Daily Dialogue — February 8, 2016

February 8th, 2016 by

O’HOULIHAN: Bastards!
CORPSMAN: Uh, Major, what went on over there?
O’HOULIHAN: Where’s Colonel Blake?
CORPSMAN: Wait a second, you can’t go see Colonel Blake.
O’HOULIHAN: You shut up you twerp!

Major O’Houlihan barges into Lt. Colonel Blake’s tent, interrupting an intimate moment.

O’HOULIHAN: This isn’t a hospital, it’s an insane asylum, and it’s your fault because you don’t do anything to discourage them!
BLAKE: What do you want me to do?
O’HOULIHAN: Put them under arrest. See what a court martial thinks of their drunken hooliganism. At first they called me Hot Lips and you let them get away with it. And then you let them get away with everything. If you don’t turn them over to the MPs this minute, I’m going to resign my commission!
BLAKE: God dammit, Hot Lips, resign your goddamn comission.
O’HOULIHAN: My commission! My commission!

M*A*S*H (1970), screenplay by Ring Lardner Jr. based on the novel by Richard Hooker

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Annoying. Today’s suggestion by Will King.

Trivia: The first take of the shot where Hot Lips is revealed in the shower didn’t work because Sally Kellerman anticipated the reveal and was already lying on the floor when the tent flap went up. To distract her, Robert Altman and Gary Burghoff entered the shower tent and dropped their trousers while the shot was rolling outside. While Kellerman was staring at them, the tent flap was raised, resulting in her genuine surprise and shock when she realized what had happened. In the special double disc dvd they say that Radar is standing naked beside the camera and that that’s the reason why Sally Kellerman looks so surprised when the flap was raised.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Will: “Just prior to this scene the camp witnessed Hot Lips taking her shower when the shower tent’s side was rigged to open. Embarrassed and enraged, Hot Lips’ patience is finally pushed beyond the breaking point and she confronts Colonel Blake about his (lack of) leadership at the base.”

Zero Draft Thirty Spring 2016 Challenge: Coming in March!

February 7th, 2016 by

Do you have a story you want to write? A feature length movie screenplay? An original TV pilot? A web series pilot? A novel? Short story? An epic length limerick?

The Zero Draft Thirty Spring 2016 Challenge is for you!

March 1: You type FADE IN / Once upon a time.

March 30: You type FADE OUT / And they all lived happily ever after.

Hold on. I’ve just heard from the proper authorities that our request for an additional day in March has been granted. So technically, you’ve got 31 days, but since we’ve already got all the invitations printed as Zero Draft Thirty, we’ll just keep it at that.

In any event, here is some background on exactly what the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge is. On October 15, 2015, I posted this, inviting people to join me in November as I pounded out a draft of a comedy script. Hundreds of people responded.

So I posted this a few days later. Hundreds more people enlisted in the cause.  We even got a groovy visual to go along with the initiative:

ZD30 Photoshop Front Page

Then every day for 30 days in November, I did a Zero Draft Thirty post with inspirational writing quotes, videos, and handed out a daily Trumbo Award to the person who was deemed worthy for their efforts in supporting our collective cause.

A Facebook group emerged from the process, now with over 600 members. The Challenge was written up in Indiewire. Translated into Spanish. Got its own hashtag on Twitter: #ZD30SCRIPT.

Eventually over 1000 writers joined up for the Challenge. Via Facebook, Twitter, or email, nearly 200 writers let me know they had finished their Zero Drafts.

In processing all of this and noting how I had long promoted the idea that we should aim to write two scripts per year, I thought why not do a spring ZDT Challenge and a fall ZDT Challenge.

Hence the Zero Draft Thirty 2016 Spring Challenge in March.

And you are cordially invited.

Here is a ZDT primer:

Why did you start Zero Draft Thirty?

NaNoWriMo, the write a novel in a month outfit, used to run Script Frenzy, but stopped it in 2012. So why not fill that space here to coincide with our writerly cohorts as they plow through their novels?

Why the name Zero Draft Thirty?

When I posted the initial announcement, I made a point that this is not about writing perfect pages, rather this is about pounding out a first draft. I noted how some writers call that initial iteration of a script a vomit draft. Some a muscle draft. And some a zero draft. GITS reader Orange Pop came up with a great title: Zero Draft Thirty.

