(Geez, ScriptGirl's really busting out today, isn't she?)
Let me say I am overwhelmed by the e-mails I’m getting in response to my "Character Arc" article in Script Magazine. A frickin’ tidal wave of correspondence has flooded my inbox. I honestly wasn’t expecting this. Even the Hotmail people sent me a message titled “WTF is going on with your inbox?” So if I have not responded to your e-mail, take heart, I will get to you. And I will try to respond to all the e-mails. And I will respond to all the comments on my blog. I promise!
So far, I’m proud to say most of you loved the article while a few are royally pissed off. Thus, I shall post another article soon addressing some of the "Character Arc" questions. But I haven’t heard any arguments yet that point to truly solid mistakes in the article. Yet.
The most common complaint? “Hey, you went through all the Indiana Jones movies except Indy IV.” Exactly.
BTW – I’m on Twitter now.
MM in the news:
Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated:
Mystery: Man found dead and bloodied on bathroom floor
Mystery man killed on rail line
Police hunt name for Mystery Man
I know some of you are angry about the new Character Arc article, but really, this is a bit much, isn’t it?
Pam Anderson, Her Mystery Man & Matthew Mcconaughey At Malibu
I don’t even feel threatened by the presence of Mr. McConaughey.
Fire girl seeks Mystery Man
You and so many others…
Case solved … Mystery Man is Swiss teen ace
I do love watches and I have one of those secret bank accounts.
Topless Amy Winehouse Cuddles on Beach with Mystery Man
And you thought her makeup was scary…
All you aspiring screenwriters trying to break in will love this:
Boy with autism writes film screenplay based on favorite books
Keaton Bicknell, 11, who has autism, is determined to become a screenwriter. So he received permission from the author of his favorite children's books to turn her work into a script, and with the help of his father, who is in the film business, and his 13-year-old sister, Keaton hoped to shoot the 15- to 20-minute film this past weekend.
Notorious Writer Responds To Lil' Kim's Accusations
Screenwriter Reggie Rock Bythewood says Kim saw an early version of the script. The Queen Bee unleashed her venom on the team behind the Biggie biopic, "Notorious," saying "most of the story is bullsh--" and complaining that the actress who played her in the film never even reached out to her. In a recent cover story with Hip-Hop Weekly, Kim — who said she has not seen the film — said she believed Big's wife, Faith Evans, and his mother, Voletta Wallace, were behind the snub…
Speaking of Notorious, there’s a great round-up of new articles here.
According to John August, Shazam is dead. (Whew!)
Below is an Olly Moss Poster Remake
Coincidentally, Len just e-mailed me with retro Polish Movie posters:
And then there’s Alamo Drafthouse’s Godfather posters:
Hollywood’s 3D Headaches
Everything’s going to hell for film critics in the print media.
On Frost Vs Fenton
Although Frost says only about 10 per cent of the movie is fiction, screenwriter and playwright Peter Morgan has heightened certain elements for the sake of drama. So instead of showing Frost as competent, professional and methodical, backed up by a year’s worth of research, he instead frames the story a little bit like Richard Wilkins extracting a mea culpa from George W Bush over Iraq. It makes the eventual "gotcha" moment many times more effective, despite the audience knowing from history how the interview will pan out.
Yeah, baby! An Early Howard Hawks Blog-a-thon!
Screenwriter shouts, “Stop making me write Star Trek!”
It was either George Santayana or Gene Roddenberry who said, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." The Hollywood version is, those who remember history are doomed to remake it. It's that mindset that gives you a Lost in Space movie. A Land of the Lost movie. Jurassic Park III. The Phantom Menace. It churns out a remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still that might have been moderately intriguing under another title, but as it exists is nowhere near as good as the original. Remakes and endless sequels are the easy calories of the storytelling business. They encourage writers to be lazy, too. So, how does my cranky, undeniably futile bleat relate to business? How does it connect to the economic situation? By strip-mining past properties we've created our own sci-fi bubble. We've inflated valuable properties far behind their multiples. (Did we need 10 Trek movies?) And each $100 million remake means two fewer $50 million new properties—or 10 less-than-$10 million projects. That's an economic model that recalls Detroit and the American auto industry. Setting aside the financial burden, consider how difficult it is for a new property to get noticed, much less watched and appreciated. Big remakes suck up the airwaves. The billboards. They generate so much noise that no other voices can be heard.
