We watched The Wizard of Oz over the weekend in one of its many post-Thanksgiving television airings and I couldn’t help but think “One classic holiday movie down, several more to go!”
My list of favs includes A Christmas Story, Die Hard, Christmas Vacation, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and the granddaddy of them all…It’s a Wonderful Life, the classic film directed by Frank Capra with a screenplay by six credited writers.
This reminded me of an old article of mine that was published in Script magazine way back in November 2002, so I decided to update it with some new analysis and Story Maps links… read more
The film was obviously stretched out. Each scene played much slower than it needed to, and in my estimation was cut slower than the previous films have been paced.
The film was obviously shot with 3d in mind, and perhaps even with 3D cameras, although the studio denies this, as there were so many frickin’ things flying at the screen! Even the blocking of actors in the static shots and the resolution of the images, in general, looked composed for 3D.
Add these two things up and you have a huge commercial cash grab that, in my opinion, cheapens one of the great fantasy sagas of our time.read more
Rocky, written by Sylvester Stallone and directed by John Avildsen, is a classic American film and screenplay. It has become the template for so many sports films and what have come to be known as “underdog” stories.
I’m excited to offer a partial Story Map for the 2008 drama, The Wrestler, written by Robert Siegel and directed by Darren Aronofsky. The full story map for The Wrestler is available in the E-Book now. (Please note that the maps in the book are text-only; they do not contain images like some of the sample maps on my site.)
The Wrestler‘s running time is 105 minutes, which is closer to my suggested length of 110 pages that my Story Map paradigm is built on. Actually, anything in the 100-110 pages zone is gold, in my opinion, and this comes from working as a professional Story Analyst and experiencing the horror of being handed a 144 page script, for which I would be paid the same paltry amount as a 99 pager. Yikes. read more
A thunderclap rocked the online screenwriter community yesterday when word came out that Amazon Studios hath been born: Amazon.com’s new “crowd-sourcing” filmmakers community site with a mandate to fund theatrical feature films by emerging, as-yet-undiscovered talent.
It looks like it’s basically TriggerStreet.com but with a ton of money behind it and more of a mandate to produce films, rather than just touting the potential that a diamond in the rough might be shown to a bonafide Hollywood star as he masticates his sushi lunch.
At least that’s how it sounds as of now, on Day One of this experiment. It’s definitely going to be interesting to follow this project. Methinks Amazon may have got in a bit over their head on this one, but they’re a billion dollar corporation so they must have a spreadsheet somewhere that calculates a sure-fire upside.
Essentially, Amazon has created the biggest screenplay contest of all time, considering the grand prize purse is $200,000 with the potential of a $400,000 production bonus. read more
Rain Man is one of those films that has suffered from its success. It’s easy to dismiss at it as a kitschy piece of 80s melodrama, yet another Tom Cruise vehicle in which he plays a man-child with father issues. Dustin Hoffman’s autistic savant Raymond has been copied and mocked so many times that it may seem like a pop culture joke now. The movie cleaned up at the box-office and at the Oscars, so it doesn’t need any more lauding, right?
But watch it again. It’s Hollywood storytelling at its best. There is no doubt that Rain Man is a great film and it all began with the script by Ron Bass and Barry Morrow. read more
Deleted dialogue: "You must go through a lot of conditioner, huh?"
With two older brothers and no sisters, I wasn’t allowed to be a Disney kid. By the time I came along, fairy tales were “gay” and animated movies were for babies. I still got to watch a few Disney movies and was read some fairy tales, but the books were put away sooner than with my brothers and I was often voted down when it came time to choose a movie to see at the theater. It was a virtual hell, people. Did I mention the pile of boulders in the back yard I was forced to chip away at every day with a claw hammer? read more
We’d all like to forget the bombs but they’re here to remind us of something important — the problems can almost always be found in the script. It’s easy to blame a bomb on the acting ‘talent’ of Ashton Kutcher or the further contributions to the art of cinema of director Paul W.S. Anderson, but sometimes the horror is in the shooting script or even the original spec. Maybe the screenwriter was to blame, or maybe it was the producer that didn’t recognize the obvious structural issues or the director who only cared about their paycheck, but the point is: the script sucked and there was no way this movie was going to work.
Last summer, I led a reader training course in which we read several scripts that were in development or production in Hollywood. Since then, a few of those movies have been released and I can’t help but say: we saw it comin’!
Wes Craven, the horror legend behind A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, recently roared back to the big screen with a big ol’ thud when he delivered unto us My Soul to Take, which was based on his original screenplay named 25/8 (a.k.a. Bug. Note: When a movie goes through three titles, it’s probably not a good sign.).
Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist, Frankenstein (1994)) and Gale Ann Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens, Armageddon, The Incredible Hulk) have an incredible pedigree in genre movies so it’s no surprise to see that their first television collaboration is on the level of a studio-quality horror film. The aesthetics of The Walking Dead (which premiered with a 90 minute pilot on Halloween night on AMC and became the highest-rated cable premiere of the year) are superb: production design, makeup FX, creature design, extra work, action sequences, locations and performances are all top-notch.
When I first heard about the show, I immediately wondered why no one had previously thought to make an episodic series in the incredibly popular zombie genre? Over the past 10 years, zombies have invaded pop culture en masse, in movies, comic books and video games, so it seemed like a no-brainer to do a high-quality one hour drama set in a post-viral devastation setting that called for numerous point-blank head shots to survive (was that enough hyphens?).
Speaking of which, the show adheres to most of the traditional zombie conventions, one of which is that zombies can only be killed by major trauma to the head. I can safely tell you that if you love head shots, and I’m not talking about those glossies that actors carry around, then this is the show for you!