Whenever I head to L.A. for a screenwriting event, I always stalk the speakers. Knowing something about the people you will learn from always enhances the overall experience. Plus, I like crawling inside people's heads. Blame the writer in me.
For this year's Screenwriters World Conference, I wanted to reach out to several of the speakers and give you a peek at their insights prior to the event, which I hope you're all marking on your calendars and using as a deadline to get your scripts polished and ready to pitch!
Adam B. Finer has spent much of his career gaining an understanding of the inner workings of the entertainment industry. As an executive, literary manager, producer and consultant, Mr. Finer has been involved with studio films, independent feature films, television shows, Internet programming and many other areas of the entertainment and new technology fields.
Adam Moore is a screenwriter, video game writer, comic book writer, non-scripted story producer, and screenwriting instructor. He received his BFA in Dramatic Writing and Cinema Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory (MFA Screenwriting), where he received the Richard Levinson Award for artistic excellence.
Always being curious why people do what they do, what got you both started in this business?
Adam Moore: I've been a storyteller since I could hold a crayon. The entertainment industry always appealed to me because of the depth and audience reach of the various mediums that make up the industry.
Adam Finer: I’ve been creating stories and building story worlds with my friends since I was a kid. You just don’t realize that’s what you’re doing; you’re just being a kid. When I was in my mid-teens I somehow got my hands on movie scripts and I loved visualizing what the movie would become when finished and I still love that. My career officially began when I went to Universal Pictures one day with a friend who was picking up a paycheck. That day someone had quit and I talked myself into an 11-year journey at the studio.
Creating a fresh concept for a movie franchise seems like a daunting task. What do you think the keys are to knowing if you have a concept that's expandable enough to broaden into a franchise?
Moore: At NYFA we break transmedia franchises down into component pieces to see which have the most promise to leap across the media sphere. Does our franchise have a Hero? A home base? An iconic vehicle? Friends and allies? Enemies? Iconic gadgets? A unique world? If you can check off most of the items on that list, then you're in good shape.
Finer: My first thought would be that not all concepts or franchises need to start as movies. Television, video games, comic books, novels, web series, toys and even theme park rides have launched franchises. I’d ask what medium best serves your characters and the world they live in. Then build your story in that world and connect with an audience that wants to see your story worlds.
When you look back at your career, what are you most surprised about in terms of how this industry works?
Moore: Not so much surprised as I am disappointed by the way most writers are treated. Unless you're in the 1% of writers in the industry, you have to be willing to do a lot of work for free. It wasn't always that way. Even 20 years ago it was much different.
Finer: I’m not sure if this surprises me, but I’m always impressed by the passion needed to see projects through. Without story and passionate storytellers in all areas of the business, this would be a very boring industry.
Have you discovered any out-of-the box actions that writers have taken over the years that actually work at getting them noticed?
Moore: Writers who create their own content - web series, comic books - seem to have a great deal of success getting notice, as opposed to writing spec script after spec script and hoping one pops.
Finer: I spent the second part of my career as a Literary Manager, and I have seen writers try to take all kinds of shortcuts aka out-of-the box thinking, but what always caught my eye was great writing and powerful storytelling. Now, one of the benefits of Transmedia storytelling is that great writers have other mediums to tell their stories in and engage and grow audiences.
I noticed Adam M. has experience developing video games. As the mother of a teen boy, all I hear his college-seeking peers say is how they want to design games, thinking it's a life of sitting on the couch and gaming. What insights would you offer someone who wants to get into that field, regardless of their age?
Moore: Be prepared to work hard, and for very long hours at times. The most important things anyone who wants to work in games can learn are the fundamentals of game design.
Finer: I know this question is for Adam, but I’d also chime in that Game Development and design takes a great deal of effort, hard work and time. Creating narratives that connect with audiences is really important. It doesn’t matter if a game is very simple or extremely complex in terms of graphics if a player is engaged in the world.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 18-year-old selves?
Moore: When I was 18, there was no such thing as a Game Design Degree, so I can't give myself that advice. But I would tell myself that making games can be a career, and you love your Nintendo, so go find a way to do that and forget about the film industry (smiles).
Finer: It’s the same advice I still give myself everyday - keep learning, keep taking creative leaps, keep engaging in new ideas and keep sharing those ideas with others.
Meet Adam Moore and Adam Finer at Screenwriters World Conference in August and also check out the NY Film Academy's Screenwriting School in Los Angeles.