Friday, June 29, 2007

Don't Be Trendy With Your Screenwriting


I troll a lot of screenwriting forums, messageboards, dank corners of the internet for hints, tips and latest writing trends -- how many are still putting MORE and CONT'D at the ends of pages haha (the word is CHEAT, people)

Anyway, it makes me giggle like a schoolboy seeing his first naked woman that so many offer sledgehammer advice as to how it is supposed to be done.

The latest NO-NO's going around are:

1. No more "torture porn" horror scripts

2. No more remakes of classic horror films

3. No prequels to established franchises

4. No more convoluted 20 minute long expository twist endings

5. No more regular movies turned into musical versions

6. No more CGI cartoon characters

7. No more trick sequels where the numerical ending is dropped off ala Live Free Or Die Hard, which is really Die Hard 4.

The explanation of those seven can be found on this Cinematical Post.

But what can we put on that list to make it a proper Top 10? Do you agree or disagree with any of the seven? Give me some trends in movies today that excite your or piss you right off.

Personally, my feeling is that excellent writing will prevail. If you are slaving away at any one of those seven, or three of your own not on the list, and your writing kicks butt, one day you will shine under the Hollywood sign's lights no matter what you chose to do... either that, or be hanging off the letter H by sun up... so keep writing brothers and sisters, cousin Lou, Uncle Becky (who used to be Aunt Becky, my dog Lulu, and that dude over there getting a latte...

Fade Out

Friday, June 22, 2007

I Can't Write Shit In Las Vegas


That's a misnomer. All I have been screenwriting while on vacation this week in Las Vegas IS shit. Ever try to find time to stop drinking $12-14 cocktails, $4 bottles of purified tap water, look away from the girls at the pool dropping their towels, refuse to hit CASH OUT on the slot machines, apply blister cream to my toesies from walking mile after mile through the casinos, in order to put in some quality screenplay writing time?

Yeah, it is extremely difficult to concentrate and I failed at all attempts to get anything of real quality done.

I sort of half-hung-overly fiddled with ripping apart my horror/gangster rewrite and did a new opening to my kidnapping thriller, so not all a waste.

I vow to dig in my bandaged and swollen heels when I get home (right now I am on hotel Wi-Fi in Holbrook, Arizona on my way home) and do some 8 hour writing shifts... time to get some product out there, baby.

Las Vegas 1 The Gordons 0

Fade Out

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Live Insurance in Movies


There has been a movie in regards to just about everything you can imagine, with just about every aspect you could possibly relate to it. One such item that is often common place in many movies is life insurance. There are many films with movie stars that call for the death of a family member with the life insurance policies going to a wife or other individual in the family. Of course, the death is usually a murder or other suspicious event that looks like the relative receiving the money had something to do with it, in order to receive the large insurance policy.

For the rest of the movie, these scripts call for the movie starts to try and determine if the family member had anything to do with the murder and if they should actually receive the money from the insurance policy. Chances are you have seen this take place many times on film and television, and more than likely it is not the last time you are going to see scripts and movie stars portraying a family member becoming murdered just so an individual is able to claim all the money and move onto a better life.

Fade Out

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Power Of Three


Stole this one from Coyote Underground Do it if ya wanna...

Three things that scare me:

1 celebrity fantacism in the media (ala Paris, Anna Nicole obsession)
2 The American Idolization and Game Show rape of the television landscape
3 impotence

Three people who make me laugh:

1 Robin Williams
2 movie critics as an entity
3 a handful of wiseass bloggers from my blog roll who give me a run for my money

Three Things I love:

1 caramel apple martinis
2 writing spec screenplays
3 my partner in life crime, Lisa

Three Things I hate:

1 second guessing/conclusion jumping (the worst Olympic sports IMHO)
2 humidity
3 raspberries

Three things I don't understand:

1 organized religion
2 red state/blue state battle politics
3 making celebrities out of normally regular people with media saturation

Three things on my desk:

1 Hollywood Creative Directory
2 self-made screenwriting tips index cards (along with curent logline of my spec)
3 Tweety Bird keychain

