How to write a movie for Lifetime TV.Posted: April 21, 2010
Recently I had an email exchange with one of my regular readers*. In it, she mentioned being ill, so ill that she accidentally watched a significant portion of a Lifetime Television movie. I’m glad that she’s feeling better because watching a Lifetime Movie is a symptom of a pretty high level of illness.
I am not part of Lifetime’s targeted audience. I have a Y chromosome. I have however, been ill. During those illnesses, fueled by cold medication or pain killers for a kidney stone, I have found myself watching bizarre things on TV. I’ve watched dopey game shows, talk shows, and even Lifetime movies.
Using my medication fueled memories of seeing movies on the Lifetime network, I am providing you all an opportunity to put a little extra money in the bank by following my template for writing movies for Lifetime.
The main character in your movie script must be a woman. She is hard-working and a mother. She must be witty and clever. She struggles to make ends meet. Despite her financial struggle, the heroine of the movie drives a great car – not a new car, a great old classic car. A Porsche Speedster would probably be great enough, classic enough, and funky enough to meet her quirky style.
One more thing, and this is important. She must be capable of looking good, even when she is confronting a boss that doesn’t understand or smudged with whatever smudging material may be present at her work place or even during her battle with her enemy.
The heroine has to have a child. Make sure the child cast is impossibly cute. The child has to be spunky, clever and capable of precocious speech, even when he or she is facing risky surgery.
There should be a man. This should be a damn fine-looking man. He is equally as quirky and clever as the heroine. This is one of the things about him that both draws and repels her. He may be a doctor, he may be the detective working on her case. He could be about anything. It is really helpful though if he does something wonderfully, helpfully unexpected on the side – like leading a yoga class for underprivileged kids in his spare time.
These are some people you may or may not include in your script, depending on the direction your story goes.
A female rival of sorts can helpful in establishing the pluckiness of the heroine. You might install this person as the love interest of the ex husband in situations where the ex husband is a minor annoyance and not an abusive psycho killer. She can be one of two types – a pretty, yet vacuous younger woman who just doesn’t get it, or, an icily beautiful woman the same age as the heroine. Either way, she is a minor character in the story and will be sent packing early, humiliated by the style of the heroine.
The heroine’s mother can be useful in one particular way that I will mention later. Be sure to write her as someone who is confused by her daughter’s quirky ways, but deep down admires her because of them. She is always there to lend a hand. You could also write this character as the heroine’s sister or best friend.
Let’s get to the meat of your task of creating a Lifetime movie script.
The heroine must undertake a heroic battle, preferably on behalf of her child. You have wide discretion here. The enemy here could be a disease, it could be her ex-husband, it could be an employer. The sky is the limit. Be creative. Consider anything that puts the child in jeopardy and do it without regret because the heroine must and will prevail.
The man’s character is driven by the battle you create for the heroine. If you write her plight as a disease, it does not make a lot of sense to make the man a police officer. The man’s methods must be infuriating to the heroine. At first, he must really get under her skin, and vice versa. Over time, she comes to understand that he is working in her interest…even when he did that thing that really upset/disgusted/embarrassed her.
At some point, the heroine and the man get together. You know what I’m saying, they get together. I suggest facilitating this in your script by sending the child to the heroine’s mother’s house for a grandma/cute child fun weekend. This facilitates the heroine/man fun weekend which, if you’ve written your script right, anyone can see coming except for the man and the heroine.
Following the heroine/man night time fun there must be the final battle of the movie. For instance, the heroine slips out of bed, leaving man still sleeping. She unwittingly crosses paths with her ex-husband who tries to do her in. She battles back and finally prevails, possibly aided by man, who wakes up and somehow tracks her down based solely on his instinct.
Make your last scene very happily ever after-ish.
Coming soon: writing inspirational sports movie scripts.
*How amazing is it I can write that I have regular readers? Very.