll share one.I think it also addresses the fact that just because it's a zombie film doesn't mean it's easy to write a good one.

Biting into heads
is much harder than it looks
the skull is fiesty

Cheers,
Judith

mernitman

Bill: There is no accounting for taste. And the humans, in general.

Judith: "The skull is feisty!" I want this on a t-shirt.

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