31 January, 2008
"This week the Geeks discuss Robots and AI with our special guest Joss Whedon! We discuss robots throughout the ages, from Robbie the Robot, to Battlestar Galactica, to the newest Terminator played by the lovely Summer Glau. We discuss what makes the Man/Machine mythology so fascinating, and such a rich creative vein for storytelling."
"Period drama and Golden Globe winner "Atonement" scooped four of six Richard Attenborough Film Awards on Thursday.
Atonement was voted film of the year by British regional arts and entertainment journalists in all media, including critics, editors and freelancers.
The World War Two epic about two lovers torn apart by family betrayal has also picked up seven Oscar nominations and promises to dominate this year's British Academy Films Awards (BAFTA) with 14 nominations.
Its director Joe Wright was voted film maker of the year, while James McAvoy, named BAFTA's rising star in 2006, was named as actor of the year for his lead role in the movie.
Screenwriter Christopher Hampton, winner of the 1988 Oscar for scripting "Dangerous Liaisons", took the screenwriter of the year award.
"This film was shot entirely in England with a completely British cast and crew, so it is especially thrilling that our film has been honoured by the Richard Attenborough Film award," said Paul Webster, the film's producer.
Actress Cate Blanchett, beating competition from Oscar nominees Marion Cotillard and Julie Christie and Atonement's Keira Knightley, took the actress of the year award for her performance in the title role of "Elizabeth: The Golden Age".
Sam Riley was named rising star of the year for his leading role in "Control", portraying the life of Ian Curtis, frontman of English rock band Joy Division, who committed suicide at the age of 23 in 1980. "
(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Steve Addison)
30 January, 2008
"I think the script really rocks but what if it doesn't? David Mamet wrote something interesting in his book, On Directing Film. After you've gone through certain criteria to establish whether your text works (structure, scene dynamic, pace etc) you are left with one criteria - how the hell are you able to judge whether the work is good? Mamet then says you have to ask yourself the question: Do you have good taste? Interesting question, huh?"
"Blogging about screenwriting craft sometimes is like lighting the blue touchpaper and needing to stand WELL BACK... And predictably, my last post started a comments bomb off.
One thing that always amazes me about screenwriting craft is how far people seem to be at either end of extremes - writers either go for white OR black on the page it appears, the usual worry being story may not be what a writer intended if there's not enough detail or that "texture" or "colour" in a scene may be missed out somehow.
Yet why can't you have both? Enough black to be interesting, but enough white so as to not bamboozle your reader with extraneous detail?"
"All stories have underlying ideas and subtexts which can be expressed in a basic form of theme. Greed. Lust. Death. Love. Power. Corruption. Revenge. Family. War. And so on. Of course, having evidence of one or more of these ideas doesn’t necessarily represent a theme in itself; how the story is resolved through character and plot reveals what you’re saying about the theme (whether you’re aware of it or not)."
29 January, 2008
"The greatest issue facing theatre has to do with a lack of funding leading to a lack of vision or a restriction of vision. In many ways, we playwrights find ourselves challenged to shrink our canvas, and we don’t always ask the questions that we need to ask or explore in the ways that we need to explore because we fear the economics of our art.
The people that I admire the most in the theatre are those who trust their own judgement. There is a lot of duplication of interest in terms of specific plays nowadays. I long for the presence of people who trust that when they read a play, they can know it’s good, even if they don’t know who wrote it. When I find that in an artistic director I have found someone I deeply admire. To me, they are the visionaries among us.
Some of the vision problem is economic: the co-production leads to duplication, but the co-production also keeps theatre alive, and helps to keep us afloat. It’s a double-edged sword. Yet, it’s really refreshing when someone can just read a play and know they like it and stand behind it without scores of other theatres being behind that play. There’s something really pure about that. "
"After studying acting at Cornish College of the Arts, Arnette was frustrated by the lack of representation of women in theatre. Having acted in plenty of shows, Arnette knew many female playwrights, but had never been in a play written by a woman. "I wanted to see stories from a female perspective," she said."
"Finalists have been announced for The 2008 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the prestigious playwriting award that recognizes women playwrights writing for the English-speaking theatre. The annual award's 30th anniversary is this year.
The ten finalists, chosen from 92 submitted plays, include Linda Brogan (Black Crows - U.K.), Lydia Diamond (Stick Fly - U.S.), Bryony Lavery (Stockholm - U.K.), Lisa McGee (Girls and Dolls - Northern Ireland), Linda McLean (Strangers, Babies - Scotland), Julie Marie Myatt (Boats on a River - U.S.), Jenny Schwartz (God's Ear - U.S.), Polly Stenham (That Face - U.K.), Victoria Stewart (Hardball - U.S.) and Judith Thompson (Palace of the End - Canada).
The 30th annual Susan Smith Blackburn Prize awards will be celebrated with a special ceremony in March in Houston, TX, at the Alley Theatre, where Blackburn first became involved in theatre.
