There were some interesting tips today at the Austin Film Festival session on “Writing a Script That Will Stick.” Black List creator Franklin Leonard moderated, interviewing several industry pros. He asked each panelist to elaborate on what they look for in a script and what catches their attention.
Sharing their expertise were panelists Matthew Gross (Producer, Writer, and Director), Barry Josephson (Producer), David Boxerbaum (Agent), and Sean Robins (Producer).
For Matthew Gross, a great script is one you can’t put down. The characters are engaging, the story is riveting, and there are elements that grab the reader’s attention. Matthew further elaborates that characters should have a clear point of view and that there should be situations with conflict.
Barry Josephson says that you need a strong hook at the start that makes you want to read on. Character dilemmas, strength or originality are important as well. He prefers a writing style that is consistent throughout and elicits the tone of the movie.
David Boxerbaum likes to see layered characters and great dialogue. As an agent, he looks for high concept ideas, although he sees characters and dialogue as more important.
Sean Robins looks for great writing, engaging characters, and high concept ideas. To him, substance is more important than style. Sean looks for the writer to grab his attention in the first ten pages, because that’s all he prints out initially to read.