Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 12/10/08

Hey guys,

If you missed it, I recently posted an article on
the Art of Dialects. I also recently watched Scorsese's My Voyage to Italy in which he takes you through the history of Italian cinema. FABULOUS! I was quite moved by those films. This is a worthy Netflix rental.

Anyway, hope you’re well,



Lots of New Screenplays!

Rachel Getting Married - October 17, 2007 draft by Jenny Lumet

Revolutionary Road - undated draft script by Justine Haythe

Milk - undated draft by Dustin Lance Black

Burn After Reading - undated draft script by Coen brothers

To The White Sea - August 13, 1998, draft script by Coen brothers

Vanilla Sky - 2001 shooting script by Cameron Crowe

Synecdoche - July 30, 2007, draft script by Charlie Kaufman

I've Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t'aime) - undated draft script by Philippe Claudel

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - undated draft script by Woody Allen

Happy-Go_Lucky - undated draft script by Mike Leigh

Doubt - undated draft script by John Patrick Shanley

The Visitor – undated draft by Tom McCarthy

Last Chance Harvey – undated draft by Joel Hopkins

(Hat-tip to


MM in the news:

Report: Mystery Man interested in buying Buffalo Sabres
I’m planning a cook-out for New Year’s Eve.

Mystery Man may hold key to murder investigation
It’s just a key to my secret basement.

Johnny Depp Is Mystery Man
Interesting theory…

9/11 Killed the Forest Gump Sequel
To quote Eric Roth: “I turned in my version of the Forrest Gump sequel, or Part II, whatever you call it… It’s a continuation really — I want to start the movie literally two minutes after the end of the last one, with him on the bus bench waiting for his son to get home from school. But I turned in the script the night before 9/11. And we sat down, Tom [Hanks] and Bob [Zemeckis] and I, looked at each other and said, we don’t think this is relevant anymore. The world had changed. Now time has obviously passed, but maybe some things should just be one thing and left as they are.”

Twilight Sequel, New Moon, Will Be Getting a New Director
Catherine Hardwicke will not be returning to direct Twilight’s sequel, New Moon. Twilight director, Catherine Hardwicke, will not be directing the sequel to the Summit Entertainment hit, says the Hollywood Reporter. Summit plans on releasing New Moon, the direct sequel to Twilight, in late 2009 or early 2010, and the company confirmed that the movie will have a new director.

A Script Consultant Should Be a Screenwriter's Mentor
Any script consultant who uses the 'universal' story paradigm and structure rules isn't going to be able to give the individual screenwriter much help in creating an original, inventive screenplay.

Story of Love, Suicide, and Paranoia Appeals to Bret Easton Ellis
The tragic story of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, the inseparable East Village artists who killed themselves last year believing they were being persecuted, will be the subject of a screenplay by American Pscyho author Bret Easton Ellis, Page Six magazine has announced. Ithika Films, which is producing the movie along with Lionsgate, has bought the writes to our own Nancy Jo Sales’s investigation, a profile of undying love and devastating paranoia. “It’s a kind of modern Romeo and Juliet story, set in the East Village, with the addition of anti-Bush conspiracy theories and Scientologists,” says Sales. “They continue to be the subject of fascination precisely because no one knows exactly why they did it. We only know that they were deeply in love, which makes their suicides all the more mysterious. Because of their great talent and beauty, they’ve become a sort of cult couple. There couldn’t be a more perfect writer for this story than Bret Easton Ellis because he is such a great chronicler of the modern macabre.”

