DADDY’S DEAD, YOU KNOW…AND WON’T LET US FORGET IT: This Is Where I Leave You, My Old Lady and The Skeleton Twins


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
this-is-where-i-leave-youGosh darn, daddies seem to be dropping like flies this month. Three movies have opened lately in which the pater familias is no longer in the picture. Not only that, it’s these fathers that often seem to be getting the brunt of the blame for the way their kids have turned out.
I guess it’s kind of convenient for all the characters involved, then, that the man from whose loins they were loosed is no longer around to defend himself.
But, you know, whatever, I guess. At any rate, he’s dead, dead, dead. And just won’t let us forget it.

Continue reading

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: Variations on structural engineering when it comes to screenplays PART ONE


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

 

holy-motors_2352787bPART ONE
I have been reading for screenplay competitions for more than ten years now. But over the past few years, I’ve been coming across a somewhat familiar familiarity and formulaic formality to more and more of said screenplays when it comes to how a story is written.
I’m not sure why. When I first started out reading, and for quite a few years after that, I would encounter some of the most amazing screenplays, screenplays that took chances, strived to be original, had a personal vision, and experimented, with glorious success, when it came to storytelling.
Much of this quite possibly was due to the rise of indie film in the 1990’s by people like Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. The cinema they created brought a breath of fresh air to the somewhat stale movie going experience that many felt was being produced at the time.
I’m not sure why things have changed since them. Or at least, there’s probably not any one reason for it. But at the same time, in talking to screenwriters and producers and agents and reading what they have to say on social media, I feel that a much bigger deal has been made over the past few years as to how a screenplay has to be structured and a story has to be told. Continue reading

MY INTERVIEW ON MAXIMUM Z by Paul Zeidman


Paul Zeidman, who writes the blog, Maximum Z, had me fill out a questionnaire on screenwriting.  Thanks, Paul.  Loved the result.

1. What’s the last thing you read/watched that you thought was incredibly well-written?

Right now, screenwriting and moviemaking in the U.S. are at a crisis point. Very little is being done that is interesting or exciting. Most of it is bland, boring, or even if entertaining, falls short of a real success when it comes to quality. I feel we are treading water, waiting for a group of filmmakers and writers to come rescue us. We are in need of a new wave.

For the rest of the interview, go to:

http://ow.ly/BVFIz

THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY or THE QUIET MAN and THE WILD ONE: The Drop and Starred Up


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-drop-movie-review-0962014-164016The film noir genre is a particularly American institution, one that took hold of the local populace during World War II and stayed strong until the 1960’s.
It had a great influence on movie making all over the world. Perhaps there was just something so satisfying to other countries about the U.S.’s finally washing its dirty laundry in public and exploring the amoral, immoral and sociopathic underpinnings of its society, bringing itself down off the pedestal it had so self-righteously put itself up on.
(An interesting irony here is that the movie world of the 1930’s, during the height of the depression, was one of optimism and a focus on people having frothy fun, while after taking down Hitler, and America entering one of its most prosperous periods in history, the movies are far more cynical and willing to explore the more unsavory underbelly of our world.) Continue reading

YOUNG GIRLS IN LOVE: God Help the Girl and The Last of Robin Hood


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
God-Help-the-Girl1The new movie God Help the Girl, writer/director Stuart Murdoch’s maiden voyage of a film, has, at its core, a group of young people who must be the best dressed teens on the face of the planet.
Now, I don’t know whether to call their style hipster, retro, throwback or ironic (or, as one of my college professors once had included on his multiple choice tests, e. all of the above, f. none of the above, or g. some of the above, please specify), but I do know that everyone on screen is dressed within an inch of their lives in outfits that made me think they did nothing all day but stand in front of a mirror, mixing and matching, matching and mixing. Continue reading

COMMON CLICHES, STALE STORYLINES AND MAJOR MISTAKES, OH, MY!: Another year of reading is now over


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First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 

 

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

 

and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE

Also available for revising, script doctoring and ghost writing.

Well, it’s that time of the year again, kiddos.

