29 February, 2008

Steve Martin, comedy god, interview

Part 1



Part 2

Steve Martin, comedy god, article

Smithsonian magazine:

"In a college psychology class, I had read a treatise on comedy explaining that a laugh was formed when the storyteller created tension, then, with the punch line, released it. I didn't quite get this concept, nor do I still, but it stayed with me and eventually sparked my second wave of insights. With conventional joke telling, there's a moment when the comedian delivers the punch line, and the audience knows it's the punch line, and their response ranges from polite to uproarious. What bothered me about this formula was the nature of the laugh it inspired, a vocal acknowledgement that a joke had been told, like automatic applause at the end of a song."

28 February, 2008

Marshall Herskovitz & Edward Zwick, screenwriters, interview

Newsweek:

"The voice of (Quarterlife) is Dylan (Bitsie Tulloch), who's a blogger. But isn't that a variation on how Felicity records her thoughts into a tape recorder or Carrie Bradshaw writes about her life in a column?

Zwick: There's a convention of drama which has to do with voice-over. I think we might have been early with it in "My So-Called Life," where we thought the narrator was unreliable. In this, I think we were looking at a whole culture that's presuming to put their life in public in a way that's new and unusual.

Herskovitz: I feel like we're also saying something about this generation and its contradictory feelings about privacy"

"How Elizabeth and co. made history sexy "

Daily Telegraph:

"You look at your archetypal crowd-pleasing contemporary film. The female roles are ciphers. There's nothing for them to do. Hollywood has started to think, 'We have all these great actresses. In what way can we legitimately showcase their talents?'

"Historical figures are a brilliant way of not stretching the bounds of credibility. You're not writing a movie about two female supercops saving the world. These are genuinely interesting stories about famous female figures who really existed."

Page International Screenwriting Awards



Now in its fifth year, the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards competition continues its track record of success, discovering and promoting some of the most talented new screenwriters from across the country and around the world. Since receiving their prizes, many PAGE Award winning writers have landed script assignments, secured representation, and signed option agreements on their work, and several now have movies in various stages of production and release.

In the latest news:
The new horror flick THE GRAVE, written by 2007 Silver Prize winner Jack Davidson, is currently in pre-production with producers Paul Carran and Liz DiFiore of Film Factory New Zealand. Stuart Orme (THE PUPPET MASTERS) is attached to direct.

Anne Sagel has just optioned her 2007 Bronze Prize winning thriller THE COLLECTOR to Polaris Productions in Los Angeles. The prodco has also optioned scripts by PAGE finalists Matthew Andrews and Jason Arnopp.

2005 Gold Prize winner Lynn Esta Goldman has just finished writing a new musical drama for a producer in South Africa, and she recently optioned one of her spec scripts to an L.A. film director.

2006 Silver Prize winner Sang Kyu Kim has written several episodes of a network TV show and is now a member of the WGA. Sang was also accepted into the CBS Writers Mentoring Program.

2006 Bronze Prize winners Mike Calvert and Gary Hershberger have been hired to adapt the book 'Only in America' based on a true life adventure. The writing team is repped by Principal Entertainment.

And 2007 Grand Prize winner John Arends has been hired by producer Ernst-August Schnieder and Fortune Films to do a rewrite on a new sci-fi script. John was just signed by the Barry Perelman Agency.

Several other PAGE Award winners have also recently acquired representation:
2007 Gold Prize winner Marc Conklin has been signed by Beloved Management/Beloved Pictures.
2005 Bronze Prize winner Martin McSweeney has been signed by the Blake Friedman Agency in London.

2005 Bronze Prize winner Rob Frisbee is now repped by Brian Spink at Benderspink Management.

And 2007 Gold Prize winner Jimmy Miller is repped by Gayla Nethercott at Don Buchwald & Associates and Josh McGuire at Washington Square Arts.
This year the PAGE judges will present awards to 31 screenwriters in ten different genre categories. The winning writers will receive over $30,000 in cash and prizes, including a $10,000 Grand Prize, as well as extensive publicity and industry exposure for their winning scripts.

