HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Nicole Jones-Dion, author of Dracula-The Dark Prince and Tekken 2


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. I am now offering a new service: take the Howard Casner 20 pages for $20.00 screenplay challenge. 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
 
 
Next up: an interview with Nicole Jones-Dion, author of Dracula-The Dark Prince and Tekken 2
 
nicoleNicole Jones-Dion is an award-winning screenwriter who specializes in genre films. After starting out in the video game industry, she then segued into comics, television and film. Her feature credits include DRACULA – THE DARK PRINCE, starring Academy Award-winner Jon Voight; and TEKKEN 2, based on the best-selling martial arts video game. She has also written on assignment for producers Sean Cunningham (FRIDAY THE 13TH), Mark Lester (COMMANDO), and Barney Cohen (SABRINA THE TEENAGED WITCH), among others.
 
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced, or your first project that was produced, or your first writing assignment?
My very first writing assignment was for Kickstart Entertainment (the company that produced WANTED, starring Angelina Jolie). My manager told them I had a background in comics, so they sent me a box full of graphic novels that they’d optioned and asked if I’d be interested in adapting one of them to the screen. The one that really jumped out at me was a psychological thriller about a girl with multiple personalities called THE SCRIBBLER by Daniel Schaffer. Even after Kickstart’s option expired, I was still very passionate about the material. Flash forward a few years, and I introduced it to New Artists Alliance and Caliber Media who ultimately produced a film with Katie Cassidy (from ARROW) playing the lead. Continue reading

A TALE OF TWO JESSES: American Ultra and The End of the Tour


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
 
Warning: SPOILERS
american ultra 1I’ve always had mixed feelings about the actor Jesse Eisenberg. His stuttering performances, his “gee gosh” can’t look you in the face acting technique, his off beat visage, have actually, if I must be honest, and I guess I must, I must, put me off at the beginning and often quite annoyed me.
And, as I also said to my friends: Aren’t Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera and Paul Dano actually the same person? I mean, have you ever seen them in a room together?
As time has gone on, as time is want to do, as we know from Casablanca, and as Eisenberg has made more and more interesting choices in film roles (from The Squid and the Whale to The Social Network to Night Moves to The Double), he’s sort of won me over and I even look forward to his next endeavor.
Well, his next endeavor, nay, endeavors, we now have, and they come in the form of two new films: American Ultra and End of the Tour.
American Ultra is about a slacker, stoner Peter Pan, called Mike, who works at a convenience store in a small town that he can’t seem to leave because he has an agoraphobic reaction whenever he tries. He lives with a long suffering girlfriend Phoebe who he has decided to ask to marry him. But something happens that causes his best laid plans to go awry. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 8/29-9/4/2015


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 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. 8/29-9/4/2015
marvins roomON NETFLIX: Marvin’s Room, written by Scott McPherson from his own play and directed by Jerry Zaks, is an often funny, but also deeply moving movie about love and death, so of course it stars Diane Keaton (who battles it out with co-star Meryl Streep for acting recognition—Keaton got the Oscar nom, Streep the Golden Globe). Bessie needs a bone marrow transplant so she looks to her estranged sister Lee and her troubled nephew Hank. The cast is filled out with Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Hume Cronym, Gwen Verdon, Dan Hedaya, Margo Martindale and Cynthia Nixon.
belle de jourON HULU: In Belle de Jour, the ravishing Catherine Deneuve plays a housewife who can’t bring herself to sleep with her husband so she works afternoons being ravished as a prostitute. Leave it to sly, naughty writer/director Louis Bunuel to come up with this one, with screenplay help by one of the finer European screenwriters Jean-Claude Carriere.
forbidden gamesSPECIAL SHOWINGS: Nuart Theater is showing Forbidden Games, the classic French film about a little girl orphaned by an air raid during WWII who ends up living with the family of a young boy. They become fast friends and try to come to terms with death by creating rituals and a cemetery for dead animals. Georges Poujouly, who played the boy, later appeared in such classics as Elevator to the Gallows and Diabolique, and Brigitte Fossey, the little girl, was later seen in films like The Man Who Loved Women and Cinema Paridiso. The director Rene Clement also directed Purple Noon and Joy House.
z for zachariahFIRST RUN and OPENING: Z for Zachariah; American Ultra; Grandma; Straight Outta Compton; Mistress America; Shaun the Sheep Movie; Diary of a Teenage Girl; Ricki and the Flash; The Gift; Cop Car; Tangerine; Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation; I Touched All Your Stuff; Butterfly Girl; The Second Mother Continue reading

BOYS WILL BE BOYS: Goodnight Mommy and Cop Car


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
 
Warning: SPOILERS
cop car 1Kids. Can’t live with them. Can’t kill them…or can you? Well, in two new movies with young boys as central characters, infanticide might not be such a bad idea because if you don’t, they might get you first.
Cop Car is a nice, tight little thriller about two pre-teens who are wandering across some wide open spaces common in their part of the country. They seem to have run away for some reason which is never explained (there’s a lot that is never explained in the movie, which is fine, since such explanations are often irrelevant as it is and would only get in the way).
They come upon an abandoned cop car, the sheriff nowhere in sight, find keys in it and, hey, boys being boys, they go joy riding…unaware that there is a body in the trunk.
Okay, I’m sorry, but this is a pretty neat set up for a couple of hours in the theater and the movie does an excellent job of fulfilling all expectations. It’s one of those films that doesn’t really do anything, but in the end, whatever it doesn’t do, it certainly does it rather well. Continue reading

