Monday, December 01, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 12/1/08


50 Free Online Movie Courses! Woo hoo!

(Thanks to an e-mail from Kelly Sonora.)

Concepts & Philosophy

These courses will help you lay the foundation for creating and appreciating fine movies.

Studying the Arts and Humanities: Follow this course to get an introduction to the arts and humanities through a series of exercises. [The Open University]
Philosophy of Film: This course offers a philosophical analysis of film art. [MIT]
Feeling and Imagination in Art, Science, and Technology: Follow this seminary on creativity to learn about the development process and more. [MIT]
Philosophy in Film and Other Media: This course will teach you about thematic issues of philosophical importance. [MIT]
Introduction to Art History: Follow this course to see art throughout history and how it has developed and functioned. [University of Utah]
Shakespeare, Film and Media: This course takes a look at the history and use of Shakespeare on film. [MIT]
Art of Color: Understand the way colors work through this course that discusses color history, interactions, and psychology. [MIT]
Introduction to the Visual Arts: This class explores video, sculpture, and public spaces in visual arts, offering a look at visual langage and concepts in artistic practice. [MIT]
Introduction to Media Studies: Become a more literate and critical consumer and producer of media culture through this course. [MIT]
Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics: Learn about the thinking behind making things beautiful. [Minnesota State University]
Art and Understanding: Follow this seminar to get answers to the question, "what is art?" [Columbia]
Making sense of the arts: With this overview course, you’ll get an introduction to life as an artist. [The Open University]
BSAD Foundations in the Visual Arts: Learn about visual art and artistic development in this course. [MIT]

Personal Development

These courses will help you better develop yourself as a filmmaker.

Pathway to Dreams: Use this course to establish your goals, direction, and voice as an artist. [Connexions]
Projects in the Visual Arts: Personal Narrative: This course requires you to complete video exercises and screenings to develop your skills and art. [MIT]
Interrogative Design Workshop: In this workshop, you’ll learn how to be a fearless speaker in your art. [MIT]
Creativity and Mental Illness: Professor Raj Persaud discusses the popular occurance of both psychological dysfunction and extreme ability in the arts. [Gresham College]


With these courses, you’ll learn the essentials for movie criticism.

Expository Writing: Social and Ethical Issues in Print, Photography, and Film: If you’re interested in becoming a movie critic, this course is a great place to start. [MIT]
The Origins of Modern Criticism: Follow this e-seminar to learn about reviews of films and other media as they relate to democratic culture. [Columbia]


Learn about your voice as a storyteller through these courses.

Comedy: This course offers a look at comedy in different media from a variety of authors and creators. [MIT]
Film as Visual and Literary Mythmaking: Follow this course to learn how film and literature can create myths. [MIT]
Forms of Western Narrative: Learn about Western storytelling in various media through this course. [MIT]


These courses will help you get a better understanding of cinema.

Special Topics in Cinematic Storytelling: In this seminar, you’ll see a variety of approaches to cinematic storytelling. [MIT]
The Film Experience: Check out this course to get an introduction to narrative film. [MIT]
Studies in Film: In this course, you’ll find an investigation of the relationship between film and literature. [MIT]
Topics in the Avant-Garde in Literature and Cinema: Follow this course to get an understanding of the avant-garde. [MIT]
A Conversation with Filmmaker Mira Nair: Watch these videos of Mira Nair to learn about creating films, and the concepts behind them. [Harvard]

Creation & Video Production

Learn the important details and concepts behind actually creating films.

Documenting Culture: Understand the how and why of capturing everyday life on film by studying this course. [MIT]
Media Art: In this course, you’ll learn about time-based art practices, and gain production experience. [Capilano University]
Introduction to Video: In this course, you’ll learn about video by completing assignments that will teach you about video capture and editing. [MIT]
Digital Video: An Introduction: Follow this e-seminar with filmmaker Michael Rubin to create a personal video project. [Columbia]
Introduction to Photography and Related Media: In this course, you’ll get instruction on the fundamentals of photography, artistic exploration, techniques, and more. [MIT]
Holographic Imaging: Check out this lab course to learn the ins and outs of holography. [MIT]
Blender 3D Design: Follow this course to get an understanding of how to use Blender software to create 3-D objects, animation, and more. [Tufts]
Media Art II: This course is a continuation of Capilano’s Media Art, offering experience in imaging, public art, and more. [Capilano University]
Producing Films for Social Change: Get a good look into the creative and production process behind films that spark social change and discourse. [Tufts University]
Environmental Sustainability: Perspectives on the World: This e-seminar with Oscar-winning director Milos Forman will provide you with education on scriptwriting, casting, and more. [Columbia]


Follow these courses to learn about scenery and design.

