Sunday, October 19, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 10/19/08

Hey guys,

More script sales mentioned
here. I feel like writing some Clash of the Titans script reviews this week (including Kasdan’s draft).

Hope you guys are doing well!



New Screenplay

Superman Returns – 1/12/05 draft.


How to Write a Pitch
If you're writing a pitch, do not tell me visual details. Do not tell me any details that aren't story elements. Don't tell me what the extras are doing. Just tell me the story.

A secret industry shortlist of the UK's best unproduced scripts
Ever heard of Matt Greenhalgh? How about Adrian Hodges? No? Yet the films they have written have had audiences flocking to them and their latest work has made a secret industry shortlist of the UK's best unproduced scripts. The Brit List comprises the most recommended screenplays by UK and Irish writers that are yet to be put into production. It is a showcase for new and established talent, and it has executives buzzing on both sides of the Atlantic...

Art Linson’s Golden Rules for surviving Hollywood
1. Learn to cup your hands and bow like a Croatian maitre d’.
This is a good plan when you are first trying to get started because moviemaking is a team sport. You’re going to need help from lots of talented people, untalented people and particularly people who have checkbooks. Of course, once you have a big hit, you can always resort to being an outrageous prick, if that’s what pleases you. The only caution here is that a hit, at most, buys you 36 months. So if you cannot back it up with another hit right away, you better not lose the art of bowing and genuflecting.

I also loved number 4…

4. “F*#k me, but this time I really mean it.”
There is a language in the movie business filled with nuance and deception. Learning to read between the lines is an essential part of the survival kit, because rarely does anyone, friend or adversary, say what he or she really means—especially as it relates to the work. A director friend of mine, walking out of his shaky film preview, was told by the studio executive, “It’s good.” “Good is good!” the director gleefully replied. The exec smiled, “Good is always good.” The following week, the studio promptly shelved the movie. Months later, when given an accidental second-chance screening in Cannes, the same movie garnered rave reviews. Immediately, the same executive called the director and shrieked, “It’s good, but this time I really mean it!” Follow the numbers; follow the money. The noise cannot be trusted. And if you ever hear, “You know I’m rooting for you,” cross that person off your guest list.

Queen Of Sky Plans on Feature Film
Hiltz Squared Media Group this week optioned the rights to former flight attendant Ellen Simonetti's semi-autobiographical novel, "Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant: The Queen of Sky Blog." Hiltz Squaredhas commissioned Simonetti to write a screenplay based on the book. Simonetti, in turn, has launched an interactive blog about the writing of the screenplay, complete with scene snippets, plot outlines, and polls.

On the death of Lethal Weapon 5, the history of Richard Donner’s Career, and Future Direction for the Man of Steel
"I do think you could probably take Superman into some other areas today. I think maybe it's ready to break the mold slightly and bring a little greater sense of reality into it. Not contemporizing it to like today. Just making the heavies -- and the situation that is the tension piece -- a little more broken away from the comic-book character. It would take some tricky writing, some good acting and some good directing." (Goonies sequel is dead, too.)

"Gomorra" author to flee Italy after mafia death threats
The author of the best-selling book "Gomorra" about the mafia in Naples, which has been made into a hit movie, wants to leave Italy to try to have a more normal life after reports that the mob wants him dead by Christmas. After reports that the "Camorra", as the Naples mafia is known, has added urgency in its threat to kill Roberto Saviano, the 29-year-old who has been in hiding for two years said he was tired of being a "prisoner" of his book's success.

Watch History Channel’s Batman Unmasked, a psychological look at Batman, over at Always Watching: “Not only does it delve into the mindset of the caped crusader, but it also offers some incredible parallels between him and Theodore Roosevelt and shows how religious iconography had a lot to do with the creation of 'the Batman.' Additionally, it provides brief insight into the driving force that propells other characters like The Joker and Catwoman.

Empire Magazine offers a first look at Brad Pitt in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Here’s another one from Tarantino archives:

Elton John is writing a musical for Ben Stiller.

Free Screenwriting Workshop in NYC

Video clips of The Wrestler.

Iron Man Writers Want Hulk To Be The Avengers Villain

British scriptwriter of Slumdog Millionaire Loves India
British writer Simon Beaufoy, who spent considerable time here to pen the script of Slumdog Millionaire, says the experience has changed his life.”It was incredibly rewarding for me. I’ve been writing for 12 years. I’ve been brought up on a British tradition of screenwriting. In India, I found that to be a completely inappropriate way of writing. Now after writing Slumdog Millionaire, I can’t go back to writing the way I used to,” Beaufoy told IANS.

