Daily Dialogue — July 24, 2014

July 24th, 2014 by

Wally’s meter fully charges.
His head slowly rises from his box.
The cockroach hops with joy.
Eve is relieved.

…She holds out her hand to him.

(with love)

Wally gives her a blank stare.
He turns away from Eve.
Motors out the truck.
She grabs him.
Turns him back around.

(It’s me!)

Wally just stares.
Doesn’t seem to know who she is.

[Here, look at these.]

She grabs the RUBIK’S CUBE and LIGHT BULB from the shelf.
The light bulb glows in her hand.
She gives them to Wally.
No reaction.


Wally looks blankly at the junk on the shelves.

[I know!]

She hovers over to the video player.
Looks back to see if it has any effect.

Wally is over at the shelves.
Has scooped all his prized possessions into his compactor.
Crushes them into a cube.
Eve is gut-punched.

Wally motors outside.
Runs over the cockroach on his way out.
The insect pops back to life.
Watches his friend in shock.


Wally rolls up to a nearby trash pile.
Scoops up trash.
Spits out a cube.
Eve hovers over to him.
Still in disbelief.


Wally continues to stack his cubes.
She stops him.
Lifts his head. Stares into his eyes.
Nobody home.

Eve presses his “play” button.
Nothing but STATIC.
Eve begins to panic.
Shakes him.

Wally…Wally! WALLY!

No response.
He’s gone.
She hovers in silence next to him for a long time…

Finally, Eve grasps Wally’s hand.
Forces his fingers to interlace with hers.
Holds him close one last time.
Leans her head against his.
Hums softly.

[Hums IOTAM]

She touches her forehead to his.
Goodbye Wally.
A TINY SPARK between them.

Eve turns to hover away.
Jerked back.
Her fingers caught between his.
She checks his eyes again.

But then…

…a tiny SERVO NOISE.
She looks down at their hands.


They start to move.
Slowly close around Eve’s.

She looks back at his face.
Wally’s eyes gradually come into focus.
His brows raise…



He notices their hands entwined. His dream come true.


She giggles.

Wall-E (2008), screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon, story by Andrew Stanton and
Pete Docter

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Robot.

Trivia: Within the first 5 minutes there is a monologue via the holographic billboards. The first dialogue between WALL·E and EVE begins 22 minutes into the movie. The first human dialogue begins 39 minutes into the movie.

Dialogue On Dialogue: This is such a great moment, a deft payoff to this:

Wall-E watches Hello Dolly, then imitates the humans holding hands. And we know from that visual what Wall-E wants. Therefore his ‘reawakening’ here is not out of the blue, but rather set up, then paid off beautifully.

If you have any suggestions for this week’s theme, please post in comments.

Update: Gender in Spec Script Sales

July 23rd, 2014 by

Earlier this month, I posted this, an update on spec script sales by gender from 1991-2013. GITS reader Rich Kachold went through each of the sales from 2013 and caught a few discrepancies, so the Black List team went through everything one more time, this time including some sales posted by Jason Scoggins I had not included. Here is the revised infographic:

Gender-in-Spec-Sales 2013 Final

While the percentage of spec sales by women from 2011-2013 ticks up from 9% to 10%, that number is still remarkably low.

A bit of good news is there is another great resource available to screenwriters, especially women: Chicks Who Script has just started doing a regular podcast. The three hosts: Emily Blake, Maggie F. Levin, and Lauren Schacher. Check it out and spread the word!

Note: It is impossible to track every single spec spec transaction. The numbers here are based on the best information available.

Many thanks to Susana Orozco for taking the time and effort to aggregate the data for last year, Rich Kachold and Kate Hagen for reviewing the 2013 sales to provide this year’s updated information.

UPDATE: Stephen Follows has done a bunch of research on this question: What percentage of a film crew is female? Go here to see the results.

