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The Filmmaker's Exam

By David J. Parker

Additional Material By Samuel Stoddard

There are certain things that should automatically tip off any filmmaker that the movie they are about to make shouldn't be made. We have compiled a list of some of these sure-fire tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think all filmmakers should be required to take this exam before beginning work on a movie. Answering "yes" to any one question results in failure of the test and means that the current project should die immediately.

The Exam

  1. Have you hired a professional wrestler to act in a starring role?
  2. Is your movie based on a work by Stephen King?
  3. Does your movie have anything to do with Martial Arts fighting? (You may skip this question if you are, or have cast in the lead, Jackie Chan.)
  4. Are you shamelessly ripping off another movie that recently made a bundle?
  5. Does your movie star any "Saturday Night Live" alumni? (You may skip this question if said alumni consists exclusively of Dana Carvey and/or any member of the original cast.)
  6. Does the name of your movie end in roman numerals?
  7. Does your movie contain Demi Moore's breasts?
  8. Is the special effects budget of your movie more than the GNP of third world nations?
  9. Does your movie have a scene wherein the stars outrun a nuclear explosion?
  10. Are you making this movie for the sole purpose of competing with another studio's similarly-themed movie?
  11. Does your movie contain any cute, fuzzy little creatures, or any other easily merchandised feature?
  12. If your name is Kevin McClory, are you trying to make yet another remake of Thunderball?
  13. Does your movie insist on calling strippers "dancers"?
  14. Would your movie be found on the same shelf in the video store as The Slumber Party Massacre II?
  15. Is the title of your movie prefixed with a credit, as in, Bram Stoker's Dracula? (You may skip this question if you are Alfred Hitchcock. But if you are Alfred Hitchcock, you shouldn't be taking this test, as you are dead.)
  16. Does Kevin Costner have anything to do with your movie?
  17. How about Keanu Reeves?
  18. Regardless of whether they have anything to do with your movie, do you think Kevin Costner and/or Keanu Reeves are good actors?
  19. Is your movie a comedy featuring less sophisticated humor than that found on America's Funniest Home Videos?
  20. If you are a post-Home Alone John Hughes, did you gloss over the previous question?
  21. Will your movie be third or more in a string of similar movies all coming out around the same time?
  22. Are you basing your movie on a novel without having actually read said novel?
  23. Have you watched Showgirls more than once?
  24. Did you hire Quentin Tarantino to "punch up the dialogue"?
  25. Did you hire Quentin Tarantino as an actor?
  26. Is the movie you're making completely indistinguishable from one you have made before?
  27. Have you cleverly renamed your movie to get past question 6? (Hot Shots: Part Deux and Beethoven's Second, for example.)
  28. Would you describe The Seven Samurai as "a good yarn"?
  29. Would you describe Speed 2: Cruise Control as "a thought-provoking commentary on the human condition"?
  30. Is your movie about aliens whose sole purpose in life is to eat humans?
  31. Does the script have more than three supposedly humorous "one-liners"?
  32. Is your movie based on a comic book character?
  33. Does your movie have anything to do with cold fusion?
  34. Does the title of your movie contain any of the words "Fatal," "Passion," "Forbidden," "Obsession," or "Desire"?
  35. How about "Meets" or "Versus"?
  36. Is your movie based on a video game?
  37. Is your name Joe Eszterhas?
  38. Would Cinemax be willing to broadcast your movie on Friday night between midnight and 2am?
  39. Would USA be willing to broadcast your movie at any time?
  40. Have you hired science consultants for your science fiction movie and blissfully ignored their suggestions?
  41. Have you hired military consultants for your war movie and blissfully ignored their suggestions?
  42. Is the average length of the lines in the script three or fewer words?
  43. More than 150?
  44. Does the film feature a character best described as a "hip techno-geek with an attitude"?
  45. How about one best described as "a sarcastic kid who throws temper tantrums while the adults hang their heads in sorrow"?
  46. How about one best described as "a Batman sidekick"?
  47. Does the script require the cast to run away from stuff more often than walk or stand still?
  48. Did the auditions require disrobing?
  49. Are you making a movie based on a popular television series?
  50. Do you hear those little cash register noises in your head whenever you think about your movie?
  51. Are you unfaithfully adapting a classic work of literature and using "hardly anyone's read the book" as an excuse?
  52. Does the script require any member of the cast to wink at the camera, literally or figuratively, at any time?
  53. Have you ever been married to Geena Davis?
  54. Does the script require anyone's pants to fall down for a quick laugh?
  55. Have you cast someone whose acting style includes wagging his head back and forth in every scene?
  56. Is the lead actor's co-star an elephant?
  57. Will the trailers and/or commercials for your movie be able to show every good scene and still have room to show some of the bad ones?
  58. Have you cast a Playboy Playmate or Penthouse Pet in your movie?
  59. Have you cast an ex-porn star in your movie?
  60. How about an active porn star?
  61. Has Mystery Science Theater 3000 approached you about purchasing the rights to this movie yet?
  62. Do you plan to make them a deal?
  63. Is your movie a "heartwarming tale" about a guy and a girl who fall in love, then break up, but get back together in the end?
  64. Does the title of your movie contain the words "Quest," "For," and "Fire," in no particular order? (No fair spelling it in French.)
  65. Have you cast a notorious child star in a major role?
  66. Does your movie suck?
  67. Do you expect your movie to make more money in merchandising than in its theatrical run?
  68. Is this a "direct to video" release?
  69. How about a made-for-TV "movie of the week"?
  70. Does one character in your movie exist solely to spout a catch phrase?
  71. Are you making a wrestling picture for Wallace Beery?
  72. Is your movie thinly disguised propaganda for some pet activism project of yours?
  73. Is your movie best described as "just like movie X, but not as good"?
  74. If I were to fall asleep five minutes after the start of your movie and wake up for the last five minutes, would I understand the plot?
  75. Have you lied in your answer to any of the preceding questions in order to get to the end?

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