Cameron Crowe’s
Tropical Rom Com Details Revealed

Star Trek photos here, here, and here. Interview and plot details here. During a recent online chat with The Guardian, JJ Abrams was asked why he got involved in the film: “It didn’t feel like a classic reboot or prequel. It is a brand new thing inspired by characters that are poised to make a big comeback.” Abrams also insists that the film’s running time won’t be much longer than 120 minutes, ranting to MTV that he’s “sick of these two hours and forty-five minute movies.” Trek Movie is reporting that the first trailer will hit theaters in November, possibly attached to Sony's Quantum of Solace.

BTW - Paramount has
reduced their yearly film output to 20 movies.

Screenwriting zone?
“An agent recently asked me what ‘zone’ I write in. What does that mean?!” (A response: “Tell him you write in the ‘danger zone’.”)

Bourne born again in original screenplay
Universal studios announced yesterday that it has hired writer George Nolfi to pen an original screenplay for its fourth film in the series. What's that you say? Wasn't last year's The Bourne Ultimatum supposed to be the final movie? Well yes indeed, but that was before it made £254m at the worldwide box office, becoming one of the studio's highest-grossing films of all time in the process.

EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Perry And WGA Settle

Sleeper has a writer
Warner Bros. has tapped Brad Ingelsby to write Sleeper, an adaptation of the DC Comics/Wildstorm comic being produced by Sam Raimi with Star Road Entertainment partner Josh Donen. The comic, written by Ed Brubaker, centers on an operative whose fusion with an alien artifact makes him impervious to pain and allows him to pass the ability on to others through skin contact. (Which is strange because a couple months ago it was announced that Tom Cruise would star in an adaptation of the Wildstorm comic book Sleeper for producer Sam Raimi. Apparently, it’s not that firm if they picked a newbie writer.)

Alan Moore Talks Watchmen Movie-- In 1987
Ever wonder what made Alan Moore such a cranky, Hollywood-hating kook in the first place? Turns out it didn't come from too many viewings of The Fantastic Four or various other bastardizations of comic books. Long before Moore swore off all involvement with any movie adaptations of his work -- including the upcoming Watchmen -- he put his creation in the hands of a screenwriter, and got burned so badly he never dared do it again.

The Universe According to Kaufman
“Synecdoche” (sih-NECK-doh-key) is not exactly a starter movie, reflecting the awkward work of a first-timer feeling his way. After seeing it at this year’s Cannes film festival A. O. Scott wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Kaufman managed to create “a seamless and complicated alternate reality.” From a cinematic perspective it is a ferociously realized piece of work that will have people talking for years. Among the things that they will be chattering over? “What was that about?”

When Greed Became Good on Wall Street
"It was just a fluke," says Weiser. Oliver Stone had asked him to write a movie about the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. But then he started noticing all the interesting stories in the business section of the newspaper. "There were a lot of insider trading scandals that had come to light," says Weiser, "and he knew that was the more important issue — he told me to go off and work on that instead." At that point, Weiser knew little about the financial world. So he went to Wall Street and spent time with brokers and read up on all the big players. Out of his research, he created the character of Gordon Gekko, a ruthless and incredibly wealthy corporate raider.

And they’re moving forward on a Wall Street sequel
Reports from Hollywood said on Monday that the movie studio is moving full steam ahead with the followup to the seminal 1980s film about the suspender-strapping world of high finance from that decade. Allan Loeb, the screenwriter who penned the film 21, is set to write the movie. Mr. Loeb has some financial cred: he’s a former trader who worked at the Chicago Board of Trade, according to Variety. (I heard it’s a page-one rewrite of a rumored bad draft by Stephen Schiff.)

O, Prince! How Clear You Are on Blu-ray
Those colors practically soar off the screen in the new Blu-ray version of Sleeping Beauty that Disney released last week, making it the first of this studio’s perennials to appear in that new, high-definition format. It’s an appropriate choice, given that Sleeping Beauty was itself a product of a high-definition technology of its time, shot in a process, Super Technirama, that yielded 70-millimeter prints with an aspect ratio almost as wide as that of Cinerama. Equipped with six-channel stereo sound (remixed to DTS 7.1 for the Blu-ray release, though the original tracks are also included), Sleeping Beauty thundered forth on Jan. 29, 1959, an imposing embodiment of American technology at its grandest and most self-confident.

