2015 Film and Television Writers Calendar

December 22nd, 2014 by

While you have been busy hammering back egg nog and champagne over the holidays, the folks in our little part of the world (The Black List, Go Into The Story, The Black Board) have been busy creating a gift for the online writing community:

The 2015 Film and Television Writers Calendar

The calendar lists every major film festival, significant screenwriting and TV writing competition (including entry deadlines), awards ceremony, and a lot more. In sum, every date you need to make 2015 the best writing year yet. Plus you can export it to Google Calendar or iCal.

Please spread the word about the calendar and the URL: http://blcklst.com/calendar.

Now go kick some writing ass in 2015… and never miss an important date doing it!

Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: Moonrise Kingdom

December 22nd, 2014 by

We’ve had a successful relaunch of the GITS Script Reading & Analysis series. I say relaunch because we have done this type of thing before. For the past month, I have been spotlighting previous movie scripts we have studied.

Today: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

IMDb plot summary: A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them.

Links to the entire December 2014 series:

Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Major Plot Points
Psychological Journey

For my 7-part series on How to Read a Screenplay, go here.

30 Days of Screenplays [2013]

30 Days of Screenplays [2014]

Years ago, I came up with this mantra: Watch movies. Read scripts. Write pages. A link to my reflections on that here.

Cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading movie scripts.

THR (Video): Producer Roundtable

December 22nd, 2014 by

From THR:

If you’d taken a snapshot of the men and women who participated in this year’s Producer Roundtable about 15 years ago, you’d have seen most of them in very different jobs: Peter Chernin (Exodus: Gods and Kings, St. Vincent, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), 63, then was Rupert Murdoch‘s right-hand man at News Corp., running one of the largest media companies in the world; Marc Platt (Into the Woods), 57, was president of production at Universal Pictures, capping a long career as a movie executive; John Lesher (Birdman, Fury), 48, was an agent (and soon to become head of the specialty label Paramount Vantage); Emma Thomas (Interstellar), 43, was just beginning her career as a producer following a stint as an assistant to Eric Fellner (The Theory of Everything), 53; and Cathleen Sutherland, (Boyhood), 48, was manning a series of jobs in production. Their very different experiences colored their perspectives and taught many of them how to see the industry from a bird’s-eye point of view rather than from the narrow window of one film — though, as Platt notes, “What’s liberating about being a producer is: Your first thought can just be, ‘Here’s a project I want to invest my time in.’ “

Here is the entire 43 minute video:

Via THR.

Movie Trailer: “Black or White”

December 22nd, 2014 by

Written by Mike Binder

A grieving widower is drawn into a custody battle over his granddaughter, whom he helped raise her entire life.


Release Date: 30 January 2015 (USA)

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 6] — Schedule

December 22nd, 2014 by

We pick up from last week with our year-end attempt to help GITS readers set and achieve their writing goals for 2015. To revisit the process of self-reflection from last week, here are the links:

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 1] — Looking Back

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 2] — Assessing Where You Are

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 3] — Where Do You Want To Go As A Writer

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 4] — Practical Matters

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 5] — Going Public

This week we shift the focus to a more pragmatic part of the discussion, considering a variety of tips about how to manage time and projects more efficiently. But before we dig into that, let me roll out one of my oft-repeated mantras:

“There is no right way to write.”

Some of you will have no need for any of this series of posts. Indeed some of you may have discovered that any sort of intentionality inhibits your creativity and ultimately writing output.

That said, I think it’s probably safe to say most writers benefit from setting and working toward specific writing goals. Moreover some of you may think being intentional and setting goals will hurt your writing when in fact you may discover quite the opposite is true.

Bottom line: We’re all just trying to wrangle magic. And specific to spec scripts, as noted in one of the early posts in this series, if you don’t actually write the script, you have no chance of selling it or use it to get representation. All I’m trying to do is provide some ideas to help you get done that most basic goal: Write a spec script. To that end, hopefully you will find something of value in this series of posts.

Okay, having dispensed with that caveat, we move on.

Today: Schedule

When I was writing screenplays full-time for a living, I had a routine: Mornings were for exercise and taking care of personal business. Afternoons were for writing. Nights and weekends were for research and brainstorming other projects [for more on stacking projects, go here]. In fact for the afternoon writing sessions, I had this little numeric code: 1 to 5, 5 to 7. That is I wrote from 1PM to 5PM every week day and expected to produce 5 to 7 pages each writing session. If I knocked out 7 pages by 3 or 3:30, I had the option of knocking off early, or continuing to plow ahead if I had built up a good head of steam.

That was a simple system and didn’t require much in the way of oversight other than a commitment to work every day.

Now that I have so many different types of writing [creative writing, blogging, lectures, script feedback], I have had to revise my work habits and the way I handle schedules. The key is the calendar. In fact, were I not so fastidious about using a calendar, there is no way I could manage all the writing I do.

Because one of my primary email accounts is Gmail, I use Google Calendar. For planning purposes, I break things up this way:

* Annually

* Quarterly

* Monthly

* Weekly

* Daily

I plug in a projection of how I see the year laying out. Obviously that is going to flex along the way, but I find it’s helpful to lay out markers for gigs and writing goals throughout the upcoming year.

