30 March, 2007

Opening Weekend

Days of Glory (Indigènes)


True life war drama. Four North African men join the French army to fight Nazis and French discrimination.

With Jamel Debbouze,Samy Naceri,Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila,Bernard Blancan, Mathieu Simonet

Writers: Rachid Bouchareb, Olivier Lorelle
Director: Rachid Bouchare

Rachid Bouchare interview 1
Rachid Bouchare interview 2
Rachid Bouchare interview 3

Official site

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The Hills Have Eyes II


Horror. National guard trainees battle mutants.

With Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Daniella Alonso, Jacob Vargas, Lee Thompson Young, Ben Crowley, Eric Edelstein

Writers: Jonathan Craven, Wes Craven
Director: Martin Weisz

Wes Craven interview 1 (video)
Wes Craven interview 2

Official site

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The Last Mimzy


Fantasy adventure. Siblings gain powers after finding a mysterious box of toys.

With Chris O'Neil, Rhiannon Leigh Wry, Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton, Rainn Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kirsten Williamson

Writers: Bruce Joel Rubin and Toby Emmerich (from the story by Lewis Padgett)
Director: Robert Shaye

News article about the dispute between Bruce Joel Rubin and the director.

Official site

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Meet the Robinsons


Animated action adventure. An inventor gets recruited to get a baddie.

With Angela Bassett, Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Laurie Metcalf

Writers: Jon Bernstein, Michelle Bochner
Director: Stephen J. Anderson

Official site

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Mr. Bean's Holiday


Comedy. Mr Bean goes on holiday to France.

With Rowan Atkinson, Max Baldry, Steve Campos, Emma de Caunes, Willem Dafoe, Jean Rochefort

Writers: Robin Driscoll, Simon McBurney, Hamish McColl
Director: Steve Bendelack

Official site

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The Namesake


Romantic comedy-drama. Native New Yorker son born of Indian immigrants tries to fit in despite his traditional family.

With Irfan Khan, Jagannath Guha, Ruma Guha Thakurta, Tabu, Sandip Deb, Sukanya, Tanusree Shankar, Sabyasachi Chakravarthy

Writers: Sooni Taraporevala (based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri
Director: Mira Nair

Sooni Taraporevala interview

Official site

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29 March, 2007

Newly Collaborative And Less Weepy Shyamalan To Make Next Movie With Fox

Defamer:


"A funny thing happened to notoriously sensitive Lady in the Water director M. Night Shayamalan after a round of studio meetings about his new spec script, The Happening, ended without the blockbuster sale he expected: Rather than storm out of the disappointing sessions soaked in tears and wracked with doubt, pledging to cooperate with a tell-all book about how the executives wouldn't know Art if it blew them underneath their desks during a conference call, he instead took their notes, rewrote the screenplay, and ultimately reached a deal with Fox to make the movie."

Notes on 'Survival Guide to Scriptwriting' - Story

Light & Shade:

"Kate started off by emphasizing the importance of storytelling. It’s the way we process experiences and Kate used a good example to illustrate the point – that if the building we were in collapsed, while being treated by paramedics the survivors would almost certainly be discussing the experience with those around them."

You oughta be in pictures (me too)

24 Hours Vancouver:

"Of course, most people already know it's easier to break out of prison than it is to break into Hollywood (although, if you've succeeded in the former, you might just land yourself a book deal with a film option attached).

So how does an untested, unknown writer break into the biz?"

Dialogue is easy ...

Shmucks goes through the process of writing his TV adaptation:

"My approach was to find the story first, the central spine, and I then took an executive decision and threw out any true-life/historical info that deviated from this spine. Once I had decided on what the story was I could move over to plot and out of those tinkerings came premise and theme (actually maybe they came first...?)"

28 March, 2007

Fade In pitch fest calling for entries

Screenplay Europe:

"The event, basically a screenplay market, is designed to locate the hottest of the new screenwriting talent in the whole of Europe and facilitate their meeting with some of the best producers in the continent."

Long, lonnnng movies: art vs. just plain excess

Seattle times:

"Director David Fincher knows some people may think his serial-killer saga "Zodiac" is too long at 2 hours and 40 minutes.

He's wondered the same thing himself but decided the film needed that much space to tell the story he wanted."

Slamdance horror script winner heads to the screen

Fangoria:

"The top prize in the recently created Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition was won by SLAUGHTER, penned by British newcomers Bobby Darby and Nathan Brookes"

Ulster screenwriter scores US horror hit

Belfast Today:

"I live in the middle of nowhere outside Armagh, where film making is not exactly the norm. To think that your film is going to be financed, shot in New York, and see people getting work out of what you have written is just an amazing feeling."

Perfectly frightening

New York Times:

"Movies about killing prompt discussions about marketing to youth."

27 March, 2007

Verity Bargate Award

Deadline: 6 July 2007.

Soho's hunt for the most original and exciting new play.

Every two years Soho Theatre launches a national competition to find the best new play by an emerging writer. The winner will thrill London audiences with their imaginative, daring and relevant work.

Passion is more important than polish, so why not give it a go?

The winner will receive:

* £5000 (in respect of an exclusive option).
* a residency at Soho Theatre.
* the chance to have their play produced at Soho Theatre.

Workshops

We welcome writers from all backgrounds and levels of experience to get involved and we are offering a series of workshops devoted to exploring the processes behind creating a new piece of theatre for the Verity Bargate Award.

Blue 5

Deadline: 8 May 2007

Proposals now invited for this summer’s showcase at The Studio – Royal Exchange Theatre 26 –28 July 2007.

If you are developing some new live performance ideas and would like to share your work in progress with our Studio audiences in a professional performance setting, then download a proposal form.

Successful proposals will be supported by The Studio’s technical and creative team to be part of an exciting three-day festival of emerging work staged in our intimate 100 seat Studio space.