Design for the Theater: Scenery: Learn more about scenic designs in theory, history, and current practice. [MIT]
Symmetry: Follow this course to learn more about concepts in symmetry, including group theory, axioms, and the four properties. [The Open University]

Industry & Culture

With these courses, you’ll gain a better understanding of the culture and industry of movies.

Introduction to Spanish Culture: Examine Spanish culture in this course through the country’s art, literature, film, and more. [MIT]
Do Movies Have a Future?: Take a look into the future of the film industry through this lecture. [Princeton]
German Culture, Media, and Society: Explore the culture of Germany through the country’s short films and radio plays, as well as learn about trends and topics in media including film. [MIT]
Media in Cultural Context: Consider the international trade of video and television with this course. [MIT]
Experiences in Interactive Art: Learn about interactive digital art, and creating a conversation with your audience. [MIT]
Topics in Indian Popular Culture: In this course, you’ll learn about Bombay cinema, "masala movies," and more. [MIT]
Modern Art and Mass Culture: Get an introduction to modern art in this course. [MIT]
Introduction to Anthropology: Through this course, you’ll gain an understanding of cultural anthropology. [MIT]
Japanese Literature and Cinema: Learn more about the culture and films of Japan through this course. [MIT]
Visualizing Cultures: This course will ask you to look at and create graphics from different cultures. [MIT]
Studio Seminar in Public Art: Check out this course to learn more about creating projects for public spaces. [MIT]


MM in the news:

Mystery Man rescues seal
Twas nothing, really.

Traumatised granny forgives attacker and praises Mystery Man who helped her
I love old people.

Mystery Man saves woman before car burns
I was happy to help.

Britney spotted with Mystery Man
Eh, I’m over her. She's become old and boring.

Kirsten Dunst Has a Mystery Man
She wishes! Hehehe

Robert McKee Says Hollywood is “finished.”
If screenwriting guru Robert McKee has the plot right, Hollywood is the villain in the piece and TV is the hero. But how the story ends is another question. "Hollywood films? The death rattle of a dying industry," said the acclaimed screenwriting instructor, in Paris for one of his sold-out "Story" seminars. "The best writers are creating TV series. It's all in TV," he told AFP.

Batman R.I.P.
IT IS enough to send any fans of the Caped Crusader into a flap. Batman is set to be "killed off" after almost 70 years of crimefighting. Scottish writer Grant Morrison has penned a dramatic new instalment of the Dark Knight's adventures, called Batman RIP, in which fans will see "the end of Bruce Wayne" as Batman. The storyline, which was due to reach its climax in the latest issue of the Batman comic, released today , is said to see Wayne so shaken by a secret from his past that a new Batman must be found…

Screenwriter reveals ideas for Singer's planned third X-Men film
Author Thomas McClean's book Mutant Cinema: The X-Men Trilogy From Comics to Screen answers some of the questions raised by fans, who have been desperate to find out what Singer and his own writers Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty had been planning for their unmade version of the third film. Dougherty had already revealed some time ago that they had wanted to cast Sigourney Weaver as Emma Frost, a comic book psychic who would be reimagined as an empath able to control people's emotions. Some reports have suggested that Frost would have been an old flame of Xavier and would have emotionally manipulated a resurrected, unstable Jean Grey into the evil Dark Phoenix. McLean's book adds new information: Dougherty says the resolution of the Phoenix plot would definitely have been a major part of their version: "The main element for me was Jean coming back and learning how much power she could wield - that she just became overcome by it." Dougherty says that many of the ideas he was considering, such as Magneto trying to use Phoenix as a weapon, ended up in the filmed version. He also says that the idea of Jean using Cyclops' power to kill herself was one they liked, though they would have made it clear that only Phoenix's body was dying. Her spirit would live on, evolving Jean past mutant and into a godlike cosmic state.

