Sunday, January 04, 2009

Screenwriting News & Links! 1/4/09

Hey guys,

Above is a recap of <yawn> the films of 2008. Hehehe...

Hope you're well,



MM in the news:

Winehouse dating Mystery Man in Caribbean island
I only went to buy cigars duty free.

Mystery Man hands out $100 bills
Well, I accidentally left the $1000 bills at home. Sorry.

Aakasa Ramanna – The Mystery Man?
Nice theory, but… no.

Britney’s ‘secret sex session’ with Mystery Man
Hehehe… No comment.

Eric Roth interview
I was at one of the first screenings where, in the Q&A, you shared with us you lost your parents when you were writing this, which is a deeply personal thing to share with strangers. Can you talk about how much that affected your writing?
Eric Roth
: Completely. Without them having passed away I couldn't have written this. It gave me insights into me, into them...
Had you already begun writing when you lost them?
ER: My mother was diagnosed with cancer just approximately the same time I started writing [the script] and she died not long afterwards. And then my dad died a couple years after that, but I was still working on it. In other words, it probably made me - unfortunately - a better writer. You have to deal with your feelings while you're doing things but I think you do that anyway, whether or not there are tragedies. I think good writing comes out of it even if you're not writing about [the tragedy], per se.

Roth sues his investment manager over Madoff losses
"I'm the biggest sucker that ever walked the face of the Earth," the writer told the Los Angeles Times. Roth will not say exactly how much he lost in Madoff's $50bn pyramid scheme, only that his losses are "massive". However, the screenwriter, who learnt of his misfortune on the same day he heard he'd received a Golden Globe nomination for Button - in which the lead character, played by Brad Pitt, ages backwards - does not intend letting the matter drop without a fight. Unlike others who have lost money with Madoff - among them the film director Steven Spielberg and the billionaire owner of the New York Daily News Mort Zuckerman - Roth has filed a suit against his investment manager, Stanley Chais, in the Los Angeles County Superior Court in an attempt to get compensation.

You won’t believe the interview below. Andy Warhol actually interviewed Steven Spielberg…

And while we’re on the topic of Spielberg, here’s his first completed 35mm short film, titled Amblin’. This the 26-minute short film was shot in 1968 with a $15,000 budget and prompted Sid Sheinberg to sign Spielberg to a long-term deal at Universal under the Television division. He was the youngest director at the time to ever be signed to such a deal by a major Hollywood studio. Many of Spielberg’s unpaid crew members supposedly left the project before the end of the 105+ degree grueling desert shoot. Amblin’ won several film festival awards, and as you probably know, became the name for Spielberg’s production company - Amblin Entertainment. The film tells the story of a young couple who meet up while hitchhiking across the desert.

Frost/Nixon and Doubt show the perils of adaptation
Faithful reinvention is the strategy adopted by Howard, whose film is the better of the two largely because he’s the cannier movie craftsman. Approaching storytelling as a swiftly unfolding visual phenomenon, Howard let a succession of staccato scenes speak without unnecessary interpretive underlining. Sure, his habit of holding emotionally climactic moments too long can tilt the drama in an over-conventional direction, but there’s no denying the propulsive energy that brings us to these somewhat overcooked crisis points.

In Praise of Doubt in the Uncertainty of Cinema
With every review I read of Doubt, I get the nagging feeling that I’ve seen a different film. It’s certain that I’ve had a different experience. Doubt, John Patrick Shanley’s screen adaptation of his own play and the first film he has directed since Joe Versus the Volcano, continues to rumble through my mind because the ideas and conflicts left unresolved in the film. This is Shanley’s witch hunt play, his Crucible, with a very specifically American setting and the reverberations it carries. I never saw the stage production of John Patrick Shanley’s original play in any incarnation, let alone the Broadway run, and though I keep hearing the familiar chorus “It worked better on stage,” I wonder of having seen the stage play is preventing viewers from actually seeing the film.