Zero Draft = Get The Damn Thing Done Draft!
Thirty = November 1-November 30

You can shorthand it: ZDT or ZD30.

You mentioned Twitter. Does the Challenge have a hashtag?

Indeed it does. As you may know, I am all over Twitter, currently with 34,000 followers (@GoIntoTheStory). So whenever you Tweet anything to do with ZDT, use this hashtag:

#ZD30SCRIPT

What if we want to write a TV pilot or rewrite a script?

Absolutely you can use ZDT for any scripted project. In fact, I’m going to be rewriting – again – the script I wrote in November.

So how do we interact?

Every day at 6PM Eastern / 3PM Pacific, I will do a ZDT post here. In it, I will include an inspirational quote, perhaps some reflections on the quote, add a motivaitonal video, I don’t have that all figured out, I’m just going to feel my way through it. I’m sure you folks will have some ideas or comments which will inspire me to feature something in the daily posts.

The daily posts are cool, but again where’s the interaction part?

As you know, my posts have a comments section. That means you can click Comment and write something on any/all of the ZDT daily posts. Then I will read your comments. Other writers will read your comments. I’ll post comments on your comments. Other writers will post comments on your comments. It will be comments, comments, comments all day, all night. That’s interaction. Of course, we could all choose a resort location, fly there, and interact, but all those mixed drinks with little umbrellas get in the way of writing, so we best stick with comments.

What sort of comments should we make?

Anything you want, but since the whole point of the ZDT Challenge is to motivate each of us to pound out pages and get from FADE IN to FADE OUT, at the very least, I would hope you drop in often — ideally on a daily basis — and let us know how many pages you wrote in the previous 24 hours. But feel free to share your joy… or your pain. If you need a boost, ask for it. If you feel inspired, share your insights.

So the comments are really about creating a supportive environment, right?

You took the words right out of my mouth… fingers… keyboard.

I heard you would do ‘writing scampers’. What’s that about?

Several pro writers including Jane Espenson and John August from time to time invite people via Twitter to join them in 1 hour writing sprints. We came up with writing scampers as a way of embracing the Zero Draft spirit. I’d do them most every day during the Challenge as would others. It’s a great way to feel the support of other writers knowing while you’re in a writing scamper, other Scamperers are with you.

What’s this thing you mentioned about The Trumbo Award?

I had an inspiration: What if each day, I select one writer based on their comments and celebrate their creative effort with this:

HSW Dalton Trumbo Bathtub Award

See that guy? That’s Dalton Trumbo. You can read about him here. He’s a famous screenwriter. But in relation to the ZDT Challenge, it’s all about the bathtub. I mean, dude liked to write in the tub. In fact, there’s even a statue of Trumbo in his home town of Grand Junction, Colorado… in the bathtub!

So obviously we just gotta give out The Trumbo Award every day to the ZDT participant with the best comment. I mean, c’mon, right? It’s a photo. Of a screenwriter. Writing. In a bathtub! Hopefully this hallowed award will come to be known simply as… The Trumbo. As in, “Dude, I posted an awesome comment at GITS, and I totally won The Trumbo!”

Any other ZDT motivational goodies?

Two writers, Chris Neumann and Shelly Artello, created ZD30 calendars for November. Hopefully we can crowdsource a calendar or two for the March challenge. It’s amazing how something as tangible as a calendar can serve as a motivational tool.

So I post script pages here?

NO!!! YOU DO NOT POST SCRIPT PAGES!!! THEY ARE YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY!!! YOU WANT TO PROTECT YOUR CREATIVE OUTPUT!!! AGAIN… DO NOT POST SCRIPT PAGES HERE!!!

WAIT. SORRY. THE VOLUME LEVEL GOT STUCK ON 11. LET ME DIAL… IT… DOWN…

Ah, got it. Just to underscore this point, the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge is all about one thing: Motivating each of us to write a script draft. That’s the focus. Not reviewing script pages. Not networking. Use the Challenge to get from FADE IN to FADE OUT.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please post in comments.

The Zero Draft Thirty 2016 Spring Challenge.

