Monday, February 25, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 2/25/08


My apologies to Evan Astrowski (pictured above). My sincere, heartfelt apologies to Evan. I don’t know how Blogger chooses the preview pic. Rest assured, dear readers, that Evan’s a smart guy, respected by all, and any news video that includes him is most certainly worthy of your time. Hehehe

Anyway, above is the latest episode of Dana Brunetti’s
TriggerStreet TV, which covers industry news, trends, and topics.

If you missed it, I recently posted
Examples of Cinematic Storytelling and I drink your critics! I drink it up!.



CS Daily's Words of Wisdom:

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
C.S. Lewis

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
Cyril Connolly


Lohan sweeps Razzies
I Know Who Killed Me tops year's worst. (Too bad they didn't have worst photo-shoot category. Ugh..)

Here's where you can get your Oscar round-up.

Eight Decades of Oscar Winning Screenplays
“If you’re a screenwriter, or even remotely interested in screenwriting, watching the films that have won an Oscar in a writing category, and reading the screenplays would be beneficial. Watching these films and reading the screenplays is a study in screenwriting mastery. It’s also a good idea to read the books on which the adapted screenplays are based. I reviewed all the winners over the past eighty years and put together a list showcasing my favorite screenplays from each decade.”

Are Oscars Worth All This Fuss?
“Like anyone else I’m glad when my favorites win and dismayed when they fall short. So I am not against the Oscars, any more than I’m dismissive of the Salesman of the Year or the Employee of the Month, or opposed to lavish annual trade association conventions for actuaries or ophthalmologists. But I am nonetheless bothered by the disproportionate importance that the Academy Awards have taken on, and by the distorting influence they exercise over the way we make, market and see movies in this country. The Oscars themselves may be harmless fun, but the idea that they matter is as dangerous as it is ridiculous.”

Oscar-nominated writers went deep in portrayals
“Character is destiny. Score one for Heraclitus, whose succinct aphorism seems especially apt in describing screenwriters' path to the Oscars this year. While taut plotting and visual ingenuity were certainly in abundance in this year's crop of nominated screenplays, it is the writers' compassionate, three-dimensional depictions of the flawed and fearsome, the courageous and resourceful, the bereft and bruised, that most beckoned for reward. It may seem a facile thing to say, for what story doesn't live or die on the relatable nature of its characters and their actions? But at a time when a battered world cries out for an understanding of humans' most troubling motivations, these deep investigations into the jagged and tender parts of us resonated in the collective psyche with perfect pitch.”

25 biggest Oscar snubs ever

John August on Writing Shorts
“The hero’s fundamental problem/challenge/obstacle needs to occur by the time you get to the 1/3rd mark. So, if your short is meant to be three minutes long, the big event needs to happen on page one. If it’s a 10-minute short, it happens around page three. It’s not that you’re worried about your reader getting bored before then — if you can’t entertain us for three pages, there’s a problem — but rather that if you delay any longer, your story is going to feel lopsided: too much setup for what was accomplished.” (Is it any coincidence this posted shortly after we finished our script full of 20 love shorts?)

Unk on Zhura
“Got an email today from asking me to take a tour of their new online screenwriting tool… I was on it for maybe less than 10 minutes and it’s actually not too bad. Fast and easy to navigate through.” (Yeah, I got that same e-mail from Jennifer. She was nice. It’s a free web-based screenwriting software. I haven’t seen any free screenwriting software that yet makes the cut in terms of professionalism. I’m curious to see how this one does.)

Danny Stack on Critics
“Professional critics. What are they for? What do they do? Seriously, I’m asking, because I’m getting a little bit fed up with them. As far as I can see, most criticism nowadays isn’t about the actual creative content that the writer is supposedly assessing. No. It seems it’s more to do with making the journalist look good with his smug and witty remarks, and being scathing or dismissive of whatever material it may be (TV show/film). They offer no insight or valid argument, and instead simply pass breezy judgement (or biting remarks about the leading celebrity) as they get on to the next preview. More worryingly, a lot of these so-called critics show no core understanding of the medium they’re reviewing, which leads to ill-informed remarks...”

