Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Script I Won’t Mention


I’m going to take a page from Scott the Reader and talk about the very same script he talked about without mentioning the title or the writer. Please do not give away the mystery. I’m sure you know the script to which I refer. It’s 165 pages, has five chapters, a handwritten title page, and made its rounds in Hollywood last week.

Let me first say that I agreed with every single word in
Scott’s article. Here we have one of the most renowned, beloved, imitated, bad-boy screenwriters of our generation and he doesn’t even know the difference between “there” and “their.” Nor could he get “your” or “you’re” right even once. Or “to” vs. “too”. Of course, those are minor offenses, but this guy repeatedly misspelled “Boston” as “Bostin.” He doesn’t even know how to write “etc.” He kept typing “ect.” Instead of saying something like “an American,” he’d write, “a American.” Over and over and over. “Tiramisu” was, I believe, “Terri Mishu.” The one point where I actually wanted to put down the script and take a walk came when he kept writing in the action lines “germatic” this and “germatic” that. It’s GERMANIC. For God’s sake, you couldn’t run spellcheck? I won’t even talk about the format, as it was downright sloppy. Someone buy this man a copy of Trottier’s Screenwriter’s Bible. It was a chore to look past the mistakes.

What does this say about screenwriters today?

A writer ought to know how to write and a screenplay ought to look like a damn screenplay. PERIOD. If you have a problem, like you’re dyslexic or blind, fine. Get someone to help you polish your spec before sending it out. You must do whatever it takes to master the craft and turn in spotless specs forever and ever, amen. And don’t bother arguing with me about it, because I went to the mat on this issue in
part one of my Hitman review. A spotless spec is one of many steps necessary to impressing people, to building confidence in your work, and in you as a screenwriter. This guy turned in one of the sloppiest specs I’ve seen in ages and he’s coasting on his reputation.

With that said, I loved it.

This could turn into his second or third best film of his career. If the script comes across your path someday (sorry, I no longer have a copy), just consider how much this man labored to build tension into his scenes and his sequences. This wasn’t really about action as it was about tension and suspense. Consider the opening scene. Excessive dialogue in his other works were quite often pointless, but here, it was used effectively to build tension. The antagonist keeps talking and talking to make the tension unbearable. Very simple – an antagonistic forces arrives, a man seems innocent, something’s revealed, we realize what’s at stake, and then he raises the tension to a breaking point. Tension in other scenes were setup really well, too. They’d complain about how dangerous a certain location is, which raises the tension when they go into this location and things start to go wrong. We don’t want things to go wrong, because we know they’d be in a world of hurt. Otherwise, we could care less if they blasted everyone in the room. And so, the tensions are raised yet again to an almost breaking point before all hell breaks loose, and then we know they’re in serious trouble. The Third Act, by the way, was downright Hitchcockian, reminiscent of The Man Who Knew Too Much but more complex. Of course, you don’t really need to read this script to learn about tension. You’d get a far better education by studying
Hitchcock. In fact, you’d probably admire the work more if you studied Hitchcock first.

The moments in the script that were, to me, most powerful had nothing to do with the sometimes obscene amounts of dialogue but rather when he tried to tell his story cinematically, visually, wordlessly, through close-ups, angles, camera moves, and series of shots. There is a moment where the camera suddenly drops in the middle of a conversation beneath floor boards to reveal a very important detail and then rises back up into the scene, which was thrilling. While we can’t write camera angles, we can just as easily imply all those same techniques in our own specs, which I pointed out in my
Write the Shots article. Close-ups were especially effective in the third act, which really delivered the goods. How do you write a close-up? Secondary Headings.

As you may know, there are two storylines, one of which goes on for WAY too long. We spend too much time away from the main characters (from which derives the film’s title). There was also an antagonist that turned sides toward the end of Act Two that I didn’t quite buy. He was setup to be this staunch crusader of this evil regime. He was their main obstacle to reaching their goals, and then he suddenly switches? Then why would he kill that certain woman before the show? Why not throw her in the truck, too? His betrayal was a dangerous decision, because this writer came close to
Devil May Suck territory in the sense that because of this character’s switching of sides, the protagonists had their goals handed to them on silver platter without having to do any real work. Protags should work to reach their goals. Luckily, there were twists, which put them back to work.

The conclusion of the film doesn’t exactly reflect historical accuracy. While that’s not usually a problem, this one’s a biggie. If this had been made in the ‘70’s, no one would complain, but not today.

Finally, let it be said that this story isn’t worth getting chopped up into two-parts. This should be one film at no more than two hours. If this writer cares about advancing to a level of true mastery, like a Hitchcock, he should develop the discipline to get his many excessively long scenes down to manageable proportions.

Hitchcock did it, so can you.

Good job.

75 comments:

Carlo Conda said...

I personally feel he's too sloppy to admire as a writer/director.
Haven't read the script to see how good of a story it is, though. I'm hoping it doesn't have the random unrealistic "fucks" everywhere.
You know, the "fucks" that everyone else says makes the dialogue seem "realistic". Bullshit.

"Hey jimmy! What the fuck's going on, you little fuck?"

"Nothing fucking much, just got back from the fucking dry cleaner and payed a fuckload for my wife's fuck-stained teddie"

"Think I needd to fucking know that? Fucking fuck, maybe I should give your wife's teddy new fuck-stains, eh?"

"Fuck my wife and I fuck your bitch. And I ain't talking about your fucking girlfriend, I'm talking about that little fucking Chihuahua of yours. So shut the fuck up."

SHUT UP

(Sorry for the obscenity, lol)

Kevin Lehane said...

I think he writes on a typewriter. But I gotta ask, why is everyone avoiding mentioning the script but talking about it? It's baffling to me. I had to even remove a picture I had of the insane title page because it scared friends of mine, despite the fact many, many others had posted the title page too, including the NY Magazine. It's absurd the level of paranoia in Hollywood. Or amongst my friends anyway.

Anonymous said...

This film WAS made in the seventies. Like many of his films, it's a remake of a B movie. Check it out on Wikipedia.

Also, he may be dyslexic. But it could just be a part of his image.

Michael said...

MM, thanks for this article.

I agree with your points -- BOTH words in the two word title are misspelled on the hand written cover page. Wow.

Yes, there is some good tension, and yes it has some great visual shot depictions. I didn’t loathe it, as I thought I might after the auteur’s most recent, ridiculously self-indulgent talk-fest.

But I wonder if this story rendition is just too juvenile and under-developed for the subject matter. The characters, for instance, are more caricatures than three dimensional people, in my opinion; types that exist simply to deliver spectacle and hyperbole on cue. [As you yourself, MM, have noted, often screenwriters will throw out more and more characters in a story in an attempt to hide the fact that he / she can’t make the ones he / she does have well developed and interesting… I feel that this particular writer-director is in that unhappy territory.]