There are no restrictions on artform, anything goes! (BLUE has featured poetry, mime, multimedia, music, dance and visual theatre) but all live performance samplers presented must be at least 10 mins and no longer than 30 mins.

Interested? Send a completed proposal form to BLUE 5, Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH no later than 8th May 2007.

Protect the Human – Playwriting Competition

Deadline: 14 May 2007

Protect the Human is a new playwriting competition run by iceandfire theatre company and Amnesty International UK, culminating in Amnesty’s ‘Protect the Human Week’ in October 2007.

They are looking for plays that imaginatively interpret iceandfire’s mission statement of: "Telling the real life stories of individuals who have been displaced as a result of conflict." They would like to see compelling and original stories that draw inspiration from the above. They are not interested in scripts that are didactic, preaching or dogmatic.

Initial submissions are welcomed between the 1 - 14 May. For full details and information on where to begin, visit website for more details.

New Works for Merit Playwriting Contest

Deadline: 30 June 2007.

New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest accepts and encourages exciting new works that:

1) Enhance self-realization
2) Support peace and social justice
3) Foster new understanding of minority issues that focus on racial, ethnic and gender discrimination both in the United States and abroad
4) Empower youth to build healthy inner foundations
5) Educate to gain further insight into healthy social/emotional living
6) Shed new light on religious, spiritual, and cultural differences and issues
7) Build respect for cultural expression and identity in a world that is experiencing rapid globalization
8) Explore the widening gap between the values this country was founded on and the values we present to the world today

** While recognizing the obvious intentions in the categories above, examples of the following premises should be applied to all the categories as well:
A play about the hardships and horrors of war IS a play that supports peace.
A play that exposes social injustice, without the intent of making a statement FOR social justice, IS a play that supports social justice.

We, as writers, have been given a precious gift. Let us use that gift to create powerful, heart-felt new works that not only entertain, but also educate, enlighten and uplift humanity.

For further details visit website.

The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award 2008

Deadline: 30 March 2007

The purpose of the award is, in particular, to help the development of emerging practitioners in the field of experimental theatre, and, in general, to encourage the new generation of creative artists. Support is aimed at assisting artists in the transition from fringe to studio spaces.

Bold, innovative and challenging projects will be favoured.

Two grants of up to £2,500 for Research and Development will be awarded to two individuals/companies. Following the showing of the result of this R and D period in November 2007 a production grant of £27,000 will be awarded to one of them. The chosen production will have a run at the Barbican (The Pit) as Part of BITE in Sep 2008.

The McLellan Award 2007 Playwriting Competition

Deadline: 15 June 2007.

2007 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert McLellan, one of Scotland's greatest dramatists. The Arran Theatre and Arts Trust, in partnership with Robert McLellan's family, the community of Arran and North Ayrshire Council, will work together to bring to a new generation, through drama, visual arts and music, the beauty, wit and vigour of McLellan's work and, at the same time, strive to further his hopes and aims by encouraging and sponsoring new work by young Scottish playwrights.

The prize for the competition is £1000, and a production of the play by Nutshell at the McLellan festival in September.

Plays should be 60 - 90mins long, be in any form of Scots or Scots dialect - living Scots - rural or urban, and be capable of being performed by no more than 5 actors.

Entry form (pdf) .

Short Stories 8


Deadline: 13 April 2007

NativeAliens Theatre Collective
of New York City is soliciting plays for its 8th annual Short Stories playwrights' festival.

A celebration of the playwright, Short Stories 8, will be a collection of short plays from the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender perspective that will be produced together for a week's run in late June of 2007. This year's theme is "Urban View" so all plays should be relevant to gay life in the big city.

Playwrights interested in having their play produced as part of this festival should email their plays, as attachments, to NativeAliens*AT*gmail.com with SHORT STORIES in the subject line and include their name, address, phone number and email address. Plays should be a maximum performance time of 10 minutes, typed double-spaced in 10 point or larger font.

London theatre gender representation

Way Off Loop:

"Entirely tolerable member of the patriarchy Matt Board ran the numbers on last week's London theatre gender representation, with some fascinating results!"

Can't iPod it. Can't TiVo it. Theater is live. And you get to share it.

LA Times:

"I hear "The theater is dead" almost as often as "God is dead." I hear "People can't afford to go to the theater." "People don't wanna drive!" So why would anyone sit down to write "Act One, Scene One" — especially in a town where you could make real money writing "Int. L.A. Starbucks — Day"? Who in their right mind would do it?"

Jason Grote interview

Foundational Support:

"There are ironies here - I worked in retail for years, and have been working-class most of my life, but as a playwright I'm interested in what I used to call "lifers" - that is, people both in and out of management who had no other options than their retail jobs. So partially, the play is psychically difficult because it's forcing me to return to a place I'd really rather forget."

No Money, No Cry

Times of India:

"So I picked up pen and paper and sat down to write, and of course I couldn't write a single word. It is very tough, and I am surprised so many people still think they are writers."

'Optimism' marks World Theatre Day

BBC News:

"On Tuesday Greek playwright Iakovos Kampanellis spoke of his hopes for the future of theatre:

"Every person has an innate need and ability to create performances.

"Theatre will never cease to exist, because I believe that men and women will never stop living without the agony of self-knowledge, without the existential need to become spectators of their selves and their actions," he said."

World Theatre Day

International Theatre Institute:

"WORLD THEATRE DAY was created in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).
It is celebrated annually on the 27th March by ITI Centres and the international theatre community. Various national and international theatre events are organized to mark this occasion.
One of the most important of these is the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message through which at the invitation of ITI, a figure of world stature shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace.
The first World Theatre Day International Message was written by Jean Cocteau (France) in 1962. "

26 March, 2007

Will I ever eat lunch in this town again?

