a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Girls, Girls, Girls

So it turns out that the major bump that you get from a Nicholl semifinalist placement is a lot of attention from manager/producers.

A lot of people have negative opinions of manager/producers, mostly because of the conflict of interest of someone who is supposed to be focused on your career as a manager also trying to boost their own career as a producer -- when push comes to shove, would they choose an offer better for them, or for the writer?

The problem is that most managers now work for management/production companies -- because they can.

So as I choose a reputable few to focus on (more on this process as it occurs), I find myself pondering the commerciality of my scripts.

I really don't aggressively think commercially as I write a script. I'm not writing uncommercially, but I'm not as focused as some people about things like writing scenes that would be great for the trailer, or lines of dialogue that can summarize the plot in a coming attraction, or trying to make my tale teen-friendly, or making sure stuff blows up real good.

Having said that, I find myself with three screenplays that are about to be in play:

My frozen-time script, my Nicholl script, and my almost-but-not-quite-done supernatural thriller.

All of them have female leads. Not only that, but the first two -- the only two that anyone are going to be reading, at this point -- both have 18-year-old female leads.

I'm not sure what the Freudian implications are of my writing so many female main characters. Ironically, none of my previous scripts, or even the two someday-I-have-to-finish scripts I've been noodling around with, have female leads. Just my three solid ones. So something must be working.

The problem is that I conceived both of these 18-year-old female lead scripts a number of years ago, and the actresses I always had in mind for them have all aged beyond it. Natalie Portman is too old now. Scarlett Johannsen always seems older than she is. Thora Birch, Anna Paquin, Jena Malone, Emmy Rossum, Rachel McAdams, Anne Hathaway, Keira Knightley... all would have been more age-appropriate a few years ago.

So, since I'm bound to be faced with the question of who I see in the part, and who can star in this, it's a question I should really start thinking about, if I want to try to raise a spark in someone's eyes.

Because the best option might be Lindsay Lohan, and even she's moving beyond teen roles.

So who else is out there? Who are the interesting young actresses that can carry a film, that you want to see? Evan Rachel Wood? Ellen Page? Or do I have to wait for Dakota Fanning or Abigail Breslin to grow into it?

Pontificate, please.


At 12:16 PM, Anonymous taZ said...

You should be ashamed to even think of Lindsay Lohan.

But seriously, I think that Evan Rachel Wood is a great great choice.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Dante Kleinberg said...

I disagree with Taz, Lindsay Lohan is a great actress, if a bit loopy.

Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page are both really good. But really, Rachel McAdams believably acted opposite Lohan in Mean Girls and she was in her late 20s I think. So a few of the actresses you named could probably play an 18 year-old.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Hey, I'd hate to have Lindsay in my car, but I'd love to have her in my movie. "Off-court" loony-ness aside, she has a great sense of timing and has proven herself capable as an actress.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to finish *my* third project of the year which would then put me in similar shoes to you-- three projects, no reps, no waiting.


At 2:05 PM, Blogger S. A. Petrich said...

I second (third? fourth? whatever) Evan. I think she's defintely the best actress of her generation.

Elen Page is very good too (Although I must admit I've only seen her in X3). Emmy Rossum is 20, so I think she could pull off an 18-year-old.

Than there's Kristen Stewart (Jodie Foster's daughter in Panic Room), who is 17 (I think) and Emily Browning (Violet from Lemony Snicket).

Hope that helped...

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Danny Stack said...

Oh yes, the girl from Lemony Snicket, she's very good.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Shawna said...

I'm digging the girl in 'Heroes' who plays the blonde cheerleader -- Hayden Panettiere. She's 17 and has the Sarah Michelle Geller vibe from the early Buffy days, at least to me. I don't know if Michelle Trachtenberg is considered a) good or b) lead material, but there's another one.

I recommend watching the Disney Channel or ABC Family to start scoping out younger female actresses. And I didn't mean that to be as sick as that sounded...

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Hayden's not bad. Hard to believe she's the little girl from Remember the Titans, as well as Abby McBeal's daughter on the last season of that show.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Robert Hogan said...

Many of the girls mentioned as being too old wouldn’t have been able to carry a movie a when they looked young enough to play eighteen. I agree with Shawna that TV is a great place to look for hot young actors. In addition to Hayden (who has been phenomenal in everything I have seen her in including Heroes), I would look at Kaylee DeFer (The War at Home), Caitlin Wachs (Commander in Chief), Nikki Reed (Thirteen, The OC) or Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical).

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Joe Valdez said...

If your script is brilliant, they'll cast someone, Scott. There are great Vietnamese actresses, great Czech actresses, great midget actresses, and even great teenage actresses. None of them may be megastars, but they're out there. You admitted that commerciality is not your number one concern while you're writing, so I would do what you want and let the casting director roll up her sleeves and earn her lunch money when that day comes. If you get the one from "Project Greenlight 3", kill yourself.

At 7:43 PM, Anonymous keith said...

Don't mention Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page in the same sentence. Evan is in a different league.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Naila J. said...

Someone mentionned Hayden Panettiere. Great choice. I first thought of Alexis Bledel. Maybe Amber Tamblyn or, as others said, Evan Rachel Wood. I can't comment on Ellen Page because I haven't seen much of her work. Hilary Duff also comes to mind, but only if she stays brunette. For some reason, brunette seems to be what we're picturing :P

And maybe she's a little bit young, but Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame.

