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.

2016 Dialogue-Writing Challenge: Week 1

February 6th, 2016 by

Here are all of Week 1’s prompts for this year’s Dialogue-Writing Challenge:

Day 1 challenge: A young child asks an adult, “Where do babies come from?”

Day 2 challenge: Write a monologue in which a character expresses regret for something in their past.

Day 3 challenge: A scene built around the line “Give me the God damn key.”

Day 4 challenge: A stoner conversation.

Day 5 challenge: Use voice-over narration with a flashback.

For background on the Challenge and to learn how you can win a free one-week online Craft class with me, go here.

Update: Award season screenplay downloads – 1 new script / 46 total

February 6th, 2016 by

It’s that time of year again when studios and production companies make available PDFs of movie scripts for award season. As in years past, we will be tracking them and posting links as they become available.

UPDATE: Current total of 2015 scripts for download: 46.Newly added script (1): The Martian.

99 Homes (Broad Green Pictures)

Beasts of No Nation (Netflix)

Bridge of Spies (DreamWorks)

Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight)

Carol (TWC)

Concussion (Sony)

Danny Collins (Bleecker Street)

Ex Machina (A24)

Far From the Madding Crowd (Fox Searchlight)

Grandma (Sony Classics)

I Smile Back (Broad Green Pictures)

I’ll See You In My Dreams (Bleecker Street)

Infinitely Polar Bear (Sony Classics)

Inside Out (Disney/Pixar)

Learning To Drive (Broad Green Pictures)

Legend (Universal)

Macbeth (TWC)

Man Up (Big Talk Pictures)

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl (Fox Searchlight)

Minions (Universal)

Mississippi Grind (A24)

Mistress America (Fox Searchlight)

Pawn Sacrifice (Bleecker Street)

Remember (A24)

Room (A24)

Slow West (A24)

Spotlight (Open Road Films)

Steve Jobs (Universal)

Straight Outta Compton (Universal)

Suffragette (Focus Features)

Testament of Youth (Sony Classics)

The Big Short (Paramount)

The Danish Girl (Focus)

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Sony Classics)

The End Of Tour (A24)

The Hateful Eight (TWC)

The Keeping Room (Drafthouse Films)

The Lady in the Van (Sony Classics)

The Martian (20th Century Fox)

The Son of Saul (Sony Classics)

Trainwreck (Universal)

Trumbo (Bleecker Street)

Truth (Sony Classics)

While We’re Young (A24)

Woman In Gold (TWC)

Youth (Fox Searchlight)

As the scripts become available, we will add them to our Movie Script Download archive, all of the scripts official, free, and legal.

Many thanks to Wendy Cohen and Michelle Jackson who are doing us all a solid by tracking the studio and production company sites for new script releases.

Thanks to David Poole for his help in finding The Martian download link.

Reading movie screenplays is absolutely critical to your development as a screenwriter. Along with watching movies and writing pages, it is a fundamental practice you should put into place. Make it a goal to read at least one movie script per week.

Where can you go to get access to many of the top movie scripts from 2015? Right here!

NOTE: These scripts are for educational purposes only!

Beyond Words: Celebrating 2015’s WGA-Nominated Screenwriters

February 6th, 2016 by

The Black List’s Kate Hagen (@thathagengrrl) attended the recent Beyond Words 2016 event sponsored by the Writers’ Guild of America, West, the Writers Guild Foundation, and Variety.

As awards season continues chugging along, the WGA-W, the Writer’s Guild Foundation, and Variety gathered together to celebrate 2015’s WGA-Award nominated screenwriters.

Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON), Aaron Sorkin (JOBS), John McNamara (TRUMBO), Charles Randolph and Adam McKay (THE BIG SHORT), Matt Charman (BRIDGE OF SPIES), Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy (SPOTLIGHT) and Drew Goddard (THE MARTIAN) took the stage at the WGA Theater to discuss their creative processes, what scenes they had to cut from their scripts, and how to approach script structure when dealing with real-life characters.

Photo credit: Variety

Even with original screenplay nominees Taylor Sheridan (SICARIO) and Amy Schumer (TRAINWRECK) unable to attend, the stage was packed as John August (this year’s recipient of the Valentine Davies Award) joined the 11 writers on stage to moderate. August told the audience we’d being seeing a lot of lightning round questions to keep the conversation moving.

August first asked the writers: How long was the production process of the film from initial conception to theatrical release?

THE MARTIAN: Three years

SPOTLIGHT: Four years

BRIDGE OF SPIES: Three years (11 months from pitch to production, an incredibly fast turnaround time)

CAROL: “Eighteen effing years,” as Nagy put it.

THE BIG SHORT: Five years

TRUMBO: Eight years

JOBS: Three years

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON: Five years

Ah, the long, lonely life of a writer. Since all of the nominated scripts besides CAROL and THE MARTIAN were based on real people, August then asked the panel about how they approached integrating real life into their work. For Berloff and Herman, having access to Ice Cube and Dr. Dre from day one was hugely beneficial in shaping COMPTON, as they were able to draw on interviews and transcripts to make the film feel authentic. Sorkin told the crowd that meeting Jobs’s eldest daughter, Lisa, and John Sculley helped him find the emotional through line of the story, despite Jobs’s death three weeks prior to Sorkin’s start on the script. McNamara and Charman echoed Sorkin’s statements, saying that meeting Dalton Trumbo’s daughter and James Donovan’s son, respectively, allowed them to shape TRUMBO and BRIDGE OF SPIES.

For the writers of THE BIG SHORT, it was a split decision on meeting their real-life inspirations: Randolph “didn’t want [those people] in my head” while writing, but McKay had to meet the actual folks to help his work as director. McCarthy and Singer also relied heavily on research for SPOTLIGHT, spending six months interviewing anyone and everyone to help construct their story about the Catholic Church’s abuse of power in Boston. Both SPOTLIGHT writers praised the journalists who are the film’s core for their collaborative efforts, and their help in shaping scenes up until filming began.

