Chasing film trends in film is a guaranteed fail, here is why.
It is a fact of life that if you are chasing trends in film when writing a screenplay, you are destined to fail. If you don’t believe me, let me explain why.
The first thing you need to know is the production process. We will assume that your script doesn’t need any work want so ever, it production ready. So here are the steps.
Purchase your script. 1 month.
This involves lawyers and negotiation. It may just be an option for now. But you’ll have to sign something as will the producers to execute an agreement. Why a month? Because the time it takes to get things done, not the doing. It takes you a few seconds to sign your name, but arranging a meeting with your lawyer, get her opinion on the agreement etc. One month is fast.
Clearance. 3 months.
This is when the producer or studio goes through everything in your script and make sure that they have to right to use it. Songs, references to books, movies, movie characters, anything and everything you mention. This is a long process.
Script breakdowns. 12 months.
This is when every shot is figured out. The locations need. Set design and other production design. Everything single item you see in a film has been decided by someone. This is done during this year of preproduction. This may overlap with script changes. You will have to make script changes that fit your location.
Casting. 3 months.
We can assume that we find the people we want in this time. We can also assume that they are available for shooting when we plan to move into production. Now this is when we may have to revisit the script and script breakdown. In The Hostage we the original script had one of the characters as a much younger person. That changed and needed a rewrite.
Crewing the film. 2 months.
This is just like casting the actors. This is selecting your director of photography, sound crew etc. We are assuming that we have a director in place already and they haven’t wanted any rewrites.
Rehearsals 1 month.
Some directors don’t rehearse at all. But there will be read throughs, blocking and other rehearsal like processes.
Shooting the script. 2 months.
This varies a huge amount. Studios have a 3 page a day standard where an indie production may shoot as many as 7 pages a day. Let’s assume Studio work and say we didn’t miss a day. So your 120 page script would take 40 days. If we have weekends off, we are talking 2 months.
Editing a post production. 5 months.
The rule of thumb here is a day a minute. So lets say you have a movie that is 100 minutes. That’s 100 days. With 20 working days a month, equals 5 months.
Now we have to get distribution or exhibition in place, marketing etc.
Some of this can be done at the same time. Marketing can be started during production or editing. We have taken the fastest possible path with no waiting time and no time between you finishing the script and finding a sale. Oh yeah, we haven’t discussed how long it takes you to write a script. Let’s be generous and say one year from first thought to completed script.
So lets add all this up.
Writing the script 1 year
Purchase 1 month
Clearance 3 Months
Script breakdown and preproduction 1 year
Casting 3 months
Crewing 2 months
Rehearsal 1 month
Shooting 2 months
Editing 5 months
So if you start today and there is no wasted time or delays, it will be over 3 years from first thought to finished film. If we are in the middle of a “Zombie” craze, you are at least 3 years too late.
Chasing a trend means you will always fail. Even the term chasing indicates that you are behind. Being behind in the innovation (creative writing is innovation) space means you are copying not innovating and that is failing.
But there are lesson you can learn from the latest trends. You have to analysis these, not the genre, but the style of story perhaps. That is a topic for another post.