Other suggestions:

Jessica Pare
Rachel Bilson
Michelle Trachtenberg
Kristen Stewart
Eliza Dushku
Summer Glau

And lots of the ones you mentionned could still do the role. I say tell them exactly what you told us, and then have some current names.

Good Luck!

At 9:01 PM, Anonymous John Crime said...

Enjoy your posts on Word Player and Happy to find your website.
Getting attention from some people is a good start I imagine from my more naive outlook.
Would it be true to say that if you write a great screenplay but it's not considered commercial you may get notes on ways to increase its commerciability? And if so would you be willing to make those changes in order to the film made?
Does a produced film give you more status and then lead to more interest in you as a writer?
I don't know these things but they seem to be legitimate questions to ask yourself.
Rarely do actors, writers or other creative people get their ideal project the first time around.
Sometimes compromise can get the ball rolling.
I don't know for sure but wanted to bring it up as I would like to see you succeed as I'm sure you would share your journey with the rest of us so we all may learn.
Thank you for the insight you give.

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Formerly, The Dude Spoke said...

Scott, have you seen Hard Candy?

Ellen Page NAILS that role. And she held the entire film together, as she's in almost every frame.

I'm actually writing more female roles in my scripts now, so that she can be considered for them.

Fantastic actress.

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

John --

A produced film gives you a lot more status as a writer.

I'd consider making any change to my script, if it made sense. If a note didn't make sense, I'd try to argue why it didn't, or at least find a way to make it work.

But I'm not married to any of my scripts, and I have a lot more in me. All I'd really love is just the chance to really write full-time for a while, and see what I could churn out.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Scott,

I "intern" for one of the reputable management/prod companies that likely conacted you. I just finished reading a bunch of semi-finalists scripts and 60 pages of a finalist...
Frankly, if your script's good, don't worry about the age of the main character. Don't over think it. If a script is great, it will make its way up the ladder.

As a side note, I was very very disappointed with the nicholl scripts I read. In fact, I lost a lot of respect for the judging. NO OFFENSE Scott!!

- 'Bob' the intern

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Bob -- I'm not worrying, I'm just pondering.

E-mail me and let me know which company you work for, and I'll let you know if I sent my script your way...

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Ellen Page & Evan Rachel Wood are certainly among the best. Hayden rocks, too. Alexis Bleidel is also a good choice.

I also disagree with Dr. Taz, Lohan maybe be a sloppy drunk, but she's a solid actress. And a sloppy drunk.

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Systemaddict said...

Ellen Page is more than a solid choice man, she's great- and as her status rises- you'd be able to catch it around the coming years.

At 3:52 AM, Blogger wcmartell said...

Who is the star of the big horror movie made by a major studio coming out this weekend?

- Bill

At 5:39 AM, Blogger Milehimama said...

What about Kristen Bell? She carries an entire network show, and she's working with Tina Majorino, who might not be a bad choice either (although she's definitely not the cheerleader type.)
Emily Van Camp, from Everwood and Ring 2.
There is also a children's show called Hi-5, which has 3 actresses on it... they are actually very good, and I've seen WAY too many kid's shows. They manage to NOT be cheesy even when singing about their socks. Now there's acting talent! Of course, they are not famous at all... so probably would draw confused stares if you dropped their names.

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This link is supposed to have a gallery of potential replacements for Hermione -- no images on my Mac, but maybe it will work for you PC peeps.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Kris said...

I was going for Dakota but you'd already thought of it.

Dunst? She still looks like a preemie to me.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


No can do.

But, I'll look out for your script.

- bob

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Spanish Prisoner said...

Of course I mean I chose a character not yet analyzed.

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of the actresses mentioned have their strong points and will bring in their demographic, girl and boy. I agree with most on here about Lindsay, she's like Tom Cruise...personal "tabloid" life is a crazy mess, but when they go to work, they get the job done. A couple of others I would add to the bunch here would be...
Alison Lohman.
She is that age and has acted opposite great actors. She was the main character in White Oleander, Cage's daughter in Matchstick Men, and has a movie coming out soon called Flicka. The other would be...
Amanda Bynes. She has her own show and has opened a couple of her own movies. She has great comic timing. There are a few scenes in She's the Man that I laughed out loud

At 12:49 AM, Anonymous Leif Smart said...

TV seems to be the best way to go to pick up up and coming 'it' stars, particularly the new CW channel.
Most of Smallville's stars are probably too old now, but there's still Kirsten Bell, and Tina Majorino from Veronica Mars. Also Hilarie Burton and Sophia Bush from One Tree Hill.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Alison Lohman has been pulling off the teenage thing for a while, but she's actually 27.

At 2:05 AM, Blogger Lab Lemming said...

-Abbie Cornish

Question for Bob:
What is it about Nicholl scripts that turns you off?

At 2:10 AM, Blogger Lab Lemming said...

Also, About Ms. Lohan: Get her to act alongside Robert Downey Jr...

At 5:12 AM, Anonymous The Moviequill said...

good move on female character heavy scripts... I constantly read actresses are starved for good "women" scripts (yes I have one in planning stages)

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Naila J. said...

Amanda Bynes is a good choice too!!


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