Bill Martel wants your writing questions

Josh James is published! Woo hoo!
“My short play A GAY THING is featured in the newly published ‘Open: 24 Hours.” (See also his article on Rapping On Writing - On Character, Ya Gotta Have Soul).

Kevin Lehane on
10 Ways to Get Over Writers Block and Movie Endings.

Emily asks
What's a screenplay for, anyway?
“There's that old "blueprint" theory. It's a blueprint. It's a document for building your movie with all the pieces listed in clinical description so all the construction workers can follow along and do their part correctly under the watchful eye of the contractor. If the blueprint is off, the house will fall unless the contractor does some quick calculations on the spot to fix it. And if a construction worker decides to ignore the blue print he might create a cool new breakfast nook or an unstable support and the whole thing could come crashing down.”

“Here's a meaty Hitchcock website: Ken Mogg's 'The MacGuffin'. Mogg is the author of The Alfred Hitchcock Story.” (Thanks to Girish.)

For Scott Rudin, there will be quality
“The producer makes only movies he believes in, and it's paid off this year with two best picture contenders... 'I look for a voice,' says Scott Rudin, on the Brooklyn set of his new project, The Reader.”

Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab
Looks like the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab application is now online.

David Mamet is 'the greatest American playwright of his generation,' declares Jeremy McCarter, but Ira Nadel's David Mamet: A Life in the Theatre isn't the biography we need: 'The definitive biography will need to cut more finely, separating not just successes from failure but success from success. Mamet has written a scathing play about sexual politics, Oleanna; the screenplay for a brilliant and (I'd wager) timeless political satire, Wag the Dog; and an uproarious courtroom farce, Romance. But these all pale next to American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross.' What's more, 'the definitive Mamet biography will above all need to give a full accounting of his voice. Mamet, according to [Gregory] Mosher, 'worked the iambic pentameter out of the vernacular of the underclass.' For all the comparisons to [Harold] Pinter, there is nothing like Mamet's profane poetry in modern drama.'” (Thanks to GreenCine.)

Mike Myers Tackling New Secret Life of Walter Mitty Screenplay
“Mark Waters' planned remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was derailed a few years ago, but the director is still interested in bringing it to the screen -- and he isn't alone.” (See also Mike Myers is Daydreaming in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)

Sutter apologizes for 'Punisher: War Zone' comments
“Screenwriter Kurt Sutter has taken another pass at wrapping up his involvement with Punisher: War Zone.”

An interview with screenwriter Susannah Grant.
“Susannah Grant received an Oscar nomination for her screenplay for her inspirational story - Erin Brockovich.”

Fatih Akin, whose Head-On (2004) is one of the great films of the decade, returns to scour the same vexed ground of exile and migration in The Edge of Heaven,' writes Anthony Quinn in the Independent. 'His obsession with the relationship between Germany and Turkey (his roots lie in both) is becoming as intense as Sam Peckinpah's with the US and Mexico, only with less blood and whisky.' 'This is an intriguing, complex, beautifully acted and directed piece of work, partly a realist drama of elaborate coincidences, near-misses and near-hits, further tangled with shifts in the timeline - and partly an almost dreamlike meditation with visual symmetries and narrative rhymes,/ writes Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian.” (Thanks to GreenCine.)

Fitzgerald stories optioned
Jerry Rapp adapting for the screen

Mandate nabs Brosh McKenna script
'Prada' scribe sells untitled romantic comedy

Favorite Screenwriting Device No. 42 - The Sympathetic Listener
“Brands in There Will be Blood and Evans in The Assassination seem to come out of the same drawer in the screenwriter’s cabinet of tricks, the one marked, 'Sympathetic Listeners.'”