Ok, it’s a contemporary, revisionist fantasy, a piece of throwaway, shock entertainment, I get that. But it deals with a very sensitive subject in history. Is the world ready for the pulp tone of this thing, post ‘Schindler’s List’, etc? I don’t know. I’m sure that that is the auteur’s very point – it has controversy and shock value. But this subject matter, mixed in with such an immature treatment… (SPOILER: Hitler is asked: Do you want to see Private Butz, Mein Fuhrer?)... I just find it all a little on the nose. The story in this one makes me ask: what’s the point? Is it enough to simply see over the top violence delivered upon some of history’s worst offenders, regardless of any implicit or greater meaning?

Maybe I’ve just grown up and moved on past this particular filmmaker, because I did like very much his first two films. Oddly, I think his first movie was the most mature and adult of them all. It’s strange to see an artist becoming less mature as they get older…

Still, I wasn’t bored reading the screenplay, it is fluid and dynamic and it did make me want to write more myself. Because if this is what it takes to sell a script in Hollywood, then maybe I could be a professional screenwriter after all, haha. I’m certainly a better speller.

Cheers.

James said...

"With that said, I loved it."

I knew that was coming.

This should be a lesson. In all seriousness. All that matters is the story.

I was dating a chick who was a marvelous screenwriter. But couldn't spell to save her life. It was almost as if she had her own language. Words were spelled out phonetically, instead of correctly. But it didn't hinder the story at all.

For the life of her, she could go back time and again, and NEVER see the mistakes. Her words were on the page. She knew what they were. They would ALWAYS read as correct to her.

And it was a GOOD thing that she wrote like this.

If she stopped to actually think about grammar or spelling, instead of story, her writing would have been utter shit. She didn't -- and couldn't -- think like that. But she didn't stop to worry about grammar or spelling. And she had found her own voice, style, and some uniquely original stories to tell.

This is the problem with readers today.

In the literary world, there are EDITORS. It doesn't matter how misspelled a manuscript is because in its final form it will be fixed.

You read too many GD books on proper grammar and structure and spelling. But the majority of readers can't tell you WHY a story works. Or even, what makes a good story. They simply do not know.

And yet they are the gatekeepers.

When I was reading, I used to be as harsh as the next guy. Probably worse. But when I lightened up, tried to figure out what the screenwriter was going for, instead of instantly condemning the script for any little misstep, I found almost all the scripts I had to read, much easier to read.

Even when they were shit.

I tell you, I'd trade 1 of this "chicks" horrible grammar coupled with a wonderful story, for the heaps of gramatically correct gibberish that leads to nowhere's-ville that was the bulk of the scripts I read.

Lighten up.

James said...

"Still, I wasn’t bored reading the screenplay, it is fluid and dynamic and it did make me want to write more myself. Because if this is what it takes to sell a script in Hollywood, then maybe I could be a professional screenwriter after all, haha. I’m certainly a better speller."

Case and point.

...because he spells so poorly, maybe you too, could be a screenwriter -- because you spell better than he does...?

I know it was said in jest. But, I see this all to often.

DRAMATIC SCENES

TENSION BUILDING --

FROM ONE SCENE TO THE NEXT --

TO A CULMINATION.

That is screenwriting.

Not spelling.

Anonymous said...

Well I don't know which film you're talking about, but have you seen Tarantino's latest script? It matches your description perfectly!

Oh...

Hey Mystery Man, why do you fear mentioning this name? Voldemort! Voldemort! :-D

I mean, it's not like it could backfire - you're *Mystery* Man, remember?

GimmeABreak said...

Here's a link to the unmentionable script - downloadable in 2 parts.

http://wowriot.gameriot.com/blogs/GameRiot-The-Blog/Download-Tarantinos-Inglorious-Bastards-WW2-Epic-script/

JustBill said...

The key element no one mentions: What drug(s) was he using during the writing?

Michael said...

Hey James, yeah I take your point. Spelling isn't everything, it's just the mechanics to facillitate the telling of the story, not the story itself. I think if you look at the majority of my post though, you'll see that I'm mostly concerned with what I see at least to be the immaturity and adolescent tone of the whole thing, given the subject matter. The narrative mostly flows and the threat of gratuitous violence does build the tension well at times, but it all seems like a one trick pony race with this writer. He recycles this technique over and over, from film to film, but doesn't seem to attend to other areas where he might improve himself over time.

Screenwriting is what you say it is, but isn't it also character development and, in the best cases, a hope for a deeper revelation garnered from the culmination of that dramatic build up? Or at least more than Michael Bay explosions, perhaps...? Maybe I'm asking too much.

I don't think that I could write better in this case because I could outspell the guy. I do think that if this is what truly sells in Hollywood, though - if all it takes is in-your-face violence held together with a perfunctory plot that follows, as you say, just the basics of a dramtic build and sensible screenwriting structure... well then, maybe it's not impossible to match this level.

Is this a great screenplay? I ask, truly, because if it is seriously considered to be good, then I need to adjust my mindset to what is a saleable work!

Cheers :)

deepstructure said...

this is an interesting analysis from the person who raved about frank darabont's script for indy 4.

i just sat down this morning to read that script. i'm only on page 12 and have already come across misspellings and grammatical errors, even somewhat embarrassingly, this statement from the opening warehouse scene description that refers to the director (bolding mine):

"Indy drives like a maniac, turning this way and that, looking for an exit -- while the jeeps hurtle along on parallel or intersecting courses, trying to hem him in; one moment converging, the next being forced to split off in different directions (giving Mr. Spielberg the opportunity to stage the most breath-takingly outrageous near misses every put on film!). GUNFIRE is ERUPTING from all directions as men in jeeps or on foot try to kill Indy or shot out his tires."

i have to agree with james, the bottom line with a script is - does the story work? would it be helpful if someone would proof/edit it? sure but as was mentioned somewhere, his first script was this way and it was bought. if that's the case, why would he change? and certainly why would he change now after all his success?

another thing to remember is that this person is a director writing for himself to direct. i think that makes a difference also.

but ultimately you're appealing to something that i know i (and probably he) don't share your respect for - this ideal: "You must do whatever it takes to master the craft and turn in spotless specs forever and ever, amen."

i'm a director who writes. yes, i strive to remove all mistakes, typos and grammatical errors from my scripts - but i strongly disagree with the above statement. you spend that much energy equating "mastering the craft" with "spotless specs" and you're misguided as far as im concerned. "spotless specs" are the "mastering the craft" of an editor, not a writer.

David Alan said...

First segment was good. But to be honest, I skimmed my way through a lot of it. I got tired of reading BEEP’S asides. You know, the stuff that's mainy for BEEP as a director. And I think BEEP meant to misspell a lot of what people are complaining about -- but on the other hand, I totally agree with the other format complaints.

