Saturday, December 01, 2007

Screenwriting Links & Shout-Outs!


Unk’s continuing his series on Structure with Part 7 – Monomyth:
“Through strategic use of metaphor and symbolism, the very best stories live on in perpetuity. This is why we’re still learning about
myths today. This is why we pass these same myths down. Myths started out as sacred tales worthy of a tribe’s admiration, respect, and even fear. They often touched upon a tribe’s Gods and the mysteries of how life came to be so of course, tribespeople were mesmerized and passed these stories down to current day… Especially when these stories revolved around a central character…”
(He also has some great links to
Monomyth, The Hero’s Journey, The Hero Myth, Mythic Journey. As always, great job, Unk.)

Joshua James is
now 3-years-old. The boy popped his IMBD cherry. He gave birth to something called a “baby” which he calls Kai. Plus, he offers a plethora of Greatest Hits from his Daily Dojo. Congratulations, Josh. On everything. Well deserved.

Janet really
is cute.

Dix shared some posts on
giving and receiving notes:
“I was recently story editing yet another Canadian feature...a good script with a nifty hook, but a mixed genre picture (e.g. like an action/comedy, or a historical/horror). We were down to the small points of the deal, as it were, in terms of character/story/structure/dialogue/ pacing/logic notes, but with a little nudge in one direction or another, this particular screenplay could be sold to either a Lionsgate or Maple Pictures, or to the CBC. Two very different animals to say the least. It seemed the script was trying to be appropriate for both, and thus ended up not quite right for either.”

(See also Alex Epstein’s
Reader Notes v. Writer Notes, or, Story Mechanics and Billy’s “Notes on Notes,” Part 1 and Part 2.)

Lianne had a great post on the
8 Stages of Writing Treatments:
“I start off by writing at least one line for each of the sections above – something that literally answers the question raised - then I go back and flesh out from there and try to write it more like a short story. I aim to end up with at least one page for each section and with a finished document of between 10-15 pages. When I’m done and am happy with the story then I’ll go through each section and separate each story beat and use that as the basis for a step outline. Worth trying if you tend to get stuck with treatments, or if you don’t usually do treatments/outlines before starting a draft and get your knickers in a twist half-way through.”

Let it be said - Creative Screenwriting Magazine should be renamed “Creative List-Making For Screenwriters.” The blog,
SCR(I)NK, which is managed by Michael J. Farrand, recently posted two lists put together by CS contributor Jason Davis:
Seven Pillars of Screenwriting Wisdom: From World War I Cinema
Seven Screenwriting Tricks From Horror Films

I really enjoyed Mark Achtenberg’s comparison of
Harlin and Schrader’s versions of The Exorcist Prequel:
“I caught Harlins version on the television one night and decided to hunt down Schraders version which had been in a limited release following the box office disappointment of
'The Exorcist: The Beginning'. Schraders version was titled 'The Exorcist: Dominion'. What is fascinating for the viewer of these films is that although similar, are two totally different films. Schraders version had put the emphasis on Merrin who had lost his faith during the war. He was forced by the Nazis to choose ten men for execution in retribution for a murdered soldier. He was to give them ten names or they would execute them all. Merrin chooses and is rattled with guilt and remorse and loses his faith. After the war Merrin, an archeologist, is sent to a site in Africa where they have unearthed a church, buried in the sand. Upon excavation they slowly realize the church was built over a place of evil, presumably to keep it at bay. The town is occupied by British troops and contains a thematic element of another kind of evil - colonialism. The character who becomes possessed is a young man named Cheche, an innocent deformed simpleton whom the locals deride. Merrin and his quasi-love interest/friend, a nurse, tries to help heal the young man. After a surgery, Cheche starts to heal at a rapid rate as his body starts to become possessed. As all hell breaks loose, two soldiers are murdered at the church (while stealing some precious items) and the local tribesmen are blamed. Cheche becomes possessed, the colonial oppressors are driven to madness and Merrin must confront his beliefs and exorcise the demons (his own and the actual).”
(See also Ebert’s
comments on the differences.)

And finally, our friend and pro reader in the U.K., Danny Stack, has two great articles on clichéd openings of screenplays found
here and here. Here are three:

1. Dream Sequence: Commonly found in horrors or thrillers. Usually followed by the protagonist snapping out of sleep and then going about his/her business. Best avoided. It’s meant to establish style and intrigue but more often than not generates confusion and irritation.

2. Drifting through clouds: A lot of coming of age/rites of passage flicks use this gimmick where the camera glides through the clouds to find the protagonist’s humble abode while he introduces us, via voice-over, to the fascinating minutiae of his life: “It was a summer I’d never forget.” If it’s not a voice-over, it’s usually singing or music from the story’s era.

3. The Prologue: A tried and tested way to begin any movie but a cliché nonetheless. The Exorcist has a good one - the best ones are where they establish something interesting but we cut to separate events entirely to begin the real story. Not easy to achieve. Recommended for skilled scribes only.

6 comments:

Joshua said...

Thanks for the shout-out brother!

Mystery Man said...

Anytime, brother!

-MM

Unk said...

Danka Broheme.

Or is it Broheim?

Or Broheem?

I forget.

Danka

Unk

Mystery Man said...

Unk - You're just a great blogger, man. You're the one who got me interested in blogging.

-MM

Mim said...

Note to self: Don't ask Mystery Man to review your new script about the Salem Witch trials...

...unless you can convince him that the opening Dream/Flashback sequence is actually a prologue.

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