Go Into The Story Week In Review: March 23-March 29, 2015

March 29th, 2015 by

Links to this week’s most notable posts:

Character Development Keys

Daily Dialogue Theme for Next Week: Foreigner

Go Into The Story Interview: Sallie West (2014 Nicholl winner)

Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: Short Term 12

Great Character: Ren (Footloose)

Happy Birthday, Joseph Campbell!

How to Generate and Critique Story Ideas (Part 6): Genre-Bending

How to Generate and Critique Story Ideas (Part 7): Think International

How to Generate and Critique Story Ideas (Part 8): Franchise

How to Generate and Critique Story Ideas (Part 9): Test Your Concept

How to Generate and Critique Story Ideas (Part 10): Challenge Yourself

Interview (Audio): Joss Whedon

Interview (Video): Pete Docter (Inside Out)

Interview (Written): Noah Baumbach (While We’re Young)

Movies You Made: All in the Valley

Movies You Made: Dark Origins

Movies You Made: For Flow

Movies You Made: Service

Movies You Made: Windscreenwiperman

On Writing: Sidney Sheldon

Reader Question: What are some suggestions for doing character ‘interviews’?

Saturday Hot Links

Screenwriting 101: John Gary

Screenwriting News (March 23-March 29, 2015)

Script To Screen: Kill Bill: Vol. 1

Spec Script Deal: The Leviathan

Spec Script Deal: Realm

Spec Script Deal: Temple

The Business of Screenwriting: Everything You Wanted To Know About Specs (Part 1)

Twitter Rant: Jeff Willis on Should You Pay for a Script Consultant

Video: “Subconscious Cinema”

Video: “The Beast Within: The Making of Alien

Video: “Superior Firepower: Making Aliens

Interview: Sallie West (2014 Nicholl Winner)

March 29th, 2015 by

Recently I interviewed Sally West who wrote the original screenplay “Moonflower” which won the 2014 Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting.

Sallie West

Here is Sallie with her Nicholl Fellowship acceptance speech:

Here are links to the six installments of the entire interview:

Part 1: “I never thought I had a talent for screenwriting. And I didn’t! It has taken me 30 years of working with the language to get to this place.”

Part 2: “With the Nicholl competition, I would’ve been happy to score in the top 50th percentile. That would’ve been a success to me. I was really surprised that it did as well as it did.”

Part 3: ” It’s her world. She’s in her own world, and she’s really happy to be there. She doesn’t care to leave it, but she does find herself wanting to reach out to someone in a very tender and meaningful way.”

Part 4: “He’s not likeable at times. But that’s part of what makes him an interesting character.”

Part 5: “They just showed up in my head and I went with them, they felt real.”

Part 6: “I invent people I like, people with whom I would like to spend time. People with depth and humor and humility, hopefully.”

Screenwriting News (March 23-March 29, 2015)

March 29th, 2015 by

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski adapting untitled Patty Hearst book for Fox 2000.

Nick Antosca rewriting reboot of Friday the 13th for Paramount Pictures.

Elijah Bynum sets up “Hot Summer Nights” with Imperative Entertainment, Bynum to direct.

Matthew Ian Cirulnick sets up romantic thriller pitch “Paris Call Girl” RatPac Entertainment and Sentinel Pictures.

Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen adapting British TV series “Widows” for New Regency.

Tom Ford adapting thriller novel “Nocturnal Animals” for Smokehouse Pictures.

Michael Gordon adapting 1980s anime “Robotech” for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Jason Mark Hellerman’s teen comedy “Shovel Buddies” set with AwesomenessTV and Film 360.

David Hornsby and Lance Krall set road comedy “The Layover” with Unified Pictures and Bron Studios.

Joe Kelly adapting his graphic novel “I Kill Giants” for Treehouse Pictures.

Art Marcum and Matt Holloway writing remake of 1988 movie Alien Nation for Twentieth Century Fox.

Matt Savelloni sells action horror spec script “Temple” to Erebus Pictures.

Jason Segel and Drew Pearce writing LEGO spinoff “Billion Brick Race” for Warner Bros. Pictures.

Rebecca Sonnenshine sells action horror spec script “Realm” to Relativity Media.

Rich Talarico and Alex Rubens sell comedy pitch “Substitute Teacher” to Paramount Pictures, Key & Peele attached.

Jim Uhls sells science fiction spec script “The Leviathan” to Twentieth Century Fox.

Joshua Zetumer rewriting “Boston Strong” for Twentieth Century Fox.


To read my April 2014 interview with Elijah Bynum in which we discuss Hot Summer Nights, go here.

To read my August 2014 interview with Jason Mark Hellerman in which we discuss Shovel Buddies, go here.

