Monday, June 23, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 6/23/08

Hey guys,

Above is the latest scriptsale roundup via ScriptGirl. Is it me or does she wear less clothes with each new vid? Also, if you missed it, here are the
50 Flaws of Indy IV vs. the 50 Strengths of Darabont’s Draft.



New Screenplays:

Day of the Dead (2008) - undated fourth draft script by Jeffrey Reddick

Serenity - April 18, 2004, un-numbered draft script by Joss Whedon

Serenity - pre April 18, 2004 "kitchen sink" draft script by Joss Whedon

(Hat-tip to


August on How to Cut Pages
"One page of screenplay translates to one minute of movie. Since most movies are a little under two hours long, most screenplays should be a little less than 120 pages. That’s an absurd oversimplification, of course. One page of a battle sequence might run four minutes of screen time, while a page of dialogue banter might zip by in 30 seconds. No matter. The rule of thumb might as well be the rule of law: any script over 120 pages is automatically suspect. If you hand someone a 121-page script, the first note they will give you is, 'It’s a little long.' In fact, some studios will refuse to take delivery of a script over 120 pages (and thus refuse to pay)."

Unk on
Character Blockage
"You must get into this character’s HEAD… Very much like an actor would get into this character’s head. That means you’ve got to figure out what KIND of a character he his first and foremost. Figure that out and THAT information will lead you the correct backstory. Backstory is the stuff that characters are born from… You MAKE IT UP. And you KEEP MAKING IT UP UNTIL any event, obstacle, or story element that pops up in front of that character doesn’t STIFLE you. If it stifles you — i.e., WRITER’S BLOCK — then you PROBABLY don’t know your character well enough yet. You have to know your character. I can’t tell you THE WAY to get to know your character better — I can only tell you the way I get to know my characters better."

Mike Le’s hilarious new comic,
Sigmund Freud vs. The Male Nurse

Danny Stack on
Getting Ahead
"Well, first the obvious cliché: keep on writing, keep on sending your stuff out to production companies, agents and producers. Something might break and eventually, if you're any good, it probably will. Now, to get ahead: have you considered writing a short film and getting it made? Or, even better, writing & directing the short film yourself. You can make a film for very cheap nowadays, and you could do it over a weekend. I made a no-budget short this way. It didn't cost any money at all and it turned out well (I think. See for yourself here)."

MaryAn Batchellor’s brilliant
Rose Colored Earlobes
“How do you weed the practical and useful advise in story notes from the meaningless feather flapping of an egotistical reader? And, how do you know if your friends and family are blowing smoke when they praise your work…? I'm not being cynical here. I'm being pragmatic. There comes a point when a writer ought not need anyone else to tell him what's wrong with his script. That's not to say he doesn't need story notes - that's the way of the business - but he either knows exactly what is wrong or knows it works and any changes will be based on preference, budget, set pieces, location, improvisation, the director's niece wanting a role, whatever.”

Bill Martel on
Family Plot
"Hitchcock’s final film. I have a soft spot for this film - it was the only Hitchcock movie I saw in a cinema during it’s initial release. I was too young to see the others when they came out, yet have seen all 53 films on the big screen at least once - many of them several times. Though FAMILY PLOT isn’t Hitchcock at his best, it’s a fun film... written by the multi-Oscared Ernest Lehman who also wrote NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Though not a chase film, it has the same sense of humor as that film. One of the other things I like about it is the strange cast - it *stars* Bruce Dern. Dern played psycho Viet Nam Vets and twitchy villains and is probably most famous for being the only actor to ever *kill* John Wayne on screen. Not a leading man. Playing his girlfriend, was the always cute Barbara Harris, who played the mom in the original FREAKY FRIDAY... and John Cusack’s mom in GROSSE POINT BLANK. On the villain side we have Karen Black (who was probably the biggest star in the cast when this was made) and the always suave William Devane who replaced Roy Thinnes halfway through shooting - you can still see Thinnes in long shots. Devane had played JFK on TV, and was considered a leading man... not a villain. One of the great things he brings to the film is his charisma - early in the film you are rooting for him and Black to get away with their crimes 0 they are so clever and elegant and cool. Hey, and the great Ed Lauter plays a childhood friend of Devane’s who will kill anyone for a buck fifty."

