Thursday, July 23, 2015

How to Write Books About Screenwriting for Fun and Profit

Who among us hasn’t ambled through their local bookstore and found themselves in the enormous section of books dedicated to writing screenplays? It almost makes no sense that there are so many. How could there be such a large selection?

The answer, as it turns out, is quite simple and points to something that you, by right of reading this, are in a perfect position to capitalize upon...

The answer is that the market has not yet been saturated and there is still plenty more room for books about screenwriting.

So what are you waiting for? You need to know RIGHT NOW how to take full advantage of this opportunity and suck on that teat.

“But I don’t know the first thing about screenwriting” you say.
No problem! You don’t even have to have watched a movie to succeed in this business – it is THAT EASY! All you need do is follow the simple blueprint for success that I have laid out in my book Writing About Screenwriting Writing for Quick $$$$$$.

I have spent years breaking down and analyzing the sure-fire elements for success that the greatest screenwriting books of all time have in common, and have laid them out for you in an easy-to-follow formula for writing a best-selling book about writing screenplays.

Writing About Screenwriting Writing for Quick $$$$$$ will show you:

  • How to invent arbitrary structural conceits based upon a small number of cherry-picked movies that conveniently fit your theory of alleged creativity.
  • The “correct” page numbers at which things in screenplays must happen or the paper will spontaneously combust.
  • The secrets to making up catchy phrases to name structural conceits that must have worked well in one movie somewhere sometime and therefore must be actual rules.
  • The very precise number of pages a screenplay absolutely has to be or else it will be peed-upon by sprawling herds of cackling script readers.
  • The long list of things that “must not” happen in film scripts if you want them to be taken seriously by anyone who has ever imagined how constrictive a process could possibly be. No book on screenwriting would be complete without these. YOU MUST NOT LEAVE THIS OUT.
  • The equally long list of things that absofuckinglutely must happen when you are writing a screenplay or else bad stuff will happen to you – probably not dramatically inspirational stuff either; paper-cuts, dog-farts, comically (but not comically enough) bad-hair-days and… general stuff like that.
  • All the proper technical names for each of the character functions in screenplays, so you can explain to your acolytes the difference between the Heroic Anti-ally and the Active Antagonistic Co-mentor (amongst others.)
  • A comprehensive list of the many variations of the crime of Directing on the Page and the minimum sentences associated with each of them.
  • Whitespace.
  • Additional information on how to avoid other film professionals’ jobs on the page. Thus your readers can avoid; casting on the page, editing on the page, costuming on the page, designing on the page, focus-pulling on the page, creative accounting on the page, booming on the page, prepping the call-sheet on the page, cinematogro-afeeing on the page, gaffing on the page, acting on the page (Oxford comma.) and writing on the page.
  • How to fabricate impactful terminology to describe invented benchmarks in a script and how to place them at the Critical Demagogical Intersections of your book.
  • The 10 aphorisms about writing screenplays that no book about writing screenplays can be without. (Free Sample: “Character is story.”)
  • A thorough listing of verb tenses that you should be avoiding using in all circumstances that may be surfacing for emerging screenwriting hopefuls.
  • How to provide credible sounding advice on things you've never done, like pitching. (HINT: Like a magician, you should never reveal your tricks! An accomplished screenwriter will never tell a producer the ending - they have to read the script!)
  • How to present your writing credits in the best light possible. Short films, features almost considered for development, stage plays, YouTube videos, other books about screenwriting - all of these count towards boosting your credibility as an authority on screenwriting. How do I know this? I WROTE THIS BOOK!

Also learn how you can make additional income from your book by:

  • Talking! That’s right! Just talking. Just get up in front of a room and talk like you know what you are talking about. Sell tickets. Take several days to talk so you have the appearance of greater command of the subject and can charge logarithmically more.
  • Script consulting. Learn the secrets of getting hopeful screenwriters to send you their scripts with the understanding that you can help them. (Note: You must be able to scribble in wide margins.) A comprehensive list of buzzwords is included with this section.
  • Podcasting. (NOTE: Podcasting section has been removed from latest edition. There is no way to make money podcasting.)
  • Create contests with perceived value. Charge meaninglessly large entry fees!

Order your copy of Writing About Screenwriting Writing for Quick $$$$$$ and get writing and make some quick $$$$ - it is THE BIBLE of books on screenwriting. Adhere to it, chapter and verse, or fail in peril.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Big Wig

Yes, I know. Though a feature was at one time promised to wrap up the loose ends of the prematurely cancelled cult classic, Big Wig was not a film, but a highly regarded hilarious dystopian TV show.

And what a glorious season it was, launching the careers of - well, seemingly everyone from the cast, but significantly Phil Nathanson who of course went on to great fame as a strip-club owner, turned private investigator in the hit TV show Tassle; and Bailey McGettigan whose insane yet pitch-perfect comic timing has made him (arguably) the most sought comedian "of an age" in the whole of the U.K.

If you haven't heard of Big Wig, I promise you you have a friend somewhere who can't wait to recommend it to you. "Imagine West Wing was set in Orwellian dictatorship" they will tell you - 'cause that's the spot-on description that everyone uses. And not only are they right about that, but they are also right about the fact that you have got to see this show. Today's feature is a particularly famous scene from the pilot episode The First Day. Its a long one, known amongst fans as the "not not" scene. Its not obvious from the scene itself, but the scene was a single take that filled the entire act between the first and second commercial breaks. It was a tour de force.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Siege at Oasis del Sol

I often find that it is easy to give too much away about the films I honour in this blog. I suppose I should assume that you have seen the films in question - you wouldn't read the scene knowing it would inherently involve spoilers, right?

