Twitter Rant: Katherine Fugate on Black Facts About Hollywood

September 30th, 2014 by

Screenwriter Katherine Fugate (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve) offered up a recent Twitter rant on some of the harsh realities of working as a writer in Hollywood. Reprinted here by permission:

Black Fact is: Execs will read your script on their phone while driving, by the pool while drinking. Notes will reflect that.

Black Fact is: Execs will bitch on Twitter/FB how much they hate to read, forgetting you spent weeks/months bleeding the work.

Black Fact is: You will go in for a notes meeting and Execs won’t have read the script and will quote from coverage.

Black Fact is: By the time you get to production your script will be a watered down version of what it once was.

Black Fact is: Everyone thinks they can write. Writing is easy. Everyone looks for what is wrong, finds it and tells you.

Black Fact is: Shitty scripts get made. Brilliant ones don’t. The system is rigged. But keep throwing the dice.

Black Fact is: Execs give you notes they hate themselves. They answer to others. So when they can’t explain why – that’s why.

Black Fact is: Your script will be churned through a dumbing down machine, not a smarting up one. Fight it as much as you can.

Black Fact is: Most have no idea what you do, how hard it is, what it takes. Same with actors on auditions, etc. They just don’t.

Black Fact is: You write a script because a story burns from the inside out. You don’t write to get loved, laid, paid, it made.

Black Fact is: It is still worth it. You can still reach people with your words, you can inspire, elevate and change minds.

Black Fact is: The business is not fair. Not everyone is making art. Not everyone deserves their job. But some do. SOME DO.

Black Fact is: Everyone feels unappreciated, unheard, messed with, disposable, replaceable. No one is, yet everyone is.

Black Fact is: There is greater comfort in what has been done before rather than risking the unknown. The artists must be braver.

Black Fact is: You can drive yourself crazy trying to understand why they don’t get it. They won’t get it. It’s not their job.

Black Fact is: They think they are right. You think you are right. Right is subjective. Right is personal. Know when to let go.

Black Fact is: In the end, it is everyone’s film. A Film By Everyone. Not you, not dir, not actor, not studio. Everyone invests.

Black Fact is: Everyone works their ass off. Don’t be credit grabby. Cast, crew, costumes, grips, props, crafty, all. Thank them.

Black Fact is: Some people will make your script better. Some people will make it worse. Some people will make it different.

Black Fact is: There are shitty execs. There are great execs who will make you a better writer. Just like lovers. Choose wisely.

Black Fact is: Sometimes their idea is better. Sometimes. Don’t discount any idea because it wasn’t yours. Try it on for size.

Black Fact is: Too much emphasis is put on Joe Audience. To make story what Joe wants. But they haven’t met Joe. Joe isn’t real.

Black Fact is: You will succeed knowing the Black Facts exist. Part of the crooked game. Now go play your best game, wide awake.

Black Fact is: It all gets out. You sleep with someone for a job. You’re hard to work with. You’re late. This is a JOB. Be smart.

Black Fact is: Many talented people don’t work. Your agents package now, bigger game. They don’t need your 10%. You must do more.

Black Fact is: I am a female writer. Yes, it is harder to get hired. But this is my job. Write better, make it harder to say no.

Black Fact is: Someone will hate your script. They won’t get it. No matter what you do. Make like @idinamenzel and Let. It. Go.

Black Fact is: The reward comes very very late. When you are standing in the back of the theater and hear applause or tears.

Black Fact is: The reward comes in a letter from a mother thanking you for writing a female character with a brain and a goal.

Black Fact is: The reward comes from a woman telling you she left her abusive husband because you wrote a strong female character.

Black Fact is: The reward comes from a man telling you he hated gay people but sorta liked that gay NFL QB player you wrote.

Black Fact is: The rewards don’t come when you expect and from whom you expect. Trust they will come later. Wait for them.

