Story Concepts That Sell

October 30th, 2014 by

The foundation of any movie is the screenplay. The foundation of any screenplay is the concept. Therefore it stands to reason which story concept you develop and write as a spec script is a critical choice. And that is precisely why I created the upcoming webinar Story Concepts That Sell: To understand how movie industry insiders think, provide you with proven methods to generate story concepts, and develop analytical skills to help you zero in on the strongest ones for you to write.

Consider this quote:

“Most aspiring screenwriters simply don’t spend enough time choosing their concept. It’s by far the most common mistake I see in spec scripts. The writer has lost the race right from the gate. Months — sometimes years — are lost trying to elevate a film idea that by its nature probably had no hope of ever becoming a movie.”

– Terry Rossio (Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

I’ve been approached many times to do webinars. I chose this topic for my first one precisely because it is so important. I’ve spent thousands of hours generating story concepts and studying ways to engender that process, so I have a lot of content on the subject.

My webinar Story Concepts That Sell is scheduled for Monday, November 17, 2014 1:00PM PT/ 4:00PM ET.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • A take on ‘high concept’ that actually helps your creative process
  • The singular importance of a ‘story conceit’
  • How to think in terms of genres, cross genres, and sub-genres
  • Hollywood’s golden rule of ‘similar, but different’
  • Keys to brainstorming story concepts
  • Why recycling is more than just an eco-friendly lifestyle
  • Gender-bending and genre-bending
  • A commonsense approach on how to write loglines
  • The two most powerful words in the story concept process
  • Why you need to take into account the international market
  • Many more tips on coming up with story concepts that can sell

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

  • Writers who want to write commercial movies
  • Writers who want to land representation with a manager and/or agent
  • Writers who need to understand the mindset of a Hollywood buyer
  • Writers who have never grasped how important story concepts are
  • Writers who struggle with writing loglines
  • Writers who want to learn how to approach the craft like a professional
  • Writers whose dream is to sell an original spec script
  • Writers who want to maximize their chances at breaking into Hollywood
  • Writers who are serious about succeeding as a screenwriter

HOW DOES THE WEBINAR WORK?

The webinar is broadcast over the Internet with the live audio being delivered through your computer speakers or over your telephone. The presentation is displayed directly from the Presenter’s computer onto your computer screen.

The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions being answered by the Presenter for the entire class to hear. In the event some questions are not answered during the live session, an e-mail with all questions and answers will be sent to all webinar attendees.

Participate Live or Watch Later

This webinar includes both access to the live webinar where you may interact with the presenter and the recorded, on-demand edition for your video library.  Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for one year. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation. In all webinars, no question goes unanswered. Attendees have the ability to chat with the instructor during the live event and ask questions. You will receive a copy of the webinar presentation in an e-mail that goes out one week after the live event. The answers to questions not covered in the live presentation will be included in this e-mail as well.

Another quote to consider:

“Ideas cost NOTHING and require ZERO risk. And yet, oddly, the LEAST amount of time’s usually spent in the idea stage before a small fortune is dumped on a whimsy that’s still half-baked… Ideas cost nothing yet have the potential to yield inexplicably long careers and happy lives.”

– Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Zak and Miri Make a Porno)

Yes, ideas and story concepts are that important. Shouldn’t you learn everything you can to give yourself an edge in relation to this critical screenwriting skill set?

Logline Critique

You also have the option to submit a logline from one of your original stories which I will critique, providing feedback on it to you.

Join me for my webinar Story Concepts That Sell — 90 minutes that could transform your creative process.

Go here to learn more and sign up. Date: Monday, November 17, 2014 1:00PM PT/ 4:00PM ET.

Scene-By-Scene Script Breakdown Challenge

October 29th, 2014 by

The GITS community never ceases to amaze me. On October 16th, I put out this challenge:

Here’s what I’m thinking: We have 4 weeks in November. What if we choose one script per week from here, the free and legal screenplays we host on the site. I’m looking for one volunteer per week to do a Scene-By-Scene Breakdown for one of those scripts. Then over the course of the week, we would analyze the script’s structure. It might go something like this:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown.

Volunteer posts their breakdown which we discuss.

Tuesday: Major plot points.

We go through the breakdown and identify key plot points, then discuss their importance.

Wednesday: Sequences.

We identify the groupings of scenes that feel like sequences.