Interview [Part 3]: Jason Mark Hellerman

July 23rd, 2014 by

One script that received a lot of attention in the 2013 Black List is “Shovel Buddies” by Jason Mark Hellerman (it garnered 22 votes). I was quite struck by the story — “Over 24 hours, four teenage friends try to complete the “Shovel List” (a will/bucket list) left for them by their best friend before he died of Leukemia” — and reached out to talk with Jason about it. We ended up talking for 90 minutes, an excellent conversation covering a lot of territory. I think aspiring screenwriters will find Jason’s insights particularly relevant as we got into quite a bit of depth about his process of being outside the business to inside it.

Today in Part 3, Jason recounts what inspired him to write “Shovel Buddies”:

Scott:  I’ve read that the inspiration for “Shovel Buddies”, you had some friends who had died from leukemia, and so there’s a personal connection. How did the actual idea of moving from that to a concept for a story evolve?

Jason:  It’s two‑fold. I always wanted to write a coming‑of‑age story. I was on the plane to Boston University, writing down my ideas, with these big hopeful eyes, like “Oh, my God, this is going to be my mark. This is what I’m going to do.”

I was obsessed with this thing called “Sammy’s Place”. Growing up, a girl in my neighborhood died. She was six years old, and her parents built this place in the woods, near my house, called Sammy’s Place. It was an outdoor amphitheater where you could go and watch shows and listen to nature. That was what they did to commemorate her.

Because it was in the woods, and no one went, it wound up being the breaking grounds for my brother, my friends and I where we’d sip our first beer, smoke our first cigarettes, and bring girls there. It wound up being this coming‑of‑age place where the best things in our lives happened. I always knew that was supposed to be a story, and it was supposed to be a place.

In college, I had a wonderful mentor named Arnold Markley. He was an English professor, and he was the first person to put it in my brain that I could be a screenwriter. Before that, I was writing really long short stories, not quite novellas but they were long.

He sat me down one day and said, “Look, Jason, no one’s going to pay you to write op‑ed pieces. You’re funny, and you like to create characters. Have you thought about writing movies?” I was like, “No, I haven’t thought about anything. I’m a sophomore in college. I’ve thought about doing your homework, and I’ve thought about the girl that’s sitting next to me,” but I really didn’t have an idea about what to do.

He said, “I want to introduce you to the film faculty. I want you to meet some people. Maybe, you could even be a scholar, maybe get your doctorate in film,” blah, blah, blah. He was amazing, and he was wonderful. He’d stay late, and he’d read anything I’d give to him.

When I was a junior in college, he sent out an email one day. “I’ve been diagnosed with leukemia. I’m going to be in treatment, and we’re going to try and do the bone marrow stuff.” Over the next year and a half, he struggled. He retired from teaching, then came back, then retired again.

Then, one day, I remember walking across the campus at Penn State. This was right when Facebook had sort of taken off. I’m trying to remember, like 2008 or 2009, and I remember seeing a Facebook post that said, “We lost a great person today. RIP, Arnold.”

I thought, “How many people do you know named Arnold?” I was like, “What the fuck?” My mom was working for Penn State at the time. She called me. “Mom, what happened?” She said, “You guys were really close. Arnold passed away this morning.” I just remember being shocked and broken.

I didn’t even get to say thank you. I didn’t even know where his advice was going to take me. It stuck with me, and it stuck with me for a long time.

I went to grad school. I tried to write “Sammy’s Place.” It didn’t work the way I wanted it to, which no screenplay ever does, first one out, and I was a little bitter. It was really about having a mentor who died. In this one, Sammy was still a kid and he died. It was more about a mentor relationship than anything else.

I couldn’t crack it, but I knew something was there. I knew the idea of being a shovel buddy, which is taking your friend’s stuff that they don’t want anyone to see like his porno mags, his cigarettes. I knew that was a strong concept, and that’s something other people get.

I sat on the story, and I wrote three other scripts. Because the universe is kind of awful sometimes, I went to grad school. I sat on “Shovel Buddies.” I was moving to LA, and I found out that one of the kids I went to Penn State with, who was a source of inspiration for me — his name was Michael Chobot, he was nominated for two Emmys in sound design — he called and said, “Hey, man, I have leukemia.” I said, “What? How’s that possible? That’s not a real thing. You’re 25 years old. You’re an ultra marathon runner. You worked on The Blind Side in sound design. You worked on a Pokemon movie in sound design. You were one of the youngest members of the union.”