Interview [Video]: Pete Docter (“Inside Out”)

March 29th, 2015 by

Pete Docter is a writer-director (Monsters, Inc., Up) and member of Pixar’s famed Braintrust. This week, he was interviewed on the Canadian based radio show “Q” to talk about the new Pixar movie Inside Out.

Via Q on CBC.

Interview [Audio]: Joss Whedon

March 29th, 2015 by

A half-hour interview with writer-director Joss Whedon:

Via Impossible Network.

Daily Dialogue — March 29, 2015

March 29th, 2015 by

“Hello, Danny. Come play with us. Come play with us, Danny. Forever. And ever. And ever.”

The Shining (1980), screenplay by Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson, novel by Stephen King

The Daily Dialogue theme for next week: Ghost.

Trivia: The script was constantly changing on set, sometimes several times a day. The cast got very irritated by this, especially Jack Nicholson. Whenever the production team would give the cast copies of the script to memorize, Jack Nicholson would throw his away without even looking at it, as he knew that it was only going to change again.

Dialogue On Dialogue: The twins are so creepy, made more so by the bloody images cut into their appearance.

See what I mean?

Daily Dialogue theme for next week: Foreigner

March 28th, 2015 by

The Daily Dialogue theme for next week: Foreigner.

“That’s a knife.”

Crocodile Dundee (1986)

Could be a foreigner here in North America. Or an American in an international setting. Hell, how about an alien from another planet. That would certainly qualify as a ‘foreigner’.

Take part in the grand Daily Dialogue tradition — 2,500+ consecutive days and counting! How about your suggestion for this week’s theme?

The usual drill:

* Copy/paste dialogue from IMDb Quotes or some other transcript source.

* Copy/paste the URL of an accompanying video from YouTube or some other video source.

I’d also ask you to think about why the dialogue is notable. Is there anything about the dialogue which provides some takeaway re screenwriting?

Here is our lineup for upcoming Daily Dialogue themes:

April 6-April 12: Interrogation
April 13-April 19: Amnesia
April 20-April 26: Betrayal
April 27-May 3: Stammer
May 4-May 10: Graduation

Check this out: The GITS Daily Dialogue Topic Index! You can read about Liz and Allie, two sisters who are big fans of the blog, and were inspired to create the index. A great resource for writers looking for inspiration for their own dialogue writing. You can be a part of this proud tradition with your ideas for weekly themes and Daily Dialogue suggestions.

Please post your ideas for this week’s theme — Foreigner — in comments. Thanks!

Spec Script Deal: “Temple”

March 28th, 2015 by

Erebus Pictures acquires action horror spec script “Temple” written by Matt Savelloni. From THR:

Temple was written by Matt Savelloni and will follow a team of highly trained operatives who get trapped inside an isolated military compound after its artificial intelligence is shut down. The team begins to experience strange and horrific phenomena as they try to determine who or what killed the team previously stationed there.

Savelloni is repped by Gersh and Kersey Management.

By my count, this is the 22nd spec script deal in 2015.

There were 18 spec script deals year-to-date in 2014.

Interview (Part 6): Sallie West (2014 Nicholl Winner)

March 28th, 2015 by

Sallie West wrote the original screenplay “Moonflower” which won the 2014 Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting. I had a great conversation with Sallie about her background, the writing of her award-winning screenplay, and how she approaches the writing craft. This week: That interview in 6 parts.

Today in Part 6, Sallie shares some thoughts on her approach to the screenwriting craft:

Scott: Let’s jump to some craft questions here, if you don’t mind. How do you come up with story ideas?

Sallie:  What a great question. I don’t know. I think of things that interest me and wonder if they could possibly be saleable. That’s what I’m trying to figure out now. Do you have any ideas? [laughs]

Scott:  I think everybody’s different on that front. There’s always room for stories that have compelling characters and richly drawn characters that have heart and emotion and depth to them.

Sallie:  I hope so.

Scott:  Yeah. Let’s talk about prep writing, because you said 18 months you spent on this process. Do you do outlining at all?

Sallie:  Yes, I do. That helps me to get things plugged in where they need to fall. I tend to write so lean that I struggle to populate 100+ pages.

Scott:  Of all the people I’ve interviewed, you may be the best to ask this question. How do you do research?

Sallie:  With the Internet, you can find anything you want in about four clicks.

Scott:  Just using the Internet?

Sallie:  Don’t say that?

Scott:  [laughs]

Sallie:  No, I read books, as well. I’m sure film school is the best approach, which is why I didn’t know what the hell a logline is! I started with the Internet and bought books– that doesn’t mean that’s how it should be done.

Scott:  Your characters are so wonderfully drawn. How do you go about developing them?

Sallie:  I invent people I like, people with whom I would like to spend time. People with depth and humor and humility, hopefully.