Three things I'm doing right now:

1 killing time before Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces the team he is switching to
2 browsing new releases on Napster streaming radio to see what to hear today
3 chatting with my Dad on Yahoo IM

Three things I want to do before I die:

1 write "screenwriter" as my job on my IRS tax form
2 cross country road trip hitting the cities I have never been to before
3 get my weight down to under 200

Three things I can do:

1 Write smooth flowing dialogue and descriptive action sequences
2 see dead people... nah, not really, but I have a knack for identifying celebrities by their voices
3 listen well

Three ways to describe my personality:

1 jovial
2 quixotic
3 wisenheimer

Three things I can't do:

1 swim
2 skate
3 stop tinkering with my scripts

Three actors you enjoy immensely

1. Al Pacino
2. Sean Penn
3. ------------- (it changes daily) today it's George Clooney

Three things you regret

1. not starting my writing career earlier, like 10 years earlier
2. not branching into other products on ebay so I'd have a transition phase and not get stuck with something that isn't selling anymore, hence my day job sucks now
3. spending all that money entering screenplay contests

Three favourite movies

1. The Graduate
2. Ocean's 11 (first remake)
3. Jaws

Three favourite screenplays

1. Fabulous Baker Boys
2. Rocky
3. Alien

Fade Out

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Last Sopranos Episode Was A Dream


The Sopranos final episode was all a hopeful dream of Tony's... hey, it is totally plausible if you think that each time David Chase wrote an episiode it had one of those wacky dream sequences in it, and the opening of the finale did have a surreal dream-like quality to it...

In this excellent interview with Chase there is a few blogger entries after it and RUTGERSBCS has a fabulous theory

"Tony falls asleep (in the second to last episode) in a barren room. No sheets on bed, no alrms clock, nothing. When he apparently wakes up, there are sheets on bed, a mirror, an alarm clock with music going off. None of that was in the end of last week's show. Tony dreams the whole last episode. A.J getting settled, Phil going down and agent harris cheering for him, Meadow becoming a lawyer and getting married. In the end, he sees himself sitting at the table. He is dreaming of having dinner with his family. Its ends when tony wakes up from his great dream. When A.J. says during the episode, "you are all living in a dream", that is a clue. sheets on bed, A.J's comment, and tony seeing himself at the end are all clues that the show really ended last week. This weeks episode was all a dream."

Here is the link to the entire interview: Interview

R.I.P. Tony and kudos to James Gandolfini for morphing David's character into the lovable hunk of stinging onion in the eye we grew to love

Fade Out

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Despite Being A Writer I Also Like Reading Screenplays

Fade In:

One of the best ways to learn the art of screenwriting is:

a) pay $500 for a two-day weekend to hear an unpublished/unsold writer pontificate off a pedestal, then make side deals afterward charging impressionable/gullible newbie writers an addtional $200+ to write coverage/critique their personal opus they have slaved over for the past 18 months

b) continually submit the same dusted off-slap a new cover on it script to contests that don't give feedback, never wondering why you don't make it past the first round, never change a word, keep thinking it's THEM not you and one day your one script will see the light of day

c) buy every writing book on the market, get the hat and T-shirt, hang out in writing groups and coffee shops saying you are a writer, and by osmosis, not actually completing anything always having a work in progress, will somehow become a writer by default

d) watch the Top 10 Rented Movies from Netflix and Box Office Weekend Champ only

e) hire a washed up ex-screenwriter ghost writer who really needs 1) drink 2)drugs 3)shelter, works for cheap and won't be missed when you kill them and submit for arbitration under your own name

Of course the answer is NONE of the above.

I think the best way to learn is do, and then see how it is done, otherwise WRITE and READ screenplays. Personally, I write every day, did a bang up job following last year's resolution, batting 100% for 2007 so far.

To feed my monster when I am in downtime, unwinding, sipping my martini waiting for the rap videos on VH1 Classics to finish playing so I can crank the volume back up, I enjoy reading professional screenplays.