The Times:

"Mr X, an Oscar-winning producer, attacks the industry he relies on as he tells the story of his hit movie that wasn’t."

"This is how it starts: I read hundreds of scripts, articles and books, watch countless films for remake possibilities, listen to tons of ideas – and most of them are crap. It’s like a beauty pageant where everyone has either a monobrow or two noses. When you are reading a script, only one thing truly matters, which I learnt from my old boss Harvey Weinstein: is it a movie? Not is it a good idea, or is it well written, or is there some big star attached. Is it a movie?."

When women lost the lead

The Guardian:

"Women's equal participation in Hollywood is not some utopian goal. It is something women had, but which was taken away from them."

David Koepp, "Spiderman", interview

Mediabistro:

"So much of writing is a matter of recycling and reinterpreting the tiny little minutiae of your own life, but that's all you've got. Of course, the danger with that is that your life and interests can become so narrow and repetitive, as life tends to push us in the direction of anyway, that your writing gets repetitive. I'm writing something now for a director I've worked with in the past, and the other day he said, "Didn't you use a version of this same line in the last movie?" And I said "Hey, I've only got so many tricks, man." But I'm working on that."

Russell T Davies, "Doctor Who", interview

Daily Telegraph:

"'In the community of sci-fi shows, I think we're the only one that actively ignores its online fanbase. American shows seem to court them, or pretend that they do. That way lies madness. I can't think of a show that's improved its quality, or its ratings, by doing it. It's like going in search of a massively biased focus group - why would anyone do that?'"

Irvine Welsh, "Wedding Belles", interview

The Times:

“But also, it’s a chance to write strong working-class women. I’ve always liked the women characters I’ve written, but they have never had the airtime, and yet some of the most interesting things I’ve done in life have been with groups of girls. The same challenges apply as with men — loyalty to the group, developing as an individual — but they’re more acute because of the pressure to procreate. It’s about struggling to maintain camaraderie against the forces of commerce and biology.”

25 March, 2007

Soundtrack

Puffy


I had heard a lot of good things about the Teen Titans animation based on the DC comic-books but it was ages before I got the chance to see it. In the end, the show was quality but it was the theme song that impressed most. It was sparky, spikey Japanese pop. On investigation it turned out to be by Puffy who were, apparently, megastars - who eventually got their own popular animation series.

Actually, in the West they have to be called Puffy AmiYumi, adding the names of the two members - Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura - to avoid any confusion with Puff Daddy, as he was called at the time. Though to be fair, one African-American rapper bloke, two Japanese pop-rock women, you can see how people might get confused.

It's their eclectic mix of influences from the sixties onwards that make it just a bit different from the usual Top 40. Most of the lyrics are in Japanese but it sounds so good it's not a barrier.

I seem to have a lot of favourite bands but it's Puffy I look forward to turning up on shuffle the most and who I turn to if I've had a bad day to cheer me up. I recommend getting the whole discography but start with the American release of Nice. Almost every song is a pop-rock classic.

Official site
Myspace
Wikipedia

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Ai Otsuka


Because of Puffy I looked for more J-Pop and assumed it would all be as good. Not a bit of it. Much of it is as bland as the Top 40 in any other country, some of it was so saccharine I nearly threw up. It was with relief, therefore, that I discovered Ai Otsuka. She's a brilliant singer-songwriter. There isn't a duff track on her three albums "Love Punch", "Love Jam" and "Love Cook". A best of compilation called "AI am BEST" has just been released.

Official site
Wikipedia

Paleyfest

The Museum of Television and Radio has an annual television festival where cast and writers of shows answer questions and discuss the show.

To see the full discussion you need to visit the museums in LA or NY but you do still get a fascinating insight into the writing and creative process via the shortened versions. The ones to watch are Prison Break, Heroes, The Closer, The Office and Jericho - the rest are for fans only.

Channel 4 Opens Search For New Comedy Talent


Deadline: 31 March 2007

Channel 4, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, today launches Gags to Go, a nationwide search for the best new comedy for mobile phones.

This is the first major talent initiative from the newly launched 4Talent Networks Scotland, which replaced the channel’s hugely successful IDEASFACTORY Scotland earlier this year. Gags to Go is produced by leading independent production company The Comedy Unit, who are responsible for top TV and radio titles including Still Game, Tank Commander and The Karen Dunbar Show.

New comedy writers and writer performers are invited to send in two minutes of bright new comedy gold. The funniest applicants will be invited to perform their work, or have it performed by a team of comedy actors, at showcase events across the country.

Ten video and audio gags will be put to a public vote by text and email, and scrutinised by top producers and commissioners at Channel 4. Top ranking applicants will get the chance to work with some of the best comedy script editors and producers in the business, and produce an audio sketch show for 4Talent, as well as having their gag available for download on Channel 4’s 4Mobile portal.

Gags to Go kicks off with a launch event in Glasgow at the CCA on Sauchiehall Street on Wednesday 7th March at 6.30pm. Interested comedy geniuses should hot foot it along to meet some of Channel 4’s latest comedy recruits and Gags to Go producers The Comedy Unit, who’ll be revealing some of the tricks of the comedy trade and explaining more about the project.

Fiona Hamill, acting director for Electronic Markets, Scottish Enterprise, said: “Through this joint initiative with Channel 4 and 4Talent, we are helping our new and existing Scottish digital media companies to grow, expand and become more successful. Our Scottish companies taking part can create new content, explore new markets and exploit their content to the full through the global opportunities that this initiative presents.”

Rebecca Thompson, Commissioning Editor of 4Talent Networks Scotland, said:
“The Comedy Unit are industry leaders in TV Comedy, with an eye on future markets across new platforms such as mobile. They have a very proactive approach to new talent development and this is a fantastic opportunity for funny new voices to get heard. We expect to see some really excellent, fresh, funny applications for Gags to Go and are looking forward to working with the talent that the project will uncover.”

Gags to Go will be accepting submissions from 7th till 31st March. Visit www.channel4.com/4talentscotland for tickets to the launch event and details of how to apply.

24 March, 2007

Smash‘300’ proves naysayers wrong, despite a formulaic screenplay

St Cloud Times

"Hey, what a concept. A filmmaker who actually comprehends the notion that the only sure thing in Hollywood is that an entertaining movie has a better chance for success than a movie that fails to meet that standard."

How new money is changing the film industry

The Economist:

"JUDGING by the number of times each was gushingly thanked by this year's Oscar winners, the people who finance films are now more important than God. Investors are certainly omnipresent in Tinseltown these days. If all goes according to plan, they will soon resurrect United Artists, a defunct studio, and the career of Tom Cruise, a star with a public-image problem. It is just one sign among many of how money from outside Hollywood is changing the film industry."

Also see Fund Your Feature guest posts at Danny's.

Writers with phone phobia

By Adrian Mead

How many of you are phone phobic? Does the following describe you?

A successful working professional gave you their business card at an event. It is still sitting in a drawer at home. Even though you would love to pick their brains … you just can’t pick up the phone.

Or perhaps you have a list of agents and a guide that lays out EXACTLY how to approach them. Problem is it stipulates that you must follow EVERY step in order to make this approach successful. The first step involves calling them up. Instead you cut corners by not making the call and you send your stuff anyway. Result…you fail to secure an agent.

PHONE PHOBIA! It’s far more common amongst writers than you’d think. I’m amazed how often people tell me how they were encouraged by a professional to get in touch, yet they never called them! In most cases people tell me they are worried about being a nuisance, or, even worse, think “What would I say if they agreed to chat to me?”

Instead lots of people send E-mails, as it’s less scary. However, it’s also less effective. E-mails end up in the junk mail. They aren’t “human” and require greater effort to deal with than a phone call. This results in them being lost or ignored.

Time is a precious commodity in this industry, however I have found that people are incredibly generous, but only if you know EXACTLY how to approach them and have done your prep beforehand.

  1. Study people who are already where you want to be, who have achieved the goals you want to achieve and read up on EXACTLY how they did it. What was their career path? What was the attitude that got them through? How did they deal with rejection and set backs?

  2. Next seek out full time working professionals who are just a couple of steps ahead of you, or the ones who gave you a card or encouraged you to call.

If you are uncomfortable talking on the phone write up a PHONE SCRIPT. No it isn’t as stupid as it sounds. You are supposed to be a writer aren’t you? Write up what you want to say. Keep it VERY brief .

  • Introduce yourself.

  • Say how you got their contact details.

  • Explain why you are specifically calling them. “I read your script / saw your film / heard you talk at an event”. No, I’m not telling you to be disingenuous, make sure you do your research and be sincere.

  • Ask about the one and ONLY one specific thing you are seeking advice about. Do not waffle. Do your research first and be specific.
  • Rehearse it.

  • If they agree to talk with you LISTEN!!!!!!! I’m amazed how often people call and then start trying to tell you what they know. Duh! Don’t interrupt when they are speaking, especially if what they are saying is totally at odds with what you have heard or read. This is exactly what you want, the inside view, the off the record stuff.

  • Thank them and get off the phone.


That wasn’t hard was it? You have now established a contact. They know you are organised, polite and don’t take up much time. This means that the next time you call they will be happy to help you if they can. Of course some people will be too busy to speak. If that’s the case ask when it would be convenient to call again.

As a new writer building contacts with successful, working professionals is an essential part of your strategy for getting your break. Dig out those business cards and start planning some calls.

I know it's frustrating when you seem to be trying hard and going nowhere fast.

If you would like more practical tips about getting your break and exactly what kind of projects the broadcasters are looking for sign up for our next class, The Long Distance Screen Writer. You will meet a panel of four Scottish based writers with credits on Eastenders, Waking The Dead, River City, The Street, Holby City, Where The Heart Is, Taggart, The Bill, Monarch Of The Glen and numerous other film, TV and radio projects. They will discuss how they got started and how you too can build a career as a screenwriter outside London.

You will also hear how they deal with script editors, tight deadlines and the challenges and joys of working as a freelancer. This is also a unique opportunity for you to learn how professional writers manage the balance between family and career whilst working in such a highly competitive industry.

For more details contact us or visit our web site

The Long Distance Screen Writer
Sat 9th June St Columba's By The Castle, Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh
10.00 am - 4.30pm
COST £55 (inc VAT and light
lunch)
CONTACT: info*AT*meadkerr.com or 0131 554 4539

Opening Weekend

300


War drana. The 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, where the King of Sparta led his army against the advancing Persians.

With Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham, Vincent Regan

Writers: Zack Snyder & Kurt Johnstad and Michael Gordon (from the graphic novel by Frank Miller & Lynn Varley)
Director: Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder interview 1
Zack Snyder interview 2
Zack Snyder interview 3

Official site

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Amazing Grace


Biographical drama. The idealist William Wilberforce maneuvers his way through Parliament in 18th century England, endeavoring to end slavery in the empire.

With Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon,Romola Garai, Ciarán Hinds,Toby Jones, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Youssou N'Dour, Bill Paterson, Rufus Sewell

Writer: Steven Knight
Director: Michael Apted

Production interview

Official site

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Catch a Fire


Drama. In Apartheid-era South Africa, a policeman confronts a young man he believes is carrying out solo attacks against the regime.

With Tim Robbins, Derek Luke, Bonnie Mbuli, Mncedisi Shabangu, Tumisho Masha

Writer: Shawn Slovo
Director: Phillip Noyce

Shawn Slovo interview

Official site

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Catch and Release


Romantic comedy-drama. A woman has to cope with the death of her fiance.

With Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Sam Jaeger, Kevin Smith, Juliette Lewis, Joshua Friesen, Fiona Shaw, Tina Lifford

Writer: Susannah Grant
Director: Susannah Grant

Susannah Grant interview

Official site

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The Gigolos


Drama. A gigolo and his valet search for love and friendship in the twilight world of the London male escort.

With Sacha Tarter, Trevor Sather, Susannah York, Anna Massey, Siân Phillips, Angela Pleasence, Basil Moss

Writers: Sacha Tarter & Trevor Sather & Richard Bracewell
Director: Richard Bracewell

Richard Bracewell interview

Official site

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I Want Candy


Comedy. Two aspiring film-students find themselves making a porn film in Leatherhead.

With Tom Riley, Jimmy Carr, Mackenzie Crook, Carmen Electra, Richard Glover, Miranda Hart, Philip Jackson, Felicity Montagu, John Standing

Writers: Peter Hewitt, Phil Hughes, Jamie Minoprio, Jonathan M. Stern
Director: Stephen Surjik

Official site

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Namastey London


Romantic drama. A British brat meets a 'Funjabi' boy

With Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Rishi Kapoor, Upen Patel, Javed Sheikh

Writer: Suresh Nair
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah

Official site

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TMNT


Action-adventure. The turtle heroes have grown apart as a family but a new danger to the world means they're needed more than ever.

With (voicework): Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mako, Kevin Smith, Patrick Stewart, Laurence Fishburne

Writer: Kevin Munroe (based on Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird comic book)
Director: Kevin Munroe

Kevin Munroe interview 1
Kevin Munroe interview 2
Kevin Munroe interview 3 (video)

Official site

_________________________________________

23 March, 2007

Adrian Mead seminar notes: Part 1

David Bishop:

"Adrian Mead impressed a lot of screenwriting bloggers with his seminar in London last Saturday. I attended a similar event in Edinburgh in February 2006 and took copious notes. For all those who haven't been able to make it to one of Adrian's excellent sessions, here's the first half of my notes."

BBC Writersroom Blog

This has just launched. Hurrah!

22 March, 2007

A message to young playwrights: don't be so boring

The Guardian:

"Theatre is irrelevant to most of the population and audiences have been drifting away for decades. What's to be done? Well, I have a suggestion" - Anthony Neilson

Scriptcloud

Scriptcloud:

"Welcome to Scriptcloud, the site that let’s you create tag clouds from your screenplay as a way of analyzing and visualizing the content of your screenplay."

Useful innovation to help screenwriting or the most pointless waste of time since Torchwood. You decide.

ITV commissions new continuing drama

ITV has ordered 50 x 30-minute episodes of The Royal Today from ITV Productions, which beat off competition from around a dozen indies selected to pitch for the commission. It's a spin-off from the Sunday night favourite but set in the present day.

ITV director of factual and daytime Alison Sharman said she wanted to "restore the great ITV tradition of delivering quality afternoon drama".

She said: "The Royal is a prestigious brand for ITV1 and The Royal Today will give our daytime audience something of real quality."

The Royal Today will be executive produced by Keith Richardson and Ken Horn and will go out later this year across weekdays.

It was Sharman who successfully launched daytime drama Doctors and The Afternoon Play when she was at the BBC. Incidentally, Channel 4 tried it with The Courtroom a couple of years ago but the restrictive format doomed it to failure.

50 x 30 is a lot of hours and so this is perhaps a time to start polishing your daytime TV spec or thinking about writing one.

(Source: Chris Curtis, Broadcast)

20 March, 2007

Brits dominate Golden Rose nominations

By Dominic Schreiber, Broadcast

UK shows picked up a total of 33 nominations ahead of the newly scaled down Golden Rose awards which takes place on May 9.

In the comedy category, Brits picked up eight nominations, with Talkback Thames nominated for two series, Green Wing and Man Stroke Woman, alongside Tiger Aspect's The Vicar of Dibley, Hat Trick's Worst Christmas of my Life, the BBC's That Mitchell & Webb Look, Pett Productions BBC3 series Tittybangbang and World Production's Perfect Day - The Millennium.

Confusingly, the sitcom category sees another five UK comedies up for nomination, including Avalon's Not Going Out, DLT's My Family, ITV production The Royle Family and the BBC's The Thick Of It.

Other UK programmes up for awards include Eastenders and The Bill, in the soap category. This year's Rose d'Or Festival will take place in Lucerne from May 5-9, with comedian Ben Elton set to host the award ceremony.

Subscribe to Broadcast

Writing for TV seminar notes

Dom:

"Play nice. Be generous with your information. Be polite, helpful and above all open to other people's suggestion even if you don't always agree with them. Maybe you can come up with another way? Being negative is only going to bring you negativity."

Pillock:

"9. Don't ever, ever send out half-baked material. Do the 'power of three:' Write the first draft, and make it as good as you can on your own. Show it to three positive people (you don't want sneers from a bitter, twisted frustrated writer in a black linen jacket, smoking roll-ups). Teach them how to give you feedback: you don't want them to start rewriting your script for you. Get them to ask questions, eg "Why did your character do that?" Buy your readers a drink or have them over: treat them as professional contacts--this makes them take it seriously. Make notes on their questions, don't argue, or tell them they missed something. You've got three people. If they all ask the same questions, you have something to sort out. Rewrite, then have a new set of three read it. Then, do it all again. 3x3=a polished script. It helps, too, to rest the script a week or two between drafts, as this helps you find stuff you somehow missed."

19 March, 2007

John Wells, "ER", forms writer co-op

Variety:

"Nineteen top scribes have enlisted in the Writers Co-Op, a production venture to be housed at John Wells Prods.

Co-Op is designed to give gross participation to screenwriters, along with a voice in how their scripts are turned into films. It will be staked under a first-look deal by Warner Bros., where Wells is based."

