I half assidely watched "Akeelah and the Bee" yesterday. It was sort of good, but then I started to see something weird. You know how in the Matrix when Bill S. Preston started to see all the green numbers? That totally happened to me... totally! I started to see this formula appearing before my eyes, suddenly I wasn't watching a movie anymore, but a skillfully crafted mathematical equation being slowly worked out on a chalk board before my very eyes.
I've written a lot of stuff, but I'm by no means a great writer. I'm still figuring out the heroes journey, good story structure, and character development. I think I have grasp on all these concepts, but I won't have a good foot hold until I've written tons more stuff. I think after laboring over writing for so long, I look at things a lot differently than other people. I can see problems and ways to fix the problems in TV shows and movies. Everything ever made follows the same structure, whether it intends to or not. When a movie feels weird or seems odd, it's probably because it's deviated from the structure in an illogical way. We've all seen so much media throughout our lives that story structure is now hardwired into our brain. Even if you have no idea what it is, you still can feel when it's wrong.
This movie was so formulaic, so paint by numbers, that it seemed like I was watching gears in machine. I'm banging my head against a wall trying to write a screenplay and think of other screenplays I'd like to write. It isn't easy by any means, but after watching this "indy" favorite I've figured out the perfect formula to make a successful indy movie. If you are an indy film maker and you want to cash in, write this down, and I guarantee you'll have a hit on your hands.
(Child With Talent or Gift) + (Sibling That believes in them divided by parent/guardian that doesn't believe in them) x (Mysterious Stranger that once had gift and is willing to help child) + (One failed attempt) + (At least 3 fake failed attempts that redeem themselves to actually be successes) + (Parent/Guardian's change of heart) + (Mysterious Starnger's secret revealed) + (Child wins after learning the true meaning of why they are using their talent/gift) x (Uplifting voice over while watching montage) = BIG HIT
Write that down, trust me, plug in anything you want as variables into this equation and you will sell your movie at Sundance next year!