Those are all about what transpires in the Physical Journey. Next we could take up this:

Thursday: Psychological Journey (Metamorphosis).

Here we would explore how various characters, most especially Protagonists, go through some sort of transformation.

Friday: Revelations.

Basically what did we learn through this process.

Anybody interested in this? You should be. If you’re not reading movie scripts on a regular basis, you’re not really taking this whole enterprise seriously enough. You need to read.

I’ll sweeten the pot for those hearty souls who would take up the challenge to compile an actual Scene-By-Scene Breakdown: You can take one of my Core or Craft one-week online classes for free.

I was hoping for four respondents. We ended up with this:

American Hustle: Jon
Argo: NB
Flight: 14Shari
Frankenwenie: Will King
Gravity: mattd_85
Hanna: John Arends
Lincoln: pgronk
Looper: erikledrew
Moonrise Kingdom: iamdaniel
Mud: Alejandro
Paranorman: OhScotty
The Artist: Traci Nell Peterson
The Social Network: N D
The Way Way Back: Ricky
Wadjda: iamdaniel

I’m wondering if this is something we can just keep on doing, maybe for an entire year? How great would it be to end up with 52 scene-by-scene breakdowns with extensive analysis, all of them posted in the site’s archives? That would be an excellent resource for screenwriters.

We begin next Monday with Argo. Anybody else care to sign up for another script from those we host on this site? Please let me know in comments.

Beyond that, I’d love to see folks participate in our daily analysis of these scripts.

If we do this right, the series could be a tremendous learning opportunity.

Thanks in advance. Let’s do this!

UPDATE: Now up to 12 volunteers. That’s nearly 3 months worth of script analysis. Plus we should be getting some 2014 scripts available here in the next few weeks as the studios roll out their For Your Consideration sites. I have a feeling this series is going to be a tremendous learning exprience for all involved. Thanks to the volunteers!

UPDATE #2: We’ve got 15 volunteers! Great job, everyone!

Go Into The Story Week In Review: October 20-October 26, 2014

October 27th, 2014 by

Links to the week’s most notable posts:

Austin Film Festival: Do you have questions for John August, Richard Kelly and Jim Uhls?

Austin Film Festival: Do you have questions for Craig Borten, Tom Schulman and Jim Uhls?

Austin Film Festival: Do you have questions for Whit Stillman?

Daily Dialogue Theme for Next Week: Madness

David Milch: “The Writer’s Voice” (Part 1)

David Milch: “The Writer’s Voice” (Part 2)

David Milch: “The Writer’s Voice” (Part 3)

David Milch: “The Writer’s Voice” (Part 4)

David Milch: “The Writer’s Voice” (Part 5)

Declare Your Independents – Vol. 35

Dispatch from the Front Lines: Rob Hoskins on Resistance and Permission

Great Character: Danny Torrance (The Shining)

Great Scene: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Great Scene: King of Hearts

Great Scene: Life of Brian

Great Scene: The Natural

Great Scene: The Thing from Another World

Great Scene: Up

Great Scene: Zorba the Greek

How Birdman Got Made

Interview (Audio): Todd Haynes

Interview (Video): Diablo Cody

Interview (Written): Theodore Melfi

On Writing: Flannery O’Connor

Reader Question: Could you provide some insight into the script development process?

Saturday Hot Links

Screenwriting 101: Michael Arndt

Screenwriting News (October 20-26, 2014)

Script To Screen: Bonnie and Clyde

Spec Script Sale: “Plus One”

The 2014 For Your Consideration Screenplay Download Season officially begins!

Twitter Rant: @MysteryBritExec on Life as a Development Executive

Twitter Rant: Craig Mazin on the Working Relationship between Studio Execs and Writers

Why we love repetition in music… and stories

Wrangling Your Story

Writing and the Creative Life: Mind Wandering

Twitter Rant: Craig Mazin on the Working Relationship between Studio Execs and Writers

October 24th, 2014 by

On Wednesday, @MysteryBritExec went on an informative Twitter ‘rant’ about life as a feature development executive, which I posted here. Inspired by her rant, Craig went off on one of his own. Reprinted in its entirety here by permission.

First, make sure you are primarily motivated by fear. This will be easy, as it’s that thing you’re soaking in at work.

You’ll likely be working at a studio or production company in which everyone is frightened to death. And of what?