Mike moved to New York without fear, lived on a mattress in Coney Island, lived off 35‑cent hot dogs, and did the night shift sound editing and kept getting promoted. He was everybody’s litmus test that you could make it in the business because no one was as driven as him.

Hearing that he was dying really fucked with my head. He and I wound up talking a lot because he was getting chemo at night, and I was in Los Angeles. He would send me some screenplay ideas. I’d sort of rift on them because he knew I wanted to be a writer. He had nothing to do because he was sort of being quarantined because when you have leukemia you’re susceptible to diseases, so he’s shut out.

I would send him DVDs as I would come across screeners and stuff like that. Please don’t sue me, MPAA. I would send him all the Oscar screeners, and we’d talk.

One day, he stopped answering my texts. I had just mailed him Fruitvale. This was recently. I sent it to him, and I got an email from his sister: “I’m not sure if you heard, but Mike died yesterday morning.” I couldn’t afford the flight home, so I missed the funeral.

When Arnold died, I was your typical 21‑year‑old. Open a bottle of Jameson, let’s get drunk, and let’s forget about it. But when Mike died, because he had the same dream as me, and because I felt like he acted on that dream and he deserved that dream to come true, maybe more so than anybody I’ve ever met, and he wasn’t going to get it, I felt like I owed it to him not to be an asshole and get drunk.

I owed it to him just to write it down and to keep writing it down. So, I reopened “Shovel Buddies”, and just kept writing. I wrote the parent characters into it who didn’t exist anymore, and I wrote the emotional parts of it, the parts where the kids are upset and crying. I just wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote.

Every time I’d be pissed, or upset, or I’d realize how expensive Los Angeles is and how I can’t afford anything, or if I’d get a parking ticket or a traffic ticket, or I’d be at work until eleven at night. Anything that I wanted to complain about that I thought, “Man, this fucking sucks,” I would just sit and write “Shovel Buddies”.

I guess it worked. Looking back, it shocks me that it worked. I just took every sort of frustration I was feeling and put it into that script.

Scott:  That’s an amazing story. I’m obviously sorry for those losses, but you’re doing what you can do to honor them.

Jason:  Exactly. I’d print out “Shovel Buddies” at work, and I’d write on top of every page, “How do you honor Sammy?” because that was, I guess, the goal of the script. In my brain, it was the only way I could honor Mike, the only way I could honor Arnold was to write this, was to make it the best script because if the world’s going to be unfair, I need to seize the unfairness and talk about it.

That, to me, was the lesson I learned from both of them drying, and from growing up at a place like “Sammy’s Place”, was how unfair the world was going to be, and how much I wanted to right the wrongs of the world.

Scott:  I always tell my students and blog readers, too, “Whatever idea you come up with, no matter how commercially viable you think it is, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about, something you have an emotional resonance with, a connection to.” I think it’s probably safe to say, at least your experience with “Shovel Buddies”, you would agree with that.

Jason:  Absolutely. If you’re not writing about something that makes you uncomfortable to talk out with other people, if you’re not writing about something that is so much of your soul that you don’t want to share it with people because you’re afraid they’re going to judge you, then you’re not writing about shit.

It’s completely worthless if you don’t feel some sort of hesitation that you’re, like, naked in front of other people with what you’re doing it, then it’s not going to matter. I think you have to attack every story. Again, whether it’s We’re the Millers or whatever. That idea that it’s got to have at least some part of the struggles we all understand and are afraid of.

Tomorrow in Part 4, Jason delves into the complex process involved in writing his script “Shovel Buddies”.

For Part 1 of the interview, go here.

Part 2, here.

Jason is repped by CAA and Management 360.

Twitter: @JasonHellerman.

Video: “The History of Comic-Con”

July 23rd, 2014 by

In 4 minutes:

Via FirstShowing.

