May 8, 2020

Please Don't Write Your Next Spec About COVID-19

We're all living it right now. The drama isn't compelling, it's boring. And no one will want to read it when this is all over. 

I am completely against telling people what they should write. I think it's asinine and limits someone's imagination. The best screenplays live in your imagination and hit the page. You should always be writing the movie or TV show you want to see. 

But please, no one wants to read your COVID-19 script. 

I know you think you have a unique take, an angle that makes it feel exciting and new. 

But people don't want it. 

Right now, most of Hollywood is talking about how things will change internally when this ends. 

We're trying to figure out new ways into productions and how to maintain the safety of our crews. The last thing we want to do is shoot something that requires living through this time. 

There will be documentaries, news hours, and lots of specials.

But no one wants the movie. They just don't. A buyer won't want to read, stars won't want to star, and there's not an audience for it. 

COVID-19

I know what you want to say, That it was reported in a piece by Vulture’s Chris Lee that a COVID-19-related project for Quibi is in the works and a Ron Howard documentary for National Geographic about World Central Kitchen is also happening. 

There's even a Jenji Kohan Netflix anthology called Social Distancing that will take on quarantine life. But most of these have been greenlit because they can be made right now with footage edited while in isolation. And who knows if they'll catch on. 

According to Deadline, producers of Social Distancing said, “Our job as storytellers is to reflect reality, and in this new, bizarre, bewildering reality we are all experiencing, we feel passionate about finding connection as we all remain at a distance,” the producers said. “We’ve been inspired to create an anthology series that tells stories about the current moment we are living through — the unique, personal, deeply human stories that illustrate how we are living apart, together.”

“The experience of social distancing is currently universal, but no individual story is the same. Through a broad spectrum of tales and moments, some seismic and some mundane, we hope to capture a moment in time. And we hope that Social Distance will help people feel closer to one another,” they added.

Jenji Kohan
Jenji Kohan

If you want to break into Hollywood as a writer, you need to show the ability to carry a story. While biopics and real-life stories usually get a lot of attention, my bossy opinion is that ones about this crisis will not find a home. 

You'd do better brainstorming a movie that takes people completely away from this world and excites them to imagine better days. 

But only time will tell if I am right. 

Try a writing prompt to find a new idea. 

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Your Comment

12 Comments

Thanks for this . I was saying the same thing .

May 8, 2020 at 6:53PM, Edited May 8, 6:53PM

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good article. In the next wave we'll have articles telling us to not write about not writing about covid. /s

May 9, 2020 at 1:12AM

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I don't particularly disagree on that, but come on...

"people don't want it" - > You don't know that. I know I would want to see a film about quarantine now BECAUSE I have experienced it. Not a dumb Hollywood film but something from Apichatpong Weerasethakul for instance. Obviously the mass that watches Avengers will not want to see a film about quarantine... But people who genuinely like cinema? Maybe. Maybe not.

"If you want to break into Hollywood as a writer" - > There is a whole world outside Hollywood, outside the USA... Not everything is about Hollywood (which is by far the worst cinema place I've been in my life - nice weather though). And I think that because of what's been happening, film and series production could be less centralized in the futur. Hollywood died in the 90's, "wanting to break into Hollywood" is a horrible cliché. And I don't see the point of living in Hollywood to write, you can write from anywhere. But I don't know how things work in LA so...

May 9, 2020 at 2:06AM

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Vincent Galiano
Filmmaker / Screenwriter / Photographer
584

What a bizarre impulse, to act as creativity police and hollywood svengali, when you lack the credentials for either role. Why would anyone publish dictum's about other people's hypothetical future projects. Jason-- maybe try to develop more humility and gentleness, toward yourself and others. Spend less time wringing your hands about what "stars" will want to act in, and more time developing stories that thrill you.

May 9, 2020 at 2:42AM

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Z
81

This is very bad situation overall world. hope will come back.

May 9, 2020 at 5:01AM

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Sarah
Director
81

Please Don't Write Your Next Blog Post About Not Writing About COVID-19.

I know you think you have a unique take, an angle that makes it feel exciting and new.

But people don't want it.

May 9, 2020 at 5:51AM

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So much for my Paul Blart Wuhan Wetmarket Mall Cop script.

May 10, 2020 at 2:42AM

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Vincent Gortho
none
1135

This event is infested with material, it changed the world on so many levels "social, physiological, economical... etc" and will continue to do so. It's a great opportunity to point out a cliche trap but not to avoid the subject.

May 10, 2020 at 6:34AM

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1944 advice: stop your WWII script right now. Who will care?

May 10, 2020 at 8:45AM

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This just comes across as pretentious and whiny. You start by saying you're against telling people what to write and then do exactly that. There are so many untold stories within writing "what you know" during this time. People are experience things right now, life changing things, you may know anything about. Don't dismiss what inspiration can come out of that.

May 10, 2020 at 10:33PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1742

Jason, do you ever learn from mistakes? At this point you've accumulated so many stupid, nonsensical or just pretentious "articles" it's curious nfs didn't fire you. But judging from the declining overall quality here it seems nobody's in charge anyways.

Back to the topic, you're in no position to judge who should do what. And it's an even worse advice to not pick up the biggest non man made crisis mankind experienced for a long time. There are so many interesting angles to this situation we can't even grasp right now!

May 10, 2020 at 11:18PM

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DingDong
2095

Completely agree! I'm enrolled in two writing classes right now at my university and there are so many people doing COVID-19 projects in both classes. I think it's a mistake to write to what people think is the new "fad" right now, rather than new original and fascinating scripts.

May 14, 2020 at 5:17PM

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Natasha Carr
Writer/Producer
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