March 1: Type FADE IN / In the Beginning.
March 31: Type FADE OUT / The End.

30 31 days. A first draft of an original story.

It’s cool! It’s crazy! It’s free!

Don’t forget the Zero Draft Thirty Facebook group. A terrific collection of folks who post things every day, even when we’re not in a challenge.

So calling all Zeronauts, Outlaws, Scamperers, and Writing Warriors. Who’s up for pounding out a Zero Draft in March? LET’S DO THIS THING!

Video: “John Lasseter Looks Back on 30 Years of Pixar”

February 7th, 2016 by

Last week to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of Pixar, the company put out this short video featuring John Lasseter, Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Studios Chief Creative Officer, and his reflections on why the studio has become so successful as a movie company:

An excerpt of Lasseter’s comments:

What makes a Pixar movie a Pixar movie. First its roots are based in the work of Walt Disney. Story is king. Story is the most important thing. You want it to really resonate with the audience… You want the movies to touch people. And that really is kind of a hallmark of Walt, make them funny, make them beautiful, make them scary, but in the end you want that heart of the movie to be so strong.

Story. Resonate. Touch people. Heart. It’s interesting. I have conversations with people who work in the movie and TV business all the time. They all want scripts with a strong story concept. Solid structure. Memorable scenes. And all the rest. However at the end of the day, perhaps the most important thing they’re looking for is this: They want to feel something.

So perhaps that’s a big reason why Pixar has been so successful. Guided by their own philosophy, they make movies with resonate with people and connect with them on an emotional level.

Something for writers to remember.

Video via the Walt Disney Company.

Screenwriting News (February 1-February 7, 2016)

February 7th, 2016 by

This week’s writing deals and movie project news.

Michael Bacall writing untitled Bacall & Gordon-Levitt musical project for Universal Pictures.

Michael Bronner adapting “The Marriott Cell” for The Development Partnership.

Trey Callaway and Rick Parks sells action spec script “Smoke on the Water” to Thunder Road Pictures.

Carlton Cuse and Ryan Condal rewriting “Rampage” for New Line Cinema.

Zach Dean rewriting “24 Hours To Live” for Fundamental Films and Thunder Road Pictures.

Sarah Heyward writing comedy “You Bet!” for Universal Pictures.

Steven Knight scripted “Woman Walks Ahead” with Black Bicycle Entertainment and the Bedford Falls Company.

Patrick Kopka and Casey LaScala adapting “Clouds” for Warner Bros. Pictures.

Oliver Kramer sells spec script “Leverage” to FilmNation.

Will Osborne and Jenny Laird writing “Magic Tree House: Christmas in Camelot” for Lionsgate.

Andrew Neel and Mike Roberts adapting Rolling Stone article “Zola” for Killer Films, Rabbit Bandini Productions, and Gigi Productions.

Rodney Rothman scripted “The Something” greenlit at Universal Pictures.

Mark L. Smith writing “Conquest” for Paramount Pictures.

Dan Studney and Rick Sordelet scripted “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” greenlit at Twentieth Century Fox.

Gary Scott Thompson sets up “Champion” with Storyscape Entertainment and Pioneer Pictures.

Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer writing “Colette” for Bold Films.

John August: “Common Mistakes Made By New Screenwriters”

February 7th, 2016 by

A list from screenwriter John August:

  • STARTING WITH A CONCEPT RATHER THAN A CHARACTER
    We don’t want a movie about a lost relic. We want a movie about Indiana Jones.

  • BEING TOO NICE TO THE HEROES
    I’m glad you love them. Now make them do something and suffer.

  • TRYING TO ADAPT THEIR FAVORITE BOOK
    It will only end in tears, because the thing that makes the book so great is probably not what would make a great movie. Adaptation is more like transmutation. It’s arcane narrative distillery and not a great first way to begin your screenwriting journey.

  • STOCK SCENES
    Hitting the alarm clock. Complicated Starbucks order. Harried mom making breakfast. Parents at the principal’s office. Guys watching football game. You may think a stock scene will help shorthand the hero or world, but it just makes us stop paying attention. Unless you’re presenting a parody/inversion of a stock scene, do anything else.