The regular entry deadline for the 2008 PAGE Awards competition is Saturday 15 March. Late entries will be accepted through 15 April. For more information, please visit: http://www.InternationalScreenwritingAwards.com

25 February, 2008

"Are Oscars Worth All This Fuss?"

New York Times:

"Like anyone else I’m glad when my favorites win and dismayed when they fall short. So I am not against the Oscars, any more than I’m dismissive of the Salesman of the Year or the Employee of the Month, or opposed to lavish annual trade association conventions for actuaries or ophthalmologists. But I am nonetheless bothered by the disproportionate importance that the Academy Awards have taken on, and by the distorting influence they exercise over the way we make, market and see movies in this country. The Oscars themselves may be harmless fun, but the idea that they matter is as dangerous as it is ridiculous."

Oscar winners

Variety:

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Brad Bird - "Ratatouille"
WINNER: Diablo Cody - "Juno"
Tony Gilroy - "Michael Clayton"
Tamara Jenkins - "The Savages"
Nancy Oliver - "Lars and the Real Girl"

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Paul Thomas Anderson - "There Will Be Blood"
WINNER: Ethan & Joel Coen - "No Country for Old Men"
Christopher Hampton - "Atonement"
Ronald Harwood - "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Sarah Polley - "Away from Her"

BEST PICTURE
"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
WINNER: "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

DIRECTOR
Paul Thomas Anderson - "There Will Be Blood"
WINNER: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen - "No Country For Old Men"
Tony Gilroy - "Michael Clayton"
Jason Reitman - "Juno"
Julian Schnabel - "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly"

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
WINNER: 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 ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
WINNER: 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)
WINNER: Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
WINNER: Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson’s War" (Universal)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)


COSTUME DESIGN
"Across the Universe" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
WINNER: "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)

ANIMATED FEATURE
"Persepolis" - (Sony Pictures Classics) Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
WINNER: "Ratatouille" - (Pixar; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Distribution) Brad Bird
"Surf’s Up" - (Sony Pictures Releasing) Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

MAKEUP
WINNER: "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

VISUAL EFFECTS
WINNER:"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

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
WINNER:"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

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
WINNER:"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

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
WINNER:"Peter & the Wolf" (BreakThru Films) A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production

SOUND EDITING
WINNER: "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

SOUND MIXING
WINNER: "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

FILM EDITING
WINNER: "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

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"Beaufort" - Israel
WINNER: "The Counterfeiters" - Austria
"Katyn," - Poland
"Mongol" - Kazakhstan
"12" - Russia

ORIGINAL SONG
WINNER: "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

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
WINNER:"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit

ORIGINAL SCORE
WINNER: "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

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
WINNER: "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

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
WINNER: "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

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

Oscar.com



24 February, 2008

Soundtrack

Lykke Li - "Little Bit"



The long-player doesn't drop until the summer in the UK but her website tells you how to order the Swedish import - and also gives away a free track

*************************************************

Mystery Jets - "Young Love"



Featuring woman of the moment (if you ignore Adele and Duffy) Laura Marling. I don't remember the band being this good.

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The Ting Tings - "Great DJ"



Drops next week. I was very disappointed that ordinary people had heard of them before me (I'm a leader not a follower) but rather than saving my dignity by saying they are over-hyped, I can't honestly say that.

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Los Campesinos - "Death To Los Campesinos!"



The album drops tomorrow.

Independent Spirit Awards Winners

Variety:

Best Screenplay

Tamara Jenkins - "The Savages"

Best Feature:

"Juno" - Producers: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith

Best Director:

Julian Schnabel - "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Best Female Lead:

Ellen Page - "Juno"

Best Supporting Male:

Chiwetel Ejiofor - "Talk To Me"

Best First Screenplay:

Diablo Cody - "Juno"

Best First Feature:

"The Lookout" - Director: Scott Frank; Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Laurence Mark, Walter Parkes

Best Supporting Female:

Cate Blanchett - "I’m Not There"

John Cassavetes Award:

(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000) "August Evening" - Writer/Director: Chris Eska; Producers: Connie Hill, Jason Wehling