12 upcoming remakes of Hollywood sci-fi classics

22 Ways to Improve Your Screenwriting

Tyler Perry Settles Writers Guild Battle

Hottest Hollywood Scab Tyler Perry Gives In, Opens Studio to WGA

WGA strike troubles linger
The WGA strike ended Feb. 12 but the recriminations continue. The federal government has sided with the AMPTP companies in a battle with the WGA over whether the guild acted illegally in its treatment of 28 writers who filed for financial core status during the strike. The National Labor Relations Board ruling -- announced Monday -- triggers a full hearing of the case before an administrative law judge in Los Angeles in the next few months.

Why the WGA was Right and SAG is Wrong

Out screenwriter brings Milk biopic to the big screen
Not only is Milk about the life of the first openly gay man elected to public office, but it represents a huge leap in Dustin Lance Black's profile as a screenwriter. Before the film's release yesterday, he spent a great deal of time researching Harvey Milk. "There were three years of research traveling to San Francisco from Los Angeles, meeting the real-life people and doing those interviews before there was a script," he says. "The research didn't stop then. We started producing the film and as a producer on it, we had to get even more exacting on what things looked like and where things took place. We were researching all through post-production."

Mel Gibson Ordered To Attend Deposition For Screenwriter Suit
The Los Angeles judge overseeing Mel Gibson's lawsuit against the co-screenwriter of his epic film The Passion Of The Christ has ordered the star to attend court for a deposition. On Monday (24Nov08) L.A. Superior Court Judge Gregory W. Alarcon told Gibson's lawyers that it was likely the Lethal Weapon actor would be made to answer questions at a pre-court testimony to get to the bottom of the money spat with writer Benedict Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is suing Gibson, who directed the controversial religious epic, over accusations he cheated the screenwriter out of millions of dollars in potential earnings.

Another Melissa Rosenberg interview
Melissa: In terms of “was it intimidating,” I was not all that aware of the fan base. The minute I became aware of it, I stopped looking because I knew that it would become intimidating. So I purposefully kept myself in the dark because I wanted to be in a place of being able to tell the story and translate the story without the outside influences of the fans. And just to be able to tell the best story possible. The most important thing [principle] was to stay true to the characters’ emotional arts. There are going to be scenes that are either compilations of a couple of different scenes of the book or missing scenes, but the important thing is if the soul of the book is there and if you go away feeling the same way you feel when you read the book. That’s what my objective was - to keep the soul of the project.

Script already finished for Twilight sequel

MIT builds lab devoted to storytelling
The center is envisioned as a “labette,” a little laboratory, that will examine whether the old way of telling stories — particularly those delivered to the millions on screen, with a beginning, a middle and an end — is in serious trouble. Its mission is not small. “The idea, as we move forward with 21st-century storytelling, is to try to keep meaning alive,” said David Kirkpatrick, a founder of the new venture.

Author pens screenplay to fix memoir omission
Author Don J. Snyder of Scarborough holds a draft of his screenplay that he hopes to make into a film. Snyder wants to correct his published book of a decade ago, “Of Time and Memory,” and set the record straight about his 19-year-old mother's death. Richard and Peggy Snyder shortly after their marriage in November 1949. The mother of Scarborough author Don J. Synder died 10 months later, shortly after she gave birth to Don and his twin brother in a small Pennsylvania town. Since he wrote “Of Time and Memory,” a tale rooted in his mother’s death, Don Snyder has learned more about what really happened to his mother.

How A Novice Ended Up Writing Gran Torino For Eastwood
The script was so well crafted and understated (and the credits went by so fast) that, after seeing the picture, I immediately called Bill Gerber, one of the film's producers, to find out which one of the many A-list screenwriters who must always be knocking down Eastwood's door had penned the story. "Are you sitting down?" Gerber asked. He had quite a surprise. The writer, Nick Schenk, who lives in Minnesota, had never sold a feature script in his life. In fact, the only writing work Schenk had done was for "BoDog Fight," a mixed-martial-arts TV show, a game show called "Let's Bowl" and some comedy sketches collected in a DVD called "Factory Accident Sex." ("That title doesn't exactly help my career, does it?" Schenk jokes.)

