Write Characters That Attract A-List Talent

Written by Reprinted with permission from the BBC on .

Are certain characters more likely to be rewarded with an Academy Award than others? We've looked back at best actor and actress Oscar winners since 1927 to try to find out.

oscar statue with clapping hands

Roles played by Oscar-winning actors and actresses since 1927

  • 16%       Real Person
  • 16%       Has mental illness or physical disability
  • 13%       Single parent or widow/er
  • 12%       In showbiz
  • 8%         Suffers from alcoholism
  • 7%         Royalty, politician or leader
  • 7%         Military figure
  • 6%         Works in law and order
  • 6%         Prostitute or mistress
  • 2%         Religious figure

Southern belles, frustrated spinsters, power-hungry TV execs, nuns, clergymen and even kings and queens. Over the years Oscar has rewarded actors and actresses for their portrayal of a wide array of characters, both real and fictional.But, patterns have emerged.

There are, it appears, certain types of roles that consistently act as Academy bait.

As a result, we've come up with five ways wannabe Oscar winners could improve their chances of landing an award. Empire magazine's Helen O'Hara helps explain the findings.

Consider Your Screenplay Is An IPhone: Pitch Tips We Can Learn From Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs Headshot WikipediaSteve Jobs created his success by pitching crazy ideas to other people, and getting them to see his vision. Whether it’s technical wizardry, new gadgets and innovations or just a great story, the same principles apply in presenting your ideas to others.

1. Focus your presentation on one critical point -- then make it clear. Steve Jobs recognized that the human mind couldn’t process a mountain of material in one sitting. Any information or data that isn’t driving a specific message can be a distraction that weakens the impact of your presentation. Use only visuals that support your one point.

2. Acknowledge why people are listening to you. Your audience is in the room for a particular reason. It’s critical to understand why they’re listening to you so you can tune your presentation in a manner that makes them more receptive listeners. The same talk might play out very differently if it’s given to shareholders, engineers or sales people. Similarly, if you are pitching your project to actors, producers, directors or studio executives, be sure to tailor your pitch to their interests.

Is Hollywood Stuck In A Remake Rut?

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Joel Mendoza - Co-Founder Fresh Voices/ CEO Attraction Entertainment

Hollywood SignLooking back on movie releases from the last 20 years, it’s easy to see why one would believe that Hollywood is stuck in remake rut, relying too heavily on sequels, prequels, adaptations, reboots, and remakes. One could even be forgiven for arguing that there are no original scripts coming out of Hollywood anymore.

But don’t be discouraged. Many original screenplays break through the Hollywood gridlock and find huge success at the box office. What’s even more exciting is that many are written by previously unproduced writers.  Below is just a partial list of successful films based on original screenplays written by unproduced screenwriters.  (Box Office numbers as reported by Box Office Mojo.)

Become A Successful Screenwriter: Break In, Break Through & Break Out

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Joel Mendoza    Co-Founder Fresh Voices/ CEO Attraction Ent.

Break in 2First the depressing news! Hollywood is rapidly changing and the rules for screenwriting success are changing with it. Gone are the days of a Hollywood flush with development money, first look deals and discretionary funds. Agents only have time for established talent that earn top dollar. Managers are less likely to invest their time and energy trying to break new writers.  Producers want fully developed, high quality material, and financiers want to know the whole package before committing any cash. All this has placed an incredible burden on writers already straining to break in. 

And now the good news!

2012 Fresh Voices Pitch Contest Grand Prize Winner Nathaniel Grauwelman

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IMAG0185Nathaniel Grauwelman was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2012 Fresh Voices Pitch Contest. Based in Lebanon, Ohio, Nathaniel’s winning pitch, El Camino: A Tale of Brotherly Revenge was selected from hundreds of original ideas to eke out the competition and nab the top spot.

By winning the Grand Prize Nathan won $500 cash, Final Draft Screenwriting Software plus the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and pitch his winning pitch to more than 30 producers and executives at the Ink Tip Pitch Summit in October 2012. Below is our post-win round up interview to find out what winning the Fresh Voices Pitch Contest has done for him.

SCREENWRITER PROFILE: JACK MESSITT

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jack messittGrand Prize Winner of the 2011 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition. Chosen from nearly 1,000 screenplays, ADVENTURES IN BABYMAKING is the story of a reluctant father and his persistent wife as they navigate the frustrating and often ridiculous world of trying to have a baby.

Please check out what Jack had to say about his approach to writing, and what has been happening since winning the competition.

SCREENWRITER PROFILE: JIM SCHWEITZER

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Originally published on MovieBytes.com (Friday April 13, 2012):

An interview with screenwriter Jim Schweitzer regarding the Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition.

Q:  What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?

A: The script is called "Take Out," and it's an action/comedy project I co-wrote with my longtime pal Ryan Myers. With it, we wound up placing 2nd in the "Action" category of the Fresh Voices Original Screenplay Competition. 

SCREENWRITER PROFILE: ELI RICHBOURG

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RIP Eli Richbourg - March 2013

You will be greatly misssed by everyone you touched.

Eli Richbourg Head shotEli Richbourg is a WGA writer and has been given the task of rewriting scripts for many of Joel Schumacher’s films, including the recent Nicole Kidman, Nicholas Cage film Trespass. Most recently, Eli sold his pitch for a new installment of the Rambo franchise to producer Avi Lerner at Millenium/ Nu Image. Other Executive Producer and Associate Producer Credits include: The Number 23, The Phantom of the Opera, Phone Booth, Bad Company, Tigerland. In this informative interview, Eli explains his background, how he got his start and his approach to the art and business of screenwriting.

SCREENWRITER PROFILE: PATRICK CAULFIELD

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2010 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition Grand Prize Winner    

patrick caulfield headshotPatrick Caulfield won the Grand Prize of the 2010 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition with his comedy script, Saint Patrick's Day. The script is about 3 best friends struggling with the obligations and responsibilities of adulthood. When they find their annual Saint Patrick's Day celebration under threat, events begin to spiral out of control. Read what Patrick has to say about screenwriting, his  experience winning the Fresh Voices competition and what has been happening since. 

SCREENWRITER PROFILE: DAVE CALLAHAM

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expendables posterDave wrote the 2010 summer blockbusterThe Expendables, which has so far grossed over $270m at the world box office. Dave's past credits include the video game adaptation Doom for producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Horsemen produced by Michael Bay, and Tell-Tale for producers Ridley and Tony Scott

Most recently, Dave was hired by Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures to write the 2014 summer tent-pole Godzilla and he sold an original pitch to Twentieth Century Fox and Producer/ Director McG.

Here we discuss Dave's approach to the business and art of screenwriting in Hollywood. What's worked for him, what hasn't, and what he's learned along the way. An invaluable conversation for any aspiring screenwriter whether you are writing a high concept studio movie or a low budget, character-driven indi.

 

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