Best Foreign Film:

"Once" (Ireland) - John Carney

Male Lead:

Philip Seymour Hoffman - "The Savages"

IFC/ACURA Someone to Watch Award

Ramin Bahrani, director of "Chop Shop"

Producers Award

Neil Kopp, producer of "Paranoid Park" and "Old Joy"

Truer than Fiction Award

Laura Dunn for "The Unforeseen"


Best Documentary

"Crazy Love" - Director: Dan Klores

Best Cinematography

Janusz Kaminski - "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Robert Altman Award

"I’m Not There"

Director: Todd Haynes; Casting Director: Laura Rosenthal; Ensemble Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bruce Greenwood, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw

22 February, 2008

"Women writers still in minority"

The Associated Press:

"As Hollywood's striking scribes ventured out to their picket lines over the past two months, it's been plain to see — female writers are outnumbered by their male colleagues.

"I'm surprised when I see a woman on the picket line and I always wonder, Hmm, do I know her?'" said Sarah McLaughlin, who wrote for "That 70s Show." "If I don't know a woman writer personally, I know of them."

Women make up 27 percent of television writers and 19 percent of feature film writers, according to the most recent Guild membership report from 2005, according to figures supplied by the Writers Guild of America.

Writers attribute the scarcity of women in their midst to tokenism, a tradition of bawdy humour in the writers' room and the dearth of women in key managerial positions.

Others say women have made significant strides toward parity in recent years and feel increasingly comfortable working in a historically male-dominated field."

20 February, 2008

Adam Brooks, "Definitely Maybe", interview

Living the Romantic Comedy:

"...Once I started writing I no longer thought very much about other films or the rules of the genre, I really tried to write within myself, if that makes any sense.

When I teach screenwriting classes, I notice how quick students are to look for solutions outside themselves. They want hard and fast rules about when they should end the first act, how to structure the ‘b’ story, etc. etc. Okay, it’s a natural tendency, and writing is a scary, murky, stomach-churning process; but obsessing about rules is a distraction from the real work at hand.

It also ignores a basic truth - that storytelling is practically genetic - conflict, heroes and villains, cliffhangers, the three act structure, I really think they’re all embedded in our sub-conscious.

I don’t need to give Robert McKee a lot of my money to find out something I already know, if I just make the effort. Ask any parent who has told a bedtime story to their child."

"Top of The Bill"

The Guardian:

"Viewers love them - but the industry is still snobby about continuing dramas. So will police and hospital shows ever get the praise they deserve?" " At a recent Royal Television Society event, Bryan Elsley, co-creator and writer of Skins, bemoaned that some drama is made in such high volume that it is stripped of meaning. "I started writing on Casualty in the late 1980s and in those days we made 12 episodes a year," he said. "Now they make, I think, 49 episodes a year. That means something for the meaning and the content, and the focus and commitment of the show."



19 February, 2008

The Met Film School Skillset Writers' Training Scheme

Met Film School:

The Met Film School Skillset Writers' Training Scheme will support ten talented emerging writers to develop a first draft of a feature film script whilst supporting their creative and professional development through an intensive training programme. The initial six months will include 1:1 support from both a script supervisor and a producer and professional support, bespoke training courses, masterclasses, readings, workshops, and a series of placements designed to familiarize writers with working practice across the value chain of cinema from production to exploitation. Five of the writers will then be selected for a further six months of development support. The programme will be delivered by a proven partnership of producers, distributors and training providers with an existing track record of developing scripts and delivering this level and type of training. Additional training and placements will be provided by a range of organisations including Hollywood studios.

Participants will be paid competitive fees on commencement and on delivery of the treatment and each draft and set of revisions during both the first and second six months of the programme as well as receiving the benefit of the ongoing support and training. Participants must retain copyright in their projects for the duration of the first six months, and thereafter are free to assign rights to their projects if they so choose.