I divide things up quarterly to help break down goals into more manageable chunks and to stack projects more effectively.

At the end of each month, I create a lay-out of what I project will need to happen over the next 30 days to manage everything.

Same thing with the weekly schedule where I get very specific with daily items that need to be handled.

Finally a daily calendar breakdown.

Three particular things about schedule:

* Open items on my calendar that need to be taken care of are GREEN. When I finish that task, I change it to BLUE. This not only helps me have a visual reference as to what I need to do, it also provides a tiny, but satisfying experience of knocking things off the list.

* Prioritizing: This has made a huge difference for me. I have always been good about making lists, but in the past I have tended to have a rather laissez faire approach to how I would work my way through the things I had to do. Because nowadays I have so many different things going on, I prioritize the items on my list, and go through them in the order of their importance.

* Do the hardest thing first: My Air Force colonel father drilled this into the core of my being, so when I prioritize writing tasks, I put the tougher ones at the head of the list.

This may sound like a hugely schematic way to write, but I look at it like an extension of my own creative writing process in that my schedule is like a story outline: It’s how I provide shape to the ‘narrative’ of my daily, weekly, monthly, and so on ‘story.’

Indeed if you are into the sequence approach to screenwriting, I look at monthly and weekly writing goal breakdowns as ‘sequences,’ parts of the larger whole.

But that’s just me. I’m really curious how you approach scheduling your writing. And especially if you have any tools or software resources you use to manage your writing projects.

So please join me in Comments to discuss your own way of dealing with schedule as it relates to your writing.

Tomorrow I thought we could have a go at time management.

To kick off that part of our collective thought process, here are five pieces of advice from Jane Friedman about finding time to write.

On Writing

December 22nd, 2014 by

“I get up in the morning, torture a typewriter until it screams, then stop.”

— Clarence Budington Kelland

Daily Dialogue — December 22, 2014

December 22nd, 2014 by

“Elaine! Elaine!”

The Graduate (1967), screenplay by Calder Willingham, Buck Henry, novel by Charles Webb

Daily Dialogue theme this week: Celebration. Today’s suggestion by ditty1013.

Trivia: None of the older characters has their first name identified in the film; only the younger characters of Benjamin, Elaine and Carl do, increasing the sense of a generation gap.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by ditty1013: I think this scene, which starts out as a celebration, is notable especially for its LACK of dialog, because what is there to be said? Because there’s no dialog (besides Sounds of Silence), you see every thought and emotion pass on their faces as they only begin to digest what it is they’ve done.

If you have a suggestion for this week’s theme, please post in comments.

Go Into The Story Week In Review: December 15-December 21, 2014

December 21st, 2014 by

Links to last week’s most notable posts:

2014 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge

Black List 2014: Analysis

Black List 2014: The List

Daily Dialogue Theme for Next Week: Celebration

Declare Your Independents – Vol. 41

Go Into The Story Interview: Patty Jones (2013 Nicholl winner)

Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: American Hustle

Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: Argo

Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: Frankenweenie

Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: Gravity

Great Character: Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Great Scene: A Christmas Story

Interview (Video): Mike Leigh

Interview (Video): William Monahan

Interview (Video): David Seidler

Interview (Written): James Lapine

On Writing: Henry James

Saturday Hot Links

Screenwriting 101: Stephen Gaghan

Screenwriting News (December 15-December 121, 2014)

Script To Screen: Cool Hand Luke

Update: Award season screenplay downloads (22 scripts including Belle, Birdman, Boyhood, Gone Girl, The Fault in Our Stars)

Video: “Living Famously” – 55 minute documentary on Alfred Hitchcock

Video: “Movies 2014″

Writing A Script, Part 6: Outline

Writing A Script, Part 7: Script Diary

Writing A Script, Part 8: First Draft

Writing A Script, Part 9: Rewriting

Writing A Script, Part 10: Editing

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 1] — Looking Back

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 2] — Assessing Where You Are

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 3] — Where Do You Want To Go As A Writer

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 4] — Practical Matters

Writing Goals: 2015 [Part 5] — Going Public

Writing A Script: 10 Part Series

December 21st, 2014 by

Here is the entire 10 part series about how I approach writing a script.

Part 1: Story Concept

Part 2: Brainstorming

Part 3: Research

Part 4: Character Development

Part 5: Plotting

Part 6: Outline

Part 7: Script Diary

Part 8: First Draft

Part 9: Rewriting

Part 10: Editing

As I say, there is no right way to write. Each writer is different. Every story is different. Ultimately you have to find your own path. I hope the basic approach laid out in these posts provide some useful fodder for your creative process.


Screenwriting News (December 15-December 21, 2014)

December 21st, 2014 by

Zach Frankel 2013 Black List script “Make a Wish” with Paramount Pictures.

Ted Melfi adapting teen drama novel “Every Exquisite Thing” for The Weinstein Company, Melfi attached to direct.

James Ponsoldt adapting drama thriller novel “The Circle” for The Playtone Company with Tom Hanks attached to star, Ponsoldt to direct.

Johnny Rosenthal sells comedy pitch “Deep Cover” to Red Granite Pictures with Jim Carrey attached to star.

Michael Starrbury rewriting science fiction family “Ed Terrestrial” for Walt Disney Pictures.