David Koepp on Angels & Demons
Mentioning that he didn't do anything to tweak the first film, The Da Vinci Code, he confesses that he is glad that Hanks goes on with a shorter haircut for the sequel. "Anything I say there would be critical [of the first film]. So no, not really," he says. "Well, the shorter hair. They went with shorter hair in this film, which I think was a good choice." On the controversial hairdo, he further adds, "People obsess over strange things. And it never occurs to you while you're making a film that 'This will be something they'll be talking about'." Beside talking about the haircut, the screenwriter for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull also shares on his vision of Robert Langdon. "What's interesting is now he's not a new character to us, we've met him before," he explains. "And what I was thinking going into it is he's now like Sherlock Holmes; this is a detective - in this case of history and literature, science and art - who they come to with these impossible-to-solve mysteries, which he solves using his erudition. And I thought that was really fun."

Even more bile spewing from David Koepp
So, when super-screenwriter David Koepp (Spider-Man, Jurassic Park) was brought in to adapt Angels & Demons into a sequel, did the Da Vinci filmmakers offer any notes based on the criticisms they received from that second group? “No,” insisted Koepp. “They don’t really give you notes in relation to the first film, especially since I wasn’t there. I didn’t have anything to do with the first film. Ron [Howard] and his collaborators probably had conversations among themselves about what they wanted to do differently, as you would on any sequel. But since I didn’t have anything to do with it, I was dealing with this as its own thing.” And in the eyes of Koepp, he didn’t see anything in Da Vinci that needed tweaking. “No. Anything I say there would be critical [of the first film]. So no, not really,” he laughed. “Well, the shorter hair. They went with shorter hair [on Tom Hanks] in this film, which I think was a good choice.”

Yup. Koepp couldn’t see anything wrong with The Da Vinci Code. What else would you expect from that two-bit hack? And by the way, people, “super-screenwriter” is a bit much, don’t you think?

Andrew Lloyd Webber announces sequel to Phantom of the Opera
Phantom: Love Never Dies, as the sequel is to be called, is set in New York a decade after the first Parisian instalment. That ended when the misunderstood, facially disfigured musical genius of the title lost his beloved Christine (and his mask), but evaded the baying French mob pursuing him and slipped away into the night. Lloyd Webber says: “It is set on Coney Island. He started in one of the freak shows there but, by the time we meet him, being the Phantom he has become the most powerful operator in Coney. He's pulling the strings and running the island.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald on film

David Hare on AICN

Julian Fellowes says Brits are cheap
The novelist and screen­writer tells Mandrake that the weak pound will attract investment from American companies who are looking to keep their budgets down. Fellowes, 59, who is currently editing his new film, From Time To Time, starring Dame Maggie Smith, says: "The fall in the pound is very worrying but it does make us more attractive for foreign investors in film-making."

R.I.P. Donald E. Westlake
One of the world's most successful and revered mystery authors, Donald E. Westlake, died on New Year's Eve at the age of 75. Westlake suffered a heart attack on his way to dinner while on vacation in Mexico. Westlake had a tremendous career, having won three Edgar Awards -- the mystery equivalent of the Oscars, given by the Mystery Writers of America -- and an Oscar nomination itself for his screenplay The Grifters. He was awarded the title Grand Master from the MWA in 1993. Of the more than 90 novels he wrote, 15 were turned into motion pictures.