Screenwriter testifies West's material was not copied by Perry
Michael Robert "Bob" Gale, screen writer of Back to the Future, testified Monday in the case of Donna West versus Tyler Perry that it is his opinion that Perry did not use Ms. West's copyrighted material, Fantasy of a Black Woman, in his film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Ebert's Death to film critics! Hail to the CelebCult!
Why do we need critics? A good friend of mine in a very big city was once told by his editor that the critic should "reflect the taste of the readers." My friend said, "Does that mean the food critic should love McDonald's?" The editor: "Absolutely." I don't believe readers buy a newspaper to read variations on the Ed McMahon line, "You are correct, sir!" A newspaper film critic should encourage critical thinking, introduce new developments, consider the local scene, look beyond the weekend fanboy specials, be a weatherman on social trends, bring in a larger context, teach, inform, amuse, inspire, be heartened, be outraged.

2009 Writers Guild Awards Television Nominees Unveiled

AMPTP relesase ‘Fact Sheet’ on the WGA

A great article by Anthony Lane
on The Wrestler
The Wrestler is as simple as its title. The pathos of personal ruin is an established trope, and the trick, as demonstrated by John Huston in Fat City and by Martin Scorsese in Raging Bull, is to stop it from sliding into the sentimental. Aronofsky doesn’t always succeed in this, and there are lines in Robert D. Siegel’s script that wave their symbolic purpose in the audience’s face: “It’s your heart—you need to start taking better care of it.” So says a hospital medic, when Randy is admitted, and undergoes bypass surgery, after collapsing in the wake of a bout. It’s O.K., Doc, we get the point. But the movie, like its hero, manages to yank itself back into shape, and that, it strikes me, is mostly due to Rourke. When Randy goes home after the operation, and peels off his bandage, the camera zooms in to inspect the scar on his chest, whereas what really pinches our attention is his harmless habits: the mild, uncomplaining manner in which he pops in a hearing aid or adjusts his reading spectacles. He may be one of the last people in movies to use a pay phone. This fellow is mutton dressed as Ram, and he knows it, and, if he earns the caress of our pity, that is precisely because he never stoops to beg for it.

Rourke didn’t care for The Wrestler script
Rourke told UPI in New York Sunday: "I didn't really care for the script, but I wanted to work with Darren and I kind of thought that whoever wrote the script hadn't spent as much time as I had around these kind of people and he wouldn't have spoken the way the dude was speaking (in the screenplay) and so Darren let me rewrite all my part and he put the periods in and crossed the t's. So once we made that change I was OK with it."

Unmade Bond Screenplay Sells For Thousands
The 1976 screenplay for Warhead, a planned 007 outing penned by Sir Sean Connery, author Len Deighton and producer Kevin McClory, has sold at auction for £46,850, the BBC reports. The ill-fated project, eventually scuppered by legal issues, would have wowed the crowds with a classic roster of characters including Blofeld, Leiter, Moneypenny, M and Q, sharing the screen with Bond girls Justine Lovesit and Fatima Blush. The plot splendidly involved Bond thwarting "robot sharks attempting to plant a nuclear bomb in sewers underneath New York".

Script Registration 101

Screenwriting is Like Stock Investing –
Start with the End in Mind
I have a writing degree. OK, it’s not a real writing degree. It’s more like a MFA in Screenwriting. Anyway, that’s not important. I mention it because, as I was earning that very expensive MFA, I learned the first rule of writing: Start with the end in mind. What does that mean? In a story, it means that you know who dies at the end and who survives before you start writing a story. In stock investing, it means that you know that you’ll get some of your money back before buying a stock.

Peter Morgan Interview
‘Before writing the play I met Frost and told him I was independently painting a portrait of him. I said I needed his help in speaking to some of the people involved and that when it was finished he’d need to show it to his friends and ask what they thought. I said to him, “I doubt you’ll ever like what I’m going to do. But maybe loved ones will persuade you to like it.” I took liberties that I think probably offend him. But I think overall I couldn’t have written it without that level of directness.’