"At its best - and queasiest -
The Counterfeiters asks disturbing questions more commonly found in the survivor literature of Primo Levi or Bruno Bettelheim than at the movies," writes Ella Taylor in the Voice. "Without resorting to the crassly relativist reversals in Paul Verhoeven's idiotic Black Book (treacherous resisters! sensitive Nazis! who knew?), [director and co-writer Stefan] Ruzowitzky quietly asks what counts as moral behavior under fascism, and whether or not one's first duty is to survive." "Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, The Counterfeiters manages to be devastating without a hint of sentimentality," writes Raphaela Weissman in the New York Press. "Ruzowitzky's straightforward approach to this unusual story and cinematographer Benedict Neunfels's documentary-style immediacy transcend the now well-worn Holocaust genre, bringing another side of the tragedy into unflinching focus." (Thanks to GreenCine.)

Toy Story 3 Plot Revealed
“Woody the cowboy and his toy-box friends are dumped in a day-care center after their owner, Andy, leaves for college.”

Britain gets creative
Government unveils new strategy

Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are to Be Entirely Reshot
“Yet I’m hearing that just such a massive reshoot is what is on the table right now. And it’s not because of technical issues, unless you want to consider the lead kid actor and the script technical issues. Sources tell me that the suits at Legendary and Warner Bros are not happy with Max Records, the actor playing Max, the mischievous boy who is crowned King of the Wild Things. Worse than that, they don’t like the film’s tone and want to go back to the script drawing board, possibly losing the Spike Jonze/Dave Eggers script when they do it. Apparently the film is too weird and ‘too scary,’ and the character of Max is being seen as not likable.”

Horror Film Writer Sells Screenplay Rights on eBay
“A horror film called Turn Me on Deadgirl has went on sale via the non -traditional path of eBay for the starting price of $1.00.”


On the Contest Circuit:

Two hundred word screenwriting competition!
“And, speaking of short literary efforts, after the phenomenal success of the six word story I’m sure that many of you will be keen to write a three-minute short film synopsis for Jameson whiskey’s new screenwriting competition.”

2008 British Short Screenplay Competition Seeking Entries

Monterey Screenplay Competition Announces 2007 Winners

BlueCat Lab Announces Feature Finalists

IFFF Announces Finalists


Strike Related:

How Much is Streaming Worth?
“With the strike settled, the WGA won residuals for content streamed over the Internet beyond an "initial streaming window" of 17 days (24 days for first-year shows). But how much is this still-new revenue stream worth? More important, how much will it be worth in the future?”

Let's Make a WGA Deal!
“Jonathan Handel at Digital Media Law has an excellent summary of the WGA contract terms here. Critics and advocates of the deal will find much to digest. And certainly worth a careful read in anticipation of the start of negotiations by AFTRA and SAG.”

Hollywood and the internet: There will be blood
“Sixty years have not done much to alter Tinseltown's instincts. As it prepares for its 80th Academy Awards this weekend, Hollywood is facing another new medium—the internet. Instead of using the web to get films to people, studios are still in the cabbage-rolling business: they use the web mostly as a medium to show dross, and just a handful of decent films. Yet, if the studios hope that by ignoring the web, Tinseltown can put off change, they are surely wrong (see article). Hollywood needs to confront the web—by embracing it.”

Lawyer's steady hand guided Hollywood writers deal

WGA Strike Estimated to Have Sponged Up $2.5 Billion

The 2008 Writer's Strike Explained

Writers Guild Deal: Details

WGA Deal: Details

Post-Strike: A Discreet Hiccup After Settling

COVER STORY: The End of the Strike ... and the Road Ahead


And finally

Blonde Ambition is
the number one movie in the Ukraine, where it took $253,008 in its opening weekend beating out Definitely, Maybe, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Oscar-nominated Atonement.”


Carlo Conda said...

Regarding the Triggerstreet vid...
Those guys think NCFOM deserve "Best Picture"?

Mystery Man said...

Well, that was their prediction and that would have been my guess as well, although "Blood" was clearly the better picture.


Joshua James said...

Hey man, thanks for the shout out, I appreciate it!

Kevin Lehane said...

MM, thanks a million for the shout out. I was wondering why my stats went through the roof (without the help of writing Lindsay Lohan Nude in one of my posts).

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