SINGING THE BLUES: Dope and What Happened, Miss Simone?


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
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Warning: SPOILERS
dopeIn 1983, a suburban high school teen was left alone for the weekend by his upper middle class parents whereupon he danced in his undies, pumped up the volume on the hallowed stereo, hired a prostitute and through a series of farcical complications ended up having to open a bordello in his home in order to pay off a pimp of whom he had made an enemy. He ends up using said bordello to get himself accepted into a prestigious university.
In 2015, an inner city high school teen doesn’t dance in his undies, but through a series of farcical complications ends up with a shitload of drugs in his backpack, and gets caught between a variety of guys of the not so good variety who all want what he’s got. He opens a drug lab in his high school and uses the sale of the illegal substances to get himself accepted into a prestigious university.
However, the background to the story is not the only difference between these two basically similarly structured films.
No, the 2015 film, Dope, has characters much richer; dialog much wittier, smarter and crisper; and a plot much edgier and more exciting than the rather white picket fence blandness of the Tom Cruise Risky Business.

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HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Bryce Richardson, author of 2580


This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.
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
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Next up: an interview with Bryce Richardson, author of 2580
bryce richardsonBorn and raised in Houston, Bryce Richardson graduated from the University of North Texas. A few years later, Richardson moved to New York where he’s had a one-act play produced and made several shorts. His 16mm film 2580 played at the 2015 Slamdance film festival. Richardson is currently working on his first feature film.
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced, or your first project that was produced, or your first writing assignment?
Closing Shop was the first short film that I had written and directed.
  1. Can you tell us a bit about the journey as to how it came about?
Before this short, I had written a one-act play produced by the Metropolitan Playhouse in the East Village. But since cinema was what I cared about the most, I decided to take the confidence I gained from that experience and focus solely on making films. I made sure my first film, Closing Shop, would be finished no matter what obstacles I encountered along the way. I succeeded—and it turned out to be a total piece of shit. I will never let anyone see it Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 6/26-7/3/2015


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
 
And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE
My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 6/19-25/2015
bad news bearsON NETFLIX: Writer Bill Lancaster and director Michael Ritchie went after America’s obsession with children’s sports and the need to win in The Bad News Bears with a perfectly cast Walter Matthau as the slob of a coach and up and comers Tatum O’Neal and Jackie Earl Haley (who didn’t turn out to be up and comers in the end) as members of the team. Both funny and an incisive look at middle class values in the U.S. A big hit at the time.
i vitelloniON HULU: Writer/director Federico Fellini and writers Ennio Flaiano and Tullio Pinelli’s look at five young men who are drifting in a small town. Reportedly autobiographical to some degree, this is a fascinating character study of people who are in a sort of limbo, very much reflecting the existential mood of the post-war time in Europe.
tribeSPECIAL RUN: CINEFAMILY at the SILENT MOVIE THEATER: The Tribe continues its run through 7/2 Continue reading

THEY’RE EITHER TOO YOUNG OR TOO OLD: I’ll See You In My Dreams and Inside Out


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
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
ill see you my dreams 1I’m not really sure what to say about the new independent movie I’ll See You In My Dreams, written by Marc Basch and Brett Haley and directed by Haley, except that it is quite a lovely, little film filled with acute observations about life as one enters one’s golden years.
Is that enough for a film these days? I don’t know. But in this particular case, I found it more than ample.
The movie is basically a character study of one Carol Peterson (Blythe Danner). In her young life she was a singer (she has one of the best explanations for why she is one no longer: “One day I was in a band and one day I wasn’t”). She got married and became a teacher, had a daughter, and then her husband died, allowing her to retire on more than comfortable means. Continue reading

Latest Script Coverage Testimonial from Keith Gillum, author of Sweet Warrior


My latest script coverage testimonial:

 

Howard was the fresh pair of eyes that my script needed. It’s clear that he has a passion for what he does, and a gift for it. Thanks to his notes and comments, I find myself re-energized, with a clear understanding of what needs to be done to take my story to the next level.

Keith Gillum, Sweet Warrior

For more information on my Script Consultation Services and even more testimonials: http://ow.ly/HPxKE

In addition, 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

 

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Tracee Beebe author of Wild at Heart and My Silent Voice


This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.
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
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Next up: an interview with Tracee Beebe author of Wild at Heart and My Silent Voice
tracee oneTracee Beebe is a working screenwriter whose projects focus on damaged characters and their relationships with each other. She was named one of 2014’s “most recommended screenwriters” by ScreenwritingU and also works as a coverage reader for both screenwriting contests and literary managers. An optioned screenwriter, she has had screenplays finish among the top 20% of the prestigious Nicholl’sFellowship out of 7,000 entrants and as a quarter-finalist in the 2013 Scriptapolooza screenplay competition.
Tracee’s previous career as a horse trainer, and her work in animal rescue, has flavored much of her work and given her the tenacity to believe that anything is possible if you just work hard enough along with the humility to know that there is always more to learn.
Born in Hawaii, Tracee grew up on her family farm in Napa Valley, California where she now raises her son alongside a pack of rescued dogs and horses.
  1.             What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced?
​I wrote the “script” for my documentary, Wild at Heart, which is in Post production now. My Silent Voice is a work for hire script that is in production right now with Capestany Films.​

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BIG: Spy and Jurassic World


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
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
spyAre you having a bad day? Things not going well? Are you a bit down in the dumps?
Well, if you want to feel a bit better about yourself and life in general, I can hardly recommend a more effective drop of medicine than Spy, the new espionage comedy starring Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper, the unprepossessing agent’s assistant with the unprepossessing name who turns into one bad un-unprepossessing ass of a Jane Bond.
What can I say? I came out of the movie theater feeling wonderful, simply wonderful, ready to take on the vicissitudes of life and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune once again.
Now, I do have to be honest. Based on remarks I’ve seen on facebook, how you react to the movie will probably depend on how you feel about Ms. McCarthy. If you don’t like her particular brand of comedy persona, the movie may affect you more like a fallen soufflé.
I happen to think she’s an exploding nova of a comic talent. Continue reading