HAYWIRE


Also just got back from seeing Haywire, one of those agents betrayed by the big guys movie. Director Steven Soderberg is no Paul Greengrass, but he gets the motor running and does some nice things here and there. The story is a bit untidy and no one can get any serious emotional resonance going among the characters. But the real reason to see the movie is Gina Carano who seems to be as much at ease in acting as she is with martial arts. She may actually put Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel a bit to shame.

NORWEGIAN WOOD


Just got back from Norwegian Wood, a Japanese film about a young man whose best friend commits suicide and then becomes involved with the friend’s girlfriend, who has emotional problems. At first the staid, understated, Ozu like approach to the subject matter was quite interesting and its often beautiful to look like. But then it becomes tedious what with an odd approach to the sexual dysfunctions of the characters and what is probably an error on the part of the screenplay in which they wait to long to let the audience know what is wrong with the girlfriend.

A DISCUSSION OF JAMES MCBRIDE’S OPEN LETTER ON RED HOOK SUMMER AND THE STATE OF BLACKS IN CINEMA IN THE U.S.


http://www.indiewire.com/article/spike-lees-co-writer-writes-an-open-letter-nothing-in-this-world-happens-unless-white-folks-says-it-happens

www.indiewire.com

This hasn’t been a good Sundance for Spike Lee. Reviews for “Red Hook Summer” were generally not good; nor were reviews of his post-premiere Q&A, in which the director launched into an extended rant about Hollywood’s marginalization of black stories. Today, Lee’s “Red Hook” co-writer, James McBride,…
Like · · Unfollow Post · · Thursday at 11:56am

    • William Martell Though that’s probably true of mainstream audiences and even studios distribution, there are plenty of exceptions (movies that *star* African Americans as the lead characters – I can easily name 5 Black movie stars… including the #1 star in the world). But critics love Spike and want to love his movies. They are his cheerleaders… and if they did not like RED HOOK it may just be because it doesn’t work (I haven’t seen it).

      The critics also didn’t like MIRACLE – which was written by the same writer… I just checked the RT score – 24%.

      There are lots of indie guys who have a limited range (Kevin Smith is one) and when the audience tires of what they do best they do something else… that they don’t have the skill-set for.

      That’s what I thought about MIRACLE – it *looked* ragged, was too long, and the sort of flat look that might work on some gritty NYC movie just didn’t work in a period piece. Spike needed to up his game before he made that. I’m not even getting into the script.

      You can’t blame the system for problems with the film. Just like with a script – if it isn’t working, the *writer* needs to make it work – not blame the biz for not accepting it.

      Friday at 12:51am · Like · 1
    • Rich Weems It’s an interesting discussion, and I think McBride makes a lot of valid points. Having said that, I do think it comes down to “green” as opposed to “black” or “white”.

      I wrote a script that achieved some small measure of success in contests, but not much else. Because it’s a “gay” script. I had read an article in Entertainment Weekly a few years ago where openly gay producers were decrying the lack of good “gay” scripts. So I wrote one thinking it would get noticed. And it did, but not by anyone who wants to make a movie.

      The reality is that any “minority” movie is going to have a tough time being made, but

      BUT…would McBride have written his letter if his films had been better received by the critics? Where was the letter from him complaining about Tyler Perry’s lack of success? Or Oprah’s?

      Friday at 7:26am · Like
    • Rich Weems By the way, there is some bias on my part as I’m a white, straight male so take everything I say about “minorities” with a grain of salt. Not pepper. Salt.

      Friday at 7:28am · Like
    • Howard Casner I think I agree with what people are saying. It’s a complicated issue and McBride makes some good points (such as, when Lucas said something, people took it seriously; when Lee says it, he’s an angry, black man). And there are exceptions to what he is saying (Washington, Smith and Tyler Perry). And I have to say, I’ve never been as big a fan of Lee as a filmmaker; I don’t think he’s as good as many people think he is. And Rich is right, every minority has this problem. Part of this is the powers that be that won’t support chancier material, but part is an audience who often won’t go to it. One of the issues is how we fiance movies in the U.S. It’s all so box office dependent, it’s hard to get movies with minorities made (from black to Hispanic to female to gay, etc.). I’m also a white male, but I am gay.

      Friday at 7:41am · Like
    • William Martell The issue with the business side is always going to be “what will ge the *most* butts in seats” – so anything aimed at minorities or even just unusual is going to hit a roadblock. What that means is that there are going to be 2 film industries: mainstream (no sharpe edges, aimed at widest possible audience) and niche (a bunch of different kids of movies aimed for different kinds of audiences). And mainstream movies are always going to be all about the money and exclude anything that isn’t appealing to majority audience. When you’re above average height, you can’t shop at a department store – you have to shop at the Big&Tall.

