A couple of weeks ago, Bill Cunningham relayed a Retromedia Forum post from writer-director Steve Latshaw. A wealth of good info, Steve lays out the basic screenplay structure looked for from Sci-fi Channel producers. Here's the basic rundown (click on Bill's link for more details):
1. Seven act structure
2. First act is 17 minutes, preceeded by 3 minute hook
3. Remaining acts 8-15 minutes, with cliffhanger
4. Simple concept
5. Fast pacing
6. Fast ending
My first reaction to this was, "Why would I want to write for Sci-fi? All their orginal movies are terrible!" I still think their movies suck, but also feel this is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to hone their skills and potentially get their foot in the door as a writer. I know I could write something at least as bad, and possibly better than their usual fare. Even if I can't, it could be a potential sale (even if Sci-fi doesn't want it) that would net me a credit and a decent chunk of change.
I'm still saving the script I want to produce for myself, but came up with a pretty good genre knock off while in the shower (insert joke here) the other day. I'm going to crank it out in the next couple of months and see what I can do with it. I'm not saying that this will be an easy process, or that any idiot (like me) can do it, but passing on the idea wouldn't be wise. Selling one script would get me out of debt, and could create that question we all want to hear: "What else have you got?"
So check out Bill's post (and the rest of his blog), there is a lot of good stuff there. If you want to hear more from Mr. Latshaw, go to Greg Conley's Your Video Store Shelf and listen to the accompanying podcast.