To sell a screenplay in Hollywood, you need a great idea, one that grabs someone’s attention and makes them think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” When you can consistently get people to say that about your story idea, then you’ll know you have a great idea.
One of the hardest story genres to pitch are dramas because unless they’re based on historical figures, dramas are inherently not as visually exciting as horror, comedy, or action stories. Tell someone about a dramatic story about three people in a love triangle and there’s nothing inherently exciting about it. What makes any idea exciting is its execution.
“Blood Simple” was a movie about a love triangle but what made it interesting is not only are the people trying to kill each other, but they’re doing so for because they think they know what’s going on but they really don’t. So although “Blood Simple” is about a love triangle, the execution is far more interesting than the idea itself.
On the other hand, a movie like “The Hunt” is far more interesting as an idea than in its actual execution. In “The Hunt,” rich liberals bring conservatives to an open field so they can hunt them down and kill them. That’s an interesting premise but if you watch the movie, it’s not focused or unified so it fails in its execution.
So if you want to create a great screenplay, you need both a great idea and great execution. Of the two, great execution is far more important in deterring the quality of the story, but a great idea is hat you need to get the screenplay accepted and produced in the first place.
“Back to the Future” had an interesting premise about a teenager who goes back in time and has to get his parents back together again. However, this premise got rejected numerous times before a studio finally took a chance on it. That’s because the premise alone doesn’t hint at the real story and how funny it actually is.
“Groundhog Day” was initially a drama about a man trapped in an endless time loop. Even though the idea was interesting, it took the execution of the screenplay as a comedy to turn it into a great movie.
Look at all the bad movies out there and chances are good you’ll find a great idea behind all of them. Where bad movies fail is when they fail to execute that great idea.
So work on both your idea and execution. Your idea will get you in the door but your execution will deliver.