Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Screenwriting News! Links! Shout-Outs!



Hey guys,

I can't help myself. I just love this clip and added it to my
Goodbye, Lois article. It’s a love montage in honor of Richard Donner and includes a number of moments from Donner’s version of Superman II. In the last minute, you’ll see one of my favorite scenes from Donner’s version, which occurred toward the end of the movie. After it's all over, Superman drops Lois off on her balcony. A few words. She cries. He kisses her and flies away. Such a sweet little scene.

I noticed that a lot of people keep digging through my site looking for Mahler's Script-Beat Calculator. Thus, I added it to my sidebar under "Writer's Resources." Hope that helps.

Ya know, there’s so much going on that my head is spinning. Tomorrow, I’m going to continue my series on
Character Development Sheets. There’s another roundtable discussion in the works (similar to what we did with James Cameron’s A Crowded Room). I’ve also got a wide variety of script reviews coming (including Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York), movie breakdowns, and I’m gearing up for a study on the fine art of WRITING EXPOSITION.

Not only that, on Friday (and for the next six weeks), I’m going to post hour-long videos on the birth of European Cinema. It’s a great series narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and if you have a passion for movies like I do, you will be absolutely addicted to these videos. Inspiring, moving, educational - it really changed my perception of film history.

Okay, I'm going to bed.

-MM

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New Scripts:

Identity

Black Dahlia

S.W.A.T.

Dead Silence

Ali

The Cincinnati Kid

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Around Scribosphere:

Billy Mernit on Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt looked more like a writer than any other writer I've ever seen. He was wearing a worn cardigan and corduroys, his hair was disheveled and mustache droopy, his eyes behind silver-framed spectacles seemed fixed on something miles away, and there was a cigarette hanging from his lower lip that looked glued there, defying gravity. If one can imagine New York City as a kind of giant industrial farm, then he looked like one over-worked farm animal. Slightly stooped, with his hands shoved deep in his cardigan pockets, he didn't so much walk as galumph, with a distracted and slightly pained expression, as if he'd recently been smacked in the face with a large wet salmon but expected as much: "so it goes."

John August on How to Introduce a Character
1. Show and tell - The best character introductions tend to include both a sense of what you see (the character’s physical appearance) and an intriguing tidbit about their personality and/or situation. That’s certainly the case with both Burke and Lance. You don’t have to give an age range, but it’s common. You don’t have to say the character is good-looking, but if it’s your hero, that’s not a bad idea. While many actors want to play “ordinary people,” they prefer playing “quirkily good-looking” ordinary people.

Scribosphere is going through a huge change and will hopefully take the scribosphere-revolution a big step further. It is aiming to become an advanced online workshop. They would love to get some feedback or tips about the concept. You can find more info by visiting scribosphere.

Unk on Using Google Notebook to outline your screenplay…
First of all, it only works with Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers so be aware of that… Second, it’s pretty damn fast to get started… Within MINUTES, I had the first act of an idea that’s been kicking around in my head more or less plotted out.

Great Site – Film Industry Terms by Department
Also added to my sidebar. Thank you, Dix!

Bill Martel on Script Notes
As a writer, I often know what works and what doesn’t just by instinct. That might be good enough when I’m writing the script, but it’s not god enough when I’m discussing the notes with a producer. There I need *evidence*. You can’t discuss feelings and instincts and opinions. We all have those. The only thing we can discuss as facts. That means we need to be able to figure out why one thing works and another doesn’t so that we can discuss the notes. We need to be able to cite evidence when we discuss notes, so that it’s not "he said, she said" but creative decisions based on a logical reason. And this goes for both sides of the table - producers and development executives need to be able to explain the reasons behind their notes.

I share this because everyone should feel free to blog about screenwriting
This is the first in a series of posts in which I profess to know something about screenwriting. One day, after a long and illustrious writing career, I might bump into these nuggets and chuckle at their caveman-like simplicity… Anyhoo. Less is more. Yeah, it’s a tired cliché, but that doesn't make it less apt. In the rewriting process, nothing has rung more true for me. Every draft I do, shrinks in page length, but grows in content. Amazing right? What it is, is the product of bloat coupled with the startling reality that more than one thing can be happening in a given scene. Yeah, I know, mind-blowing stuff. Take my football script that started out at 165 pages and is dangerously close to a respectable 120 as I write this.

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From GreenCine Daily:

Reverse Shot. On Demand
"If each film 'generation' has its own particular point of view, as surely, drastically, the next one will, then what is ours? And how does it aid/impede us?" ask Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert in the editorial that opens Issue 19 of Reverse Shot: "On Demand." The "us" here are the RS writers themselves, and "most of us came of age as cinephiles in the era of home video... [W]e were the first generation which had access to a wide array of movies all of the time... And as a result, we watched, a lot, and over and over, making us the first on-demand generation." The issue, then, is a collection of pieces on films "seen many, many times, across different periods of [our] lives."