John Patrick Shanley Interview
John Patrick Shanley is rarely at a loss for high-quality words. ¶ His script for 1987's "Moonstruck" won the original screenplay Oscar, 2002's television movie "Live From Baghdad" brought him a shared Emmy nomination, and his 2004 play "Doubt: A Parable" captured the Tony and the Pulitzer for drama. ¶ Shanley's tougher test has been crafting equally compelling visuals to accompany his prose. ¶ The 58-year-old Shanley struggled with that transformation the last time he stepped behind the cameras -- almost two decades ago, with the contentious production of 1990's "Joe Versus the Volcano." So when he sat down to adapt "Doubt," opening Dec. 12, Shanley looked for any number of ways to fill his highly contained four-character play with new energy and nuance -- a quest that not only led him back to his childhood, from which the play sprung, but also to rely on "every trick" in the book to keep audiences engaged. ¶ "When plays are turned into films, people stop listening," Shanley says of the disconnect in dialogue-heavy movies. "This was the hardest script I ever wrote." ¶ Theatergoers will remember "Doubt's" narrative, which unfolds in 1964. Sister Aloysius Beauvier (played in the film by Meryl Streep), the exacting, traditionalist principal of a New York parochial school, believes the charismatic, progressive priest Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) may have an inappropriate relationship with Donald, one of the school's young boys. ¶ As part of her campaign to drive out the priest, Sister Aloysius attempts to enlist the boy's reluctant mother (Viola Davis) and the skeptical young nun Sister James (Amy Adams). ¶ The priest insists Sister Aloysius is on a witch hunt, but Shanley is less interested in who is -- or is not -- in the right. Instead, his play, like the movie, is focused on larger themes of confrontation and judgment, how meaningful deliberation has been trumped by argumentative, know-it-all declarations.

Simon Beaufoy Interview
...Beaufoy wondered if the film was delivering "a rather naive vision of Mumbai" at a particularly painful moment. Even as Beaufoy, director Danny Boyle and their colleagues traded panicky e-mails with Mumbai-based members of the film's cast and crew (all were well, it turned out), the collaborators wrestled with newfound concerns about their breathlessly paced R-rated fairy tale. Should changes or cuts be made? Beaufoy said Tuesday he found his answer in his in-box. "The e-mails from our friends in Mumbai were characteristically, fantastically Indian," he said, "full of things like: 'We will rise from the ashes! We will come back stronger! These people will never crush our spirit!' I got my answer from the people who live there."

Dustin Lance Black Interview
Dustin Lance Black had just one goal while he was writing the biographical drama Milk: To be honest, even if it meant he had to be brutally honest. "To me, there's nothing worse than a movie biography that's too kind to its subject. People are people, faults and all. It's what makes us human and is what makes us interesting," the film's executive producer and screenwriter said.

Also – Listen to the
Dustin Lance Black NPR Interview

Weekly Standard says Milk is a sham
The thing is, the Harvey Milk of Milk is not the real Harvey Milk, and Milk the movie is a sham. The movie turns an incendiary, mau-mauing, take-no-prisoners radical of the 1970s into an ingenuous teddy bear. In the telling of the late gay journalist Randy Shilts-whose biography, The Mayor of Castro Street, is the unofficial inspiration for the movie--the real Milk was a smart, aggressive, purposefully offensive, press-savvy attention hound who believed the cause of gay rights would be advanced if there were riots in the streets of San Francisco. He was always on the hunt for a casus belli. By contrast, the cinematic Milk convinces the San Francisco police to let him organize an impromptu march to prevent a riot. The real Milk was a sexual liberationist of a very specific 1970s type. "As homosexuals, we can't depend on the heterosexual model," Shilts quotes him as saying to one boyfriend in San Francisco by way of explaining why he had another boyfriend in Los Angeles. "We grow up with the heterosexual model, but we don't have to follow it. We should be developing our own lifestyle. There's no reason you can't love more than one person at a time..."