When K-9 shot in San Diego in 1988, I remember waking up with a hangover one morning after a night carousing with the film crew, then stumbling out of the elevator in my hotel in search of coffee to find myself surrounded by costumed figures. I had no clue what the hell was going on. Turns out, it was the first day of Comic-Con, an event I’d never heard of before. A surreal few minutes before I learned what the deal was. Much smaller event back then, but still quite a presence in the city. Nothing like today.

To all of you attendees this year, good luck and send photos!

A proposal about uncredited screenwriters

July 23rd, 2014 by

I recently posted an interview with Joss Whedon in which he talked for the first time about his work rewriting the script for the movie Speed. Here is an excerpt:

Whedon: In my whole career, I’ve never had to talk about it. I’ve never signed a copy of it, I’ve never sort of been a part of it. And I was proud of it, I worked hard on it, I had a really great time and I worked with really cool people. I thought it was good stuff. Graham has been very generous, but I did not get a credit on it. The studio gave me one, but then the Writers Guild of America took it away, and I was pretty devastated. I have the only poster with my credit on it.

A majority of movies produced in Hollywood have had multiple writers work on them, most of them uncredited. Sometimes the writer doesn’t even seek credit, generally the case with ‘script doctors’ who work strictly for hire. Other times, writers actively seek credit, but do not receive it due to the determination of the WGA arbitration process.

Which leads to an odd situation: There can be literally hundreds of people credited with working on a movie, yet one or more writers who contributed to the development of the script receive zero credit.

So why not this credit: “Additional Writing By” and list all the other writers who were hired to work on the project? Slot it in the end credits crawl which would set off the credited writers with their own title card.

You may ask, “What if a writer contributed only one scene to the final movie? Why should s/he deserve an Additional Writing By credit?” What if the one scene is an important moment or plot point? Isn’t that creative contribution worth at least some public recognition? But even if the scene isn’t all that critical, it’s still a narrative element that would not in all likelihood exist in the final cut were it not for the work of this currently uncredited writer. I’d say that writer deserves some acknowledgement for their creative input.

You may ask, “What if the writer didn’t contribute even one scene, one character, one piece of dialogue to the movie? How in the world does s/he deserve an Additional Writing By credit?”

Writing a script involves thousands of choices. Decisions made and pages written that end up being tossed aside does not mean they are without value. Indeed, if Uncredited Writer’s draft explores, let’s say, twelve narrative possibilities that end up being rejected, that is not a negative in terms of the creative process, but rather a positive. First, the filmmaking team now knows they don’t have to go that way again. Second, those choices that end up not working for the final draft will almost assuredly help subsequent writers and the creative team determine what does make sense. So even if there are zero words of Uncredited Writer appearing in the shooting script, the fact is that writer has been part of a creative process which eventually led to a final draft, a story which may never have been realized without the choices made by that very same writer.

Here’s the thing: The use of Additional Writing By will never happen for at least two reasons: (1) I believe the WGA would look at it as cheapening the contributions of the credited writers. (2) It would expose how crazy Hollywood’s approach is to script development. Like the 11 writers 20th Century Fox hired to write The A-Team. Hell, I’ve participated as a judge in a WGA arbitration in which there 18 writers involved. Does Hollywood really want the public to see a list of writers hired per each movie that approximates the length of the Gettysburg Address?

And yet, it just doesn’t seem right for a writer to slave away on a one or more script drafts, perhaps representing six months or more of their creative effort, only to receive a big fat nada in terms of official recognition for their work. You think that doesn’t hurt? Look again at what Joss Whedon said about being denied a credit on Speed: “I was pretty devastated.”

Doesn’t the idea of Additional Writing By seem like a sensible, fair idea? Tell me if I’m wrong and why. Or perhaps you have a better idea. If so, head to comments to carry on this conversation to see if we can make invisible writers become visible… and receive credit for their creative efforts.

Movie Trailer: “The Wedding Ringer”

July 23rd, 2014 by

Written by Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender

A comedy about a loner and the friendship he forms with the guy he hires to pose as the best man at his upcoming wedding.


