Archive for September, 2011

September 23, 2011

Quote of the Day: William Goldman

Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you – the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.

September 22, 2011

What Not to Do in Your First 5 Pages

This article from MovieBytes.com gives some simple, practical advice for how not to give away your inexperience in the first few pages of your writing, the pages that every reader is going to judge you on and possibly not read past. Take a look:

Five pages.  That’s what you get. You spend six months on that spec screenplay and the reader at the agency-manager-prodco-contest is giving five lousy pages before he makes a judgement.

It’s an outrage! Blame it on Attention-Deficit-Disorder, the Twitterverse, the 24/7 news cycle…but guess what?

A good reader can recognize a poorly written script within five pages or less. Sometimes it can be seen on Page 1.

Here are a couple of traps to avoid:

  1. BE AN ADVERB & ADJECTIVE HATER

    “The Chow Chow sadly waddles up the plush scarlet-carpeted, serpentine-twisting rug, woefully stopping under the plumb Ming Dynasty vase, dumbly lifting his hind leg…”

    You’re writing a screenplay, not the Great American novel. That means not killing the reader with purple prose. Just because you can write effective adjectives and adverbs doesn’t mean you should. When it comes to pumping up screen direction, ask yourself: Do I need it?

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September 22, 2011

Quote of the Day: Julie Gray

Good feedback is kind, thorough and timely. It’s professional and focused. It leaves the writer feeling challenged to do better but great about their strengths. Even if that just means the location they chose was cool. Give your feedback relative to the skill set of the writer. Never lie or obfuscate. Just serve it up gently. An upset writer isn’t going to hear your points anyway. But an encouraged one will. Trust me on this.

September 21, 2011

Script: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

One of the great films of all time and a great read. This draft of The Empire Strikes Back was made available by myPDFscripts. The script was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan from George Lucas’ story.

September 21, 2011

Quote of the Day: Billy Mernit

So much of good comedy comes out of strong, vivid character ideas. Creating two unique characters an audience will fall in love with and need to see united is the most important key to your screenplay’s success. All great characters have purpose and credibility, are empathic and complex.

September 20, 2011

Top 10 Script Monologues

This list from the Script Lab is a valuable read, both bcause it includes the written out monologues right in the article and because writing the perfect monologue is such an elusive talent. Finding the right moment, the right words, the right length, the right subtext — it’s a very delicate art that most screenwriters could use some help with.

A poignant and memorable speech is often what gives a film its place in cinematic history. When someone references Pulp Fiction, we often think of Jules’ Ezekial speech, when we think of A Few Good Men, it’s impossible not to remember “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” Speeches and monologues are the moments in films where writers and actors can really show off; and not with effects or actions sequences, but with great writing and tremendous performances. They can be the simplest and yet the most effective moments in a movie. These speeches can make us laugh, make us stand up and applaud, or even inspire us to take action. Here are arguably 10 of the very best.

10. Good Will Hunting

In this scene, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a genius who chooses to work as a labourer, has gone to a bar with some friends, including Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck.) Chuckie has attempted to chat to some girls at a bar when a pretentious male student interrupts and tries to undermine him. Will comes to the rescue to take this guy down a peg or two.

Will:  You’re a first year grad student. You just got finished readin’ some Marxian historian — Pete Garrison probably. You’re gonna be convinced of that ’til next month when you get to James Lemon, and then you’re gonna be talkin’ about how the economies of Virginia and Pennsylvania were entrepreneurial and capitalist way back in 1740. That’s gonna last until next year — you’re gonna be in here regurgitating Gordon Wood, talkin’ about, you know, the Pre-revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization.

Clark: Well, as a matter of fact, I won’t, because Wood drastically underestimates the impact of social –

Will: Wood drastically — Wood ‘drastically underestimates the impact of social distinctions predicated upon wealth, especially inherited wealth.’ You got that from Vickers, ‘Work in Essex County,’ page 98, right? Yeah, I read that too. Were you gonna plagiarize the whole thing for us? Do you have any thoughts of your own on this matter? Or do you…is that your thing? You come into a bar. You read some obscure passage and then pretend…you pawn it off as your own idea just to impress some girls and embarrass my friend? See the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you’re gonna start doin’ some thinkin’ on your own and you’re gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One: don’t do that. And two: You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f—-n’ education you coulda’ got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.

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September 20, 2011

Quote of the Day: Matt Nix

Speed is crucial in TV. Under the pressure of production, you have to be able to bang out good scripts on a clock. A writer who can finish a solid draft in two months? They’re easy to find. I’m interested in the writer who can write that draft in two days.

September 19, 2011

Script: 10 Things I Hate About You

This one is an oldie but a goodie, and a great resource for those screenwriters (like myself) who are working on adaptations of Shakespeare. 10 Things I Hate About You is a modernization of The Taming of the Shrew. It would be good to take a look at if you’re having trouble figuring out how to honor your original source material while modernizing it and making it your own. This script is written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith.

September 19, 2011

Quote of the Day: Robert McKee

Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.

September 15, 2011

TV Writer Spotlight: The Genres of One-Hour Drama

Chad Gervich, author of  Small Screen, Big Picture: A Writer’s Guide to the TV Business, recently shared his breakdown of what he sees as the four genres of television dramas. He also discusses how these generes can be mixed. Here’s an excerpt:

Procedurals

Procedurals are shows that derive their stories from a specific procedure, such as NCIS, House, or Criminal Minds. Each episode begins with the introduction of a problem, which our main characters must solve using their unique procedure. CSI uses forensics, The Practice used lawyers and the legal system, etc. Procedurals traditionally tell standalone stories — stories that have a complete beginning, middle, and end in each hour.

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