Black Fact is: You may be the only one trying to make a difference. That’s okay. Stay true. Fluff comes easy, substance does not.

Black Fact is: Original writers, like NFL head coaches, are on the clock to being fired or replaced. Make your impact.

Black Fact is: A Film By credit is ugly. It is ego. It is elitist and excludes all the people who work hard on a movie.

Black Fact is: Everyone thinks their contribution made/saved the movie. If you are all working on the same page – they should.

I am slated to direct my first film, an indie. I am not taking A Film By credit.

You should follow Katherine on Twitter: @katherinefugate.

Movie Trailer: “Camp X-Ray”

September 30th, 2014 by

Written by Peter Sattler

A soldier assigned to Guantanamo Bay befriends a man who has been imprisoned there for eight years.


Release Date: 17 October 2014 (USA)

Classic 70s Move: “The Godfather: Part II”

September 30th, 2014 by

September is Classic 70s Movie month. Today’s guest post comes from Ryan Gilmore.

Movie Title: The Godfather: Part II

Year: 1974

Writer(s): Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola (Screenplay)

Poster The Godfather Part 2

Main Actors: Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

IMDb Plot Summary: The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba.

Why I Think This Is A Classic 70’s Movie: The Godfather II, like it’s predecessor, is classic for all the same reasons; the stellar directing, the superb writing, spot-on performances and incredible art/set direction and editing. But what separates this sequel further into a classic is it was the first sequel ever to be nominated AND WIN the Oscar for Best Picture.

In addition, what makes The Godfather II such a timeless classic is the way that it uses flashbacks as the prequel in telling the story of Vito Andolini Corleone and his struggles while on his rise to power, then flashing back to “real time” to show Michael Corleone’s own struggles with his current reign of power.

This style of filmmaking was pulled off brilliantly by Francis Ford Coppola and his Editing team of Barry Malkin, Richard Marks and Peter Zinner.

Lastly, the performances make this an all-time classic. This sequel was the introduction of Robert DeNiro into the Godfather franchise and along with the primary actors in this film, it is nearly impossible to think of any other actors that could have portrayed Mario Puzzo’s characters with such grace, depth, intensity and believability.

My Favorite Moment In The Movie: Similar to my experience with the first Godfather film, where I chose three favorite moments, I found picking just one favorite moment an absolute impossibility. At a 3 hour and 20 minute run time of flawless filmmaking and acting, how can I truly be expected to choose just one?!

My initial reaction is to choose when, after having shockingly realizing that Fredo was in some way responsible for the attempted assassination of Michael, Michael kisses Fredo with a frightening intensity saying; “I know it was you Fredo…you broke my heart”. Absolutely a classic scene by anyone’s account.

But, upon the viewings for this exercise, I found two specific scenes to be incredibly moving and poignant.

The first, is when Michael sits down with his Mother, still very much the Matriarch of the Corleone family, and by the glow of the fireplace burning nearby solicits her advice in a beautiful scene spoken completely in Italian. I see in this brief moment, that of what little remains of Michael’s innocence and longing for the days before he began his ascent to power.

The next very poignant scene for me was a very simple one, in which no dialogue was spoken. While at Mama Corleone’s funeral, after speaking with his sister Connie, Michael walks into a crowded living room, and hugs Fredo. Standing just steps away is Al Neri, the man responsible for most of the Corleone criminal dirty work; he and Michael share a silent moment, and with only a LOOK, he orders his only living brother, Fredo, to be executed by Al.

Favorite Dialogue In The Film: My favorite moment of dialogue is the exchange between Michael and Connie, just moments before he walks into the room to hug Fredo. This is the last possible chance he will have to change his mind, with his only Sister pleading for him to speak with his last living brother. But even she, can’t get through to him. In fact, this is the moment that she finally succumbs to Michael’s power. (Also shown in the previous link.)

CONNIE: Michael, Fredo’s in the house with Mama. He asked to see you and Tom said you wouldn’t see him.

