Q&A (Video): “Moonlight” cast and crew

October 23rd, 2016 by

A post-screening Q&A with Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Trevante Rhodes and Writer-Director Barry Jenkins from the movie Moonlight:

A trailer for the movie:

Via the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.

Daily Dialogue — October 23, 2016

October 23rd, 2016 by

Deep Throat: You let Haldeman slip away.
Bob Woodward: Yes.
Deep Throat: You’ve done worse than let Haldeman slip away: you’ve got people feeling sorry for him. I didn’t think that was possible. In a conspiracy like this, you build from the outer edges and go step by step. If you shoot too high and miss, everybody feels more secure. You’ve put the investigation back months.

All the President’s Men (1976), screenplay by William Goldman,

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Cover Up, suggested by Will King.

Trivia: The two lead actors memorized each other’s lines so that they could both interrupt each other in character. This unsettled a lot of the actors they were playing opposite, leading to a greater sense of verisimilitude.

Dialogue On Dialogue: One of the best political movies ever, the Deep Throat character, a Mentor figure, provides a gripping take on the most notorious cover-up in American history.

Daily Dialogue theme next week: Discipline

October 22nd, 2016 by

The Daily Dialogue theme next week: Discipline.

“Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

Discipline is an interesting theme. Who is doling out the discipline? Who is the recipient? Plus there is self-discipline. That should provide fodder 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 related to the craft of writing? If so, feel free to lay that wisdom on us.

Consecutive days of Daily Dialogue posts: 3,082.

Be a part of the proud Daily Dialogue tradition, make a suggestion, and have your name emblazoned on a blog post which will forever hold a hallowed spot in the Go Into The Story archives!

Upcoming schedule of themes:

October 31-November 6: All Is Lost [Melinda]
November 7-November 13: Embarrassment
November 14-November 20: Bechdel Test [Will King]
November 21-November 27: Enthusiasm
November 28-December 4: Alien Invasion [Michael Waters]
December 5-December 11: Excuse
December 12-December 18: Fish Out Of Water [Will King]
December 19-December 25: Faith
December 26-January 1: Failure [Will King and Melinda]

Be sure to post your ideas for this week’s theme: Discipline.

Continued thanks to all of you Daily Dialogue devotees, your suggested dialogue and dialogue themes. Grateful for your ongoing support of this series.

Saturday Hot Links

October 22nd, 2016 by

Saturday Hot Links

Time for the 260th installment of Saturday Hot Links, your week’s essential reading about movies, TV, streaming, Hollywood, and other things of writerly interest.

2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay.

How Disney Companies Like Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm Maintain Their Creative Cultures.

Wanda to Unveil Massive 40 Percent Incentive to Lure Hollywood Film Shoots to China.

Why Women Rule This Fall Movie Season.

16 Key Changes Between ‘The Girl on the Train’ Book and Movie.

Warren Beatty’s New Movie Has 16 Credited Producers: “It’s Deplorable”.

Warner Bros. Rebooting ‘Willy Wonka’.

Imax, Warner Bros. Sign 12-Picture Deal, Extend Long-Term Partnership.

Time Warner in Talks to Merge With AT&T.

Peter Chernin Poised for Top Time Warner Role if $85 Billion AT&T Deal Closes.

From Hollywood to Silicon Beach, L.A. Creatives are Plotting Virtual Reality’s Boom.

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather Notebook’ Details the Making of a Classic.Ava DuVernay’s 13th and the Importance of Telling True Stories.

Michael Moore Unveils Secret Donald Trump Movie.Ava DuVernay Suggested These Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reshoots that Put the Focus on Rey’s Perspective.

Joss Whedon on a Lot of Stuff.

Harry Shearer Sues Vivendi’s Universal, Studiocanal for $125 Million Over Music Copyrights to ‘Spinal Tap’.

Tom Cruise, John Wick, and the New Hollywood Gunfight.

AFF 2016: Complete List of Screenplay and Film Competition Jury Award Winners.

The Black List Partners with Autograph Collection Hotels for Sundance Social Space.

How genre cinema fueled our collective fear of killer clowns.

Reflecting on ‘The Leftovers’ Leads The Mind to a Weird Place.

Can Lifetime’s ‘UnREAL’ Overcome Its Behind-the-Scenes Chaos?