Brian Patrick O’Toole Interview
Brian Patrick O’Toole is a screenwriter and an independent horror movie producer in Hollywood whose last two films, Evilution and Basement Jack, I really enjoyed and reviewed on Bad Lit. (Click the titles there for the reviews.) Two things in particular, though, really intrigued me about these films. One, is that both of them felt like good ol’ fashioned throwbacks to the horror classics of the ’70s and the ’80s, exactly the types of films I’m a huge fan of myself. And two, I would learn through email conversations with Brian that these films were the first two parts in a proposed trilogy, along with the upcoming The Necropolitan... wildly ambitious for a low-budget producer.

On Hollywood Constantly Remaking Classics
The question, though, is why does Hollywood keep looking to the past? "Science fiction should be about ideas and what it means to be human, it should always be about the new and the challenging," William Shatner said on a recent afternoon as he sipped a Starbucks coffee and watched traffic zoom past his Ventura Boulevard office. So why does Hollywood keep putting its money in the same old Enterprise? " 'Star Trek' connected with so many people for so long, and 'Star Wars' is the same way," he said. "There's a thrill for fans to see the heroes they know."

Review of Batman R.I.P.
I used to love Grant Morrison's wacky storylines for Animal Man in the 80s, but with Batman today, I think he's on something. Seriously. I never got into the story. And wasn't sure even how to begin. Batman of Zur-En-Arrh? Excuse me? Did you say "Surrender?" No. Batman of Zurrrrrrrrrrrr-ennnnnnnnn-arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrh. Oh, okay. Can I have some of what you're on, Grant? And whatever the DC Executives are on who okayed this storyline? After that, throw in some Bat-Mite and we've got ourselves a party!

Prompted by Robert Redford, a screenwriter was born
The impetus to write her own script struck when she saw Robert Redford speak at an early screening of 2004's The Clearing, in which Redford lamented the lack of stories for Baby Boomers. "They are grossly underserved," says Rubey, a former paralegal. So, Rubey "got some software, bought a book and just started fleshing out the characters," she says.

Cloverfield’s Obstructed Spectacle
Cloverfield is thus a really good illustration of Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin’s notion of the double logic that characterises digital media, exhibiting the qualities of immediacy and hypermediacy. Immediacy because it is designed to efface the traces of manufacture and give the spectator more direct access to the content, or the events depicted – thus we have long takes that appear to be unedited, situating the spectator in a continuous relationship with the characters. At the same time, it displays hypermediacy by bearing all the traces of mediation openly – the image might be time-stamped, the lens dirty or blood-splattered, the tape glitched. It’s crucial that you notice these technical facets, since it is through their presence that the film purchases its authenticity, but it is crucial that you suspend disbelief and attribute them to the diegetic equipment and crew, and not to the massive resources of 20th Century Fox. If discussions of digital media have sometimes seemed to predict a utopia of pixel-perfect, high-definition absolute vision, here is a film whose major points of interest are glimpsed, missed, obscured or misapprehended.

10 Ways for a Screenwriter to Procrastinate

Films in Review reruns 1979 article:
The Monroe-Harlow Connection
Columnist Sidney Skolsky had long dreamed of producing THE JEAN HARLOW STORY. He championed for Marilyn Monroe to portray the blonde bombshell. Added fuel came in the person of Harlow’s mother, Mama Jean Bello, who sanctioned MM as the ideal, the only choice for the plum cinema role. On another front the project was activated as follows: producer Sam Bischoff approached Jean Bello, securing “all rights to THE JEAN HARLOW STORY” for $100,000. In addition, it was agreed that Mama Jean would act as “consultant and advisor” on the film, and that Harlow’s long-time agent Arthur Landau would be “associate producer and story consultant.” Bischoff then opened negotiations with William Faulkner to write the script for his independent film, budgeted at $2,000,000. Joe Hyams scooped the rest of the film community scribes with his May 5, ‘54 headline, ” ‘Jean Harlow Story’ Slated; Marilyn Monroe Is Sought.” But MM, realizing the responsibility of portraying the legendary star (take heed ‘65 Harlows Carroll Baker & Carol Lynley), remained un-persuaded. Neither Skolsky’s nor Bischoff’s film ever got off the ground.

video interview with William Friedkin
They talk about The French Connection!

Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking
Fisher is a language obsessive, a nimble verbal acrobat who puns and somersaults around a page with glee. She also casts a crinkled, laughing eye on every occasion, opening her first book with the line, "Maybe I shouldn't have given the guy who pumped my stomach my phone number, but who cares, my life is over anyway." In "Surrender the Pink," her heroine Dinah walks the streets of New York with a friend during a mega-blizzard, accepting a ride from a stranger by saying, with jolly self-awareness, "Welcome to our anecdote!" Distance from the narrative of her own life, and the lives of her characters, which characterizes much of her fiction, perhaps is symptomatic of something more troubling that is summed up in the last line of "Surrender the Pink": "Nothing's ever really over. Just over there."

5 Reasons Why Not To Write What you Know
5. You’re life isn’t that exciting … yet?
Okay, this one’s harsh, but it needs to be said. With today’s plethora of self-proclaimed fame in the media — especially in the blogosphere with life-loggers and wanna-be celebutantes, it’s easy to get carried away and strive to share your epic story with the world. The real question is, is your life worth spending a million bucks to share? What makes you special? What have you experienced that no one else has? Again, this comes down to thematic value. As long as you’ve got theme, and your audience can relate, people will willingly enjoy a story about anything! I’m not saying our stories as common folk aren’t interesting and exciting, but rather that they require additional articulation of thematic value and drama. Don’t just tell it like it is … amplify it!

The Story Behind Hollywood Studio Logos

Screenwriter acquires LA 3BD for $1.245M
David S. Dorfman bought a three-bedroom, three-bath home at 741 N. Fuller Ave. in L.A.'s Fairfax/Mid-City West neighborhood from Jennifer and Lee Barth for $1.245 million on Sept. 23. The 1,792-square-foot house was built in 1923. Dorfman is a screenwriter and was born in New York. He started working as a script reader at William Morris and was able to sell his first major script to New Line Cinemas, in 1998, entitled The Guest. His second script, Anger Management, spent two weeks at the top of the box office in 2003.

Understanding Screenwriting #12

Brownlow tapped for Blood remake
John Brownlow, who penned the script for the biopic Sylvia, has been hired to write Captain Blood, Warner Bros.' remake of the 1935 swashbuckler. The Oscar-nominated pirate movie starred Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Basil Rathbone and was based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini. Set in the 1600s, it tells the story of a doctor who, after being convicted for treason and sold into slavery, escapes to the high seas as a pirate.

Blake Snyder says
Go East, Young Screenwriter

How Hollywood Grew Up About Teen Sex
Post-Pie, it appears teen comedies are taking a (slightly) more sophisticated view of adolescent sex and sexuality. Sex Drive, the story of one boy's road trip across America to sleep with a girl he's met on the internet, is an example of the developing maturity of the genre's film-makers. Director Sean Anders takes inspiration from the sexual insecurity implicit in Gen-X classics such as Swingers and Clerks; hence, Sex Drive's hero, Ian, isn't just a randy teenager. He's lonely, desperate and hormonal, bullied by an older brother who boasts greater sexual prowess and outgunned by a more experienced best friend. He's also painfully insecure around girls, who tend to ignore or use him. Incidentally, it's significant that here, as in most blockbuster genres, the female characters are still always either sex objects or "one of the boys". The genre's film-makers still have a lot more maturing to do when it comes to their views on equality.

J. Michael Straczynski On World War Z
“We talk about it as a thriller, the closest comparison being The Bourne Identity,” explained Straczynski, who’s also penning a Forbidden Planet revisiting. “Most zombie movies to this point have been small, focusing on a few people in a house. And this has got real scare. You’re in India with hundreds of boats trying to get out of there with a tidal wave of zombies. The scale of what we’re doing here is phenomenal.” Straczynski told us the first draft of the screenplay was completed in the Spring, and the World War Z team had been waiting for a director for several months before Forster was attached. “Now that Marc is here, I’m working with his notes to make one final pass on the script,” said Straczynski. “Our hope is to get it moving into production by the first of the year.”

