Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 1/8/08

Here’s the Batman vs. Superman script review: Part One and Part Two.

I posted the above pic because the
Superman III treatment by Ilya Salkind is now available thanks to Superman Cinema. Oh, What Superman III could have been… Lois goes to Hong Kong because she can’t handle being near Superman. Lana Lang comes to Metropolis as the new star reporter. We learn that Supergirl also survived Krytpon’s explosion, landed on Brainiac’s planet, and got raised by him. She leaves for Earth and meets Superman. They fall in love and fly through the clouds together… Brainiac finds Supergirl and brought Mxyzptlk with him. There were hints at a relationship between Jimmy and Lana. Weird. Ilya writes: “The next big question is… does Superman marry Supergirl in Superman III or Superman IV…”

On Thursday, Miriam’s article on The Shower Scenes of Brian De Palma!

Woo hoo!



New Screenplays:

The Other Boleyn Girl - by Peter Morgan (based on the novel by Philippa Gregory) & hosted by Natalie Portman.com.

Cliffhanger - undated first draft script by Michael France.

Rails & Ties - undated draft script by Micky Levy.

Collateral - script by Stuart Beattie, revised by Frank Darabont.

Gods and Monsters - by Bill Condon.


Photostreams for the Visually-Oriented Writers:

Stuck in Customs


David Giral





Screenwriter Oscar Quiz:


1. Each of these pairs -- one heavyweight of the 20th century literary canon, one Hollywood heavyweight -- vied for Oscars in the year indicated. Which person won the Oscar each time?

(a) George Bernard Shaw vs. Dore Schary ('38)

(b) Noel Coward vs. Norman Krasna ('43)

(c) Charles Chaplin vs. Sidney Sheldon ('47)

(d) Jean-Paul Sartre vs. Dalton Trumbo ('56)

(e) Ingmar Bergman vs. Stanley Shapiro ('59)

(f) William Inge vs. Paul Henning ('61)

(g) Harold Pinter vs. Ernest Thompson ('81)

(h) Arthur Miller vs. Billy Bob Thornton ('96)

(i) Tom Stoppard vs. Warren Beatty ('98)

(j) John Irving vs. Frank Darabont ('99)

[Answer’s in the Comments]


Calling Filmmakers and Screenwriters!
“The Terror Film Festival is a week long, blood spilling, alien probing international indie film festival founded by filmmakers and screenwriters, for the purpose of offering creative artists more. TFF runs every October in the heart of Philadelphia at the prestigious Ethical Society Building (right across from beautiful Rittenhouse Square), and offers over $10,000 in cash and prizes, ranging from awards to sweet, loveable cash. Plus, their world-class Screenwriting Competition! TFF offers filmmaking awards, screenwriting awards, the Claw Awards, and cash prizes. All hosted by the sexy Princess Horror! And all for our filmmakers and screenwriters!! So, whether you’re an independent, professional, amateur, novice, film fan, Johnny Six-Pack, or Suzy Creativity, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is invited to submit a film or screenplay to TFF.”

3rd Annual Asta Awards
“The Best in Romantic Comedy 2007: This year was a peculiarly shaped one for romantic comedy: crowded at the bottom and dominated by a few solid winners at the top, without a whole lot of interest in the middle. On the downside, there was a preponderance of heavily promoted execrable why-did-they-bother? fare (Good Luck Chuck, License to Wed). The merely mediocre appeared and disappeared with all the substance of a forgettable dream (Music and Lyrics, No Reservations), while well-intentioned misfires (Waitress), bland Masterpiece Theatre (Becoming Jane) and unconvincing self-indulgences (Catch and Release) failed to make a mark. Let's get to the good stuff -- 20 categories…”

Screenwriting structure Part 10 your first 10 pages and the hook
“You got that hook right? That something that I can immediately understand and captures my interest… Your hook doesn’t have to be anything other than something that gets me interested in going on with your screenplay or movie. It should be commensurate with your genre and story but it doesn’t necessarily have to be about your story. It could be something that your Protagonist just completed from another adventure. It could be your Antagonist doing something we’ve never seen before. It could be a minor character that exposes themselves to some vague obstacle that you’ll flesh out to us later on. It could be an arrival. Somebody or something comes to town. How about a death? What about your theme? What about your Protagonist’s flaw? Hell, maybe you just want to introduce your Protagonist… It’s all good.”