Anyway, the second segment sucked Jar Jar Binks balls. Nothing of importance happens. None of it was the least bit entertaining. And it really brought the story to a screeching halt for me.

But then there’s the third segment -- it was awesome. It’s my favorite segment.

Fourth segment was boring until the Mexican stand-off, which BEEP loves to put in BEEP films.

The fifth segment kicked ass up until the point where the entire shebang was handed to the (title) on a platter. Though, I did chuckle...chuckle at the end.

But overall, I agree that this bad boy could be chopped down extremely. Another thing, he who shall remain nameless should consider streamlining the damn thing. Then the tension would really slowly build along the course of the film. But really, I’d scrap the (title) and make the film all about the girl. It isn’t like the (title) were the main story anyway.

Oh well, I look forward to seeing this in 2009.

-- David Alan

Carlo Conda said...

@deepstructure,
The spelling errors in the Indy4 script were TYPOS. The spelling errors in this mystery script are true spelling errors.
I can't imagine using THEIR where a THEY'RE is due. The only way I'd ever do that is once during a script due to a typo or editing-overlooking (forgetting to change the word to fit the new sentence).

If you misspell grade 3 words so many times per PAGE, then you cannot expect me to look up to you as a writer. The story may still be holding strong, as James put, but I just think spelling is such a prerequisite for everyone's 20th birthday that seeing a 35-ish year old PROFESSIONAL WRITER write like a 12 year old is embarassing. It's unprofessional.

This isn't me being grammar nazi. A professional writer doesn't know how to spell. It's like a professional fisherman not knowing how to gut a fish. What kind of fisherman is that? He may catch more fish than most people on his boat, but you can't help but feel you'd rather learn how to fish from someone else.
That's the end of my bad analogy.

So yes, the movie may end up being good (to people who don't tire of this director's 'style'), but you won't see me studying his scripts or acclaiming him as a great writer. He may be able to get the story and character down pat (even though I don't believe he does), but you need to understand that these aren't typos. These are genuine misspelling of simple words that are done because the writer seriously doesn't know how to spell them.

I do agree with James when he says STORY = SCREENWRITING, but being able to write on a 3rd grade level is, I think, an obviously core part of being a WRITER. I don't care if a writer makes typos, everyone does them. But a writer who seriously doesn't know how to spell? How serious are they about their craft? This writer/director's scripts seem to simply be shiny enough to look good cinematically (he is a director, first and foremost), so I wouldn't say 'an awesome story' is backing up his sloppy and hashed scripts.

Mystery Man said...

Carlo - I don't recall much in the way of language in this one.

Kevin - Ya know, I wondered if he typed on a typewriter, because he made handwritten corrections. I suspect, too, he'd work on a typewriter so as to avoid getting his computer hacked into. Even still, he could've had it re-typed and cleaned up by an assistant.

Anon - I've heard about him being dyslexic, which is fine. Get someone to clean it up for you.

Michael - I wondered about many of those same points. He knows what he's doing and it can be deceptive. He wants you to think he's just rolling around in corny b-picture material, but he knows very well that many great directors turned b-pictures into classics. No one thought much about Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns at the time, but now many of them are considered 4-star classics. That's what he wants. You're wrong about one point, though. He didn't write "Mein Fuhrer," he wrote "MINE Fuhrer." Hehehe...

James - I don't see anything wrong with someone staying focused on story and not thinking so much about grammar or format. But, you see, you're a WRITER. You should know format and grammar SO WELL you don't have to think about it when you write. Period. I'm certainly not unsympathetic to people who have problems, but they should get their specs cleaned up before sending it out to professionals for consideration. Bad grammar is like getting knocked offline, like in the days when the internet was all dial-up. I'm in the zone of imagination. I'm IN the story, and I can visualize everything such that I'm not even reading the script, but then I come across something stupid like "Bostin" and I'm knocked out of the story and reminded that I'm reading another sloppy spec. That's such an irritation. I'll never rationalize or validate low standards. It only helps you to turn in spotless specs.

Anon - I don't want to get a cease and desist order like others have received for other script reviews. For a while, I was one of the few who didn't get one for reviewing "Jennifer's Body" because I kept so much of the story out of the review. I'm not here to create conflicts with studios. I just want to study the craft.

Pat - Hey, honey. Hope you're well.

Justbill - I think Kevin's right. This was done on a typewriter.

Michael - I believe that if you want to be a pro screenwriter and get six figures for your specs, you should master the craft on every single level.

Deepstructure - There's just no comparison between the grammar problems of Darabont's draft and this new script I read last week. I agree completely with you that story comes first. But that's not everything. You are completely off-base if you think format and grammar doesn't matter at all, because this truly is essential to building confidence in you as a screenwriter. How can you be a writer if you don't know the very basics elements of grammar? You never ever give anyone an easy excuse to dismiss your script or you as a screenwriter. Believe me, people are anxious to do that because have a thousand other scripts to read.

David - I gotta say, I agreed with all your points. I especially felt the same way about that girl's story. At one point, I asked myself, "whose film is this?" Of course, what can you do with the protags? They didn't have any depth.

Carlo - I agree. Except I'd bump it up to a high school level.

Kevin Lehane said...

Just to chime in on this debate, I believe the more capable you are with your grammar, vocabulary and spelling you have more freedom within yourself to create sentences you couldn't create if you work off a baser level. If you want to tell great stories, you have to tell them in a great way. You can't do that by cutting corners in the very language you use to promote your ideas.

You should work with the best tools, and your abilities to write and spell allow you to tell more complex and interesting beats with more style. And thus, you're not only a better writer, but a better storyteller.

That's my 2 cents.

Carlo Conda said...

MM

Yeah, maybe highschool level. :P

deepstructure said...

so no one here want's to acknowledge the irony of a bunch of spec-monkeys telling a professional writer how he's supposed to be professional?

besides which, he's not a professional in the way that term is being loftily banded about here. he's a guy from a video store who loved and wanted to make movies so he started ripping off everything he could and wrote them. he's not worried about us reading his scripts and critiquing their syntax.

"I can't imagine using THEIR where a THEY'RE is due."

when i started typing the first sentence of this comment i put "hear" instead of "here". i can easily see how this would happen.

"It's like a professional fisherman not knowing how to gut a fish. What kind of fisherman is that? He may catch more fish than most people on his boat, but you can't help but feel you'd rather learn how to fish from someone else."

are you kidding me? if i want to learn how to catch fish i'm going to the guy with the most fish on his boat. period. i can learn gutting a fish from anyone. you're right - that's a terrible analogy.

"You are completely off-base if you think format and grammar doesn't matter at all."

i didn't say that - but regardless, if this movie comes out and it's good - what then all these arguments about grammar and spelling?

his first film, whether you like it now or not, changed the filmmaking landscape. and it was probably written the exact same way. he has said he buys a new notebook for each project and writes it by hand.

you guys are arguing against evidence already presented. if this was a wanna-be you might have a point, but as we've already seen, this method obviously works for him. may suck for us reading the script, but i doubt that's a concern of his.

these discussions remind me of the analysis of shakespeare's messy writing style.