Reverse Shot’s 11 Offenses of 2008
Theology and Screenwriting
How To Establish the Dramatic Premise
So, you need to take your character on a journey, by establishing the dramatic premise, then roughly timing turning points in the story and in your main character. Page 1, a visual metaphor that defines the theme of the story. Page 3, a line of dialogue, or an action that directly pinpoints the theme of your story. About Page 10, establish the dramatic premise. At about Page 30, something extraordinary should happen that spins your character and story around 360 degrees and sends it off in another direction. At about page 45, foreshadow how your main character is going to be at the end of your story. Just a small action, something your character does to reveal this, like when Ryan meets Princess Anne and he is unfraid of her. From this point forward, you must have your main character creating all of the action. In other words, he/she must be pro-active in all events. At about Page 60, midpoint, you must show that about all is lost for your main character regardless of the new strength he/she is showing. By about Page 75, have your main character change the way he/she is trying to accomplish his/her goal. At about Page 90 of your screenplay, your main character should have a direct confrontation with the villain (villain represents evil in fiction) or antagonist (doesn’t necessarily represent evil so much as representing the opposing force to your main character’s goal). This confrontation results in your main character winning and sets up how the story is going to end. For the next several pages, your story should build to a climax where your main character goes nose-to-nose with the villain or antagonist. Here, your main character should have an epiphany. For Ryan, it was his discovery that he must overcome Komodo in order return home to his family and friends. It is here where your main character’s fatal flaw (the flaw that has caused your main character to pursue a solution to it because it is more overpowering than any other flaw)comes to the surface and must be overcome by your main character. With Ryan, it was his fear, and he overcomes it.
Did you get all that? Good.
Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy might have explained the movie's magic best: "There are some directors who shoot a screenwriter’s script, and there [is], once in a blue moon, a director comes along who makes it fly, and I don’t need to tell you that [Danny Boyle] made it fly. Thank you, Danny."
Screenwriter had same job anxieties as his character
Most writers would probably do little victory dances in their agents' offices if a play of their devising had movie directors circling. But in the case of Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan wasn't so sure at first whether Hollywood's interest was a compliment. Known chiefly as a screenwriter (The Last King of Scotland, The Queen), the London-born Morgan had a job strategy in developing the story of David Frost's 1977 television encounter with former president Richard Nixon for the theater. The stage in Britain remains the foremost venue for a crafter of dialogue, and Morgan wanted its validation and the added career option. ''I, in some way, took that as a slight on my theatrical chops,'' says Morgan, 45. ``The thing I didn't want people to think was that I was workshopping a screenplay in the theater.''
View the first episode of Diablo Cody’s TV show, The United States of Tara, for free at the official site. She’s also on Twitter. And she’s doing a cameo as herself in Beverly Hills 90210. Yippee.
Hey, Slate’s Movie Club! Woo hoo!
You've probably never heard of La Madre Muerta, am I wrong?
When discussing the current wave of intelligent genre film coming out of Spain these days people have often asked a pair of questions, why Spain and why now? A decent number of possibilities have been put forward, from schooling to the close knit, supportive community but I think there’s a simpler explanation. Fifteen years ago, when most of the current wave were settling on what Spanish film was, directors like Juanma Bajo Ulloa were making films like La Madre Muerta. Though he may not be particularly well known outside of Spain it seems perfectly clear to me that Bajo Ulloa is a spiritual forefather to many in the current wave, that the road from Bajo Ulloa to film makers such as JA Bayona (The Orphanage), Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) and Luis Berdejo (The New Daughter) runs straight and true.