The to-be-named winner will be awarded $20,000, and will also receive a signed and numbered print by renowned artist Willem de Kooning, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Special Commendations of $5,000 may be given at the discretion of the judges, and each of the additional finalists receives $1,000."
28 January, 2008
27 January, 2008
"The series focuses on Michael Raines (Jeff Goldblum), a 'mentally-haunted' LAPD detective, who interacts with imaginary manifestations of dead crime victims in order to solve criminal cases. Raines must deal with his unique, unintentional method, as it causes problems with his co-workers and in his personal life." (Wikipedia)
That's a very difficult premise to buy into and I probably wouldn't have even tried to sell it but I'm glad Graham Yost (Speed) and the network took a risk on it, even if ultimately the audience didn't, as I thought it was excellent.
Although the original pilot had some obvious miscasting, it was brilliant and looked gorgeous. It was like a cool indie film. The pilot was re-cast and re-shot to be a bit more like the standard acceptable television look.
I do miss the original undiluted tele noir concept but the style and wit still recall the likes of legends Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hamnett.
What I admire was the thinking outside of the box. There was a trend f0r supernatural drama with The Ghost Whisperer and Medium but rather than real ghosts, the ghosts are all in Raines' head. It's a way of giving us the police procedural but in a fresh way. It's not what you do but the way that you do it. Parodoxically, it's for intelligent viewers but doesn't require any deep thinking.
My nagging doubts about the pilot and the premise were addressed as the series went on and it improved from that very good start. One particular episode had me blubbling like a baby which is rare for such a hard man such as myself (I am chewing steel instead of gum as I type).
One thing to think about is how much these procedurals rely on someone to to explain things to and bounce ideas off. Raines works alone but is in effect talking to himself.
Disappointingly, the star, Jeff Goldblum, went on Britain's biggest chat show on Friday to promote a play, which will only be seen by a few rich Londoners and tourists, but he didn't say a word about this which millions loved. I really hope it's ITV's fault for not telling him it was about to start and not that he couldn't be arsed.
Despite its early cancellation and minor flaws Raines is still head and shoulders above most things on Freeview at the moment and is recommended.
Begins Monday 28 January 2007, 9:00pm on ITV3 for 7 episodes
26 January, 2008
"Their approach is that modern playwrights should plunder Shakespeare for strategies and elements adaptable to their own drama," says Davidson professor Cynthia Lewis, the project's leader. "It's one of many ways Shakespeare can be kept alive."
"The core of the idea was "what if someone was an alien, but didn't know it?" That was all I had. The team liked that, along with the whole "what it means to be human" aspect of it, so I started working on an outline. The rest of it came from that tiny nugget, trying to figure out what the story was - why doesn't she know she's an alien?"
25 January, 2008
Following the life and times of Dewey Cox this movie parody leaves no musical biography cliché unturned and takes the piss out of the typical by the numbers predictability of these films.
It’s basic framework for the first half is the Walk the Line film which I actually quite enjoyed but I doubt I’ll be able to watch it again with a straight face. Obviously your enjoyment of Walk Hard is enhanced if you’ve seen the Cash biog but it is by no means necessary. There are universal themes like drugs, protest songs and finding fulfillment at an ashram in India. That's probably the funniest sequence as Cox meets the Beatles - with Jack Black as Macca.
It is much easier to review a bad film than a good film because with a bad film the problems are obvious while the reasons why good films work are often beyond me. But this film is perfect as a learning example as it is a good film that’s deliberately bad.
On the bad side the obvious exposition and stereotypical characters are frequently hilarious. On the good side, typical was a tiny character moment that they could have missed out but was brilliant. Consider the animal that Dewey’s brother makes him and then the animal that he buys when he’s rich. He never says that’s my favourite animal or talks about his brother making him one but it keeps the connection going between them in a subtle way.
That’s the key for me in that although it’s a comedy and a part parody of an existing film, they still made the effort to ground the characters in psychological truth with proper throughlines which makes it not only more substantial than a sketch but funnier. Comedy is truth.
Many parodies, in a desperate effort to up the gag rate, will step outside of the central conceit that’s it’s meant to be a documentary or biography. Doing that collapses the whole truth of the premise and makes it difficult to care about and this film doesn't make that mistake.
That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its fair share of cheap and easy gags in amongst the gems but none really takes you away from still believing it’s a biography. In fact even after the end-credits there’s a great bit of footage that is so true to the genre.
The ubiquitous Judd Apatow, here co-writing with the helmer Jake Kasdan, continues to be a brand-name for quality character-driven laugh out loud comedy so Walk Hard is recommended.
"Welcome to another instalment of Horrorhead, a column where we talk about the intersection of horror and scifi.
Anyone who saw Alien as a kid knows that the smashed-up alien ship where Ripley's crew first finds the alien is one of the scariest places ever. It's basically a haunted house set in space, with its bulging, intestine shape, cobwebby alien skeletons (their ribs burst open), luminescent mists, and the hushed creepiness of that cargo bay full of dormant eggs. Setting is a crucial ingredient in sci-fi horror, and for your spine-tingling pleasure, here are some of the scariest settings ever created for sci-fi film."