"
John Hughes movies don't lose anything on the small screen," writes Eric Hynes, who, "like thousands, perhaps millions of people roughly my age," has seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off "several dozen times." Back to his point: "Hughes's art depends on the quality of the writing, full stop. When his writing is good, as in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, his films are as funny, exhilarating, and remain as timeless as anything from the post-silent, pre-television heyday of Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch."


Oxford American. Southern Movie Issue
Not only has the Oxford American put together an impressive "Southern Movie Issue 2007," they're also tossing in a free DVD for the first time - there's a trailer for it at the site, as well as liner notes by Marc Smirnoff - and they've posted a generous selection of articles online.

"
Baby Doll is a movie about people not having sex," writes Jack Pendarvis, for example. "Man, it is so hot when they don't have sex in that swing. But I'm getting ahead of myself."

Tom Carson looks back on the romance between Paul Newman, "a half-Jewish, middle-class joe from Cleveland," and the South. By the 70s, "From Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, and Hud to Cool Hand Luke, those blue eyes had spent so much screen time sizing up Delta mansions, muggy Gulf Coast hotels, and lonesome Texas ranch houses as fit thrones for the Newman loins that most actresses playing opposite him could have sued the scenery for alienation of affection. Putting on a Southern accent used to stimulate him the way chances to suffer did Montgomery Clift."

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Around the World:

Robert McKee Takes the Stand
Friends, this article is for the screenwriting history books. Robert McKee appeared as an “expert witness” in a Hollywood breach-of-contract case that pits Clive Cussler against Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz. Both sides are fighting over who is to blame for the financial failure of the movie "Sahara," which was financed by Anschutz's production company. And here is what McKee said: "I mean, I cannot overstate how terrible the writing is," McKee testified. "It is flawed in every way writing can be flawed." Attorney Bertram Fields said McKee's verbal attacks were "totally irrelevant" to the case. "He is a very good actor and he uses colorful language," Fields said. "I think he was all wet." "The writing is very bad," he testified. "How bad? I have thought of phrases like 'seriously flawed' [or] 'fatally flawed.' But it is beyond all of that, because when something is flawed there is an implication that something else about it is good." McKee said he counted more than 50 examples of coincidences, poor logic, out-of-character moments and improbabilities in Cussler's script. "On average, there is something unbelievable happening every two minutes," he said. The screenplay treated the audience like "dimwits that need everything explained to them three times over." By the way, McKee was paid by Anschutz at a rate of $500 an hour and has received more than $60,000 as one of Anschutz's experts.

Chinese debutante makes Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist
Guo, from a fishing village in southern China, has worked as a screenwriter, film director and film teacher as well as writing books in Chinese.

Incredible Hulk Screenwriter Discusses the Norton Signing
"It's not going to be a sequel, but it's hard to describe ... The best description I would say is something like 'Batman Begins' where it's not necessarily out of continuity with the other movies, though that was more of an origin story. It's much more of a reboot, the way that 'Aliens' is a sequel to 'Alien,' but the kinds of movie are different." Oh. Okay.

Stone Accused of Racial Slur
African-American screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper has revealed that Stone made an offensive comment when he approached the Platoon director at a party in 1991, to praise his work. The New Jack City writer tells the New York Daily News: "Oliver Stone's my hero, so I went over to him. (I said) 'Man, I love your movie 'Wall Street'. He said to me: 'Okay, thank you very much. I bet you like Scarface too. All n**gers like Scarface.'" But Cooper claims Stone is not racist, adding: "He was tipsy. We were all a little tipsy. I don't think he meant it maliciously."

`Sideways' approach to `Judgment in Paris'?
It will be interesting to see what screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen does with George Taber's 2005 book "Judgment of Paris" (Scribner; $26). Following the success of "Sideways," a story of two single guys on a Santa Barbara wine-country trip prior to one of them getting married, it's no wonder that a wine-related script about a historic event should receive more than the usual attention even before it's completed. For those who don't know about the famous Paris wine tasting in 1976, it was when top-rated California cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays were judged by French experts against some of the best French equivalents - red Bordeaux and white Burgundies. And in both categories, a Californian won.

Mark Poirier Penning Russian Bride Project
Pictures has hired screenwriter Mark Poirier to pen the untitled Russian bride project set up at Todd Phillips' eponymous production company...

Local Screenwriter Works On New Film
From Cedar City Review, UT - Strasmann is a screenwriter who got his start in college writing for a campus newspaper. Journalism was not necessarily his forte...