I have a handful in PDF format I'd consider trading to any of my fellow blogpersons, if they are also interested?

Email me

Fade Out

EDIT: I guess I should list what I am looking for huh?

Atlantic City
The Descent
Silent Hill
Radio Flyer
Steel Magnolias
Point Of No Return
Terms Of Endearment
Thomas Crown Affair
Family Business
Trick Or Treat

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Let's Hear About Your Loot

Fade In:

What did Santa Scribe bring our budding screenwriters this year? If you received anything remotely writerly please feel free to let us know...

My haul included:

- a handful of funky flashy hardwood writing pencils
- two writing journals (both pocket size, never leave home without one)
- mp3 player to load with tunes
- subscription to Creative Screenwriting magazine
- cocktail shaker with applu pucker and butterscotch schnapps (can anyone say caramel apple martinis?)
- afternoon out watching Casino Royale (Mr. Craig did a great job and would love to know where in the script Paul Haggis added his usual flair)
- AC/DC pajamas (my writing costume for this week)
- "The Big Deal" book by Thom Taylor (great screenwriter stories, behind the scenes of how movies go from script to screen stage)
- Movie In A Month mini cdrom screenwriting course (anyone want to trade something for it? Email me and we can work something out)

Fade Out

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Have A Chance To Write The Next Gumball 3000 Movie

Fade In:

It's true. I heard about a screenwriting contest surrounding the next Gumball 3000 Car Ralley, you know, the crazy multi-day cross country road trip in expensive souped up luxury cars driven by celebrities, sports figures, pro-drivers etc. Gumball Rally and Cannonball Run are good movies for frame of reference, but some of you may not know that they actually run these races, it isn't just a made up Hollywood plot.

Anyway, Danny Stack and Lucy both mentioned it so I tossed my keys into the ring and today I was notified I was one of the 100 selected to go to the next round. The next round being writing a treatment for the film by January 5.

I think my idea is unique, but odds are that someone out of that 100 came up with the same concept, so good luck to all who made the cut.

Fade Out

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Lay Down With The Devil And Sometimes You...

Fade In

... get to sleep with Sharon Stone. Or at least that's what famed, renowned, revered, feared screenwriter Joe Eszterhas tells us in his latest tome on the trials and tribulations of being a Hollywood Screenwriter in "The Devil's Guide To Hollywood."

I highly recommend the book if you have any interest whatsoever in screenwriting or the Hollywood business of making movies... or if you just enjoy smartass, witty, no holds barred face punches at celebrities extraordinaire.

The layout is simple and straightforward. He poses a question and then either answers it himself or provides quotes from industry folk. I found myself laughing out loud many times... sometimes even when reading the book, so put it on your Christmas List. Well worth the entry fee.

I loved his advice to us all: "Sit On Your Damn Butt: sitzfleisch - a German term that means the ability and the strength to sit on your ass."


"Screenplays Are A Bitch To Write - One man wrote War And Peace. Thirty-five screenwriters wrote The Flintstones."

Fade Out

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Henceforth Return From Which I Came...

Fade In:

Don't worry, I have no idea what it means either, but since I am considering adapting a public domain Shakespeare piece (why not?) I have been speaking of the Bard... or if you are from the East Coast of my native homeland Canada, "baaaaaarrrrd"

Just returned from a full two week vacation back home to Ontario to see my parents, friends and relatives. First trip since 2003 and not much has changed in the old ville. Saddest part is always the last goodbye isn't it?

Did the NHL hockey pool, picked 13/16 which sucks because I never get the good players... although I came second last year.

No message from Hollywood on the machine and the production company hasn't called back yet (they mentioned two weeks which was last Wed.) I am thinking a followup call on my behalf around Halloween?

Just writing away... and debating on whether to continue to outline in #2 HB pencil or use the shiny multi-colored pens I have?

What did I miss in the last two weeks? Feel free to email me or post in comments what you have been up to. I love mail.

Oh yeah, we saw The Departed while at home and I have to say, Marty, I love ya and Bill Monahan, he did NOT have to die!

Fade Out