Best Film Fade Outs Ever
Animal House (1978): Freeze frame on characters explaining what happened to them. Unique approach in 1978. Everyone does it now.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969): Blaze of glory.
Fargo (1996): My painting of a duck is going to be on a three cent stamp.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986): Rooney on the school bus with the brats he despises.
Kelly's Heroes (1970): "De Gaulle! De Gaulle!"

Lynden tells us
why screenwriters should closely study Six Feet Under
“After marvelling at the precision of its construction, zoom in for a closer look. Check the way the characters usually have so little understanding of their own impulses, including they way their actions usually contradict what they say to one another. Note the fine crafting of every single individual scene, in which conflict, whether it be forthright or subtle, almost always results in a totally unexpected outcome. Also notice the way the minority of scenes lacking conflict end by revealing or expanding upon character in some new and significant way. Whether the scenes are constructed around conflict or non-conflict, the result is always the same: a shift in the relationships between the characters that keeps pulling us in, deepening our fascination and wanting to learn more.”

Harry Tuttle’s
Contemporean Comtemplative Cinema Blog-a-thon
“Suggested theme of the blogathon: Narrative strategies in plotless films. To look at how C.C.C. films manage to tell a story without the traditional dramatic structure. To see if there is one alternative strategy or various types of contemplative plotlessness in these films to compensate the lack of dialogue and suspense-drive. Contrarians could even prefer to note how we can find traces of classic narration (or an altered form) in C.C.C. films.”

Supporting Actress Blog-a-thon
“As a paranthetical aside, embedded in her recent NYT review of There Will Be Blood, Manohla Dargis offered this quip: "Like most of the finest American directors working now, [Paul Thomas] Anderson makes little on-screen time for women." It's a sorry state of affairs, really. And yet, here at StinkyLulu, we've got an annual tradition to address it, wherein we extoll just how much the greater actresses of 2007 have made from the little on-screen time allotted them.”

Bob’s article on Opening Credits
“No discussion of memorable opening credits would be complete without mentioning the James Bond series. (Not that I’m aiming for anything like completeness.) The first film, Dr. No, doesn’t count, but it’s interesting in the way it doesn’t count: its credits are jazzy and abstract, which might have set the tone for the whole series if it had begun in the late 50’s rather than in the early 60’s. But Camelot and the Playboy era rode up alongside the James Bond series and the tone became somewhat different. The opening credits for the next film, From Russia With Love, created the template for the rest of the films: an imperfectly seen, mostly unclad beauty writhing athletically on screen. Later films, most of them with their title sequences designed by Maurice Binder (who had done the first two too) had variations on this theme: female silhouettes dancing and multiplying across the screen. When handguns appeared, the formula was complete. The pinnacle must have been The Spy Who Loved Me: Roger Moore and some nude women in silhouette, performing gymnastics on the silhouettes of handguns.”

Octopussy screenwriter George MacDonald Fraser dies aged 82
“As well as Octopussy in 1983, MacDonald Fraser wrote other screenplays including The Prince and The Pauper and The Three Musketeers. Fellow author Kingsley Amis called him ‘a marvellous reporter and a first-rate historical novelist.’”

Ian Fleming named 14th greatest postwar writer by The Times
“The Times book section today recorded the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 with James Bond author Ian Fleming coming in at #14.”

Matt Zoller Seitz’s great
NYT article on Paul Thomas Anderson
“The films of the writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson are obsessed with the destruction and reinvention of families, particularly the anxiety of influence felt so keenly in the relationship between distant, absent or controlling fathers and their grievously wounded sons. This in itself is not remarkable. What is remarkable, or at least striking, is how vividly the theme manifests itself in the stories that Mr. Anderson tells, and the evolving style with which he tells them.”