Scott:  That’s an interesting point. It’s like if you do that, then you’re more likely to finish the thing.

Sallie:  Right. If you didn’t like your people, it’d be hard to spend time with them. You’d want to whack them. [laughs]

Scott:  That also extends to dialogue. I would think that if you actually enjoyed the characters and liked them, given their faults and everything else, that you’d be much more likely to find their voices. Is that fair to say?

Sallie:  I think so.

Scott:   How about theme? Do you have a take on that?

Sallie:  I think Moonflower touches on:

  1. Excellence in one’s artistic vocation
  2. Redemption
  3. A variation of romantic love
  4. Autumn romance
  5. The Stradivarius mythology.

Scott Myers:  I thought there was something interesting going on with this moonflower idea. It blossoms at night, is that what you said?

Sallie:  They do, they bloom at night.

Scott:  So in a way, isn’t that symbolic of what emerges? They kind of miss each other. They have this experience in an almost transcendental way, but not in the daylight, the daylight of real life. You know what I mean?

Sallie:  Yes, I was drawn to the imagery it evokes. It is a vine and not only does it bloom at night, the blossoms are large, white, and round, they look like the moon. They are mysterious and sensuous. And most important, of course, Muriel named the cello for Gabriel Moon.

Scott:  You can run with that from now on.

Sallie:  [laughs]

Scott:  You can just ibid. me.


Sallie:  Thank you.

Scott:  What do you think about when you’re writing a scene? Do you have any specific goals in mind?

Sallie:  You have to figure out what needs to happen in that scene. I would probably proceed from a list drawn from one’s outline and then play with it and redo it and redo it and redo it. It doesn’t just roll right off. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of doing to get it right and then to get it pared down so that it, I don’t know, resonates properly.

Scott:  What’s your actual writing process?

Sallie:  I write at home. Sometimes I play music. A lot of times music helps me get into that writing zone.

Scott:  Here’s a fun question I like to ask writers. What’s your single best excuse not to write?

Sallie:  I’m not in the mood. No. But you know what? I’ve been writing long enough to know that there’s really no writer’s block. You just sit and you make yourself do it. You sit down until you do it.

Scott:  What do you like most about writing?

Sallie:  Oh gosh. Getting the words right. When you get it right, it’s so satisfying, but it takes quite a bit of crunching to get there. It’s worth it.

Scott:  So in an ideal world, Sallie, what are you doing in 5 years, 10 years?

Sallie:  Hopefully, I’m still vertical and writing screenplays that somebody wants to buy.

Scott:  Finally, what advice can you offer to aspiring screenwriters out there about learning the craft, working the craft, breaking in?

Sallie:  Don’t listen to that negative voice on your shoulder that says you’re wasting your time because you’re not good enough. Every writer in the world is visited by that same voice. When it shows up, brush it to the floor and squash it.

For Part 1, go here.

Part 2, here.

Part 3, here.

Part 4, here.

Part 5, here.

Saturday Hot Links

March 28th, 2015 by

Time for the 179th installment of Saturday Hot Links.

Today: The Classic 1950’s Science Fiction Serials Edition!

Deadline’s Too-Much-Diversity Article: Journalists Weigh In On Why It Hit a Nerve.

Related: The 13 Most Ignorant Quotes From That Awful Deadline Article.

VICE and HBO Enter Major Deal to Expand News Programming.

Related: HBO-Vice Deal Should Scare the S*** Out of TV News.

Twitter Launches Live-Streaming App Periscope.

Related: 16 Hollywood Stars to Follow on Periscope: Aaron Paul, Shonda Rhimes, Seth Meyers.

Related: Hollywood Jumping on Meerkat Bandwagon After App Dazzles at SXSW.

Hollywood’s New A-List: Lupita Nyong’o, Chris Pratt and the 15 Stars Getting All the Offers.

Hollywood’s Indie Darlings: Meet Six In-Demand Actors.

Start Your Morning Right With an Alarm Clock That Makes You Coffee.

How Silicon Valley Can Change Its Culture to Attract More Women.

Controversial Russian Tycoon Threatens to Sue 20th Century Fox.

Students Invent a Fire Extinguisher That Uses Sound.

HBO’s Going Clear should be the final nail in Scientology’s coffin.

Watch President Obama discuss the war on drugs with the creator of ‘The Wire’.

Balls of Steel: Which Screenwriting Experts Should You Believe?

Black List: 500 Feminist Films.

Black List: Age Is Just a Number…Right?

Chicks Who Script [podcast]: Episode Thirty-Three (Max Landis).

Chuck Wendig: Should you quit writing.

Gavin Polone on TV’s Dirty Secret: Your Agent Gets Money for Nothing.

The Dissolve [podcast]: Episode Thirty-Two.