      Friday at 5:21pm · Like
    • William Greenways I agree and I’m 5′ 17″ (really).

      Friday at 6:44pm · Like
    • Howard Casner Some other countries handle financing of independent movies differently, which is why, I think, I find foreign movies often more interesting than American ones and why these films are often more diverse in subject matter.

      Friday at 8:10pm · Like
    • ScreenwriterHank Byrd I agree. It is green, but at the expense of blacks. And George Lucas was correct in saying that the studios don’t get behind African American films, which are, at their core, AMERICAN films. Black indie filmmakers have a better shot at a getting a halfway decent distribution deal on Redbox, iTunes or Netflix than getting the studios to pony up the dough to produce and market our films, largely because they are scared that white audiences won’t come to see our films if there are too many of US (black folks) on the screen. In a research paper published in May of 2011, Andrew J. Weaver, a telecommunications professor at Indiana University, conducted two studies to test whether the racial makeup of a film’s cast could influence the decisions of white audiences. The study, called “The Role of Actors’ Race in White Audiences’ Selective Exposure to Movies”, concluded “minority cast members” do in fact lead white audiences to be less interested in seeing certain films.

      Friday at 10:21pm · Like · 1
    • ScreenwriterHank Byrd Heres another interesting article: http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/14/opinion/martin-red-tails-hollywood/index.html

      Friday at 10:21pm · Like · 1
    • Howard Casner I think we all know the problem. But once you know the problem, the problem becomes, what is the solution.

      Yesterday at 6:48am · Like
    • Lin Fahrenheit What did you guys thank of the Malcolm X film?

      Yesterday at 7:35am via mobile · Like
    • Howard Casner I remember when it came out and I and a friend were commenting on the idea that originally Richard Attenborough (I believe) was suppose to direct it and Spike Lee shamed the studio into giving it to him, and damn, if he doesn’t go and make a film that is no different than the one Attenborough would have made. I and my friend have a phrase we use for movies like this: a typical Warner Brothers bio pic. It did have a wonderful performance by Denzel Washington and the wonderful cinematography by Ernest R. Dickerson.

      22 hours ago · Like
    • William Martell Just about everywhere except the USA has government funding of films – so that they end up *not* a commercial product. These arts programs are designed to employ artists from the country to make art that represents the country. The closest we have to that in the USA is the NEA. So here it is a business, aimed at a global audience.

      13 hours ago · Like
    • William Martell One of the weird issues is that USA films dominate the BO in just about every country – because they tend to be entertainment rather than art. Countries like France that are very protective, still end up with mostly US films drawing an audience. The other films that make money in France end up being French genre films – mainstream comedies and Luc Besson flicks. In the UK they have decided to quit throwing money at movies that fail to attract an audience and look at film funding in a more commercial way. Controversial.

      13 hours ago · Unlike · 1
    • Howard Casner In the U.S., we haven’t figured out a way for the government to fund art. Don’t know if we ever will.

AN INTERESTING DISCUSSION FROM SCREENWRITERS NETWORK FACEBOOK PAGE: DO YOU EVER FEEL DISCOURAGED ABOUT YOUR FUTURE AS A SCREENWRITER


Do you ever feel as though being a screenwriter is hopeless, and that you’re doomed to work a real job? What do you do about it, or what have you done in the past?

    • I am working a real job! Part time, as well as being a mom, which is also a real job. I recently commented to a friend that writing is like an addiction. No matter how frustrating it is, we can’t give it up. It drives us to keep at it in spite of the prospects, in spite of the frustrations we encounter while doing it. So that’s what I do. I keep writing. Because I feel the need – even when I avoid it.

    • This IS a real job, at least to me. I look at it as deferred payment.


    • Screenwriting isn’t a job to me, it’s part of the work of a storyteller it’s actually on e of my favorite parts of the work … note “work” because a job is a horrible thing that keeps you from doing your real work!

    • Sitting down and thinking up a story? A job? Nah. It’s a salaried hobby.

    • Howard Casner I must be honest, I do often feel disappointed and bitter about how long it is taking or if it will ever happen. I think I have to surround myself with a support group of fellow writers and other people in the industry. Going to a writer’s group helps, as well as mixers. Facebook pages like this also help. And since I do coverage and script consultation, that helps as well. Somehow, I do keep on going, but yes, it is frustrating at times and I wish I had ways to handle it better.

