A total no-no?

I am about half way through my first ever screenplay. My question is...how big of a no-no is it to recommend certain songs to be played at certain parts in my film? As a lifelong musician, I feel a huge attachment to placing certain songs with certain parts. However, I have heard that this will turn off many screenplay readers. Is this a deal breaker for readers when they see this recommendation from a writer?

Thank you for your help!
Brian
 
It'll mark you as an amateur to do so. Considering how competitive the screenwriting field is, anything you do that is an excuse for a reader to stop reading is a huge disadvantage.

What I like to do, personally, is create a playlist on YouTube for each piece I work on. It's something that gets it out of my system without actually being directly attached to my screenplays.
 
That makes sense. I guess I will have to put my attachment aside, damnit! Maybe I will be lucky enough to deal with people who will let me make a case...is that reasonable?
 
I am about half way through my first ever screenplay. My question is...how big of a no-no is it to recommend certain songs to be played at certain parts in my film? As a lifelong musician, I feel a huge attachment to placing certain songs with certain parts. However, I have heard that this will turn off many screenplay readers. Is this a deal breaker for readers when they see this recommendation from a writer?

Thank you for your help!
Brian

Stop.
Stop.
Stop.

Whatever it is you're doing - stop.

If you're "considering" a "recommendation" of a song then I know you're writing a spec screenplay for someone else, not yourself, to produce.
Otherwise, you could put in any old dandy tune you want and it's only you and the attorneys fighting over how much you're going to be sued for damages.

Speaking of attorneys, it's not so much as the copyright on songs, as in lyrics, that is the issue, as it is the copyrights on music, which is really what you're asking about.

Songs.
Music.

Two different things you have to pay rights for.
And they're expensive, especially the ones people will generally recognize.

Short N sweet: FUGEDABOUDIT!

Screw the screenplay readers!
Consider the poor producers that gotta pay for it!
So, now we get to the issue of tailoring a screenplay to fit the music (DON'T!) vs. writing a story and finding "an acceptable (affordable) alternative" musical selection.
That'll be the producer/director/studio's decision.

IF someone pays you for your screenplay you'll certainly be in a conference with them, likely plenty more than once, for rewrites galore.
So wait until then to provide your musical recommendations.


Now, back to screenplay writing...
Five bucks say's you'll benefit from this:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/12721428/Professional-Screenplay-Formatting-Guide

For a free online resource it's pretty good.
Meat N taters.
Keeps you outta trouble for most stuff.

Spec screenplay writing is a unique art form like any other.

GL & GB


Ray
 
Ray,

Yes, I am writing the screenplay for someone else to produce, this is true. I guess the part where you mentioned being in attendance for a conference is the answer to my question. I was hoping to at least be able to plead my case. I do understand copyrights on music, songs, etc..at least to some degree. Your advice is great...I appreciate it!
 
I'm collaberating with another writer, it is being done in Final Draft for the most part. I generally write in Word...I have gotten used to formatting manually. Before I send away to readers, I will let several people look at it for help to make sure my formatting doesn't blow my chances.
Would you be willing to take a look when the time is right?

Thanks,
Brian
 
I have too many irons in the fire, myself.
I must decline.

However, you can download celtx for FREEEEEEEE, make a PDF, throw what you got up onto google docs and post here to see if anyone wants to take a crack at it.

I strongly suggest you just go ahead and put on a thick, padded, leather jacket.
The beatings will be extensive as they are unrelenting.

Honestly, indietalk has the d@mn nicest community of viewers I've ever run across.
I know some other folks that'll beat you with clubs and leave you die bleeding.
Folks are pretty nice around here.
 
I have thick skin. I also understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion. Thanks again for the advice...I will post when I'm closer to the end...and registered.

Brian
 
Most screenplays are going to be good or bad in just the first ten pages, if not in one or two.

A feature length screenplay will likely suck up a few hundred hours of your time just in writing alone and not factoring in research and general cogitating.

If you can get spec format down in the first ten pages it'll save you a hundred hours in going back to rewrite/edit/hack an entire feature length work.

I sh!t you not.
I give a great respect to the value of your time.
And I'm telling ya you'll save a lot of it by making sure you're headed down the right path with the right tools to get to the other side without backtracking fifty-eight times.

Measure twice. Cut once.


