I’m writing a movie musical and am using sort of a jury-rigged version of the standard stage musical format: songs stand on their own as one uninterrupted stream of lyrics. Is there a better way to do this, to include action? A standard way for films? I can’t find online versions of scripts for films with musical numbers in them (except Moulin Rouge, which seemed like a bad scenario, very cutty).
Erik from Seattle
I have no experience writing musicals. However, after making a number of inquiries, I have concluded that there is probably no longer a standard format for musicals. I received two important suggestions which may help:
1. Since the thirties, songs in movie musicals have not been uninterrupted events. Rather, the songs themselves advance the action of the story. As such, it is unlikely that the songs will be represented in the script by an uninterrupted block of lyrics. You will likely have action interwoven with the songs.
2. Some of the animated musicals (e.g. Lion King or The Little Mermaid) might be written in an acceptable format. I could not find any of them downloadable on line, but you might check with script companies like Script City to see if you can order a hard copy.
If someone reading this has more experience in this area, help….
Our favorite jargon spewing, chart wielding, structuralist screenwriting guru, Robert McKee (author of the screenwriting bible “Story”) is bravely “reviewing” (aka analyzing) current screenplays for Script Magazine. Before you click through, be aware of his strict warning: “Do not read what follows until you have seen The Town.”
Before you get too attached to an idea for your next spec, remember you will be investing months of work into it and repeat the following:
1. Studios are not more likely to buy my script because I think it has great sequel and franchise potential. They are more likely to buy it because it is a solid concept that is well written.
2. If I am not a novelist, I will not write my story as a novel first in order to sell it to Hollywood. It is no easier to sell a first novel than a first script.
3. Studios will not buy my script because it has a good message. They will by it because it is a solid concept that is well written.
4. The fact that I can say my idea in a single sentence does not mean it is a good idea.
5. Evil corporations are lousy bad guys.
6. The fact that it really happened does not mean it is a good idea for a movie.
7. The fact that it is “just like” a highly successful movie is not necessarily a good thing.
8. I will not come up with an idea that is just what the market is looking for. By the time I’m done writing it, the market will not be looking for it.
9. I will not write something because the top A-lead likes to play that kind of a role. The top A-lead is unlikely to see my script or select it out of the barrelfuls shoved at him/her on a daily bases.
10. I will not write a script because it is an easy no-brainer that is guaranteed to sell. There is no such thing.
The only reason to select a particular story idea for your next spec – “I really really love it.”