24 January, 2008
Charlie Wilson, a lazy playboy politician, confronted by the suffering of Afghan refugees changes to try and help the Mujahideen defeat the Soviet invaders.
There’s been a debate on Shooting People's Screenwriter’s Network regarding this film which raises intriguing questions.
Can a film be judged purely as a film regardless of what may be dodgy morals of the leading characters or dodgy ethics of what went on?
I believe so but it depends on how well it is written. I think Aaron Sorkin did a really good job on this adaptation but the sophisticated way it is done will not be to everyone’s taste.
Whether the political situation is portrayed accurately or not is a separate moral and ethical issue. As an extremely extreme example, consider the depiction of Jews by Wagner or Dickens, it’s morally repugnant but as works of art The Ring and Oliver Twist are pretty damn awesome.
Putting the politics aside for a moment, the movie has a great structure, great characters and excellent dialogue. Wilson’s character arc is classic: lazy playboy politician - who isn't really interested in making a difference - sees the suffering of the Afghan refugees and so becomes hard-working to achieve the goal of stopping that suffering by getting the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
It is in the very nature of a character arc that the character will change, but although Wilson becomes hard-working he is still a non-celibate bachelor with all that entails from sharing a hot tub with strippers to employing hot women on his staff.
What I realised for the first time, from the Shooters discussion, was how for some people such flaws can be a road block to empathy for the character and caring about the story but the alternative of writing saints is just too stupid to think about.
There are many levels at work here, amongst them that Wilson is literally in bed with a right-wing nut-job who wants his help against the Soviets for religious reasons, but it's made clear he's doing it from a humanitarian Democrat perspective.
The concerns about the politics are not entirely unfounded as effectively you have the hero supporting a neo-con covert war being waged against an elected government and the country they invited in to help quell an Islamofascist rebellion. However, what some people fail to realise is that depicting something that happened isn’t the same as agreeing with it.
What’s good about the film for most people, and what confused some, are the shades of grey; the subtleties and ironies. You have a Democrat doing what Republicans want but for different reasons. And when he continues to push a humanitarian agenda and rebuild the country after the Soviets leave, the Republicans aren’t interested - which comes back to bite them on 9/11.
Actually the 9/11 ending is only in the first draft script and Sorkin fought to keep it for a long time. It is more explicit and obvious but I thought the new ending worked better as it was more subtle. The celebration at the beginning is repeated at the end but by then we realise there was nothing much to celebrate really. It’s swings and roundabouts as that was clearly too subtle for some.
What I admired was the way Sorkin also made a parallel between neo-cons and the Mujahideen in terms of fundamentalist faith and the consequences of relying on that as a solution to the Afghanistan problem.
With Charlie Wilson’s War, Sorkin has managed to avoid the usual pitfalls political dramas drop into by being intelligent, funny and fast moving. Look at the tricks he uses to avoid it seeming too talky, and I don’t just mean his patented “walk and talk”. I recommend it.
Aaron Sorkin interview
Aaron Sorkin’s first draft
""Ratatouille" and "Once" warmed the hearts of moviegoers and critics alike — and now, they've taken top honours in the ninth annual Golden Tomato Awards.
The Golden Tomato Awards pay tribute to the best-reviewed films of the previous year as determined by the Web site RottenTomatoes.com, which compiles reviews from print, online and broadcast film critics to measure the percentage of favourable critiques.
"Ratatouille," the animated gem about a rat with unexpected culinary skills, earned a 96 percent ranking on the site's Tomatometer. The Irish romance "Once," which won for best limited release film and best musical, scored 98 percent.
"Atonement" scored the Golden Tomato for romance.
"The Bourne Ultimatum" won in the action/adventure category.
"Juno" was the best comedy.
"No Country for Old Men" the best thriller.
"Away From Her" was named best drama.
"Sicko" won best documentary.
"Grindhouse" was the top horror flick.
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" took a Tomato for science-fiction/fantasy.
"Enchanted" won best family film.
"The Lives of Others" was the top foreign film.
The Mouldy Tomato — awarded to the worst-reviewed film of the year — was thrown at "Because I Said So." "
"Hot Fuzz" won for the UK and "Ten Canoes" for Aus.
23 January, 2008
"It’s much easier to write a screenplay on a computer than on a typewriter. Years ago, when you wrote a screenplay on a typewriter, you had to retype the entire page just to make the smallest change; now, on the computer, you can make large and small changes effortlessly, you can fiddle with dialogue, you can change names and places with a keystroke. And yet movies are nowhere near as good as they used to be. In 1939, when screenwriters were practically still using quill pens, the following movies were among those nominated for best picture: “Gone With the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Wuthering Heights” and “Stagecoach,” and that’s not even the whole list. So: is it possible that computers are responsible for the decline of movies?"