EDIT: Oh, and don't even worry about someone stealing your idea.
Pretty much everyone already has enough going on themselves to fool with stealing your or anyone's ideas.
And no one in their right mind wants to try to defend in a court that they didn't have exposure to your first ten pages, which is going to be one of the first things your attorney is going to ask 'em.
Anyone crazy enough to deny that isn't smart enough to finish a screenplay.
 
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Unless you happen to be close friends with the director, there's not much point in you suggesting music. Frankly, they won't care what you think about that. And if you do happen to be close to them, the suggestion should come face-to-face, not in the script.
 
Only make song recommendations if they are essential to the plot (and even then avoid where possible).

I'm trying to think of a good example but the best I can come up with is Mr Blonde slicing off the ear in Reservoir Dogs. On that occasion something like 'a jaunty tune' might suffice, but you might also think about recommending a specific song.
 
Only make song recommendations if they are essential to the plot (and even then avoid where possible).

I'm trying to think of a good example but the best I can come up with is Mr Blonde slicing off the ear in Reservoir Dogs. On that occasion something like 'a jaunty tune' might suffice, but you might also think about recommending a specific song.
Sound advice, and completely applicable.

If the song has relevance, you don't just recommend it, you find a way to weave it into the scene without distracting from the read.

One up for the Clapper.

Want some hard-lined examples? Watch the first FINAL DESTINATION

Song Cue's and Lyrics = Death
 
Sound advice
No pun intended? Bah-dom-tshh!

Good point, Nick. I hadn't taken that rare instance into consideration. Sometimes, as Nick and Kholi have pointed out, the song is crucial to the story.

Off the top of my head, though, all I can think of, in these respects, are instances of "source music" -- that is, the music is being played by someone in the movie. I guess there are always exceptions, though.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
It is not wise to use a finished films as an example. We do not
know know the legal history of how a specific song ended up in the
movie. Music in movies is essential - songs can make or break a
scene in a movie. The script is not the movie. The “Reservoir
Dogs” scenes is a perfect example. We cannot imagine that scene
without that song. However, if there was a different song during
that scene it would not change the plot.

The downside of only mentioning a song if it essential to the plot
is if that song is not available and it is essential to the plot
then the entire plot will not work without that song. Not a good
place to be as a writer.

Maybe I will be lucky enough to deal with people who will let me make a case...is that reasonable?
Very reasonable. If your script is excellent and the producer likes
you as a person as much as as a writer, you may be asked to do
rewrites and at that point you can make music suggestions.
 
\
The downside of only mentioning a song if it essential to the plot
is if that song is not available and it is essential to the plot
then the entire plot will not work without that song. Not a good
place to be as a writer.

.
Hope this doesn't come off the wrong way (most of my posts do, I'm noticing):

This is true for a lot of major devices in a script: a building, a plane, even an expensive prop. A writer should probably recognize that some things may be out of the range for the production, but allowing the "possibility" of something being unavailable to hinder you in writing stages is a pretty easy way to kill the process of actually just writing a detailed script. To me, this goes triple if you just want to be a writer, and not a producer or a director, etc. At that point, you should be doing whatever you want within the bounds of acceptable.

A moment where a giant robot appears for five seconds could be as expensive as the rights to a song, is what I mean to say.

Of course, that's just how I see it, anyway.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
If you are writing a script about a giant robot and that is the
plot then you will need to sell the script to a studio that can
afford to make a giant robot movie. A song is different. It is
not about the cost at all. Some songs just might not be available
for a movie. That is the right and privilege of the copyright
holder, and that is what I am talking about.

I am in no way suggesting this is a “no-no” - I never do. I am
pointing out the downside to a decision a writer may make. The
more knowledgeable a writer is about the business of film making
the better. A writer should write in the song or songs they want
into their script. Do so knowing the realities of the business.
 
One of the greatest spec scripts of all that became an even better film is BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, written by two time Oscar winner William Goldman. Here's how he wrote the music cue for the iconic bike scene with Burt Bacarach's "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my head". Here:

There are going to be three of them before the film is over. This, the first, is a song sung by male voices, and the feel of it is terribly contemporary, because in fact, the sound of the songs of this period are shockingly close in feel to the popular music of today.

What we hear will not be song like "Bicycle Built for Two. The song will be poignant and pretty as hell and, like the songs, for example, in "The Graduate", they will make an emotional comment on the scene, not a literal one; they will have an emotional connection with the scene, not a literal one.


Not saying this is what you should or shoudn't do, just interesting to see how an A lister did it.
 
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