Sunday, January 27, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 1/27/08

Above is a new episode of Dana Brunetti’s TriggerStreet TV, which covers industry news, trends, and topics. They’re very informative, particularly this episode about the 300 writers going “financial core.” Dana Brunetti, as many of you know, is the founder of TriggerStreet and producer of four films coming out this year, including 21 with Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, and Jim Sturgess.

(Away From Her should’ve been nominated instead of Juno.)

Thanks, guys. Great to meet you, Ian.

Plus, in case you guys missed it, we recently had a bruising no-holds-barred slugfest-royale over “we see” in screenplays
right here.



New Screenplays:

Pink Floyd The Wall - May 8th, 1981 unspecified draft script by Roger Waters. And this is just as unusual as you would expect in a Pink Floyd screenplay. It’s part screenplay, part storyboard…

Conspiracy Theory - September 12, 1996 unspecified draft script by Brian Helgeland.

(Thanks so


Epstein’s Important Post about Revised First Drafts
“You turn in your draft. The producer gives you notes. You turn in a revised draft. From time to time, a producer will assert that the second draft you turned in is a ‘revised first draft,’ not a second draft. Your producer may truly believe himself. But his belief, not inconsequentially, means he doesn't owe you a second draft payment.”

Billy Mernit & The Obligatory Movie
“The Obligatory Movie announces itself on the script-reading frontlines when you start seeing a whole lot of specs that are more or less variations on the same concept and story -- a phenomenon that occurs more often than you might think, in the belly of the industry beast. In this case, over a period of two or three years, as studio story analyst and screenwriting instructor, I read half a dozen screenplays that had the same title: Always a Bridesmaid. No plagiarism or imitation involved -- each of the six was simply a disparate writer's take on That Movie.”

Unk’s 7 Vids of Screenwriters Talking about the Craft

Mike Le’s hilarious
Truth in Cinema.

TriggerStreet for Comics?
Have you guys heard about
Zuda Comics? It’s a new website created by DC Comics where people can submit their own comics and others can read 'em and vote on 'em. (Thanks to my close friend and brilliant writer Wired Puppy for the link!)

Bill Martel on Symbols
“…In RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK we have that headpiece on the staff with directions on where to place the staff on the map and how long the staff should be... but on the opposite side of the headpiece are more directions that *change* the length of the staff - and that only changes everything. Things like that make the story seem alive and unpredictable. When we come to a fork in the story road and the character makes a choice - if it's the wrong choice, that makes the story seem unpredictable... it also makes the story seem exciting, because the hero now must scramble to get back on course. But there is only one direction in NATIONAL TREASURE 2 - only one way the story can go. That makes it seem prectable and dull.”

Laura Deerfield on Movie Character Careers
“I've noticed that there are certain professions or callings that are over-represented in film. For example - there are far more architects in the movies, as a percentage, than there are in real life…”

Director Zack Snyder has posted the two storyboards viewed below for his 2009 tent pole, Watchmen, on the film’s official website.

Violent movies decrease crime, football increases crime

Mark Achtenberg on Carol Reed
“Reed's next film was 1949's blockbuster 'The Third Man'. Starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, 'The Third Man' was based on an original screenplay by Graham Greene (not an adaptation). Like the previous film, 'The Third Man' was a mystery, this time set in the rubble of post war Vienna. The plot involves Holly Martins (Cotten) arriving in Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime (Welles) only to be informed that Lime had been killed after being struck by a car. Frustrated by the police's lack of interest in the mysterious circumstances of his friends death, Holly resolves to find the killer(s) and get justice for Harry. Again, the location photography by Krasker is sublime (won the Academy award that year for b&w cinematography). The film is driven by the unforgettable score by Anton Karas, the characters and performances are outstanding and the story is poignant and surprising. The visual style is dynamic and employs canted angles and superior compositions. Over the years many have suggested that Welles played a large role in the direction of the film but if you look at 'Odd Man Out' and 'The Fallen Idol' you realize that this is simply nonsense. Reed was a fully developed artist and while Welles' contribution to the film is great, it was in his performance and not his direction that you can feel his effect (Greene did note that Welles' famous cuckoo clock speech was written by Welles).”

Thanks to Tim for sharing A Softer World
“Check out
A Softer World for short little works of art that are also short stories. Very interesting. And also good to study in terms of packing a story AND a character into a minute space.” 1 examples below...

Interview with Chuck Palahniuk
“You know, I like the way it works. At first I was nervous because I thought it would be too much like Fight Club. Because Fight Club had a lot of voice over establishing things in the first act. But in a way you are moving from the abstract of language to the very litteralness of movement. Because language is what books do very well and movement is what movies does very well. So in a way having voice over in the begining almost works as a missing link between books and movies, and helps become what it is in the end - a movie. I think it works better that way. Actually, I kind of cringe in the third act of Fight Club when the voice over comes back, and I wish it hadn’t done that.”

The Ultimate Book On Screenwriting…From 1916?
And yes, such a book does exist and was written by a certain Capt. Leslie T. Peacocke.

Persepolis writer puts her life on the screen
“Marjane Satrapi is sick of herself. With four graphic novels in her popular Persepolis series, she's thrown open the gate to her life story. Those stories informed the new feature film Persepolis, one of the most imaginative movies, animated or otherwise, released in years. And with the movie earning an Academy Award nomination and opening wider — including in Houston — today, she's having to talk almost continuously about Persepolis' protagonist: Marjane Satrapi.”

Blarneyman rants about the new Bond title
“Or Quantum of Solace as its been officially announced. What a shitty, silly title. By that token I'd much prefer any one of these alternates…”

8 Minutes of Diablo Cody on Letterman

David Bordwell on Cloverfield
“Next, overall structure. The Cloverfield tape conforms to the overarching principles that Kristin outlines in Storytelling in the New Hollywood and that I restated in The Way Hollywood Tells It. (Another example can be found
here.) A 72-minute film won’t have four large-scale parts, most likely two or three. As a first approximation, I think that Cloverfield breaks into…”

Zach Campbell on Still Life
“If I open glibly, snarkily, it's only because Still Life is the kind of film whose brilliance may need a bit of polemical cynicism in order to counterbalance what is surely a temptation for some (1) to read the film in purely impressionistic-melodramatic terms. Because as a story about people searching (for...) it is a fairly affecting film. But it is only when the human interest is understood within its wider contexts specifically--not as the dramatic heart of a social message but as micro-developments within a macro-narrative--that I think Still Life emerges as one of the very richest and most important "festival films" of recent years that I've had the fortune of seeing.”

How I Set the Butterfly Free
“When I first read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the idea that it could be adapted to the screen never crossed my mind. Recently, at a question-and-answer session in Hollywood, the audience were, I thought, rather shocked to learn that I didn’t read books to see whether or not they could be turned into films. When I added that I read books simply for pleasure, the response was a murmur of bewilderment. I may be doing them an injustice but I think not. In Hollywood, I suspect in much of the United States, many people read only to discover if the subjects will make movies.”

"Various critics I respect wandered out into the near-zero cold after the Eccles Center premiere of The Merry Gentleman complaining about [Michael] Keaton's technical limitations as a filmmaker, so I can only presume they exist," writes Salon's Andrew O'Hehir. "But I felt tremendously grateful for the stillness and quietness of Keaton's picture, its ominous, anonymous American atmospherics and its reticent refusal to open its characters and story to us beyond a certain point, especially considering it's a movie about - wait for it - a suicidal hit man!"

A Chat with 'Untraceable' Screenwriter Allison Burnett
“They had written a script that was around for a long time, called Streaming Evil. It had many big names attached, but it never took off. And then Lakeshore came to me. At first I was supposed to work on Marsh's character [Jennifer Marsh, played by Diane Lane], do some character work and some dialogue work. Then I pitched them some ideas, and they began writing and I pitched them some more stuff. In their version, the killer really had no reason to kill people on the internet, and there was a randomness to it. It was a hideous carnival atmosphere. What I brought to it was, the more who watched, the faster the person dies. There was an MO to the killer: why he does it. We were going to go into arbitration over screen credits, but in the end we decided to be friends. I felt very good about that.”

Star projects underwhelm Sundance

“The third round of the Book Review's
Reading Room series is up and percolating," announces the New York Times' Dwight Garner. For the next two weeks, the Book Review's Steve Coates will lead a panel discussing Walker Percy's odd, winsome 1962 novel The Moviegoer. "I personally would propose these three words, which are certainly at the driving heart of my own practice: richness, intensity and gesture." Adrian Martin in a terrific interview that originally ran in the Slovenian magazine Ekran nearly a year ago and appearing in English now, thanks to the interviewer, interviewee and Girish. (Thanks to GreenCine Daily.)

Garth Brooks – Screenwriter?
“Garth tells the Los Angeles Times that he'll return to screenwriting in the next few months, and hints that a movie based on Garth's alter-ego, Chris Gaines, is not out of the question.”

Screenwriters talk Giallo and L.A. Gothic
““We never dreamed that Dario Argento would read our script, let alone like it enough to want to direct it,” Keller continues. “It still hasn’t completely sunk in. Dario Argento likes us! How cool is that? And the cast so far is awesome. The fact that it is moving so fast has our heads spinning. And as if working with one of our idols isn’t enough, we have another genre master attached to direct our screenplay L.A. GOTHIC: the one and only Dr. John Carpenter! We managed to sign a deal with producers Josh Kesselman and Danny Sherman of Principal Entertainment on Halloween Day—just hours before the WGA strike.” The L.A. GOTHIC synopsis passed along by Keller describes the project as “five interwoven stories of high-octane horror centering on a vengeful ex-priest’s efforts to protect his teenage daughter from the supernatural evils of LA’s dark side.””

Noir City 6 has the usual spread of special guests, rare titles, and newly struck prints across ten nights of double-features,” writes Max Goldberg at SF360. “Plenty of notable tidbits for the hardcore, in other words, and for everyone else a chance at the kind of immersion long underlying noir appreciation.” Michael Guillen launches his coverage with an interview with Alan K Rode, a frequent contributor to Film Monthly and The Big Chat who can also be heard in more than a few DVD commentaries. Rode's new book is Charles McGraw: Biography of a Film Noir Tough Guy, a book that James Ellroy as "A spellbinding account of the great noir heavy … and a must-have addition to all film-noir libraries. Deft biography and overall wild tale."

Interview with "A Mighty Heart" Screenwriter John Orloff
“…And that script eventually got you your big break with Tom Hanks -- pretty decent guy to start out with, no?
JO: Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, yes! The most important thing that happened out of the Shakespeare script was that Tom's company was among the readers. They liked it, and I met with Tom about another project, but every time I sat down with him I would ask if he had hired writers on Band of Brothers. I'm a huge World War II buff, and I think I eventually just wore him down. He finally asked me to write a script, and I wrote one episode. He was very happy with it and asked me to write another. So, that was my first paying gig.”


On the Contest Circuit:

Gimme Credit Announces Cycle VI Short Script Winners

CinemaSpoke seeks screenplays
Cinema St. Louis is accepting submissions for its CinemaSpoke Screenwriting Competition, a chance for aspiring writer to get their work read by professional judges. The five best scripts get a staged recitation by local actors, and the winning entry is submitted to a Hollywood agent. Deadline for submissions is Feb. 29. The five finalists will be announced April 3. The contest is free and open to the public, as are the once-monthly recitations, which will be held at the Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive Street, from April through September. For more information, contact Cinema St. Louis at 314-289-4150 or visit its website at



URGENT! Talks Status Report: Optimism

Lionsgate signs as WGA talks go on
Indie producer, Marvel make interim deals

That Shitty DGA Deal Is At Least A Start...

WGA drops reality demands

Marvel makes a deal with the WGA

WGA STRIKE UPDATE: WGA Starts Fund to Help Idled Crews

John Wells On The DGA Deal
Good God - distributor's gross? Are you kidding me? Ugh… Down with the distribs!


And finally…

Here you can watch the entire 29-minute, BAFTA Film Award nominated, British model animation
Peter and The Wolf written and directed by Suzie Templeton. I loved every second of it.


David Alan said...

I’ll try to keep this brief...

Blarneyman rants about the new Bond title -- What the fuck are these people thinking? Did they just draw this name out of a hat? What’s wrong with the name Bond 22? This shit just frustrates the hell out of me. They just got done resurrecting a franchise and now they’re pulling this shit? Fuck Quantum of Solace. Also, how many people you think knows what solace means?

8 Minutes of Diablo Cody on Letterman –- ....

David Bordwell on Cloverfield -- “Cloverfield exemplifies what narrative theorists call restricted narration. In the narrowest case, the film confines the audience’s range of knowledge to what one character knows. Alternatively, as when the characters are clustered in the same space, we’re restricted to what they collectively know.”

I’ve recently started to toy with the idea of applying this concept to my latest spec Hurricane Punch. I just love the idea of the audience learning as the characters do. I hate having more information because it takes away the suspense. I also love this style because I don’t have to interweave the bad guy’s storyline with that of the main characters.

Anyway, I want to see this film to see if I get motion sickness. LOL.

Also, my favorite film to shoot parts of the film from the point-of-view of somebody is Strange Days. Nothing beats it.

Mystery Man said...

David - On the Bond title, according my resident James Bond expert (Mickey Lee), that's one of the few Fleming titles they haven't used yet. The others are "Property of a Lady", "The Hildebrand Variety," and "Bond in New York."

Let me just say that I love what Bordwell has written in his book "Poetics in Cinema" on restrictive narration, and I plan to blog about it sometime. It's a great reminder that so much of screenwriting/storytelling is about how and when you filter information to the audience. I don't think enough has been written about that subject, which is important. Given the concept of a story, what makes for a more interesting narrative - one person's perspective in which we only get a little information at a time or the God's eye perspective where we see the big picture and the audience always knows more than the characters? And I completely agree with you - more often than not, I would prefer to learn as the characters learn.

I heard some theaters had warning signs out about motion sickness! Personally, I think Cloverfield is a Netflix rental, and I'll probably get less sick seeing it at home.

I haven't seen Strange Days in forever. Yeah, that's fun.


Mystery Man said...

By the way, there's a new Tarantino interview in Sight & Sound. He talks a little about Inglorious Bastards and Death Proof, the books he's reading, etc.


David Alan said...

Funny, I don’t remember being angry when I wrote the Bond part. Anyway, why does the title have to be a Fleming title? I liken it to the Batman title debate. Why does “Batman” need to be in the title? It doesn’t. Same thing applies here.

Sight & Sound interview -- Great interview. Though, he seemed a little hostile. Maybe I’m just reading into it too much.

Unk said...

Naah... He's just always like that these days... LOL.

Tarantino gets pissed!


Mystery Man said...

Unk - What is that? Russian? You're a commie, aren't ya, Unk?

I knew it!


Be well.

Maya said...

Thanks for the tip of the hat! I appreciate it.

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