Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 5/13/08

Hey guys,

What’s with all you screenwriting bloggers out there? Crickets are chirping in scribosphere! Write something brilliant!

tell me about it.



New Screenplays:

Iron Man - October 21, 2004 unspecified draft script by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar.

Speed Racer - January 4, 2007 first draft script by Larry & Andy Wachowski

Master and Commander: Far Side of the World - August 2001 draft by Peter Weir & John Collee

The Mist - August 5, 2005 revised draft script by Frank Darabont

Jumper - June 23, 2005 unspecified draft script by David S. Goyer

3:10 to Yuma - December 16, 2005 unspecified draft script by Michael Brandt & Derek Haas. Revisions by Stuart Beattie

The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford - August 17, 2005 final white draft script by Andrew Dominik

The Omen - september 8, 1975 revised draft script by David Seltzer

Damien: Omen II - September 19, 1977 final Shooting Draft by Stanley Mann and Mike Hodges

Omen III: The Final Conflict - January 3, 1980 third draft script by Andrew Birkin

Omen IV: Armageddon - February 24, 1983 final first draft script by Stanley Mann

Flight Plan - April 30, 2004 first polished draft script by Peter Dowling

(Hat-tip to


Julie Gray on Situation vs. Story
"What is the difference between a situation and a story - that is to say, a compelling crux of conflict big enough to cover three acts of your feature film? A situation is that I walk into a bank and it gets robbed. A story is it is being robbed by an inept man who needs the money for his lover's sex-change operation. A situation is I cover for my dragon-lady boss while she's away. A story is I cover for her, I do better than her, her boyfriend takes a shine to me and then she comes back, furious. A situation is I decide to put my child up for adoption. A story is that the couple adopting starts to fall apart from the inside out and meanwhile my due date is coming up fast. A situation is I decide to escort a criminal to the train station. A story is when his gang is close on my heels and then he escapes."

Laura Deerfield on The Essential Caesura
"Caesura is a literary term, referring, in poetry, to a pause that occurs naturally when a line is spoken. It is used purposefully, using the rhythms of speech to make it fall in a specific place, to create a desired effect, and can be soft (barely noticeable) or hard (as in a full stop, such as a period.) Without these little pauses, the words all run together an become meaningless. When used skillfully, they can not only add to the flow of a piece, but can actually create implied meaning. (For example, when I sing White Christmas, when I get to the line, 'everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,' I like to pause after 'turkey'. That pause give a whole new meaning to the line.) What I've noticed recently, is that there is some equivalent to the caesura in all art forms."

8 Things Modern Films Need to Stop Doing
"#5. Remaking every film ever made. There are so many great stories waiting to be told, but brand-name executives are relying on past successes to make profits. Sure, they’re less risk and less work, but when we resort to cannabilising the past we atrophy. We need new, different and exciting stories, we do not need to watch Ferris Bueller have another day off (you know it’s coming). Somewhere a great film is going unmade because they want to recast Karate Kid. Who can blame them? We all can."

Alan says you should learn how to make sandwiches.

Wollen’s Alphabet of Cinema
“A is for Aristotle … the first theorist of film”; “B is not for Brecht, although of course it could be. Or even for B-movies, much as I always loved them. It is for Bambi”; C for Cinephilia; “D must certainly be for Daney, but it is also for Dance—Vincente Minnelli and Gene Kelly”; E for Eisenstein, a “ruined filmmaker, an image-maker ‘haunted by writing’ (Daney’s phrase), by the shot as ideogram, obsessed with the synchronization of sound, movement and image”; F for film festival; G for Godard, “for anti-tradition”; “H is for Hitchcocko-Hawksianism—and a pathway towards avant-garde film”; I for Industry and Ince; J for Japan; “K is for Kane, the film maudit par excellence”; L for Lumière; M for Méliès; N for Narrative; O for Online; “P is personal—for The Passenger, a film directed by Antonioni, which I wrote with my script-writing partner Mark Peploe”; Q for Bazin’s Qu’est-ce que le cinéma?; R for Rossellini, Rome Open City, Renoir, and Rules of the Game; S for Sternberg, Shanghai Gesture, and Surrealism; T for Telecinema, Third Dimension (3D), and Television; U for Underground Film; V for Voyeurism; W for Snow’s Wavelength; “X stands for an unknown quantity—for the strange fascination that makes us remember a particular shot or a particular camera movement”; Y for Les Yeux sans Visage, Franju’s Eyes without a Face; Z for the final frame of the zoom shot, Hollis Frampton’s Zorn’s Lemma, and for Zero.”