Catholic tongues are wagging about Eszterhas’ conversion
CLEVELAND (CNS) -- The Gospel of Luke's prodigal son has nothing on Joe Eszterhas. A self-described "Hollywood animal," Eszterhas is best known for writing such adult-themed thrillers as Basic Instinct and Jagged Edge. He is a guy who seemed to live his earlier life as if the seven deadly sins were a personal to-do list. But then Eszterhas found God. Or as Eszterhas writes in his latest memoir, "Crossbearer," God found him. Today, the man who once was the center of attention at exclusive Hollywood restaurants, enjoys the easygoing community spirit of sharing a meal with his wife, Naomi, and the couple's four sons at a Lenten fish fry at Holy Angels Parish, in suburban Bainbridge, where he often carries the cross at Mass. A screenwriter who describes his younger self as arrogant and full of hubris now reads the works of Trappist Father Thomas Merton and Dutch-born Father Henri Nouwen for spiritual guidance. Days that once started and ended with cigarettes and gin, now are filled with prayer and quiet walks in nature.

Analysis of Pulp Fiction dialogue

Screenwriter talks about pesky Green Lantern Rumors
Guggenheim also slams down the speculation that Lantern may be affected by the Warner Bros. "revamp". "I don't even know, from what I've observed, if I would characterize it as a revamp," he says. "I know a lot's been made in newspapers and magazines about a revamping of DC's approach. That hasn't been my sense." "Maybe a focusing; maybe a ratcheting up of pace and energy. Whatever it's been, it really hasn't affected this project in the least. All the drafts have come in on schedule. All the notes have been the same kind of notes that we would have gotten in the absence of any 'revamping.'"

So who’ll get a screenwriting nom for an Oscar?
Of all the major Oscar categories, perhaps none are more accommodating to dark horses than the screenplay. As the category that once crowned Billy Bob Thornton a better writer than Arthur Miller, it's hard to write anyone off. Perhaps the most likely dark horse this year is, appropriately, The Dark Knight, which was not only the year's most popular movie, but also one of its most critically successful. The Academy may previously have been loath to bestow top honors on a comic book movie, but... Nolan's weighty script all but reinvents the genre and has a sporting chance to be among the final five.

London fest unveils industry program
LONDON -- Filmmaker Atom Egoyan, novelist and screenwriter David Nicholls and storyboard artist Temple Clark are just three of the names signed up to support the Think-Shoot-Distribute industry program running alongside the Times BFI London Film Festival next week. The five-day industry event, backed by Skillset and Film London, aims to unite 28 emerging producers, screenwriters, directors and writer-directors with international industryites for a series of workshops and master classes that will explore the creative, technical and business aspects of the international feature film industry.

Ridley Scott Takes on “Forever War”
Fox 2000 has acquired rights to Joe Haldeman’s 1974 novel "The Forever War," and Ridley Scott is planning to make it into his first science fiction film since he delivered back-to-back classics with Blade Runner and Alien. Scott intended to follow those films with "The Forever War," but rights complications delayed his plans for more than two decades.

Dreamworks’ Deal with Universal
DreamWorks has nailed down its seven-year distribution pact with Universal — as expected — but there are several aspects of the deal that stand out. In the end, there was no bidding war for DreamWorks pics. Universal will commit $150 million to the new venture and will collect an 8% distribution fee. Par will still be distributing many films before and after the new U deal takes effect. Disney supposedly had engaged in casual talks with DreamWorks principals Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider, but the Universal deal had been expected given U’s longstanding ties with the pair.

On Getting a Headshot
Warner Bros. has acquired screen rights to "Headshot," a three-book graphic novel series by Alexis Nolent that was published in France by Casterman. Alessandro Camon has been set to write the script… In "Headshot," an unlikely alliance between a cop and a hitman takes place after each watches his partner die. The new partners seek revenge and discover they have a shared enemy and much in common despite being on opposite sides of the law.

Tim Burton talks about Alice in Wonderland
"It's a funny project. The story is obviously a classic with iconic images and ideas and thoughts. But with all the movie versions, well, I've just never seen one that really had any impact to me. It's always just a series of weird events. Every character is strange and she's just kind of wandering through all of the encounters as just a sort of observer. The goal is to try to make it an engaging movie where you get some of the psychology and kind of bring a freshness but also keep the classic nature of 'Alice.' And, you know, getting to do it in 3-D fits the material quite well. So I'm excited about making it a new version but also have the elements that people expect when they think of the material."

