I ran across an impressive screenwriting infographic this evening on Reddit. Script readers generally have some of the best advice for aspiring writers. After all, they’re the grunts of the industry; the ones slogging through mud on a daily basis. The pay is shit and the hours are long: These people love stories. That said, I haven’t seen anything quite like this before — kudos to profound_whatever for putting it together. [Read more…]
All screenwriting books are bullshit. All. Watch movies. Read screenplays. Let them be your guide.
Knockaround Guys, Ocean’s Thirteen, & National Treasure 3
I co-wrote a screenwriting book, so it probably doesn’t make a whole lotta sense why I’d be posting this. Of course, it’s more analysis than “how-to” and the essence of what I preach on this site. But I’ll get to that in a bit. The point is — and I sure
enjoy hate being a contrarian — if I could rewind the clock and start my screenwriting education over, I’d still recommend four books to myself. I wouldn’t hold everything they say as the gospel, but these undoubtedly helped at key points in the process: [Read more…]
I’m a movie addict. Like most addicts, I over consume until the inverse relationship between appreciation and exposure becomes a bitter reality. How many times can you see the same scene and get the same high? Chinatown’s “she’s my sister and my daughter” only made my jaw drop once, no matter how much I marvel at its plot. In Fight Club, the “Tyler is the Narrator” reveal only blows your mind once. But those films, like Rain Man, still resonate through the culmination of my experiences. There’s just something about Charlie Babbitt’s journey that keeps me coming back. [Read more…]
If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching Get Shorty, I recommend a viewing. It’s one of Travolta’s wisest post Pulp Fiction moves, which is owed, in large part, to Scott Frank’s adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel (RIP, EL). Frank adapted another Leonard gem, Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, was one of the writers on Spielberg’s Minority Report, and shares credit with Mark Bomback on this summer’s The Wolverine, to name a few. BAFTA Guru posted a twenty-five minute video of Scott in their The Screenwriters’ Lecture Series, full of stories and advice from one the industry’s top screenwriters.
SWIMMING WITH THE SHARKS
By far, my favorite moment of the lecture is Frank’s satirical commentary on the state of the industry for young writers. If you work hard and have a little luck come your way, you might be fortunate enough to live the life. From there, it’s just a simple roll of the dice whether you’re Brody or Quint. [Read more…]
Back to the Future was the highest grossing movie of 1985. It received three nominations at the 58th Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay, and one win for Best Sound Editing. At the 39th British Academy Film Awards, it garnered five nominations, including Best Film and Best Screenplay. President Reagan quoted the film in his 1986 State of the Union address, and in 2007, it was preserved in the National Film Registry. A billion dollar enterprise was spun off it that includes two sequels, an animated series, a theme park ride, video games… in short, mind-numbing varieties of merchandise. An overwhelming consensus considers it family entertainment and an integral part of the plot deals with the threat of incest. [Read more…]
The tricky thing with a movie — because you can have a great script and a great director, and everyone’s heart can be in the right place – you still need to get massively lucky to pull it all off.
I love how matter of fact and humble Brian Helgeland is (not to mention his eerie resemblance to one of my favorite actors of all time, Mr. Michael Keaton). Even with sixty-plus screenplays under his belt, eighteen of which have made it to the screen, he doesn’t label himself a writer: He’s a filmmaker, goddammit. As far as he’s concerned, writers are novelist, playwrights are dialogist. He stands along side the many technicians and craftsmen who come together and make a movie. Just another cog in the machine. There’s something very genuine about that sentiment, especially considering it comes from the guy who is Mr. Adapation ’round town, with films like L.A. Confidential, Mystic River, Man on Fire, and The Bourne Supremacy under his belt. [Read more…]
I’ve seen Man of Steel twice. Disappointment would be a good way to describe my reaction after the first viewing. Let’s just say I have an affinity for the Donner version. That film set the tone for what a superhero film should be. Maybe I shouldn’t have walked in with that expectation, but I did. But then again, it’s Superman, and I’m a fan of the two guys who wrote the damn story. [Read more…]
Screenplay by David S. Goyer
Story by David S. Goyer & Christopher Nolan
Directed by Zack Snyder
Running time: 133 minutes
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Part of Memento’s charm lies in its ambiguity. Leonard Shelby is an unreliable protagonist and the supporting characters ultimately prove themselves to be untrustworthy. It seemed the deeper I dug in, the more I ran into dead ends. And I guess that’s when it clicked: The fractured narrative is no gimmick because it fits the content and theme. As an audience member, I found myself just as confused and disoriented as the protagonist. This is a film that cinema buffs, unlike Mr. Shelby, will remember for a long time. [Read more…]
Screenplay by Christopher Nolan
Based on the short story, Memento Mori, by Jonathan Nolan
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Running Time: 110 minutes
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For a thorough analysis of Memento, including two detailed story maps (both narrative and chronological) please support this site by purchasing my book, co-authored with Dan Calvisi of Act Four Screenplays, Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. Click here to download a FREE SAMPLE (PDF).