How To Apply

Please note that this is not an entry-level scheme and is aimed at writers who have already demonstrated truly exceptional promise within some level of industry environment. Accordingly, applicants must satisfy all of the following selection criteria:

  • Have had a screenplay commissioned or produced by a recognised film or television production company OR have written or directed an award-winning short film OR have agency representation.
  • Have completed at least 1 work - either a full length feature screenplay, a ½ hour television episode or a produced stage play
  • Be able to provide at least two references supporting their work from recognised industry professionals
  • Have demonstrable talent and experience

Please note that applications not meeting the above criteria will not be considered.

While both professional placements and training days will take place in London, applications from across the UK are strongly encouraged and support will be provided towards travel and accommodation expenses for regional applicants.

Applicants should apply by 5pm on Monday 10 March 2008

" Why is Hollywood going for bloke?"

Daily Telegraph:

"Casting your eyes over this year's roster of film award contenders, you'd be forgiven for wondering why women, more than ever, have been relegated to the margins. The stories Hollywood wanted to tell last year were about fathers and sons, the American west, and machismo run amok.

This is generalising, but look at the roles played by women in these pictures - sweet but disposable Kelly Macdonald in No Country for Old Men, barely-there Mary-Louise Parker in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and a handful of silent female extras in There Will Be Blood - and a pattern begins to emerge.

Where are this year's The Queen, Erin Brockovich, Far From Heaven, The Hours? Even this year's Chicago? Oscar-watchers can only point to the best picture nominees Atonement and Juno as examples of female-led cinema, and neither of these will quite do."

17 February, 2008

"Who Are You?"

Karl Moore:

"
Our lives are absolutely crammed with limitation.

Every single day, our thoughts limit how we move forward in the world.

We don't apply for that job, because we think we're not good enough. We continue that drug addiction, because we don't think we're strong enough to break it off. We keep doing the "same old, same old" because that's just you...

Right?

Today, I'd like to address the underlying root behind all limiting thoughts. Behind all of the suffering and the stories we tell ourselves, is the idea that...

There is such a thing as "Me."
"

Soundtrack

Update:

The record company had the embedded-able video of the band removed.

In this day and age can you imagine anything more stupid than a recording company banning people promoting their band?


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Flashback

Lush - "Ladykillers"



Although they're taking the piss out of blokes like me, I couldn't help loving it.

16 February, 2008

"How much for digital?"

Seth's Blog:

"The movie studios are starting to get excited about renting movies digitally (via Apple and others). The pricing seems to be modelled on Blockbuster (+). Figure $3 a rental, another buck or so for HD. That seems 'fair', because it's in the same range as we're used to.


But wait.
Blockbuster buys DVDs for $15 or $20 (probably a lot less in volume, but I have no clue what the real number is). The studios have to pay for duplication and warehousing and marketing and they take a risk with every pressing that they'll have to shred the leftovers.

Blockbuster then rents them out 30 or 40 or more times each, meaning each rental costs Blockbuster fifty cents. Not to mention rent, surly clerks, cost of capital, advertising, etc. Or, in the case of Netflix, stamps.


In the case of online rentals, all of these intermediate costs immediately disappear. Gone.
So, why try to mimic the current model when it comes to pricing if the costs are mostly gone?"

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Because the studios are thick rapacious bastards (as evidenced from the WGA strike) who are just interested in short term minimal gain from early adopters rather than growing the market exponentially with a fairly priced and simple service. Or was that a rhetorical question?

"The Revival of the Audience Sitcom"

Writers' Guild of Great Britain:

"...all the panellists agreed that character was the most important single factor.

“When you first read a script, the jokes are the least important thing,” Ian Brown insisted. “You can add those in later. But there have to be characters you want to spend time with, even if they’re not likeable.”

Charlie Hanson added that you also need believability and a good premise, and Lucy Lumsden summed up what she looked for as “familiarity but also saying something new.”

For Beryl Vertue the key is, again, characters and relationships and “an idea you think will last and sustain several series.” She also mentioned that visual comedy was often under-used – surprising when you think how many of the great sitcom moments (from the chandelier crash in Only Fools And Horses to Victor Meldrew picking up a dog instead of a phone) are purely visual comedy."

15 February, 2008

"Big ideas"

Seth's Blog:

"...ideas are easy, doing stuff is hard.