Release Date: 16 January 2015 (USA)

2014 Scene-Writing Challenge: Day 17

July 23rd, 2014 by

As noted in this recent post:

In May, it was 90s movies. In June, it has been 30 Days of Screenplays. What is that but the first two of three from that essential screenwriting mantra: Watch movies. Read scripts. Write pages.

Can you see where I’m going for July? That’s right: Write pages!

July is Scene-Writing Month here at Go Into The Story. Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific, I will upload a post with a prompt for writing a script scene. Each day, write a scene per those guidelines. If you really want to get in the spirit of things, upload your scene here in the comments section of the original post. That way you can critique others’ pages and receive feedback on your scene as well.

Why scene-writing? Think about it: If the average scene is 1 1/2 to 2 pages long and a script is 100-120 pages, then a screenwriter writes between 50-80 scenes per screenplay. Thus in a very real way, screenwriting is scene-writing. The better we get at writing scenes, it stands to reason the better we get as a screenwriter.

Plus there’s this: To provide extra motivation for this series — to get people to WRITE PAGES — I am giving away some of my Core classes to Scene-Writing Challenge participants. That’s right: For free!

The Core curriculum provides a comprehensive, coherent, character-based approach to screenwriting theory, eight 1-week online classes. I only teach them once per year. Here is the schedule:

July 7 – Core I: Plot
July 21 – Core II: Concept
August 4 – Core III: Character
September 1 – Core IV: Style
September 15 – Core V: Dialogue
October 27 – Core VI: Scene
November 10 – Core VII: Theme
December 2 – Core VIII: Time

To qualify to take one Core class for free, write and submit ten [10] Scene-Writing Challenge posts. If you complete all twenty [20] Scene-Writing Challenge exercises, you get two Core classes for free.

You can choose any of the Core classes as your free gift.

That’s what I’m prepared to do to encourage you to write pages.

[Note: If you want to take Core I or Core II, which are scheduled for this month, I will hold those course sites open into August to allow you access to all of that content.]

A couple of logistical notes:

* Limit your scenes to 2 pages. First, most scenes are 2 pages or less in length. Second, out of fairness to everyone participating in the public scene-writing workshop, let’s not abuse anyone’s patience or time with really long scenes.

* Don’t be concerned about proper script format when you copy/paste your scene, rather the content and execution are the important thing. So as a default mode, do this: (1) Don’t worry about right-hand margins on scene description or dialogue, just keep typing until it manually shifts each line. (2) Don’t worry about character name position, rather do this:

SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

RHETT: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Today’s prompt: A scene between a senior citizen and a child.

You can go anyway you want with this scene, but one key thing to look at is to get into the world view of each character. They will be separated by at least 6 decades. This represents a massive difference in their respective life experiences. See if you can find a hook there based on their age differences. Maybe a misunderstanding. Curiosity about each others’ life.

Finally be sure to pay attention to the way each talks. Clearly they will have a different language ‘library’ upon which to draw for their dialogue.

Write a 1-2 page scene, then copy/paste in comments.

Remember: If you are interested in qualifying for 1 or 2 free Core classes with me, please note the number of scenes you have written. If today is your first effort, note that it is Scene 1. The next one, Scene 2. If today is Scene 17, please note that. And so forth.

You are on an honor system, as I don’t have time to check every post, so do the right thing!

NOTE: If you have completed and posted 10 scenes, just email me to let me know which of the eight Core classes you’d like to take as my gift to you for your hard work!

NOTE: The Challenge ends on July 31st, meaning that is the last day I will accept scenes for credit toward free Core classes.

Finally, if you have what you think is a good suggestion for a scene-writing prompt, please post that as well.

It’s the 2014 Scene-Writing Challenge! Give a jolt to your creative and writing muscles… and win 1 or 2 free online classes with yours truly.

GOOD NEWS: To date, 11 writers have qualified for a free Core course and I have enrolled each of them. In fact, a few of them are enrolled in Core II: Concept which is running this week. How about you? 10 scenes = 1 Core course. 20 scenes = 2 Core courses.

