30 June, 2007

Opening Weekend

Awarapan


Bollywood action romance. A man has to keep tabs on his gangster boss's girlfriend.

With Emraan Hashmi, Rehan Khan, Mrinalini Sharma, Shreya

Writer: Mohit Suri
Director: Mohit Suri

Official site

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The Flying Scotsman


Biographical drama. About Graeme Obree, the Champion cyclist who built his bicycle from old bits of washing machines.

With Jonny Lee Miller,Sean Brown,Joseph Carney,Crawford McInally-Keir,Jan Plazalski

Writers: John Brown, Declan Hughes, Simon Rose
Director: Douglas Mackinnon

Production notes including Simon Rose interview

Official site

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The Golden Door (Nuovomondo)


Drama. At the turn of the last century, a very poor farmer, widower, decides to emigrate to US with all his family from Sicily.

With Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vincenzo Amato, Aurora Quattrocchi, Francesco Casisa, Filippo Pucillo

Writer: Emanuele Crialese
Director: Emanuele Crialese

Emanuele Crialese interview
Emanuele Crialese interview (en français)

Official site

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Hostel: Part II


Horror. Three American college students studying abroad are lured to a Slovakian hostel, and discover the grim reality behind it
With Lauren German, Roger Bart, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Richard Burgi

Writer: Eli Roth
Director: Eli Roth

Eli Roth interview 1
Eli Roth interview 2
Eli Roth interview 3
Eli Roth interview 4 (video)
Eli Roth interview 5 (audio)

Official site

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Paris, I Love You (Paris, je t'aime)

Romance. 18 short films by 18 writer-directors

With Ludivine Sagnier, Gérard Depardieu, Marianne Faithfull, Gaspard Ulliel, Steve Buscemi, Barbet Schroeder, Miranda Richardson, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Nick Nolte, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gérard Depardieu, Gena Rowlands

Writer/Directors include: Walter Salles, Alfonso Cuarón, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, Gurinder Chadha and Joel and Ethan Coen.

Wikipedia
Official site

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Shrek the Third


Animated comedy adventure. When his new father-in-law, King Harold falls ill, Shrek is looked at as the heir to the land of Far, Far Away - but he doesn't want to give up his swamp.

With Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett Eric Idle, Justin Timberlake

Writers: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman, Jon Zack, etc
Directors: Chris Miller, Raman Hui

Official site

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Shutter


Supernatural horror. A young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident.

With Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Achita Sikamana, Unnop Chanpaibool

Writers: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom
Directors: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom

Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom interview

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Stolen Holidays (Les Petites vacances)


Comedy-drama. A grandmother decides to take her grandchildren on an extended holiday without permission or consent from their parents. As their illicit holiday extends further and further, the grandmother must evade the increasingly urgent efforts of the parents to get their children back.

With Bernadette Lafont, Adèle Csech, Lucas Franchi, Claude Brasseur, Claire Nadeau

Writers: Cyril Brody, Gladys Marciano, Olivier Peyon
Director: Olivier Peyon

Olivier Peyon interview (en français)

Official site

28 June, 2007

Buzz: "John from Cincinnati"


This new drama about three generations of famous surfers is what HBO hope will replicate the success of The Sopranos but unfortunately it's pretentious toss.

It's brought to us by David Milch who gave us Deadwood and surf-noir author Kem Nunn, who also has a Deadwood writing credit. Milch is revered in some quarters but non-naturalistic dialogue and unlikeable characters do not make you a genius. There are fans enthusiastically speculating and interpreting what it could all possibly mean but can't that mystery be combined with good story-telling?


I really don't mind being made to think, my love of The Wire is testament to that, the show gives me headaches, but John from Cincinnati just doesn't seem worth the effort. Rather than hidden depths revealing itself at some later stage I suspect it will remain shallow and self-indulgent. It's Milch saying "like it or lump it". Well, I'm lumping it.

The opening of episode 1 was deliberately obtuse and while Paul Schrader said "an audience will rather be confused than bored", I was both. Sure, Milch is a maverick and a rebel but when you lose two-thirds of your audience between episode 1 and 2 then maybe you have to re-think that rebellious maverickness.


The only likeable character is the younger surfer dude, which actually isn't a problem. I hated most of The Sopranos characters, for instance, but I was made to care about what happened to them. By going the non-naturalistic route and by the characters being simply mouthpieces in the debate about surfing being too commercial, they are difficult to identify with. But give those same characters Milch and Nunn have created to another showrunner and I suspect it would be brilliant as there is, frustratingly, some potential there.


And that's another thing, the 'prophet not profit' shtick is getting on my wick. Who really cares about surfing being too commercial. Is that really the big issue of the series? Will the bad sponsors give the younger surfer dude money? The suspense is so not fucking killing me.

My surfing days are behind me but I can keep up with what's going on by watching championships from all over the world on telly. That wouldn't be possible without sponsorship. It's especially galling coming from a multi-millionaire working in television. It could perhaps be argued that television is too commercial. If I was actually any good at surfing I would love to have been paid to do that and travel around the world.



The second episode was a slight improvement and more interesting things happened but there was never any sense that the main problem in the episode was a real problem and the ending was totally predictable - even for non-writers. It puzzles me how a life and death story can be made so dull. The style sucks all the dramatic tension out. Drama should be dramatic.


Each episode has been a slight improvement on the previous one and it could get better but I think the concept is fundamentally flawed and I can't imagine this finding a UK buyer or enough viewers to justify a second season..

27 June, 2007

Warner Music launches online comedy channel

Broadcast:

"QI producer John Lloyd has teamed up with the video content division of Warner Music International to launch Comedybox, an internet TV channel.

Lloyd will work with Warner Music Entertainment to commission content from established names and new talent as well as judging and promoting the best user-generated clips."

BBC comedy boss steps down

Broadcast:

"BBC comedy boss Jon Plowman – the man behind hits such as Absolutely Fabulous and The Office - is to step down later this year and return to making shows for the corporation."

26 June, 2007

Word of Mouth: "Captivity"


A model is sedated at a nightclub and wakes to find she is in a cell and has been captured by a mysterious bloke.

Captivity gained controversy in the States due to its advertising which was considered so graphic that the industry self-regulator banned it from advertising for a month. But the producer just pushed the release date back to 13 July.



The producer is now making this a debate about freedom of expression and is trying to set up meetings with feminists. That raises an interesting question: where is the line that shouldn’t be crossed? Should there be a line that shouldn’t be crossed? Unfortunately this film is such utter shite even a misogynist torturer would have difficulty defending it.

I honestly had no idea the film would be so bad when I saw it. The blurb indicated a Saw rip-off but with Larry Cohen writing and Roland Joffé directing I assumed it had more to it but it’s shallower than Charley from Big Brother.

We don’t get to know the lead character and so when she is in captivity, we don’t really care all that much. Sure, you think ‘that’s not very nice’ but an audience needs more than that usually. It’s the difference between your friend dying of hunger and someone in Africa dying of hunger. Extreme example, but who will you care more about? But find out that stranger's name, their hopes, dreams and desires and even though there is no personal connection you can't help but care.

But the real problem is that once she is captured the character doesn’t act like you or I would do in that situation. This extends to the baddie as well - what does he actually want and is what he’s doing really the best way of going about it? It is such an elaborate expensive scheme, it doesn’t really make sense.


What they haven’t realised is that what made Saw so popular wasn’t the torture but why the character wanted to do the torture and how characters reacted to the threat of torture. The baddie in Saw was actually trying to do good and help people - it’s just the kind of help that, given the choice, you might be inclined to decline.

According to the trades there was a version shown at festivals which was better but the producer persuaded Roland Joffé to add more torture. But the torture isn’t the issue – it’s actually pretty tame and lame - it’s the structure, story and characters.


There’s a twist which might have made it more interesting but it was merely the start of even more unbelievable bollocks. Normally I would have walked out at several points earlier but I was curious to see how they could possibly resolve it satisfactorily. Obviously, they couldn’t.

I can’t go into details without spoilers but everything stems from under-developed characters doing things which don’t make sense just to move the plot along. Towards the end the events are so laughable they wouldn't have looked out of place in a spoof.

I can’t recommend seeing this film, not because it’s misogynist but because it’s a mess.

New York Times article
Joe Carnahan blog – The Torture Porn Thing

23 June, 2007

10 Screenwriters to Watch

Variety have chosen the top 10 emerging scribes to look out for this year.

And to think I once thought of them as authoritative and factually accurate. Bastards.

21 June, 2007

Play & Record


Play & Record is a composite broken comedy show for BBC7, made up of sketches, characters, songs, and other odds and ends from a wide range of writers and performers. It's intended to introduce new talent to BBC7, so one thing we are definitely looking for is writers who have yet to have material performed on the radio.

It might be standalone sketches, sketches that could return week on week, sketches that could develop a thread through a show... characters who might appear repeatedly... cartoonish serials... The brief is really very wide.

We are looking for strong, joke-heavy material that will make listeners laugh a lot. It's very hard to say what we want exactly (funny, a bit different, lots of jokes). Basically, Play and Record is supposed to be a scratchpad for new material, so if it's funny, it will go in.

Each show will have four performers (2 male and 2 female) which is a factor you might want to bear in mind when writing.

Please send one or two sketches which you think are your very best work. If we like those, we'll get back to you for more. Longer submissions, outlines, or sketch ideas will not be read - sorry, but we just don't have the time.

Please email any questions or submissions for Play & Record to the producer: victoria.lloyd*AT*bbc.co.uk

The series will be recorded in London and Scotland in August/September for transmission this Autumn on BBC7.

Deadline: 9:00am on Monday 16 July 2007.


4 Talent Awards


"We're scouring the UK for the next wave of exciting young creatives for the 4Talent Awards 2007. Spanning the whole of the creative industries, from filmmakers to fashionistas, screenwriters to illustrators, architects to actors, writers to web designers - we want to hear from you.

Submission guidelines

The 4Talent Awards are all about new talent. They are:

* Completely free to enter.
* Open to anyone unstoppably creative...
* ...provided you're under 30 on 31/12/07.


Tipped for great things, a Top 20 will be whittled down by an expert panel of judges from Channel 4 and elsewhere and given:

* Exposure on 4Talent, including a spread in TEN4 magazine and a profile in our handpicked Talent Directory.
* A personalised 4Talent Award.
* A UK-wide publicity push, backed by Channel 4."

More details

Deadline: Wednesday 1 August.

Opening Weekend

Captivity


Thriller. A man and a woman awaken to find themselves captured in a cellar. As their kidnapper drives them psychologically mad, the truth about their horrific abduction is revealed.

With Elisha Cuthbert, Daniel Gillies, Pruitt Taylor, Laz Alonso, Michael Harney, Rebekah Ryan

Writer: Larry Cohen and Joseph Tura
Director: Roland Joffé

Official site

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Living the Dream


Comedy-drama. A satire about two creative and ambitious friends in Los Angeles

With Sean Young, Christian Schoyen, Danny Trejo, Marília Pêra, Matt Dallas, Dan Stulbach, Jeff Conaway

Writers: Christian Schoyen, Luis Fernandez Reneo
Directors: Allan Fiterman, Christian Schoyen

The first ten minutes (video)

Official site

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Lucky You


Comedy-drama. A hotshot poker player tries to win a tournament in Vegas, but is fighting a losing battle with his personal problems

With Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Horatio Sanz, Joey Kern, Debra Messing, Jean Smart, Charles Martin Smith, Robert Duvall

Writer: Eric Roth & Curtis Hanson
Director: Curtis Hanson

Curtis Hanson interview 1 (video)
Curtis Hanson interview 2

Official site

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Roanoke: The Lost Colony


Historical drama. A fictional tale based on the true events of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island in 1587.

With James Alexander, Michael Armstrong, Charlie Billson, Andy Courtney, Misha Crosby

Writer: Shane Robert
Director: Bertie Stephens

Official site

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La Vie en rose


Biographical drama. The life story of singer Edith Piaf.

With Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean-Paul Rouve, Gérard Depardieu

Writer: Olivier Dahan, Isabelle Sobelman
Director: Olivier Dahan

Olivier Dahan interview 1
Olivier Dahan interview 2

Official site

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18 June, 2007

Baby Cow making online sitcom

Broadcast

"Steve Coogan and Henry Normal's production company, Baby Cow, is partnering in the development of an interactive online sitcom that encourages the public to influence the storyline.

The comedy, called Where are the Joneses?, follows a brother and sister who discover that their father was a prolific sperm donor and subsequently travel through Europe in search of their numerous siblings.

Their adventures are filmed and uploaded to wherearethejoneses.com each day. Footage is available to be viewed in an embedded YouTube window."

Capturing the feminine mystique

Variety:

"Women have been writing men, and vice versa, in Hollywood since the days of Anita Loos, Francis Marion, Ruth Gordon and Dorothy Parker.

But in television recently, a particular female orientation in such ABC shows as "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy," "Brothers & Sisters" and "Men in Trees" -- with their complicated, beautifully flawed women characters -- once again brings up the age-old question: How important is the female writer's point of view, and what do male writers bring to the mix?"

Animation industry hopes for more grown-up 'toons


Reuters/Yahoo:

"From cartoon Avatars in the online world "Second Life" to the characters in video games, U.S. adults are embracing animation, say filmmakers, who see the form growing up and away from Hollywood's family-friendly cartoon staples.

Anime, the popular Japanese animation film format that is often used to tell complex dark stories, has also been inspiring filmmakers who think it could catch on with older audiences.

"We used to hear that animation for adults wouldn't work, but now all our competitors are doing the same," said Mike Lazzo, senior vice president of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, the evening lineup of animated shows aimed at 18-to-34-year-olds, like "Robot Chicken" and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

The latter has spawned the film, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters." Made for $1 million, it has already grossed nearly $6 million at theaters since its April opening and is being hailed as a cult hit."

Damon Lindelof, "Lost", interview

Post-season finale - huge spoiler in headline

E!

"It was unfortunate. I think there will always be people who want to turn to the last page of the book, but I feel that those people are almost universally disappointed with what they read there, because if it's cool, they don't understand the context, and if it sucks, they feel like they've saved themselves time. But no one skips to the end of life. You have to live it, and it's just disappointing to me that people don't respect the integrity of the show enough to let it unfold naturally. There is a fine line between intriguing the audience with what's to come and giving them the whole shebang. And I feel the line was crossed with the finale this year, and it's really disappointing."

17 June, 2007

Soundtrack

I featured these artists in a previous Soundtrack but I'm getting a bit obsessive and evangelical.

Puffy Ami Yumi and Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra - "Hazumu Riz"

This is like when two superheroes team up in comic books - except this time it's to battle mediocre pop music not supervillains.




Ai Otsuka - "Chu-lip"

This is about Ai worrying about fancying a man who looks like her dad but deciding that theories don't matter and love is all that counts. Tulips are some sort of strange metaphor for love. Very bizarre video and very catchy song.

16 June, 2007

Gaius Christ, Superstar!

This is pretty genius. For Battlestar Galactica fans only. Quite spoilery.

Mary Fengar Gail, playwright, interview

San Diego Union Tribune:

“Most plays still tend to be domestic realism or naturalism. They take us to familiar worlds, which I think TV and movies do very well,” Gail said. “I think theatre should take us to unfamiliar worlds in a magical way. More magic, more madness, heightened passion, acting that's beyond verisimilitude. That's the sort of theatre I like.”

15 June, 2007

Brothers & Sisters


Channel 4 had to take a gamble with this as the pilot they saw at the LA screenings was dodgy. It was re-cast and re-tooled and re-written but some dodginess still remained. However, if you bear with it, it gradually becomes one of the best shows of the season.


Brothers & Sisters is about a large family in LA with a huge family secret that gets revealed by the events at the end of episode one. It begins with Kitty coming back to LA for a job interview but reluctant to go home due to a strained relationship with her mother.

The show was created by playwright Jon Robin Baitz, after an invitation by his producer friend Ken Olin of thirtysomething, and the showrunner is Greg Berlanti of Everwood. I believe it's actually Berlanti joining the show that rescued it. Unfortunately he has had two shows of his own picked up and won't be there next season. A genius showrunner is literally worth millions and I wouldn't like to be in his replacement's shoes: Mark Perry of One Tree Hill.


Brothers & Sisters is not just a family drama but an issues drama with Kitty as a neo-con nut-job in a family of mostly normal liberals, which does result in some good conflicts. In the first episode Kitty predicts that her family will see the rest of the country going to her point of view but instead President Bush was getting the lowest approval ratings ever and the Republicans lost the the Senate and the House of Representatives. It would have been brave if Kitty had remained as steadfast as Anne Coulter but she creeped a bit to the left and even ended up denouncing the Iraq war.


Kevin has the burden of being the main sparring partner to Kitty as the liberal conscience of the show and also representing the gay cause. I admit I was expecting him to be a reverse stereotype and be perfect in every way, due to the creator of the show and Berlanti being gay, but he is fully rounded as a character with lots of flaws and problems just like everyone else. That's something to consider when we create characters who are versions of ourselves or espouse some cause we're passionate about.


One thing to look out for is that it is a huge family but they introduce everyone quite well in the first six minutes. Look at Kevin's introduction. We needed to know he was gay but how do you do it without obvious exposition? He says "that was too gay a sentence even for me." It's not exactly subtle but it is natural and something he would say.

We see Kevin in a big office all to himself so we know he's high powered but we don't know what he does. Rather than clunkily introduce that at the same time of telling us his sexuality, they save it for later. He's on the phone as he comes into the family house, "I'm your lawyer not your nurse." Again something he would say normally plus exposition coming out in conflict rarely feels like you're being given information.

As an exercise, see what we find out about the other members of the family and how that information is given in that first ten minutes. It's not always done verbally but visually as well.


Brothers & Sisters was lucky in that it was scheduled to follow Desperate Housewives with no serious competition which helped its high ratings but it did have to keep the audience once it inherited them.

My initial view was that it would struggle in the UK, not only because it's a low-concept political family drama, but that it's quite American. The first few episodes aren't exactly compelling, which doesn't help, but the amazing cast may pull viewers through until it moves from quite good to quality.



Jon Robin Baitz interview 1

Jon Robin Baitz interview 2
Ken Olin interview
Greg Berlanti interview
Writers blog

Brothers & Sisters
Channel 4, Wednesday 20 June, 8:30pm (ep1) 10:00pm (ep2)
E4, 11:00pm (ep3)
(catch-up repeats Saturday 23 June)

14 June, 2007

Opening Weekend

Exiled (Fong juk)


Action drama. Two hitmen arrive in Macao to kill a fellow hitman who wants to change jobs

With Anthony Wong, Chau-Sang, Francis Ng, Simon Yam, Nick Cheung, Richie Ren, Roy Cheung

Writers: Kam-Yuen Szeto, Tin-Shing Yip
Director: Johnny To

Official site

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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer


Action adventure. The Fantastic Four learn that they aren't the only super-powered beings in the universe when they square off against the powerful Silver Surfer and the planet-eating Galactus.

With Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne, Doug Jones

Writers: Don Payne and Mark Frost (from Mark Frost and John Turman story)
Director: Tim Story

Don Payne interview 1
Don Payne interview 2 (video)

Official site

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Frankie


Drama. The story of a model who reaches the end of her short career as a catwalk queen

With Diane Kruger, Jeannick Gravelines, Brigitte Catillon, Christian Wiggert, Jay Alexander

Writer: Fabienne Berthaud
Director: Fabienne Berthaud

Fabienne Berthaud interview 1
Fabienne Berthaud interview 2 (en français)
Fabienne Berthaud interview 3 (en français)

Official site

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Grow Your Own


Comedy. An English community gets testy when a refugee family is granted a plot of land on which to grow vegetables.

With Benedict Wong, Eddie Marsan, Pearce Quigley, Omid Djalili, Philip Jackson, John Henshaw

Writers: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Carl Hunter
Director: Richard Laxton

Frank Cottrell Boyce article

Production interview

Official site


***** Script Factory Event *****
***** with Frank Cottrell Boyce & Richard Laxton *****

***** Tuesday 19 June *****


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Messages


Thriller. A pathologist deals with murder cases while trying to come to terms with the loss of his wife in an accident.

With Jeff Fahey, Kim Thomson, Jon-Paul Gates, Martin Kove, Bruce Payne, Geraldine Alexander, Eileen Daly, Samia Rida

Writer: Wayne Kinsey, Ivan Levene
Director: David Fairman

Official site

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Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne)


Thriller. A paediatrician tries to come to terms with the murder of his wife, eight years before, possibly by a serial killer

With François Cluzet, Marie-Josée Croze, André Dussollier, Kristin Scott Thomas, François Berléand, Nathalie Baye, Jean Rochefort, Marina Hands

Writer: Guillaume Canet (from the novel by Harlan Coben)
Director: Guillaume Canet

Guillaume Canet interview (video)(en français)

Official site

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Vacancy


Thriler. A young married couple becomes stranded at an isolated motel and finds hidden video cameras in their room. They realise that unless they escape, they'll be the next victims of a snuff film

With Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson, Frank Whaley, Ethan Embry

Writer: Mark L. Smith
Director: Nimród Antal

Mark L. Smith interview

Official site

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The Wild Blue Yonder


Sci-fi fantasy. a group of astronauts are circling the earth in a spacecraft, but they cannot return, as our planet has become uninhabitable so they have to find a more hospitable place out there in space,

With Brad Dourif, Capt. Donald Williams, Dr. Ellen Baker, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Shannon Lucid

Writer: Werner Herzog
Director: Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog interview

Official site

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13 June, 2007

Stereotypes and Development

Matthew Freeman:

"Currently involved in the Pretentious Festival. Reading things about Howard Barker. Reading about the Tony Awards. Reading about that piece in Salon (have you read it?) that basically says theatre is unpopular because TV has passed it by. (And because theater has been hijacked by development.)

What I'm hearing sounds something like this:

People in the theatre are pretentious snobs who write by candlelight, even though the rest of us are using lightbulbs. If you go to see a Broadway show, you're going to see a cheap, Circus-like knock-off of a movie or you're going to see a play that sounds like they had to blow the dust off of it before they put it on stage.

I'm also hearing, out there:

Theatre is high art, a landscape for the mind, a sort of spiritual happening that is ceaselessly compromised by the desires of the revolting marketplace and its progeny.

What I'm thinking:

Stereotypes."

Paul Cornell, "Dr Who","Primeval", interview

Resonance FM Podcast (mp3)

Film Financing: The Business of Getting your Film Made

Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th July, 9.30 - 5.30pm,
Central London
£195 + VAT



Overview

A two-day course on the current climate of film finance to provide you with a comprehensive overview of how to finance feature films - from low budget features that break all the rules to multi-million pound, international co-productions. Presented by producer and financier Alan Harris with guest industry speakers, this intensive but informal course develops your knowledge of different film financing techniques and funding sources. It enables you to understand the film marketplace and the key factors essential to getting feature films made, including:

* Sources of production finance: - what’s available, how to increase your film’s chances of getting it and how to combine it
* Financing overview: demystifying financial terminology and jargon; finance plans; recoupment schedules; packaging; rights
* Case studies: 2 producers talk about making their low and medium budget films
* International co-production: how to make it work
* Sales, marketing and distribution: the role they play in getting your film funded
* Demystifying financing and legal facts, figures and terminology
* How to close the deal: key legal issues you need to know
* Guest speakers: - leading financiers, distributors and fund executives

Who's it for?

Producers, writers, directors and anyone who wants to learn film financing fundamentals and understand how their work fits into the business of making films


More details

Mario Fratti, playwright, report

Garden City News:

"Fratti shared a secret to success, not simply in the world of literature but in all aspects of life: Persistence. Everyone must learn how to successfully deal with rejection and carry on. The persistent writers and other professionals are the only ones who achieve some measure of success. Just because you get rejected it does not mean you are not a good writer; he stated that he may send a play he has written to fifty producers and might receive about forty-six rejections."

