Friday, May 2, 2014

Ten Commandments for Choosing a Story- Irving Thalberg

Irving Thalberg's Ten Commandments for Studio Readers. He distributed them early in his tenure at MGM.

1. Your most important duty is to find great ideas.  You'll find them buried under tons of mediocre suggestions.

2. Read at least two newspapers daily. Photoplays sell best which are based on timely topics.

3. Analyze all material on the basis of the players who are working for us.

4. Remember that you are dealing with a pictorial medium.

5. Make a close notation of all books you see the public reading.

Who was Irving Thalberg?

6. See at least two full-length motion pictures each week, one from this company, one by a competitor.

7. Everything else is secondary in your work to the finding of a strong dramatic situation... an interesting clash between principal characters.

8. Prove your ability to recognize creative material by writing and submitting stories of your own.

9. Be proficient in one language besides your own. The competition for good stories is so keen that the supply written in English was long ago insufficient.

10. Above all, train yourself to recognize sincerity in a story. Talking pictures, particularly, have made the public very sensitive to false notes in plots. 

Interesting how timeless much of this is and how it can cross over to different businesses. How do you formulate a good plot? How do you hone your own romantic comedy? How about creating a viral YouTube video? Always the same questions and answers.

Groucho Marx was thankful to Irving Thalberg for restarting the Marx Brothers' careers at MGM.

Thalberg died in 1936 at the age of 37.  The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award was created by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for "Creative producers, whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production." It's not given out yearly. The first aware was given in 1937 at the 10th annual Academy Awards to Darryl F. Zanuck. It was given in 2010 at the 83rd annual Academy Awards to Francis Ford Coppola.

In 1967 at the 40th Academy Awards, it was presented to Alfred Hitchcock.

Related Books of Interest: (Available on Kindle other eReaders)

 A Ship Without A Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart by Gary Marmorstein 

Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince by Mark A. Vieira 

Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer (of Metro Goldwyn Mayer) by Scott Eyman

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