Schenk says he wrote the script, using a pen and a pad of paper, sitting at night in a bar called Grumpy's in northeast Minneapolis. It was a good release for Schenk, who was holding down a series of day jobs, driving a fruit truck and doing construction work. "I just scribbled away every night," he told me. "The bartender there is a friend, so sometimes I'd ask him questions about where I was going with the story as I was writing. When it came, the words just came. One night, I knocked off 25 pages right there in the bar."

Video interview: Eric Roth
In this interview excerpt, Roth talks about his writing process wherein he starts his writing sessions every time on page 1. He says, it's "really a process of rewriting."

Here's a Peter Tolan Interview:

The LA Times write-up on John Michael Hayes
When Hayes won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Rear Window, he brought the small ceramic statuette into Hitchcock's office. After examining it, Hitchcock told Hayes, "You know, they make toilet bowls out of the same material." "I felt that he resented my receiving an award when he didn't," Hayes told Donald Spoto, author of the 1983 book The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock. (See also my recent article.)

Iron Man 2 Screenwriter Justin Theroux Confesses There Is No Dialogue With Other Marvel Writers
So now that the “Narnia” duo of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have been tapped to pen “Captain America,” it’s a sure bet Downey, Favreau, and screenwriter Justin Theroux are burning through phone cards trying to connect. Right? Wrong, said Theroux, who told MTV News that there was absolutely no dialogue between other Marvel writers and himself. None. “You know, there’s NO dialogue right now - in a great way,” the scripter confessed. “I think [Marvel Studios President] Kevin Feige just wants to make sure we can make the best movie that we can make.”

William Goldman Talks Newman, Redford, Butch and Sundance
At the recent Screenwriting Expo, he was interviewed by writer Aaron Sorkin (who mercilessly teased girlfriend Beth Swofford, a top agent at CAA, with being eager to read everyone's screenplays), who like everyone else, admires Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, partly because it helped to invent the buddy comedy. "Westerns are dead now except for Mr. Eastwood," said Goldman. "You could make the argument that unemployable in movies today would be John Wayne, Fred Astaire and Cary Grant."

A Bit of Advice: Don’t call your fans “saps” and “dipshits”
The trials and tribulations that the Heroes TV show is undergoing right now – with speculation rising about whether it stands much chance of a fourth season – wasn’t helped recently when its creator, Tim Kring, was quoted effectively calling fans “saps” and “dipshits”. This was at Screenwriting Expo, where he was talking about the ways people watch their TV in the modern day viewing era. Sadly, it's fair to say that his comments didn't come across well, seemingly insulting the very devotees that his show needs right about now. (See also L.A. Times Blog article on the controversy.)

Interview with James Bond Writers
Neal Purvis is living every teenage boy's fantasy - his alter ego is James Bond. As the scriptwriter of the past four 007 movies, Mr Purvis gets to decide who the world's most popular secret agent kills and who he kisses. The 46-year-old is one half, along with Robert Wade, of one of Britain's most successful screenwriting partnerships. “To write a 007 film is a dream come true,” he says. Being a scriptwriter may not be as glamorous as other dream careers, such fighter pilot or brain surgeon - Mr Purvis writes most of his scripts on a laptop sitting alone in a café - but it is just as difficult to succeed. It took Mr Purvis and Mr Wade many years to attain their success.

"Why Quantum of Solace is indefensibly bad." Eric Kohn argues the case. Meanwhile, Glenn Kenny considers "how James Bond lost his sense of humor, while the ever-astute Daniel Kasman contemplates the indifference of Bond. It's all pretty high-toned! Check it out at the Auteurs' Notebook." By the way, lots of great Bond goodies await at the James Bond blog-a-thon, hosted by The Lazy Eye Theatre.

R.I.P. Guy Peellaert. John Coulthart remembers.

Top 100 Crime Movies of All Time.

Round-Up of Articles on the newly released Criterion Collection DVD of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

Interview with Changeling screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski
Yes. This was a FIRST DRAFT that went before the cameras within a year of being sold, something rather unheard of in Hollywood unless you’re Woody Allen. (Yes, and it shows.)

