Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are - Trailer HD (1080p)

All I can say I Can I wait till October? This movie just looks so cool and how could you not have loved that book as a kid?

Script Frenzy is coming!

So I've totally bailed on the idea of contributing to the co-write thing, though I am still reading the script, which frankly is not that bad...It's not that good, either, but hey, it's Hollywood and that's what rewrites are for...

But now I'm contemplating whether or not to participate in Script Frenzy.

It's like the Nat'l Novel Writing Month but its in April.

And its for scripts.

So its not really like writing a novel in a month...but...

The similarity is that you have to write a 100 page script in a month, starting on April 1st.

I tried this experiment once before about a year ago (and wrote about it here). There is something exciting and beneficial about writing that script fast and furious. It forces you to stop d*cking around and make choices. Some are bad choices, but some are pretty good. And there's an incredible feeling of accomplishment once its done. Of course its not really done (I'm still rewriting that script I wrote, but its getting much better...)

But what's really fun is if you go to the site they have a randomized plot generator.

It's so cool!

Here's my next movie projet:

While boarding a yellow bus

a monarch named Walliump

travels back in time to kill Hitler

Okay, a little bit cliche, but I can make it work.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Dylan Album is Coming!

They haven't given the release date yet, but you know I'm pre-ordering this baby.

More info at the official website.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Albatross is flying high!

Please check out the Stonybrook website for the news and more information about the John Gassner New Play Competition.

There will be a staged reading of THE ALBATROSS in Manhattan on April 27th and April 28th.

(FYI--The rumors that Ellen Page will be playing Sofia are completely absurd.)

If you are around, check it out!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Story Starts with Character (or Everything I Learned About Life I Learned from Indiana Jones)

I got tipped off to a blog by The Mystery Man from John August's site which links to where you can download a transcript of George Lucas, Steven Speilberg and Lawrence Kasdan talking about the intitial story ideas for the Indiana Jones movies.

I just got the transcript but Mystery Man has a nice summary and excerpts of the content.

What's particularly fascinating is not just the idea of being a fly on the wall in that room filled with that much talent, but where they spend their energy and focus. First of all, they spent nine hours a day for five days and this transcript is just the meat of the meeting. That's a long time to spend brainstorming and planning but look at the finished product. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most streamlined and exciting blockbuster movies of all time, using a filmic vocabulary that remains true to an ideal of the past, yet still firmly planted in the aesthetic of the present.

What's also fascinating is that they spent a majority of time working out who the character of Indiana Jones was, not just what he was going to do (his actions) in the movie, but his ideals, his morals, point of view of acadamics v. adventure, his relationships, education, etc.

Here's George Lucas talking about him:

He's the guy who's been all around the world. He's a soldier of fortune. He is also... Well, this gets into that other side of his character, which is totally alien to that side we just talked about. Essentially, I think he is a, and this was the original character and it's an interesting juxtaposition. He is an archeologist and an anthropologist. A Ph.D. He's a doctor, he's a college professor. What happened is, he's also a sort of rough and tumble guy. But he got involved in going in and getting antiquities. Sort of searching out antiquities. And it became a very lucrative profession so he, rather than be an archeologist, he became sort of an outlaw archeologist. He really started being a grave robber, for hire, is what it really came down to. And the museums would hire him to steal things out of tombs and stuff. Or, locate them. In the archeology circles he knows everybody, so he's sort of like a private detective grave robber. A museum will give him an assignment... a bounty hunter.

What's great about this description is that you don't have this told to you, you SEE IT in the first ten minutes of the movie. And then you see it later because its basically what the entire movie is about--will Indy get the Ark before the Nazis?

One of the best peices of advice I got was from a CS podcast of scribe Michael Arndt (who wrote Little Miss Sunshine) who said that the best way to start your movie is to show characters doing what defines them (thus you see each character in that movie actively doing something, like practicing for a beauty pageant, giving a motivational speech, etc.)

By the way, this doesn't just apply to movies, but to all dramatic writing.

Even in theater, the best way to show character is through action, especially as it relates to imagery.

Like two tramps waiting by the side of the road. (Waiting for Godot)
A man stranded in a desert trying to bury his dead horse. (Kicking a Dead Horse)
A salesman trying to get the good leads from his supervisor (Glengary Glen Ross)
A writer in prison defending his stories as he's being interrogated (The Pillowman)

I could go on, but you get the point.

A brilliant opening scene and a well-defined character in a story is not an accident. It is a result of kicking around a lot of ideas, spending a lot of time with the character and what he/she wants.

Of course, it doesn't hurt to have Lucas, Speilberg or Kasdan in the room.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Masters are all Dying Off...

Sad news yesterday.

Horton Foote died yesterday. You may not have heard of him, but you've probably seen his work.

He wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird for which he won an Academy Award. He also wrote the screenplay version of Of Mice and Men (the one starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovitch which I truly, truly love), as well as many other works including The Trip to Bountiful and The Young Man from Atlanta, a play that garnered him the Pulitzer.

I didn't know the man and haven't read all of his plays but from what I've heard from others is that he was a class act.

He's the kind of hero playwright that when you look at his body of work (and his integrity) you think...yeah, that's the kind of playwright I want to become. That's why I am in this business.

I don't know but I think there was really only a handful of these types of modern masters.

Samuel Beckett. Harold Pinter. Edward Albee. Arthur Miller. Tennessee Williams. Clifford Odetts. Eugene O'Neill. Thornton Wilder. Lilian Hellman. Wendy Wasserstein. Sam Shepard.

What was so wonderful to me about Foote was his devotion to writing about family and the common man. He didn't get sucked into writing what was "hot" or "flashy" or go for any big ideas. He wrote fascinating characters that we could all relate to because we all grew up in a family and understand the dynamics of those relationships.

Seems many of the master modern playwrights are gone now or are coming to their final days.

We lost Harold Pinter in December last year.

Not to be all grim and dreary but really, how long will guys like Edward Albee, John Guare and Peter Schaffer last?

And who are the master playwrights that will replace them?