Since their scripts were not based on real people, both Nagy and Goddard were thankful for the freedom that their fictional source material offered. For Nagy, who kept only the basic characters and ending from Patricia Highsmith’s novel THE PRICE OF SALT, having the freedom to craft Carol and Therese’s story totally on her own was invaluable. Likewise, Goddard, who has a long resume of TV credits, said that not having to rely on expository dialogue, as is often the case in TV, allowed him to craft his characters based only on their actions in the film.

For the rest of Kate’s take on the event, go here.

Daily Dialogue — February 6, 2016

February 6th, 2016 by

Stan: So, Gilly, big baseball fan?
Young Gil Buckman: Kind of.
Stan: Dad bring you here a lot?
Young Gil Buckman: Once a year on my birthday. Then he pays an usher to watch me.
Stan: Oh, I see.
Young Gil Buckman: You have to understand, my father in his own childhood… was without a positive male influence.
Stan: Huh?
Young Gil Buckman: His own father kicked him out when he was fifteen. So my dad was taught to see child raising as a burden–a prison rather than a playground. You understand what I´m saying?
Stan: You don’t talk like a kid.
Young Gil Buckman: Yeah, well I’m not really a kid.
Stan: You’re not a duck.
Young Gil Buckman: This is a memory of when I was a kid. I’m 35 now. I have kids of my own. You don’t even really exist. You’re an amalgam.
Stan: A what?
Young Gil Buckman: A combination of several ushers my dad left me with over the years. I combined them into one memory.
Stan: Why?
Young Gil Buckman: This was a great symbolic moment of my life. My father dumping me with you… it’s why I swore things would be different with my kids. It’s my dream. Strong, happy, confident kids.
Stan: That’s great, that’s great. You know, you – you got a lovely family, and I’m a god-damn amalgam!

Parenthood (1989), written by Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel, story by Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel & Ron Howard

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

Trivia: This movie is based on Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel’s experiences as parents.

Dialogue On Dialogue: I love this scene, a terrific opening, and a great, entertaining way to lay out one of the central conflicts in the story – Gil’s longtime sense that his father has ‘abandoned’ him in favor of his younger brother.

Video: Sundance Film Festival 2016: Closing Awards Ceremony

February 5th, 2016 by

Video of the closing awards ceremony at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Check out Franklin Leonard presenting the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize for the movie The Birth of a Nation.

Script Analysis: “12 Years a Slave” – Part 5: Dialogue

February 5th, 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: Dialogue. You may download a PDF of the script here.

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.

Some questions to consider in relation to dialogue in 12 Years a Slave:

* What do you consider to be the most memorable lines… and why?

* Any notable callbacks (a line used once, then used again later in a different context)?

* How about set-up & payoffs?

* Any exposition that caught your eye for being handled exceptionally well?

Head to comments and let me know what dialogue in the script made the most impact on you.

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.

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
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.

Songwriters on Songwriting: Randy Newman

February 5th, 2016 by

I wrote my first song when I was 14 years old. Over the years, I’ve composed hundreds of songs. It was that interest – music – that led me to take a year off from pursuing a doctorate and led me down the circuitous path that has been the rest of my life.

I don’t write songs nowadays, more focused on screenplays and writing about writing. But I can’t help but think at least some of who I am as a writer derives from all that time studying and composing songs.

Which is why I say that one of my favorite ‘screenwriting’ books is “Songwriters on Songwriting,” a collection of interviews by Paul Zollo with some of the great songwriters of our time, from Mose Allison to Frank Zappa. For what are songs but stories?

Each day this week at this time, I will post insights from a songwriter about their craft in the hope their words may inspire us as writers.

Today: Randy Newman, singer-songwriter, arranger, and composer of film scores.

Your first album came out in 1968. Do you think that after all these years you have a better understanding of how to get in touch with the source of ideas?

My first advice would be to be tough enough to hang in there… You’ve got to hang in there. And fight it… Sometimes you just put anything down. The other day I was talking to Lenny Waronker, and he was talking about Prince He said, “That’s all he ever does: he works.” And I’m thinking, “Jesus Christ, I get out so little, I wonder if I could write a song a day.” So I did it, and I never listened to it again. But I just went through it and didn’t think, or let myself exercise my critical faculties. And it probably isn’t too bad. I did it again the next day, just to see if I could work that way.

That isn’t a bad idea for people… Don’t let the critic become bigger than the creator. Don’t let it strangle you. Go ahead and say, “I saw this girl / She was the best girl in the world.” Let it go. Put a string of stuff together. Go ahead.

And then–I can’t always follow this advice myself–and then futz with it. But make something happen. Write something down. Do something. Go ahead. And stay there. Stay there four hours. Three hours, four hours. And good things will happen.

Don’t let the critic become bigger than the creator. Don’t let it strangle you.”

Ah, VON: Voices Of Negativity. They never go away. You have to learn to live with them. Your Creator must be bigger than your Critic. What practical approach can you use to achieve that?

“Write something down. Do something. Go ahead.”

Take the Zero Draft approach: Put words down on paper. That way you have something. And something is almost always better than nothing.

“And stay there. Stay there four hours. Three hours, four hours. And good things will happen.

Often it’s just keeping your ass on chair for a sustained period of time working which will result in favorable creative results. Believe it: If you do that, good things will happen.

We may think of Randy Newman for his sardonic and wry tunes, but here is a beautiful love song he wrote called “Marie”:

What’s your favorite Randy Newman song?

For the rest of the Songwriters on Songwriting series, go here.