The Strategy Behind Discovery’s $100M Bid for Millennials.

How Amazon Became a Major Player in Half-Hour Television.

Fandor Is Now Available to Prime Members on Amazon Channels.

Twitter Fires Its New Head of VR After Two Days.

NBCUniversal Investing Another $200M in BuzzFeed.

20 Great Podcasts Under 25 Minutes Long.

The Twin Peaks Character Backstories We Learn From Mark Frost’s New Novel.

Bob Dylan Won’t Return the Nobel Committee’s Calls.

Listen: Broken Projector (Episode 25).

Listen: Scriptnotes (Episode 272).

Watch: That’s Amore – Evil Laughs & Smiles.

Watch: A Writer and Three Script Editors Walk Into a Bar.

Watch: Every Tom Cruise Run. Ever.

Watch: Hitchcock Meets Kubrick.

Watch: Steven Spielberg Channeled His Inner Stanley Kubrick.

Watch: Akiva Goldsman talking about working with Ron Howard on ‘A Beautiful Mind’.

Watch: Fury Road: An Unconventional Comic Book Film?

Watch: Where Do We Go From Here? A Supercut of the Future.

Interview (Written): Marianne and Cormac Wibberley

October 22nd, 2016 by

A Script magazine interview with husband and wife screenwriting duo Marianne and Cormac Wibberley, whose movie credits include National Treasure and its sequel, Bad Boys 2, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, G-Force, The Shaggy Dog, and I Spy.

NM: How much research do you do when preparing to write a script? Do you travel, visit libraries, talk to people, buy books?

TW: We do lots of research. We buy tons of books on Amazon, we Google, we Wiki, but we hate to travel, so we use GoogleEarth and read reviews on TripAdvisor a lot…

Cormac is an avid reader. He’s usually reading three books and a couple scripts at any given moment.

Marianne is more ADHD. She’s an internet sleuth who’s more likely to have ten active windows open on her laptop than books.

NM: What’s your writing process like?

TW: We outline. We like (hate) to pitch because you can tell by the reactions of the people you’re pitching to what’s working and where your story needs more work.

We do like the post-its method. You can stick them to any wall. No corkboard required.

We also take long walks with our two rescue German Shepherds and discuss story or what we need to write in the next scene.

Cormac and Marianne Wibberley

NM: How do you approach rewrites?

TW: From the characters. We get so many scripts that are filled with plotty plots and no character. We always say that people will watch any story as long as they’re engaged with the hero. What’s the hero’s problem? What does he/she think s/he wants? What does s/he really need?

When you come into a pitch for a rewrite armed with this, it’s much better than coming in with the hero does this, and then that, and then this, and then that.

This holds for anything you’re working on, by the way.

For the rest of the interview, go here.

Twitter: @dottiehudson.

Daily Dialogue — October 22, 2016

October 22nd, 2016 by

“The organizing principle of any society, Mr. Garrison, is for war. The authority of the state over its people resides in its war powers. Kennedy wanted to end the Cold War in his second term. He wanted to call off the moon race and cooperate with the Soviets. He signed a treaty to ban nuclear testing. He refused to invade Cuba in 1962. He set out to withdraw from Vietnam. But all that ended on the 22nd of November, 1963.”

JFK (1991), screenplay by Oliver Stone & Zachary Sklar, book by Jim Garrison and Jim Marrs

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Cover Up, suggested by Will King.

Trivia: Oliver Stone showed this film in December of 1991 to all of Congress on Capitol Hill. It led to the 1992 Assassinations Disclosure Act

Dialogue On Dialogue: The greatest cover-up in U.S. political history… maybe?

Reader Question: Are there specific ways to simplify and focus a story?

October 21st, 2016 by

A question from Zach:

Anyone know of any specific ways to simplify a story? I feel like I lose touch with my main idea pretty quickly.

There must be some comparable aspects between essays and screenwriting…

Short of knowing the specifics of your situation, here are a few general thoughts.

1. I think your instinct is correct about there being something “comparable” between essays and screenwriting. In an essay, you typically have a central theme upon and around which you craft your ‘story.’ Likewise a good screenplay will almost always have a central theme. For example, the movie Tootsie has a theme that Michael (Dustin Hoffman) states point blank: “I was a better man as a woman than I was as a man.” You can go through virtually every scene in the movie that involves Michael / Dorothy and see that theme at work. Likewise in the movie K-9, I knew from day 1 the central theme of that story: The dog humanizes the human. Again you can see that at work in every scene of the movie.

