Last-minute reminder to download all the Oscar screenplays before the Academy Awards — they’ll be taken down soon. Happy reading!
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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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
Biopic: A Character’s Journey
I’ve been reading a number of biopics based on very famous historical personages. They are flat and dry, like cardboard. The feeling I have reading them is that they take a marionette of a historical figure and dance them through the major events of their life. I start off with little or no understanding of […]
Writing and Rights
I know there can be some confusion about adapting work for the screen and owning the rights. If you are absolutely in love with a novel, cartoon, graphic novel (or ANY work that is not your own) and feel that it is your life’s destiny to adapt this work for the screen, then GET THE […]
What is “High Concept”?
“High concept” is an expression within the entertainment industry that basically boils down to meaning ‘highly commercial.’ But what does it really mean? “High concept” indicates a few things: 1. A universal concept, whereupon every person hearing the idea will have a specific common point of reference. Successful universal concepts can be based on tropes, […]
Political Thrillers & Sci-Fi: Track the World
It is a common mistake for political thrillers and sci-fi screenplays to dump too many characters in the openings. This gets very confusing quickly. As a reader, I always feel the strongest choice is to introduce the protagonist alone, so that he/she stands out and is clearly identified in the mind of the reader. Once […]
How To Title Your Script
Coming up with an amazing title is important. Why? As a script reader, if I smile when I read your title, that’s a huge bonus – because it means I will be excited to read your script. Conversely, if the title evokes nothing, that’s bad. I don’t know what that script is about and I’ll […]