They’re frightened of everything. There is no formula for success. Movies succeed because they magically connect with millions of people.

Sometimes they do not magically connect with millions of people. The “magic” part isn’t actually magic. It’s substance, but here’s the catch.

It’s not substance that you, the development exec, provides. It’s substance the writer provides, at least initially. So you have a choice.

Believe in their ability, and guide and help them to do the best they can, or attempt to mitigate your fear through CONTROL.

It’s likely the people you work for are big believers in the CONTROL method. Because this is what the fear tells you:

1. Writers don’t have the answer. The only answer is to repeat a past success, because that’s controllable.

2. Writing isn’t a proper job like “put in x hours to assemble y widgets of measurable in z units of quality.” So writers are suspect.

3. The harder you beat a writer, the more work you get out of them, and quantity is quantifiable, ergo CONTROLLABLE.

4. Your job and your livelihood are unfairly tied to the output of this self-important non-real-job artiste, so you must CONTROL them, or…

5. …the will control YOU. Then you will be seen as weak by your coworkers and bosses. You will be the wounded gazelle.

It also requires you to downgrade the importance of the quality of the script. A script is just a script anyway. Who knows?

By the time the movie comes out and flops, you’ll be developing THE NEXT BIG THING and you won’t be fire-able.

Remember, the CONTROL method is about making your emotional state Job #1. Risk is for idiots. It rarely pays off. In fact, you’ve noticed—

–almost NOTHING pays off in development. Go ahead. Try and be good. Congrats. Your movie didn’t get greenlit. Or did and flopped.

Meanwhile, the sociopath in the office next door just got promoted, and their output is no different than yours. So why bother?

You were told that there was the promise of great power in development. You could be the Big Shot with the Green Button.

And THEN… on THAT day… you could finally do some good and make some terrific movies. At last! Ah, but even now, you know that’s a lie.

You’ve been trained by those people, and you can see there’s only fear and desperation for control in their hearts. That’s all there is.

And the higher you climb the ladder, the worse it gets. You’re not just afraid for your job. Now you’re afraid for EVERYONE’S job.

There are some development executives who seem to have succeeded by caring for writers and putting the movie above all other concerns.

But they’re the rare ones. Keep telling yourself that. There’s far more people doing your job worrying about what you’re told to worry about

So keep worrying. Hold on tightly. Show no faith. Control. Compromise to mitigate risk. Chase past success. Aim for quick, easy approval.

If you can do all that, there’s a .001% chance you’ll run a studio one day. But there’s a 99% chance you keep your job today.

There’s also a 99% chance you’ll burn out and move on in ten years, because one morning, you wake up and think “Wait. What am I doing?”

“What’s the point?”

Maybe then you will remember why you cared in the first place. Maybe then you will understand the true nature of risk and reward.

It’s easy to be the wrong kind of development executive. It’s hard to be the right kind. But there is no reward for being the wrong kind.

If you want to make money, you’re in the wrong business. Go work in finance. If you want power, you’re in the wrong business. Go to D.C.

You do not make movies. You love and support and guide and challenge the people who do. That’s the heart of it. And I promise you this:

If you can truly love us, we will love you back in a way you can’t even imagine. Because we are desperate for people like you.

End.

Addendum: WHO is as important to me as WHAT. I love the people I’m working with these days. I won’t work for anyone I don’t.

Final addendum: when dev execs truly put the writer first and control of the writer second, they invariably get more control of the writer.

There you have it, straight from the front lines from a writer who knows both the craft and the business. Insight into what it’s like to work on both sides of the desk and a plea to aim for our higher angels when it comes to actual act of developing and making movies.

Thanks, Craig!

Follow him on Twitter: @clmazin.

Twitter Rant: @MysteryBritExec on Life as a Development Executive

October 23rd, 2014 by

Yesterday @MysteryBritExec went on an informative Twitter ‘rant’ about life as a feature development executive. Reprinted here by permission:

Seems I haven’t really advertised that well that this is the area of the industry I work in. It is, & I have only ever worked in feature dev.

In a nutshell, a dev department sources new feature ideas and finds the writers and directors that will bring them, hopefully, to life.

The real meat and potatoes of the work is reading, reading, reading, note writing and working with writers in an editorial capacity.

We source ideas in a gazillion ways. It’s a highly competitive sport. Development people vie for talent & material.