My feeling is that the more often you create and share ideas, the better you get at it. The process of manipulating and ultimately spreading ideas improves both the quality and the quantity of what you create, at least it does for me.

History is littered with inventors who had "great" ideas but kept them quiet and then poorly executed them. And history is lit up with do-ers who took ideas that were floating around in the ether and actually made something happen. In fact, just about every successful venture is based on an unoriginal idea, beautifully executed.

So, if you've got ideas, let them go. They're probably holding you back from the hard work of actually executing."

"First lesson of screenwriting class: It's all about business"

Colorado Springs Gazette:

"Tim Casey cues up the opening scene of “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” with the writers’ commentary on. “This is a screenwriting course in and of itself,” he tells his class at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. “It’s rubbish though, isn’t it?” asks Chris Worth, one of the students. “It’s business,” Casey counters. “You want to get into it for art, God bless you.” "

"Studio comedy in demand from BBC"

Broadcast:

The BBC is calling for more traditional studio-based sitcoms and wants to run around four a year on BBC2.


BBC comedy commissioning controller Lucy Lumsden revealed that of the 280 ideas for comedy shows she received from indies and in-house writers last year, just 18 were written for a studio audience.


Lumsden told a Writers' Guild of Great Britain panel event that while slots are limited for audience sitcoms, "they're something we attach enormous importance to and there's a great appetite for them."


Lumsden said she was encouraged by the recent broadcast of a live edition of Two Pints of Lager on BBC3 and that the signing of a three-year deal with its creator Susan Dickson was a sign of this appetite.


BBC1 also recently recommissioned sitcoms After You've Gone and Not Going Out.
She said she was looking for "familiarity but also [shows that were] saying something new."

My Family writer Dave Cohen said many aspiring writers have preconceptions that audience sitcoms are expensive and that as very few appear to be made, tend not to bother pitching them.

14 February, 2008

"The power of love: 100 years of romantic fiction"


The Independent:

"The most common mistake people make is when they've worked at the plot rather than really got to know the characters. You need a strongly constructed heroine to take you through the story and hero who the reader's in love with the minute he appears."
"You may have a hero whose life has gone wrong in the past, but the author can make you like him. You can have a flawed character but you can show his good qualities and how he's affected by the heroine, and how he changes through the story."

Romantic Ideas


Something on the following sites may spark ideas for a romantic screenplay (or may induce vomiting).

Romantic ideas

The big list of romantic ideas

Creative Romantic Ideas

Romantic Tips

Love, Dating and Romantic Ideas

9 Simple Romantic Ideas For Every Man

Romantic Valentine Ideas

101 Romantic Ideas (pdf)

Romantic Inspiration

50 Romantic Vacation Ideas

1000 creative date ideas and activities

Over 10,000 Creative Ideas & Expert Advice on Love, Dating & Romance

Classic romantic screenplays


Read them and weep...

An Affair to Remember - by Alfred Hayes

The American President - by Aaron Sorkin

Annie Hall - by Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman

The Apartment - by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond

Body Heat - by Lawrence Kasdan

The Bridges Of Madison County - by Richard LaGravenese

Casablanca - by Julius Epstein, Philip Epstein, Howard Koch

Ghost - by Bruce Joel Rubin

Harold and Maude - By Colin Higgins

Jerry Maguire - by Cameron Crowe

Moonstruck - by John Patrick Shanley

Notting Hill - by Richard Curtis

An Officer and a Gentleman - by Douglas Day Stewart

The Princess Bride - by William Goldman

Punch Drunk Love - by Paul Thomas Anderson

Roman Holiday - by John Dighton & Ian Hunter

Sense And Sensibility - by Emma Thompson

Shakespeare in Love - by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard

Sleepless In Seattle - by Jeff Arch, Rewritten: Nora Ephron & Delia Ephron

When Harry Met Sally by Nora Ephron

Working Girl - by Kevin Wade

Top Romance Movies: 76 Romantic Flicks for Guys and Girls


Internet Duct Tape:

"Everyone likes movies.