  • D&D SCENE DESCRIPTION
    “This small bedroom has a twin bed, a bookshelf and a desk. There are two lamps, both lit.”

  • CHARACTERS WITH CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR NAMES
    Wait, was Lucy or Lisa the girl in the museum?

  • SHOE LEATHER
    You rarely need to walk characters into and out of a scene. Most scenes can just be the heart of the idea and done. No doors, no hellos, no goodbyes.

  • STARTING OFF IN FINAL DRAFT
    If you were writing a song, you wouldn’t sit down with Finale and start dragging in notes. You would use a guitar or piano and start figuring out a melody. You would futz around until you had something you thought was good, and then finally jot it down. You wouldn’t make tidy sheet music until you were ready to show it to someone. Scenes are songs. They shouldn’t be made pretty until they are good.

Any of these ring a bell for you?

Via The List App.

Spec Script Deal: “Smoke on the Water”

February 7th, 2016 by

Thunder Road acquires action spec script “Smoke on the Water” written by Trey Callaway and Rick Parks. From Tracking Board:

Details are being kept under wraps, but the story is set in the world of offshore boat racing, open water drug smuggling and the U.S. Coast Guard–exploring the “nautical narcotic highway” from Cuba to Key West.

The angle for the project is to launch a new action franchise centering on what has now become a high-tech world of drug trafficking off the Florida coast–with an emphasis on the cinematically untapped world of Cuba, which presents fascinating new possibilities in light of the softening of the U.S.’s embargo policies.

Callaway is repped by CAA and Rain Management Group.

Parks is repped by Silvera Management.

By my count, this is 3rd spec script deal of 2016.

There were 6 spec script deals year-to-date in 2015.

Daily Dialogue — February 7, 2016

February 7th, 2016 by

Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Yeah?
Billy Kramer: I’m sorry.
Ted Kramer: I’m sorry too. I want you to go to sleep because it’s really late.
Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Now what is it?
Billy Kramer: Are you going away?
Ted Kramer: No. I’m staying here with you. You can’t get rid of me that easy.
Billy Kramer: That’s why Mommy left, isn’t it? Because I was bad?
Ted Kramer: Is that what you think? No. That’s not it, Billy. Your mom loves you very much… and the reason she left has nothing to do with you. I don’t know if this will make sense, but I’ll try to explain it to you. I think the reason why Mommy left… was because for a long time… I kept trying to make her be a certain kind of person. A certain kind of wife that I thought she was supposed to be. And she just wasn’t like that. She was… She just wasn’t like that. I think that she tried for so long to make me happy… and when she couldn’t, she tried to talk to me about it. But I wasn’t listening. I was too busy, too wrapped up… just thinking about myself. And I thought that anytime I was happy, she was happy. But I think underneath she was very sad. Mommy stayed here longer than she wanted because she loves you so much. And the reason why Mommy couldn’t stay anymore… was because she couldn’t stand me. She didn’t leave because of you. She left because of me. Go to sleep now because it’s really late, okay? Good night. Sleep tight.
Billy Kramer: Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
Ted Kramer: See you in the morning light.
Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Yeah?
Billy Kramer: I love you.
Ted Kramer: I love you too.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1980), screenplay by Robert Benton, novel by Avery Corman

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Abandoned, recommended by by ymep1.

Trivia: Meryl Streep requested changes to her character, as she felt that the story was relying on the audience to understand why Joanna left without letting Joanna express it for herself. It was her belief that the character as written, in both the screenplay and the book, was too one-dimensional, an obvious villain for Ted and Billy to react to and change their lives accordingly.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Billy’s reaction to his mother’s departure is typical of children, blaming themselves. That kind of guilt is something they can grasp. At first, a parent abandoning them is too challenging to accept.

Daily Dialogue theme next week: Annoying

February 6th, 2016 by

Daily Dialogue theme next week: Annoying.

Okay, this should be fun. Lots and lots of annoying characters and behaviors in comedies. Maybe some in other genres. Let’s come up with 7 of the most annoying movie moments.

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: 2,823.

Be a part of the proud Daily Dialogue tradition and make a suggestion!

