WEBINAR 09/19/12: Story Mapping the Films of Christopher Nolan (The Writers Store)

Calling all screenwriters, story analysts, fans of The Dark Knight, Inception, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, Memento, Insomnia and The Prestige:

I invite you to attend my upcoming Webinar hosted by The Writers Store: Story Mapping the Films of Christopher Nolan!


This Webinar includes a FREE CRITIQUE, a Q&A session and an exclusive Inception Story Map (you’ll notice that I’ve never uploaded a map of Inception in my various blog posts about the film, which many call Nolan’s masterpiece.) Read more

Is Inception better than The Dark Knight Rises? (Inception Podcast)

Which film can be called Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece? His Dark Knight trilogy is truly an amazing accomplishment, with The Dark Knight shining tall as the greatest of Nolan’s Batman films, in my humble opinion, but one must consider that Inception was all Nolan. His concept, his script, his direction. It’s a complicated movie and a complicated screenplay structure, so Rob Rich and I took time out to discuss it in the latest episode of our Story Maps Screenwriting Podcast.

Listen to the Inception Podcast:

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Back to the masterpiece question. Let’s compare Inception to Nolan’s other films. Read more

The Dark Knight Rises Beat Sheet and Podcast (FREE Story Map Download)

The trilogy is complete! How close did I get with my predictions?! (Not too shabby, if I may say so myself.)

We’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises twice in the theaters and we have lots to discuss about the film, the story, themes, logic issues and Bane’s voice. Read along with the free The Dark Knight Rises Beat Sheet download as you listen.

Listen to
the Story Maps Screenwriting Podcast #3:
The Dark Knight Rises

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Download the FREE
The Dark Knight Rises
Story Map

Read more

Louie Season 3 — Louis C.K. continues to tell new stories that we want to see

Do writers keep telling the same story until they get it right? In the past week, I’ve watched Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love and Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom (pilot episode available for free streaming on HBO.com), and I met author Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections, Freedom, Farther Away). Throw in the trailers for Judd Apatow’s new film, This is 40, billed as the “unofficial sequel to Knocked Up,” and Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, his sixth (?) film set in Brooklyn, in which he even reprises his role of Mookie from Do The Right Thing in 1989, and you’ve got some really interesting case studies for this theory.

In all of the examples above, I see so many common themes, characters and situations in these artists’ work that it’s difficult to deny that they may be just chipping away at the same block of stone, one iterationat a time. Maybe that’s okay, and they just get better at it, or maybe it’s a sign of creative stagnation? I think it depends on the subject and the work, but it’s definitely a topic worth discussing.

However, I’ve also just watched an advance screener of the first five episodes of season three of Louie (the TV series on the FX network that returns tonight at 10:30 pm in the U.S.) and it throws a wrench into this theory. Louis C.K. just may be the exception to the rule. Well, almost. Read more

The Dark Knight Rises beat sheet speculation

The Dark Knight Rises Script

Originally published on May 7, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises has yet to open, and since I’ve been analyzing Christopher Nolan’s films for a larger project, especially the first two chapters in his Batman trilogy, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I can’t help but speculate about The Dark Knight Rises beat sheet.

I’ve seen a lot of predictions and theories online as to the story, but not any that attempted to break down the entire film or incorporated Nolan’s signature style of complex story structure, using templates like The Dark Knight and Inception. Below, you can download my Full Story Map for The Dark Knight Rises, before I’ve seen the movie.

I’m using a five-act structure which most closely resembles The Dark Knight, as that seems the obvious parallel, plus there’s so much content advanced in the trailers that a four-acter (my normal Story Maps structure) just won’t cut it. Read more

Story Maps Podcast #2: The Dark Knight (Free Story Map download)

Episode #2 of the STORY MAPS SCREENWRITING PODCAST is here: Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT:

Listen to
the Story Maps Screenwriting Podcast #2:
The Dark Knight

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Download the FREE
The Dark Knight Story Map
screenplay analysis by Daniel Calvisi

Read more

Miles and Jack in the modern "buddy comedy" Sideways

Rex Pickett interview (Sideways, Vertical)

Rex Pickett, author of the novel Sideways

Author Rex Pickett. Photo: rexpickett.com

I met Rex Pickett, the author of the novel Sideways that inspired the beloved film, at a showing of Sideways: the Play, which is currently playing at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica, CA.

We spoke over a glass of Pinot (yes, the wine comes with your ticket, which is already surprisingly affordable for live theater), and he was very gracious with his time, even though he was no doubt answering the same questions about the movie that he’s fielded dozens of times. Most of all, he came across as an uncensored, uncompromising artist with no fear of burning any bridges — he shoots from the hip because he has to — that’s just his personality and he doesn’t compromise.

I knew I had to get him on my blog. Read more

INDIE FILM Interview: Small, Beautifully Moving Parts

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, written and directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson and starring Anna Margaret Hollyman, is fast on its way to becoming an indie film success story. The film began as a low-budget web series shot in New York City that was optioned by the Sundance Channel, and, a few years later, the creative team decided to expand it into a feature. Now, the completed film has received glowing praise from many top publications, including Roger Ebert, who writes about the film: “Effortlessly engaging … this is a small film and knows exactly how to be a small film. Like many New Yorker short stories, its purpose is to strike a particular note and allow it to reverberate.” Read more

The Human Race indie horror film needs your help (Kickstarter)

Dear friends,
My friend, former NYU Film classmate and award-winning filmmaker Paul Hough is looking for audio finishing funds for his smart Horror/Sci-Fi feature THE HUMAN RACE before it premieres at the FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL in Montreal in July (Tarantino’s North American premiere of Inglorious Basterds was at this genre festival; it’s a huge platform for an indie horror film and an honor to be accepted).

