31 August, 2009

Linkage - 31/09/09

"How Simon Stephens's plays are galvanising British theatre" - Observer
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Jason Solomons on the state of British film - The Observer
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That's last link is part of the Observer Film magazine
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FX expert guide to making your own low-budget horror - The Guardian
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Judd Apatow interview - The Guardian
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PublicDomainFlicks.com
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Here you can legally download full-length feature films that are in the public domain for free

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"Lasseter preaches fail-safe philosophy" - Variety
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Pixar's company motto is "It's safe to fail" Also "...learn and keep moving forward."

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Five Techniques for Revealing Exposition - About a Screenplay
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"(500) Days of Summer: Revenge is writing a film about the girl who dumped you" By Scott Neustadter
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15 Movie Scenes that Haunt You - EW.com
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Jane Kelly Kosek, an indie film producer, defends script notes
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30 August, 2009

What the Papers Say: "Gunrush"

Kathryn Flett, The Observer

Nonetheless, despite a dearth of cracking drama, one can easily see how Gunrush (ITV1) lay gathering dust on a scheduler's shelf for a couple of years, because despite a good cast – Timothy Spall, Deborah Findlay, David Harewood – and a timely storyline about urban gun crime, written by Richard Cottan, who is normally very good, it was eventually undermined by an ending so infuriatingly silly it might have been conceived by a trio of hairdressers, or the person on line 3 in a radio phone-in competition, or a TV executive.

Obviously gun crime among young black men is a bit of a hot political potato-chip on the shoulder, but having decided to commission a drama in which a young black male teenager pulls a gun on a young white female teenager and kills her, one probably ought to have the courage of a bit of conviction and bring it to some sort of plausible conclusion, rather than, for example, turning the quiet, non-confrontational nice-guy bereaved dad character (Spall) into a pistol-packing would-be vigilante facing down the baaaaad kids in a gloomy tower block basement, before – ta-dah!– the kids were suddenly shot in the back by a character touting what looked suspiciously like a Deus ex machina-gun (and I'm sorry about the punmanship – it's still August and it goes with the territory). It is, unfortunate too that, as the camera pulled back, one could see quite clearly, painted on the wall behind the sobbing Spall, in very large letters, the word UBBISH. And you didn't need to be a DS assigned to the case in order to work out what that missing letter might be. Hell, even a couple of TV execs could've worked it out


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John Preston, Daily Telegraph

"Almost anything would suffer by comparison with Wallander, but Gunrush (last Sunday, ITV1) suffered very grievously indeed. Timothy Spall played Doug, an unflappable driving instructor whose teenage daughter was shot dead during an argument in a supermarket – whereupon kindly, unflappable Doug vowed to track down the killer. Various racial themes – the killer was black – were nervously touched upon, but never really developed. Instead, implausibility was heaped upon implausibility with hectic abandon, a process that never caused the pace to rise above a funereal clop.

At the end, Doug almost shot the killer with his own gun – we were teasingly invited to believe that he had done – before abruptly coming to his senses. Afterwards, sitting at home, he and his wife heard their surviving daughter tentatively start to play her cello; the same cello which had lain unplayed since her sister’s murder. It was a scene best watched with a large watertight container close to hand."

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Ian McCann,
The Independent

Is ITV fulfilling its obligations as a public-service broadcaster?

Forget the death of The South Bank Show and overlook the fact that it probably finds News at 10 an inconvenience. Those things don't matter. ITV's main obligation is to cheer the public up over a nice cup of tea: Emmerdale, Heartbeat, "An Audience with Radiohead", that kind of thing. When it's bleak outside, ITV is as cosy as a fish supper for two. So it is good to see that nice Timothy Spall in a new drama, along with Deborah Findlay from Cranford.

Gunrush opened cheerfully enough, with Timo playing a bumbler so mild and green that it's a shock to discover he's called Doug and not Fairy Liquid. Then Doug and family went into a shop, jostled some hoodies, and bang, his darling teenage daughter was bleeding to death on the floor. Suddenly, you remember this is called Gunrush and the film, like Doug, Will Never Be the Same Again.

Doug blamed himself, because that's the sort of guy he is. His wife Jill also blamed him, because that's the sort of guy he is. Eventually, Doug proved he was a man by snapping at Jill and stealing – from the police – the gun cartridge that killed his daughter. Pretty soon, he'd gone feral, roaming the estate where he rightly assumed the killers lived, looking for revenge, the gun ... anything, really. This was dangerous territory, so he hired a crackhead guide, played perfectly by Paul Kaye in Pulling mode, and upset the local arms dealer. Don't try this at home. Then Doug ruined the estate's karaoke night by sobbing "Both Sides Now" (what is it about telly script writers and karaoke? Do they think working-class folk spend their entire lives singing?) and begging, over the mic, for help in finding his daughter's killer. One of the hoodies' grannies heard his plea, triggering a crescendo that rose to a truly grim if unlikely climax.