Mystery Man said...

Dude, you're not listening to me. This sloppiness undermines confidence, which could turn into a problem for this writer. This is getting sent out because he needs money. Millions of dollars are at stake, but this thing is so sloppy (and his previous film was a flop), people are questioning whether they should trust him again. They're asking, "Is this thing so messy because he's doing drugs now? What's the story about him? Why should I invest?" This means that he may not get the amount of money he really needs or could've gotten had he turned in a professional-looking spec. It's a great risk to be THIS sloppy when you need millions of dollars. What did I tell you before? You never ever give anyone an easy excuse to dismiss your script or you as a screenwriter.

Carlo Conda said...

And, if I may say, 'lol' at comparing this writer to Shakespeare.

Merriweather said...

I don't know if this clears anything up, but I believe the un-named writer/director prints all of his screenplays into a composition notebook using a felt tip pen.

I don't think it has anything to do with worries over hackers--it's just how he writes. He's not of the MS Word generation.

deepstructure said...

so now you're saying it's not about mastering the craft, it's about psychoanalysis? you're worried about his confidence? or is it about expediency - doing what's necessary to get money because you're going broke?

the bottom line here is that there are no rules. there are possibly helpful guidelines, which make sense to someone like mickey lee who commented on your hitman review:

"I'm trying to get my specs past the front lines of Hollywood readers and I'm going to take the approach that I think will work best. And [if] I have to be holier than the Pope to do it, than that's what I'm going to do."

Merriweather said...

@anonymous
>>>
This film WAS made in the seventies. Like many of his films, it's a remake of a B movie. Check it out on Wikipedia.

I believe he is only using the title--this is not a remake.

Joshua James said...

I think King in ON WRITING sort of set the rule down when it comes to proper grammar.

In any sense, I used to believe the same thing, that it doesn't matter as long as the story is good.

That's because the only things I read, back then, were books and scripts that were edited and proofed.

Now I know better. I get taken out of a blog post if it has an error.

It's not because I became a grammar Nazi or anything like that. It's because I know more about writing than I used to.

That's my opinion, for better or worse.

GabbaGoo said...

I still have et to read the script, but I do have it in my possession...so I'll try to give it a shot later this week and comment again but for now...

I think that Format is important to a certain extent...If you're a nobody, than maybe you concentrate on it a little more...but say you're the Coens, I have all of their new scripts and they don't have any INT/EXT...It's just all in Secondary headings and they don't careless about using courier at all.

Much of writing revolves around your ability to tell a story...if you have an established audience like this "said" writer has...you pretty much can get anyone to read it...and if you don't you put forth the extra effort to make sure you can get that audience one day.

Carlo Conda said...

I'm not sure if some of you READ some of this script. We aren't talking about little typos here and there.

David Alan said...

The problem is that the film will be a success. Resulting in, would-be writers undoubtedly studying the script, thinking they can couple bad grammar with BEEP’S style and create a sellable script -- when in all likelihood, it won’t happen.

BEEP gets to send sloppy specs to studios. After all, BEEP is an Oscar winner and a produced writer. BEEP’S less risky.

There ARE readers who will overlook any of these errors, but then again, there are readers who will bounce your script for any one of ‘em. They will resent the fact that you want them to care about the quality of your work, when you obviously do not.

The odds are, of course, against us. Why make it harder? No reader will reject your script for being perfect.

Laura Deerfield said...

Hey, let people think they can get away with being sloppy and the money folks will see right past their mistakes and their brilliance will shine through...cuts competition in the spec market waaay down.

I do think some of the errors were intentional, but others clearly were not.


And deepstructure: we're not talking about this writer's confidence. We're talking about the confidence of those who hold the pursestrings, and how likely they will be to invest. It's the sales side of things that so many writers fail to see clearly.

The fish on this guy's boat aren't fresh enough to inspire confidence on the part of the people who are funding fishing expeditions.

James said...

Michael -- Didn't mean to single you out Michael :)

Was using it as an example of a general malaise that is prevalent in most readers I have encountered.

I hear it on the lips of agent's assistants all the time.

James said...

MM -- "But, you see, you're a WRITER. You should know format and grammar SO WELL you don't have to think about it when you write."

Why?

There are people out there that know STORY so well, that they don't need to know format or grammar.

Story just comes naturally to them.

Particularly, in a medium such as screenwriting, where the written word on a page is only a guideline for what the movie is supposed to be, I don't think there should be any tie to whether ...

I mean, isn't it a huge selling point when an illiterate death row inmate writes an interesting story?

Or when a 13 year old kid does?

I mean, KIDS sold on that notion alone. And people were actually pissed when they found out KIDS wasn't written by a 13 year old.

Back to our subject at hand --

I'd also argue that this guy knows format inside and out. He's shown that he can break, reorder, and recompose structure -- and still tell a compelling and modern story.

So he can't spell.

Don't let him paint your signage in the movie and you'll be fine :p.

James said...

"If you want to tell great stories, you have to tell them in a great way. You can't do that by cutting corners in the very language you use to promote your ideas."

That's your opinion. And you are entitled to it.

But there are many people out there that can tell a great story... hell, without even the use of words on a page.

James said...

"And deepstructure: we're not talking about this writer's confidence. We're talking about the confidence of those who hold the pursestrings, and how likely they will be to invest. It's the sales side of things that so many writers fail to see clearly."

We are talking about this script.

The writer/director's name alone is enough to get money behind it. The sales side is taken care of.

Hell, a huge A-List star wants to be in it, more than likely just to work with said writer/director.

You want to talk sales?

What more does it need? A gold stamp of approval?

And just to take your assumption, which is incorrect (that we are talking about all specs from fledgling writers), the sales side of a screenplay is the idea and concept. Again, STORY. Not writing.

More often than not I get meetings because of a pitch. And more often than not, those in said meeting have not even read my screenplay -- even after having had it for weeks.

I'm not saying that spelling and grammar doesn't matter. I rake through my material to try and make it as flawless as possible. But it is a very, very, VERY trivial thing in terms of the greater picture of making a movie.

Michael said...

James, no worries mate, I know what you mean :) There's a world of difference between a perfectly formatted, by-the-book snooze-fest and an exhilarating, suspense-laden wonder written in crayon on yesterday’s fish ‘n’ chips paper.

One question – and this is off topic to this particular script… But I live in Australia, which is basically nowhere near Hollywood. Does anyone know what the easiest way for me to get those studio big wigs to actually read a script I write is? I have a vague idea that nobody accepts ‘unsolicited screenplays’, and I don’t have a writing agent here in Oz. Is that the only way to get some precious coin for my scripts (ie. Get an agent here, hope that someone in the US will pick something of mine up, etc)??