The problem is that people don’t like the same movies.

This is especially true for romantic movies. Valentine’s Day is around the corner and people are putting together lists of their favourite romantic movies. Many of them I didn’t agree with, so I decided to make a list of my own and I got my girlfriend to help me.

Together we’ve brought you a list of the best romantic films ever made neatly organized into what we both liked, what I liked, what she liked and the movies everyone else seems to like (based on the number of times they showed up on other people’s lists). "

America's 100 Greatest Love Stories


Filmsite:

"The American Film Institute's (AFI) fifth polling, 100 Years...100 Passions, celebrated the centennial of American cinema, and highlighted "the complex, cinematic tales of the heart that have become an abiding part of American film history."

AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions revealed America’s 100 America’s greatest love stories, as chosen by leaders of the entertainment community, in a three-hour television event, that aired on the CBS Television Network in June 2002. AFI distributed a ballot with 400 nominated films to a jury of 1,800 leaders from the creative community, including film artists (directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, cinematographers) critics and historians. The jurors were asked to consider the following criteria in their selections:

* Feature Length Fiction Film - The film must be in narrative format, typically over 60 minutes in length.
* American Film - The film must be in the English language with significant creative and/or production elements from the United States.
* Love Story - Regardless of genre, a romantic bond between two or more characters, whose actions and/or intentions provide the heart of the film’s narrative.
* Legacy - Films whose "passions" have enriched America’s film and cultural heritage while continuing to inspire contemporary artists and audiences."

Writing Romantic Comedy


"Writing the Romantic Comedy" book - Billy Mernit

"Living the Romantic Comedy" blog - Billy Mernit

*******************************************************

Your Romantic Comedy: a final exam - Billy Mernit

Writing the Romantic Comedy - Anne Gracie

Writing Romantic Comedies - Michael Hauge

Writing Romantic Comedies - Five essentials - Structure

How to Write a Romantic Comedy Screenplay - eHow

Romantic Films Genre and the Greatest Romances of All Time


Filmsite:

"Romance Films, love stories, or affairs of the heart center on passion, emotion, and the romantic, affectionate involvement of the main characters (usually a leading man and lady), and the journey that their love takes through courtship or marriage. Romance films make the love story or the search for love the main plot focus. Oftentimes, lovers in screen romances (often romantic dramas) face obstacles and the hazards of hardship, finances, physical illness, racial or social class status, occupation, psychological restraints, or family that threaten to break their union and attainment of love. As in all romantic relationships, tensions of day-to-day life, temptations (of infidelity), and differences in compatibility enter into the plots of romantic films.

Romantic films often explore the essential themes of love at first sight, young (and older) love, unrequited love, obsessive love, sentimental love, spiritual love, forbidden love, sexual and passionate love, sacrificial love, explosive and destructive love, and tragic love. Romantic films serve as great escapes and fantasies for viewers, especially if the two people finally overcome their difficulties, declare their love, and experience life "happily ever after" - implied by a reunion and final kiss.

Many romantic films do not have fairy-tale, wistful-thinking stories or happy endings, although love serves as a shield against the harshness of the real world. Although melodramas and romantic comedies may have some romance in their plots, they usually subordinate the love element to their primary goal - to provide humour or serious drama. "

13 February, 2008

International Disability Film Festival (London)

LDAF:

"Welcome to London's 8th International Disability Film Festival, an annual event produced by the London Disability Arts Forum (LDAF).

Disability Arts refers to work by disabled artists in all art forms that contains an individual or collective response to the experience of living in a disabling world."


Festival Programme

The outline of the Festival below is subject to change.

Screening Programme 14th February – 17th February

Opening night party BFI Southbank 14th February (Valentine’s Day)

Workshops – one day, sponsored by Skillset

Subjects:

  • Young People’s film making
  • Directing
  • Screenwriting
  • Animation
  • Producing, Distribution and Everything else.

Seminars 5-7pm approx

Subjects:

  • Talent spotting
  • Digital Film Making - The Editor
  • Employment Opportunities in Film Industry

Best of Festival Awards Screening Tuesday 19th February venue to be confirmed.