Screenwriter floors it with Gran Torino
Schenk's father, Marv, was in Korea, but Schenk says Kowalski is a composite of other guys. He compares the character to your gym teacher, coach, shop teacher or "dad when you're putting your bike back together wrong and he's waiting for you to screw up so he can roll his eyes. We all know who that is." Schenk, who grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of Fridley, already had experience as a writer and producer for "Let's Bowl" on Comedy Central and on a mixed martial arts TV show. He had co-written another screenplay that was sold but never produced. That only "whetted my beak to never quit," said Schenk, who moved to Los Angeles in June. A military history buff, Schenk talked with a friend about the Korean War, often called "The Forgotten War." That morphed into the story of a Korean War vet. The two outlined the story, and Schenk — who did not own a laptop — would write the script with pen and paper at Grumpy's, a neighborhood bar. Schenk wrote "98 percent of the first draft, and he's fast," says Dave Johannson, 39, who shares story credit on "Gran Torino." It took about three months for Schenk to write the screenplay, which he and Johannson then honed.
Atom Egoyan is going Hollywood
Yes, Atom Egoyan says, it's true. He's going Hollywood and this time it's on his own terms. Egoyan, 48, will direct Chloe, an erotic thriller starring Oscar nominees Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!). The script was penned by one of Egoyan's favourite writers -- Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary). Described as "a smart, sexy thriller in the vein of Fatal Attraction," Chloe, which starts filming in Toronto Feb. 9, centres on a successful doctor (Moore) who inadvertently endangers her family when she hires an alluring young escort (Seyfried) to seduce her husband (Neeson), whom she suspects of cheating. "It's a really intelligent script," Egoyan said. "It's incredible because the prostitute comes back with these amazing erotic stories about a man his wife thought she knew. She gets addicted to them and they enter into a complicated relationship."
The Business of Screenwriting
It should be apparent to anyone who follows this blog that I enjoy posting about movie analysis, screenwriting theories, and the mystery of the writing process, too. However, one area I focus on -- in part because I have found a dearth of resources on it on the Web -- is the business of screenwriting. For if you are fortunate enough to write and sell a spec script, there are certain things you need to know both to protect yourself and maximize your chances at turning screenwriting into a career. Basic things like:
* Know who the buyers (studios) are
* Familiarize yourself with top to mid-level agencies and management companies
* Track the buying marketplace
* Be aware of studio business trends
* Learn the broadstrokes of Hollywood's film history
* Know how to get hold of recent selling spec scripts
* Push yourself to generate lots of -- and hopefully some great -- story concepts
* Write everyday
Glenn Kenny finds The Comfort of Strangers
Looking at The Comfort of Strangers nearly 20 years after its release, and shortly after the death of its screenwriter Harold Pinter, one is, first off, inclined to rue the fact that Pinter and director Paul Schrader only worked together the one time. Pinter's text, an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel—the text of which itself suggests a Hammer film as reimagined by...Harold Pinter—seems to focus Schrader beautifully, staying him from indulging the too-baroque flourishes that sometimes marred his directorial work up until this point. Instead Schrader imbues the proceedings with a brisk intensity and an atmosphere of queasiness not so fully achieved in any Pinter-scripted films since The Servant and Accident, Pinter's first two collaborations with Joseph Losey.
As a tribute to the late Harold Pinter, FilmInFocus runs "a sequence of extracts taken from Pinter's own specially-written introductions to his Collected Screenplays, Volume I and Volume II, in which he remembers the [Joseph] Losey collaborations; and also some thoughts on the experience of working with Pinter from Paul Schrader, these taken from Schrader on Schrader (Faber and Faber, rev. ed, 2004, edited by Kevin Jackson). I loved what Schrader said: “I was pretty pleased with the way The Comfort of Strangers came out, and I loved working with Pinter. That was just a hoot - Harold is definitely a major customer…”
You can read in its entirety Watchmen producer’s "open letter" on HitFix, about the history of the production, its Hollywood support (or lack thereof) and the current quagmire. An excerpt:
The response we got from Fox was a flat "pass." That's it. An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of shit they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie - yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.