12 June, 2007

Horror Screenplay Competition

Zoobody.com and producer Michael Meltzer are re-launching their horror screenplay competition due to the overwhelming response after the original deadline. The new deadline will be Midnight on July 4th, 2007, sign up at Zoobody.com.

Previous submissions are still actively reviewed for the competition, but if you feel that you didn't submit your best due to the tight deadline, you may revise or upgrade your treatment/script online at Zoobody.com.

"So many scripts came in after the deadline we felt we really needed to give the competition a little more time," says Zoobody CEO Dan Faiman.

Zoobody.com has also decided to utilize its technology to open the competition to not only treatments, but users can post trailers, clips, or images, to help pitch their film. Since Zoobody.com is trying to open access to Hollywood, film producer Michael Meltzer will be interacting and commenting to the users about their scripts.

"I am looking forward to the one on one interaction with the Zoobody users. This will allow me to help the users make a better product," says film producer Michael Meltzer.

Previous horror script submissions included Australia, Japan, and South America. The deadline for submissions is Midnight, July 4th, 2007. Log on to Zoobody.com to create a profile and upload your script. Zoobody.com

Web site: http://zoobody.com/

Deadline: 4 July 2007

How Not to Write a Play

The Huffington Post:

"A few weeks ago, the veteran playwright Richard Nelson, who is also chair of the playwriting department at the Yale School of Drama, gave an anguished keynote address to the Laura Pels Foundation. Less a speech than a howl, Nelson deplored the way the dramatist was being pushed around in today's non-profit theatre, especially by a horde of self-proclaimed experts eager to "help" the playwright and "improve" the play."

Writing screenplay a good answer

Contra Costa Times:

"DEAR MISS MANNERS: Since I began receiving disability income several years ago, I have often been asked what I do for a living. My disability has very personal aspects, and I sometimes do not feel comfortable talking about it. I have tried replying that I am writing a book, but many people are not satisfied with that answer. Would you please suggest a polite way to deal with this inquiry?

Gentle Reader: Not satisfied with "writing a book"? Why, Miss Manners can hardly think of a more respectable occupation that has no visible results for years. Try, "I'm writing a screenplay." Most Americans are. Besides, that counts as true even if you have only gotten to the stage of walking out of movie theaters thinking, "I could put together something better than that."

11 June, 2007

Spark Scriptwriting Scheme (Yorkshire)

Spark is open to writers with a genuine passion to develop their feature film and television scriptwriting skills. The scheme assists writers with strong ideas and a passionate desire to become a professional screenwriter to develop their ideas into treatments, and ultimately scripts.

Screen Yorkshire aims to run the Spark scheme every year. Selected participants will join the SPARK development programme of residential workshops and tutorials. At the end of the programme participants will be expected to submit a detailed treatment of their feature film idea. All treatments will be assessed by Screen Yorkshire and projects with a genuine potential will be given further support to develop further, either to a revised treatment or first draft script.

SPARK LAUNCH 2007!!!

This year's scheme will launch with a 3 day SPARK Writers Workshop being held at the National Media Museum, Bradford on the 10 - 12 July.The workshop will provide grounding in writing marketable feature film scripts, television drama and short film scripts. Attendance at the workshop is free, but registration is essential as places are limited. For details of how to register, DOWNLOAD THE GUIDELINES TO THE SCHEME HERE

More details

"The Only Way to Learn to Write is...to Do It!"



Lisa Evans is one of my writing heroes, I could always tell if I was listening to or watching something of hers, not just because of the higher than usual quality but her voice. She is running a course in London with the above title.


"We all have stories to tell.

Come to an all-day Saturday workshop and - in a supportive, creative environment - work with a professional writer at bringing those stories to life.

By the end of the day you will have learned how to express not only your voice but those of the other characters in your tale.

Places limited to give personal attention and feedback. Advice on how to sell your work, agents, format, etc will be given.

Venue: Chiswick, London W4
Date: Saturday 30th June 2007
Time: 10:00am- 4:00pm
Contact: 0790 508 2722 or
elisa.evans *at* blueyonder.co.uk

Cost: £75 – includes tea, coffee etc.
Visit www.lisaevans.biz for a list of stage, radio and television credits including EastEnders, Casualty, The Bill, Peak Practice."

10 June, 2007

Pitching

"On the Lot" was a reality show on Fox which was basically American Idol for directors. Actually, make that writer-directors as the directors have to write their own stuff and if they were crap writers then they went home early. The winner received a million dollar contract at Dreamworks.

Those directors had to come up with ideas for short films and film them quite quickly, which I acknowledge is a hard job, but what was strikingly obvious was the lack of originality. Most of the stories were either a re-hash of famous sketches or famous films. They generally weren't something taken from their own imagination, real life and truth.