See footage from the film and a testimonial by its star, one-legged actor EDDIE McGEE, at the link below. The film features a number of disabled actors, so in that sense it’s breaking down some barriers. But above all, it’s just a bad-ass horror movie with a really cool concept that is sure to find a cult audience. Read more

Story Maps Podcast #1: Batman Begins (Free Story Map download)

The inaugural episode of the STORY MAPS SCREENWRITING PODCAST is here!

Listen to
the Story Maps Screenwriting Podcast #1:
Batman Begins

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Download the FREE
Batman Begins
Story Map

Read more

THEME: Mad Men Season 5

"The Other Woman"

As per usual, we’ve been diligently watching each episode of the current season of Mad Men and loving every minute of it. In my household, one must respect the golden rule…

In Weiner we trust. Read more

HORROR: Interview with LOVELY MOLLY screenwriter Jamie Nash

Jamie Nash is a working screenwriter who lives in Maryland and primarily writes genre films — horror, supernatural, fantasy, etc. He has a strong working relationship with Eduardo Sánchez, co-director of The Blair Witch Project — they have collaborated on a number of projects — the films Altered, Seventh Moon and Exists, and the comedy web series ParaAbnormal.

Jamie and Ed’s latest film is Lovely Molly, an intense horror thriller about the possession of a young woman told via a mix of standard narrative and “found” footage. The film is currently in theaters in a limited release, after playing the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and South by Southwest film festival. There is a wider release planned for the UK and it will go to VOD and DVD in August. Read more

COMEDY: Chris Parnell on screenwriting (Archer, SNL, Suburgatory, Lazy Sunday 2, Anchorman)

Poop mouth

Chris Parnell is a veteran comedic actor who honed his skills in The Groundlings and on Saturday Night Live, before moving to films like Anchorman and Hot Rod. Lately, he’s appeared in 21 Jump Street, The Five-Year Engagement and he’s a regular cast member on the sitcoms Suburgatory and Archer. Those two shows had already finished for the season when Parnell popped up on the season finale of Saturday Night Live (Kristen Wiig’s final episode) in the sequel to one of the great viral videos of all time, Lazy Sunday 2. Read more

The Dark Knight Rises Pre-Cog Story Map or “How I would write the Dark Knight Rises screenplay”

The Dark Knight Rises Script

In anticipation of The Dark Knight Rises opening in theaters on July 20, I’ve been analyzing Christopher Nolan’s films, especially the first two chapters in his Batman trilogy, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I’ve found myself buried so deep into Nolan’s complex story structures that it’s been impossible for me to watch the trailers and not start mapping the story in my head. It’s been keeping me up at night. Even before this latest one, The Dark Knight Rises – Official Trailer #3 [HD], I started to write a Full Story Map for The Dark Knight Rises, sight unseen, based solely on the limited clips and information available on the web.

There’s a lot of speculation online as to the story, but no one has attempted to break down the entire film.

Until now. Read more

Mad Men Images | Mad Men 501-502 “A Little Kiss”

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of Mad Men. After each episode, I comb the web for any and all Mad Men-related material, and since there’s many other nutjobs out there who are also mad for Mad Men, the blogosphere never disappoints.

But most high-profile sites only feature one still photo from each episode, and since I’m on the AMC press list and have access to various publicity materials, I decided I’d work harder to bring you guys more images for your scrapbooks, including ones you might not see anywhere else yet (like the pic above). Read more

The Hunger Games story could only be written by a woman?

I’m almost done reading The Hunger Games trilogy of books on my trusty Kindle and I’m seeing the movie in a few hours (as it unleashes a Quarter Quell on the box-office in its opening weekend), so until I can offer an analysis of the screenplay or movie, I thought I’d share one of my first impressions of the story when I read the book. Read more

Andrew Stanton on Story

I came across this TED talk by writer/director Andrew Stanton, whose credits include Toy Story 1-3, Finding Nemo, Wall-E and the upcoming John Carter. He’s got some really interesting things to say about the emotional connection between screenwriter (storyteller) and audience (listener), touching on WHY we love a great story, what we expect and how the storyteller should meet these expectations. Read more

Fox Searchlight proves that audiences want original stories

A few months back, I was preparing a proposal that listed the box-office performance of several films, including The King’s Speech. I knew that the film did quite well, but I was shocked to learn that it grossed a whopping $440 million worldwide! To put that into perspective, this quiet, character-driven period drama with stuffy British accents outgrossed Tron: Legacy, Star Trek (2009) and The Adventures of TinTin! Read more

Seven screenplay analysis and free download offer

What’s in the box?!

Seven, written by Andrew Kevin Walker and directed by David Fincher, is one of the great thrillers of the 1990s, a decade with several exceptional thrillers. Walker’s screenplay for Seven shot him to the Script Doctor A-list, establishing him as a hot writer of dark material on spec, like 1999’s 8mm, as well as garnering him uncredited rewrites on films such as Fight Club, The Game (also Fincher-directed films) and Stir of Echoes (directed by Walker’s mentor, David Koepp). Read more

The Black List 2011 highlights the best spec screenplays of the year

The 2011 Black List is here! Congratulations to all of the writers who made the list.

For those who don’t know, the Black List compiles the “most liked” unproduced (as of voting time) screenplays of the year, as voted on by studio, agency and production company executives in Hollywood. What began as an underground project has become a major announcement for the development community that is reported on by sources such as The Hollywood Reporter.

Past winners like Juno and The Social Network have proven the list as a prescient judge of quality film storytelling. Read more