IS THERE A BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF SCREENPLAY COMPETITIONS? Part Two


First, a word from our sponsor: 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
In part one of this essay, I suggested that a new standard was being introduced in judging screenplay competitions when it comes to who should become finalists; i.e., the idea that the quality of a screenplay should also be based on whether it can be sold and whether there is a market for it.
As I also said, I don’t think that this standard has really taken over yet. It’s there, but still, the quality of a screenplay, its ambition, its uniqueness, the passion of the writer, tends to win out more often than not.
At the same time, I do think this standard is slowly wending its way in and I do think we need to be a bit concerned here. Continue reading

REAL LIFE, REEL LIFE, STILL LIFE: The Last Sentence and Jersey Boys


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
Last_Sentence_3If you’ve seen the previews or read about the new Swedish film The Last Sentence, you will most probably come to the conclusion that the movie is about a brave man, one Torgny Segerstadt, who spent his later years as a newspaper editor fighting against fascism in the 1930’s during the rise of Nazism.
But if you actually see the movie, you quickly discover that this is only a small part of the story, and that the film is really about Segerstadt’s relationship with three women: his mother who died when he was young and whose death haunted him the rest of his life; his disintegrating marriage to a woman who spiraled into a depression after the death of one of their sons and for whom he has lost all affection; and his love affair with the Jewish owner of the newspaper he runs, a drug addict whose husband knows about the affair and who is not particularly bothered by it. Continue reading

AND THEN THE ECSTASY KICKED IN, OR WHO’S MIND F*CKING THE STORE?: Borgman, Coherence and The Moment


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
borgman_bedroom__mediumThree movies have opened recently that I call WTF films. You know what I mean, cinema deliriums that after you watch it, you turn to your friend and go WHAT THE…?
Movies like The American Astronaut, Eraserhead, La Mustache, El Topo, Holy Motors, Dogtooth, Mulholland Drive…
Movies that play mind fuck games with your, well…mind.
Movies that are strange and offbeat and abnormal and peculiar and original and unique (well, I could go on, my thesaurus lists a lot of words similar to these, so I think I’ve made my point), but also movies made with a vision and passion and eschew normal rules of screenwriting and filmmaking.
And if there is one thing I like in films, it’s have my fucking mind…fucked. Or blown. Or something else that can have a sex act as its metaphor. Continue reading

WHERE’S THE REST OF ME: The Signal and Night Moves


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
Signal_Two movies have opened that seem to have never heard of the rule that today your screenplay must begin with a grabber scene, it simply has to. You know, something that happens in the first ten pages that attacks the face and thrusts its whatever it was down your throat like that creature in Alien?
Instead the filmmakers seem to feel that the slow build, the taking the time to create context for the characters and the situation, the use of an approach that invites us along for the ride rather than assaults us, is the more effective way to go.  Wow, what a concept. Continue reading

IS THERE A BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF SCREENPLAY COMPETITIONS? Part One


First, a word from our sponsor: 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
scream laptopI was talking to a fellow reader one day (the conversation has been fictionalized heavily…quite heavily, to serve my purposes, of course, but I do think I retained the truth of the gist of the heart of the discussion). We both read for a few of the same competitions, and as readers are wont to do who find themselves at the same table at a coffee shop, we began talking about how good and bad the screenplays had been so far this year.
After a while, I was getting the feeling that we were looking for different things when it came to evaluating screenplays.
So I asked my fellow reader what he looked for as he read. Continue reading

DEATH, CAN’T LIVE WITH IT, CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT: The Fault in Our Stars and Dormant Beauty


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
Jeffrey: You loved Darius. And look what happens. Do you want me to go through this, with Steve?
Sterling: Yes.
                                   Jeffrey, Paul Rudnick
fault in our starsI’m not sure why, but I always get the feeling that when Romeo and Juliet is made into a movie it’s a hit and that teens tend to flock to that story as if their life depended upon it as much as it does the title characters of the play.
I’ve never quite understood why people so young are so fascinated by their own mortality, and even more so, find the need to have it represented in such a gorgeously tragic manner. Continue reading

IT’S RAINING MANLY MEN: The Rover and Policeman


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
“Okay, too much testosterone around here for me.” Tyler Ann Endicott, Point Break
Two movies have just opened that filled me with much relief that smellovision never caught on. Both films are jam-packed to the brim with characters so masculine they ooze hormones to the extent their odor would grow hair on your chest if it was released into the auditorium.
rover-In the new Australian thriller The Rover, written and directed by David (Animal Kingdom) Michod from a story by Michod and Joel Edgerton (yes, that Joel Edgerton), it’s ten years after “the collapse”, a catastrophe that is never (to the movie’s credit) clearly defined, but has resulted in a Down Under that is in a near state of anarchy with the military standing in for the police; gas and food in short supply; the American dollar being the only trusted currency (hey, it could happen); and nobody seeming to have taken a bath in years. Continue reading