So ask yourself a question: What is the central theme of my movie? If you can’t answer that question, then that’s probably an area where you would benefit spending some time brainstorming.

2. While the theme is basically an expression of a movie’s central ‘wisdom,’ don’t forget how important your story’s underlying concept is. For example, take the movie District 9 where the central story concept is – set against a backdrop of aliens having landed on Earth, stuck here, and living in apartheid type camps – about a Protagonist (Wikus) who becomes ‘infected’ by alien fluid and begins to transform into a ‘Prawn.’ That central concept not only informs the events of the plot, it also provides the backbone of the Themeline where Wikus moves from a rather racist attitude toward the aliens into sympathy and understanding of them.

So ask yourself a question: What is my story concept? You should be able to articulate that in a few lines, quickly and cleanly. If you can’t, then again, probably an area where you can spend more time digging into your story.

3. In my view, most stories lose their focus in Act Two or even Act Three because the writer has failed to answer some basic questions at the very beginning of the story. So here are some fundamental questions you should be able to answer about your story before you type FADE IN:

Who is the Protagonist?
The central and most important character in most stories.

What do they want?
P is typically conscious of this External World goal.

What do they need?
P is typically unconscious of or repressing their Internal World goal.

Who is keeping the P from their goal?
This is most likely your Nemesis.

Understanding who your Protagonist and Nemesis characters are, and what is at the core of their central conflict, is critical in shaping the spine of your plot, and also in how P’s needs emerge into the daylight and reshape who they are and how they see their ultimate goal.

There are other character questions you can ask, but for starters, there are the most critical. Now some plot questions:

What happens at the beginning of Act One?
How does your P begin the story?

What happens at the end of Act One?
What event thrusts the P out of their ordinary world and into the new world / world of adventure (per J. Campbell)?

What happens at the end of Act Two?
What plot point is a major blow to the P per their goal, an All Is Lost moment?

What happens at the end of Act Three?
How does your P end the story / what transpires in the Final Struggle?

Once again, if you can’t answer all those questions with a good deal of clarity, then you would do well to go into your story even deeper than you have.

A final piece of advice: Watch movies and read scripts. As you do that, pay close attention to how they keep their stories on track. In fact, you might benefit from doing a scene-by-scene breakdown as I did here for Shakespeare in Love. It’s a great way to visualize the ‘spine’ of a story and to see how in a well-crafted script, every scene is tied to and advances both the Plotline and the Themeline.

How about other GITS readers? What advice might you have for Zach simplify and focus a story?

Free Screenwriting Resource: 115 Words for “Walks” / 90 Words for “Looks”

October 21st, 2016 by

Other than poetry, there may be no narrative platform where every word choice is as critical as it is in a screenplay. Whenever we write a scene, we use words to create images… because movies are primarily a visual medium.

So when I teach and work with writers, I stress the importance of loving the language. Use it. Vivid descriptors… and especially active verbs.

To that end, I was pleased when GITS reader Alan Donahue put together lists of alternates for two verbs I see overused in scripts waaaaaaaaaayyyy too much: Walk and Look. There are times when they are appropriate, but honestly, why have a character walk when they can stumble, shuffle, stride, or strut?

Cat Strut

Why have them look when they can ogle, leer, stare or glare?


Motion. Pictures. Both words imply the imagematic nature of the medium. Therefore use your words!

You can download the PDF 115 Words for “Walks” here and 90 Words for “Looks” here.

Go here to access links to all of the select group of Free Screenwriting Resources from Go Into The Story.

Each day in October, I’m going to highlight a screenwriting resource available on the blog. Why? Because with over 20,000 posts and 80+ archived topics, I want to make sure readers are aware of the many assets available here for reading and research. And they are all free!

Classic International Movie: “Seven Samurai”

October 21st, 2016 by

October is classic international movies month. Today’s guest post comes from Will King.

Movie Title: Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai).

Year: 1954

Writers: Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto & Hideo Oguni.

Lead Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, Daisuke Katô, Isao Kimura, Yoshio Inaba.

Director: Akira Kurosawa.