Coveting thy neighbour's drama

Broadcast (This article can be accessed by non-subscribers):

"Director Jon Sen dissects what makes American drama successful and uncovers a couple of secrets that the UK can steal."

"American writers have always really understood that an audience is loyal to characters not to plot."

17 March, 2007

Shark


Five bought Shark for its digital channel as it apparently wasn’t considered good enough for the main channel but with its other buy Vanished going belly up, leaving major cliffhangers that won’t ever be resolved, this legal drama gets a promotion with, cleverly, its inspiration House as a lead-in.

This House re-version got a full season order, which was a bit of a surprise. For some reason I thought its obvious origins would have viewers ignoring it as they did 3lbs. But while 3lbs was a bit more obvious in its homage, Shark has distanced itself much further. So while it keeps the basic structure, it has different characters and relationships - which is why it has held on to audiences.


At one point in the pilot Stark, nick-named Shark for his ruthlessness, states the character descriptions for his assistants which was shockingly on-the-nose but on reflection, it was just about justified and practically it means they can go straight into the story of the week and not waste time.


I wouldn’t call Shark a must-see as it’s a bit too simplistic and obvious but it is well-written and good enough entertainment. Soon the House comparisons will stop and it will find its own identity.

Shark
Five, Thursday, 10:00pm (and Five US, Friday 10:00pm)

Windfall


Ensemble dramas have been popular this season due to the success of Lost and each have tried to find some way of connecting the different people and holding it together. Trapping them on an island is the easiest way, Windfall links 20 friends and acquaintances who share a lottery win.

However those ensemble dramas (with one exception) have failed to get high enough ratings and have been cancelled or put on hiatus. Just like this one. It was tried out in the summer (or dumped in the summer more likely) and, although it completed its run, there won’t be a second series.

The problem with ensemble dramas is that there may be too many characters and stories for the audience to keep track of and those characters and stories have got to be interesting, obviously. Actually, I think you can probably get away with just most of those stories being interesting.

The first episode is a little packed with information but worth checking out, especially if you’re a soap fan and don't mind predictable storylines. Ultimately I wasn’t intrigued enough to keep watching.

Windfall
Five Life,
Fridays, 9:00pm

Opening Weekend

Eden


Romantic comedy drama. A chef falls for a married waitress.

With Josef Ostendorf, Charlotte Roche, Devid Striesow, Max Rüdlinger, Leonie Stepp

Writer: Michael Hofmann
Director: Michael Hofmann

Michael Hofmann interview 1
Michael Hofmann interview 2 (auf Deutsch)

Official site


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Factory Girl


Biographical drama. A rich woman drops out of college and becomes a muse to artists.

With Sienna Miller, Guy Pearce, Hayden Christensen, Jimmy Fallon

Writer: Captain Mauzner
Director: George Hickenlooper

Production interviews

Official site

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Family Friend (L'Amico di famiglia)


Drama. A repulsive loan shark obsessed with money becomes obsessed with a woman instead

With Luigi Angelillo, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Liliana Bernacciano, Clara Bindi

Writer: Paolo Sorrentino
Director: Paolo Sorrentino

---------------------------------------------------------------

Funny Ha Ha


Comedy-drama. Woman leaves college and is at a crossroads.

With Kate Dollenmayer, Mark Herlehy, Christian Rudder, Jennifer L. Schaper

Writer: Andrew Bujalski
Director: Andrew Bujalski

Andrew Bujalski interview 1
Andrew Bujalski interview 2
Andrew Bujalski interview 3

Official site

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Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus


Biographical drama about the acclaimed and hugely influential photographer.

With Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr., Ty Burrell, Harris Yulin, Jane Alexander

Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (adapted from Patricia Bosworth's book)
Director: Steven Shainberg

Erin Cressida Wilson interview 1 (video)
Erin Cressida Wilson interview 2 (begins halfway down page)

Official site

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Molly's Way


Drama. An Irishwoman goes to Poland to try and find a man she met briefly who might be the father to her baby.

With Mairead McKinley, Miroslaw Baka, Adrianna Biedrzynska, Ute Gerlach

Writer: Emily Atef, Esther Bernstorff
Director: Emily Atef

Official site

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Premonition


Supernatural thriller. A woman has a premonition that her hubby's about to cop it.

With Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Shyann McClure, Courtney Taylor Burness, Nia Long, Marc Macaulay, Kate Nelligan

Writer: Bill Kelly
Director: Mennan Yapo

Production interview

Official site

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Stomp the Yard


Musical romantic drama. Homeboy goes to college and finds his mad dance skillz are wanted by two rival frat houses. A'ight?

With Columbus Short, Meagan Good, Ne-Yo, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Brian J. White, Laz Alonso

Writer: Robert Adetuyi (from the screenplay by Gregory Ramon Anderson)
Director: Sylvain White

Official site

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Sleeping Dogs (Stay)


Comedy drama. A woman indulges with heavy petting with her pet and wonders if she should be honest about it.

With Melinda Page Hamilton, Bryce Johnson, Geoffrey Pierson, Colby French

Writer: Bob Goldthwait
Director: Bob Goldthwait

Bob Goldthwait interview

12 March, 2007

Richard Jeni is dead

BBC News:

"US stand-up comedian Richard Jeni, who was a frequent guest on the popular Tonight Show and appeared in several films, has died in an apparent suicide."

YouTube:

Why does Edward Albee hate directors?

The Guardian Blog:

"The author of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? recently laid into those who 'distort' his plays. I suspect he hasn't met his match."

Joss Whedon, "Buffy", interview

L A Times:

"On March 14, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will return in comic book form. Joss Whedon, "Buffy's" creator, has written the first five issues and will oversee — or "executive produce," he says — the whole arc as if it were a television show. Whedon has enlisted former "Buffy" staff writers, along with a few writers from the comic book world, to join him in continuing the story, which is scheduled to run for at least 30 issues to be released monthly. Whedon, the show's fans and the series' publisher, Dark Horse Comics, have deemed it "Buffy Season Eight."