Script To Screen: “Lost In Translation”

July 23rd, 2014 by

The ending scene from the 2003 movie Lost In Translation, written by Sofia Coppola.

Plot Summary: A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo.

Here is the scene from the script:

               INT. CAR - DAY

               In the backseat, Bob leans back on the little doily.

               The car pulls away.

               Around the corner, he looks down a crowded alley and sees 
               Charlotte's blonde hair.

                         Can you pull over a second?

               The DRIVER, wearing white cloth gloves, pulls the car over 
               slowly. Bob tries to open the door, it won't open, he has 
               to wait for the automatic doors to open for him (slowly).

               EXT. TOKYO STREETS - DAY

               Bob gets out and rushes down the street to where he saw 
               Charlotte. The street is crowded with JAPANESE PEOPLE, and 
               different colored umbrellas, (it's sunny out with a light 

               Music blasts from speakers on the street, and there is some 
               promo going on with GIRLS handing out little cologne samples. 
               Bob looks around for her, but only sees dark hair, umbrellas, 
               and super tan JAPANESE KIDS.

               In the distance an umbrella moves to reveal Charlotte.


               But she can't hear him over the loudspeaker. He rushes to 

               C.U. she turns and we see she is crying.

               The music swells. He embraces her, holding her close to him 
               in the crowd.

                         Why are you crying?

                         I'll miss you.

               He kisses her, hugs her good-bye.

                         I know, I'm going to miss you, too.

               He holds her close.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               Charlotte watches Bob as he reaches his car, he turns and 
               looks at her.

               She smiles at him, and is lost in the crowd.

               Bob gets into his car.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               Charlotte walks with the crowd as they go on their way.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. CAR - DAY

               Back in the Presidential, alone, Bob leans against the little 
               doily.  They drive off.

               He looks out the window, Bob's happy he's going home, he's 
               happy he came to Tokyo.

               Bob's P.O.V.-  Tokyo goes past his window.

                                                             FADE TO BLACK:

Here is the movie version of the scene:

There are some subtle, but important differences between the script and the movie, and I encourage you to compare the two and cite those changes. Let me focus on the biggie. Instead of this exchange:

BOB: Why are you crying?
CHARLOTTE: I’ll miss you.
BOB: I know, I’m going to miss you, too.

There is this: Bob whispering something to Charlotte. So we not only get a dialogue cut (three lines), we also have a mystery introduced into the story: What did Bob tell her?

There are all sorts of theories, many of which you can find here in this Vulture article.

As for me, I’d prefer not to know the answer. I like how Bob’s unknown comments frame the respective reactions of the characters as they leave each other. In the movie, Charlotte does seem to have a lighter mood, consonant with the line in the script “she smiles at him.” But I’m not so sure Bob’s mood in the movie reflects what is written in the script: “Bob’s happy he’s going home, he’s happy he came to Tokyo.” Check out the very ending of the scene as Bob is driven through the streets of Tokyo. Does he look “happy” to you?

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.

Daily Dialogue — July 23, 2014

July 23rd, 2014 by

TYRELL: Well, Mr. Deckard?

Deckard is looking at Tyrell and wincing indecisively.

He doesn’t get it. Are they playing with him?

TYRELL: (continuing) Perhaps some privacy will loosen your tongue, Mr. Deckard.

He turns to Rachael

TYRELL: Would you step out for a few moments, Rachael?

Rachael exits looking a little shaken. What’s going on?

Deckard stares at Tyrell.

Tyrell meets his look.

TYRELL: I’m impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot one?
DECKARD: I don’t get it.
TYRELL: How many questions?
DECKARD: In columns of four cross referenced, twenty or thirty.
TYRELL: It took more than a hundred for Rachael, didn’t it ?
DECKARD: She really doesn’t know?
TYRELL: She’s beginning to suspect, I think.
DECKARD: Suspect! How can she not know she is.
TYRELL: Well, we began to notice in them a strange obsession.

Tyrell is pacing now, lecturing.

