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Wiki Screenwriting

January 20, 2009

Benderspink, the team who brought us American Pie, is trying a collaborative screenwriting experiment. The premise is that any writer can contribute/collaborate/compete with other writers to add pages to a developing feature-length screenplay. Every other week, judges will pick the best 8-12 page installment that builds from the developing screenplay. By the end, there’s likely to be 10-12 writers involved (assuming no writer wins multiple rounds). COWRITE describes its contest as follows:

“Cowrite is redefining screenwriting competitions by creating an open source type contest in which the end goal, like that of all individual aspiring writers, is to write a great screenplay and then try to sell it and get it produced.”

I have some doubts about how cohesive a story like this will be, assuming there is no revision rounds and drafts. A good screenwriter outlines the plot ahead of time, and consciously writes in “plants and payoffs” (e.g., a dad is forced to listen to some pop song over and over again by his young daughter in the first act, and then during the climax of the last act, he ends up winning first place on jeopardy because he remembers the name of the artist that sings the song). The other issue is consistency around theme and how these thematic elements are represented over the course of the entire script. Unless there is upfront communication on the writers’ intentions, nuances of the script are  likely to get lost. That said, I’m curious to see how the final product ends up. Below is the premise:

MOVIE PREMISE: Determined to be a high-level Jason Bourne type operative, an awkward teenager enlists the help of a mysterious, supposed ex-CIA agent in his hometown and finds himself entangled in a dangerous plot that is way over his head.

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