Screenwriting: At The Script Conference For “The Lone Ranger” Movie - Raindance

At the story conference for the Lone RangerI read a review of “The Lone Ranger” by Leonard Maltin that highlights most of the things that can and do go wrong with big summer movies. I’ve trimmed it down to Maltin’s key points. In italics I’ve written what I imagine might have been said at the script conference:

Why bother making a film called The Lone Ranger if your intention is to turn the famous hero into a doofus and his noble Indian friend into a wisecracking Greek chorus? You still ought to provide the audience with someone to root for…

The Lone Ranger is corny! Let’s make him a big lug and the joke is that Tonto is actually smarter than him.

He [Tonto] is played mostly for laughs, like Jack Sparrow. Except he’s not all that funny.

If we just leave Johnny Depp alone he’ll do his funny voices and funny faces and stuff. For God’s sake, don’t let anybody stop him from doing his shtick!

Helena Bonham Carter turns up, briefly and inexplicably as a dance-hall madam with a high-tech shooting device for a leg.

There’s gotta be a girl in there somewhere. And we gotta give her a gimmick!

Nothing much makes sense—like Tonto dragging an unconscious Ranger through a fresh pile of horse dung.

I got a great idea for a joke: The Lone Ranger is unconscious, see, and Tonto has to drag him out of the way, so he drags him through this huge pile of horseshit! Hahahahahah! What do you mean that doesn’t make sense? It’s funny!

Everything is impressively staged on an enormous scale…

Kids don’t want to see just a bunch of guys riding around on horses! It has to look like an action picture! Think big! Think explosions! Think loud!

The long, climactic chase scene is jammed with the kind of overblown CGI stunts that render everything unreal and, therefore, unexciting.

We need a big chase scene for the finish! Pretend you’re writing a Die Hard movie, but more, longer, louder!

There’s nothing remotely genuine or sincere about The Lone Ranger [movie].

I am genuinely convinced this thing will generate huge bucks! I sincerely believe in these characters, this story, and especially in you, the writers–without you, we’re nothing! Now get outta here and write a masterpiece! (The writers leave the room. To an assistant:) Get me a list of writers who can replace these assholes if they don’t do what I tell them!

Jurgen Wolff has written more than 100 episodes of TV, the mini-series “Midnight Man,” starring Rob Lowe, the feature film “The Real Howard Spitz,” starring Kelsey Grammar, and books including “Your Writing Coach” and “Your Creative Writing Masterclass.”  His next online Massive Action Day, on Sat. July 27, is free to Raindance Premium members.



Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and creativity consultant. In the United States, he wrote for sitcoms including Benson and Family Ties. He wrote the feature film, The Real Howard Spitz, starring Kelsey Grammer and directed by Vadim Jean. He was a script doctor on the hit film, Mannequin and others starring Michael Caine, Walter Matthau, and Eddie Murphy. For Germany, he co-created the comedy series, Lukas, which ran for 65 episodes, and an original comedy series called Krista. He also wrote nine episodes of the series, Relic Hunter. He wrote two TV movies for the Olsen Twins, and several the German TV movies including, On Top of the Volcano, starring Maria Schrader and Sebastian Koch (2007). His play, Killing Mother, was produced at the Gorky Theatre in Berlin, and he’s also had plays produced in New York, Los Angeles, and London.

As a writing and creativity teacher, his courses include Beyond Brainstorming, Create Your Future, The Creative Breakthrough Workshop and the ground-breaking Script Coach Series developed exclusively for Raindance. He has presented his courses at the University of Southern California, the University of Barcelona, the Skyros Institute, many films schools, and groups and organisations including The Academy for Chief Executives, Egmont, Grundy-UFA, and Columbia-Tri-Star. For eight years he was a visiting lecturer for the Pilots Program in Sitges.

His books include Your Writing Coach and Your Creative Writing Masterclass (Nicholas Brealey Publishing), Creativity Now (Pearson), Do Something Different (Virgin Business Books), Successful Scriptwriting (Writers Digest Press), Top Secrets: Screenwriting (Lone Eagle Press), and Successful Sitcom Writing (St. Martin’s Press).

He has written for many publications including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Broadcast Magazine, and he is the editor of Brainstorm, the creativity ebulletin.