"I am not sober at openings. It is so extreme an event, you don't want to be conscious. On the first opening of Essay, I arrived in a heightened state close to euphoria and I didn't hear anything anyone said. I took a really big dose of ibuprofen codeine and I threw up a couple of times. And that's why most playwrights don't go to openings."
22 January, 2008
"Atonement" (Focus Features), Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
"Away from Her" (Lionsgate), Written by Sarah Polley
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight), Written by Diablo Cody
"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM), Written by Nancy Oliver
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Written by Tony Gilroy
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
"The Savages" (Fox Searchlight), Written by Tamara Jenkins
Best motion picture of the year
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight) A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers
Best animated feature film of the year
"Persepolis" (Sony Pictures Classics): Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Brad Bird
"Surf's Up" (Sony Pictures Releasing): Ash Brannon and Chris Buck
Best foreign language film of the year
"The Counterfeiters" Austria
Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War" (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in "Juno" (Fox Searchlight)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster" (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Achievement in art direction
"American Gangster" (Universal): Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount): Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Achievement in cinematography
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.): Roger Deakins
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Seamus McGarvey
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Janusz Kaminski
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Roger Deakins
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Robert Elswit
Achievement in costume design
"Across the Universe" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Marit Allen
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood
Achievement in directing
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight), Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson
Best documentary feature
"No End in Sight" (Magnolia Pictures) A Representational Pictures Production: Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" (The Documentary Group) A Documentary Group Production: Richard E. Robbins
"Sicko" (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company) A Dog Eat Dog Films Production: Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara
"Taxi to the Dark Side" (THINKFilm) An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
"War/Dance" (THINKFilm) A Shine Global and Fine Films Production: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine
Best documentary short subject
"Freeheld" A Lieutenant Films Production: Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
"La Corona (The Crown)" A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production: Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
"Salim Baba" A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production: Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
"Sari's Mother" (Cinema Guild) A Daylight Factory Production: James Longley
Achievement in film editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Christopher Rouse
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Juliette Welfling
"Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment): Jay Cassidy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Dylan Tichenor
Achievement in makeup
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
"Norbit" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount): Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): Ve Neill and Martin Samuel
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
"The Kite Runner" (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics): Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Falling Slowly" from "Once" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and: Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush" (Warner Bros.): Nominees to be determined
"So Close" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
Best animated short film
"I Met the Walrus" A Kids & Explosions Production: Josh Raskin
"Madame Tutli-Putli" (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski "Même Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)" (Premium Films) A BUF Compagnie Production Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)" (Channel One Russia) A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production Alexander Petrov
"Peter & the Wolf" (BreakThru Films) A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman
Best live action short film
"At Night" A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production: Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)" (Sky Cinema Italia) A Frame by Frame Italia Production: Andrea Jublin
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" (Premium Films) A Karé Production: Philippe Pollet-Villard
"Tanghi Argentini" (Premium Films) An Another Dimension of an Idea Production: Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
"The Tonto Woman" A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production: Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown
Achievement in sound editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Matthew Wood
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins
Achievement in sound mixing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal) Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate): Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin
Achievement in visual effects
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier
" When I was writing the play, if I wrote something that James thought was really spelled out, he would tap his nose. I spent two and a half years writing the play so it wouldn't be too on the nose, so I'm not going to now sit in interviews and explain the whole goddamned thing away."
* If/Then by David Foley (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
* Panic by Joseph Goodrich (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
* Books by Stuart M. Kaminsky (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
Best Television Episode Teleplay
* "It's Alive" - Dexter, Teleplay by Daniel Cerone (Showtime)
* "Yahrzeit" - Waking the Dead, Teleplay by Declan Croghan & Barbara Machin (BBC America)
* "Pie-Lette" - Pushing Daisies, Teleplay by Bryan Fuller (ABC/Warner Bros Television
* "Senseless" - Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Teleplay by Julie Martin & Siobhan Byrne O'Connor (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
* "Pilot" - Burn Notice, Teleplay by Matt Nix (USA Network/Fox Television Studios)
Best Motion Picture Screen Play
* Eastern Promises, Screenplay by Steven Knight (Focus Features)
* The Lookout, Screenplay by Scott Frank (Miramax)
* Michael Clayton, Screenplay by Tony Gilroy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
* No Country for Old Men, Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy (Miramax)
* Zodiac, Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith (Warner Bros. Pictures)
21 January, 2008
The latest newsletter from Laurie Hutzler is now out:
"This month, Notes from the Writers Room looks at the Character Types of Obama and Clinton and how these two conflict. This analysis can help you to develop character pairings for conflict in your fictional ensembles and stories."
The newsletter also has details of how to get her free ebook:
"This eBook stems from my experiences on the writing staff of The Black Donnellys, the NBC drama series created by Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco. In any television writers room you are expected to give and receive notes. Learn how to do both effectively."
Sign up here
Craig Mazin has started an email campaign to persuade the leaders of the WGA to accept the deal even though it hasn't been offered yet, he hasn't seen the full details and there are unresolved WGA issues that the DGA didn't negotiate.