Bordwell on Branagh’s Hamlet
"Scale of time also matters. By playing the full version, Branagh can give full weight to the father/ son parallels that riddle the play. If Olivier’s Hamlet was about a son’s love for his mother, Branagh makes the play about the strife between fathers and sons, with women caught in the middle. Hamlet Sr./ Hamlet Jr., Claudius/ Hamlet, Jr., Polonius/ Laertes, old Norway/ Fortinbras, and even the Player’s speech about the murder of Priam: the parallels are in Shakespeare’s text but played out at proper length they snap into sharp relief. Once Laertes is off to Paris, Polonius makes sure he’s spied on, just as Claudius orders Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern to watch Hamlet. In his turn, Hamlet assigns Horatio surveillance duty during the play-within-a-play (a piece of action nicely caught in the opera glasses that Branagh’s choice of period allows). Branagh’s decision to emphasize the military politics around Fortinbras’ march into Denmark helps justify the 70mm format and his decision to set the action in late nineteenth-century Europe; it also allows him to expand, through crosscutting set up early in the movie, the plot of another son at odds with his father."

Can Leo actually hurt a script sale?
"A week doesn't go by without Brett Ratner, Ridley Scott and/or Leonardo DiCaprio attaching themselves to a new handful of scripts. Or at least that's how it appears. But does it ever dilute the writer's negotiating power when the talent's hearty "maybe" joins a dozen other "maybe" commitments to other projects around town? Having an actor or director attached to your script can certainly increase your sale price, but a good rule of thumb may be this: If your talent is publicly attached to more projects than you have zeroes in the offered purchase price, ask yourself whether it's important that your film actually gets made. And beyond that, beware of anecdotal evidence that an overbooked or underwhelming attachment can negatively affect your negotiation."

NYTimes reports that the negative Indiana Jones reviews that leaked last week was actually from “a theater executive who saw the film at an exhibitors’ screening this week.” And that “Theater executives may have an incentive to play down a movie’s prospects after such a screening, to get better terms.”

BioShock Writer & Director Announced
“According to a press release on Take-Two Interactive's official web site ‘the prospect of bringing this blockbuster game to life has attracted not only a major studio, but top Hollywood talent. Gore Verbinski, director of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, is slated to direct and produce the BioShock movie. John Logan, Academy Award-nominated writer... is in talks to do the screenplay.”

Interview With Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg

A 14-essay package on Godzilla
“Godzilla was once, as conventional wisdom would have it, a stand-in for the unspeakable violence of the atom bomb and by extension humanity's perennial, inscrutable drive toward self-destruction,' says PopMatters writer, Mike Ward, "But the history of Godzilla is also one of a gradual cultural transformation, whereby this self-destructive drive persists, but awareness of it is gradually lost - replaced by collective hubris...'" Karen Zarker introduces the 14-essay package: "Our writers contemplate his transition from bringer of Armageddon to bringer of agathon, a fierce and ironic comfort to children who sense that theirs is a dangerous world. Godzilla understands."

The Billion Dollar Club

Favreau on the Iron Man 2 Sequel ideas
"Demon in a Bottle is one of the very strongest story lines of the series, and Iron Man is not a comic book character who is known for having wonderful storylines. He’s known for having great suits, great characters, but the villains kind of get thin at times, and it’s so very dated when you look at Communism and the metaphor. Politically, much of it doesn’t hold up well. And the Mandarin is incredibly challenging in that respect. So we have challenges ahead of us. Demon in a Bottle tends to be one that, from a storytelling perspective, is compelling to all of us."