I think those failed directors needed to focus on character more and invest more of themselves into those characters. Rather than re-writing a date scene from a movie they've seen, they should have started with their own views and experience of dating and spinning off of that. Original characters and truth is the best way to get a fresh story.

There's a perfect example of this early on in the series. The contestants were given one of five loglines and they had to go away and think of a film to pitch based on that. This is the logline the video clips relate to:


Obviously the contestants are also being judged on how clear their pitches are and how confident they present themselves but think about which film you would rather see and why.

Pitch 1




Pitch 2



The first pitch is all about events happening which pays little attention to the characters and how those events affect them.

The second pitch started with an intriguing character, a star priest destined to be the first American Pope. What's the worst thing that could happen to him? He falls in love. Of course there have been loads of priest falling in love stories but that second pitch doesn't remind me of any of them while the first pitch reminded me of The Exorcist as there was no character to care about, just the image of projectile vomiting.

We might not need to write a full script before we pitch, but we need to know our characters and our story.

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Loglines

The Construction of a logline (Christopher Lockhart)
Loglines and Synopsis (Wildsound)
Writing Loglines (Script Nurse)
Tips on loglines (Ink Tip)
Writing Loglines that Sell (Storylink)
Writing loglines for a comedy (John August)

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Synopsis

Writing a Synopsis (Danny Stack)
Tips on Synopses (Ink Tip)
5 Steps To Writing A Synopsis (Vivien Beck)
Brief synopsis (Market Your Screenplay)
Screenwriting Tips: Scripts/Synopsis (Jerrol LaBarron)
Suffering the Synopsis (Michael Steven Gregory)

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Pitching

The Construction of a Pitch (Christopher Lockhart)
Writing: The Pitch (John Rogers)
The Wind-up and the Pitch (Terry Rossio)
Pitching your story (William Goldman)
Preparing to Pitch Your Screenplay to a Studio (Dummies.com)
The Art of Pitching (Christopher Lockhart)
The Art of Pitching (Syd Field)
Concept is Everything When You Pitch (Hal Croasmun)
Pitching (Julie Grey)
Screenwriting 101: The Pitch (Todd Alcott)
The Story Engine: Lisa Holdsworth On Pitch Docs (Bloggery Pokery)
Pitch Perfect (Danny Stack)
Pitching Follow Up (Danny Stack)
Pitching 2.0 (Danny Stack)
Pitch-a-screenplay - Pitching To A Producer? (Nick Dunning)
Some Advice on Pitching (Christopher Lockhart)
Pitching Essentials - 1 (Elliot Grove)
Pitching Essentials - 2 (Elliot Grove)
5 Pitching Tips (Lucy Hay)

Fever Pitch



"Ever get that feeling that the plot of the latest blockbuster or TV drama is pretty lame? Can you do better? Now’s your chance to prove it!

You may have a great idea for a film, but have you got what it takes to convince a panel of tough industry professionals that your idea is the best, in only 5 minutes.

The Screenwriters’ Festival ‘07 in association with 4Talent want to give YOU the opportunity to pitch your amazing movie or TV idea to a stellar industry panel.

Several writers from last year’s pitching competition have already gone onto bigger and better things: some have had their ideas optioned or have been commissioned to write an original screenplay.

As Channel 4 and 4Talent are always on the lookout for new and emerging talent, this pitching competition is the perfect opportunity to get noticed. The three winners of FEVERpitch will get the chance to talk to Film4 Executives about their ideas as well as receiving a ticket and free accommodation to the rest of the Screenwriters’ Festival, Thursday 5th and Friday 6th July 2007.

So, if you have a drop-dead gorgeous idea for a feature film or TV drama in any genre, we wanna hear it. Write down your pitch in 25 words, then on a separate page, expand the synopsis to 150 words and email it to us. Out of all the entries we will shortlist ten who will attend the festival on Tuesday 3rd, and have a special coaching session on the Wednesday 4th July before the live pitching session."

More details

Deadline: Friday 22 June 2007

Long-term screenwriting programme


"Here at The Script Factory we’ve never previously offered a long-term screenwriting programme (or at least not one that’s not been specifically project-based) and we’ve decided it’s long overdue. Now, brand new for 2007/08, we’re delighted to launch our Practical Screenwriting Programme, designed to suit writers who are at the stage in their writing lives when a highly structured programme is just what’s needed to step up to the next stage.

Thoroughly immersing you in the art and craft of storytelling for film, this is a nine month programme which is both intellectual and very practical – and offers participants a unique opportunity to enter into a valuable real life development relationship mid way through the programme.

We’re looking for our first intake of students right now – but places are limited and the deadline for applications is rapidly approaching on 14 June.

To read full details of this exciting new programme, click here now"

Deadline: Thursday 14 June 2007

09 June, 2007

Syd Field, screenwriting guru, interview

Shooting People Podcasts

Syd Field (mp3):

"I was in Poland giving a talk to about 200 students at the Polish Film School.

