This is a guest article by Alan Denman.

What kinds of films will be watching in the next ten years? What kinds of films will our children be watching in the next twenty to thirty years? Will films grow closer to computer games or computer games take over from film going? Will storytelling flourish and multiply or shrink and become formulaic? As screenwriters, where should we be focusing our attention? What stories will we tell?

At ground level it’s difficult to get an objective overview of where we are at at this time in 2013 but I think it’s safe to say the film industry is changing and changing more rapidly than we may realize. Studio movies have got more expensive and Hollywood is producing far less. The emphasis for some while has been on action and special effects – what are known as “ tent pole movies” (Transformers, Spiderman, X-Men and so on) because the big profits from these prop up other divisions of the Studios. However, with these kinds of films, with their $100 – 200 million budgets, character and story tend to suffer. These movies are visual popcorn, a roller coaster experience that usually is forgotten within minutes, but I think we’re likely to see more of these coming out.

Yet film still has – and always will have – the power to enchant, move and inspire us, because this is what really good storytelling does. Great stories have great themes and we will always need story for its ability to help us make sense of life and to inspire us to go beyond our everyday limits. These kinds of stories fall into the “independent” sector, that vast region outside the Studios and Mini-Majors, in which creative freedom is easier to come by but good marketing and distribution harder to achieve.

Perhaps a more useful question to ask, rather than what stories do you want to tell, is this: what kind of writer do you want to be? Do you want to be writing Studio movies and earning big bucks? Do you want to be working with independent producers on unusual and original projects? Or do you see yourself taking power into your own hands becoming a director and/or producer? And what about audience? Do you want to write children’s animation or family adventure, Gothic horror or zany comedy? No one answer is correct. You must follow your bliss, your dream. But to know what kind of writer you want to be will guide you not only in your writing but also in the way you connect with the film industry and people in it. Many people begin with a dream of selling scripts to the Studios or Mini-Majors but your true destiny may in fact be very different.

The platforms for viewing films, the technology for making them, the development of home-based graphics and animation, is increasing every year, but it will always come to this one question: what kind of writer do you want to be? When you know this, I believe, you will know what kinds of stories you will want to write.


Alan is a British writer, director, producer and script coach and consultant. He has taught screenwriting extensively in North America, the UK and Europe and has spent much of his career in Los Angeles. As a script coach and consultant, he integrates his experience of screenwriting, directing and producing to help writers create scripts that are not only well-crafted, imaginative stories but that also have strong, commercial potential.

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One thought on “The Future of Film – What kind of writer do you want to be?”
  1. It’s definitely food for thought. I went to ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ this weekend, and I enjoyed it greatly (and you might say I enjoyed enjoying it), but I know I’ll never write a script anything like that. Rather than stories that nourish the soul, mine tend to be more about ripping it out and stomping on it. I -do- hope there’s an audience for that somewhere. I think there should be. I don’t think I’m too weird to look for balance in stuff like that. Some days you need a goofy smile, some days you need trials and tribulations. So while it reflects on me, I don’t think it reflects poorly. And I don’t know if the writers of ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ would necessarily be able to write a soul-stomping story like some of mine. Or that they’d want to, but that’s another matter altogether.

    (seriously though, my latest project would have Cormac McCarthy saying it’s a little bleak….)

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