Sunday, November 23, 2008

Around Blogosphere – 11/22/08

Craig Mazin rips apart the new Writers Store Catalog. For example, the script binding kit (pictured above), for a low-low $39.95!

Script Binding Kit - $39.95

Not a bad little package for someone looking to mail out a bunch of scripts. You get three hole punch paper, some nice linen script covers, good old Acco brads, a script binding mallet, and some–

Wait, what?

A script binding mallet? What’s that for, to beat yourself in the face once you realize no one’s buying your 184 page space opera?

I swear to God, just when this thing was looking reasonable, they have to throw in a mallet. I have survived for 15 years in the screen trade without ever malleting a single draft.

Must have been dumb luck.


Alex Epstein
on Bad Language
I think the issue is gratuitous bad language. Where the f-bomb replaces character, you're failing.

Mike Le’s very funny
Top Ten List.

Danny Stack’s 3 Steps of the Professional Screenwriter:
Step 1:
Step 2: Writing
Step 3: Networking

FAQ with Lucy
Is format, spelling and grammar really that important?
Personally, I always think it's better to be safe than sorry - never let Nazi readers out there reject you for not "looking right" on the page or carelessness with spelling and grammar.

Julie’s fabulous
The Charmin Effect
Soft character arcs, soft
premise and soft structure.

Alexandra on
The Great Climax in Jaws
Peter Benchley, the author and co-screenwriter, was talking about the ending of the film. He said that from the beginning of production Spielberg had been ragging on him about the ending – he said it was too much of a downer. For one thing, the visual wasn’t right – if you’ll recall the book, once Sheriff Brody has killed the shark (NOT by blowing it up), the creature spirals slowly down to the bottom of the sea. Spielberg found that emotionally unsatisfying. He wanted something bigger, something exciting, something that would have audiences on their feet and cheering. He proposed the oxygen tank – that Brody would first shove a tank of compressed air into the shark’s mouth, and then fire at it until he hit the tank and the shark went up in a gigantic explosion. Benchley argued that it was completely absurd – no one would ever believe that could happen. Spielberg countered that he had taken the audience on the journey all this time – we were with the characters every step of the way. The audience would trust him if he did it right.

Above is the hilarious vid of Ian McKellan explaining ot Ricky Gervais the art of 'pretending'. (Hat tip to
Dix! Thanks!)

Craig gets critical
about Rachel Getting Married
Advertised as a cheery comedy, Rachel Getting Married is actually a dour hodgepodge of the worst tendencies of "independent filmmaking" that White's always railing on about. The screenplay by Jenny Lumet (daughter of Sidney) is her first, and it's filled with rookie mistakes: the enunciating of every emotion; the random acquaintance that the main character just happens to bump into who inadvertently spills the beans in front of the others; and, of course, The Tragedy From The Past that casts a pall over the proceedings. All shot by Demme with hand-held camerawork so jittery you half-expect Jason Bourne to crash the party. In the immeasurably lighter and more unassuming Four Weddings and a Funeral, Mike Newell was able to make the audience feel like a guest at the titular events without relying on cheap devices. It's time to give this visual style a rest.

Emily Blake
on Pitch Q
Anyway, if you have a good script this is how it works. You film a pitch of your script - if you don't have the equipment to do it yourself, Pitch Q has a place in town - and you upload it onto the website. Producers are able to browse the pitches and find what they're looking for. So here is why I recommend the site, especially for people out of town who have no access to industry parties: In the eight months this site has existed, six writers who've uploaded pitches have either had their scripts optioned or landed assignment jobs. And when you think about the odds, that's pretty damn impressive.

James Henry’s
Top Ten Best Lines in Steel Magnolias
7. "Janice Van Meter got hit with a baseball. It was fabulous."

Thanks to Maggie, you can get
your blog analyzed for free.
Enter your blog's address in this page and it analyzes the writer. Hmm! I tried a few and it seemed to be pretty well on target.

Here’s what it had to say about me:

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.


I’ve added
Film Studies for Free to my Writer’s Resource sidebar. This is simply the most awe-inspiring film website out there.

SUPERB: Matthew Flanagan on
the Cinema of Slowness
In defiant opposition to the quickening of pace in mainstream American cinema, a distinctive narrative form devoted to stillness and contemplation has emerged in the work of a growing number of filmmakers over the last two decades. Most widely exhibited on the festival circuit, this “cinema of slowness” (as categorised by Michel Ciment in 2003) has begun to signify a unique type of reflective art where form and temporality are never less than emphatically present, and a diminution of pace serves to displace the dominant momentum of narrative causality. The most distinctive active practitioners of such a style might be thought to comprise, in loose chronological order, Philippe Garrel, Chantal Akerman, Theo Angelopoulos, Abbas Kiarostami, Béla Tarr, Aleksandr Sokurov, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-liang, Sharunas Bartas, Pedro Costa, Jia Zhang-ke, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Lisandro Alonso, Carlos Reygadas, Gus Van Sant and Albert Serra.