I've removed his website from my links. That'll teach him.
20 January, 2008
The other way to do it is when I start with a concept. Usually if I'm going in to pitch to a producer they will want some sort of an interesting idea."
This multi-instrumentalist Icelandic quartet is perhaps best known for their work with Sigur Rós, but their album Kurr was one of the highlights of last year. This track features the guest vocals of legendary country star Lee Hazlewood in his last recording.
amiina featuring Lee Hazlewood - Hilli
Staying with Icelandic music, Björk is, without doubt, one of the greatest songwriters and innovators in music. She takes huge risks such as an album using only vocals (Medúlla) which turns out to be brilliant but the very idea scared a lot of people. The following is the third single from the also brilliant but more accessible new album Volta, which has a nice message. I'm working on my flag design now.
Björk - Declare Independence
19 January, 2008
"I have been busting ass for about eight years, making a living writing for three-ish. One of my favorite quotes is, "It takes 10 years to be an overnight success." Most of us have to grind it out. But that's cool, because you learn a lot along the way, and you're ready when it happens."
" A screenwriter charged with turning a novel, short story or article into a feature script must deliver on readers' expectations -- while allowing non-readers entrée into a new and possibly confusing world.
Getting such a project made often requires a certain obsessive quality... "
" David Benioff was sitting on a plane, having a perfectly pleasant conversation with an elderly passenger about his job as a screenwriter, when he mentioned that he was working on an adaptation of "."
"She grabbed my arm and said, `That's my favourite novel. Don't change a word!'"
Based on the international best-seller about a man who returns to Afghanistan to right a childhood wrong, "The Kite Runner" is one of an inordinately large number of films in this year's awards race that come from books."
Lianne is organising an online Adaptation Group which will read a short story, see the film and then discuss its adaptation .
While it is our original spec that will get us work, that work might be an adaptation (as most films are) so it's worth looking at.
I also have an adaptation label.
Written by Jake Paltrow
Jake Paltrow interview 1 (video)
Jake Paltrow interview 2
Jake Paltrow interview 3
Jake Paltrow interview 4
No Country for Old Men
Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy)
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 1
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 2
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 3
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 4
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 5
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 6
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 7
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 8 (audio)
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen interview 9 (video)
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen and Cormac McCarthy interview
The Charlie Rose Show
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Written by Judd Apatow & Jake Kasdan
Judd Apatow interview
Jake Kasdan interview 1
Jake Kasdan interview 2
Jake Kasdan interview 3
18 January, 2008
"Before we begin, here's a caveat: WE ARE NOT LAWYERS. WE ARE NOT BUSINESS AFFAIRS EXECS. WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONAL NEGOTIATORS.
We're a group of volunteer WGA strike captains, and we're posting our reactions to the DGA deal summary that was released today. These are our thoughts alone. They are not official, they don't reflect the WGA's opinion, and frankly, they will probably include a few mistakes.
Which brings us to our second caveat: The DGA deal summary is just that, a summary. It's not the final comprehensive contract. That document, we've been told, is still being drafted by the DGA. So the unclear items in the summary will remain so until the DGA releases the contract.
Since the conversation is raging already, we want to weigh in with our preliminary thoughts. Caveats in mind, here we go:"
"The DGA’s reached a tentative three-year deal with the AMPTP with key advances in jurisdiction and payment for programming on the Internet.
“Two words describe this agreement -- groundbreaking and substantial,” said Gil Cates, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee. “The gains in this contract for directors and their teams are extraordinary -- and there are no rollbacks of any kind.”
The was announced Thursday afternoon following six days of negotiations at AMPTP amid widespread expectations that the helmers would quickly reach an agreement with the majors. Deal, if ratified by the 13,500 DGA members, will take effect on July 1.
DGA touted a trio of new-media gains:
- Establishing DGA jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet;
- Boosting the residuals formula for paid Internet downloads (electronic sell-through) by double the current rate;
- And establishing residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.
The DGA deal amps up the pressure from all sides on the leadership of the Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike since Nov. 5. Its last negotiations with the AMPTP collapsed on Dec. 7 with the congloms demanding that the guild drop six of its proposals."
17 January, 2008
No Country for Old Men is a thriller that thwarts genre expectations and remains resolutely indie in sensibility despite the audience pleasing thrills and spills. Read between the lines of that, I won’t be more explicit.
It's adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy by the Coen Brothers and follows the events of a drug deal gone wrong from the point of view of someone who finds the money (Moss), a psychopath hired to recover the money (Chigurh [pronounced like 'sugar']) and a sheriff investigating what's going on (
The sheriff begins the story with a voice-over but he doesn't drive the story as such. I admit I was disorientated for a moment expecting the sheriff to be more involved like in a more conventional policier. But that was my assumption rather than the movie being a genre mash-up.