Kyle Ward has a deal with the devil
“Lionsgate picked up the rights to Alias Enterprise's comic book Deal With the Devil. Screenwriter Kyle Ward has been hired to adapt from Mike Miller's source material. Ward brought the property to the studio's attention and is co-producing alongside David Tischman and Lisa Brause. Alias' official synopsis for the story reads: Anthony Goodwin is one of the best manhunters in the history of the FBI. In his final case, his prey, Kevin Runyan, became his hunter, and his career took a turn for the worse as he was critically injured and the suspect vanished without a trace. But four years later, his nemesis returns to ask for his help, and the former detective is forced to make a choice: to help the man stop a dangerous copycat killer or to avenge the wrongs committed in the past.

Above is the
Screenwriter Agency-Hopscotch For Visual Learners
Why the hopscotch? From Variety: “Writers and their agents say that the post-writers strike and pre-actors strike funk has ramped up agency raiding of rival clients...Add in stress-inducing factors — expected post-strike writing assignments that never materialized; studios squeezing quotes on the few jobs that do exist; studios having filled out slates through 2009; and the lack of greenlights until a SAG deal is in place — and the combination is a perfect storm of anxiety that has made talent, writers included, particularly susceptible to sweet talk from other agents.”

Screenwriting spouses move to WMA
"Husband and wife screenwriting duo Cormac and Marianne Wibberley have signed with WMA for representation in all areas. The Wibberleys' career spans 12 years, focusing mainly on the action film genre. The duo's credits include the "National Treasure" franchise, "Bad Boys II" and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." They are working on the script for the remake of "Fantastic Voyage" for Fox, which is being produced by James Cameron and Roland Emmerich, who also is directing. The Wibberleys left UTA a month ago."

Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures are closing, it was announced by Alan Horn, president & COO of Warner Bros." Variety has the story; Anne Thompson has the press release.

Tracie "Slut Machine" Egan explains the pitfalls of being a sex writer
"Jezebel writer Slut Machine, also known as Tracie Egan has written a very thoughtful column called The Sexist Business of being a Sex Writer. Egan, or Mistress Machine, talks about all of the horrible judgments people make about her, simply because she is open about the fact that the girl loves her some sex. She says that despite her clearly stating over and over again that the only void she's trying to fill is the 'one between my legs', she gets shit on because of her sex life. People not only tell her she has psychological and emotional problems, but that she's basically asking for all of the hate mail and nasty comments she gets because she's a sex writer. To that, Tracie says, 'Fuck. That. Shit. I don't have to accept it. I refuse to accept it. Mostly because I know that this wouldn't happen if I were a man.'"

Alex on hiring playwrights for TV shows
“TV is about the words, the action, the framing, and the editing. They are different media. And therefore, they use different flavors of dialog. So play dialog tends to be expansive and wordy. It is often stylized. Mamet's characters all speak Mamet-speak. TV dialog is terse. If a character has more than three sentences strung together, it's a big deal. Plays have huge ole chunks of dialog, character arias, often about the past. TV rarely describes the past, and tries to avoid referring to it. You can go hours on TV without hearing a character say, "You remember when...?" and then recounting an event in it its entirety that both characters remember perfectly well.”

"The first time I saw The Tracey Fragments, I felt as if I was seeing a revolution in film form, a new visual concept that made us process images in a fundamentally different way," writes Dan Sallitt in the Auteurs' Notebook. "And the second time I saw it, I realized that you could play the soundtrack in your living room and enjoy the film without ever looking at it. I wonder whether these seemingly contradictory impressions are related.... The Tracey Fragments is not the first film to use paneled images, but it's the first feature-length narrative that I know of that relies on paneling as its basic method of visual communication, that dispenses with the safety net of the full-frame image." And he offers "a partial, not terribly rigorous taxonomy of the effects I noted in Tracey."

Ted on the screenwriting for The Fountainhead
“It also brings up what is the major, and fairly well-deserved, criticism of The Fountainhead: its woeful screenplay. Ayn Rand wanted to make sure that the vision she presented in the novel would survive on screen, and so she took on the task of writing the screenplay. However, it's patently obvious that she had no idea of how to write an effective screenplay, especially the idea that what it takes to write a good book isn't the same as what you need for a good screenplay. The dialog is lifted in large parts straight out of the book, which causes serious problems whenever one of the characters delivers an extended soliloquy. While this makes for a terribly flawed movie, it doesn't hurt the book so much. Indeed, the book is quite good...”

