Monday, July 26, 2010

Reader mail: Family friendly franchise movie

Hank asks:

I just finished the 1st draft of a family-friendly action script. It takes place @ disneyworld, incorporates all their theme parks, and features a seldom seen character owned by Marvel/disney.

1. Is this bad? Limiting the possible buyers...but creating something that cross markets both marvel and disney? (shoot...have I asked this before?

In short, yeah, you've pretty much limited your buyers to one, and to top it off, this sort of cross-promotional deal is something that most often is developed in-house.

2. My characters are a bunch of uber intelligent 15 and 16 year olds. I feel like I'm writing them "just this side of adult" is this a feel thing or is there a rule-of-thumb when writing younger characters?

I ask because I have a friend who wrote a tween-targeted piece and it ead (to me) like a "saved by the bell" episode. Now, I love the Zack attack as much as the next guy....but....y'know?

I totally follow where you're coming from, but if you're going after tweens rather than teens, the Saved by the Bell model is probably where you're going to want to aim. In that case, even though your characters are older, your audience is going to be in elementary and middle school, so the tone has to be appropriate for them. After ala fifteen year-old on 90210 is probably going to sound a lot different from a fifteen year-old on Hannah Montana.

It sounds like you're writing it family-friendly but also want to appeal to teenagers. The trick with teenagers is that if you write them sounding too young, you get the Saved By the Bell problem, but if you make their dialogue too mature, it sounds equally silly in the manner of early Dawson's Creek.

The older your audience, the "closer to adult" you'll want to write the teens. In other words, if you're aiming for the elementary and middle school audience that saw High School Musical you'll want to keep them pretty innocent and un-nuanced. If you're going after that teen viewer, you'll probably have to give them a little more edge and maturity.

"Just this side of adult" sounds like the safest way to play it. Just don't neglect how your story's tone and especially the maturity of your viewer can determine this.


  1. There's a pretty easy way to fix the first problem. Make up your own theme park with your own characters. If you get any bites from Disney or any other theme-park-owning company, you can always tell them how easy it would be for you to rewrite it with their property.

  2. So he's writing about uber intelligent kids that are "just this side of adult." At that point, why not just write adults? Sounds like he's trying to write them as un-childlike as possible. Kids have entirely different points of view and motivation. Making the kids super smart, in my opinion, would require even more thought. They're smart, but they're still kids.