I do think the title's crap but it does relate to the theme if you pay attention to the sheriff's arc. It’s set at the beginning of the 1980s where good manners were fading away and “greed is good” began to hold sway.
Sheriff Bell mentions at the beginning being bewildered at a young man killing for fun; Chigurh’s actions raise this confusion to a whole new level.
I've never read the novel but there is nothing in the film that doesn't seem vintage Coen brothers, which is why, I guess, they were attracted to the story in the first place. There's the twistyness, the dark humour, beautiful visuals and the amazing dialogue. But, as lauded as the Coen’s dialogue is, also look out for the effective way they use silence.
They give us a nail-biting, edge of the seat cat and mouse chase but it's practically a character study as the cat and mouse, the major and minor characters aren't two-dimensional sketches but more complex.
In writing we usually devote our energies to the main character as they are usually a version of us but what makes this film brilliant for me is the antagonist and the detail with the minor characters. There are two scenes early on which capture this, the Desert Aire office one which is short but very effective and the longer Gas Station/Grocery scene.
Without giving anything away, we know Chigurh is a bastard but the people he confronts don’t and treat him as normal. They meet him with their everyday attitude which might be “take no nonsense” or “very friendly”. Too often, in both unproduced screenplays and produced films, those minor characters aren’t developed enough even to have an attitude or point of view and so they can't help but drag the project down - however well conceived the main characters are.
I admit I am in two minds about certain novellish aspects of the story but there is no doubt that No Country for Old Men is a genuine classic and so is highly recommended.
Also highly recommended is watching the film and then reading the screenplay. It's such a fast read and even though you know what happens you can't help but be caught up in it again.
"The whole question of writing for animation is skewed. There isn't a giant difference between animation and live action. You need characters, stories, themes. It's called good storytelling."
" Writing can sometimes be an incredibly lonely task, but not in February 2008. Throughout the month we'll be running a series of Screenwriters' Brunches offering you a legitimate reason to leave your desk, an excuse to eat some croissants, and most importantly, the opportunity to be inspired by some expert training.
Each brunch will run from 10.30am-1pm and will feature an informal teaching session on a specific aspect of the screenwriting process, as well as a chance to meet fellow participants over a coffee and a pastry or two.
The sessions are suitable for writers, directors, developers and producers and are designed to provide inspiration for both experienced participants as well as those who are new to the industry.
Monday 4 February - Screenplay Analysis with Kate Leys
Thursday 7 February - From Idea to Screenplay with Angeli Macfarlane
Monday 11 February - The Drama of the Scene with Rob Ritchie
Tuesday 12 February - The Development Process with Kate Leys
Monday 18 February - Writing Dialogue with Rob Ritchie
Thursday 21 February - The Shooting Script with Angeli Macfarlane
For further details on each of the sessions, see here.
Booking Information: Each session costs £50 + VAT (total £58.75).
Script Factory Members are entitled to a 10% discount making the fee £45 + VAT (total £52.88). To book your place by credit/debit card please call us on 0207 323 1414. "
16 January, 2008
AMERICAN GANGSTER – Steven Zaillian
JUNO – Diablo Cody
THE LIVES OF OTHERS – Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
MICHAEL CLAYTON – Tony Gilroy
THIS IS ENGLAND – Shane Meadows
ATONEMENT – Christopher Hampton
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY – Ronald Harwood
THE KITE RUNNER – David Benioff
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN – Joel Coen/Ethan Coen
THERE WILL BE BLOOD – Paul Thomas Anderson
"Valentinas Climas has the rottenest role ever written. King James III sounds promising on paper but he has only one line - "Is there a problem?" - and even that, you suspect, was dubbed, as Valentinas evidently comes from Lithuania, where The Palace (ITV1) was cobbled together. He dies in the royal box, ruining the opera and leaving the crown to his son, Richard (Rupert Evans), a wistful youth of tender years.
You bet there's a problem, Your Majesty. The Palace is the TV equivalent of balloon modelling. It feels like being shot to death with popcorn.
The new king has an accident-prone younger brother, George, exuberantly played by Sebastian Armesto, and a serpentine sister, Eleanor (Sophie Winkleman), who believes she could do the job better. However, half the fun of a monarchy is that you never know what is going to be next out of the bran tub. It is never quite what you expect.
I was touched to see how seriously the palace takes the press. When the Sun is tipped off that King Richard and a mystery woman were canoodling on the throne, the King decides to appear live on ITV to defuse the situation. Though the mystery woman, who is the prime minister's press officer ("Take me through how we sell the hospital cuts to the Guardian"), thinks the BBC would be a softer option.
The interviewer is the dreaded Joanna "She made Gadafy cry!" Woodward (Harriet Walter). I never fail to be amazed when decent actors - Walter, Marsden, Cranitch, Shrapnel - bob up in tosh like this. Couldn't they, as my granny used to say, scrub floors?
