The Mother Lode!

January 5th, 2015 by

So last night, @BittrScrptReadr tweets this:

And @josephbrunetta responds with this:

Damn, dude has got that right. It’s got videos from the various iterations of Siskel & Ebert shows from 1975 to 2000! When I was in graduate school, then playing music for a living, I never missed one of their shows. Siskel & Ebert was a key part of my film education. So this site is, indeed, the Mother Lode.

Here is an example: Siskel & Ebert’s “If We Picked the Oscars: 1982″.

Thanks, Joseph, for sharing the site. I’ll add it to the blog Resources list.

Once again, Twitter surfaces gold!

By the way, over 29,000 people follow me on Twitter. How about you?


Support short film project: “Zone 2″

December 2nd, 2014 by

There is a short film project to which I am lending my support: Zone 2. I know most of the principals involved including the screenwriter Lydia Mulvey, who has served as a moderator on the Black Board, the Official Writing Community of the Black List and Go Into The Story, and taken some Screenwriting Master Class courses with me, as well as the project’s producers Sandra Levitan and Miranda Sajdak, who I have been working with as part of The Quest Initiative.

The fact I know these creatives is part of the reason I’m supporting Zone 2. There are other reasons as well. For example, the story itself:

It’s an average day for sixteen-year-old David and his mother Lisa in the underground bunker they call home. David is blind and uses a wheelchair to get around. Having never been above ground, David longs to feel the wind on his face. Lisa reminds him that there is only danger and death above; they are lucky they are in Zone 2. David goes about his routine while Lisa makes preparations to venture into the treacherous, unpredictable world above. As she leaves, David makes plans of his own…

Here’s the logline: Trapped in the bleak underworld of Zone 2, a mother and her disabled son fight for survival.

Sounds like a character-driven thriller which is one of my favorite type of genre films.

Zone 2

Also if you go to the project’s crowdfunding site, there is a video in which the Lydia, the director (ANNA ELIZABETH JAMES), Sandy and Miranda talk about their vision for making this movie, and I am a supporter of seeing more women involved in film production. Plus I applaud their commitment to cast an actor with a disability as there is a need to provide opportunities to a wider array of talent.

There is 1 day left in the Zone 2 crowdfunding effort. I’ve donated. How about you? You can to here to learn more.

Movies boiled down to pictograms

October 14th, 2014 by

This is great from Fast Company: Movies distilled to pictograms. See if you can guess the movies from these three below?

Go here to see a bunch more pictograms.

HT to Tom Peterson for sending me the link.

WOOT! The Fall Film Season Is Here!

September 9th, 2014 by

Hey, adults! Movie lovers! Film fans! It’s that time of year where it’s safe to head to the local theater. Sick of Sequels, Prequels, Remakes, Reboots? For the next few months, you’ll actually be able to view interesting original movies. What movies, you ask?

For starters, check out the New York Times’ annual Fall Preview.

You can go here to check out the upcoming movie release schedule.

Here is a list of some movies I’ll be interested to see and their release dates:

The Drop (September 12)
The Skeleton Twins (September 12)
The Guest (September 17)
This Is Where I Leave You (September 19)
A Walk Among the Tombstones (September 19)
Hector and the Search for Happiness (September 19)
Jimi: All is By My Side (September 26)
Gone Girl (October 3)
The Good Lie (October 3)
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Him/Her (October 10)
Kill the Messenger (October 10)
Whiplash (October 10)
Fury (October 17)
Birdman (October 17)
Dear White People (October 17)
St. Vincent (October 24)
Force Majeure (October 24)
White Bird in a Blizzard (October 24)
Nightcrawler (October 31)
Interstellar (November 7)
Rosewater (November 7)
Theory of Everything (November 7)
Foxcatcher (November 14)
The Imitation Game (November 21)
Wild (December 5)
Selma (December 25)

Friends, there are a lot movies coming out through December worth seeing. Use your dollars to send a message to Hollywood:


What movies are you excited to see through the end of 2014?

The Film Before The Film: The Evolution Of Movie Opening Titles

August 19th, 2014 by

Created by Nora Thoes and Damian Pérez.

Via /film.

Watch Three Short Film Prequels to ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

July 2nd, 2014 by

Via /film:

Three things.

First, this is a terrific idea by the studio, out-of-the box thinking that lends even more narrative credibility as well as buzz for what promises to be the big franchise movie of the summer.

Second, screenwriter and friend of the blog Brian Duffield was involved in the the first prequel above. Here are a couple of tweets by Brian about the project:

Third, in relation to the upcoming movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, these prequels are what screenwriters call backstory. Normally, we delve into the personal and collective histories of our story’s characters knowing that 90% of it won’t appear directly in the screenplay, rather it will be felt indirectly through subtext, psychology, emotions, and so forth. What the studio has done with these prequels is visualize some of the backstory.

