KICK ASS! The Promise of the Premise
By Jacob Krueger
Kick Ass! Does Just That…
It’s rare that you see a big budget action movie that succeeds on as many levels as Kick Ass! Hilarious, high stakes action sequences, directorial vision, fabulous characters, bold acting choices, and more-fun-than-you-can-shake-a-nunchuck-at combine to make Kick Ass! the kind of action movie producers and audiences alike can salivate over. (The audience last night was literally cheering through the credits when the movie ended).
The Promise of the Premise
Every movie makes its audience a promise– what I like to call The Promise of the Premise. This promise is the built-in anticipation that convinces your viewers to pay their 12 bucks on your movie instead of some other flick. Fulfill the promise of the premise, and your audience will be happy to appreciate your deep meaning, thoughts about the world, brilliant dialogue, and symbolic image systems right along with it. Fall short, and it doesn’t matter how brilliant your writing is, no one is going to make your movie.
Make The Promise of the Premise Work For You
Unless Brad Pitt is knocking down your door right now, when it comes to selling your script, The Promise of the Premise is the only thing the producer can depend on. For writers, the adaptation and revision process has many aspects. But for producers, there’s really only one aspect that’s important: narrowing the gap between The Promise of the Premise, and what the script actually delivers. As a writer who wants your work produced, you can harness this knowledge to focus your adaptation and revision process– whether that’s you’re adapting an idea for a movie into an actual script, revising a rough draft into more polished form, or creating a film version of a true life story, a novel, or a comic book like Kick Ass!
The best movies don’t just fulfill The Promise of the Premise. They exceed it.
Make YOUR Premise Kick Ass!
From the title alone, you know the promise of Kick Ass!: A tongue in cheek, goofy as hell, ass-kicking good time in which the least likely super heroes in the world will triumph over some serious bad guys. But what makes Kick Ass! so successful is how it takes that promise and pushes it to the extreme, exaggerating both the comedy and the darkness of the main character’s journey, taking it further than he, or his audience, could ever have expected. The result is a movie that is not only a rollicking good time, but also captures the best elements of the comic book form, to say something real about personal responsibility and how hard it is to actually take action against the things that are wrong in the world.
Stop Selling Out, and Sell In…
Young writers often think fulfilling The Promise of the Premise means selling out. They then make the mistake of either rejecting the promise of their own premise as an affront to their artistic integrity, or trying so desperately to write something “commercial” that they end up creating nothing but a hollow shell as a movie.
Whether you’re writing a hilarious action spoof like Kick Ass! or a deep character driven movie like A Prophet, your job as a screenwriter is to discover your premise and push it to the max. But The Promise of The Premise isn’t something you impose on your script from the outside. It’s something that’s already there, suggested in every facet of your characters journey, and in every word you write, just waiting for you to discover it and bring it to the surface. That’s not selling out. That’s the art of the screenwriter.
And the good news is, you can learn it.
If you’d like to learn how to harness the promise of your own premise, I invite you to join my upcoming screenwriting workshop. Whether you’re starting from scratch with a new idea, working on a screenplay adaptation, or revising an early draft of an existing screenplay, this class will forever change the way you look at screenwriting.