I’m currently working on a paper called “Script Development 2.0: Theorizing the Lean Screenplay” that I’ll present at the 2013 Screenwriting Research Network International Conference in August. I’m specifically looking for ways to apply the principles found in Lean Software Development by Mary and Tom Poppendieck and The Lean Startup by Eric Ries to the scripting of new screen stories, especially for independent microbudget features. The basic gist of my aim is to find a way to eliminate waste and amplify learning in the feature development process, to help entrepreneurial filmmakers identify their audience and leverage the long tail early in their project conceptualization.
Today I stumbled upon the Validation Board from Lean Startup Machine, a simple project development board that uses post-it notes to organize hypothesis-driven entrepreneurship. What I like about this board is how familiar it feels. The process it uses to validate a startup hypothesis is pretty similar to that frequently used to break a story in television (though the former is admittedly more scientific than the latter). Could the Validation Board be used to effectively develop screen stories?
Lean Startup Machine thinks it could be (see tweet above), but doing so would require screenwriters to rethink their conception of the audience and the purpose of their writing. Conventional entrepreneurs seek to develop products that solve a problem for their customers. Artists and entertainers don’t often think of their works as “solving a problem,” at least not an easily articulated one, but maybe they should?