Upcoming schedule of themes:

2/15-2/21: Obsession [Angie Soliman]
2/22-2/28: Oblivious
2/29-3/6: Gambling [David Proenza]
3/7-3/13: Argument
3/14-3/20: Customer Service [David Proenza]
3/21-3/27: Pregnancy
3/28-4/3: Parental Advice [Michael Waters]
4/4-4/10: Tantrum

If you have some Daily Dialogue themes to add to the roster, be my guest to post in comments. But be sure to post your ideas for this week’s theme: Annoying.

Thanks to all you loyal Daily Dialoguers! You rock!

Script Analysis: “12 Years a Slave” – Part 6: Takeaways

February 6th, 2016 by

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Takeaways. You may download a PDF of the script here.

This week, we have been reading, analyzing, and discussing the script and movie 12 Years a Slave. In some ways, today’s exercise is the whole point of the series: What did you take away from the experience of reading and analyzing the script?

Screenplay by John Ridley based on a “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup.

IMDb plot summary: In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

For Part 2, to read Plot analysis, go here.

For Part 3, to read Character analysis, go here.

For Part 4, to read Themes analysis, go here.

For Part 5, to read Dialogue, go here.

Head to comments and let me know what your takeaways have been from the script for 12 Years a Slave.

I am looking for volunteers to read a script and provide a scene-by-scene breakdown for it to be used as part of our weekly series. What do you get? Beyond your name being noted here, my thanks, and some creative juju, hopefully you will learn something about story structure and develop another skill set which is super helpful in learning and practicing the craft.

The latest volunteers:

12 Years a Slave – Georgevine Moss
Beasts of No Nation – Jacob Holmes-Brown
Bridge of Spies – Scott Guinn
Carol – Jillienne Bee
Celeste and Jesse Forever – Ryan Canty
Diary of a Teenage Girl – Cynthia
Ex Machina – Nick Norman-Butler
Frozen – Doc Kane
Gone Girl – Ashley Lara
Inside Out – Katha
Legend – Olivia
Leviathan – Piotr Ryczko
Locke – Megaen Kelly
Macbeth – Trung
Man Up – Kristy Brooks
Monsters University – Liz Correal
Mud – Kevin
Nightcrawler – DJ Summit
Pawn Sacrifice – Michael Waters
Steve Jobs – Angie Soliman
Straight Outta Compton – Timm Higgins
The End of the Tour – Steve F
The Iron Lady – Leslie
The Way Way Back – The Deuce
Trainwreck – Joni Brainerd
Wreck It Ralph – Kenny Crowe

Thanks, all!

To see examples of scene-by-scene breakdowns, go here. Part of the goal is to create a library of breakdowns for writers to have at their disposal for research and learning.

You may see the scripts we can use for the series – free and legal – by going here.

To date, we have analyzed 52 movie scripts, a great resource for screenwriters. To see those analyses, go here.

Thanks to any of you who will rise to the occasion and take on a scene-by-scene breakdown.

And for those of you who have volunteered, please send me your scene-by-scene breakdown as soon as possible!

Circling back to where we started, reading scripts is hugely important. Analyzing them even more so. If you want to work in Hollywood as a writer, you need to develop your critical analytical skills. This is one way to do that.

So seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in comments about this week’s script: 12 Years a Slave.

Saturday Hot Links

February 6th, 2016 by

Time for the 224th installment of Saturday Hot Links, your week’s essential reading about movies, TV, streaming, Hollywood, and other things of writerly interest.

Oscars: 10 Nominated Scribes on How They Wrote Their Most Memorable Scenes.

WGA Awards Nominees Reveal Their Screenwriting Journeys.

Sundance 2016: ‘Birth of a Nation’ Sweeps Top Prizes.

Sundance 2016: 19 Biggest Breakthrough Performances.

Movies Sold at Sundance 2016: A Complete & Updated Guide.

2016 Sundance Deals: The Complete List of Festival Pick-Ups.

Rolling Stone: 12 Best Movies We Saw at Sundance 2016.

The Playlist: The 18 Best Films Of The 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Observed: 6 Trends We Noticed At The 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Memo to Distributors: Buy These 2016 Sundance Titles.

Sundance Fights Tide With Films Like ‘The Birth of a Nation’.

‘Manchester by the Sea’: The Story Behind Sundance 2016’s Best Movie.

Giving Sundance Movies a Second Chance.

