IT TAKES A VILLAGE PEOPLE: Pride and Lilting


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
pride-moviePride, or as I call it, the next working class movie from England that will be adapted into a Broadway musical (following in the proud footsteps—and in one case, high heeled shoes—of The Full Monty, Billy Elliot and Kinky Boots—in fact, one of the movies major faults is that you keep expecting everyone to suddenly break out into song and dance and are constantly disappointed when they don’t), is the new film from writer Stephen Beresford and director Matthew Marchus.
It’s one of those based on a true story stories and is about a group of gay activists who decide to help striking miners in Wales in 1984. Why? Well, why the hell not, is what I say. Continue reading

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: Variations on structural engineering and storytelling when it comes to screenplays, PART THREE: SURREALISM, IMPRESSIONISM and OTHER DEPARTURES FROM REALITY


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

pans labyrnthI have been writing a series of essays in the hope of directing screenwriters to films that use alternative ways of structuring or telling their stories. My goal is to try to open writers up to a wider array of ways to create their vision.
I mean, it really amazes me sometimes when I realize just what has been done out there over the years in screenwriting, what can and has been achieved.
And film is an incredible medium whose possibilities simply seem boundless.
But what drove me to write these essays is that in the last five or six years of reading screenplays for contests and a production company, I have found scripts to be fewer and farther between that really take chances; try to do something different; that have a unique vision.
Instead, for me, there has been an increasing sameness to what I’ve been coming across. Continue reading

LATEST REVIEW OF MY BOOK RANTINGS AND RAVINGS OF A SCREENPLAY READER from Eli Donaldson on Trigger Street


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
UntitledI’m a little late on this, but this is a review of my book Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader that appeared on the Trigger Street site by Eli Donaldson:

I got a Kindle addition of Rantings and Ravings about three days ago. I’m maybe a fifth or a quarter of the way into the book. And I see a lot of good things you are pointing out that are mistakes that writers are constantly making in screenplays, and some laughs at some of the unintentional things writers often do. Your book would be $3.00 well spent for 80 or 85% of the writers here.I’ve read probably 250 to 300 screenplays in the last several years at Trigger Street, and a smaller but similar group. And I have the feeling that if the writers of these screenplays would only have read your book before writing or submitting their screenplay that it probably would have knocked out half to two-thirds of the errors that I had to point out.I’m happy that you mentioned over describing the scene, the building, what a character is wearing, and how their hair is styled because that is one of the things that many new writers definitely over do.

Continue reading

BITCH, BITCH, BITCH: Gone Girl


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

Warning: SPOILERS
gone girlAmy Dunne, the heroine of the new Gillian Flynn/David Fincher thriller Gone Girl, is the latest in a long line of movie heroines.
Well, that’s not true. I don’t think the line is that long. It sort of vaguely dates from around the 1970’s.
It began somewhere around the mid of that decade with Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and continued on with Diana Christensen in Network; Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction; Annie Wilkes in Misery; Carolyn Burnham in American Beauty; Debbie in Knocked Up (and similar comedies); and many, many, many, many others. Many.
Yes, Amy Dunne comes from a long line of cinematic bitches. However, we may have now reached a new peak in Hollywoodland. Ms. Dunne has the dubious distinction of possibly being the Queen Bitch of all filmdom.

 

No, I’m going to correct that. Using the language of the movie, she is not the Queen Bitch of all Queen Bitches. She is the Queen Cunt of all Queen Bitches. She is one step up from bitch. Continue reading

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING: The Equalizer


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
equalizerAs I was viewing The Equalizer, the new origin film (because that is what it is; it’s not an Equalizer movie, but how the central character becomes the who you gonna call, or in this case, contact via craigslist.com, crime fighter) written by Richard Wenk (from the 1980’s television series starring Edward Woodward and created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim) and directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington who won the Oscar when Fuqua directed him in Training Day and…
Anyway, as I was saying, while I was watching the film, the same thought kept occurring to me:
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Continue reading

STRANGER DANGER: The Guest, The Two Faces of January and Copenhagen


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
The-Guest1Have you ever been in a room full of people and someone tells a joke and you’re the only one who doesn’t get it?
Well, okay, I never have, I’m not usually that obtuse (it’s been touch and go sometimes, but usually I manage to roll my eyes in at least a smattering of understanding, though there was that one about the elephant and the oversize wedding ring…anyway).
But still, that’s what I felt like as I was watching The Guest, the new thriller about a stranger who shows up on a family’s doorstep claiming to know their late son. Continue reading

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: Variations on structural engineering and storytelling when it comes to screenplays PART TWO: FLASHBACKS AND POINTS OF VIEW


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

For the second part of my essay on alternative structures and storytelling choices for screenwriters, rather than writing in ways that may seem, shall we say, a bit formulaic, perhaps a tad predictable, somewhat on the clichéd side, the same as everyone else, etc. (or, as someone said in an essay I just read, a way of telling the story that reveals the ending in the first ten pages)…
In the first essay, I made a list of films that have various variations on the use of multiple story lines.
This time, I am going to focus on films that use flashbacks and differing points of view for their structure and storytelling.
The reason I am combining the two is that flashbacks are often seen from someone’s point of view and, subsequently, a discussion of one is difficult without a discussion of the other. Continue reading