FLASHBACK to Michael speaking to Fredo.

MICHAEL: You’re nothing to me now. You’re not a brother. You’re not a friend. I don’t want to know you or what you do. I don’t want to see you at the hotels. I don’t want you near my house. When you see our Mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won’t be there.

BACK to Michael and Connie.

MICHAEL (coldly): That’s right.
CONNIE: You were just being strong for all of us. The way Papa was. And I forgive you. Can’t you forgive Fredo? He’s so sweet, and helpless without you.

Connie realizes she’s not getting through to Michael.

CONNIE: You need me Michael. I want to take care of you now.

Michael reaches out and touches Connie gently.

MICHAEL: Connie…

Connie leans down and kisses Michael’s hand, in acknowledgement of his power as Don Corleone.

Key Things to Look For When Watching: Again, like the first installment, the impeccable technical aspects. Directing, cinematography, editing, writing, and performances, etc.

The seamless way in which the film uses the flashbacks and back to real time to essentially tell two very important stories in the Corleone family saga, first, how it came to be and where it is and is headed.

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

We already have a set of 80s Movies and 90s Movies. This month, we’re working on 70s Movies.

Thanks to all of you for your participation in this project, creating a resource for writers, movies we should all watch to help learn the craft of screenwriting!

Screenwriting 101: Joseph Wambaugh

September 30th, 2014 by

“Screenwriters are like little guppies swimming in an aquarium filled with sharks, killer whales, octopuses and other creatures of the deep. And plenty of squid shit.”

– Joseph Wambaugh from “Writers on Writing”

Daily Dialogue — September 30, 2014

September 30th, 2014 by





SCHUMANN: You gonna git me back tomorrow? (PAUSE) Cause they havin beans tomorrow…
BREAN: (ON THE PHONE) (HE PICKS UP A BOTTLE OF SCOTCH AND STARTS DRINKING FROM IT.) A slight, a slight, well, no, we’re gonna deal with it, we just, I need a little readjustment…we need to rethink…
MOSS: Yes, William, Uh, we have this thing we’re doing…
SCHUMANN: Long’s you git me back for the beans…
MOSS: …for the beans, yes…
BREAN: (ON THE PHONE) We’re gonna, just, may have to call off the…


Well, maybe, you know, ah, ah, he’s sicker than we thought, and rush him under wraps to Walter Reed to do a complete…

SCHUMANN: (TO AMES) R’if y’r gonna keep me out, I’d kinda like the chance, t’go to church… (HE LEANS TOWARD AMES AND WINKS LASCIVIOUSLY, AND NUDGES HIM IN THE RIBS)

AMES: Oh Lord. What have you done to me? What have you done to me…?
BREAN: Wilfred.
AMES: …what have you done to me…
BREAN: All Combat takes place at night, in the Rain, and at the Junction of four Map Segments…
AMES: …what are we going to do…?
MOSS: He’s fine, as long as he gets his medication.
BREAN: Speaking of that… (HE LOOKS AT THE VIAL) We’re gonna need a whole lot more of this….
AMES: Well, get on the phone, and get it…
MOSS: You know, I think you people are looking at this All Wrong. If you look at the backstory — the guy’s coming back from Combat and Torture. Of course he is gonna be … uh … uh … “fucked up”. Of Course he’s gonna “need a little help”… (GESTURES PUTTING A HYPODERMIC IN HIS ARM)


PRESIDENT: …a proclamation of a Day of National Rejoining…


…a day of Humility, a day of Pride…in the Return of…

SCHUMANN: N’ybody gotta Beer…?


BREAN: (ON THE PHONE) Just….do what I …look: get me a …hello…? Hel…? I’m going to need an ambulance, we take him, the last moment, right from the Pl…no, we land, we puttem in the ambulance. Air force jet lands, we take somebody else off that jet…what the fuck do I care? Somebody in a Hospital gown. And we need a ……hello? Hello…?


