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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Could Shawn James Make A Better Movie Than Tyler Perry?

Okay, I got a lot of comments regarding my scathing review of Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?. A couple of people replied that if I could do better, why don’t I try to make a movie and see if it would be better than Perry’s recent work. Reading those comments, I’m wondering: If provided with the same resources and a similar production budget, could I make a better movie than Tyler Perry?

Could I make a better movie than Tyler Perry? Could I even make a watchable movie? Who knows? Tyler Perry started in theater with no experience and just a dream. A couple years later he started making movies with no experience, and now he’s producing TV shows with no experience or training. How would my skills compare to his at filmmaking?

Sure I’ve got a little background knowledge. I’ve read Syd Field’s Screenplay and Robert McKee’s Story a couple of times. Sure I’ve studied and researched screenwriting online from guys like The Unkown Screenwriter. Sure I’ve got sixteen years of experience as a novelist and five as an amateur screenwriter. Sure I’ve got three self-published books under my belt. But when it comes to making a movie I’m still a guy with no film experience and a bunch of dreams.

Yeah, I’ve written a couple of scripts. I don’t know if they’d work onscreen. But I’d sure love to give making a movie a shot. I’d love to see how my style of storytelling translated to the screen. Anyone who has read my books knows my writing style is very visual; some have told me it works very well for movies. It’d be a challenge to see if something I wrote would translate from page to performance on film.

I don’t have a lot of technical knowledge about film. I don’t know how to work a movie camera how to establish shots, direct actors, or how to edit video. I have no idea on how to manage a production budget. But I know what I like. And I know what I like in a story. What I could do with $20 million dollar budget like the one spent to make Why Did I Get Married Too? Would I be capable of making an entertaining film? Would any film I made be better quality than Tyler Perry’s films?

I don’t know. But it’d be interesting to see if I could make a movie from one of my scripts. Any film I made using the same $20 million budget, talent pool of actors, and production staff probably couldn’t be any worse than what Tyler Perry is producing now. I’m pretty creative; with a $20 million budget I think I’d be able to make a decent quality version of The Cassandra Cookbook or All About Marilyn.

But would the audiences pay to see it? Or would they ignore it like other recent well-made Black films like Akeelah and the Bee, Black Dynamite, Pride, and The Great Debaters that weren't made by Tyler Perry?

That’s a question I can’t answer. Who knows what the future holds. But if offered the chance to make my own movie based on my own material, I’d go for it.

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