We play our cards close to our chest. Good people, good ideas, are hard to find.

We track theatre, tv, films, books, magazines, news stories, comics, docs, shorts. Anything that could possibly offer up a movie idea.

We are all over all of that shit. Often matchmaking material with the writers and directors we love.

We’re the dept ur script gets sent to. We’re the guys that read & decide whether u hve the talent, imagination, craft to make it at our co.

We’re also the people that sit with you for however many hours it takes, going through your script, offering you insights and notes…

Hopefully these will ensure your next draft is stronger and more successfully conveys the movie everyone has signed up to make.

As a writer, your relationship with your exec can be incredibly creatively rewarding for both parties…

Particularly if that exec is the person who found and championed your project. If they believe in your and love your writing.

A good exec becomes emotionally involved with your project. It becomes their baby too. They will lose sleep, dig deep and fight for it.

They will share in its triumphs and wallow with you if it fails.

They will work with you in a not dissimilar way to a book editor. A good one will spend real, quality time (many, many hours)…

…Reading and thinking about your script before coming to you with their notes.

A good exec has excellent communication skills, is a people person, has a phenomenal amount of patience.

They are also able to relay what can feel like criticism in a nurturing and supportive way.

This doesn’t always happen. Some execs are abrasive, but still have good instincts. Some are lovely people, but they are being too kind.

Ultimately, this is not going to help your career. You are better off with someone blunt but smart, than someone sweet but lacking insight .

Experience and confidence are key. But also, you know, just being a nice, empathetic person.

There is probably a dearth of quality development execs in the UK. This is because it’s not a job you can get a qualification for.

Sure, you can do that McKee course, and various others like it, but actually, unless you naturally have the skillset, they are of no use.

This is partly because to be a truly great exec at senior level, you must bring w/ you the relationships you started building as an asst.

Where you started having coffee with the agents assts who one day will be big shots. The short film makers who will one day be Oscar winners

The second reason for learning on the job is that unlike novels, magazines or any other form of printed words…

We none of us (or very few of us) are reading screenplays from childhood onwards.

When you first enter the industry, the format will likely be new or at least newish to you conceptually…

Figuring out how those words might likely translate onto the big screen is a skill that can only be acquired in practice.

It’s worth reminding yourself that no finish film every resembles the script that went into production exactly. Often it varies enormously.

The practice of development in a vacuum is bullshit and teaches nothing. So if you want to learn…

…it is imperative you work at a company that is actually producing movies. Perhaps this sounds obvious, but it isn’t always heeded.

As a junior, you are better off working somewhere whose taste you may be at odds with, but who are hitting out at least 2-3 movies per year

Rather than working somewhere that have a couple of classy films to their name but are only getting one of the ground every couple of years.

Also, you want to stay in gainful employment, right? No movies, no prod fees, no profit, no salary, hello redundancy.

And this is happening again and again and again, even to the most robust UK companies.

It’s worth pointing out that you can make good money working in dev, but only if you rise to a very senior level at a successful company.

The lower tiers of dev, the small indies, woefully underpay for this skillset. So there is quite a divide. The workload varies enormously too.

You can also expect to get paid a lot more at a commercially successful company than you can working for an organisation more concerned with…

Promoting British Film and British Talent than they are with profit and loss. That’s just common sense though.

So these days, development departments must be lean, highly skilled and very efficient. You must be someone writers want to return to.

You must play a vital and effective role in their creative process.

Ideally, you spoil writers w/your insightful skills, care, effort, attention & the foresight to always schedule meetings to run over lunch.

If you are good at your job you will gain a reputation in the ind.& become 1st choice for agents in terms of looking for homes for projects.

As you get more senior in the field, the job widens out further, and you end up taking much more of a producer role.

Sometimes EP, sometimes P. You will be on set often, maybe even every day. You will be there through post, cutting room, grade, mix etc.

Once you get to this level, your ability to segue into a fully fledged prod is pretty sewn up. It’s up to you if you want to stick or twist.

For your eves & w/e’s to become a constant negotiation between reading off your overflowing pile of scripts, or binge watching Transparent.

You will always, ALWAYS have that Sunday night oh fuck I have to do my homework feeling.

If the thought of this makes you feel sick, a career in dev is not for you.