From the lips of The Wrestler Screenwriter, Robert Siegel
"Comedians are the darkest, most miserable souls in all of entertainment," he says. "The idea that a person with a comedy background would do something dark should not come as a shock to people with any exposure to comedy or darkness…" "When I was a comedy writer, I didn't have any intentions of being a screenwriter," he says. "When I was a screenwriter, I didn't have any intentions of becoming a director. I probably won't harbor any ambitions of becoming a studio chief. "I don't plan in that kind of way. I get a tiny bit bored, and then I get very ambitious."
Another Robert Siegel Interview
RS: That was a brief period in the middle, yeah. It originated with Mickey (Rourke.) Mickey was always the guy we wanted, but it was very difficult to get the funding with Mickey as the star, which is funny in retrospect, because now it’s become “The Mickey Rourke movie.” He’s the big attraction. But when we first started, he was kind of a liability - to financiers at least. You know, who wants to make a movie starring Mickey Rourke? We couldn’t even get the really low budget that we were asking for. We weren’t really looking to make a hundred million-dollar movie here. So at a certain point it seemed to Darren that it would be impossible to get it made with Mickey. And it felt like the only alternatives were to get somebody with more box office clout or don’t make it. So there was a brief period where Nick Cage was on board. And I know Darren went to one Ring of Honor (show with him.)… And it only lasted a week or two. And I think Darren did some soul searching and I talked about it with him. And he decided that, even if we have no money or next to nothing, we’re going to make this with Mickey because it’s the right call. And it’s hard now to imagine anyone else playing that role.
Sci Fi films, err, remakes in the works
Screen Australia new film funding guidelines won't help an ailing industry, argues Robert Miller at newmatilda, where Dan Edwards bemoans "an almost total absence of intelligent debate about our local screen culture." Geez...
Hollywood rarely did Donald Westlake justice
The late Donald E. Westlake wrote his books as if for the screen, and many made it there, but Hollywood just didn't seem to get it.
On the Character Backstory
It's not about dreaming up events and episodes from the past that you can 'tack on' to your character's life. You have to explore the possible impulses behind what he or she feels, what they do and want they want. Character backstory screenwriting has to be mostly about the emotional past life of a character because the story being told in this screenplay now is (or should be) driven by impulses already set in motion. Your character's backstory should feel to you that it doesn't 'end' where the story proper begins. It needs to be still there, under the surface. And if it's strong enough it will help immeasurably in creating a powerful screenplay.
David S. Goyer interview for The Unborn
Can you talk about the genesis of this idea?
I was in Chicago, visiting The Dark Knight set, and I was at dinner with my wife. I said, “Hey, you know what would be scary? If someone did a movie about a girl who has an unborn twin, and she is being haunted by the twin.” She said, “That’s fucked up.” I said, “Yeah, and the unborn twin” – I don’t know why I said this – “his nickname should have been Jumby! Someone will say, ‘Jumby wants to be born now.’ Hey, I think I’ll go write that.” So I did.
Which reminds me, here’s Manohla Dargis: "…the film teeters so perilously and routinely at the edge of camp, both with some of its casting choices and some unfortunate dialogue (the repeated warning that 'Jumby wants to be born now'), that it's hard to know if Mr Goyer wants to make us howl with fear or laughter."
Ya know, it always sounds good over dinner with drinks…
Good Sundance Films That Never Played Theatrically
Jolie worth her Salt
Angelina Jolie has replaced Tom Cruise in the new spy thriller Edwin A. Salt. The Changeling actress will play the role of a CIA officer who is accused of being a Russian spy and dodges being captured by superiors who are convinced she is out to assassinate the president. The film's screenwriter, Brian Helgeland, will have to make some adjustments to the script to accommodate for the fact that the main role will now be played by a female and the title will change slightly. Quoted in The Mail, a source said: "Angelina is determined to make sweeping changes before filming starts. She's demanding the writers improve the dialogue before she sets foot on set."
Yeah, that sounds like her.
On the Contest Circuit:
StoryPros Announces Quarterfinalists
WriteMovies.com Announces Contest #19 Results
Scriptapalooza Runner-Up Interviewed by Champaign News-Gazette
TCM made a nice vid honoring those who passed away last year: