Archive for July, 2011

July 27, 2011

15 Films You Shouldn’t Attempt to Emulate

This list from The Script Lab (they have a number of these — I highly suggest checking them out) is entitled The Top 15 Movies You Should NOT Watch in Film School. Find out why by reading on:

Beginning screenwriters learn by example; in fact, it’s really one of the best ways to master the art of screenwriting. The problem is, there are so many iconic and cult classic films that end up sending the novice down a road to ruin before they ever learn to write a simple plot. The following list should not be considered a list of bad films – far from it. But it is a list of films that break rules with such skill and acumen, it’s best to steer clear before you get any bright ideas that you’re ready to do the same.

15) Troll 2 – Alright, so this is the only one on the list that’s technically a “bad” film (kind of arbitrarily put on here to piss off Leroy James King, per Preston.) That said, this movie is totally enjoyable, albeit super kitschy and poorly executed. It’s not like one of Tarantino or Rodriguez’s Grindhouse films that are trying to be terrible. So watch out film school nerds – enjoy this at your own risk.

14) Million Dollar Baby – You know the old adage “Voice over is a tool of the lazy.” MDB uses VO to frame mood and genre, but even this movie at times feels like Eastwood might have been like, “Oh shit! We’ve got Morgan Freeman – let’s add VO just because he has the voice of God.” Prove that you can describe by showing, before you fall into the lazy trap of VO.

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July 27, 2011

Quote of the Day: John K. Hutchens

A writer and nothing else:  a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right. 

July 26, 2011

Script: Nowhere Boy

Everyone says DON’T write a Beattles movie. It’s been done. They’re almost impossible to get made. But movies about bands, fictional or real, can do very well. So use this Nowhere Boy script by Matt Greenhalgh for inspiration, but for god’s sake, pick a different band.

July 26, 2011

Quote of the Day: Herbert Mankiewicz

In a novel a hero can lay ten girls and marry a virgin for a finish. In a movie this is not allowed. The hero, as well as the heroine, has to be a virgin. The villain can lay anybody he wants, have as much fun as he wants cheating and stealing, getting rich and whipping the servants. But you have to shoot him in the end.

July 25, 2011

Quote of the Day: Robert Bresson

The most ordinary word, when put into place, suddenly acquires brilliance. That is the brilliance with which your images must shine.

July 22, 2011

Script: Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine was written by Derek Cianfrance.

July 22, 2011

Quote of the Day: Rita Mae Brown

You sell a screenplay like you sell a car. If someone drives it off a cliff, that’s it.

July 21, 2011

Script: Despicable Me

Here’s another animated script to add to the stack. Despicable Me (made available by Drew’s Script-o-Rama) is written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.

July 21, 2011

Quote of the Day: Logan Pearsall Smith

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers. 

July 20, 2011

The Art of the Query Letter

Judy Kellem wrote this helpful article a while back on the art of writing a query letter that if concise, focused, and powerful:

Why are query letters so hard to write?

There you are, confident you have a great script – the story’s spot on, the plot’s firmly in place and you’re madly in love with the characters you’ve created. Now is the moment of pay off where you’ve graduated – a full script in hand – and stand before those terrifying, golden gates to the kingdom of MARKETING. First step is just one brief letter, the hook that you must bait with a perfect “pitch” to get those first bites. How hard can writing a paragraph description of your masterpiece be? Heck, you just cranked out 120 pages of plot and dialogue!

Now five drafts into the query you’re ready to be committed.

For those of you who’s buttons are popping, don’t fret – there is a solution. The keys to writing a great query are the same ones you used to write a great script: FOCUS, VISION and COMPRESSION.

In a query, you have a tiny space to convey an entire world. In those one or two paragraphs you must communicate to your reader a sense of what your main story is, what drives the plot, who your main characters are and what genre you are writing in. Underlying your summary of the story, you must also transmit the mood, tone and spirit of your script so that the reader instantaneously feels brought into your fiction and knows what they’re in for in reading your screenplay. Just like writing a great dramatic scene, EVERY WORD COUNTS. Making every sentence rich with exposition, drama and urgency is imperative.

How do you do this?

Read the rest of the article here.