Last-minute reminder to download all the Oscar screenplays before the Academy Awards — they’ll be taken down soon. Happy reading!
Archive | Story
John Carter’s Massive Bomb and Screenwriting Beats – Part 3
Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this post. Let’s more carefully investigate exactly why John Carter didn’t work. What are the lessons learned from this? Analysis: Flashback and Voice Over Not to overstate the obvious, but within the opening minutes of this $600mm trainwreck, there are two separate instances of voice […]
John Carter’s Massive Bomb and Screenwriting Beats – Part 2
Click here to read Part 1 of this post. Click here to read more about screenwriting beats. What went so wrong with John Carter? Well, let’s look at the beats. Here’s a basic breakdown of the beats of Act 1. 1. Open on Mars with the space wars going on. Fast and furious voice over […]
John Carter’s Massive Bomb and Screenwriting Beats – Part 1
If you are unsure what screenwriting beats are or need a quick refresher, please read my article on beats first. Now… The film John Carter was a very expensive, massive bomb in the spring of 2012, almost five years ago now. (Reading online that it was estimated this film would have needed to gross $600mm […]
WESTWORLD, aka Real Doll’s Big Day Out
Westworld is the new HBO show based on Michael Crichton’s film from 1973. It’s set in a futuristic Western-themed Disneyland where robots are programmed to act out set storylines. The guests participate in these pre-defined scenarios. It’s a bit Groundhog Day (every day is the same), a bit The Searchers. Human visitors come and go […]
Concept Is King
I was speaking with a client recently who, unnecessarily insecure, joked that I might read her draft and then think it was complete crap and needed to be scrapped completely. But I already knew this wouldn’t be a problem because when she told me the title, I laughed. It’s a super high-concept broad comedy. The […]
The Seed of Your Story
I personally think in many cases the difference between a script I love and a script I’ll pass on is the emotional density of the project. When reading, do I feel deeply for the characters – does their journey make me feel? Do I laugh and cry with them or for them? Do I want […]
Many times screenplays are simply dry. They may be cleanly written, even well written to some degree. The plotting can make sense. The characters may even be charming. But they leave me feeling thirsty for more. The experience of the script feels like tissue paper – it just has no density. As a reader, I […]
Okay, Fine… But What’s Your Story About, Really?
Anyone who knows me well can probably tell you that sometimes I can be wholly oblivious to the most obvious points but pick up on subtleties the average person wouldn’t even think to look for. This is an interesting character juxtaposition and probably what makes me a writer before anything else. Documenting and chronicling the […]
Be Your Own Audience
When I’m writing and rewriting something – a script, story, manuscript – it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Much of the time I get so inside my story that it’s hard for me to step outside of it and think rationally if what I’m trying to construct is working or not, and […]
Screenwriters Are Storytellers First
A professional screenwriter said to me recently, “If someone reads my script and says, ‘Man, I really loved the writing,’ I want to punch them in the face. What I want them to say is, ‘I really loved your story.’ There’s a big difference.” He explained that the difference is that we’re primarily storytellers – […]
The Season of Weird, Chatty Dramedies
I can’t say I totally understand it but this year was definitely the reading season for the Weird, Chatty Dramedy. I’d estimate that approximately 20% of the scripts I read this year involved an ensemble of types sitting around, chatting about various personal issues that were of absolutely no interest to me. Many of these […]
Dunne: The story is the journey for truth. The plot is the road it takes to get there.
I’ve just started reading Peter Dunne’s “Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot” and it’s giving me a lot to think about. Dunne writes in Know Your Story, Know Your Plot, Know the Difference: When we think about great stories, about great movies, we remember first and foremost about whom the story is told. […]
I’m going to start working on posting some beat sheets to the blog – requests, anyone? I’ll try to do one film in each genre grouping to start. And if any reader has some beat sheets they’d like to share, please send them on over! Thanks!
Don’t Forget Film is a Visual Medium
The visual medium is the essence of “show, don’t tell.” A lot of scripts I’m seeing this year seem to have disregarded the fact that these stories should be a blueprint for something visual. This reading season has been the season of the chatty dramedy. By dramedy, I mean stories that at their essence aren’t […]