Be prepared to never find time to read a book for pure pleasure again. Every piece of material you consume is now a potential project.

Be alert, don’t let is sail by. Someone else will pick it up and then you will want to kill yourself, if your boss doesn’t get there first.

You will have to pitch against 10 other companies battling for the rights for a book you have fallen in love with…

Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose and you will lose sleep over it and pray for its ultimate failure.

Here’s the most bizarre bit about development. You are working constantly in a theoretical space.

You have to maintain passion and invest emotionally, sometimes for years, in material that one day may just all end up on the shelf.

This is an odd thing indeed. And it takes a particular kind of individual to be able to apply themselves in this way.

You have to love the process. If you don’t, it will frustrate you and make you angry. You need patience and you need to love writers.

You need to love words. More than anything, you need to love stories. They must be as imp to u as crisps, cake, bacon &oxygen. In that order

It might be interesting to share that of the thousands of scripts that come through the door, actually a very small % make it on the slate.

It’s just as likely for projs to be generated from within a co. This may be unique the UK, or unique to the couple of co’s I have worked for.

So more likely we option a novel, a documentary format, a short film, an article etc, and match it with a writer and or director…

That we have been actively tracking, are fans of, and want to be making movies with.

This is why it’s just as important that you get read by us as it is you get your feature picked up.

Ultimately you want to get to a place where companies are bringing their ideas to you, or inviting you to pitch.

Original ideas are vital to the film industry, but it’s also nice to have good material offered to you.

In my experience, these kinds of marriages, where the prod co has identified material that is on brand for them, makes them excited…

…and brought it to a preferred writer, ends up having the strongest chance of making it to production.

Deve can be the most frustrating job in the world. Sometimes you run the race over several years and fall at the very last hurdle…

How philosophical you can be about this is vital to your longevity in this section of the industry.

But dev can also be the most rewarding job in the world. There is no greater feeling than getting a draft in, seeing the writer has run free…

…and been inspired by your notes, and you know that your input has just helped take the project infinity steps closer to production.

You know that you were integral to that piece of material reaching millions of people. And that, in a nutshell, is why I work in movies.

We are not saving lives, but if something I help shape/bring to life makes Friday night of the general, hardworking public that bit better…

– provides the catharsis or release, then I feel like my contribution to the planet has been worth something.

End.

We may write a script in a vacuum, but once it enters a studio or production company’s system, that story is very much impacted by a group of human beings known as development execs. Hopefully you find execs who are smart, savvy and passionate about story. If you do intersect with them, do whatever you can to nurture those relationships and keep them in your professional and creative constellation. Those connections are gold.

I can tell you this: If I were living and working in the U.K., I’d be doing my damnedest to find @MysteryBritExec because clearly – she gets it.

Thanks to @MysteryBritExec for this Twitter ‘rant’ not only for the wisdom conveyed here, but also because it spawned another outburst of insight yesterday from screenwriter Craig Mazin. It’s a fantastic follow-up to this rant and Craig kindly gave me permission to reprint it. Look for that hopefully tomorrow.

Meanwhile if you’re not following @MysteryBritExec, get your virtual ass over to Twitter and do it right away!

Wrangling your story

October 20th, 2014 by

Some call it breaking a story. Others cracking a story. I prefer wrangling a story. Whatever you call it, you have to do it… figure out the story. What goes where. Who does what to whom. And for most writers, the ideal time to do that work is before you type FADE IN.

What we call prep-writing.

Of the many things that can go wrong with a screenplay, perhaps the most frequent contributor to a project’s crash-and-burn is the writer not spending enough time in prep wrangling their story.

Conversely if you do spend sufficient time in the prep-writing phase of the process, you significantly increase the chances you’ll not only finish your script, but produce a draft that will be much closer to realizing your goals.

WranglingComplexity

When Tom Benedek and I launched Screenwriting Master Class nearly four years ago, the very first class we offered was Prep: From Concept To Outline. I created the workshop precisely because I believe so strongly in the value of prep-writing combined with the fact there is nothing out there remotely close to the approach I had in mind.

Prep: From Concept To Outline is a 6-week online workshop in which you start with your basic idea and your story’s Protagonist, then through a series of weekly writing exercises, you develop and build your story’s structure. Not just the plot, but also what’s going on in the emotional and psychological world of your story universe, the foundation of Character Based Screenwriting.