IMDb Plot Summary: A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

Why I Think This Is A Classic International Movie

A classic is something that leaves a permanent impression on an audience, a culture, a society. It might be notable because it broke ground in some way, or fused an idea or ideal into our collective consciousness. In the case of Seven Samurai, like many other films before and since, it inspired a notable imitation which was not a direct remake, and continues to inspire films and writers.

My Favorite Moment In The Movie

Kikuchiyo enters the story as a clown, a drunken brawler who claims to be a samurai and produces a scroll which purports to demonstrate his family’s noble heritage. When questioned about which item represents him, the other samurai have a good laugh when they realize that the person Kikuchiyo claims to be should only be 13 years old. Undaunted by their rejection, Kikuchiyo follows the group to the remote village determined to prove his worth as a samurai.

It is in the village where Kikuchiyo’s actual history comes to the fore when he becomes agitated by the fears and weaknesses of the farmers. It is in his tirade against the famers that we finally learn that he is the child of farmers, a fact he detests.

KIKUCHIYO: What do you think of farmers? You think they’re saints? Hah! They’re foxy beasts! They say, “We’ve got no rice, we’ve no wheat. We’ve got nothing!” But they have! They have everything! Dig under the floors! Or search the barns! You’ll find plenty! Beans, salt, rice, sake! Look in the valleys, they’ve got hidden warehouses! They pose as saints but are full of lies! If they smell a battle, they hunt the defeated! They’re nothing but stingy, greedy, blubbering, foxy, and mean! God damn it all! (He hurls a handful of arrows into the wall.) But then who made them such beasts? You did! You samurai did it! You burn their villages! Destroy their farms! Steal their food! Force them to labour! Take their women! And kill them if they resist! So what should farmers do? (Kikuchiyo suddenly sinks to his knees, bending his head. He begins to sob uncontrollably.) Damn… damn… damn… damn…
(Kambei unfolds his arms and looks down at the palms of his hands.)
KAMBEI SHIMADA: (Quietly, after a long pause.) You were the son of a farmer, weren’t you?

My Favorite Dialogue In the Movie

While always downplaying his skill as a samurai, Kambei Shimada is a good leader figure, always planning the defense of the village and thinking about how the bandits will attack. His particular skill at strategic thinking is demonstrated by his conversation with Gorobei.

KAMBEI SHIMADA: Take the north. That’s where we’ll battle it out.
GOROBEI KATAYAMA: If you knew that, why didn’t you build a fence there, too?
KAMBEI SHIMADA: Every great castle needs a breach. Draw the enemy there and attack. You can’t win by defense alone.

Key Things You Should Look For When Watching This Movie

Many film aficionados are familiar with the classic American western The Magnificent Seven (1960), but not as many are aware that it was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film Seven Samurai. If you have seen The Magnificent Seven, you’ll no doubt recognize many of the characters and scenes as they made their way from Kurosawa’s film to John Sturges’ version.

There are many differences, of course, one of them being length. While the American film runs 128 minutes, Seven Samurai clocks in at 207 minutes (3 hours 27 minutes). While this might seem long by just looking at the running time, the film doesn’t feel long. In fact, it has a more leisurely sense about telling the story. Not confined by modern American concepts about running time and audience fatigue, Kurosawa made a film that doesn’t rush to fit all the needed character development into the first few minutes so he can get on with showing the battle action. Sufficient time is spent revealing the characters as first the desperation of the farmers is developed, and then the team of samurai is assembled. There are false starts, mistakes, uncertain decisions. We get to know these people, their situations, their hopes and fears, their skills and weaknesses as each scene reveals more about them. If anything was left out, it was development of the antagonistic force. In this part of the story, the American film spent time making Calvera a sympathetic villain, whereas the bandit chief and his gang are not much more than violent thugs who provide the need for heroes in Seven Samurai.

The musical score was produced by Fumio Hayasaka. At times the score is beautiful, while at other moments the score seems vaguely reminiscent of a Godzilla soundtrack. (Toho Studios, which produced Seven Samurai, also owns the Godzilla franchise.)

Also of note is the stunning cinematography by Asakazu Nakai. From the opening scene of the bandit horsemen cresting the hills as silhouettes, it is the cinematography that constantly sets the tone of each scene. Nakai beautifully frames shots for emphasis, such as using wooden posts and beams of the building to frame the samurai as they sit quietly watching a drunken Kikuchiyo lash out, or the way Manzo is framed against the reclined form of his sobbing daughter in the background when her affair with Katsushirō is discovered.