Open Letter To The Public Issued By KST Communications Over Copyright Infringement Issue
April 17, 2007 --- This press release is issued as an open letter to the public in an attempt to elicit others who have experienced copyright infringement in the entertainment-screenwriting industry to join against this issue - it is not designed or intended to publicly humiliate anyone. All of the following parties mentioned in this release were immediately contacted upon discovery of this copyright infringement issue, and each had several months and countless opportunities to resolve the situation. This press release is based on the facts to reveal the truth and further expose an ongoing problem within the entertainment industry.

Local screenwriter releases ‘Vacancy’
“Vacancy” is Smith’s first major studio release, although he has sold many films, including one called “The Last Kiss” to Mel Gibson. “Less than 10 percent of scripts sold are made. This is first one [of mine] to go to studio,” Smith said.

Director Todd Robinson has turned his grandfather's famous '40s case into a big time movie
Robinson, whose screenwriting credits include the 1996 true-life sea drama "White Squall," admits he took a few dramatic liberties re-creating Elmer's rocky relationships with his wife and son.

THE CROP REPORT - 4/14/07
…At this point, Carnahan could stroll into Alan Horn's office nude, brandishing a screenplay about hyper-intelligent tsetse flies trained by the CIA to travel back into time to assassinate the Zulu warlord Shaka (who himself has gone back in time to assassinate George Washington), and walk out with a seven figure deal. Matthew Michael Carnahan is living the screenwriting dream. But is he any good? Judging from State of Play (tentatively scheduled to begin principal photography in November)... yeah, he's real good.

Bruckheimer/Bay Teaming up for Prince of Persia Film
Jeffrey Nachmanoff, a screenwriter on The Big Gig and The Day After Tomorrow, is handling further revisions.

Why so many novels never make it to the big screen
Books provide filmmakers with ready-made plots on which to base screenplays (useful when plagiarism claims start to fly), and a proven audience. But unless they are global mega-sellers like Dan Brown, J K Rowling or Michael Crichton, the actual authors are lower on the food chain than the screenwriter, and if you think they are respected, watch Sunset Boulevard or The Player.

MOVIE MEN: Adam Brody plays a Michigan-bred screenwriter in Jonathan Kasdan's autobiographical 'In the Land of Women'
His friend is Jonathan Kasdan, who appeared briefly, at age 4, in a classic movie written and directed by his father, former Detroiter Lawrence Kasdan, titled "The Big Chill." In a 2002 episode of "Dawson's Creek," where he worked as a staff writer, he was cast in the small role of "Gawky-Looking Kid." He is now 26, making his directing debut with "In the Land of Women," which stars Brody and opens Friday.

Screenwriter AJ Carothers dead at 75
Film and television screenwriter A.J. Carothers has died of cancer at the age of 75 at his home in Los Angeles. Carothers, who had been in the writing business since the 1940s, was the writer behind the 1980s comedies "The Secret of My Success," starring Michael J. Fox, and "The Happiest Millionaire," starring Fred MacMurray, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Exclusive: Kurt Vonnegut's 'Sirens Of Titan' Being Adapted For Big Screen
Screenwriter James V. Hart reveals details of script, which late novelist collaborated on.

Mamet Gets His Black Belt
The man who taught you to Always Be Closing is just locking up a deal to direct a script he has written about the Jiu-Jitsu fight world of Los Angeles. Playwright, screenwriter and, now director, David Mamet has signed onto Sony Pictures Classic to direct Redbelt, says Variety.

Myst writer developing Splinter Cell 5 story
Mary DeMarle is helping shape the script for Ubisoft's new Splinter Cell game. In an interview printed in new book Game Design by Deborah Todd, DeMarle has recounted the exact design process behind the latest game, explaining that the writer and development team are working very closely, with the design and screenwriting disciplines helping inform one another.

‘Phoenix’ battles rumors
The screenwriter for the next Harry Potter movie is out to refute insults on the Internet. Claims swirling around late last week suggested that “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” suffers from too many plot cuts and that J.K. Rowling is asking for a scriptwriting team for the last two films. Michael Goldenberg, who did the book-to-film translation, says she has never relayed that concern to him.

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CyberScreenwriter:

Chinese Film Industry Is Estimated to Reach $900 Million
“China film industry is forecasted to grow from generating $250 million in box office profits in 2005 to reach close to $900 million by 2010 and almost $2 billion by 2015. Furthermore, China will follow a steep upward trend to overtake the U.S. film industry, currently the dominant global market leader, by sometime in 2050.”

