Posts tagged ‘Erik Bork’

August 14, 2013

The Un-Rules of Screenwriting: Erik Bork’s List

E.B. White wrote that there are “no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion.” With this in mind, we’ve asked working screenwriters to share a list of the “un-rules” that they find most helpful in their writing careers.

This week we’re honored to have a list of “un-rules” from Erik Bork (@flyingwrestler). Erik is best known for his work on the HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, for which he wrote multiple episodes and won two Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards for helping to produce. Erik has also sold a variety of drama series pitches to the big four networks and recently developed a comedy pilot with one of the studios. He’s worked on the writing staff for two primetime dramas, and written feature screenplays on assignment for companies like Universal, HBO, TNT, and Playtone. In addition to all of that, Erik teaches in National University’s MFA Screenwriting Program and for The Writers Store, speaks regularly at writing conferences, and offers one-on-one consulting to writers.

Erik got his start as an assistant to Tom Hanks, who gave Erik the opportunity to help him write and produce FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON after reading some sitcom spec scripts he had written.

Erik has an excellent article on his screenwriting website, Flying Wrestler, which provides deeper information about each of his following ten rules:

  1. Concept, then story, come first.  Getting those right is the most important part.  The “words on the page,” while important, are less critical.

  2.  “Compelling, unique, real and entertaining” is what every scene and every story should be.  The audience needs to believe in and care about the main character’s situation, and enjoy the process of watching them confront it – without feeling that they’ve seen it all before.  This is not easy to do!

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June 27, 2013

Loglines for Specs that Sold in 2012 (& What You Can Learn From Them)

The year-end market scorecard is out over at The Scoggins Report, and 132 spec scripts were sold in 2012. While this number feels depressingly low, it actually matches the 15-year high of 2011. Erik Bork has analysed the common features of the sold scripts in a great new article on ScriptMag:

The point of this post is not to discourage you – as you consider how many tens of thousands of scripts did not sell, so that these 132 could. My point is to offer a few observations about those scripts that sold, and especially about their content – as evidenced by the logline and genre information the “Scorecard” includes.

I think reading these loglines can be incredibly helpful for aspiring professional screenwriters, to get a sense of what makes a marketable concept. It’s one thing to hear that “a great logline is important, and the first thing to focus on.” Which is true. It’s another to read the actual loglines of scripts that actually sold, in the last year.

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December 6, 2012

15 Types of Inciting Incidents

Erik Bork has written an excellent article in which he discusses his creative process and lists 15 types of inciting incidents, including films that they occur in. The list is very much like Blake Snyder’s ten film genres and can be used similarly to help you brainstorm your next brilliant script.

Here’s the list:

  1. The thing that has defined you and/or supported you (key to your identity, mission, sense of self, well being, etc.) is suddenly taken away or threatened…   Jerry Maguire, Toy Story, Bridesmaids, About a Boy, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Legally Blonde, Elf, Enchanted, The Godfather  
  2. A new mission emerges to help someone,which seems like the necessary and right thing to do, but will clearly come with some major challenges…   Clueless, The Sound of Music, Erin Brockovich, The Sixth Sense, Schindler’s List, The Hangover, Dave
  3. You get an opportunity to possibly do the thing you’ve always wanted to do – which may seem too good to be true, and will be really difficult to succeed at…   Almost Famous, Boogie Nights, Working Girl, Tootsie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
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May 1, 2012

Getting Your Script Read: Send Queries

Erik Bork has written an article for Script Magazine about the good old fashioned way of getting a literary manager to your read your script: send them a great query. Erik writes:

When I work with writers giving feedback and guidance on their material and career paths, I often end up giving advice about how to gain access to agents, managers, and producers – which seems to most writers to be the biggest challenge of this business.

The common conception is that “who you know” is ultimately the key thing, because you can have the greatest script in the world, and if nobody in the industry will read it (because they don’t know you, and you weren’t referred to them by someone they trust), nothing will come of it, right?

True enough. However, this statement misses one key part of the equation: the industry is desperately hungryfor marketable material and writers. And it always has been and will be.

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March 6, 2012

How Professional Screenwriters Work

John Buchanan of Script Magazine recently laid out the work habits that writers need to have to be successful in the film industry:

Screenwriting is unlike any other professional endeavor. To survive its unique pressures and peculiarities and have a career, you’ll have to master a few fundamental disciplines.

It’s one thing to sell a spec script or complete a first paid assignment for a studio. It’s another thing entirely to establish a reputation as a reliable professional and enjoy a long career as an in-demand Hollywood screenwriter. After the glow of initial success fades out, new writers learn—often painfully—that the requisite capabilities for a working scribe reach far beyond the ability to write crackling dialogue or craft a nifty plot twist. Too often, it’s assumed that talent trumps disciplined, hard work.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

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August 24, 2011

When it Comes to Your Characters, Reveal & Complicate

This article by the superb writer and script consultant, Erik Bork discusses how to write characters that will keep your audinece engaged and entertained:

A writer I work with as a consultant recently shared a phrase with me that came from her friend Craig Hammill (thanks, Craig!), which perfectly encapsulates a point that I often make with writers: “Don’t withhold; reveal, and complicate.”

What that means is this: withholding information — especially information about your main character and what they think, feel, want, plan, and are trying to achieve — tends to distance readers and audiences from your material, rather than drawing them in.

It’s a very common issue I come across in scripts, especially ones that are saving some sort of big reveal or twist for late in the movie.

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June 6, 2011

Moving Your Story Along with Emmy-Winner Erik Bork

Erik Bork, Emmy-winning television writer and producer was on hand at the Great American Pitchfest last weekend. He taught a great class entitled Throwing Rocks at Your Main Character: How to Keep Your Story Moving Forward. The title came from a famous George M. Cohan quote: “In the first act you get your hero up a tree. The second act, you throw rocks at him. For the third act you let him down.”

Erik underscored the fact that every feature film, regardless of the genre, needs a compelling central problem that will drive the story from beginning to end. He also noted that ‘conflict’ – which any good script should be full of – doesn’t necessarily mean interpersonal conflict, i.e. fighting. It just means problems.

Erik referred the class to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and suggested we all become very familiar with Blake’s genres. When you know what genre you want to work within, it becomes easier to determine what elements your central problem should have and how it should develop.

Regardless of genre, Erik informed us that any script’s one central problem – and your script should just have one main problem, a problem which can’t be solved until the end and which shows up in some way or another in every scene of your script – your central problem needs to be a BITCH.

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