And by that, I don’t mean my birthday, Yom Kippur or Chinese New Year’s.
I have now finished reading for the major competitions that I read for every year. And I must say, I read some pretty marvelous stuff this time round by authors who are ambitious and who have an immense amount of talent.
Okay. Enough accentuating the positive. Let’s dive for the dirt.
Now that this reader period has come to an end, I have made a list of the most common clichés, overdone and stale storylines and major mistakes that I’ve run across this year, issues that would have had me pulling my hair out in frustration if I wasn’t already bald. Continue reading

DEPARTMENT OF SELF AGGRANDIZEMENT–GIFF and AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL entry


UntitledThe big news is that my screenplay The Last Tree Standing Motel has made the semi-finals, or top 1% of entries, or the top 30 drama screenplays at the Austin Film Festival screenplay competition. I’m making plans to attend the festival at the end of October.

In addition, The Last Tree Standing Motel was also selected by the Glendale International Film Festival competition (I’m not sure how to categorize this, but since I’m eligible to be selected for portions of the screenplay to be staged read; invited to the awards ceremony; and can attend the festival for free, this may equate to finals).

I would now like to make a request: The Last Tree Standing Motel has done well in five contests as of now: It is a finalist in the London Screenplay Competition; a semi-finalist in the All Access Screenplay Competition; so far, semi-finalist in the Page Screenplay Competition; selected by the GIFF competition; and now, so far, a semi-finalist and top 1% of Austin.

I need a favor (of course). I’m looking for representation (either manager or agent). If you have anyone you can recommend me to, or if there is anyone you can ask whether they are looking for new clients (often the best way to go), I would greatly appreciate it. Also, I’m looking for directors, producers, actors, etc. to forward the screenplay to.

Anything you can do or any ideas or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated

LOGLINE: The Last Tree Standing Motel: After two hired killers murder someone at a remote motel, they receive a call from their boss telling them they can’t leave the motel until he gives them permission; so they find their lives intermingling with the regulars while they wait and they wait and they…wait, trying to make sense of something that makes less and less sense as time goes by.

A self-contained, neo-noir, tragicomedy. Waiting for Godot meets In Bruges.

 

HEAD CASES: Life of Crime and Frank


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
Life-Of-Crime-Movie-Trailer-635x316If it is true, as people say, that films influence how we act, then I’m not sure why people are still in the kidnapping biz. I mean, if there is one thing movies have taught us, from Fargo to High and Low to Taken to Misery, that kidnapping thingy just never works out well for those who take to it.
And now we have Life of Crime, written and directed by Daniel Schechter (based on a novel by the immensely popular as well as well respected author Elmore Leonard titled The Switch), the latest variation on the O’Henry short story, The Ransom of Red Chief, in which someone is kidnapped whom the one being extorted the ransom would be just as happy if they were never returned. Continue reading

An up-to-date list of all the interviews and podcasts I’ve done so far for my book Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader


UntitledI thought I would take this opportunity to relist all the various interviews and podcasts that have occurred since the publication of my book Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader. In these various tête-á-tátes, I talk about the state of screenwriting today.

The book grew out of my experience as a screenplay reader and the issues that I often see arising. For those of you who are regularly submitting your screenplay to producers, agents, directors, and competitions, you might find it of interest.

And feel free to visit my blog at Howardcasner@wordpress.com for more information about myself and the various services I provide.

Let me know what you think:

With Jasper Cole on On the Set with Jasper Cole: http://ow.ly/B2r3k

With Ann Kimbrough on Screenwriters Beat: http://ow.ly/B2qjk

With Jesse Ikeman on Craft Truck: http://ow.ly/B2rj8

With Hilliard Guess and Lisa Bolekaja on Screenwriters Rant Room: http://ow.ly/B2qRd

And, of course, the book is available on Amazon at http://ow.ly/B2rCv

LOVE AND DEATH AND ALL POINTS IN BETWEEN: To Be Takei, Jealousy and Love is Strange


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
to-be-takei-george-takei-in-star-trekOh, My!
               George Takei
I once worked at a movie theater that was frequented by celebrities of every make and model. For some reason, the bigger the name (Queen Latifah, Colin Farrel) the less the effect they had on me. I’d do my job and they’d go on their way with nary an increase in my pulse or heart rate.
It was often the second tier celebrities (for lack of a better phrase) that got me tongue tied and turned me into a flibbertigibbet.   I’m not sure why.
They may not have been as great an actor as Marlon Brando, but they just always seemed to give me more joy.
Anyway, for what it is, there it is.
And there it was when I was face down at the customer service desk and looked up and there was George Takei…and I froze. He had been such a part of my youth from the first episode of Star Trek, a series of mixed quality in looking back today, of course, but at the time had a palpable impact on me and many of my friends.

Continue reading