The formal characteristics shared by these filmmakers are immediately identifiable, if not quite fully inclusive: the employment of (often extremely) long takes, de-centred and understated modes of storytelling, and a pronounced emphasis on quietude and the everyday. In light of the current prevalence of these stylistic tropes, it is perhaps time to consider their reciprocal employment as pertaining not to an abstract notion of “slowness” but a unique formal and structural design: an aesthetic of slow. The work of the directors listed above constitutes a cinema which compels us to retreat from a culture of speed, modify our expectations of filmic narration and physically attune to a more deliberate rhythm. Liberated from the abundance of abrupt images and visual signifiers that comprise a sizeable amount of mass-market cinema, we are free to indulge in a relaxed form of panoramic perception; during long takes we are invited to let our eyes wander within the parameters of the frame, observing details that would remain veiled or merely implied by a swifter form of narration. In terms of storytelling, the familiar hegemony of drama, consequence and psychological motivation is consistently relaxed, reaching a point at which everything (content, performance, rhythm) becomes equivalent in representation.

(Hat-tip to
Girish for this link. He runs a brilliant blog.)

Chris Fujiwara
on Jerry Lewis
Taking his curtain call (in character as goofy Professor Kelp) in The Nutty Professor (1963), Lewis stumbles and falls into the camera lens. Lewis's understanding of film is such that the lens is never merely a point in space, an abstract function that organizes images, or a metaphor for consciousness grasping the world. The lens is a physical thing, part of the great big mess of material existence. In The Family Jewels (1965), the photographer Julius (Lewis) repeatedly presses his finger onto the lens of his camera, to show his niece (Donna Butterworth) where she should look ("You'll have a face full of fingers," he even remarks). In The Bellboy (1960), Stanley (Lewis), realizing on entering a room that he is surrounded with female models in negligees, crosses to the foreground and prudishly covers the camera lens with the palm of his hand. In the ball sequence in One More Time (1970), the eruption of a long-suppressed sneeze causes Charlie (Sammy Davis Jr.) to lurch forward, Kelp-like, into the camera lens. The cut shows a reverse field where already—in the instant of the cut—the exaggerated force of Charlie's sneeze has toppled a group of party guests, who slowly start picking themselves up from the floor, like the animated suits of armor in a magnificent gag in The Errand Boy (1961).

In all these scenes, Lewis is concerned with two fundamental questions of cinema: How to see? and What should be seen? He uncovers the logic that makes seeing aggression, the logic of the look that topples the object (like Kelp's out-of-focus look in the bowling alley in The Nutty Professor, when he mistakes a group of people for bowling pins) or of the object that topples the look (Herbert [Lewis] witnessing the infidelity of his beloved Fay in the graduation-day sequence of 1961's The Ladies Man). The look confronting its object (taking or mistaking it, or being taken by it) is one of the basic structures of Lewis's work, from which he forms spiraling long-term patterns of conflict, avoidance, and reversal, welcoming or ignoring contradiction, violating the premises of a scene or even a whole film in search of new experimental truths (as in the classic hat scene in The Ladies Man, the nightmarish Copa scene in 1964's The Patsy, or throughout the breathtaking entirety of 1970's Which Way to the Front?).

FABULOUS: David Bordwell
on the Films of the 80’s
So you can make a good case that the 1980s gave America a burst of first-rate films and remarkable new talent. At all levels, from ambitious prestige items to dazzling genre pictures, the decade is nothing to be sneezed at. The maw of home video had to be fed, so the demand was for product of all sorts. Videotape rental expanded specialty niches and cult markets. Filmmakers could finance projects through video and foreign presales, and investors took chances at many levels. The era saw a revival of ambitious independent films, which played alongside program pictures, Oscar bait, and summer blockbusters. Romantic comedy, action movies, and science fiction enjoyed a strong run. And many of the people we still consider genuine movie stars—Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Glenn Close, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, and Tom Cruise—are ineluctably creatures of the 80’s.

A to Z Film list


purpletrex said...

"That dope, as one might call it, is action, movement, and excitement; but more than that, keeping the audience occupied mentally. People think, for example, that pace is fast action, quick cutting, people running around, or whatever you will, and it is not really that at all. I think that pace in a film is made entirely by keeping the mind of the spectator occupied. You don't need to have quick cutting, you don't need to have quick playing, but you do need a very full story and the changing of one situation to another. You need the changing of one incident to another, so that all the time the audience's mind is occupied."

Hitchcock must have had a time machine and traveled to 2009 and saw the cinematic abortions and recoiled in horror and wrote the above as a coded warning :)

Craig said...

Thanks for another link, MM; and I'm even more flattered that you called me Ken Levine again. Being unworthy of Mr. Levine's talents or resume, though, "The Man from Porlock" or just "Craig" is fine.

Lucy said...

Thanks for the shout-out MM! With these links you is reeeallly spoiling us... ; )

Mystery Man said...

Purple - I love that portion and I thought the VERY same thing!

Craig - Why do I do that? I'm SO very sorry. It's been fixed! Great post, by the way.

Lucy - I'm spoiling myself, too, you know. I'm a screenwriting article pack-rat so that I may refer to any of these articles later if I ever need to. Hope you're well.


Lucy said...

I'm just dandy thanks, MM - though I'm getting dangerously close to writing a new spec with the dearth of scripts about! : D

Re: links and spoiling, I'm the same with my links on my "List of Wonder": all that screenwritery goodness, right at my fingertips, *bliss*

Mystery Man said...

Hehehe... So very nice to have you here, Lucy, it really is.


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