A fascinating round-up on
Murnau, Borzage, and Fox

Green Lantern Screenwriter Talks Casting & Superman’s Cameo
And while there’s already a lot of speculation over who would play Green Lantern — Ryan Gosling? Matthew Settle? David Boreanaz? — what about Clark Kent, who will make a small cameo? Will the part go to someone already established on film or television to be the Man of Steel, like Brandon Routh or Tom Welling? “There were rumors that Tom Welling would have a cameo in ‘Batman Begins’ as a young Clark Kent, to meet up with a young Bruce Wayne,” Guggenheim noted. “But you have to be careful when you do things like that, because it sounds great in concept, but when you sit down to watch it, it poses the danger of pulling you out of the film.”

From our friend, David Alan:
I came across an inspiring lecture given by Randy Pausch. Everyone should watch this. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the prime of his life. The university had started a program that encouraged professors to give the lecture they would give if they knew it was going to be their last. Here is
the last lecture he knew he was ever to give...

R.I.P. de Concini


Lists, Lists, Lists:

Best of 2008 List

Turkeys of 2008

Time's "Top Ten Everything of 2008"

"How many movies from 2008 will bear revisiting in later years?" asks
Anthony Lane, blogging for the New Yorker. "That is the test, and it is dismaying to recall how few productions passed it."

Does Defiance top
David Denby's list? He names it first, and nine more movies tumble after, and not in alphabetical order.

"Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz in The Reader" tops
Richard Corliss's list of the "Top 10 Movie Performances," female category. Best Male: "Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight." And his #1 movie is WALL•E.

"After exhaustive polling of 20 of the
Guardian's film writers, we have the results: the best films of the year as judged by our critics. We'll be revealing two of the top 10 each day from Monday December 8 to Friday December 12."

Salon presents "the 10 most pleasurable fiction and nonfiction reading experiences of the year."

Kevin Lee starts a countdown: "Top Ten Videos of 2008. #10 (User Generated Content Day)."

Jürgen Fauth lists his "Most Disappointing Movies of 2008."

NYT’s 10 Best Books

Top 20 Celeb Nude Scenes of 2008


On the Contest Circuit:

Innovative Screenwriting Project Makes Its Debut

Script Savvy Announces October, 2008 Contest Winners

WriteSafe Announces Semifinalists

Writers Place Announces Finalists

MoviePoet Announces October Contest Winners

Expo Announces Final Contest Results


And Finally

“The Limey – Forgotten Treasures”


The Pearl Poet said...

Thanks for the post! Can't wait to read Rachel Getting Married!

Seeing_I said...

9/11 killed the Gump sequel? Wow, I guess it IS true about silver linings...

What? Too soon?

Mark said...

I'm always surprised how many people haven't seen "The Limey". It's a great example of how to break time and space. Notice how the scenes are written with continuity - they never break the conversation. They do break the space in which the conversation is held. You can see this done expertly in Citizen Kane's breakfast table scene(s) where you see the entire marriage in a single continuous scene.

Writers - learn your film grammar.

Mystery Man said...

Mark - I rewatched "The Limey" today. It was... okay. I loved the continuity aspect of the film that you mentioned. I feel, though, he had to do that to compensate for a weak script. A variety of aspects bothered me - undermotivated protag, weak antag, lack of tension, and the dialogue could've been SO much better. It's a great concept, and with Terence Stamp in the lead, it could've been classic. But I think the whole endeavor was undermined by the script.

Coincidentally, I also read Carrie Fisher's "Wishful Drinking" today. Short book, easily read in one sitting. Very damn funny. I love her sense of humor.


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