Provoked by Joanna, Richard is spurred to free speech. "I love getting drunk, clubbing, dancing, all of it. I tried drugs. I make a fool out of myself most of the time. I am ashamed and terrified that I'll never live up to my father's standards. I just want to hide, get drunk again, scream from the roof, and most days I feel like a little boy, a fool. But I love my country." And so on.
A Sky poll gives him 53% acceptability. Rupert Murdoch, if no one else, is going to like this show. Personally, I think the real thing takes a bit of beating. Who, slaving over a hot computer with an icepack on their head, could have come up with the Duke of Edinburgh?
Lithuania is so cheap that The Palace can afford two full-time sculptors. Beavering away, Simonas and Raimondas constructed a whole corridor of minimally different polystyrene busts. Or they may be the cast."
Brian Viner, The Independent
"Let's start with The Palace, basically a royal version of Dallas – "Pallas", if you will – in which Jane Asher, as old Queen Charlotte, plays a hybrid, or perhaps a high-bred, of Miss Ellie and Sue Ellen. She has Miss Ellie's dignity but also what Clive James once described as Sue Ellen's drinking prarlm. And like Miss Ellie she must not only cope with the loss of her beloved husband, but watch as her feckless son, not a patch on his papa, inherits the keys of the kingdom. I fear the prarlm will get worse before it gets better.
If there is a J R Ewing in this regal Southfork, however, it is the old Queen's conniving daughter, Princess Eleanor (Sophie Winkleman), who presents herself as a goody two-shoes while plotting to bury a stiletto into the head of her 24-year-old brother, the new King Richard IV (Rupert Evans). And while pretending to admire her brother's subjects, she clearly despises them. She is firmly of the "let them eat cake" persuasion, which is another reason to keep Jane Asher off the booze: they might need her lemon sponge.
Richard, meanwhile, is making every effort to shrug off his well-earned reputation as an irresponsible playboy, to which end he insisted on a live broadcast with a rottweiler of a TV interviewer, Joanna Woodward (Harriet Walter), a woman so savage that – my favourite line of the evening – "she made Gaddafi cry."
Woodward showed the young monarch no mercy or respect, particularly with regard to the rumour that on the eve of his father's funeral, he smuggled a mystery girlfriend – who turned out to be the Prime Minister's press secretary, though more Naomi Campbell than Alastair – into the palace and gave her a right royal seeing-to on the throne. "Apparently he was in the poodle position," muttered a camp courtier, in delighted outrage. The same courtier later turned up comforting Jane Asher. In this, as in many aspects of The Palace, Tom Grieves, the writer, had done his homework. Old Queens like nothing better than to surround themselves with old queens.
An indication of The Palace's level of sophistication as drama is that I watched it with my nine-year-old son, who can't wait to see episode two. But as comedy it works beautifully, overcoming the obvious problem of how to fictionalise the life of a family whose lives are already stranger than fiction by, in some cases, not really bothering. The King's hedonistic younger brother, Prince George (Sebastian Arnesto), is precisely the sort of fellow who would turn up to a fancy-dress party in Nazi uniform.
If I had to make a rough stab at guessing how The Palace will unfold these next seven weeks, it is that Richard will overcome the doubters and prove himself worthy, while Eleanor's chicanery will be exposed. And if by any chance Princes William and Harry tune in, they will recognise certain truths. Of all the virtues required of a 21st-century British monarch, they must above all be media-savvy. In which respect, Richard seems to have his head screwed on. He is the modern incarnation of the Sun King."*******************************************
Andrew Billen, The Times
" The trick of Stephen Frears and Peter Morgan’s The Queen was to convince us that life in the Buck House (and Balmoral) was exactly as depicted. The Palace (ITV1) insists that it is no more a dramatisation of the home life of our own dear queen than Antony and Cleopatra was the Queen Victoria story on the Nile. It is something much sexier. When Tony Greaves’s eight-part comedy-drama began last night there was a king on the throne and lest we consider this a mere projection into the reign of Charles III, this king has sired four grown-up children. We are in an alternative universe comparable to The West Wing’s where Democrats permanently inhabit the White House and the Americans are sowing world peace.
The comparison ends there for Aaron Sorkin’s series was more interested in political than sexual machinations and infused with a sense of the public good. The Palace, although searching for a similar claustrophobia within a cavernous building, is scurrilous from the off. The monarchy as an agent of a higher moral good is not in the script. As an aide tells Prince Richard as she gets him out of a night at the opera: “Helping you shirk your responsibilities is what I was born to do.”
Richard (a likeable Rupert Evans) and his more reckless brother George (a brilliant frat movie performance from Sebastian Armesto) are soon off partying in a Sloaney club, but this is Richard’s last shirk. For the Wagner – dismissed by George as “a fat bird singing the same line again and again” – has literally killed the king. Prince Richard is now Richard IV.