Rolling Stone’s UVA Rape Story Review Will Be ‘Damning’.

Hollywood’s New Comedy Kings and Queens: Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer and, Yep, Zac Efron.

The creepy reality behind the Heinz-Kraft mega-deal.

Max Landis Shares His Full 4,700 Word Treatment For ‘Ghostbusters 3′ With Slimer, Gozer, & More.

You Can Now Download Pixar’s Rendering Software—For Free!

Quentin Tarantino’s List Of His 20 Favorite Spaghetti Westerns.

5 Ways Positive Thinking Can Transform Your Health.

Why Sundance Isn’t the Only Answer for Indie Filmmakers.

There’s no way around it: mastering creativity takes time.

The Four Types Of Will Ferrell Movies.

How to Change Your Habits with Dr. Art Markman.

Paul Feig to Hollywood: Solve Your Woman Problem, Don’t Just Accept It.

Nachos On A Stick Is Baseball’s Latest Attempt To Put Us Six Feet Under.

Great Resource: BBC Script Library.

29 Awesome Books With Strong Female Protagonists.

‘The Jinx’ Ushers in Golden Age for Documentaries, Fueled By Netflix Push.

9 Things Lost or Found on Trains.

The True Story of Pretty Woman’s Original Dark Ending.

The 100 most common words in Beatles songs.

Related: Lollapalooza 2015 Lineup Includes Paul McCartney, Metallica.

Banished From ‘The Breakfast Club’: Actress Recalls the Burn of Getting Cut From John Hughes’ Film.

11 American Behaviors That Are Considered Rude Around the World.

Life After the Finale: 20 TV Shows Brought Back From the Dead.

Related: Fox Revives ‘X-Files’ With Original Cast for Six-Episode Run.

10 Would-Be Assassins Who Tried To Kill Hitler.

6 Ways Virtual Reality Will Change Filmmaking.

Related: Film Is Not Dead.

50 Facts About Earth, From Top to Bottom.

Every Tom Hanks Movie in 7 Minutes (with Tom Hanks and James Corden).

Zombie Simulator Tells You The Best Place To Hide In Case Of Outbreak.

Paramount to Absorb Insurge Label.

11 Marvelous Mars Missions.

There’s One Big Plot Hole In ‘The Little Mermaid’ That Would Have Changed Everything.

8 Drivers Who Blindly Followed Their GPS Into Disaster.

25 Quotes from ‘Star Trek’ Space Philosopher Captain Kirk.

7 of the Biggest Treasure Troves Ever Found.

Could Producer Shivani Rawat Be the Next Megan Ellison?

50 free online courses for creatives and entrepreneurs.

Paramount Wants ‘Transformers’ to Become Marvel-Style Connected Universe.

Students are Building the World’s Largest Telescope.

10 Body Parts You Could Do Without.

Oppression by Omission: Women Soldiers Who Dressed and Fought as Men in the Civil War.

How to Stop Burnout, Reduce Stress & Boost Creativity.

China has built the highest bridge in the world.

A 12-Year-Old Girl Allegedly Tried To Poison Her Mom Twice After She Took Away Her iPhone.

Finally watch ‘Jurassic Park’ Re-Created with $100,000 Worth of LEGO Sets [video].

Screenwriting Master Class tip of the week: If there’s one question I get asked about screenwriting theory more than any other it’s what’s my deal with character archetypes? Here’s your chance to find out what that deal is with the Screenwriting Master Class course: Character Development Keys.

It’s a 1-week online class where you do pretty much everything on your own time schedule: download and read lectures, review and post comments on the public forums, upload ideas and optional writing exercises. You want to do that in bed in your pajamas sipping coffee? Be my guest!

There is one teleconference which is live, but I record and upload that, so you can even check that out on your own time, too.

As to the course itself, there are seven lectures written by yours truly:

1: Character Archetypes and Story Structure
2: Protagonist
3: Nemesis
4: Attractor
5: Mentor
6: Trickster
7: Switch Protagonist

The study script for the course: The Dark Knight, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, based on characters created by Bob Kane. If you’re a fan of this movie, that alone is probably reason enough to take this class because you will understand the film in a whole new way, through the lens of character archetypes.

In addition, you will get the opportunity to put the theories you learn into action by workshopping one of your own stories.

And as a bonus: I’ll be presenting a set of character development tools I have assembled over the years to help you dig into characters even further to uncover their unique personalities and voice.

This is a great chance to immerse yourself in what I consider to be one of the most fascinating and helpful ways of approaching character development and indeed, the story-crafting process as a whole: character archetypes.

All of that in only 1-week. The course runs begins Monday, March 31. And again, you can do the entire course in your pajamas! Sucking down caffeine! Devouring chocolate bon bons! The beauty of the online experience!

For more information, go here.

As always, I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!