So, why is this relevant? Because for this post I have chosen the opening scene from George Surname's post apocalyptic romp Siege at Oasis del Sol. It is equal parts Road Warrior and Stand By Me, and is one of my favourite openings to a movie ever. Everything seems so normal - clich├ęd even, I mean the damned film opens with a ringing alarm clock being shut off - but then.... ahhh, I love it! And that is why I'm featuring it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Suntime Farm

Without meaning to imply that there isn't a lot of fun to be found in the other films featured on this blog, for this entry I wish to turn to what may well be the most fun film of the bunch, Suntime Farm. I know that in part my opinion is fuelled by being the age I am. When Suntime Farm came out in 1998, I was the perfect demographic to appreciate it on all levels.

The story of Clara and Jesse, two kids whose parents send them to their grandparents for the summer while the parents hammer out their divorce. Once at Gran' and Gramp's the kids discover that the neighbouring seniors' group home is specifically a residence for retired hosts of childrens' television - and not just of the Captain Kangaroo variety, in fact most of the characters next door are puppets and cartoons who have fallen from grace. And while none are exactly hosts of shows I grew up on, they are all spot-on familiar archetypes.  It is all very meta, and entirely delightful.

The scene - from Kate VanMergroet's script - is the scene where Clara and Jesse make their first (of many) bizarre discoveries about their grandparents' neighbours... though I suppose it pretty much speaks for itself.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


A long scene - not even technically one scene, but several in a larger sequence.  From the MODA nominee for Best Foreign Film for 1973, Guernika. Written by Salvador Garrastazu for the Spanish National Cinema production, directed by Floro Ibarra. Today Guernika is widely seen as the superior film from those nominated in its category, but as we all know history is not always kind to the victor and often the film that posterity will recognize is not the one honoured in its day. The winner C'est le Bordel, while provocative in its day actually served up its own demise by pushing boundaries to where the film's once sly humour is now excessively tame, coupled with its stream of consciousness structure - well, bluntly - its a mess.

Meanwhile, the timeless tragic beauty of Guernika, as it follows almost in real time the three hours in April of 1937 in which the market town became the first civilian population to be attacked by air, still stands today as one of cinema's most haunting examples of historical drama.

As many film scholars have pointed out in the past, 'historical drama' may be a poor choice of words to describe Guernika as the film is not in fact based upon the actual attack, so much as the Pablo Picasso painting that was created in response to the atrocity.

The scenes I've selected are those of the first eerie wave of the attack - the bombers aren't even seen (Indeed Ibarra only shows us the enemy gradually, echoing the townsfolk's confusion as they didn't initially comprehend the nature of the attack.) only the impact of their passing is revealed.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Declassified Information

Orville Stave made a good name for himself with his provocative looks at the culture and counter-culture of the 1960s. From the psychedelic tragedy of his biopic Groovy Soda Jerk about James Porter the lead singer of the band of the same name, to the bleak reality of his semi-biographical Principle IV about the horrors of being a conscientious objector. Stave's work was nothing if not eye-popping and darkly patriotic.
But no film better stands for his body of work like the 1991 classic Declassified Information, based on Stave's own private investigation behind the scenes of the Kennedy administration.
Declassified Information won four MODAs including a hotly controversial Best Picture and of course a Best Screenplay for Stave and his co-writer, former blacklister, Jessica Tdinen-Finornen.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blake Snadwad's - Masada

There are films - I am sure if you are the sort of cinephile who reads a blog like this then you have a handful of them yourself - that if you are flipping channels and you catch even a glimpse of, you are trapped. You can't help yourself, you are powerless to these films. You will watch them through to the end.

Blake Snadwad's - Masada is absolutely one of those films for me. 

Forgive me an aside, Blake Snadwad was the first director I was ever aware of whose own name became a part of their film titles as part of the promotional effort. When did they quit doing that? Certainly before the 80s, or else there would have been films with names like Steven Spielberg's - The Color Purple.  Certainly Spielberg would have earned that billing.  But I digress...

Blake Snadwad's - Masada suffers a bit today from the pre-Star Wars level of effects that become important story-telling tools in the third act, but by that point, I'd hazard to say that most people would be too engrossed in the suspense to care.

With the laconic pace of 60s and early 70s sci-fi, it weaves a mind-boggling narrative.  Fair warning, I'm going to get a tad spoilery here, but its all first-act stuff, and of a 40 year-old movie. Two detectives, Winston and Pepper investigate a death at a university that appears to be a suicide. They soon uncover the possibility that a virus that operates with the same principles as the observer paradox may (or may not!) have been accidentally released. Yet so long as it is unknown, then the result is the same as if it hasn't been. (Follow me so far?) The virus itself causes its victims to do unspeakable self-harm to themselves. So when the people who know about the virus start committing suicide in awful ways, who is to tell if they are trying to keep the knowledge hidden, or if the virus has taken hold.  It is a total mind-err... thing that rhymes with 'truck'.  Of course the investigators figure out what is going on - in the first twenty minutes of the film, no less! - and then have to decide what they are going to do about it... and THAT is where it gets interesting.

Anyhow... one of the critical steps along the way of their investigation follows below the fold.