How Sony Pictures Classics Picked Up Four Pictures at Sundance.

South by Southwest film program announced.

SXSW Film Festival Lineup.

7 Hidden Gems in the 2016 SXSW Features Lineup.

SAG Awards 2016: Full Winners List.

SAG Award Winners: ‘Spotlight’ Wins Best Ensemble, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba & Brie Larson Also Score Big.

SAG Awards: Diversity Reigns in a Rebuke to #OscarsSoWhite.

Hollywood’s Diversity Crisis: 7 Facts Overlooked in the Current Furor.

Academy Acting Branch Is 87 Percent White, NY Times Study Finds.

Working in Hollywood When You’re Not White: Three Players Reveal All.

Hollywood’s Pathetic Treatment of Women Is Ready for Its Close-Up.

Hollywood’s Diversity Crisis: 7 Facts Overlooked in the Current Furor.

Where are all the women in American film.

What Awards Season Would Look Like If Hollywood Were Run by Women.

Ryan Murphy Launches Foundation to Tackle Hollywood’s Diversity Problem.

George Miller Named Cannes Jury President.

Patton Oswalt to Host Writers Guild Awards.

Is Steven Soderbergh Un-Retiring.

Paul Feig Makes History as First Man Ever Honored By Athena Film Festival.

Scott Frank Says His Long Developing Western ‘Godless’ Will Be A 6-Hour Netflix Miniseries.

James Franco Is Turning Zola’s Story Into a Movie, Because of Course He Is.

‘Tricked’ Trailer: Brilliant Madman Paul Verhoeven Shot a Crowdsourced Screenplay.

Oscar Contenders from ‘The Big Short’ to ‘Spotlight’ Highlight Santa Barbara’s Screenwriters Panel.

Coen Brothers Talk ‘Barton Fink’ Sequel ‘Old Fink’ And #OscarsSoWhite Controversy.

Oscar 2016 Hopefuls Have a Common Enemy: Father Time.

Did You Catch Ewan McGregor’s Cameo in The Force Awakens.

Disney, Fox, Lionsgate Leading $50 Million Into Mobile Ticketing App.

Screenwriting Software Leader Final Draft Bought by Cast and Crew.

Ron Howard, Brian Grazer Ending Their 30-Year Deal With Universal Amid New Money.

21st Century Fox to Looks to Cut $250 Million in Film, TV Staff.

Michael Wright Re-Ups as CEO of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners.

Mexican Box Office Reaches Record High in 2015.

10 Of The Most Mind Bending Plots In Hollywood Movies!.

Stephen King On What Hollywood Owes Authors When Their Books Become Films.

Psychiatrists studied 400 movies to find the most realistic psychopath.

Here Is Every Single Movie Bill Clinton Watched In The White House.

The people thanked more than God at the Oscars.

The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy.

Steven Wright on His Joke-Writing Process and Being an Influencer.

A February To-Do List for Film Buffs in Los Angeles.

Universal Rejiggers Its Specialty Division Again.

Why Focus Features is Again Getting a Drastic Reboot.

How I Shot That: DP Larkin Seiple Explains How to Shoot an Action Film on an Indie Scale.

How Four Filmmakers Turned Kickstarter Into Sundance Gold.

The 9 Indies You Must See This February.

Network Pilot Season In a Frenzy Thanks to Cable and Digital Dealmaking.

The Entire Planet is Watching ‘The X-Files’ Revival, and That’s Terrible News for TV.

Are Limited Series Rewriting the Rules For TV Drama.

What a $5 million Super Bowl ad can buy you in digital media (tl;dr: a lot).

As MSNBC Makes Shifts, Rachel Maddow Presses On.

‘Billions’ Showrunner on Epic Clash Between Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti.

10 Good Movies to Watch on Amazon Prime in February 2016.

Hulu Might Lose the Best Reason to Pay for Hulu.

Twitter Stock Pops on Another Rumor of Investment Deal.

How These YouTube Content Creators Just Changed Hollywood.

YouTube’s First Round of Paid Content Is Coming on February 10th.

Instagram Has Released Shield 5, Its First Scripted Content.

How Joan Didion the Writer Became Joan Didion the Legend.