Newish UK blogs!

It is the circle of life. As some blogs shrivel and snuff it, new stimulating ones spring up, to supplant them in the scribosphere; stretching towards the sunlight of superlative script submissions and sales. Salut!

Birds Eye View Film Festival

"Welcome to the fourth Birds Eye View Film Festival: a week of inspiration and celebration, with over 70 events at London's leading cinema venues. Each year we showcase the very best in new features, documentaries and short films from women filmmakers from across the globe, alongside première screenings, special multi-media events, Q&As, panel discussions and parties."

6 - 14 March

"The disappearing writer"

Graham Linehan:

"Looks like the writers are coming back to work. Amazing that the executives thought they could just do without them. It must have come as some shock to see everything slow to a stop. How could these scribbling nobodies have so much power?

In fact, writers should be flattered to be taken for granted. It means they’re doing their job properly. After all, it is only when you cease to sense a guiding hand behind a work of fiction that the fiction suddenly takes on life. ‘Characters’ become ‘people’, ’scenes’ become ‘events’, and when something bad happens, you feel it at a gut level… none of this is possible if you sense that the writer is manipulating every last thing that happens (which he is). So you could say that the job of the writer is to disappear."

WGA Members Vote to End Strike

United Hollywood:

"LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK – The membership of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) today voted overwhelmingly in favor of lifting the restraining order and ending their 100-day strike that began on Nov. 5. 3,775 writers turned out in Los Angeles and New York to cast ballots or fax in proxies, with 92.5% voting in favour of ending the work stoppage.

“The strike is over. Our membership has voted, and writers can go back to work,” said Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West. “This was not a strike we wanted, but one we had to conduct in order to win jurisdiction and establish appropriate residuals for writing in new media and on the Internet. Those advances now give us a foothold in the digital age. Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as TV migrates to the Internet and platforms for new media are developed.”

“The success of this strike is a significant achievement not only for ourselves but the entire creative community, now and in the future,” said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East. “The commitment and solidarity of our members made it happen and have been an inspiration not only to us but the entire organized labour movement. We will build on that energy and unity to make our two unions stronger than ever.”

WGAW and WGAE members will next vote to ratify the tentative three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The membership ratification vote will be conducted by mail and also at membership meetings on February 25, 2008."

12 February, 2008

The End

"When I ask producers what they're looking for in a script, I consistently hear "A great ending" as one of their answers. The reason is easy -- the ending is what audiences remember most. And it is what usually causes BUZZ around a movie." Hal Croasmun.

"The most important ten minutes of the script are the first. The most important ten minutes of the movie are the last." - Dean Devlin

No Country for Old Men has initiated a great debate all over the web about the ending. Andy of Shooting Screenwriters said "I think what's most interesting about the film is how much it divides those who see it, from the passionate 'but it's just like real life' defenders, to the equally passionate 'they don't know how to tell a story' decriers". It emphasised to me just how important endings are.

There will be spoilers.

I do understand the naysayers as I too was challenged, confused and made to think by No Country for Old Men but rather than hate the experience I enjoyed it as it's so rare. Usually the only thinking required with thrillers is guessing how the hero and baddie will lose their weapons so they can have a fist fight.

The film is currently rating 8.6/10 at both Rotten Tomatoes and the IMDB, which is odd as at first glance the story choices were alienating and anti-populist. Clearly there is an audience that craves ambiguity and doesn't mind having to do some work for themselves.

Dave, the Mystery Man on Film, has a good explanation of the ending but warns "don't try this at home" (as does Danny's less positive review). It's a very difficult thing to do successfully but if someone has the same capability as the Coens, then why not?

The weirdest thing is that I find myself arguing for something I've always disagreed with. Psycho also has the protag being offed before the end and I have called that film 'wrong' and denied it classic status for that reason. But it was me who was wrong. The film works so I should get over it.

I can be a slave to paradigms and the rules as it makes life easier and you're more likely to get a better reception for your script and a bigger audience. However, No Country for Old Men made me realise that the rules are there to serve our stories, the stories should never be slaves to the rules. Usually our stories will be better by following audience expectations but sometimes you can tell a better story by thwarting those expectations.