Q&A with Christopher McQuarrie
Q. You said something interesting in an earlier interview: "The closer you get to being historically accurate, the more criticism you get."
A. I think the movie I referenced in that was Gladiator -- which takes what I call "a passing glance" at history. There was a Rome. There was an emperor named Marcus Aurelius. His son was named Commodus. And Marcus Aurelius had a good friend and trusted general named Maximus. That's where the facts end. Commodus did not die at the hands of Maximus in the Coliseum in front of everyone in Rome.
Q. After poisoning him.
After poisoning him and then stabbing him. Yeah. And so a movie like that, nobody will take shots at. It’s not historically accurate because it's a confection -- it's a fantasy that's borrowing from history to tell a fictional story. With Valkyrie, you're making a movie that is representing itself as -- and we were careful to say -- "Based on a True Story." Not "A True Story." I would argue that we come closer to the truth than most of these.... uh, not the truth. As someone once said to me, "The truth is not meant to be believed, it's meant to be experienced." But we came pretty close to the historical record of what happened -- as close as you could come in two hours or less…

Writer of Valkyrie inspired during 2002 visit to Berlin

Valkyrie writer says war thriller was the film 'we set out to make'

Hemingway texts to go on show for the first time
Unpublished work by Ernest Hemingway about the hunt for German submarines off the Cuban coast during the Second World War are to be released next week. The author wrote coded notes about tracking Nazi vessels while serving on a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. They are among 3,000 pieces of work by the Nobel laureate to that will be placed on the internet by curators at the writer's former home in Cuba. Experts at the museum in Havana say there are few new literary texts but fans may find clues to some unexplained chapters in Hemingway's colourful life. The collection includes the epilogue of For Whom the Bell Tolls and the screenplay for The Old Man and the Sea.

Harold Pinter was dedicated to helping persecuted writers

Reclusive writer JD Salinger turns 90

Melrose Place, the TV movie?
Heather Locklear may be heading back to the small screen, back as Amanda Woodward to the remake of Melrose Place. A source revealed to E! that "The CW is courting Heather Locklear. I don't think anyone else from the original has been approached yet." Speculation is rife about the new Melrose Place, which is said to start screening later this year. Scriptwriter Mark Schwahn will be writing the screenplay, but apparently there is more than one script in development.

The pic above is the first look of Kubrick’s undeveloped film project, Aryan Papers, which is based upon Louis Begley's 1991 novel, Wartime Lies. It’s a still that Stanley took of Johanna ter Steege, whom he selected for the lead role. According to
the Guardian: The story of the movie Kubrick never made - despite investing enormous energy into it - is to be told through a new art installation at the British Film Institute in London by the Turner-prize nominated artists Jane and Louise Wilson… Kubrick put an awful lot of effort into Aryan Papers: writing the screenplay, casting Ter Steege and travelling to the Czech town of Brno as a possible location for wartime Warsaw. That the film was never made seems to be due to a combination of factors. Spielberg's Schindler's List came out in 1993 and Kubrick may have felt beaten to the line. He may also have got sidetracked by his project to make the film AI -which Spielberg ended up making after Kubrick's death.

When-oh-when will we finally get to read this screenplay?

Screenwriter Michael Jelenic discusses Wonder Woman
Writer Michael Jelenic makes the leap from animated television to feature-length films with his script for Wonder Woman, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe animated original PG-13 films. Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation are set to release the all-new film on March 3, 2009, distributed by Warner Home Video. The film will also be available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available for download day and date, March 3, 2009. Jelenic has crafted a script that offers complementary balances of action and comedy, contemporary society and Greek mythology, and the social pratfalls of both men and women. It is an origin story and a stand-alone adventure, resulting in an entertaining approach to the first-ever Wonder Woman full-length film. Jelenic and renowned comics writer Gail Simone have "story by" credits on the movie.

See also Q&A with Jelenic
at The Animation Blog

Ravens’ Pryce is a screenwriter
His daughter moved on to other things, but for Pryce, the idea lingered. Wouldn't a tale of mixed-up wishes make a funny children's movie? He wasn't the only one who thought so. After tweaking the mixed-up wishes concept a bit, and after several rewrites, Pryce eventually sold it to Sony Pictures, which has plans to turn it into a film in late 2009, he said. At 33, Pryce is still playing at a high level on the field, and he will be an integral part of the Ravens defense when it takes on the Miami Dolphins in a wild-card playoff game Sunday. But Pryce is also thinking of life after football. How his daughter's question led to a movie script is, well, the stuff that movies are made of. Pryce mentioned the idea one day, almost in passing, to his agent, Peter Schaffer, and Schaffer passed it along to his friend and producer Mike Fleiss, a big football fan and creator of The Bachelor. Fleiss loved it and uttered the four words every Hollywood neophyte yearns to hear from a big-time producer. Write me a treatment.