Every relationship is transformed. A footman announcing his mother’s presence goes: “Your majesty. Her majesty, your majesty.” But it is the change in the siblings’ pecking order that matters. Thanks to primogeniture, the late king’s oldest, the publicity hungry Princess Eleanor, has lost out to her little brother and she finds the idea of “Rich” opening Parliament laughable. The plot here has a lot of work to do if it is to make any sense of Eleanor’s thwarted ambition leading to a palace coup. The constitution stands in the way. Happily, Sophie Winkleman’s Eleanor possesses a sorcerer’s charm that makes you think her capable of anything.
Her fears for Richard’s competence are soon born out when he calls in a girlfriend to “comfort” him on the throne. “King Dick” scream the tabloids. Eleanor thinks the people will burn them at the stake. “That’s witches,” her mother explains: “They cut off our heads.” “With Eleanor, they’d probably have to do both,” observes the young Princess Poppy.
In a desperate attempt to save himself, Richard resorts to patriotism and sincerity during a live TV interview. “Most days I feel like a little boy, a fool. But I love my country and whether it is in Cardiff, Edinburgh or divining over the Pennines, I have this incredible buzz. I could not be more proud and I hope one day to be able to repay the favour.” The country, naturally, forgives him. Now he just has to survive a PA leaking to the press, the below-stairs queens loyal to the ancien regime, the press hunt for his girlfriend (who works for the Prime Minister). And Eleanor.
My reviewing tag team partner, Tim Teeman, was unimpressed by Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach in ITV1’s 9pm slot last Thursday, but I am delighted that, as with The Palace, the channel is setting before us something other than a grim regional detective or a comedy drama about suburban adultery. The Palace inhabits an incredible world all of its own. In that respect it is believable: the real palace undoubtedly does, too."*******************************************
James Walton, Daily Telegraph
"Yet, when it came to sheer weirdness, this was no match at all for The Palace on ITV1.
The Palace’s opening titles are quite like those of The West Wing, which may have led some viewers to expect a fictional version of modern royal life that’s both intelligent and plausible. Such expectations, though, won’t have lasted long.
In the opening scene, the king and his family were off to the opera – all except Princess Isabelle (Nathalie Lunghi) who efficiently established her teenage credentials by saying “wicked” and “no way” into a mobile phone. Her two older brothers weren’t so keen on the trip, feeling that “opera is just some fat bird singing the same line over and over”. As a result, they faked a sudden request to visit a homeless shelter, and nipped off to a nightclub where they were soon ensconced with a couple of slimmer birds and a bottle of tequila.
But then, when Prince Richard (Rupert Evans) popped to the toilet, he was joined by a bodyguard with some news. The king had died at the opera house and Richard was now the monarch. Understandably, this sobered him up a bit – although back at the palace he responded to the news that the American president, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury all wanted to speak to him with the words, “I need a slash.”
He’d have been more nervous still, mind you, if he’d realised his older sister Eleanor (Sophie Winkleman) was already plotting his overthrow – or that his relationship with the Prime Minster’s glamorous press officer wasn’t likely to remain a secret for long…
In fact, the premise here probably isn’t a bad one. After all, none of us knows how a royal succession would work in our egalitarian, media-driven age. The trouble is that we can be fairly sure it wouldn’t happen like this.
Princess Eleanor’s plot wasn’t even the least convincing aspect of last night’s episode. Not when we had a live TV interview between Richard and a female questioner who set about him with wholly unbelievable ferocity. (“We all know the real you – caught with your pants down, bottle in one hand, crown jewels in the other.”) Or when the new king seemed to regard this as part of the normal cut and thrust of media debate.
The option of treating The Palace as a deliberate slice of camp fun is pretty much sealed off too – because there’s always a worrying sense that it’s meant entirely seriously. Already, for example, there are signs that the programme’s chief influence is Shakespeare, with Richard’s story intended as an updated version of Prince Hal’s transformation into Henry V."
"The king is dead - and the heir to the throne knows exactly what his first priority must be.
"Get me a Red Bull!" orders the future King Richard - a decree you'd struggle to associate with Queen Elizabeth II.
It's royalty - but it's not quite as we know it.
This daft, yet watchable comedy drama imagines what life might be like if a young, nightclub-loving, sambuca-drinking prince - not a million miles from William or Harry - were to suddenly be forced to assume the role of monarch.
Once upon a time you'd never get the royals lowering themselves to be on TV. Nowadays they're rarely off it. Barely a week goes past without a new behind-the-scenes documentary that details exactly how the Queen likes her Dubonnet.
Yet ITV have decided what the public wants is not fewer royals, but more royals - and fictional ones at that. So we see young King Dick (Rupert Evans) preparing for a live TV interview. And we see his horrified advisers cover their faces with their fingers while they wait for the car crash moment.
The below-stairs gossip machine goes into warp speed over the girl he was snogging in the throne room.
Meanwhile Princess Eleanor played by Sophie Winkleman (Big Suze from Peep Show) hopes he will screw up royally, so she can raise two fingers to those pesky laws of succession and become Queen in his place.
It's great fun - especially since, if you squint a bit, you'd swear our new ruler was David Platt from Corrie."
ITV, Mondays, 9:00pm