11 March, 2007

Soundtrack

Because choosing the music for your films is more fun than writing them...

-----------------------------------

Broken Social Scene


I heard a Feist song, "Mushaboom", in two adverts and bought the album it was on. In trying to investigate what the track was called and who it was by, I discovered she was part of a Canadian super-group called Broken Social Scene (BSS).

Feist is good but I was gobsmacked by BSS and they became my new favourite band and that love hasn't diminished. BSS have scored a new film The Tracey Fragments so they'll have experience when it comes to doing mine.

Incidentally, my search also led to the wonderful Metric, also part of BSS, who are worth checking out too. The other individuals/groups that make up BSS are being checked out as time and money allows.

Official site
Wikipedia
Myspace


-----------------------------------


Arcade Fire


I played the first album by this Canadian band to death and loved it but as everybody else started to love them and as my iPod filled up with more new music I moved on. It was my loss. On anticipation of the new album, "Neon Bible" I played the old one, "Funeral", again and it is so awesome it has to be played at least once a week. And you might as well add the new album to that prescription as well for the same reasons.

Official site
Wikipedia

10 March, 2007

Kidnapped


There were two kidnapping dramas airing in the Fall season. First up to the plate was Vanished which had a good pilot but proved to be a bit rubbish and was cancelled (Five bought it and may show it in the autumn) and Kidnapped which I thought was less rubbish but rubbish nonetheless and was also cancelled.

However I’ve just watched the first two episodes of Kidnapped again and ‘rubbish’ is perhaps too harsh. It is average and clichéd but it is OK.


The problem with a serial drama is that it has to be compelling and not just OK. With so many good shows requiring a lot of time commitment you have to be really good to get people making an appointment to view.

Of course, as with many shows, there’s a hard-core of fans who remained loyal and loved it but it wasn’t enough to keep the show on air. Although at least they got the opportunity to see the remaining unaired episodes online.


As we attempt to write our own thrillers, I think it’s useful to actively think about whether the characters are complex enough to care about, if you’re intrigued by the storytelling or whether the tension is too slack. Is there too much information you need to retain or is the level about right? Is it too convoluted or are the twists natural and believable?

The original order for the show was 22 episodes which was wildly optimistic considering the premise but it was cut back to 13 and the writers were allowed to tie up the loose ends. Channel 4 are showing those 13 eps in 6 parts.

Kidnapped,
Channel 4, Tuesday, 10:00pm (repeated on E4, Friday)

3lbs


3lbs is a drama which follows the medical careers of prominent brain surgeon Doctor Douglas Hanson and his protégé Jonathan Seger. The title refers to the fact that the average human brain weighs approximately three pounds.

With some pilots it’s pretty obvious it’s going to be cancelled pretty soon. It’s clear when the format and characters are stale and underdeveloped and unlikely to generate enough good stories for half a season, never mind a full season. Obvious and clear to me and several reviewers anyway. But not to the BBC who paid £300k an ep for this rubbish. CBS cancelled after only three episodes were shown.


It was modelled after House but House gets to deal with the whole body, dealing with just the brain is just too restrictive, making the stories seem too samey. Perhaps that restriction could have led them to creative highs, as restrictions often do, but the first three eps gave no indication of that.


CBS were being a little cynical in that the left-field Smith, with thieves as protags, was replaced with a more familiar doctors as protags which was a barely disguised clone of Fox’s hit show. But even the conservative CBS audience knows when they are being patronised and shunned the show.

Incidentally Shark (bought by Five) is also a barely disguised clone of House but it’s about lawyers. Which gave it just enough distance to be fresh and familiar – one of my mantras.


The other problem with 3lbs was the relationships. They have a fairly small cast, which didn’t help, and the relationships weren’t interesting enough. There’s a potential romance which rang false like the biggest bell in the world.

See what you think.

3lbs, BBC
Sundays, 10:50pm


(Also on UK Gold later in the year)--

09 March, 2007

Opening Weekend

After the Wedding (Efter brylluppet)


Drama. A manager of an orphanage in India is sent to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he discovers a life-altering family secret

With Mads Mikkelsen, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Rolf Lassgård, Stine Fischer Christensen

Writer: Susanne Bier, Anders Thomas Jensen
Director: Susanne Bier

Susanne Bier interview

Official site

---------------------------------------------

Becoming Jane


Romantic drama. A biographical portrait of a pre-fame Jane Austen and her romance with a young Irishman.

With Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith

Writer: Kevin Hood, Sarah Williams
Director: Julian Jarrold

Production article

Official site

---------------------------------------------

Duelist (Hyeongsa)


Period action drama. Police investigate counterfeiters out to destroy the government.

With Ji-won Ha, Sung-kee Ahn, Dong-won Kang, Young-chang Song

Writer: Hae-jyung Lee, Myung-se Lee
Director: Myung-se Lee

Press kit (including Myung-se Lee interview)[pdf]

Official site

---------------------------------------------

Gone


Thriller. A young British couple traveling through the Australian outback become involved with a mysterious American.

With Amanda Noret, Tony Barry, Shaun Evans, Scott Mechlowicz

Writers: Andrew Upton, James Watkins
Director: Ringan Ledwidge

Official site

---------------------------------------------

The Good German


Thriller. A military journalist is drawn into a murder mystery in post-war Berlin.

With Jack Thompson, John Roeder, George Clooney, Tobey Maguire, Cate Blanchett

Writer: Paul Attanasio (from Joseph Kanon's novel)
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Production interviews

Official site

---------------------------------------------

Inland Empire


Mystery drama. A female actor falls for her co-star during filming and finds that real-life is mirroring the film.

With Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton

Writer: David Lynch
Director: David Lynch

David Lynch interview 1
David Lynch interview 2
David Lynch interview 3

Official site

---------------------------------------------

Norbit


Romantic comedy. A man engaged to a woman he doesn't like wants to get with one he does like.

With Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton,Terry Crews, Clifton Powell, Lester "Rasta" Speight, Cuba Gooding Jr., Eddie Griffin

Writer: Jay Scherick & David Ronn
Director: Brian Robbins

Official site

---------------------------------------------

Outlaw



Action drama. A group of people who feel betrayed by their government and let down by their police force form a modern-day outlaw posse in order to right what they see as the wrongs of society.

With Sean Bean, Danny Dyer, Lennie James, Rupert Friend, Sean Harris, Bob Hoskins

Writer: Nick Love
Director: Nick Love

Nick Love interview 1
Nick Love interview 2

Official site

---------------------------------------------

08 March, 2007

S. Florida cop, hairdresser claim they wrote script for Wild Hogs

South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

"A Pembroke Pines cop and a South Florida hairdresser say they wrote the script for a Hollywood movie set for release today and they want recognition and their share of the proceeds."

The Teleplayers

Theatermania:

"Playwrights such as Krista Vernoff, Craig Wright, and Marsha Norman are making their mark on hit TV shows including Grey's Anatomy, Lost, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

Directing as Defensive Screenwriting

Eddie's Blog-a-Thon Board:

"It was a career spanning six decades, featuring some of the most cherished examples of the filmmaker’s craft in the annals of Hollywood history. The Wilder canon is stunning, not only for the number of classics it produced, but for the variety of genres it encompassed; who else, apart from Howard Hawks, ran the gamut from screwball comedy to film noir, taking pause to explore all of the ground in between?

And – in a twist worthy of a Wilder screenplay - it all might never have been if not for a cockroach."

07 March, 2007

Time And Small Things

1000 Dollar Film

"The temptation when trying to emulate Hollywood is that we look at emulating the big things and yet...it is in the intimate details that a script becomes magical."

Edward Albee, playwright, interview

LA Weekly:

"Edward Albee is a national treasure, recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the 2005 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. Albee worked in the experimental off-Broadway movement in the early ’60s. The Broadway premiere of his Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (first produced in 1962) and the subsequent film version with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton landed Albee on the international stage. Despite Pulitzer Prizes for A Delicate Balance (1967) and Seascape (1975), Albee’s maintained a continuing attraction to the Theater of the Absurd."

A New Way to Put on a Play

The New York Sun:

"The theater company 13P (for 13 Playwrights, Inc.) launched in 2003 with a slogan that was designed to grab attention. "We don't develop plays. We do them" was a dig at the way big theaters tend to approach new work: by sponsoring readings or workshops that only in rare cases lead to a production."

Hollywood gets fact-checked - Breaking news causes third-act rewrites

Variety:

"True stories and the subjects involved in them often take unpredictable turns, and sometimes blow up after the studios have invested millions of dollars in script drafts and rights fees."

05 March, 2007

Day Break


This intricate, intelligent and imaginative drama is one of those brave commissions from US network television where they trusted that viewers would stick with something they have to make an effort for. Unfortunately not enough viewers did and it was cancelled with half the episodes still to air.

Although I was very disappointed, I'm aware of the harsh realities of the US market-place and think, overall, it's good as it raises standards to a much higher level, as opposed to a more laissez-faire market where there might not be an incentive to do proper development or second drafts.

However, this ruthless policy left serial dramas in a vicious circle. Audiences realised that it wasn't worth committing the considerable time to a serial drama as it might get cancelled without them knowing the ending and so serial drama had lower audiences which led in turn to them being more likely to get cancelled.

So to encourage viewers networks promised to show the rest of the series online should it be cancelled. I'm not convinced that entirely resolves the issue but fans do get their closure. This is what happened to Day Break and having caught up with the unbroadcast episodes on ABC.com, I would have to say it was well worth it in the end.

So what is it about? It's Groundhog Day meets 24. "Detective Brett Hopper is accused of killing Assistant District Attorney Alberto Garza. He offers a solid alibi which no one believes. He realizes he's been framed. And he runs, discovering en route that not only he, but also his loved ones are in danger. He then wakes up and relives the same day over and over again. In order to break the cycle and move on, he has to figure out who framed him and solve the complex mystery surrounding Garza's death. He is also forced to heal the fractured relationships with those he loves. Either Hopper can break this day, or this day will break Hopper."

It shouldn't work but it does. Each day begins the same and you get variations on that as Hopper uses the knowledge he learned the previous day to avoid problems, find more clues or help people. That could get repetitive but it doesn't at all. Being a logic-fascist I was certain that it couldn't hold together all the plot-threads - especially after a minor logic-flaw early on - but it did.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever done. It's not just a puzzle that has to be different every week, but it needs to be emotional. The thing that people will respond to, beyond the delight of how the day is repeated in different ways, is the character of Hopper. They're going to be invested in him." Jeffrey Bell, showrunner


To be honest the week before it was pulled from the schedules, I was wondering if I should continue as there is just so long you can withhold answers before people get frustrated and wonder if it's going to be worth it. I was thinking that maybe it would have worked better as a mini-series of 8 or so episodes. However now I've seen the rest of the season, I'm disappointed that we won't ever see season 2.


Because the season was completed before it was cancelled, they weren't able to resolve why the repeating day was happening (as that was meant to be a season 2 revelation) so I would say don't worry about the 'why' just enjoy the fun of the consequences.

This is recommended but I suggest sticking with it past the slightly muddled first couple of episodes and see if you've enjoyed or you're annoyed.

Podcast with creator, Paul Zbyszewski (mp3)
Jeffrey Bell, showrunner, interview

Day Break,
Bravo, Wednesdays, 10:00pm