Feel free to lambast me with scorn for my ignorance, haha.
Cheers :)

P.S. I wouldn’t mind a job as a script reader, as some of you seem to be, although maybe it’s nowhere near as enjoyable as it sounds? Oz doesn’t have an industry anywhere near big enough to employ too many people in that regard.

Mim said...

There are errors on this script that go deeper than mere spelling problems.

The Farmer tells his daughter to get him water from the pump and then go inside with her mother. He would not mention the pump. All water comes from the pump on a French farm in the 1940's. It's redundant to mention the pump, and it shows a lack of familiarity with the era.

If you're going to write a historical film, at least get the history right, or even close.

Then the Colonel launches into a story about rats. It really does nothing to advance the story. In fact, it's very much like the Crystal (sp?) champagne speech in Four Rooms or the watch up the ass speech in Pulp Fiction. The watch up the ass story was interesting. The champagne speech was not.

This film-maker loves to give his characters long, rambling monologues or diatribes. He loves to hear them talk. I don't.

Then his rat story somehow manages to convince the Farmer to let the SS troops back into the kitchen and blow the ever-lovin' bejeezus out of the Dreyfus family under the floorboards.

So this farmer was not committed to his friends? Or he was committed so tenuously that an SS Colonel (a representative of the hated Nazis) was able to convince him to switch loyalties in five minutes?

Or perhaps he was getting tired of sheltering them and this was very convenient.

The people who sheltered Jews during WWII did so at great personal risk and it was not a task they undertook lightly, or from which they were easily swayed.

They hated and feared the Nazis and would never have listened to anything one of them had to say.

The rat story and the easy switching of loyalties by the French farmer were simply excuses to have a blood bath at the end of the scene.

Then there's the fact that the German SS officer asks the French farmer to speak in English, supposedly so that the Dreyfus family under the floorboards won't understand them. Where did the farmer learn English? And isn't it terribly convenient that he wants to speak in English when the film is made for an English-speaking audience?

And the names? Perrier? Bob? Shoshanna?

Bob?

Honestly I used to like this guy. I thought he was amazing. But he hasn't grown as a film-maker, or as a story-teller.

J.D. Salinger wrote Catcher in the Rye and then spent the rest of his life in seclusion. People still talk about what a genius he is. Maybe they don't know that he tried to write other stories and realized he had only the one in him to tell.

It would have been far better for this film-maker to have had the same epiphany and go into seclusion. Then people would still be saying what a genius he is.

Matt said...

Just a quick note re: Darabont... the INDY IV script that leaked was one typed up by Ass'ts at Paramount, not from his camp... he's actually a pretty big Nazi (to stay on topic ;)) about spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and was pissed to see that people think all those typos come from him.

Also, word has it that Salinger writes fairly regularly, just doesn't publish. Which Stephen King was planning to do for a while.

Mystery Man said...

How is it that in any other writing circle (novelists, journalists, etc), everyone would readily agree that a writer should know how to write, but yet, in screenwriting circles, this concept is actually controversial? What is it about screenwriting that attracts hacks and those too lazy to learn basic English (or strive to advance their skills beyond a junior high education) and yet they wish to be labeled “great writer?”

James, you do realize that most readers, particularly those who judge screenwriting contests (and I’ve spoken to quite a few), have a 15-20 page limit? If a script’s sloppy shit, they will discard it, and thousands of scripts are rejected every month for this very reason. It’s just poor advice to the aspiring screenwriters on my blog to tell them that format and grammar really doesn’t matter, because it does. You’re wrong to say that people get sales from pitch sessions. Are you for real? That is NOT how it always works. Specs get sent out every day and read by producers before they sit down with a writer. Of course, I certainly agree that story is king. But you must have the ability to COMMUNICATE to tell a story WELL. It’s one and the same. For screenwriting, it requires WORDS, SENTENCES, and FORMAT, so to talk about someone that can tell a story without words is irrelevant. It’s astonishing that you would question why a writer should learn grammar so well that he/she wouldn’t have to think about it when they compose a story. Writers should aspire for excellence on every level of their scripts. You, on the other hand, you’re just an advocate of the lazy, one who rationalizes lowering standards, which is part & parcel with the overall decline of films. Call me crazy but if you don’t know basic English, you should learn. Strive to be the best. Master the form. You should, for the rest of your days, endeavor to become a better writer.

But, hey, if you want to send out sloppy specs, be my guest. But don’t tell my readers grammar doesn’t matter, because it does.

-MM

bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bob said...

I agree with Laura. If you want to write a mistake filled sloppy spec script, be my guest.

And by the way, why is everyone dogging on Elaine May? Cut her some slack, would ya???

Christian M. Howell said...

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Inglorious Bastard should know better.

But hey, I guess we all long for the day we can not really give a shit. Well, I long for the day but I will always give a shit.

Christian M. Howell said...

Wow, some great comments. I find that the only thing you need to made a good MOVIE (scripts are at the whim of the director) is "entertaining elements" or what some might call trailer moments.

Thrillers need mysterious actions, action movies need near-misses, comedies need physical humor. The story is irrelevant as you can easily recycle the same "journeys" over and over again.

Clive, over at 1000 dollar film, made a neat post about why scripts are 95% bad.

It's a lack of reality and a desire to be too clever(M. Night, anyone?).

If you look at the biggest box office draws so far this summer, only one had a "poignant story(WallE)" and even that was as simple as longing for love.

The others (Iron Man, Hancock, Indy) were all just set pieces and tongue-in-cheek humor - some better than others.

Of course, sometimes, you can have the wrong elements, like flatuating elephants.

The box office this weekend pretty much fit my predictions. Hellboy did A LOT less than former number ones. It's a little too camp for the serious superhero trend that has taken over. Del Toro's filters never impressed me.

Wow, talk about off topic.

Anyway, several 2+ hour movies have done OK. It just takes longer because of less screenings per day.

Christian M. Howell said...

How is it that in any other writing circle (novelists, journalists, etc), everyone would readily agree that a writer should know how to write, but yet, in screenwriting circles, this concept is actually controversial? What is it about screenwriting that attracts hacks and those too lazy to learn basic English (or strive to advance their skills beyond a junior high education) and yet they wish to be labeled “great writer?”

I would guess an unfortunate lottery mentality due to flukes being perceived as a reason to try.

No other profession has as many people who don't feel they need to know everything they can.

I mean, you don't need to like neo-realism or montage or cinema-verite, but you need to understand the concepts and elements involved.

I'm finally in a writer's group and it surprises me how many people think that real people and down-to-earth stories are the ONLY way to start.

In other words, don't write a WWII (not related to current topic) epic if you haven't read all about WWII. Don't write science fiction if you don't study physics (some).