Jenny Lumet shares Creative Journey

Interview with Twilight Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg
When did the voiceover come into play?
You know, it was Catherine that suggested I use voiceover. Because, you know, for screenwriters, they always say voiceover is a big no-no, although we do use a lot of voiceover on "Dexter." But voiceover, anywhere, is really hard to write. But it was Catherine who said, "I think you should use it." So we started using it very sparingly, because in the movie you really need to know what is going on inside her head and bring the audience along with her.


Quantum of Solace Round-Up:

Geoffrey McNab notes that Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster has "talked about Bond as if the secret agent was a latter day Hamlet - a character who beneath his hard shell is vulnerable and repressed. The way he explores the tortured psyche of cinema's favorite spy isn't through lengthy dialogue sequences - it's through action. There is something desperate about Bond. [Daniel] Craig plays him with a gimlet-eyed intensity that makes his first turn in the role in Casino Royale seem lightweight. David Arnold's rousing score seems to be driving him on.... Quantum of Solace doesn't seem like a major entry in the Bond canon. Well under two hours long, it's shorter and more frenetic than most of its predecessors, and an often-jolting experience to watch. Loose ends about. What it does have, though, above all, is vigor. The franchise hasn't run out of juice quite yet."

Also in the Independent,
Macnab offers a "brief history of the Bond villain," while James Mottram profiles the new Bond girl, Gemma Arterton, Charlotte Cripps chats with Roger Moore, and Alicia Keys looks back on the good time she had making Another Way to Die, this film's theme tune.

"What makes Marc Forster's film such an intriguing watch is that this is the first of the 22 Bond movies where the plot flows organically from the last instalment, and Quantum of Solace looks a far stronger picture for this rare continuity," writes
James Christopher.

Also in the London Times, which has opened up a
special section devoted to the movie:

Joanna Lumley looks back "40 years, to my own dalliance with Bond, being brainwashed by Blofeld, and two months of luxurious captivity a hilltop hideaway in Switzerland. It was 1968, I was 22, George Lazenby had been picked to play James Bond for the first (and last) time, and I was about to become a Bond Girl."

Kevin Maher talks with "new Bond baddie," Simon Kassianides.

Nigel Kendall cringes at some of the worst moments in the history of the franchise.

"I've got to admit that this didn't excite me as much as Casino Royale and the villain is especially underpowered," writes the Guardian's
Peter Bradshaw. "But Craig personally has the chops, as they say in Hollywood. He's made the part his own, every inch the coolly ruthless agent-cum-killer, nursing a broken heart and coldly suppressed rage."

"Craig's second outing as the famous so-called "spy" - actually, when you think about it, an assassin - turns out to be a tale of revenge."
Mark Monahan notes that opening of Quantum, like many of its best scenes "owes much to the quick-fire editing of the Bourne thrillers. Also in the Telegraph: a James Bond "homepage."

"[W]hat this film does differently is to focus closely on an emotionally battered Bond, his mission and his motivation," writes
Lizo Mzimba for the BBC. "As ever the end credits promise that James Bond will return, and thanks to Quantum of Solace, the sense of anticipation for this should be particularly high. Not to see what super villain Bond will be battling, but to discover what the next stage will be in a character that Daniel Craig has managed to reinvent and develop movie by movie."


On the Contest Circuit

FirstGlance Announces Semifinalists


And Finally

15 Minutes with James Cameron:


David Alan said...

Queen of Sky -- "It will feature a Bridget Jones-esque international flight attendant whose colorful blog helps her navigate the ups and downs of her life and ultimately transforms her completely."

What’s the over-under on her being canned after the first draft? I kid. Settle down.

The death of Lethal Weapon 5 -- Yeah, I think Hollywood has raped enough of my favorite characters. So, naturally, it’s nice to see this go by the wayside. Really, Lethal Weapon has run its course. There is nothing left to explore character wise. The only sad part is we don’t get to see what Shane Black came up with.

As far as Superman is concerned, it’ll only be good once a few things happen -- Metropolis given a physical local, Superman given a real villain, the CGI toned down, the title updated to Man of Steel -- and brining Superman to our level through a character change. Again, I only believe such a change can happen if (Cover your eyes Mystery Man) Lois is severely harmed or killed. That’s the only way to get him to question his purpose and faith in mankind. It’d also be a good way to show he’s just as fallible as us. Basically, it’d give him something to overcome that isn’t physical.