Expectations count a lot when seeing films. The audience expect a certain genre and as long as a film stays in genre, the film-makers can do what they want, as far as I'm concerned. There were complaints that the Coens didn't deliver what they promised. But I didn't feel like they promised me anything.

We may assume something is a set up for something further down the line but if that doesn't happen it's our assumptions that are wrong and not the film. I don't like a family drama turning into a vampire rom-com musical half way through but surprises within genres are kinda cool. It's by the Coens, it's based on a novel, all I expected was a arthousey thriller and that's what I got.

I saw Over Her Dead Body - or was forced to see it, more like - and I could predict every single beat from beginning to end. So I make no excuses for defending and admiring a film where I didn't know what the hell was going to happen next.

Clearly for some people the story doesn't work or in fact wasn't even a story. There was an over-emphasis on the theme or the theme was obvious and not worth exploring in the first place. All valid points as long as it is acknowledged that McCarthy and the Coens are entitled to tell that story and none of us should be limited in the types of story we can tell. I needed the jolt of No Country for Old Men to ditch my prejudice against novelistic style storytelling in the cinema and set my imagination free.

In the unlikely event a producer reads my script and is emotionally engaged throughout, they aren't going to care about whether the rules have been broken or whether it follows a paradigm.

Just as having a profound ending doesn't necessarily make something a masterpiece, having a plot that ties everything up in a neat little bow with a happy ending doesn't necessarily make something entertaining or interesting (c.f. Over Her Dead Body).

But what's been forgotten in the debate is that there is more than one type of audience and all can be catered for. There is no wrong and right. We should tell the stories we want to tell and explore the themes we want to explore. If other people love it then that's a bonus. If no-one loves it, then maybe it's time to compromise a little - but not before.

Once we know and understand the rules, if we want to break them then we should have the confidence to go right ahead. Ultimately, the audience will have the final word.

"But I think finales are what give stories their meaning. The stories need endings because all of our lives have endings. So a death is such an important part of drama, so how can you tell a story that doesn't involve death?" Brian K. Vaughan (link has major "Y- The Last Man" spoilers")


Links

The Big Finish
by Terry Rossio
"Here's my iron-clad rule for how a movie should end. (How's that for taking a stance?) A good ending must be decisive, set-up, and inevitable -- but nonetheless unexpected."

Screenwriting – Write Your Movie Backwards

The End of a Screenplay

Happy Endings - Just Do it

Endings (again)

On Endings

Writing the Classic Movie Ending (How to Finish your Screenplay!)

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End Game
We analyse the endings of ''Juno,'' ''Atonement,'' ''No Country for Old Men,'' and others

EW.com:
Fine Finales
"Check out 40 movies with awesome endings!"

Film critic.com
"The Top 50 Movie Endings of All Time"

Cracked.com:
"The 10 Most Asinine Movie Twist Endings"

The List Universe:
"Top 15 Amazing Movie Endings"

Slashfilm:
"Top Ten Greatest Movie Endings"

11 February, 2008

The Times Film School

I remember Empire magazine doing a brilliant in-depth film school in their pages, covering directing and acting, etc. I was expectantly waiting for the screenwriting edition but there wasn't one. I was too shocked to complain. Years later I still can't quite believe it.

Thankfully, The Times Film School, isn't ignoring screenwriters and is giving away five screenplays this week. It also has great screenwriting resources which include archived screenwriter interviews and the following new stuff:

10 tips for writing your own film

How do I become... a screenwriter?

William Nicholson article

David Hare on adapting The Hours

How John Hodge adapted Trainspotting

Sir Tom Stoppard on writing Shakespeare in Love


Lee Hall on writing Billy Elliot

Joseph Jomo Pierre, playwright, interview

Toronto Star:

"The acts that are done in my plays may be negative, but I'm trying to show the humanistic qualities behind them.

"How do you get people to view themselves as important? Not by shutting out their story, but by revealing that story, so their existence is valuable.

"You can only effect change by telling the truth."