How to Get ‘Em to Read Your Script

How to Write an Autobiographical Screenplay
When trying to get down a filmic version of reality, one is often flooded with details that seem important and necessary to the telling of the story. What someone wore, exactly what they said, what sort of car they drove or what music was playing are all examples of details that may seem important, but which cloud the writer’s task of designing the story. While the details of one's life can serve to help with description, supporting roles, settings, and small bits of texture within scenes, this minutia cannot be the focus when trying to plan, outline and identify the main storyline for a movie. Those details will come naturally to mind when one is actually writing the script, but in the early, developmental stages of writing, they should be set aside.

Iron Man 2 Screenwriter Insists Theme Of Sequel Will Be Identity
“The obvious thing to improve upon — well, it’s not even an improvement it’s just something to embrace — which is that he’s now a hero that lives in the real world. That’s unique,” Theroux said of Stark’s earth-shattering revelation at the end of the first film that he was Iron Man, making him the first-ever cinematic super without a secret identity. It’s not a small distinction. There is a line between Clark Kent and Superman, or say, Bruce Wayne and Batman. You could even argue about both that one identity is the “real” one. There no longer is that line with Tony, which means, well, something big. For his part, Theroux isn’t ready to talk specifics, but says the nature of his identity is something that’s going to be a monumental part of the second film.

Screenwriting Drafts of History
Milk, which charts the inspirational rise of the assassinated gay-rights advocate Harvey Milk, is a classical biopic, running through a greatest-hits version of its subject’s life and career with an eye on both his historical importance and his enduring relevance. The two-part, four-hour-plus Che celebrates Ernesto Guevara not by romanticizing what the man fought for but by systematically restaging the battles that he fought. And while the other two films summon their dead heroes from the mists of memory, W., a speculative peek into the formative psychology of George W. Bush, is more like an early draft of history, rushed into theaters while the president’s legacy was still up for grabs. Of the three screenwriters Mr. Black had perhaps the least complicated task, in the sense that his feelings about his subject were the most clear cut. A gay man raised in a Mormon family, he recalls hearing about Milk as a high school freshman in the ’90s, having just moved to the Bay Area from San Antonio. “To find out there was an out gay man who was celebrated really was shocking,” Mr. Black said.


On the Contest Circuit Announces Contest #18 Results Announces Contest #17 Results Announces Contest #16 Results Announces Contest #15 Results Announces Contest #19 Results

TWP Announces contest Winners

MoviePoet Announces November Winners

Movie Deal Announces First Round Finalists

Holiday Screenplay Contest Announces Winners


And Finally

For your consideration – The Spirit:


Christian H. said...

"To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packaging material."

Review of the Spirit.

Karim said...

That Razzie in that last video was a nice touch.

Although the "Films of 2008" video has There Will Be Blood instead of Let the Right One In? Quite sure the first came out in 2007, the other 2008. He also forgot Miracle At St. Anna.

Sabina E. said...

I DON'T want to see an animated Wonder Woman film. For god's sake, can somebody please freakin' bring it on the big screen!!!!

I'm sick of male superhero movies.

Abigail Addison said...

Just to add, the Wilson's film The Aryan Papers will also be shown on our website from February 09.

Abigail @ Animate Projects

Mystery Man said...

Christian - Ebert's review was hilarious.

Crumbs - I wondered if some of those explosions in the military scenes were from "St. Anna." To have "Blood" in there was silly.

Punk - I'm with you! Give us a flesh & blood WW!

Abigail - Thanks for that. Great to meet you.