Again the whole thing is pretty damn cool akin to what Warner Bros. did with Gravity, showing the other side of the conversation Stone has with Aningaaq, the Inuit she happens to find on the ship’s radio communications system:

Congratulations to Brian Duffield and all the filmmakers involved in the Apes prequels.

Pixar reveals plot details to its next movie “Inside Out”

May 27th, 2014 by

Via Pixar’s official website, this announcement yesterday:

From the tepuis of South America to a monster-filled metropolis, Academy Award®-winning director Pete Docter has taken audiences to unique and imaginative places. In 2015, he will take us to the most extraordinary location of all – inside the mind of an 11-year-old named Riley.

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city,
house and school.

Director: Pete Docter
Co-Director: Ronnie del Carmen
Producer: Jonas Riveras

This seems like a really fun idea, a variation on the Angel and Devil trope:

Only in this case, these are physicalizations of human emotions, not supernatural figures, which should make the Protagonist’s experience more relatable to both kids and adults.

Also speaking as a parent, this seems like an excellent way to generate conversations with children about how to acknowledge and accept one’s feelings, but also learn how to control them as well.

Here’s a visual of the five emotion characters:

It seems like the story is putting the idea of psychology right out there on the table in plain view for audiences. Plus no shortage of conflict with five dynamics vying for control. Finally, it slots right into the way I teach screenwriting: How the screenplay universe is comprised of an External World and Internal World; how characters each wear ‘masks’, switching from one mode of being (archetype) to another; how Protagonists almost always start off in a state of Disunity and go through a metamorphosis-journey leading toward Unity.

In other words, I like this idea a lot, especially with Docter at the helm as he’s directed two of my very favorite Pixar films: Monsters, Inc. and Up.

Release date: June 19, 2015.

How about you? What are you thoughts about Inside Out?

Featurette: “Frank”

May 9th, 2014 by

Now this is a movie I want to see! From Indiewire (Russ Fischer):

One of my favorite films so far in 2014 is Frank, the movie in which Michael Fassbender plays a musician who spends every minute of every day wearing a giant fake head. That’s a pretty good way to get some attention for the film, but Frank is a very funny and genuinely wonderful movie about the process of creativity, and the fact that some of us are simply no good when it comes to making music and art.

IMDB plot summary: “Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.”

Check out this clip:

What a weird concept, yet the movie looks funny as hell, yet also with some interesting things to say about what it is to be a human. Here is a 10-minute featurette with interview excerpts from co-writer Jon Ronson, director Lenny Abrahamson, and actors Domhnall Gleeson and Michael Fassbender.

People complain about unoriginal movies. Frank is clearly not that. For those of you in the U.K., it opens today (May 9). We here in the States will have to wait until August 22 for the movie to hit theaters.

Frank has an 88% critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes and at its debut at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, one reviewer described it this way: “This terrific and sublime experience, and strikingly original film, is mandatory watching for the adventurous viewer.”

The only way to see more original movies get produced and distributed is to support them when they are released. Declare Your Independents and go see Frank!

For the rest of the Indiewire article, go here.

Movie clip via Facebook.

Featurette via The Playlist.

Movie website.

Twitter: @FrankFilmUK

A “Star Wars” Day Message from NASA

May 4th, 2014 by

May the Fourth be with you!

Via Indiewire.

Steven Soderbergh recuts “Heaven’s Gate”

April 29th, 2014 by

Talk about an obsession! From Rolling Stone:

Heaven’s Gate is one of the most notorious cinematic bombs of all time. A 1980 Western about an armed conflict in Wyoming between rich cattlemen and poor farmers, made for a then-astronomical $44 million, it not only destroyed the career of director Michael Cimino (a rising star on the strength of The Deer Hunter) — this marathon-length epic basically put studio United Artists out of business and ended the auteur-driven ’70s golden age of Hollywood. Now director Steven Soderbergh has decided to fix it.

The film was originally released with a running time of over three and a half hours (219 minutes, to be exact); since then, it’s been re-edited by various people, including Cimino himself, at various lengths. But last week, director Steven Soderbergh released “Heaven’s Gate: The Butcher’s Cut”.

Where can you see Soderbergh’s recut version of the film? On his website which you can visit here.

Here is Soderbergh’s commentary regarding the recut film:

ob-ses-sion (noun)

1. preoccupation
2. state of being obsessed
3. uncontrollable persistence of idea



As a dedicated cinema fan, I was obsessed with HEAVEN’S GATE from the moment it was announced in early 1979, and unfortunately history has show that on occasion a fan can become so obsessed they turn violent toward the object of their obsession, which is what happened to me during the holiday break of 2006. This is the result.

Mary Ann Bernard

Who is “Mary Ann Bernard”? That is Soderbergh’s mother’s maiden name, something he has used in the past as a pseudonym for his role as editor.

For background, there is an 8-part documentary on the making of Heaven’s Gate which you can currenly find on YouTube. Here is Part 1:

For more of the Rolling Stone article, go here.