BREAN: Cause I don’t think this dog is gonna hunt….
MOSS: He’s going to be fine, aren’t you boy…?
BREAN: Yeah, well, perhaps… (TO PHONE) Speaking of which: I have a prescription here, I’m going to give you the number, I need you standing by with a crate of the stuff…. it’s … what is it?
MOSS: An anti-psychotic…
BREAN: (TO TELEPHONE) It’s an anti-psychotic, the num… the number…hello…hello…


CO-PILOT: We have been experiencing some buffeting, but I think from here on out, it’s going to be fine.


SCHUMANN: Long’s I git back for my Beans.
MOSS: This is nothing, Wait’ll you’ve worked with a movie star, one time, this is nothing, we keep him shot-up and happy — the Old Days, I used to think I was a pharmacist, the kind of stuff I had to do. One time…
SCHUMANN: Cause the beans, y’know, y’can tell if they’re puttin stuff in it.
BREAN: Uh huh…
SCHUMANN: So you don’t have to fear it.
BREAN: Uh huh…
MOSS: Mmm.
BREAN: What kind of stuff? (TO PHONE) Hello…?
SCHUMANN: (PAUSE. SCHUMANN LOOKS AT THEM WARILY) What do you mean, “What kind of stuff?”
AMES: No, no, he didn’t mean anything at all…
BREAN: (TO MOSS) Give’ em another pill…
AMES: No. No. He didn’t mean anything by it at all…
BREAN: (TO PHONE) Hello? No, operator…


SCHUMANN: What the fuck did you mean, “What kind of stuff?”?
MOSS: (TO BREAN) …this is nothing. This is nothing. D’you ever shoot in Italy? Try three Italian starlets on Benzedrine, this is a walk in the park…
SCHUMANN: (AS IF COMING TO) …who are you? (PAUSE) Who are you sonofabitches… (HE LOOKS AROUND WILDLY)
AMES: We’re just, actually, we’re friends of… can we get another pill into him…
SCHUMANN: Where are you taking me…?



AMES: (SOFTLY) Oh, Heck.

Wag the Dog (1997), screenplay by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet, novel by Larry Beinhart

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

Trivia: During the filming of Wag the Dog (1997) Dustin Hoffman, his co-star Robert De Niro and director Barry Levinson had an impromptu meeting with President ‘Bill Clinton’ at a Washington hotel. “So what’s this movie about?” Clinton asked De Niro. De Niro looked over to Levinson, hoping he would answer the question. Levinson, in turn, looked over to Hoffman. Hoffman, realizing there was no one else to pass the buck to, is quoted as saying, “So I just started to tap dance. I can’t even remember what I said.”

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Jon.

“What I like most about this clip and the film, is the very strong characterization. These characters make this film. Every character is strong (the protagonist in their life). This clip reveals that, with these four characters confined together and having to face and talk to each other. Each one has their own agenda and is more concerned about themselves, their world, and their thoughts than what anyone else has to say.

Reading the script from this point, it seems very disjointed and chaotic. It only makes sense in the context of knowing who the characters are. Elsewhere in the script, Brean (De Niro) and Moss (Hoffman) have a lot of dialog, often in long passages, as if they like to hear themselves talk, which they do. These kind of roles are an actor’s dream. These actors have the opportunity to go off into the world of their role and pretty much ignore the other characters. Everyone plays off of everyone else.

After this scene the planes crashes, they are all stuck together in the middle of nowhere, and Winifred has a classic dialog scene (I couldn’t find a clip for it). It appears Heche added the last two lines compared to the script I found. She just goes completely off:

[the plane has crashed, leaving Winifred, Stanley, and Connie alone at night in the rain with an "ill" William Sherman]

Winifred Ames: Oh, God. What do we do now? Huh? Huh? What do we do now, huh, boy producer? Huh? Mister win-an-Emmy, social-conscience, whale-shit, save-the-rain-forest, peacenik-commie, fuckin’-hire-a-convict-shithead? Huh? What do we do now, liberal, affirmative action, shithead, peacenik commie fuck? What do you want to do now?

Stanley Moss: This is nothing! Piece of cake! Producing is being a samurai warrior. They pay you day in, day out for years so that one day when called upon, you can respond, your training at its peak, and save the day!”

If you have a suggestion for this week’s theme, please head to comments.

Break your story in prep

September 29th, 2014 by

Have you ever started a script and not finished it?

Has it ever taken you 4, 5, 6 months or more to finish a script?

Have you ever gotten so lost when writing a story, you became incredibly frustrated?

Chances are you did not do enough story preparation.

Don’t you think it’s time to approach writing like most professionals do and break your story in prep?

Screenwriting Master Class offers a 6-week online Prep: From Concept to Outline writing workshop, a unique approach to develop your story, enabling you to crack it before you type FADE IN.

The beauty of this approach is three-fold:

  • You can go into the page-writing part of the process with confidence because you’ve already broken the story.
  • Since you won’t be overwhelmed with finding the story when writing pages, you can focus your creativity where it should be — characters, dialogue, themes, mood, pace, etc.
  • By devoting six weeks to prep, you will almost assuredly cut the overall amount of time you spend writing your script and increase the odds you will finish your draft.

Here are a few testimonials from writers who have participated in the Prep: From Concept to Outline online workshop:

“‘From Concept to Outline’ is a course I wish I had known about a couple of years ago. I would recommend this whole-heartedly for anyone who is about to embark on their first script or ANY script. This lays the foundation stone to your story.” – Camilla Castree

“This has been an outstanding class. I’ve taken a few from other sources and most don’t live up to their promises (they shall remain nameless). But here, I’ve learned so much and gotten way more than my money’s worth.” — Daniel O’Donahue

“I went into Scott’s Prep class doubting I’d ever finish a script; I came out with the tools, confidence and inspiration to power through a complete first draft in just a few months. Amazing!” — Jessica Sada

In the nearly four years I’ve been teaching through Screenwriting Master Class, I’ve led multiple Prep workshops as it has proved to be one of the most popular classes we offer. Why? Because it works! If you fully engage yourself in the six stages of this process, you will end up with an outline you can use as a springboard for writing your screenplay.

Moreover I hear from writers frequently who have taken the workshop, how they continue to adapt and use it on other stories. I’m not saying it’s the way to break a story, however it has proved to be a viable approach for many writers.

What the workshop consists of:

* Six lectures written by me

* Six writing assignments which take you from a Protagonist Character Treatment all the way to a Narrative Throughline outline

* Six due dates to spur you to make progress on your story

* Online forums with feedback from myself and your fellow writers

* Weekly teleconferences for yet more feedback

In other words, a structure which steers you through the prep-writing process… from concept to outline.

I will be leading just 1 more session in 2014 starting October 27. Here’s your chance to give yourself a holiday gift: A fully worked-out story into which you can leap on January 1st, a great way to start the New Year typing FADE IN with confidence you know where you’re going.

For more information, go here.

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

Movie Trailer: “The Best of Me”

September 29th, 2014 by

J. Mills Goodloe and Will Fetters and Michael Hoffman, Nicholas Sparks (novel)

A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown.


Release Date: 17 October 2014 (USA)

Classic 70s Movie: “The Godfather”

September 29th, 2014 by

September is Classic 70s Movie month. Today’s guest post comes from Ryan Gilmore.

Movie Title: The Godfather

Year: 1972

Writer(s): Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola (Screenplay)

Lead Actors: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan, Diane Keaton

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

IMDb Plot Summary: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

Why I Think This Is A Classic 70’s Movie: The Godfather is a classic movie for any and all decades that just happened to be made in the 70′s. This sprawling epic was made classic by the filmmaking, the writing and the incredible acting performances across the board. With a running time of three hours, it is an impressive feat to have not a single wasted scene in the entire film. This film also was a first in the way organized crime was portrayed, at a time in which organized crime was still very much a part of this country’s fabric. With Francis Ford Coppola’s beautiful, sweeping filmmaking and the mesmerizing cinematography, The Godfather glamorized organized crime in a way that had never been seen before and firmly planted itself in our pop culture forever.

My Favorite Moment In The Movie: I have three favorite moments in this film, all of which are tied to each other. The first, is during Connie’s wedding, Michael tells Kate the anecdote about his Father and Johnny Fontane, which subsequently is the first time we hear the immortal line “he gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse”. But more importantly, this is the moment Michael is completely and utterly honest with Kate about his family. We see Michael still in his military service uniform, having done his part in protecting the interests of this country, and with no intention of joining the family business.

The next moment is when Michael comes to see Kate after their long separation with Michael being in Italy and he tells her that he has in-fact joined the family business and his full intention of making the Corleone family completely legitimate within five years.

The final is the end sequence after he had Connie’s husband executed and is being questioned by Kate. He gives her one chance to ask him about his affairs and he blatantly lies right to her face. This is the moment that his full arc of this film has been realized and he has officially become “Don Corleone” and his abuse of power has begun.

My Favorite Dialogue In The Movie: Is the honest exchange from the first of the three scenes mentioned previously.

KATE: How’d he do that?
MICHAEL: My Father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
KATE: What was that?
MICHAEL: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head and my Father assured him that either his brains, or his signature would be on the contract.

Kate is stunned silent.

MICHAEL: That’s a true story.

Johnny sings to Connie.

MICHAEL: That’s my family Kate. Not me.

A perfect moment of Michael’s innocence and intention to avoid the family business is still intact. This brief moment sets the tone for the entire arc of Michael’s reluctance to his rise of power that extends well beyond this first film.

The Key Things To Look For When Watching The Godfather:

-The filmmaking. Directing, cinematography, editing, etc.

-The performances. The near-perfection in every scene.

-The arc of Michael Corleone and what becomes the rise in power of the new Don of the Corleone family. What starts out as reluctance, is overcome by loyalty by necessity, and finally becomes intoxicated by power.

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

We already have a set of 80s Movies and 90s Movies. This month, we’re working on 70s Movies.

Thanks to all of you for your participation in this project, creating a resource for writers, movies we should all watch to help learn the craft of screenwriting!

On Writing

September 29th, 2014 by

“Whatever story you want to tell, tell it at the right size.”

– Richard Linklater

Daily Dialogue — September 29, 2014

September 29th, 2014 by

“There’s been abroad in this land in recent months a whisper that we have somehow lost our greatness, that we do not have the strength to win without war the struggles for liberty throughout the world. This is slander, because our country is strong, strong enough to be a peacemaker. It is proud, proud enough to be patient. The whisperers and the detractors, the violent men are wrong. We will remain strong and proud, peaceful and patient, and we will see a day when on this earth all men will walk out of the long tunnels of tyranny into the bright sunshine of freedom.”

Seven Days in May (1964), screenplay by Rod Serling, novel by Fletcher Knebel & Charles W. Bailey II

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Politics.

Trivia: An important plot point in the film involves the attempted coup taking place on the same day as the Preakness Stakes horse race. However, the seven-day timeline for the film would have had the coup taking place on Sunday while the Preakness is always run on a Saturday. John Frankenheimer said that the problem was solved by a scriptwriting acquaintance of his. This man worked as a script doctor and liked to gamble but wagered his professional services instead of money. Frankenheimer had won some work from the man and gave him the problem. The solution? In one scene a character walks by a poster which says “First Ever Sunday Running of the Preakness”.

Dialogue On Dialogue: A terrific political thriller penned by Rod Serling.

If you have a suggestion for this week’s theme, please head to comments.