Talky scenes are OK as long as you follow the "enter late, leave early" rule. As a matter of fact, ALL OF YOUR ATTENTION should be on character dialog FIRST. Worry about complex plots when your characters sound real.

Zane said...

Why not perfect EVERY ASPECT of the craft before approaching the Sharks?

Simple mathematics: you could have a 1% shot at a kill ... or a .01 percent shot at it.

.......


"Writing is perhaps the most disciplined of all the arts"

-Louse Brooks

James said...

MM -- "James, you do realize that most readers, particularly those who judge screenwriting contests (and I’ve spoken to quite a few), have a 15-20 page limit?"

I really couldn't care less about readers for screenplay contests.

Like it has been said before, we aren't talking about a newbie trying to break in with a spec script.

The errors are not that egregious. In fact, the first error doesn't occur until page 12. Scott's rant makes it seem worse than it is.

His biggest problem is the use of an apostrophe where there shouldn't be one. /shrug.

As to asking the question, why?

It should be obvious, shouldn't it? Screenplays aren't the end result, like an article is in a magazine or newspaper. A movie is. Typos and bad grammar are not problems on the screen. They are problems in a finalized format.

You guys are arguing two different concepts here.

1) What matters? My answer is story, not spelling.

2) Does it matter for a newbie with a spec to be flawless?

And my answer to that is, yes.

But ultimately that is irrelevant, if you are spending all your time on grammar and spelling, instead of story.

I've read much, much worse grammar and spelling than what was present in this script -- in scripts that had no story to boot.

Anonymous said...

I'd guess part of the reason writing skills is de-emphasized in screenwriting is because the script is not the finished product- the movie is. A good movie could come from a script full of typos *if* someone is willing to buy it and make it.

I see MM's point, though- it seems that studios would be less likely to entrust anyone- even an Oscar-winning writing/director- with millions of dollars to make a film if he can't even spell right.

Any other type of published writing (except plays), however, would have to be fixed- making it a lot less likely to get published if it had all the mistakes that were in this script.

James said...

MM -- "It’s astonishing that you would question why a writer should learn grammar so well that he/she wouldn’t have to think about it when they compose a story. Writers should aspire for excellence on every level of their scripts. You, on the other hand, you’re just an advocate of the lazy, one who rationalizes lowering standards, which is part & parcel with the overall decline of films."

First -- it's screenwriter. Not writer. There is a world of difference.

Second, I am not advocating lazy writing.

To me lazy writing can be perfect grammar, diction, and spelling with no story.

Why even waste my time?

I think too many screenwriting books place too heavy an emphasis on proper format. I also think too many would-be screenwriters, don't truly understand what "structure" means. I think they misinterpret structure as formula.

Structure, really is how your story unfolds. The beats, timing, and pacing. Some screenwriting books play up structure as a massive part of screenwriting (and it is). But only if you understand how it works and why a story needs structure.

It has very little to do with the actual words on the page, but the ideas and concepts those words represent.

Screenwriting is one of the most bare bones types of writing, in which the end result isn't even something that is written.

It is more important that the screenplay mimics the feel of a movie while being read, than that of fine literature.

I get the impression, MM, you are arguing for screenwriting to be elevated to fine literature. It's not.

Merriweather said...

I thought everyone knew that the un-named writer/director was basically a high school drop out. I don't think it's a secret that he/she hated school. I don't for a second think that his lack of "book learning" makes him dumb. He/She has clearly devoted an enormous amount of energy towards studying films and has absorbed what makes them work.

David Alan said...

JAMES --

Tell me. When one keeps forcibly ejecting the reader with bad spelling/grammar/punctuation, how can said reader happily read about a character's quest for the greatest taco?

They can’t, right? Right.

Bad mechanics will kick readers out. Period. They will no longer be in one’s story. They’ll be back to sitting in their living room and wondering what page they’re on.

There is just no excuse. Fix it. And if one can't do it, hire someone. Can't afford to hire someone? Have a bake sale. Come on, this is not impossible. At this stage of the game, simply writing well will set you apart.

Again, you have to write a masterpiece for them before you will earn the same privilege as unsaid writer.

MIM --

It really sucks that this thread was hijacked by bullshit mechanics talk. I'd much rather talk about story.

Having said that, I believe you are way-off. This isn't a historical piece. It's an exploitation movie that happens to be set in WWII. That's it. Try not to take it so seriously.

** POSSIBLE SPOILERS**

And yes, the rat metaphor was a little longwinded, but how did you not like it? It fit the situation perfectly. Could you not relate to that situation on some level? That’s what made it real for me. In fact, I was even asking myself what I’d do in such a situation. I mean, the unsaid bad guy tells the owner through subtext that he knows the unsaid family is hiding there. It registers. Then we’re treated to the "if you cooperate, I’ll spare you and your family" moment, which I lapped right up. It’s just a powerful segment. A lose, lose situation any way you slice it.

Great stuff.

The rest of what you mention is small potatoes. I also think it’s a little on the nitpicky side.

But no worries, this is precisely why I love films. One person can love something that another person absolutely despises.

-- David Alan

bob said...

I don't know about the screenwriting being "bare bones" comment. I've found it to be an artform that requires a lot of precision and craftsmanship to get exactly the right words in the right order and to never ever lose the interest of your reader. To get the right mood, to write the shots so that you can impart your minds' eye to another person, so that they can see the same thing you see (a great story).

If once you get established, you no longer have to worry about that craftsmanship, doesn't that eventually flow down into the film as it appears on screen. Thats when you maybe get inconsistent messages and themes in movies. All because you didn't have to be that precise anymore, especially if you're directing your own scripts.

Scott said...

Michael-

Hey I am fellow Australian wannabe screenwriter, be happy to chat with you and maybe swap scripts and stuff. Email me at scott dot jonathon dot lowe at hotmail dot com.

deepstructure said...

"If once you get established, you no longer have to worry about that craftsmanship, doesn't that eventually flow down into the film as it appears on screen. Thats when you maybe get inconsistent messages and themes in movies. All because you didn't have to be that precise anymore, especially if you're directing your own scripts. "

this is only true (and this applies to many of the other dogmatic statements being made here by all of us), if you believe there's a set of rules in place. bad scripts get turned into good films probably as much as good scripts get turned into bad ones. hell non-existent scripts get turned into fantastic movies, so wtf?

the discussion here seems to break down into those who believe it's very important to adhere to these guidelines/rules out of principle and the belief that they certainly can't hurt, and those who believe that kind of adherence is misplaced/detrimental or at best just useless, etc.

Anonymous Production Assistant said...

It's funny that you comment on this writer's grammatical mistakes, yet you wrote, "an antagonistic forces arrives."

You also wrote, "we could care less," which means pretty much the opposite of what you want it to.

That being said, I loved your post!

Mim said...

If screenwriters do not see themselves as writers, and do not bother to proof their scripts because said scripts "are not the finish product," how can they expect to be taken seriously?