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Slash-Film:

Sahara Movie Budget Includes $237,386 in Bribes

David Arquette plans Braveheart-like Epic

Raiders and Empire Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan Remakes Clash of the Titans

David Goyer talks Super Max

David Goyer’s Unconventional Green Arrow Movie - Super Max

Kevin Smith’s Red State

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MovieBytes:

Ohio Independent Screenplay Award Winners Announced

A/Exposure Announces February Script of the Month

Gimme Credit Announces Cycle IV Super Short Screenplay Results
HollywoodIQ: Talent Manager Jeanne Field, Part One

VFF Announces Contest Results

TVWriter.com Announces Spec Scriptacular Finalists

TV Writer.Com Announces People's Pilot Finalists

Red Inkworks Announces Contest Winners

12th Annual Monterey Screenplay Competition Opens for Entries

Who's Buying What Interview: Matthew Cooke Delivering a Good Screenplay

Arizona Screenplay Challenge Announces Contest Winners

Creative Screenwriting Announces AAA Finalists

IndieProducer.com Announces Finalists

Screenplay Festival Announces 2006 Contest Winners

Hollywood Comes to Santa Fe Next Month

TVWriter.com Announces Spec Scriptacular Semifinalists

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Hollywood Reporter:

Kasdan's mighty pen on 'Titans'
Screenwriting hero Lawrence Kasdan, left, has been tapped to pen "Clash of the Titans" for Warner Bros. Pictures. Basil Iwanyk is producing via Thunder Road.

Marshall helming 'Nine' film adaptation
Rob Marshall will direct a big-screen version of the 1982 Broadway musical "Nine" for the Weinstein Co. Marshall and John DeLuca will choreograph the adaptation of the show, which won five Tonys, including best musical.- The Hollywood Reporter - By Gregg Goldstein

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Variety:

Fox 2000 is with 'Child'
Ridley Scott to direct film '44'

Singapore festival rebuffs censors
'Sankara' sets tone of cinematic renewal

Toronto festival honors Hong Kong
'Isabella,' 'Dumplings' amongst films

Rogue, Creaseys are 'B.F.F.'
'Studio' writers sell romantic-comedy spec

'Undateable' finds a match
Angelo, Brown sell pitch

Poirier weds Warners project
Phillips Co. to produce Russian bride film

Chow drops out of 'Red Cliff'
Star exits Woo epic three days into shooting

Goodman exit snarls 'Pope Joan'
Project's principal photography postponed

James Lyons, 46, film editor
Worked with directors Haynes, Coppola

The Back Lot: The Imus inquisition
Discussions of shock jock carries ominous subtext

Independent films going online
Directors bypassing standard distribution

Red to direct, write '100 Feet'
Janssen attached to star with Cannavale

Grant making it 'Happen'
Dance film to be based in burlesque world

Norton to star in 'Hulk'
Marvel movie to be released in 2008

Polanski's 'Pompeii' takes shape
RAI acquires Italian rights to film

New Line picks up 'Latin Lover'
Comedy to be produced by Benderspink

Greenberg psyched for bio
Hendrickson to adapt Kassorla's story

Sony, Mamet put on 'Redbelt'
Film set in Jiu-Jitsu fight world

Dueling directors Milk a good story
Singer, Van Sant line up similar projects

Report: Violence still aimed at kids
FTC urges changes to marketing standards

New rules for gay roles
Homosexual role models make mark in film

Risk-takers who should be honored
Gay actors, characters step out

New cameras have actors reloading
High-def revolutionizes the craft of actors, director

'Barbarella' back in action
'Royale' writers to revive character

Fraser returns for 'Mummy 3'
Weisz leaving lucrative franchise

Chinese back lot grows to epic proportions
Strengths are in its moviemaking infrastructure

Iceland's landscape brings big names
Island Locations: Iceland

3-D driving digital business
Demand for new technology in high gear

4 comments:

Guillermo said...

RE: the Todd Robinson film, Lonely Hearts...as close as Robinson was to the story (and as I posted), he did a poor job of converting the truth to the screen...the best thing about the film is Selma Hayek. She does sociopathic crazy really well.

GameArs said...

You have to be the most prolific blogger I know. So much info and the one thing that really struck me was McKee in court testifying that someone’s writing was so bad it could be responsible for the failure of a film.

Funny how everyone involved in the production tells the writer that it's a collaborative effort, until someone loses money.

Mystery Man said...

guillermo - I read your post and almost took out this article about Robinson and thought, "ehh, why not?" That was a great post, by the way.

Hey, Carl - I'm still a little confused by this whole trial. Why blame the writers? Why yell at Clive? There were a lot of other hands in the pot. Why not blame the idiot who paid money to make a movie on an obviously bad script? Why not blame Micheal Eisner's kid, Breck, who directed the stupid thing? Why the writers? I don't get that.

Re: prolific blogger - It's a little embarrassing. I could sneeze a thousand words. It must be exhausting trying to keep up. I'm so sorry. I just can't help myself, especially now with all the hits I'm getting. The numbers are a little intimidating, actually.

-MM

Guillermo said...

I think "great post" is a stretch. Very generous...but, like I said, Selma Hayek is fantastic. The best thing about Todd Robinson's Lonely Hearts is Selma Hayek's performance as Martha.