Are Hollywood Movies Becoming Too Formulaic by Daniel Calvisi

Are Hollywood Movies Becoming Too Formulaic by Daniel Calvisi


Film Courage: Well Dan, we’ve pulled a few
comments left on some of our Film Courage Youtube channel videos and we wanted to run
them by you to see what you think (because they do have valid points). One comments is: “Anyone who says there
is not a formulaic process in mainstream Hollywood movies (and movies in general) is kidding
themselves. We expect a certain story structure based
on a thousand years of Western storytelling. Deviate at your own risk!” Dan Calvisi: I would agree with that except
that it’s not a formula, it’s a form. A formula would dictate what you write. A form is dictating how you structure it,
at what point do you reveal things, at what point should the story keep moving forward
and keep flowing rather than stop dead in its tracks or just have an 8-page dialogue
scene? So it’s not formula, it’s form. And I constantly remind my clients about that
and my students. It’s really important to understand that. Film Courage: Interesting. I like that. Another comment “No wonder people are dissatisfied
with Hollywood. Every movie is similar and so predictable
that the industry has committed the biggest sin. It is so predictable that it bores one to
tears. The story plot lines really are business plans
in disguise instead of entertainment.” Dan Calvisi: That can be true and I do see
that being true in more and more Hollywood movies (the franchise films). They are very formulaic and they are employing
the same character arcs, the same themes. Like in animation, it’s the theme of ‘Believe
in yourself. You can do anything.’ And I think it’s more interesting when you
see an animated film that is a little more complex than that. It’s a little more complicated than that. So I do like to see other themes explored
and a little bit more intelligent exploration of character and theme. I do agree that a lot of the franchise films
are becoming similar because they are using similar character arcs and similar themes
and similar plot devices. A lot of the action movies today I am just
so bored by because it’s just battle after battle even something like the movie LOGAN. LOGAN was very different from a lot of other
superhero films and I think the audience responded because of that. There was more character, it was darker, it
was more mature but once he starts slashing in those action scenes, I honestly get a little
bored. I’ve seen Wolverine slash with his claws
in what, 7 or 8 movies by now (maybe more)? So those long extended action scenes and battle
scenes and car chases for me don’t impress me so much because I’ve seen them in so
many movies. Now maybe for 12, 14, 15-year-olds, it is
more interesting and that is the core audience. A screenwriter shouldn’t necessarily be
focused on that 14, 15-year-old boy audience because they already have a bunch of highly-paid
writers in Hollywood who will write those particular franchise films. A screenwriter breaks in because they have
great characters, great dialogue and they explore themes in interesting ways. And they come up with a new and unique take
on a commercially proven genre. That’s what you want to do. You want to blow away the reader. You want to write a great piece of material
so that you’ll get your foot in the door and then they’ll hire you to do those assignments. But they don’t necessarily want a new writer
to write a huge franchise film for no other reason because those cost so much, they’re
not going to entrust a newbie with a 100 million dollar movie. And even if it’s a lower budget film, you
don’t have to write for the lowest common denominator, you can write to the top of your
intelligence. Film Courage: Don’t you have a book that
you’ve written about creating a super hero script? Dan Calvisi: I have a webinar that I’ve
written called ‘Writing the Super Hero Movie.’ And yes, I’m a huge fan of super hero films. I like them when they really stand out with
some unique character development and interesting themes. I love most of the Marvel movies. They are getting a little more formulaic in
my opinion. But familiar in the themes and action scenes
now. But I do love the super hero genre and I’m
always hoping that a writer will do something new with it.

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  1. my gosh, Hollywood movies….. borderline unwatchable… I feel bad for writers who pour their souls into scripts only to have some of the horseshit designed for a huge first weekend that gets served up. They're becoming very forgettable.

  2. I enjoyed Logan this sort of post modern "superhuman" Western because they weren't heroes trying to save the world a lot like Shane. The way the Guardians of the Galaxy explore friendship is just so refreshing I can't help but get caught up in their drama & I love how thematically Volume 2 was about the way the Antagonist & the Protagonist interpret a 45 year old song most of the audience has never hear of. Sam Raimi's Spiderman films they started it all in terms of our modern franchise's & I think Tony Maguire is the best Spiderman though I could talk for hours about where the first 2 films succeeded

  3. LMAO. It begins at 1:09 and ends at 1:20 – he's trying his best not to laugh and then just can't hold it in further, almost like, "yeah, this is about as true as it can get." I admire his honesty. How do I get that webinar, the one of the superheroes, writing a superhero movie? There's something on YouTube in the form of a PodCast, but I doubt that's it.

  4. pretty funny that that's my comment (the first one, and i believe i said thousands of years, but that's just me nit-picking). what i call a formula he calls a form. okay, that's fine, i see it as six of one and half dozen of another. he doesn't disagree, though, so i like this guy, lol. i still see it as a structural formula, and i don't think there's any impedance in seeing it either way. i appreciate his honesty and answering the questions without hum-hawing and chewing up the scenery like so many of them do.

  5. 2:24 – 3:03
    Logan may have fallen to typical comic book-action pack at the mountain runway scene. Spectacle is always expected to the genre, tho. I bet all (adults/kids) wanted to see that at the showing.

  6. Movies where I can predict where the writer is going, I skip to the end many times and find myself now watching movies within 20 mins. 🙁

  7. The more I write, the more I expect more from other who sold scripts and from directors. Although, I believe script writers sometimes get disappointed when their script is shot not up to its potential. I now jump through many movies to the middle and end if the beginning flattens out after the first beat.

  8. I didn’t like the first three X-Men films very much. I liked First Class, X-Men Origins Wolverine, and Logan – but not so much Apocalypse or Days of Future Past – despite enjoying both stories in the 90s animated series (I was never into comics). Aside from those, comic book films aren’t my thing – I agree the action scenes drag on way too long for the most part. I do like films that go outside the typical formula and plot mechanics. My favourite films of all time: Silence of the Lambs, Vertigo, Blade Runner 2049, Goodfellas, Rear Window, American Psycho, Titanic, Casablanca, Gandhi, Lawrence of Arabia, and Lord of the Rings.

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