TYRELL: After all, they are emotionally inexperienced with only a few years in which to store up the experiences which you and I take for granted. If we gift them with a past… we create a cushion or pillow for their emotions.. and we can control them better.
DECKARD: They want memories?
TYRELL: It’s the dark corners, the little shadowy places that makes you interesting, Deckard….. gusty emotions on a wet road on an autumn night.. the change of seasons… the sweet guilt after masturbation.
DECKARD: Jesus Christ,Tyrell!

Tyrell looks startled.

DECKARD: Where do you get them, the memories?
TYRELL: In the case of Rachael, I simply copied and regenerated cells from the brain of my sixteen-year-old niece. Rachael remembers what my little niece remembers.
DECKARD: I saw an old movie once. The guy had bolts in his head.

Deckard looks amazed while Tyrell looks pleased with himself.

Blade Runner (1982), screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, novel by Philip K. Dick

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Robot. Today’s suggestion by Jon Raymond.

A note from Jon: “Note the script has been substantially changed. The production version is shorter, more concise, and direct to the point of the “memories” concept. In the released version, Deckard simply speaks the word “memories,” while in the script this is explained in much more detail.”

Trivia: Philip K. Dick first came up with the idea for his novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ in 1962, when researching ‘The Man in the High Castle’ which deals with the Nazis conquering the planet in the 1940s. Dick had been granted access to archived World War II Gestapo documents in the University of California at Berkley, and had come across diaries written by S.S. men stationed in Poland, which he found almost unreadable in their casual cruelty and lack of human empathy. One sentence in particular troubled him: “We are kept awake at night by the cries of starving children.” Dick was so horrified by this sentence that he reasoned there was obviously something wrong with the man who wrote it. This led him to hypothesize that Nazism in general was a defective group mind, a mind so emotionally flawed that the word human could not be applied to them; their lack of empathy was so pronounced that Dick reasoned they couldn’t be referred to as human beings, even though their outward appearance seemed to indicate that they were human. The novel sprang from this.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Jon: “The basis of robots in movies, for me, has always been the comparison with them to humans. What can they do that humans can’t? What can humans do that they can’t? Ultimately it always comes down to a reference to the abstract, such as to art, love or to the soul. Can a robot have a soul? Can a robot love? I find Blade Runner especially interesting. Rachel apparently isn’t aware she is a robot, she is so perfectly made. Even Deckard can’t detect her at first and he is the supposed expert. I love that she is a love interest in light of all this.”

If you have any suggestions for this week’s theme, please post in comments.

The Stories of Your Life

July 22nd, 2014 by

I’ll be honest. I have been incredibly busy for the last nine months or so. Good busy, but crazy. So one day recently, I was plugging along through my hectic daily ritual when — BOOM! A blast from the past flat out whacked me upside the head and stopped me dead in my proverbial tracks. It was this:

For whatever reason, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which recently held its 41st annual weekend event, uploaded a bunch of videos from years past. And the selection above? That is the band Crossroads performing at the Festival in June, 1980. Members of the band: Pat Flynn (lead guitar, mandolin, vocals), Jerry Fletcher (drums, vocals), Dan Wilson (bass, mandolin, guitar, vocals), and me (rhythm guitar, bass, vocals).

That’s right. Me. The dude with the moustache and the platform sandals (?!?!?!)

My good friend Pat Flynn sent me the link out of nowhere. I watched us performing “Sarah and the Summer,” a song written by our musical compatriot Jimmy Ibbotson of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and my brain melted into a puddle of fragmented memories.

It got me thinking. Hard. How did I get from there, playing on stage at Telluride in front of several thousand music fans, to here — husband, father, screenwriter, teacher, blogger?

So I traced my life’s journey and it hit me in a powerful way: I have gone down so many paths, each one of them could have become The Story Of My Life.

Here is a list of some of those possibilities:

I could have majored in political science in college, my original intent, and gone on to become a political consultant.

I could have accepted my boss’s offer (my summer job for 4 years) to become a full-time salesman, then eventual owner of a rug and carpet business in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

I could have followed up my Masters degree at Yale with a Ph.D. and become an academic focusing on primitive Christianity (this was my primary goal from the third year of college through grad school).