I asked "How many of you want to write?" And most of the room raised their hand.

I asked, "How many of you have written two or more screenplays?" Not one person raised their hand.

"How many of you have written one screenplay?" Three people raised their hand.

I said, "You say you wanna be writers but why aren't you writing?".


"Well, nobody is paying me."

A writer writes. If you don't take the time to practice and hone your own skills, it ain't there. You've got to sit down and spend time learning your craft, and believe me it is a craft, that occasionally rises to the level of art - as Bill Goldman says. You've got a story to tell, you tell the story."

08 June, 2007

Runaway


One of the biggest surprises I have ever had in my life was discovering that E4 was showing this as the show was cancelled after airing only 3 episodes of the 13 ordered.

"Runaway chronicles the life of the Raders, an average middle-class American family who just moved to Bridgewater, Iowa from Potomac, Maryland. Although they may look like the perfect family neighbours see every day in their lives, the Raders are also a family with a secret: they are frequently on the run from the law. That's because Paul Rader, the patriarch of the family, was convicted for a crime that he didn't commit."

This is one of those serialised dramas like Kidnapped and Vanished which were unable to keep enough of an audience but the audience for Runaway was the worst of the bunch by far. It was the only new drama on the new The CW network (which merged UPN and The WB) and it replaced the brilliant Everwood.

Its cancellation was easy to predict from the pilot not because the writing was particularly bad, it was OK, but I couldn't see how the premise could be sustained for a mass audience. I gave it a miss after episode 2, like most people apparently. If you decide to watch it look at the pacing and what time period episode 2 covers. Not the best way to maintain tension.

The family on the run aspect is great as it gives you a family drama but with the added tensions of being scared of being caught, remembering your fake identities and backgrounds and not knowing if it's worth developing new friendships and relationships as you could soon be on the move again. What didn't work for me was the seemingly omniscient baddie and the by now wearily familiar FBI Fugitive sub plot.


I saw it as unsustainable in the long term because moving to a different location every few weeks wouldn't work but if they don't then the FBI can't be all that good. Like Kidnapped and Vanished if it had been arced as a mini-series in the first place - rather than them trying to get several series out of a one series idea - then it would have been better.

Kidnapped was allowed to wrap up the story, Vanished was told to wrap up the missing person storyline but left several others up in the air but what happened with Runaway is a mystery. They managed to make nine episodes before production stopped. The ninth is called "End Game" so it's possible they wrapped it up in those nine. But according to the Radio Times E4 are only showing six.

I do recommend watching the pilot, as all pilots, and see if you agree with me about the premise.

Runaway
E4,
Wednesday 13 June,
9:00pm

07 June, 2007

Opening Weekend

Are We Done Yet?


Comedy. Newlyweds decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor with a bizarre approach to business.

With Ice Cube, Nia Long, John C. McGinley, Aleisha Allen, Philip Bolden, Jonathan Katz

Writer: Hank Nelken (based on screenplay "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House")
Director: Steve Carr

Hank Nelken interview (audio)

Official site

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The City of Violence, (Jjakpae)



Action drama. A detective fighting organised crime, returns to his hometown for his friend's funeral. Then he finds out there was something fishy about his death.


With Kil-Kang Ahn, Seok-yong Jeong, Doo-hong Jung, Beom-su Lee, Seung-wan Ryoo

Writers: Jeong-min Kim, Won-jae Lee, Seung-wan Ryoo
Director: Seung-wan Ryoo

Official site

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The Chumscrubber


Comedy-drama. A drug dealer dies and his friend is forced to look for his stash by other drug dealers.

With Jamie Bell, Camilla Belle, Justin Chatwin, Glenn Close, Kathi Copeland, Rory Culkin

Writer: Zac Stanford (from story by Arie Posin)
Director: Arie Posin

Arie Posin interview

Official site

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Ocean's Thirteen


Crime thriller. Danny Ocean rounds up the boys for a third heist, after a casino owner double-crosses one of the original eleven.

With Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Michael Mantell, Elliott Gould

Writers: Brian Koppelman & David Levien
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Brian Koppelman & David Levien interview

Official site

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The Tiger's Tail


Thriller. After a chance encounter, a man is stalked by a murderous facsimile of himself.

With Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall, Ciarán Hinds, Sinéad Cusack, Sean McGinley

Writer: John Boorman
Director: John Boorman

John Boorman interview

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Water


Drama. A widow tries to overcome the societal restrictions which her into living in a temple in poverty.

With Sarala, Buddhi Wickrama,Rinsly Weerarathne, Iranganie Serasinghe, Hermantha Gamage

Writer: Anurag Kashyap, Deepa Mehta
Director: Deepa Mehta

Deepa Mehta interview 1
Deepa Mehta interview 2 (video)

Official site


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