Amazon plans hundreds of physical bookstores.

Why Would Amazon Want To Be the New Barnes & Noble.

Why It’s a Great Time to Be a Vinyl Nerd.

Why Apple and Beats Should Sell Turntables.

The Power of the Isolated Vocal Track.

A writer’s life: Mark Bomback, Hollywood telecommuter.

Barry Levinson pitches “The Man in the Golden Tower”.

William Monahan: An Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Traces His Artistic Path.

Joshua James: Embrace “The Last Gasp”.

Chuck Wendig: The Pros And Cons Of Pro Cons (For Writers).

Chicks Who Script: Episode 74.

Scriptnotes: Episode 235 (Justin Bateman, Game of Thrones).

The Moment: Scott Frank.

Watch: The Sandlerverse [video] HT @GNetterville.

Watch: This Violent Short Film Features the Most Insane Oscar Isaac Performance Yet [video].

Watch: ‘A Brief History Of Swearing In Movies’ In Less Than 3 Minutes [video].

Watch: 5-Minute Supercut Highlights ‘Actors Acting Opposite Themselves’ [video].

Watch: 13-Minute Video Essay Details The Book Vs. Film Differences In ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ [video].

Watch: Sundance Talks With Werner Herzog, Charlie Kaufman, DA Pennebaker, Lena Dunham, And More [video].

Watch: Sundance’s 90-Minute Art of Film Panel with Christopher Nolan and Colin Trevorrow [video].

Screenwriting Master Class tip of the week: From elevator pitches to development meetings to conference calls with talent, a screenwriter’s ability to share stories in a variety of narrative forms is both a valuable and necessary skillset. In the upcoming 1-week Screenwriting Master Class online course Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets [February 8-14], you will learn six different story summaries that are critical assets for any screenwriter.

A screenwriter not only needs to know how to write a script, we also have to be able to convey our stories in multiple other ways. Beyond that, every time we shape a story in a different way, we learn something about it. As such, summaries can be helpful tools in developing, understanding, and crafting our scripts.

This 1-week online course that I will be teaching covers multiple story summaries: Logline, Synopsis, Breakdown, Treatment, Scriptment, and Beat Sheet.

Learn the ins and outs of six different story summaries including using them to help you craft your stories.

Plus you will have the opportunity to craft a logline of your own story with an optional workshop exercise.

The course consists of:

Seven lectures written by Scott Myers

Daily forum Q&As

Optional workshop writing assignments with instructor and class feedback.

A live teleconference between instructor and class members.

In the past, the response from participants in this course has been extremely positive. Here’s one reaction:

The prepared lectures alone are worth the price of this class. But, the added bonus of discussing the lectures as well as being able to workshop my loglines with Scott and my classmates was a fantastic learning experience that really helped me develop my ability to whittle an idea down to one intriguing sentence. If your manager, agent, guru, mother, or favorite reader asks you for a synopsis, treatment, beat sheet, or logline and you have no idea what any of those are then this class is for you. — Calvin Starnes

If you haven’t tried an online course before, this is a great and simple way to do it. You can download lectures any time and read them at your leisure. Peruse forum comments from your fellow classmates and respond whenever you want. The teleconference is on Skype and recorded so you can have access to it for transcription purposes. It’s amazing how convenient and effective online education is.

So why don’t you join me for Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets? You can find out more about this 1-week online screenwriting class here.

I hope you can join me starting this Monday for this important and informative class!

Check this out: The Craft Package. Take all eight Craft classes and learn some of screenwriting’s most important principles and practices all for nearly 50% off.

  • Automatic enrollment in all 8 Craft classes as they are offered now through May
  • Immediate access to the online Craft Package site so you can go through all course content on your own time
  • A bonus 9th class — Character Introductions — exclusively for Craft Package enrollees

January 25: Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

February 8: Craft: Story Summaries
presented by Scott Myers

February 22: Craft: Handling Exposition
presented by Scott Myers

March 7: Craft: Scene Description Spotlight
presented by Scott Myers

April 4: Craft: Character Development Keys
presented by Scott Myers

May 2: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist
presented by Scott Myers

May 16: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis
presented by Scott Myers

May 30: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

For more information on the Craft Package, go here.