Thanks, Will!

To show our gratitude for your guest post, here’s a dash of creative juju for you. Whoosh!

We already have a set of classic 30s movies, 40s movies, 5os movies, 60s Movies, 70s movies, 80s Movies and 90s Movies. This month, we’re working on classic international movies. And thanks to the GITS community, we’ve got at least 22 movies in the works and hopefully more!

Those who I put in bold have already sent me their posts. If you haven’t sent yours to me, please do so as soon as you can!!!

3 Idiots – Abhinav Tiwari
A Prophet – Paul Graunke
Akira – Clay Mitchell
Amelie – Kevin Curran
Belle Epoque – Melinda Mahaffey
Cinema Paradiso – Traci Nell Peterson
Diabolique – Sherin Nicole
Jules et Jim – Susan Winchell
Kolya – Melinda Mahaffey
Lady Vengeance – David Joyner
Millennium Actress – Chris Neumann
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies – John Henderson
Reprise – Wally Marzano-Lesnevich
Seven Samurai – Will King
The Lives of Others – Paul Graunke
The Tenant – Marija Nielsen
This Man Must Die – Marija Nielsen

NOTE: Looking for more volunteers, your chance to memorialize your favorite international movie and yourself as a contributor to our ongoing blog series on classic movies. Need 4 more volunteers!

Also if you have volunteered and haven’t yet sent me your analysis, please do ASAP. Thanks!

Script To Screen: “Pan’s Labyrinth”

October 21st, 2016 by

The scene in the 2006 movie Pan’s Labyrinth, written by Guillermo del Toro, wherein the Protagonist (Ofelia) moves out of the Ordinary World and into the Extraordinary World, courtesy of the Trickster: Faun.

Story Summary: In the fascist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.


The Green Fairy alights on an ancient monolith at the edge of an 
empty stone pool. It's decorated in Celtic lettering, just 
like the one in the forest.

Another monolith stands at its center. 

Ofelia nears the edge of the pool.


The pool returns her cry, again and again. The tree trunks 
creak­ and a cloud covers the moon.

Echo! Echo!

Then, she hears the sound of something big clattering about 
on hooves, like a horse or a bull.

It's you­- It's you­- You've returned!!

The VOICE is cold and full of sibilance. The cloud moves 

On its hind quarters in the shadows is the twisted and 
sinister figure of a FAUN. He's covered in roots and moss.

Ofelia backs away­- speechless.

No­- no­- don't be afraid­- I beg you!!

He opens a small wicker basket and from it emerge two more 

Ofelia smiles.

My name is Ofelia. Who are you?

Me? I've had so many names. Old names 
that only the wind and the trees can 

The Green Fairy flies toward its colorful companions.

I am the mountain, the forest and the
earth. I am... a faun.

As he bows to her, moonlight dapples his body. His coarse 
hooves and the strange angle of his legs make his courtly 
manner clumsy yet oddly gracious.

Your Highness­-

No, I'm- ­

You are Princess Moanna, daughter of the 
King of the Underworld.

No­- My father was a tailor.

You are not born of man. It was the moon 
that bore you. 

Look on your left shoulder and you will 
find a mark that proves it.

Ofelia instinctively touches her shoulder, with a strange 
expression on her face.

Your real father had us open portals all 
over the world to allow your return. This 
is the last of them.

He opens his arm and gestures at the well around them.

But we have to make sure that your
essence is intact, that you have not 
become a mortal.

To insure your return, you have three 
tasks to fulfill ­- before the moon is 

The Faun steps back a few paces. He deposits a large leather 
bound book on the ground, as well as a leather bag.

This is the Book of Crossroads. Open it
when you're alone and it will show you 
your future ­ show you what must be done.

Then he and the Fairies fade back into the shadows.

Ofelia goes to the book and opens it. No matter how many 
pages she turns­-

-­they are all blank.

There's nothing here­-

But she is alone. Absolutely alone in the well. 

Here is the scene in the movie:

What changes do you spot between the script version and the film version? What other observations can you make how del Toro transitioned from the written word to cinematic images?

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.