I love Spring and the feeling of renewal and revival that comes with it. There’s the feeling that now the worst of the weather has past the year can really get going. At Double M we are likewise feeling that things are on the move. We’re gearing up to film our short and we have a handful of new projects waiting in the wings; more news on all this soon.
Today I wanted to talk about story trends. In my role as Development Executive, and as a freelance reader and funding assessor, I read a lot of scripts, plays and story pitches, and it has always been interesting to me to see what ideas are out there and what themes and subjects writers want to address right now. Recently I’ve noticed that a lot of lead characters are suffering from anxiety or arrested development (check out the trailer for Woody Harrelson’s Wilson or Richard Gere’s Norman to see what I mean), and perhaps this reflects the uncertain times we are living in, and a growing awareness of mental health issues.
There are also a lot of stories about coming out, burgeoning homosexuality, transgender or confused sexuality, and this is encouraging, perhaps this is a reflection that those in the LGBT community feel they can finally tell their own stories openly and honestly. I’m looking forward to seeing these themes explored in Frances Lee’s quiet and emotive God’s Own Country, last year's About Ray and also in the rather more flashy and provocative The Handmaiden from Park Chan-Wook.
There have also been lots of ideas that discuss sex, whether it’s a story about abuse, or a story about body dysmorphia, the need to explore how sex, and the portrayal of sex, plays a role in our society, shows a need for franker conversations and improved sex education. I can’t wait to see Alicia Vikander's exploration of female sexuality in Tulip Fever.
Films to watch in 2017: God's Own Country, About Ray, Wilson, Tulip Fever
I have also read a number of scripts about fathers and sons, and male friendships, and this makes me wonder whether men want to see more male emotion on screen. These scripts proved that opening up and letting people in is a way to heal and to grow - I can only applaud this desire to show men communicating given the high male suicide rates in the UK.
However, just because these scripts are being written, it doesn’t mean they’re getting made and the lack of bromances, or sex narratives (less of a surprise), currently on our screen may suggest these kind of characters and stories are not attractive for producers and distributors at the present time. Sometimes the stories writers want to tell find a way through, and sometimes they don't.
What is consistent amongst many of these story ideas is how personal the subject matter is to these writers, and how passionate they are about giving a voice to their concerns and their experiences. Writers write because they have something to say and this is important to remember. Even when working on a genre film writers should consider how this story relates to their own personal experiences and what point they are making with the story they are telling. Reading a lot of scripts gives me an insight into what people want to talk about, and what they are struggling to understand, and I really really value this side of my job.