And who cares about the Goonies? I have never understood what people saw in that movie.

Inglourious Basterds -- Is that an ascot around Pitts neck? Hahaha...

Also, it’s really sad that I have to look up how to spell the misspelled title correctly. What a mouthful that sentence was, huh? Damn.

Iron Man Writers Want... -- How about no?

Star Trek -- I’ll wait to see the "official trailer" before I say no. As it stands, I haven’t liked any of the casting picks. They don’t seem adequate. "Adequate" as in they don’t look like they can fill the shoes of the iconic characters they are playing.

Paramount has reduced their... -- This doesn’t surprise me. I mean, they haven’t had a hit in a long time and should think about new management. DreamWorks walked away for a reason.

Bourne Again -- Why am I not surprised? These morons just don’t get it. Characters drive stories. When the character’s story is over, it's really over! Nothing left to tell. So just stop!

Wall Street -- Again, how about no? Douglas would be smart to runaway from this. Just don’t see it overcoming the same problems of all the Iraq and War on Terror movies. People don’t care what some movie has to say about a situation they are living through. I certainly don’t.

Green Lantern Rumors -- "Maybe a focusing; maybe a ratcheting up of pace and energy. Whatever it's been, it really hasn't affected this project in the least."

What? Who would want such a thing? That’s just crazy talk.

Screenwriting Oscar -- No contest. The Nolan Bros. should get it.

Ridley Scott Takes on "Forever War" -- Didn’t he just make this movie with Leonardo DiCaprio? No? Well, okay. But it sure-as-hell felt like forever watching Body of Lies. One would think that a thriller would be, you know, thrilling. No-matter, I could go on and on about the shit that is Body of Lies. My point, maybe Scott can redeem himself now that he’s in familiar territory. Here’s hoping there won’t be a bullshit love story...or Russell Crowe.

Alice in Wonderland -- They couldn’t have picked a better person to direct this than Tim Burton. Can’t wait.

Twilight -- The trailer at the very best looks decent...and now this? It seems like they are trying to be faithful to the book and author of said book, which I get and appreciate...but, yeah...there are far better ways to let the audience know what is going on inside the main character’s head. You know what I’m talking about. No need to say it.

Quantum of Solace -- This movie is going to fucking rock despite the crappy theme song. Even if you are not a fan of the Bond franchise, it’ll still drag you in due to the great performance Craig delivers. It’s all about character...and the fact that the filmmakers have elevated the series above the typical Bond shit. Man, I can not wait to see this movie. And I want to see where they crashed those Aston Martin cars.

James Cameron -- This guy is consistent. Say what you will of his style or whatever. The man is consistent. Hit after hit. Who else can boast that?

Anyway, I expect nothing short of awesomeness when Avatar comes out.

-- David Alan

Laura Deerfield said...

Alice in Wonderland - awesome, looking forward to it

Quantum of Solace - will rock (despite the title)

But what I keep coming back to is "Elton John Writing Songs For Ben Stiller Musical"... uh, wha? and actually reading the article doesn't help. An AIDS musical comedy? Uh.

I had to check and see whether the article was published back on April 1st.

Laura Deerfield said...

PS Davind, I'm sure you'll consider me a fool for it, but I loved Body of Lies. I loved the slower pace, and the moral ambiguity. I'm in agreement with James Berardinelli - "For those who care about there being more to a thriller than pointless car chases and over-edited fight sequences, Body of Lies offers a satisfying dose of truth." Felt more like a movie made in the 70s

David Alan said...

Laura -- Forget about the ridiculous ending, bullshit love interest, and Crowe’s pointless part, Body of Lies mainly suffers from its disjointed, meandering, overlong structure. I don’t mind slow burning thrillers, but this one didn’t even try to engage me from the start. I’m still waiting for the story to kick in.

But you like what you like. Hell, I rented Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King -- yes, it is a good movie -- after seeing Body of Lies. So it’s all good. Just hoping Scott can get his act together for "Forever War."

Mystery Man said...

David - Bwaaah ha ha ha! Those comments made me laugh.

Laura - How are you? SO great to hear from you. I'm still waiting on a script from you... Hope you're well.


Laura Deerfield said...

Hello MM.
Script will happen eventually.
Had to work on some other things for a while.

I will be participating in the NYC midnight competition next week. It starts on my birthday, so how could I resist?

So I will have the short scripts from that to post soon.

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