Saturday, March 22, 2008

Christopher Keane finds the passion

Get Keane on passion

When a new or veteran screenwriter comes to me for help, the first question I ask is this:

What's the story you need to tell?

The question goes right to the heart of the writer's passion, which to me is the crucial ingredient in any script. After twenty years writing and teaching in the movie business, I can tell the difference between someone's passion to write a story and a mild interest in getting into the industry.

What about the changing face of the movie business — in The New Hollywood? Bring your passion, yes, but the rules have changed. Hollywood draws from the provinces. Studio pictures fail where scripts from beyond Hollywood's borders prevail. Why? And how? And why are so-called smaller movies drawing top actors and directors, paying the big dollars, winning the big awards?

In The New Hollywood, subject matter defies industry convention and wisdom. While the top producers wrangle for big budget features, everyone else climbs outside the Hollywood box looking for dynamic product.

How do you tap that source? Why are story preparation and story beats the driving forces behind great scripts? How do you NOT fall into the flat character hole? How do capitalize on your own passion for a story, rather than derivative junk, to bring your script home?

When Kyle Rankin (co-director of 2003's Project Greenlight, shooting this spring in Austin, Texas) walked into my class four years ago, a fire burned. Kyle had a story to tell. He wanted to get the story out, and in class he did, and now he's launched a career.

It's all about passion and canniness and paying attention to a changing Hollywood. Kyle didn't write the movie he thought Hollywood might want to see. He wrote the story he needed to tell. He had the passion and I had the tools to help him turn the story into a knockout screenplay, which he then made into a movie.

I bring the same tools to my Script Analysis and into my Screenwriting Workshops. You bring the passion and I'll bring the nuts and bolts and together we'll build the world of your screenplay.

Unlike some teachers who do not write for the movie business, I am a working screenwriter. I'm currently writing a script for Samuel L. Jackson. I just finished an action comedy optioned by Michael Schiffer's Ballpark Productions. I had a series on last year off one of my books (The Huntress USA Network). And when all this is cleared out, there's a family-in-crisis story I'm dying to write.

If you've got the passion to tell a story that lives within you, bring it and we'll find a way to make it happen.

For more information on Christopher Keane's now book Romancing the A-List, go to or

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