DIRECTORS: CAN’T LIVE WITH THEM, CAN’T KILL THEM-Part II


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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. 
 
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(When asked what a director does) I help.
                Krzysztof Kieslowski
blog1In the last essay, http://ow.ly/PAgv308jiAh, I had a lot of fun trying to poke some holes in the role of the director in the creation of a film. Especially when he’s given all the credit for what is ultimately seen on the screen. However, I never did answer the question I originally posited: just what does a director do?
Well, I’m not sure I can give you a definitive answer. But I’ll try and explore that question in this second part of the essay.
I would first like to say that little in film can ensure a movie’s success (at least artistically) than when a director with vision is matched to a screenplay of vision, whether or not they are provided by the same person. Second to this is when a perfectly acceptable piece of direction is paired with a screenplay with vision, or even a very strong and solid screenplay. But little can help any movie with direction, great or not, that is stuck with a screenplay that just really isn’t particularly good, or worse.
Usually it’s the screenplay that makes a difference in the success of a film, not the direction.
Now, for those of you who go to live theater on a regular basis, you are already ahead of the game here. Whether you realize it or not, you already have a better idea as to the director’s contribution than most movie goers. Continue reading

DIRECTORS: CAN’T LIVE WITH THEM, CAN’T KILL THEM-Part I


top-50-screenwriting-blogsFor questions: hcasner@aol.com
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
blog1Written by the real heroes here
Directed by an overpaid tool
               Opening credits to Deadpool
Sometimes I am quite concerned for the wellbeing and psychological equilibrium of my fellow screenwriters. The more I interact with them, the more I feel that, though they like writing for film, they tend to walk around with something of an inferiority complex, especially when there is a director, or even more unfortunate perhaps, a film critic nearby.
I fully understand this. I’m the same way. And there are logical reasons for this that this essay will attempt to address.
But to begin, I not only ask this of my fellow screenwriters, but of everyone in the entertainment industry: does anyone really know exactly what a director does? Does anyone really have a specific and concrete idea as to what they bring to the table? What areas of the film they contribute that we see up there on the screen?
I often get vague answers to this question. It’s something generally to the tune of, they are ultimately responsible for what we see on the screen, i.e., theoretically, and only theoretically, the buck stops with them.
Fair enough. But what does that really mean? Taken at face value, all that genuinely suggests is that the director is a manager, or as wiser minds than I have opined, someone who does none of the real work, but takes all the credit.
That’s an extreme exaggeration, of course. But I still suspect there is some truth to it. Continue reading

AND ANOTHER YEAR DRAWS TO A CLOSE: Hidden Figures


top-50-screenwriting-blogsFor questions: hcasner@aol.com
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
This will be my last review for the year 2016.
god1Hidden Figures, the inspired by true events film written by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, who also directed, based on a book by Margot Lee Shetterly, is about a group of black female mathematicians who played a large role in the US space program, especially getting John Glenn into space and around the earth a few times.
It is sincere, worthy, uplifting, informative and a real crowd pleaser.
But is it any good?
Well, I’m afraid if truth be told, not particularly. Continue reading

My 2016 Oscar Nominations Prediction


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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
oscarIt’s getting to be that time for the Oscars to reveal their nominees for 2016. Every year, I predict who will make that list in the top categories, and this year I’ll also do Animation and Foreign Language films as well.
Generally I don’t do too badly. On average, I get one wrong per category. I don’t know how well I’ll do this year. Most of the nominees are certain, but there are quite a few wildcards this year.
Be sure and let me know what you think.

Continue reading

THE HOWIES or THE BEST IN FILM 2016


top-50-screenwriting-blogsFor questions: hcasner@aol.com
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
The movie seasons seems to now have settled into three periods of time. The first third is made up of the leftovers from the award season as the Oscars fast approach.
The second third is generally made up of tentpole/big studio type films with more and more counterprogramming for those more interested in independent and foreign films, and even more so as the distributors realize that there are still a lot of older filmgoers out there yet going to the theater (as well as growing niche markets for the diversity crowd).
This reverses in the final third, the months leading up to awards season, in which the distributors pull out their prestige pictures and Oscar bait films. This time the counterprogramming is for the more youthful market who tend to go to tentpole/big studio type films.
I don’t know how long this will last or what further changes will come about due to the rise of television and live streaming, but que sera sera.
And so to the point, my best of the year. Continue reading

IF ONLY: Silence


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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
 
Warning: SPOILERS
rev-1Silence, the new film written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, who also directed, is adapted from a 1966 Japanese novel by Shusako Endo. The basic premise revolves around two Portuguese priests, Fathers Rodrigues and Garrpe, who go to Japan to find out whether an earlier missionary, Father Ferreira, had buckled under the persecution of the government there, a government that had outlawed Christianity, and renounced his faith.
When the two fathers reach Japan, they see a cruel world in which the slightest hint of Christianity leads to savage torture. They do what they can for the underground faith while searching for Ferreira, but are eventually caught and tortured themselves.
I have to be honest. I don’t really know how I’m supposed to react to what I see on the screen. Scorsese is definitely sincere in trying to explore the meaning of faith. But for me, I think this is quite possibly the worst film made in some time by a great filmmaker. Continue reading

WE ARE FAMILY: Toni Erdmann, Fences, 20th Century Women, Julieta


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First, a word from our sponsors: I wanted to say thank you to everyone who contributed to our Indiegogo campaign for 15 Conversations in 10 Minutes. We did very well due to you folks. For those who weren’t able to give, keep us in your thoughts. And if you are able to contribute in the future, contact me and I’ll tell you how. I will even honor the perks on the original campaign.
I am now offering a new consultation 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?  FosCheck 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
rev-2Several movies have opened of late that revolve around parent/child relationships, especially a single-parent household. I don’t know if this is part of a zeitgeist or whether award season tends to topics that comic book movies normally don’t cover. But whatever the reason, it is what it is.
In Toni Erdmann, the German entry in the foreign language category at the Oscars, and the one expected to win, is about a retired father who decides to look up his consultant daughter who lives in another city. She’s in the middle of a major deal and really doesn’t have time for him (and the suggestion is that he’s never really had time for her), but instead of taking the hint and leaving, he sticks around, dons a wig and false teeth and pretends to be a life coach called Toni Erdmann, insinuating himself into his daughter’s life.
The odd turn here is that the daughter seems to decide to call his bluff and pretend that he is the person he is claiming to be.
The movie is overflowing with charm and has a certain quirky atmosphere to it. I can understand why it’s a crowd pleaser in many ways. And I can’t say I left disappointed. Continue reading

FINDING ONE’S VOICE: Sing and Slash


For questions: hcasner@aol.com
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
rev-1Sing is an animated comedy about a koala bear producer about to lose his theater to the bank. To save his theater he comes up with what he seems to think is the most brilliant and original concept ever in the history of furrykind, though original and brilliant are very loosely defined here. He will hold a singing competition (now, I know that stories like this do take place in alternative universes, but it may still be a bit hard to believe no one has come up with American Idol, The Voice, or even Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour yet).
But actually, it’s not that bad an idea on the koala’s part. And in the end, there is nothing that wrong with the film. It’s perfectly pleasant and fun at times.
At the same time, it never really grabs hold of you either. Continue reading