I could have become a professional musician (which is what led me to take a break from academics). Indeed pretty much supported myself for 7 years playing music, averaging over 200 gigs annually.

I could have become a full-time minister in Aspen, Colorado.

I could have built on my ‘success’ as a salesman at the Guitar Center in San Francisco and become a manager at new store opening in San Jose, California, then worked my way up the corporate ladder under the tutelage of this guy.

I could have become a stand-up comedian, something I did for 2 years after my stint as a musician.

I could have followed any number of friends, girlfriends and opportunities down dozens of paths, but what I did was this.

I got married and became the father of two sons.

I became a screenwriter and worked in Los Angeles for 15 years.

I became a television producer for Trailblazer Studios for 8 years.

On a whim, I started teaching screenwriting as a hobby through UCLA Extension’s Writers Program.

On another whim, I began teaching screenwriting at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the Writing for the Screen & Stage program.

On yet another whim, I started blogging at Go Into The Story.

Then Franklin Leonard reached out to me and this became the official screenwriting blog of the Black List.

Then Tom Benedek, the very first screenwriter I met in Los Angeles, and I launched Screenwriting Master Class.

And now I am more well-connected in Hollywood than I ever have been, plus I’ve got more work writing and consulting than I can handle.

I look back on all of this and if I consider it logically, virtually none of it makes any sense whatsoever. But in my gut, it all somehow fits together.

Through it all, there is a thread: I have always followed my creative interests.

Those aspirations took me away from several safe, secure life-paths, but they led me into and through my own tiny, but interesting dot of time on this Earth, hopefully with a few more decades left to explore whatever else lies in store.

Which brings me back to the jolt of seeing me on stage at Telluride in 1980 and my recent reflections on the past.

I realized something. As meandering and bizarre as my personal adventure has been, this is not the story of my life… these are the stories of my life.

Each a fork-in-the-road. Just like a Protagonist. Go this way. Go that. Sometimes I made good, authentic decisions. Sometimes I didn’t. But it’s all led me to this place, this time.

A wife of 29 years. Two sons. Two cats (Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).

A lifelong love affair with movies.

An endless fascination with screenwriting and storytelling.

And the community of people at Screenwriting Master Class and Go Into The Story.

So, you may ask, what happened to the other members of Crossroads?

Jerry Fletcher is still playing music with a band called Marley’s Ghost. Lives in Montana. Here is his Facebook page.

Dan Wilson is also still playing music with a band called Solimar. Lives in Oak View, California. Here is his Facebook page.

And Pat Flynn? He went on to play with perhaps the most innovative acoustic band ever: The New Grass Revival featuring Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, John Cowan and Pat. Here they are performing a version of “Middle of the Night,” a song Pat wrote, which he and I worked up in 1978 when we first started playing as a duo in Aspen as Myers & O’Flynn:

After Pat moved to Nashville, he became an in-demand studio musician, songwriter, record producer and performer. In my estimation, he is the greatest flat-picking guitarist alive today, a member of the Frets magazine Hall of Fame.

Here is Pat’s Facebook page.

Wikipedia page.



Pat has released 3 CDs, his latest “reNew” just dropped last week. You can buy Pat’s music on iTunes here. If you like Americana acoustic music, you’ll love Pat’s stuff.

As for me? I’ve moved from songwriting to screenwriting. Still have my Martin acoustic. ’62 Fender Strat. Fender P bass. And two sons who are musicians, one classical, the other a rock and roller. In fact to round out this post, tonight Luke and I are going to a rock concert: Paramore and Fall Out Boy.

I guess it’s true: The more things change, the more they stay the same…

So those are the stories of my life.

How about you? What are the stories of your life? If you feel up to it, take a few minutes to reflect on all of the paths you’ve traveled, and how they’ve led you here, this place, this time, following the contours of your creative adventure.

Life really is an amazing journey, isn’t it?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go back and watch Crossroads in performance one more time, at least to try to figure out the whole platform sandals thing.

What the hell was I thinking…