    • I have ideas sometimes that I think would work as a screenplay rather than a play or a book, so I write a screenplay. I know the chances of it getting produced are minuscule. But there is hope when it gets noticed in a contest or someone in the industry asks to read it. That keeps me going.


    • There’s a difference between being a screenwriter and being a person who makes their living solely from screenwriting. Most artists subsidize their art in some way; there’s no shame in that, nor should we allow it to take away from the joy of being an artist. We do it for love; if money comes, that should be icing. But the privilege and joy of writing should be reward enough.

      I lift my glass to you all, fellow screenwriters; we are mad, wonderful company, carrying on a rich tradition! Think on that the next time you get the “blues” and may it bring a smile to your face.


    • I know, but in most art forms you have at least a few readers or listeners or viewers. With screenwriting you might only get a couple of people reading your script, and even then it’s not seeing your work as it is supposed to be – on the screen.


    • I hear you, Sarah. But if you care more about the result of seeing your work on the screen than the writing itself, you’ll forever be caring more about an element of the business that is not in your control.


      Or, you could put it your control by writing a low-budget short and then producing & marketing it yourself. Then you can get it on screens in front of folks. My guess is, though, you’ll want more after that. A bigger film, a better distribution deal, a bigger fill-in-the-blank.

      There’s no assuaging the desire for more; but that desire should be a motivator, not a detractor. 🙂


    • whenever I feel worthless or hopeless or helpless to do anything or write anything in my many screenplay projects worthy of production, I drink– heavily– play some Skyrim, watch some movies until I pass out…

      when I wake up, I usually feel pretty bad from the drunk, but at least the focus is no longer on how hopeless my passion for writing is… so, I write on!

      it’s a vicious cycle really…


    • I’m all in for taking charge and shooting your own films, especially since the kind of scripts I write aren’t going to be big blockbusters that the studios love to shoot. I’ve shot one feature and one short and worked on a dozen more and I wrote a filmmaking book called Just Shoot It!…actually just released the 2nd edition. So if you need someone to light a fire under you for writing and/or filmmaking drop me a line. I’ll be glad to push you off the filmmaking cliff with a bungee chord attached. Marty is helping us out and I’ll be glad to return the favor to anyone by reading your material or discussing filmmaking.

    • Only the first one hundred entries will be eligible to win the $1,000 grand prize! The very first screenplay competition where the odds are stacked in YOUR favor!
      Please visit www.thefirsthundredscripts.moonfruit.com for contest details.

      thefirsthundredscripts.moonfruit.com

      Are you tired of paying $50 and $60 entry fees only to have your script lost in See More


    • I simply just keep going and never give up…daily.


    • It may seem hopeless, but when I look at some the dreck that gets produced, it lights a fire under my ass and tells me that I need to be the change I so want in film.


    • I’ve worked with several thousands of writers. None of them in LA or inside the industry when they started. Yet, I have had students who went on to sell to Warner Brothers, HBO, Showtime, ABC, and others. Other students have sold scripts to or been on staff at several TV shows including Roseanne, Home Improvement, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and The Mentalist, to name a few.

      All of them started away from Hollywood and had discourging moments and were no way going to crack Hollywood. But they did.

      I firmly believe if you have a great product and keep at it, the odds are with you to ultimately sell screen and tele plays. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t teach, I wouldn’t write, I wouldn’t get myself and others ready to hone their scripts, be pitch ready, and know how to market their work.

      It can be done, I’ve seen it happen numerous times. And that keeps me and my students going.


    • Howard Casner Sarah/Gregory: I’m not of the school where one should be satisfied with just producing the piece of art and to hell with whether it gets any attention or whether it sells or whether you can make a living with it. If that’s all it was to me, I probably wouldn’t write. I think as serious writers, we have to aspire to the end of our art, which is not just the product itself, but is also finding a way to getting it out to people. I truly believe I have something to say, but if no one hears it, sees it, comes into contact with it, then it’s pointless. There is a difference between trying to make a living off your art (even if you have to add to that income from other means), and being a multi-million dollar screenwriter. But to do something just for the sake of doing it, with the sole satisfaction coming from the creation of that art, that’s not fulfilling to me (I think it’s even self defeating), any more than being a doctor would be to someone who doesn’t work at being a doctor or a lawyer or teacher. I’m not cut out to be Emily Dickenson, nor do I want to be.

