Film producer Chris Moore has graciously accepted to answer questions submitted by members of TwoAdverbs. (May 26, 2005)
Q: Having read many of the top-rated scripts for Project Greenlight, what are some common elements of those screenplays that made you guys PASS on them?
A: A script can always be changed and/or fixed if the idea is good. If the screenplay doesn’t have a strong plot or characters I can believe in and/or root for then it’s a pass for me.
Q: Conversely, what key elements do you look for in a script to produce?
A: I always am looking for a fresh concept with a strong plot and well-drawn characters.
Q: For a writer out of the system, what’s the best way to get read by someone who can change your career?
A: Find companies that are willing to read unsolicited material. Take writing workshops to try to improve your skills. Meet people in the industry and build relationships.
Q: How much of a salesman does a screenwriter have to be?
A: Selling is a big part of making it in Hollywood. It’s not just selling your script, it’s also about selling yourself and being able to communicate to buyers why you can deliver what they are looking for. Being able to articulate your vision is huge.
Q: PGL (especially in episode #2) really brings home the collaborative nature of film. What advice do you have for new writers who are just coming into the development process? What do you want to see from them (in terms of attitude, information, material, etc) at that first pre-pro meeting? (Aside from the Pete Rule # 1 – BRING A PEN!)
A: My advice is listen to what people are saying about your material – what works, what doesn’t. Be open and responsive to hearing their notes and making changes that will ameliorate the project.
Q: Is there anything screenwriters do that makes you go, “Jeez, why do they do that?”
A: I have found that most creative people have opinions on why they wrote what they wrote or directed a scene how they directed it. But yes sometimes I throw my hands up and say “why”?
Q: Have you ever read a horribly written script with a great concept and decided to pick it up? What did you do with it?
A: No, but I have read and bought projects that have been poorly executed. If it’s something I believe in or think it’s a story worth telling, I keep working on cracking the story and making it better. I have worked on projects that required bringing on 6 different writers over the course of a few years to get a project where I or the studio needed it be. Good ideas are hard to come by so when you have one you figure it out.
Q: When is it time for the original screenwriter to put the script aside so you can hire new screenwriters to finish or polish the product? How often do you get rid of the original screenwriter?
A: It really depends on the project. Of course we always want to get it right the first time with the original writer, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Bringing on a new writer happens for so many reasons – sometimes the original writer just can’t get the material all the way there, sometimes it’s because the dialogue, or structure needs to be fixed.
Q: Besides allocation of budget, what are the difficulties in producing a low budget vs. a high budget picture?
A: Whether you are producing a small movie or a big one, I find the difficulties are almost always the same – whether you have 25 days to shoot a film or 80, big budget or small.
Q: What’s in store for Chris Moore in the near and not so near future?
A: I am focusing on trying to direct a film.
Thank you very much, Mr. Moore.