"Something like a pain-fueled, R-rated Princess Bride, The Fall straddles the intertwined worlds of storytelling and story," writes Nick Pinkerton in the Voice. "If the human details are often problematic, the IMAX-grade bombast, ceremonial camera, and Jodorowsky-esque eclecticism still combine for a singular spectacle." "As in [Tarsem's] The Cell, the plot is a feeble framing device for what is, no more and no less, a wearying nosedive through a self-indulgent imagination, a succession of allusive images and Baraka-style jaunts to modern and ancient corners of the globe, and though The Fall lacks for the alluring empathy Jennifer Lopez brought to The Cell, it achieves something close to it through Catinca Untaru," writes Ed Gonzalez in Slant.

Evan Goldberg on Screenwriting & 'Superbad'
‘Superbad’ began its life in Goldberg and Rogen’s pre-adolescent minds and took over a decade to bring to fruition. When Rogen, then an aspiring actor in Los Angeles, got the chance to show the script to producer Judd Apotow, it was a case of, Goldberg says “right spot, right moment”, and their dream of ‘Superbad’ reaching the big screen finally become a reality. “We started writing it when I was 12 and Seth was 13. We worked on it consistently for ten years trying to make it into a film, we never stopped, every week we would probably have a discussion about it and this went on for ten years.”

Jeff Goldsmith’s Podcast interview with On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd screenwriter, Budd Schulberg.

"I grew up in the era of the term 'hermaphrodite,' which I now learn - via
Lucía Puenzo's mostly fascinating and deeply-felt movie XXY - is politically incorrect. The term used should be 'intersex.' Until I was well into adulthood, I thought that hermaphrodites were more legendary than real. My movie experience of them came mostly from crass, sleazy and enormously entertaining films like Larry Cohen's God Told Me To. (Aren't most of Larry Cohen films crass, sleazy and enormously entertaining?) Puenzo's XXY is something else. It begins in media res, and, in fact, ends there, too. But, oh, in the middle of the middle, what people, events and feelings do we meet, witness and experience! Puenzo is simply terrific at guiding us into her characters' emotional states - even though we don't always know what is causing these states. But because this writer/director puts us so quickly and deeply into the feelings of her people, it is difficult not to respond with empathy, as we slowly learn what is going on, and why."
here to continue reading.)

Apparently, Australian screenwriters suck – who knew?
"The debate about how to improve Australian screenwriting continues, with News Ltd film writer Andrew Fenton weighing in on Friday with a well-researched discussion of the industry's woes (failure to attract significant audiences, etc.) followed today by an assessment of the screenwriting problems that have been much featured on this blog over the last few months… 'Australian screenwriters are immature, their screenplays are not properly developed; not ambitious enough; too parochial; have no emotional dynamics; they tell instead of show; and they all too often produce works that seem like large scale telemovies, without any true understanding of the art of cinema."

Robert Towne and the Kanvar Award
"In person, Robert Towne looks every inch the survivor of the Seventies New Hollywood that he is. Tall, white-maned and white-bearded, he settles on the Kabuki Theatre stage, where he is to receive the Kanvar Award given annually to honor distinguished screenwriters at the San Francisco International Film Festival. He’s courteous but wryly guarded as author (and film noir specialist) Eddie Muller begins the interview by dropping the L-word (as in “legendary”) on the guest’s lap. “It’s a bit of a mixed blessing,” Towne muses of the accolade. “Like I’m getting ready for the waxworks.” As the writer of such Seventies favorites as The Last Detail and Chinatown (to say nothing of oft-uncredited contributions to The Godfather, The Parallax View, and The Yakuza), he’s certainly earned the right to bathe in such praise. Yet one understands Towne’s note of rue: Still sharp as a shiv and filled with ideas for projects, he is nevertheless weary of the way things have changed since “the old days,” and, following frustrating experiences directing his most personal projects, has apparently accepted the role of Hollywood’s resident script-doctor."