Julie Gray on
“Today is the opening day of the Great American Pitch Fest in Burbank, Ca. The Wave-inatrix will shortly decamp and greet my friends and colleagues. Sunday is the big day though - the main event - pitching day. So if there are any Wavers attending on Saturday come find me and meet wonderful Margaux at the The Script Department booth and if you are pitching on Sunday - here are a few tips…”

Shep's hilarious Problems with Screenwriting Advice
1. Tons of exceptions, every screenplay is different.
Every screenplay is different, except for that shot-for-shot remake of Psycho (or so I’ve heard, I didn’t see the point after having seen the original). There are going to be exceptions to every single rule you hear. Think rules as general guidelines that can be broken at will if it helps the story.
2. Half the people who give advice aren’t actually screenwriters*
If I want to learn how to be a mechanic, the person teaching me better be able to build a car. No, not just know how to build a car, he better have actually done it. Bonus points for doing it well.

Craig Mazin on
the Logic Nazi
With the recent and sad passing of the great Sidney Pollack, I was reminded that David Zucker would often cite his interactions with Sidney Pollack as a good examples of a comedy “Logic Nazi.” Every project or room ought to have one, comedy or drama. The Logic Nazi’s job is to do what most of us usually do after we see a film. “How did the villain even know he had the jewel in his pocket?” “Why would he refuse to fight that one guy when we’ve already seen he’s willing to fight bigger guys?” “Why are they going out of their way to find someone to help them rob the bank when one of them already has the means to do it on his own?”

Unk gets
endless stupid questions.

Clive helps Unk
“Apparently Unk at unknownscreenwriter is getting inundated with trivial question via his new contacts page… so in the spirit of helping out, I thought I’d copy them over here and answer them for him… LOL… here we go…”

Emily helps Unk
2.75) Generally speaking, about how many parentheticals should I have in my screenplay?
Every line of dialogue should contain a parenthetical. Otherwise, how will the actors know what facial expressions to make?

Carlo helps Unk
Do you use Celtx?
What is that, a spreadsheet program?

Todd Gordon helps Unk
Should I type FADE IN: at the beginning of my screenplay?
"only in lieu of a mascara pencil or urine soaked artist's paint brush" (real answer:yes)

[Of all the people that helped Unk,
Emily’s was the funniest.]

Say “hello” to the
Anonymous Production Assistant.

Mark Gill on the
Indie film crisis. (Hat-tip to William Speruzzi.)

Getting Our Hate On: The Fun and Fury in Panning Movies

I’ve mentioned this before, but don’t miss Alan’s
Indiana Jones and the Revenge of the Darabont Draft.

A treasure trove of good reading at
Moving Image Source.

Kristin Thompson on
Turning Points
“Most screenplay manuals treat turning points as the major events or changes that mark the end of an “act” of a movie. Syd Field, perhaps the most influential of all how-to manual authors, declared that all films, not just classical ones, have three acts. In a two-hour film, the first act will be about 30 minutes long, the second 60 minutes, and the third 30 minutes. The illustration at the top shows a graphic depiction of his model, which includes a midpoint, though Field doesn’t consider that midpoint to be a turning point. I argued against this model in Storytelling, suggesting that upon analysis, most Hollywood films in fact have four large-scale parts of roughly equal length. The “three-act structure” has become so ingrained in thinking about film narratives that my claim is somewhat controversial. What has been overlooked is that I’m not claiming that all films have four acts. Rather, my claim is that in classical films large-scale parts tend to fall within the same average length range, roughly 25 to 35 minutes. If a film is two and a half hours rather than two hours, it will tend to have five parts, if three hours long, then six, and so on. And it’s not that I think films must have this structure. From observation, I think they usually do. Apparently filmmakers figured out early on, back in the mid-1910s when features were becoming standard, that the action should optimally run for at most about half an hour without some really major change occurring.”

Tell Me a Story or Not
“In the words of Isaac Hayes: "Rat own." I always come back to the principle that Roger Ebert has phrased so succinctly: "A movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it." To me, that's as eloquent a definition of movies, and film criticism, as anybody's ever articulated. And it seems to me that we don't take the storytelling -- not the contortions of the plot, but the shot-by-shot construction of a movie (the telling that is the movie) -- seriously enough most of the time. To put it in literary terms, I wish people would concentrate more on ill-formed (sloppy, repetitive) sentences and paragraphs and less on plot holes or improbabilities. Story is optional; style is what's there, on the page or on the screen, from moment to moment. (Just so I'm clear: I'm not talking about criticizing e.e. cummings for improper capitalization and punctuation, or complaining that Hitchcock put too many cuts in the "Psycho" shower scene. I'm interested in how and why they do what they do, and what effects they achieve in doing it.)”

David Bordwell on
Arcs & Formula
“The passage lays out a lot of what U. S. screenplay manuals have been asserting for decades (notions that Kristin and I have analyzed in various books). This is still more evidence that the Hollywood model, with its goal-oriented chain of causes and effects and its protagonist who improves through a “character arc,” holds sway far beyond our own shores. Whether it should be so widespread is another question, but for Kristin and me, this template or formula is a bit like the sonnet or the well-made play: a form that can yield results good, bad, and indifferent. The point is to take the form seriously enough to understand what makes it work.”

Steve Vineberg’s
Art of Surprise.

Harry Knowles been given a preview listen to a 40-minute conversation between Enzo Castellari and Quentin Tarantino that'll be part of the package when Castellari's 1977 film Inglorious Bastards is released in late July. The news everyone's picking up on has to do with Tarantino's plans to split his Inglorious Bastards into two separately released parts, as he did, of course, with Kill Bill. But Harry has more, too, on why Tarantino's spent more than six years developing this project.

Interview with Michael Bruce Adams
Peter - What’s the trick to writing believable characters?
Michael - The trick is to turn your senses inward. Trust that the bank of sensory memories you have stored away from all the experiences in your life can help you create accurate sensory impulses for your characters. Close your eyes and put your self in a still frame from your scene. Paint that frame until it is true and accurate. Now slip into the role of your character, become that character and live the scene as it plays out. React as that character, speak, feel and think as that character. Now do the same process with each character in the scene.

16 Protested Movies

John Adams Screenwriter Wanted to Show Humanity
“In adapting David McCullough’s Pulitizer Prize-winning biography, Kirk Ellis tried to imbue the real-life characters with real flaws and assets, instead of portraying them as romanticized heroes. ‘David had already taken 'em off the shelf and dusted 'em, and we wanted to kick 'em into the street and make sure that people understood that these were human beings,’ Ellis said in a recent phone interview from his Santa Fe, N.M., home.”

Beer For My Horses is actually getting produced
You probably knew that Toby Keith was a country musician and songwriter, but did you realize that he writes movies, too? Well, apparently he does. His movie, currently in post-production, was just picked up by Roadside Attractions. Keith gave the film the same title as his song "Beer for My Horses" (sounds dangerous if you ask me), which extols the virtues of crime-fighting and righting injustices. The movie version (which Keith wrote, produced and stars in) is a "road trip story" that "tracks two local deputies who defy the sheriff to save a girlfriend from drug lord kidnappers."

Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch

Perelman Shrugs off Atlas Shrugged
The development troubles for Lionsgate's planned adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged continue with the reported departure of filmmaker Vadim Perelman. According to Cinematical, Perelman (House of Sand and Fog) says the project will not be going forward with him in the director's chair. Perelman had been tasked with writing and directing the flick, but it's also unclear whether he completed a draft of the screenplay. A previous draft was penned by Randall Wallace (Braveheart), who managed to pair down Rand's magnum opus of over 1,000 pages into a 127-page screenplay.

Interview with J. Michael Straczynski
Q: You were the writer on Marvel's recent Spider-Man event One More Day, in which Spider-man makes a deal with Mephisto (the devil) to save his Aunt's life by negating his marriage to Mary Jane. It was rumored you had some big disagreements about this story line with Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada.
A: Often times when you care a lot about something, you can disagree strenuously. Personally, I was perfectly happy keeping them married; I didn't think Mephisto should be used in that fashion, and I didn't like the idea of erasing everyone's memory. Whenever you bring magic into a story you have to be really rigorous about the rest of it. And a lot of logical questions to my mind were not being addressed. Having said that, it's a complicated universe and it is Joe's purview. Yes, we disagreed strenuously, and some of it leaked out. I take responsibility for that, but the reality is that Joe I consider to be a friend, and anyone who wants to say a bad word about Joe has to go through me first.

Son of “Godfather” Writer Sues Paramount
Anthony Puzo, son of writer Mario Puzo who created “Godfather,” sued Paramount Pictures on Wednesday, alleging that the studio sold the rights to make a video game based on the book and award-winning movie without handing over revenues.

Stan Winston, 1946-2008

I had no idea Yucaipa had so many writers
The Writer’s Gallery Opens: What is ‘A Community of Writers and Artists’ all about? Diane Mierzwik and Kris Cirullo have opened a resource for writers and artists in an atmosphere which is quite advantageous to the creative process. The public opening of “The Writer's Gallery” at 12054 First St. in Yucaipa on Saturday, June 14, was a success as they enjoyed meeting many inquisitive individuals interested in what this new resource was all about.”

Stephen Poliakoff's splendid isolation is key to his craft
There are two words that crop up repeatedly in conversation with Stephen Poliakoff, the BAFTA Award-winning, Emmy Award-winning, Golden Globe-winning writer and director. One is worry. Poliakoff believes it's an endemic state for writers. ‘Traditionally a lot of writers were drunk, neurotic - very anti-social. It comes from having all that time to think, not deep thoughts, just going over irritating little worries. Days spent agonising over why someone hasn't phoned or why something was said in a particular way.’”

WGA to Simplify Credit Procedures
“The WGA will hold a referendum next month to present new options for streamlining the organization's procedures for determining who gets writing credits on films.”

Film noir gems - Nightmare Alley, Panic in the Streets, The Big Knife

Andrew Eaton’s Open Letter to George Lucas

Ed Norton vs. Marvel

Kasdan to pen Robotech
“The screenwriter behind The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark is set to pen an upcoming, live-action movie reviving the popular 1980s anime TV series Robotech… Robotech tells the story of the discovery of an alien craft that crash-lands on a South Pacific island and how humans use the technology to built gigantic, morphing robots in order to fight against alien invasions.”

Friends, anyone can make it
“How does a former Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker go from directing trains to directing movie stars? Here's the amazing story of a Brooklyn man whose quest to replace his crashed car not only got him that new car but also a new career. Just a few months ago 27-year-old Michael Martin of East New York was making a living as a flagger for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Today he's a screenwriter on the fast track to Hollywood, working alongside accomplished actors like Ethan Hawke.” (More on him here and an interview here.)

Jim Webb (D-Va), Screenwriter
“According to Webb's 2007 financial disclosure forms, released on Friday, Webb earned a $150,000 option several years ago for an ongoing film project called “Whiskey River,” based on his screenplay. According to a report in The New York Review of Books, the screenplay is about a father who kidnaps his son to prevent him from taking another combat tour in Iraq. The son had returned from an initial tour with post-traumatic stress syndrome.”

Screenwriter Marc Guggenheim Talks Green Lantern
NRAMA: Can you tell us why you think the reaction will be positive?
MG: Because, it's not only a respectful approach to the character, but it's a loving approach to the entire mythos. So while there is this desire to be quiet and secretive and let the movie speak for itself, it's hard for me, because I feel like I know -- as a comic book fan -- I know what I want to see in a comic book movie.

Screenwriter Needed. No Pay.

Justine Bateman's one of us now, a screenwriter, and that’s fine by me.
"In a short time, Justine Bateman has gone from playing a drug pusher on Desperate Housewives to pushing story lines for a Disney Channel kids comedy. The actress has made her first script sale of any kind to Disney’s red-hot Wizards of Waverly Place. In a way, it was an unusual move, Bateman told the Daily News. 'My style of writing isn't this type of writing,' she said. 'I like rising to that challenge. It's not lost on me that my first sale is a sitcom. I'm thrilled about it.'"

Howard Rodman’s WGA Interview on Savage Grace
“My immediate reaction was that this was something I couldn't adapt, actually. It scared the daylights out of me. The characters in it were very, very strong, and that always makes an adaptation fun. What scared me was that it went to some very dark places. Although I've written a lot of noir stuff and I love it, this was dark in a whole different way. This was dark in a way that I knew if I was going to write it I was also going to have to go to what James Elroy called My Dark Places. I wasn't sure I wanted to do that, or if, frankly, I had the emotional resources to do it.”

Trippin' Out: Screenwriter Drinks Cobra Heart Shot in Vietnam
“Los Angeles was not a fun place for a screenwriter in early 2008 during the writer's strike. Scribe Ethan Furman was more than a little bummed out that filming on he and his writing partner's feature comedy "The Creepy Kid" (to be produced by Ivan Reitman) was put on hold by the industry shutdown. Instead of sulking, Ethan decided to use the free time to tour South Asia. Little did he know that the beautiful locales of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam would offer cuisine that was even more exotic than those countries' sandy beaches and lush jungles.”

Here’s a blog that’ll chronicle the creation of a screenplay from beginning to end.

Erica Munro’s Screenwriting for Beginners
“You can have the cunningest plot that was ever hatched outside Baldrick’s brain, but it won’t make good telly unless you can harness it, like a kid with an oversized kite, and bring it in under the rules that make TV drama work. Set-up. Inciting Incident. 5-act structure. Story arc. Pay-off. Yeah, yeah, I knew all about those, too, ages ago. I’m telling you, free spirits are one thing, but if you want to actually, you know - work - then you need to know the rules.”

'Passion' Writer Urges Judge To Reject Challenge To His Lawsuit
The screenwriter of "The Passion of the Christ" fired back in court at actor-director Mel Gibson, who is seeking to dismiss portions of the man's lawsuit alleging that Gibson misled him into accepting a small payment for penning the script. "Mel Gibson, under the guise of spiritual commitment, materially misrepresented the budget of, his take from and the company that would produce `The Passion,"' William Zeltonoga, the lawyer for screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald, wrote in court papers filed Monday. The papers further maintain that "Gibson cohorts joined in the scheme of false representations and other overt acts in a web of conspiracy including an elaborate coverup."

Lucy on Screenwriters Being Realistic
“Yet time and time again I hear screenwriters say selling their spec is the be all and end all; that is the "result" for them, how they measure their success. My take, if you think this? You are destined for disappointment.”

Quid Pro Quo
"The first half of Quid Pro Quo is among the most jaw-dropping things I've ever seen: Who knew there was a closeted subculture of people pretending to be paraplegics?" asks David Edelstein in New York. "With glamorous Old Hollywood blond locks and a high heels-assisted statuesque figure that nicely clash with her paraplegic fantasies, [Vera] Farmiga is enthralling, her unhinged expressions—and ability to ooze sexuality while revealing intimate, off-the-wall truths about herself—lending the proceedings a beguiling, erotically charged sense of unease," writes Nick Schager in Slant. "When Farmiga isn't on screen, however, Quid Pro Quo goes limp."

I went to L.A. to work in film and just got yelled at

“Celtx today announced the free public availability of version 1.0 of their software. To download Celtx 1.0 free, please visit”

Sophia Loren and Catherine Deneuve
As Lionsgate releases box sets devoted to Sophia Loren and Catherine Deneuve, Dave Kehr remarks in the New York Times that the two actresses "seem to belong to sovereign territories of their own, which barely have diplomatic relations. Lorenland is a proletarian world of workers and peasants, defined by spontaneity and sensuality, a world of broad comedy and even broader melodrama. The petit principality of Deneuve is the Monaco of movies: a primarily urban environment of designer boutiques and chic restaurants, in which emotions are muffled and sex discreet (and frequently unhappy)." "That [Anthony] Mann is not as esteemed or well known among the public as Ford or Hitchcock is almost criminal, but probably due to the fact that he toiled almost exclusively in the groves of genre has sustained his anonymity," writes DK Holm for the Vancouver Voice. "He's like the perfect filmmaker: a great director of actors, shaper of screenplays, an eye for decor and location, and visually dynamic, especially in collaboration with John Alton." As for The Furies, which Criterion will be releasing next week, "like the other psychological westerns, it is filled with un-self-aware neurotics" and is "richer for being flawed."


On the Contest Circuit:

Christian Screenwrite Announces Winners of Fifth Annual Contest

WriteSafe Announces Finalists

GAFFERS Announces 2008 Screenplay Contest Winners

Great American Short Screenplay Contest Announces Winners

StoryPro Awards Announces Contest Winners

ASA Announces Winners in the 11th Annual International Screenplay Competition

WriteSafe Announces 2008 1st Quarter Semifinalists

Screenplay Festival Announces 2007 Contest Winners

Writers Place Announces Contest Finalists Announces April Winners

Script Savvy Announces April Results

ReelHeART Screenplay Competition Announces Contest Results


And finally



Emily Blake said...

Yay! Mine was the funniest! It was all the porn references, wasn't it?

Thanks for the shoutout.

GabbaGoo said...

I wonder if my sexual innuendo comment affected the deletion of the latest script girl video...

Mystery Man said...

Emily - Hehehe... Well done.

gabbagoo - Ya know, I have a feeling it's my fault with the "less clothes" comment. Well, I'm not apologizing. She looks good, so she should work it, and not be embarrassed! Isn't it a good thing to have guys want you?



Emily Blake said...

Hell, making guys want you is 67% of my screenplay marketing strategy. Use what you got, then back it up with your talent, I always say. Or actually I just said it for the first time right now, but I still believe it.

ng2000 said...

Another resource for you:

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