Nobody came out of Gunrush well. The cops were racially divided and hardly cared. The teen gangstas were squabbling pawns. Doug and Jill were also lured by the thrill of weaponry. The hoodies' probation officer (David Harewood, currently Martin Luther King in The Mountaintop at London's Trafalgar Studios) was corruptible. Only Doug's other daughter had redeeming features. And although it used that weird glowavision that many modern ITV dramas employ, Gunrush was really dark and everything looked black and white.

That didn't apply to the story, which had ambiguities galore. Would the police really appear so blasé about the murder of a nice middle-class girl? Do black kids still use the 1970s slang "seen" for "understood"? The drama's message remained unclear, although there were hints about racism, class and the power vested in firearms, and Jill pointedly mentioned "respect".

Gunrush was gripping, and it's admirable that it was made in this economic climate, but quite a lot of it was baffling, including the final action scene. It must have gone over the heads of other viewers too: no wonder the network is struggling. When Doug's daughter started playing the cello at the end and the curtains were opened to let light in at last, I heaved a sigh of relief. Curse you, ITV, my tea's stone cold.

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Catch up with ITV player until 22 September 2009
(but I really wouldn't bother)

29 August, 2009

Linkage - 29/08/09

The Tragic Love Story - Andy Conway
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A brilliant look at the genre

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Genre and the recession: is this the way forward? - Julian Friedmann
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This emphasies Andy's underlying point about the importance of knowing and understand genre

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How to Stop Procrastination
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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The Wire's David Simon: pay-TV has freed drama from ad pressures - The Guardian
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Andrea Arnold, Red Road/Fish Tank, writer-director, interview - The Observer
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Extract from new David MItchell & Robert Webb book - The Guardian
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Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz … the mentor and the muse - The Observer
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Shake-up for British cinema planned with BFI and UKFC merger - The Times
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Interview with Alan Davies - The Times
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John Byrne, playwright/screenwriter interview
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Tutti Frutti is on DVD at last, I wonder if it's as brilliant as I remember from my childhood. Press Gang and Raffles proved to be shite.

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John Boorman - A very English visionary is back - The Independent
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Medical drama - No politics, we're doctors - The Independent - Previews of new US medical shows
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"Dismal stereotypes of women still abound at the Fringe" - The Independent
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19 August, 2009

Script reading

Script Collector has been sharing scripts via Twitter but due to popular demand they've brought their blog back.

Although always check who wrote the script to avoid disappointment. "The Time Traveller's Wife (2009)" and "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (2009)" are not the movie versions. Although there might be an interest in working out why those earlier drafts were rejected.

The former is by Jeremy Leven but Bruce Joel Rubin was brought in at the last moment for what appears to be a page 1 re-write as he gets sole credit. Having read the first twenty pages, it seems obvious why. It's not that Leven's writing is bad but I prefer Rubin's choices.

The latter is by David Koepp who I'm a fan of although he does get bad mouthed often. His version is more faithful to the novel and Brian Helgeland's page 1 rewrite basically updates the film.

Script Collector recently had a Hitchcock weekend where they posted 8 scripts and promises more specials. I now have a fresh crisp print-out of my favourite - North by Northwest by Ernest Lehman - to read and can barely contain my excitement. Yay! Yahoo! (Sorry, I couldn't contain it any longer)

Also worth a bookmark is Scriptshadow who posts and reviews scripts being shopped around. Although you sometimes have a limited time to download before he's ceased and desisted. Following him on Twitter lets you know as soon as scripts are posted.

His current review is of a comedy that sold for 1.75 million bucks but which isn't very good. Putting aside the jealousy that I can't sell my crap scripts for that much, the review is insightful and of a practical help when concepting and outlining our own comedies.

16 August, 2009

Linkage - 16/08/09

The Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction

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Geoffrey Nauffts - playwright - interview - NY Times

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Peter Jackson - writer-director - interview - Wall Street Journal

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American Film Institute podcasts
- includes John Hughes, Judd Apatow, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Eric Roth, Clark Gregg, Paul Schrader and Todd Haynes


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Jonathan Prince - The Cleaner creator - on addiction & writing - WGA
- I don't believe anyone's bought The Cleaner for the UK yet. While the pilot wasn't bad, it's very...erm..niche.

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Melissa Rosenberg - Twilight/Dexter - interview - The Insider

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John Hamburg, I Love You, Man -Interview - UGO

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Jill Golick - Canuck TV - writer - interview

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Max Mayer - Adam - interview
- "Realism and movies they don’t mix."


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The Writer's Job Hunt blog - writers wanted ads

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