Producers will happily pay as little as possible for a script and then re-write it to their heart's content. Why? Because "professional" screenwriters don't love the written language.

Why did the strike end so badly for the writers? Perhaps it's because they don't take the words they write seriously.

A writer loves language as much as he loves story. He loves to spend time in his thoughts with his characters, wondering about their childhoods and that one summer after high school.

But just as an architect must choose sound bricks, straight boards, and nails without stress fractures, so must a writer start with the sentence. A well-crafted sentence is the building block of a wonderful story just as surely as a nail and a straight board are the beginning of a beautiful house.

If you don't love your materials, and take the time to make sure they are true, you're building a house on sand, and your story becomes nothing.

GabbaGoo said...

I just finished reading the script...and I must say...it's brilliant.

I mean sure the guy mispelled alot of words but damn did he make me care for the characters and the suspence was just killing me.

I seriously stood up and applaud after I finished reading it...can't wait to see how it looks on screen.

mister retsim said...


What is it about screenwriting that attracts hacks and those too lazy to learn basic English (or strive to advance their skills beyond a junior high education) and yet they wish to be labeled “great writer?


Simple, storytelling. Also, the final result is not always at the whim of the writer but the writer/director in question is directing his own film. If I have a proven track record of writing good films and this person does (I don't care what anyone says but his last few films have been highly entertaining) All I'm saying is that no one's going to interpret his work to the screen but himself.

Sorry to ramble on but to answer your question about using grammar and basic knowledge of English. It's quite simple, it's not the final product the audience views. What they see is a bunch of frames turned into moving pictures so why call PRE production work "hack writing"?

Jake Cogstein said...

"Sorry to ramble on but to answer your question about using grammar and basic knowledge of English. It's quite simple, it's not the final product the audience views."

I wonder what we're reading, then. I guess movies are made without scripts, right? Scripts aren't important. Their presentation means nothing. All that matters is the finished product... even before it is made.
Right?

The only way this writer got away with this is because he's him and is directing it himself, and because his films create actor buzz whether or not the film is any good. Heck, if you ask me, he's not getting away with this anyways. He's a messy writer. Sure, he recreates good 70s movies fairly well, but he writers like chicken scratch. Period.

And to those saying "his spelling and sentence forming skills don't matter because he's creating a story", I'd rethink calling this writer/director a golden egg crapper. Being a screenwriter may simply be about writing a good story, but being a great screenwriter is about being a master of the craft, which includes knowing how to spell.

I'd like to see any of you write a great and original story by writing like a 6th grader. Seriously, go ahead. Apparently, your story will be godly enough to make the reader forget how to read and, instead, notice only your immortal story that simply MUST be made into a movie. Most of you are likely frustrated that your scripts aren't getting made, and you'd just love to tell the readers "you're an idiot, who cares if I don't know the difference between the three
'theirs'?"


It's nice to think you can slack and depend on 'your story' to get your script made into a film, but it won't happen if you write like this writer/director. Unless you're a writer/director who has a lot of A-list acting friends and a buttload of contacts.
Then you can scribble your script on napkins, which seems to be the goal of many people here.

Screenwriting is about more than dreaming about some sort of story-only finished product. Movies are about a whole hell of a lot more than your stellar story, so stop sitting on your leather and step on the grass. A poorly written script and a well written script, which are both the exact same story, will not turn out exactly the same unless you are the director, and it's ridiculous to think otherwise. This is beyond grammar and spelling errors -- great writing is about script style, structure, format, and a whole bunch of other craft nuggets, and to think all you need is a great story to create a good movie is naive.

Michael said...

Spelling aside for a mo'... Anybody want to comment on the story itself in this screenplay? I'm interested to know whether people think this guy's latest effort is below par, or if someone really thinks it's a fantastic plot, etc? Anyone..?? :)

Mim said...

"Spelling aside for a mo'... Anybody want to comment on the story itself in this screenplay? I'm interested to know whether people think this guy's latest effort is below par, or if someone really thinks it's a fantastic plot, etc? Anyone..?? :)"

I already did in one of my previous posts.

s.warren said...

Was anyone else surprised by how sidelined the title characters were? The Mystery Director has been talking about these characters for over a decade, I believe. It's just plain weird that he'd write a movie that they happen to stumble into. They have one really cool chapter, but when it comes time to satisfy the genre of film, it just doesn't happen. Maybe he just got more interested in his little French Girl and her movie house? Who knows. Hopefully their big chapter will be reworked and given more heft -- especially if he gets the star he's talking to. I don't think he'd settle for a bit part.

JustBill said...

Isn't what he's doing and how he behaves all about the same thing -- self indulgence?

And all he needs is a studio that can be persuaded that his particular brand of self-indulgence is marketable to a large enough segment that finds s-i pretty much irresistible...

Mystery Man said...

Hey Anon Assist – Bwaaah ha ha ha! That made me laugh out loud. I’m guilty! I’m guilty (of drinking too much brandy as I wrote this article).

I think we’ve hit all the points that need to be hit about this grammar debate, haven’t we? It was a good controversy.

So let’s talk more about story.

For those who have read it, did it not feel like weak screenwriting to you to have spent so much time away from the main characters? I agree with you, S. Warren. The storyline with the girl was for me a growing irritation, because I was reading this spec to take in a story about the MAIN CHARACTERS. Did it not feel like he was avoiding them because he didn’t know what to do with them, that perhaps he didn’t have the chops to take them beyond entertaining caricatures into fully developed protags with inner conflicts and depth? We know, especially with Dark Knight coming out, that it is possible to tell a story about the consequences of being a vigilante. But, here, it’s almost essential to tell this woman’s story because characters that are raging, unwavering killers are inherently one dimensional, are they not?

Of course, earlier rumors about this script originally being over 600 pages makes you wonder if he had a bigger more impressive storyline for the main characters.

I also wonder if this good ending could’ve been better if the antagonist hadn’t switched sides and the main characters had to fight to defeat him.

Any thoughts on that?

Mystery Man said...

One more story question - didn't the backstories / flashbacks of the main characters, while fun, were ultimately pointless since we spent such little time with them?

-MM

s.warren said...

The biggest issue is the mission he dreamed up for this script. There just isn't anything to it. Take Where Eagles Dare, for instance. The mission there is pretty complicated and chock full of challenges. There's a lot of room for the characters to play and reveal themselves. Here you have a group of tough guys taking a movie house. Really? At no point do they ever get in above their heads and, when they do, it's due to their own incompetence and lack of planning. The most creative and inventive thinkers were the antagonist and the French Girl.

I'm pretty sure the 600 page monster was something else entirely. I don't know where, but I read he started from scratch for this spec and wanted to do something "fresh". This is born out by the original idea he's been floating for years; a group of condemned men given the option to undertake a suicide mission in exchange for sparring their lives. That's interesting. Here it's just a bunch of sociopaths causing chaos for the Nazis and they're brought in to trash a theater.

