Writing a Script for the International Audience

When convenient, I’m a man of my word. This is why I’m following-up from an earlier blog to share my experience using my new international approach to screenwriting. Here is how I failed.

I began by adapting my American politics script because the producer liked the overall concept. So instead of the protagonist being a U.S. Governor they are now the American Ambassador to the United Nations. It felt like the perfect change because the political beats of the story remain intact, but I can include Chinese characters.

After a few minutes of editing, my change felt more like I ate a month old sandwich – it seemed smart at first, but I soon realized I just made a terrible mistake. The problem was that I know nothing about the United Nations. This is my only exposure (shout out to Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros Ghali):

So there is no way I could accurately capture the complexity of international affairs, especially if Disney Land finally gets statehood because Disney is an aggressive litigator and I can’t afford the lawsuit. All joking aside, not understanding the United Nations was a huge problem because it made my work feel disingenuous.

This was the entire problem with adapting my writing style. I have lived my entire life in North America. This has exposed me to limited life experiences, which makes it difficult for me to create relatable content for an international audience.

“I have lived my entire life in North America. This has exposed me to limited life experiences, which makes it difficult for me to create relatable content for an international audience.”

Most of my exposure to the outside world is from movies and TV. China to me is Jackie Chan movies. This is so terrible because Jackie Chan isn’t even Chinese! He is from Hong Kong. How I felt when I learned that:

Chan knocks down chaser on bike

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As you can see, I need more exposure to the outside world. Until I booked my next trip to Shanghai, I’m going to stick to writing what I know: divisive American Politics and well-timed slapstick falls.

Until Next Time,

Mr. Struggle




Writing a Script for the International Audience

WTF Is International Appeal

I just met with a producer! A small fry, but at least he’s on the menu. Our meeting was going well. He bought me lunch, which makes me happy because I didn’t have to suffer through a leftover stew. Then we got to my scripts.

He rejected most of my pitches, but he’s ears perked up about one of my House of Cards inspired stories. I gave him an beat sheet (free tip: I like to keep them on hand to help seal a deal). He looked through it quickly and said it was really good!

Happy Christ Pratt

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He then paused and muttered these painful words: “hold on a second.”

Chris Pratt saying Noooo

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He gave the script one more read and passed on it. Shocked, I asked why his opinion changed. He told me the script lacked “international appeal” because it was set in America, had American characters and was about American politics.

Chris Pratt yelling I am not crying, okay!

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I’ve been rejected enough times, but that’s a new excuse. It goes against my entire writing philosophy of putting story-first and trying to make the best movie. Now my execution of this philosophy may be as flawed as a wrestler (not nicknamed “The Rock”) trying to transition into movies, but my intentions are always pure.

After our meeting, I Googled “Hollywood and international appeal.” To my surprise, he was right – Hollywood is now a global game.  If you want to maximize your box office returns, you need to make money overseas. So far in 2017, the top five grossing movies have made 65% or more of their box office revenues overseas.

The forefront of the global movement is China. The rise of the middle class has turned the country into a box office powerhouse. China now has more movie theaters than the U.S.A and its box office revenue is predicated to surpass the United States in 2017. One word: holy crap! I know that’s two words, but now you see how surprised I am.

So Hollywood has to release movies in China. Simple enough, right? Come on, you already know the answer. It’s not simple at all because the Chinese government restricts the number of foreign films allowed in the country. You better please the Chinese government if you want access to their market. Vox has a good explanation of how to do exactly that:

Not knowing this information burned me before, but now it is an opportunity to make my scripts more enticing to buyers. Moving forward, I’m going to include international and Chinese elements in all my scripts.

Need a location in my next action film? Shanghai it is! Need a foreign power as an enemy? The Netherlands haven’t done much for America lately. Hopefully these changes can help give me a leg up to sell my art in the business known as Hollywood.

Until next time,

Mr. Struggle

WTF Is International Appeal