Friday, October 22, 2010


The venerable Greg White posted this lovely little gem:

An explanation from the original posters Old Hollywood:
The rejection slip Essanay Film Manufacturing Company (1907-1925), a motion picture studio mostly remembered today for its series of Charlie Chaplin films, sent screenwriters whose submissions were found wanting (via Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture)

I myself would love to send these out to people that submit their screenplays to us.  It's just easier then having to explain why their screenplay sucks.  But then again, I would feel horrible about it, so nevermind.

My scripts struggle with numbers 10 and 17.  (But not really 17)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time Travel

My buddy @StevenAaron mentions a really fun idea today on Twitter:
How much would you pay to travel to any point in your past to give yourself up to 3 sentences of advice?

How effective do you think those three sentences would be?

How willing do you think younger you would be to listen to older you?

How much you wanna bet it'll never happen cause, if it did, time continuum dictates that you would've already experienced it as younger you?

Some buddies responded:

@: perhaps a more limiting 140 character tweet. That would be tricky.

@: I know what I'd say: "Don't move back home. For serious. It blows." There. Three sentences. And I'd probably listen.

@ What if older me sends me a tweet within the next few days?! (It'd probably say, "Cut your hair.")

@ I'd tell myself the date I was going to die and see if I was smart enough to realize I couldn't possibly know that.
I responded to him with this:

@stevenaaron I would go back further, tell my great great grandfather about nylon, plastic, Microsoft, the internet and Taylor Swift. #rich
But when I really think about it, I think I would go back to high school and tell my past self:
"Everything you want to do right now will never amount to anything.  Stop and set yourself some new goals.  You will enjoy being a screenwriter than anything else you will ever do."

But I would never listen to myself because I probably wouldn't trust the info.  What if a future version of you showed up and told you something really important in a matter of seconds, then disappeared?  You'd probably think it was a dream/illusion/government conspiracy.

What about you?  What would you say?  Would it even work (would you listen to yourself)?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Minute Movie Review: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Directed by: David Fincher
Idea: A story about the founders of the social-networking website, Facebook. (from IMDb)
Thoughts: Solid story.  Brilliant Dialogue.  Great acting (especially Jesse Eisenberg).  This is ultimately a film about the politics of internet business and how it has been revolutionized and changed, scorned and debased.  This is about a young man with no interest in money or fame, a young man who just wants to be liked.  Oh, and the soundtrack is amazing.
Learned: Some of the best dramas focus on characters who are not polarized to be either "bad" or "good" (especially when based on actual people).  We can have characters who may not be all that bad or who make stupid decisions without being a total villain.  Most of all, the film balanced the philandering of billionaire Mark Zuckerberg so well, we actually feel bad for him.
See, Rent, Own, Die:  Definitely Own

The three things I've decided to include in my reviews from now on:
Idea - or plot, or synopsis, or logline. These will be stolen from IMDb and other sources.
Thoughts - my thoughts, impressions or just basic ideas that I came away with me from the film.
Learned - a quick analysis of what we can learn from the film - in respect to writing and producing.
See, Rent, Own, Die - maybe I'll shorten this to SROD later.  This will chronicle my opinion of the film in an easy snap judgement style that has been famously created by the ABC show "At The Movies" (the version with the Bens, because they were my favorite.)  "See" means go see it at the theater.  "Rent" means don't even bother until Redbox/Netflix (which includes waiting for it to show up on TV).  "Own" means you should see it at the theater, rent it when it comes out, and buy it on Blu-ray as soon as possible.  "Die" speaks for itself.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That Movie is Terrible

Go In to the Story shares with us a few reasons why Hollywood sometimes makes bad movies.

Mr. Myers makes some great points as to why this happens, but I wanted to add my one little spin:

People watch bad movies and like them.  This is why they are made.

How many times have I heard someone say to me "Why can't the studios make any good movies?" followed by something to the effect of "Did you see Vampires Suck? It was sooo good."

So you've done it to yourself America.  If no one went to see Twilight or Step Up, they wouldn't make any more Twilight or Step Up.

All this aside, even though they may not be very good movies, I respect that people care for and desire the bad ones (when I was 12 I loved Surf Ninjas with all my heart.)

Screenwriting Blogs

I think it's important for every aspiring writer to keep current on basic trends and news on the subject of writing.  University of Phoenix just posted a list of top sites that are important for a screenwriter to know and regularly read.

I follow a majority of these blogs, if not for the advice and tips, for the fun and camaraderie.

Some that I personally like are:

John August  - Famous screenwriter, amazing blogger
The Bitter Script Reader - Insight from someone who actually reads a lot of scripts
Amanda the Aspiring Writer - An aspiring TV writer and former agency assistant like me
Screenwriting Tips…You Hack - A tip each day to help you write better
Scriptshadow - Reads, Reviews (and sometimes posts) the latest feature specs

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Bernoulli Principle of Writing

I was driving with the windows down one Saturday and I was using my arm as a "wing" creating lift by cupping my hand and having the air float my arm up in the air.  This led me to the internets where I looked up the Bernoulli Principle.  That was totally un-helpful because the internet is too smart.  But what I did gather from the kids version, was that the curve of the top forces air to move faster over the wing, so that the slower moving air on the bottom side of the wing helps create the lift and eventually force the wing upwards.

Seriously, why do I suck at science?
I would like to try and apply this principle to writing if I may.

The wing (or plane) is your screenplay.  The air is your writing (or physical exertion).
The pressure elevates your screenplay until you can eventually take off.

Now this is where it gets technical:

To write very fast, you glide over the screenplay so quickly that the screenplay has the freedom to lift upwards.  In other words - you give the screenplay an opening to take off.  Often when you get out your ideas quickly in a vomit draft (or quick draft), the writer is able to see what is working and what is not.

That's when the slow moving air comes in.  You go through the draft, very carefully.  Sometimes you rewrite the entire thing.  This process takes a long time.  Even the process of coming up with a great idea and "breaking" the story take the longest amount of time, but this is where you will be getting the greatest amount of lift.  At times I've simultaneously written my first draft while crafting the story - getting out the bad ideas while forming a great plan.  I think outlining can fall under this category as well, but if you never push the writing past outline you'll never get lift.

It also helps to have a better wing (solid ideas in the first place).

Spencer and I just finished the first draft of a pilot.  The idea was pretty solid and we came up with the characters and plot fairly quickly.  After writing the vomit draft, we rewrote.

We rewrote that darn thing four times in five days.  We had some pressure to get it done quickly, but mostly we just wanted it to be really good and the existing storylines just weren't working.  The faster we wrote, the better our ideas came.  Slowly but surely the great ideas were clear and once they were we incorporated them.  The script was able to eventually take off from the ground.

There is still a lot of lifting left to do, but I feel we've done the hard part - taking off.

Anyway, that's my take on it.