I think the Mystery Director knew this mission wasn't worthy of his characters. The only way he could make it worthwhile was to up the ante on the stakes by bringing in the historical figures. He couldn't come up with a huge, elaborate mission, so let's make it Operation Jackpot -- the whole war in one big swoop.

James said...

jake cogstein

"I wonder what we're reading, then. I guess movies are made without scripts, right? Scripts aren't important. Their presentation means nothing. All that matters is the finished product... even before it is made.
Right?"

Now, you're getting it.

James said...

"Spelling aside for a mo'... Anybody want to comment on the story itself in this screenplay? I'm interested to know whether people think this guy's latest effort is below par, or if someone really thinks it's a fantastic plot, etc? Anyone..?? :)"

I dig it.

I don't think it'll do the box-office that a movie of this magnitude requires (so potentially going to be labelled a box-office flop), but I'd happily lay down 12 bucks to go see it.

The irony is, it is hundreds of times better than Indy IV and won't do near the box office.

I do think MM and Scott are right that the script is over-written. However, it does seem to be bigger, longer scenes that let the actors play, which can, later, be easily cut down to a managable size.

And our friendly director does work with one of the best editors in town. I <3 her.

In contrast, Charlie Kaufman's last screenplay had scenes that needed to be cut because they sucked and didn't make any sense.

The overly long scenes that are slanted toward the actor has always been this director's style. I mean, he did want to be an actor -- not a writer or a director.

deepstructure said...

"I mean, he did want to be an actor -- not a writer or a director."

ouch. that's scary. he's a terrible actor.

Matt said...

s. warren, that's some real interesting info you got there.

With the writer's last two films, I've noticed that he's tried to sell himself as somebody who writes strong, realistic women characters - there was an interview with him last year, talking about his most recent film, saying, 'this film is how girls really talk.'

So I guess somewhere along the line, this Quixotic, Talented writer/director decided to take this project - which, in it's 600-page form, sounds like the novel the protagonist is writing in "Wonder Boys" - and infuse this new sensibility he's decided he's good at into it. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is something I'll have to think about before deciding either way.

That say, the title kind of works if you count the main female character, and hey fella, as Inglorious Basterds themselves.

Michael said...

Mim - so you did, apologies :)

"I also wonder if this good ending could’ve been better if the antagonist hadn’t switched sides and the main characters had to fight to defeat him."

MM - do you think that makes the antagonist really the story's major protagonist here? He's the one who is the most proactive, he plants the bomb which kills the Axis leaders, he gives himself up willingly, etc.

S. Warren - "...a group of condemned men given the option to undertake a suicide mission in exchange for sparring their lives. That's interesting. Here it's just a bunch of sociopaths causing chaos for the Nazis and they're brought in to trash a theater."

-- yeah, it's like he's pulling a bait and switch with his own promised product; the great WWII adventure that was hyped is really just "Wack William: parts I and II" all over again, albeit set in the 1940s with some army dudes going psycho on the side...

Also MM -- agree with you: the backstory / flashbacks, like the one in Boston, seem out of place for some reason. Because of a lack of development later on? I'm not sure...

Matt -- "I've noticed that he's tried to sell himself as somebody who writes strong, realistic women characters - there was an interview with him last year, talking about his most recent film, saying, 'this film is how girls really talk.'"

-- I find this all a bit disingenuous and even creepy for a guy who has cast himself as "the rapist", what, two or three times now??

Strunk White said...

Deepstructure, you meant to write "bandied". "[]bandied about here", not "banded".

s.warren said...

I found the interview I mentioned. It's from Sight and Sound back in February of this year. The Mystery Director was overseas for some film festivals, I believe.

"I’ve got tons of material and a lot of stuff written but now I’ve figured out what to do, I gotta start from page one, square one. I started just before I came on this trip and brought the stuff with me but I haven’t had a chance to continue yet. But maybe on the flight back home I’ll come back into it. I love writing in other countries. It’s a lot of fun."

Paul said...

"I love writing in other countries. It's a lot of fun."

Uh huh...Ok...Right.

Mystery Man said...

S.Warren – Oh man, those were superb comments. Ya know, I do recall reading articles where he talked about a condemned group given a last reprieve. You never really got that here. I was, in fact, expecting a structure more in keeping with, as you mentioned, Take Where Eagles Dare, or even The Dirty Dozen. You never felt like this mission was SO dangerous that it might be too much for this team to handle and none of them might make it out alive. That would’ve been better. What I reacted to in the Third Act was the moment in the booth between the girl and a certain actor. I loved the tension about the changing of the reels and her reaching up to change it. I also loved that moment in the bathroom where a character took off his cap to reveal something very important and then they whipped out their guns. Loved that, too. But I’d certainly be willing to give it all up for a bigger, more dangerous mission. Great comments.

James & Deepstructure – Thanks for the debate, guys. It was a good controversy.

Jim said...

I dig QT. It's the triumph of a true idiot savant. He's frustrating because his volcanic enthusiasm often trumps his better sense as a writer/director. He's exciting because he throws himself totally into his writing. It's like he can't write fast enough to keep up with what he's seeing in his mind's eye. He's so jazzed. He films to see these images come to life. What he writes really does leap off the page, in the manner of comic book scripting. He writes to surprise himself. I really believe that. The cool thing is that he wants to let us in on it. Who wouldn't want to play in his sandbox? After QT, probably no one other than David Lynch has a sump pump that runs from his imagination directly onto the page. It's uncanny. More of this would be a good thing, I believe.

Sure, I wish QT would pay more attention to spelling and grammar, but you know what, he's proven he's got game. I don't think this will encourage slackers everywhere to take the same license. They may try, but pffew! You got to show mastery of the fundamentals first before you can rock n roll on the hardwood like Chris Paul. Before Ornette Coleman dared to go off into the vapors, you can believe he had mastered the scales. Paul and Coleman got game. So does QT.

I expect QT will continue to do things that make me grit my teeth and wince, but in the very next scene he'll probably make up for it. That's how he rolls. Deal with it.

Bob said...

Loved the script! Going to be a fun movie. He's got the gift...not of grammar obviously...but of story. And that's rare. Just look at all of the trash coming out of Hollywood everyday. Thank God for originality...errr...clever adaptation...

DH said...

LTTP but.. He writes everything longhand then uses a typewriter.

He writes longhand as it enables him to get everything down quicker. He types it up on a typewriter becausue 'Hemmingway wrote that way' or something.

I can't quite remember but I saw being interviewed years ago about this.

Anonymous said...

@ Carlo Conda

re: "It's like a professional fisherman not knowing how to gut a fish. What kind of fisherman is that? He may catch more fish than most people on his boat, but you can't help but feel you'd rather learn how to fish from someone else."

No, I'd rather eat the fish.

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