Marc Grossman, Parisian Juicemeister
Marc Grossman, the charismatic owner and driving force behind
Bob’s Juice Bar in Paris, is an iconoclastic figure. A former award-winning scriptwriter and Harvard grad -- something you’d never guess from his bohemian demeanor and laid-back character -- his tiny juice bar located on a shabby-chic Canal Saint Martin backstreet has garnered rave press from the French gastronomic and expat community. That attention has led to cookbooks (Smoothies and the recently released Muffins, both from Marabout publications) and might put Grossman on the throne of France's coolest juice empire.

10 cinematic signs your family is not *that* dysfunctional

Jenny Lumet podcast interview

Warcraft Movie Still Seeking Screenwriter
"Legendary Pictures is currently trying to assign some names to write the screenplay and find someone to direct it, so it's still really early in production," Pearce said. "They want to make sure they get the right talent for those different parts, especially the screenwriting, because that's the foundation for the movie."

Lawyer finds happiness as screenwriter

On Simon Beaufoy's Adaptation of Slumdog Millionaire
The other thing Beaufoy felt certain about was that the theme of the movie had to be bigger than just a poor slum kid who strikes it rich. So he looked at the culture around him to find his answer. "I went to Bombay; it's a very passionate place, a very romantic place, and I suddenly understood those weird Bollywood films -- the singing and the dancing and the romance -- and I thought, that's it, it's got to be a love story. That's what will override this money thing. I just didn't want to write a story about a guy getting rich, and I knew that was it." And so Beaufoy set out to give his hero a heroine to love and to pine for, which gave him the means to build a scaffolding of classical-hero narrative structure over the foundation of the game show story. Once he determined that the love story would become the central thread, he had to go back to the source and decide what from the original story would fit in with the romance angle, and what had to go. And he knew that the tone of the film was crucial: this would be a melodramatic film, with moments of comedy and mirth interwoven with brutal violence, scenes of crushing poverty and torture. "Indian cinema isn't concerned with being authentic as a rule. That's a broad generalization, but it's largely true," Beaufoy says. "In England, you couldn't get away with with torture and comedy in the same movie, but here you could."

Etan Cohen interview

Ten Things I Love About Old Movies

Worst Idea Ever: Poseidon Screenwriter to Write Oldboy Remake
Screenwriter Mark Protosevich is in talks to write the American remake of Oldboy for director Steven Speilberg. Star Will Smith reccomended Protosevich for the project after working with him on I Am Legend. Yes, your worst fears have come true, the guy who wrote the 2006 adaptation of Poseidon might be writing the script for the English-language adaptation of Old Boy. This can’t be good news. In the 2003 South Korean film, a man named Dae-Su is locked in a hotel room for 15 years without knowing why or who is holding him captive. He is suddenly released, given money, clothes and a cellphone and is sent on journey for revenge. The film won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and was highly praised by Jury President Quentin Tarantino. Praised for it’s intense visuals and twisted story, Oldboy was met with positive reviews in the States, and is currently getting an 82% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.3 user rating on IMDB, for a #117 placement on the top 250 films of all time.

Screen Writer Pens New Book On ‘Margery’
News reaches me that the Crown Publishing Group has acquired the rights to the non-fiction book by screenwriter David Jehar about the controversial physical medium ‘Margery’ Crandon. According to Mr. Jehar the advance he was paid for his book was in the “high six figures.” He said his book will tell the story of Harry Houdini’s campaign to discredit ‘Margery’, who made the front page of the New York Times in the 1920s as the controversy over her mediumship reached fever pitch.

Michael Jackson the screenwriter?!?


On the Contest Circuit

Movie Script Contest Announces Winners Announces Semifinalists

Scriptapalooza Past Winners Optioned and Produced

WOTS Announces Grand Prize Winner

ScreamFest Announces Contest Winners


And Finally

“The Films of Da7id Fincher”


Amy Butler said...

That's funny how many courses MIT is offering, considering that Billy Mernit reported they're saying storytelling is dead.

Mystery Man said...

I meant to include the link to that NYT article. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link--love your blog, really great resources.

Kwinnky said...

Thank you so much for the first batch of links. I'll be taking advantage of them.

Mystery Man said...

Amanda - Thanks so much. I try.

Kwinnky - You and me both. When it comes to writing and storytelling, one can always learn even late in life.


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