    • Howard, that was very well put. SOMETHING tells me, I don’t know what, but SOMETHING tells me you might be a writer…hmm


    • Howard: I think Sarah and I would agree that a chief goal of writing is to express something and have that expression received. I just think you can’t get your only solace/reward/etc. from that second part; you have to find some satisfaction in the expression, itself. Both sides of that equation have value.


    • I agree with Howard Casner, while I love to create art, I also know that it is near impossible to dedicate my time to both a regular career and writing. If I try to do both one suffers. With that being said I write what is marketable. Scripts I know will find a buyer so that I can continue to only write.


    • A screenplay is only part of the finished work of art, i.e. the film. The film requires collaboration. That’s why having it unproduced is unsatisfying (apart from not having any money!)


    • Of course you have to get some enjoyment out of the writing too, otherwise you couldn’t do it.


    • I write because I absolutely love to write. I sell because I absolutely love to eat.


    • I have moments when I don’t have work where I feel panicky and think my only alternative will be working at McD’s. The world of animation in Canada is getting more and more restrictive and so work is harder to come by but I hold onto the vision of selling great films and making the transition to the big screen. Hold the vision guys!!!!!!!!!


    • Howard – I always fluctuate on my feelings on that topic – whether or not it’s worth doing something purely to do it. For me, I usually push toward a goal that means a published product (in the loosest sense) or it’s not worth the time – especially having a child now. I have other creative endeavors that I also enjoy, which also have the potential to bring in income, so if someone could see my future and tell me for sure that I’d never make any money in screenwriting, I’d probably do a lot less of it.

      I have a friend who plays drums alone in his basement, every day. He’s very skilled, but he has absolutely no ambition to ever play in a band again or to record with anyone – the two means of getting your work out there as a musician. So on one hand I admire the fact that he plays at all and really enjoys it – but on the other, I don’t understand how it’s satisfying for him to know that he might play for the next 30 years, and no one will ever hear it (“if a drum is hit in the woods…”).

      On the broader topic, I’ve felt discouraged in the past, but I just plain old push the whole “will I make it?!” debate out of my mind now – as much as possible. Not thinking about it works best for me, and most importantly, keeps me moving forward writing and marketing my stuff.


    • @Steve – your post on your friend playing the drums for many hours reminded me of the 10,000-Hour Rule. Basically, the theory behind the rule says the more you practice (hence the 10,000 hours), the higher the success rate in any field. Anyone here put in 10,000 writing hours? Is the theory bogus? Just curious, as I don’t have anywhere near that much time invested yet.


    • I know of the rule. Malcolm Gladwell created that idea, and I love his books. Good point, and I think I may be over 10,000 hours – I’ve been writing screenplays on and off for about twenty years now. I wouldn’t call myself a master by any means, though. I think your learning is exponential though – I learn much more on each successive screenplay than on the previous ones put together.

      My drumming friend isn’t an example of that rule, though. He’s been playing drums for about 33 years, but he probably hasn’t done anything more than tread water for the last 30. He’s just exercising, not growing. That’s what happens when you never leave the basement, and never plan to.


    • Writer’s write! — So what you didn’t sell that spec — yet. Write, get a DSLR camera, (or find someone who wants to direct) produce the story you wrote, distribute… and keep it going until you get better and your budgets get bigger. Just joined a local filmmakers group via meetup.com to meet others who want to do the same.


    • When you talk to other screenwriters it feels like everyone is doing it, but when you look around a room, ask yourself how many people in the room have written a screenplay. That might make you feel better about it.


    • By a conservative estimate I have over 39, 000. 5 hrs x 5 days = 25 x 52 weeks = 1300 x 30 yrs. When I was younger I wrote 8 to 12 hrs a day. Of course there were days when I didn’t write. In that time I’ve written 67 scripts of. Of which 7 features, 4 plays, and 3 shorts were produced.


    • Not sure if that answers your question, but yeah, it takes a lot of work.


    • I’m a writer, but what I want to do is wait tables…


    • I think it’s about persistence and not getting to down. All screenwriters started at the bottom, it’s up to you if to make it to the top. BTWm watch a documentary called tales from the script. eye opening.


    • I look back at my very first script and compare it to my recent one… And i see how much i have grown. That tells me i am making progress….and if i just keep writing more…i might really progress….


    • For me right now, I have a job leading to a pension.
      Until someone buys a few of my scripts, I’ll continue to wait for the pension. It’s only for a few more years, then I move to L.A. I won’t go hungry if I don’t sell. 🙂


    • You will if you move to LA… 😉


    • That’s why I will have a pension, Geno. :))