Mamet Interview on Redbelt
ComingSoon.net: Was it difficult getting this film greenlit?
David Mamet: Yeah, nobody wanted it in Hollywood except for Sony Classics. I think it was my third or fourth film for them, so they said, "Yeah, sure." I talked to everybody in Hollywood and said, "If you don't get it, look at the demographics. This is the hugest demographics in the world of young males 18 to 25. They all watch the UFC. Look at what they did last year in DVDs, are you nuts? If they make the worst movie ever made, all these kids are going to watch their movie. Guess who I'm going to put in it," and they all said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, no thanks," They all want to make movies about people standing up on a beach with their arms spread, looking up at the heavens, and twirling because they've understood the meanings of life, and they have.

Kim Morgan on Six Stanwyck Noir Films
“I've been neck-deep in noir (a good thing). And I’ll get to all of it later (interviewing Marsha Hunt and Eddie Muller at the Egyptian, watching the amazing Wicked Woman and Cry of the Hunted, Peter Lorre, Steve Cochran, Jack Elam…there’s so much to process) but for now, I’m turning to Barbara. Before I dive into Beverly Michaels (and I will -- that woman was a revelation), here are six Stanwyck noir and one Sirk for measure. You can’t deny yourself the Sirk.”

Original ‘Robocop’ Screenwriter Champions Franchise’s Return
“I would love to make a ‘Robocop’ movie,” declared Ed Neumeier, the original screenwriter of Paul Verhoeven’s classic before comic creator Frank Miller took over scripting reigns for the film’s sequels.

British screenwriter Taylor holds “Pinocchio” workshop in Iran

Twitter Along With Diablo Cody!

Screenwriter talks GRUDGE 3

'Cloverfield' director delays sequel

Nine Cursed Hollywood Films
Well, you may have heard reports that things aren't going smoothly for the James Bond crew, which has led some to think the film is cursed. It wouldn't be the first time, and the L.A. Times shares a look at nine cursed films from Hollywood history.

DreamWorks is ready to bolt from Paramount
"DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen has been on his yacht in Tahiti since late March, but even from that distant tropical isle, his intentions have been made loud and clear -- DreamWorks' top creative team is planning to leave the Paramount lot, a departure spurred by an endless loop of animosity between Geffen and Viacom chief Sumner Redstone and Paramount chief Brad Grey. According to an existing series of contractual outs, Geffen can announce his departure in August, creating an opening for co-founder Steven Spielberg to depart in October, triggering a key-man clause allowing DreamWorks chief executive Stacey Snider to leave as well."

Steven Soderbergh will direct The Girlfriend Experience, a drama set in the world of prostitution written by his Ocean's Thirteen scribes Brian Koppelman and David Levien.

United Artists has hired 24 creator Joel Surnow
to pen an untitled contemporary spy thriller that will be directed by Bond franchise vet Martin Campbell.

MGM continues
its spec-buying frenzy with Michael Galvin and Peter Speakman's Executive VP David M. Murch's Adventures in Zametherea, a comedy about an investment banker who gets a chance to revisit a land he created in his childhood imagination.

Ten terrible cinematic superheroes
In celebration of the release of Jon Favreau's 'Iron Man', Time Out offers a list of the ten worst cinematic superheros of all time


On the Contest Circuit:

ASA Announces Semifinalists

Script Savvy Announces March Winners

TVWriter.com Announces Spec Scriptacular Winners

TVWriter.com Announces People's Pilot Winners

MoviePoet Announces March Contest Winners

StoryPros Announces Quarterfinalists

Sundance Announces June Screenwriters Lab Participants

Bare Bones Film Festival Announces Contest Results


And finally

Wall*E Vignettes:


Anonymous said...

A BioShock movie? That undermines the whole reason why the game was good.
So rarely does a game have this kind of storytelling, and it is exactly what made the story good.
Now I'm supposed to trust a blockbuster game-to-movie adaptation to keep this in spirit? For all I know, it'll probably turn out to be an underwater-city zombie thriller. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

MM, you have to be the hardest working blogger on the planet. There's not a team of you, is there?

Thanks for the shout-out. And kudos on such an important blog. An oxymoron if ever there was one, but with you it's apt.

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