Adaptation and "Success": The Golden Compass And Beyond
“So what is that elusive ingredient that works for you in terms of an adaptation "succeeding"? Is it the notion of Steve's Central Question being the same? Or is it down to something else - for me, I like to see adaptations that are "true" to the seed of the story but can go any which way it pleases, including right off the beaten track into beyond. That might sound the same as Steve's Central Question, but I'm not sure it is: for example, American Psycho as a book for me was about an ACTUAL killer, whereas I felt in the movie this was in question as I outline in this post. The seed of both stories for me was homicidal tendencies, but the Central Questions were different: in the book, is Patrick Bateman going to get caught? Versus in the movie: is he really a killer?”

Lucy also had a great list of adaptation links:
Top 50 Adaptations
Top Grossing Comic Book Adaptations
Least Successful Comic Book Adaptations
Keys To A Successful Comic Book Movie Adaptation
21 Books That Should be Great Films

Mr. Vista is Coming
“Saturday was the shoot day for the first episodes of Mr Vista. This is a new series of comedy shorts / skits that I'm putting together. They all feature the adventures of a man who sees progress bars wherever he goes. The shorts will be released about one every week through his own blog www.mrvista.net (which will be built shortly) and on Dailymotion.com. This post is to share some of my thoughts about what I hope to achieve from this series.”

Hero Pictures to bring Albert Einstein’s story to Big Screen
“Hero Pictures International has acquired exclusive rights to the biography ‘Private Lives of Albert Einstein,’ written by well-known science journalists Roger Highfield and Paul Carter. The book probes the elusively human side of Einstein, with the authors bringing to life a much more intimate picture of Einstein, from his struggles early on to his rise to fame, continuing to the end of his life. Academy Award-winning writer Ron Bass (RAIN MAN), engaged to write the screenplay back in the summer 2007, has enormous enthusiasm for the project. ‘It's inspiring to be chosen to tell the story of Albert Einstein. This film will bring us closer to his genius, his imagination, his discoveries and to the drama and charm of his human side. I look forward to delivering my script as soon as possible after the WGA strike concludes,’ commented Bass.”

IW’s Still Not Surprising article:
“When I worked at the studio That Will Henceforth Remain Unnamed (TWHRU), I worked on a film that the screenwriter was constantly bitching that the director (who I worked for) was twisting his script to hell in a handbasket. So much so, that he officially took his name off the film and had some fake name on the credits. Let me interject that this dude (black) was a complete and total a-hole, and the film turned out fine, with no coonery, and I haven't heard about that elitist diva since. Sometimes a director can turn out a fine film in spite of the writer with his ‘vision’. On the other end of the spectrum, it was my job to pitch scripts for my (black) production company to these honchos at this major (white) studio, and like I said before, they shot all of the good, positive, black ones down like the Taliban. I say this because I KNOW it is a challenge to even get your script read in Hollywood, much less greenlit. And it is even a bigger challenge to get the dozens of folks involved to stay close to your vision...unless....”

Self-Styled Siren offers
misconceptions about the Hays Code.
"The idea that the Code made films 'better' is wrongheaded. It's often argued that censorship made movies more subtle, that it forced more creativity from directors and screenwriters who had to labor under its provisions."

Indie Film Model For Coming 3-D Revolution
“Today's new, polarized, digital 3-D movies promise to fulfill the original dream of cinema: to bring the otherworldly and uncanny so close audiences feel they have entered the action. And, as seen by the recent successes of Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf and the re-release of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, audiences are responding. ‘While the studios are making $100-200 million 3-D blockbusters, 'indie film' methods can be used to create high-quality polarized 3-D features in the $5-$15 million range,’ says Doug Schwartz, chairman of StereoVision Entertainment Inc., an independent, publicly-traded film production company dedicated solely to making low-cost, high-quality 3-D movies. ‘Similar to what Roger Corman accomplished at American International Pictures in the 1960s and 70s, such a low-budget 3-D production facility could serve as a fertile testing ground for new talent pushing the boundaries of this exciting new platform.’”

Antonioni, Bergman...Fincher?"
Slate's movie club returns for its annual go-round.

Script Review: IESB Explores Live Action Jonny Quest!
“This draft is just-barely pre-strike, clocking in at 10/31/2007 and is written by one Dan Mazeau whose only other credit is an in-development screenplay called Land of Lost Things. Now before you even get your spoiler warning, I’m telling you right off the bat: The star of this film isn’t Jonny Quest. Not by a long shot. This film is all about the roughest, toughest action hero to ever hit the TV screen: Race Bannon.”

TOKYO ROSE – Writer Christopher Hampton talks about one of Frank Darabont’s Next Projects
“Anyway, it looks like ‘Tokyo Rose’ will be the project after ‘Fahrenheit’ and the movie is about ‘a Japanese American woman who was arrested in Tokyo right after the War, brought back to San Francisco, put on trial for radio propaganda and sentenced to eight years imprisonment and she was completely innocent. It was all a witch hunt. She was absolutely innocent and eventually – in the 70’s – she was given a Presidential Pardon by President Ford.’ During the interview he talks a lot more about the project.”

Solving the screenplay puzzle
“There's something a little bit mathematical about writing a screenplay. You have a certain number of elements. You probably have about two hours to tell the story; no one's going to make a five-hour movie, or a forty-five-minute movie, for that matter. And it's a little like solving a puzzle: Okay, these people, these events, this outcome. Tell it in two hours. Go. That clock ticks relentlessly throughout every page and line of dialogue. There's no slack, there's no surcease, there's no room to stop and take a breath and provide a little background. It's tremendously structured. It's like doing sprints, as opposed to a marathon.”

On Wallpaper in Some Films
“What first drew me to the back of the frame, to the thin membrane standing between setting and set? I think it must have been Jacques Demy's Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (France, 1964), a film whose title draws our attention to another thin cover standing in the way of our confrontation with reality. Yet Demy's characters do not just hide behind umbrellas; rather, like the peacock's tail or the anglerfish's spine, Demy's monochrome umbrellas pull attention towards the characters' integumental performance and to the sheltering belief we in turn form of these characters. This is a reading reinforced from the outset of the film, where after an iris opens on a ship's horn blow, the camera tilts down and we watch from a bird's-eye perspective umbrellas make their geometric way across the quay. The viewer, momentarily, is the down-looking raincloud (a safe reversal of the mechanics of Hitchcock's famous shower scene), and we are kept there until the camera tilts back skyward and we cut to the garage where auto mechanic Guy Foucher works.”

The Searcher: On Ethan Edwards and John Ford’s Masterpiece
“John Ford's The Searchers (1956) opens with the arrival of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) at his brother's home in southern Texas, three years after the Civil War has ended. What appears to be a friendly and welcome family visit soon takes on sinister overtones. When Ethan's nephew asks him about the war, the youngster is cut off in mid-speech by his father, as if this matter might bring up other, more unpleasant topics. While the children rally around their uncle, demanding presents and ingratiating themselves with him, the adults among Ethan's family and friends react suspiciously. It is also typical of the character, we soon learn, that he nurtures their suspicions about what he has been doing for the last three years and why he has returned by dropping tantalizing hints about his recent past. His brother Aaron remarks that Ethan had, before the war, wanted to clear out but stayed "beyond any reason" — the latter phrase an early key to the puzzle of his personality. In moments of stress and frustration, the commanding, pulled-together Ethan can become unhinged.”

Entertainment Weekly asks:
Is Sci-Fi out of Ideas?
“Sci-fi is in trouble, though it's not the kind of trouble that can be measured at the box office, where it looks as healthy and robust as a T. rex must have seemed five minutes before it realized that there was nothing left to eat. The genre has been around for as long as the movies themselves, and flourished for the last 30 years. The problem is, none of the ideas are getting any newer. Scratch that: The problem is, there are no ideas.”

The Irresistible Urge to Destroy New York on Screen
“To be sure, movies showing New York being destroyed are nothing new — and have a long history in cinema. (New York Magazine’s Vulture blog recently had an item on the Top 10 movie destructions of New York.) But the resilience of the urban-destruction theme seems notable — and, after a brief post-9/11 lull, the theme seems more prevalent than ever. In an insightful 2005 op-ed essay in The Boston Globe, the architectural historian Max Page argued that fantasies of New York’s destruction are actually vital to the city’s success. ‘The best thing for New York might be the sight of King Kong tramping through the streets of Manhattan on his way to a fateful appointment at the top of the Empire State Building,’ Mr. Page wrote. ‘For if there is one thing that symbolizes New York’s pre-eminence, it is that so many still want to imagine the city’s end.’”


On the Contest Circuit:

AWS Announces Contest Winner

Slamdance Horror Announces Semifinalists

Praxis Announces Fall 2007 Winners

Filmmakers.com Announces Contest Winners

Screenwriter Showcase Announces Contest Winner

TWP Announces Contest Winners

MoviePoet.com Announces November Winners

Script Savvy Announces Contest Winner



UPDATE: NBC And Hollywood Foreign Press Cancel Big Televised Golden Globes Ceremony; Scrapped For Stripped Down "News" Telecasts

Strike support is not on the A-list
“Many actors have manned the picket lines along with their writing brothers and sisters since the Writers Guild of America strike began Nov. 5. But there has been a notable absence of a small group that under any other circumstance would monopolize it: A-list movie stars.”

SHOCKER! WGA To Announce Side Deal With Tom Cruise's United Artists; Now Studio Moguls Mad At MGM's Sloan

In Strike, Separate Deals Draw Ire of Big Producers
A deal between United Artists and the Writers Guild of America West to let the production company sidestep the screenwriters’ strike may have opened the door to a full-blown brawl, as other producers demanded to know why writers have granted some companies a special agreement but not others.

WGA fails in location permit bid
“The WGA has failed in a bid to have the city refuse film-location permits to struck production companies.”

Dick Clark Productions: WGA refused to negotiate on Globes
“Dick Clark Prods., the independent production company that produces the Golden Globes, said late Friday that it has tried for weeks to make an interim deal with the WGA…”

Rumors Upon Rumors Of WGA Side Deals

EXCLUSIVE: DGA Met With Moguls Today

WGA in Talks With Weinstein Co, Encircling Networks

Phil Hellmuth Fills Gap Left by Writer's Strike
“Just when we thought Hollywood’s writers strike was about to make network television officially unbearable to watch, one world-renowned poker pro is coming to the rescue. UltimateBet pro Phil Hellmuth is slated to appear in the third seasons of NBC’s Poker After Dark beginning December 31st, 2007. The 11-time WSOP bracelet winner and recent Poker Hall of Fame inductee will no doubt churn out some impressive one-liners that not even Hollywood’s best screenwriters could conjure up.”


Did you know there’s a comic strip for screenwriters? Mike Le’s
Don’t Forget to Validate Your Parking is worth your I’m-not-doing-anything-because-I’m-on-strike time.


Mystery Man said...

Here are the answers:

(a) Shaw; (b) Krasna; (c) Sheldon; (d) Trumbo (as "Robert Rich"); (e) Shapiro; (f) Inge; (g) Thompson; (h) Thornton; (i) Stoppard; (j) Irving

Mickey Lee said...

Sigh... hate to be the big nerd, but...

Robert Brownjohn designed the title sequences for "From Russia With Love" and "Goldfinger", so it was actually he, not Maurice Binder, that set the tone for the series.

I do agree that the sequence for "The Spy Who Loved Me" was the best -- that is, until "Casino Royale" ;)

Mystery Man said...

Dude - you're not a nerd. You're a bloody expert and you should be proud of it. I gotta say, I wasn't keen on Casino Royale's opening. I think I had said outloud in the theater, "where are the damn girls?"



Mickey Lee said...

The playing card's thing is more to my aesthetic... in other words, I thought it was damn cool!

Lucy said...

Thanks for the "shout out" MM! Loving your new article on THERE WILL BE BLOOD btw. Can't wait to see this.

Mystery Man said...

It's great to meet you, Lucy.