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Hernando Bansuelo and Josh Watson, writers of A Reunion


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. I am now offering a new service: take the Howard Casner 20 pages for $20.00 screenplay challenge. 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
 
Next up: an interview with Hernando Bansuelo and Josh Watson, writers of A Reunion
Hernando Bansuelo
HB_Tribeca 2015Hernando Bansuelo holds an MFA in Film and TV Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and holds a BA in Stage Directing from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. His debut feature, A REUNION, produced under his production banner, Tricoastal Entertainment, during his final year in film school, will be released theatrically and digitally in September 2015. It is Executive Produced by the Ebersole Hughes Company (ROOM 237, HIT SO HARD).
His work has screened in Cannes, South Africa, Iceland, the UK, the Bahamas, and across the US. Hernando also has been a three time Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2nd Round Finalist and is currently developing a sci-fi epic (MONARCH, winner of the Silver Prize in Science Fiction at the 2014 Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest), GET CLOSE (about stage and screen legend Glenn Close) and several other projects.
With extensive industry experience, he has worked in production offices (Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War, Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding), on-set with large-scale filmmakers (James Foley’s Perfect Stranger, NBC’s Lipstick Jungle) and completed A-list internships (Playtone Productions – Hanks and Goetzman, Double Feature Films – Sher and Shamberg). The award-winning filmmaker has also participated in the Ingmar Bergman immersion program at Sweden’s Lund University, the Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab, and Film Independent’s Project:Involve. He recently completed THE DADDY (ANG TATAY), a hybrid documentary short set in the Philippines.

 

Josh Watson
josh watson 1Under his production banner, TriCoastal Entertainment, co-founded with life and professional partner, Hernando Bansuelo, Josh Watson has produced about a dozen short films and the feature, A REUNION. The film is to be released in fall, 2015 after having been acquired by distribution company, Ariztical Entertainment.
Watson attended Loyola University Chicago (graduating Magna Cum Laude and gaining entrance to Phi Beta Kappa), where his wide ranging liberal studies included film, theater, political science and social justice. After graduation, Josh served two years with the AmeriCorps program, completing community service projects with neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, California. While in LA, he also began building a professional acting resume that included playing a lion in the LA Opera’s version of THE MAGIC FLUTE (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), as well as a suspected killer in Timothy Folsome’s hip-hop horror flick, CUTTHROAT ALLEY. Josh, a member of SAG-AFTRA, continued studying acting at UCLA under the tutelage of Kim Darby, Paul Napier, and Robert Thompson.
Josh is thrilled that his next feature, AMERICAN JOHN, sheds light on the racial and class inequities that pervade this country and provides an inspirational story of perseverance and breakthrough.
 
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced, or your first project that was produced, or your first writing assignment?
reunionPoster-final-webA REUNION is our first screenplay that has been produced. And for it to receive theatrical and digital distribution and be out in the world is nothing short of a miracle.
Our limited theatrical run begins on Friday, September 18th through 24th at the Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills, you can purchase tickets here:
http://www.laemmle.com/films/39631
That will be followed by a digital and DVD release later this fall.
Check out our Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCHdQwVh5PY Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 8/21-8/29/2015


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 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. 8/21-29/2015
griftersON NETFLIX: In The Grifters, screenplay by Donald E. Westlake (from a book by Jim Thompson) and directed by Stephen Frears (both of whom received Oscar nominations), a son, his girlfriend and his mother all support themselves by conning until they start conning each other. One of Frears’ best films and wonderfully acted by Angelica Huston, Annette Benning (both of whom received Oscar nominations) and John Cusack. For those who like their neo-noir nasty.
eyes withoutON HULU: For those horror fans out there, Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face could be one of the more unnerving films in this genre. A surgeon kidnaps young women and removes their faces so he can try and graft them onto his daughter. Very graphic at times. A classic French film.
grandmaFIRST RUN and OPENING: American Ultra; Grandma; Straight Outta Compton; Mistress America; Shaun the Sheep Movie; Diary of a Teenage Girl; Ricki and the Flash; The Gift; We Come as Friends; Cop Car; Best of Enemies; Listen to Me Marlon; Phoenix; The End of the Tour; Tangerine; Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Continue reading

BULLY, BULLY and WOOLY, WOOLY: The Gift and Shaun the Sheep Movie


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
 
Warning: SPOILERS
gift oneThere’s a very telling scene and line in The Gift, the new thriller written, directed and starring Australian jack of all trades Joel Edgerton (you know, just because you’re from another country doesn’t mean you can’t leave a few jobs for the locals, mate).
Husband and wife Simon and Robyn have recently moved to California for Simon’s new job. The town is Santa Clarita (if my memory serves) where Simon grew up and went to school. While out shopping the couple run into Gordo, an old classmate of Simon’s, someone Simon claims he can barely remember, though Gordo seems to have no trouble remembering Simon.
Gordo suddenly starts showing up at the couple’s house with gifts, though it’s hard to tell whether he’s creepy or just socially awkward. But one night he leaves after having been invited to dinner (well, has sort of forced them to invite him to dinner) and Simon says there is something odd about him.
The reason this is telling is because it is also somewhat ironic since, by this time, it’s rather clear that there is something odd about Simon. Continue reading