Character work. Brainstorming. Plotting. Subplots. Connecting the dots. Mapping your narrative. Weekly teleconferences where we workshop your story. In the end, you have a detailed outline providing you a foundation upon which you can craft a first draft.

What’s more, you can adopt this approach — and adapt it to your own unique skills — for every future writing project.

I will be leading the next session of Prep beginning next Monday, October 27. So if you have a good idea for a movie and want to learn a professional approach to wrangle it, sign up now for Prep: From Concept To Outline.

If you have any questions about the workshop or what we offer online through SMC, please post in comments or email me.

Amazing things happen in these workshops, so I look forward to the opportunity to dig into your story with you!

Austin Film Festival: Do you have questions for Whit Stillman?

October 20th, 2014 by

The Austin Film Festival and Conference begins later this week and I’ll be there as part of the Black List team speaking at three events and moderating three others. For those of you who will not be attending the Festival, I want to give you a virtual opportunity to participate with the possibility I will select some of your questions to ask panelists during my moderating sessions.

Austin Film Festival

A Conversation with Whit Stillman: Sunday, October 26 • 3:00pm – 4:15pm
The Driskill Hotel, Ballroom

Come absorb the wit and wisdom emanating from author, screenwriter, and director Whit Stillman. Known for writing and directing the films Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco, and Damsels in Distress, Stillman is a modern Jane Austen, critiquing the “urban haute bourgeoisie” with satirical charm. Learn about the art of observation, contemplation, and articulation in your stories while enjoying some “Whitty” repartee along the way.

The focus of our conversation will be the writing and creative process behind the movie Metropolitan, so fans of the movie and Whit as a filmmaker, head to comments and post your questions. I will consider including the best ones for our discussion.

You may follow Whit on Twitter:

Whit Stillman: @WhitStillman

For those of you who will be at this year’s AFF, be sure to look me up. Also we will have a very casual Go Into The Story / Screenwriting Master Class meet-up in the Driskill Hotel bar area on Sunday, October 26 beginning at 4:30PM. Spread the word and see you there!

Austin Film Festival: Do you have questions for Craig Borten, Tom Schulman and Jim Uhls?

October 20th, 2014 by

The Austin Film Festival and Conference begins later this week and I’ll be there as part of the Black List team speaking at three events and moderating three others. For those of you who will not be attending the Festival, I want to give you a virtual opportunity to participate with the possibility I will select some of your questions to ask panelists during my moderating sessions.

Austin Film Festival

Status Quo: Saturday, October 25 • 10:45am – 12:00pm
The Driskill Hotel, Ballroom

Some of the most satisfying screenplays revolve around characters who choose not to conform to the status quo. Whether they are carpe-ing the diem or smuggling drugs to save lives, the act of taking matters into their own hands makes for rich and often emotional stories. Hear from the writers behind Dead Poets Society, Dallas Buyers Club, and Fight Club for a conversation on ways to infuse themes of status quo in your screenplay, and where to break your own rules in regards to story structure and development.

If you have any questions for Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club), Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society), and Jim Uhls (Fight Club), please post them in comments. Make sure they have some relevance to the subject of the session as detailed in the paragraph above and I will consider including the best questions for the discussion.

You may follow these screenwriters on Twitter:

Craig Borten: @CraigBorten
Jim Uhls: @wohojak

For those of you who will be at this year’s AFF, be sure to look me up. Also we will have a very casual Go Into The Story / Screenwriting Master Class meet-up in the Driskill Hotel bar area on Sunday, October 26 beginning at 4:30PM. Spread the word and see you there!

Austin Film Festival: Do you have questions for John August, Richard Kelly and Jim Uhls?

October 20th, 2014 by

The Austin Film Festival and Conference begins later this week and I’ll be there as part of the Black List team speaking at three events and moderating three others. For those of you who will not be attending the Festival, I want to give you a virtual opportunity to participate with the possibility I will select some of your questions to ask panelists during my moderating sessions.

Austin Film Festival

The Sanity Spectrum: Friday, October 24, 10:45AM-12:00PM
St. David’s Episcopal Church, Bethel Hall

The protagonist is often the audience’s guide through a narrative, the anchor for all the twists and turns a story reveals. So what happens when that character is not what he or she seems, and when the very core of the film’s veracity is called into question? Screenwriters who have crafted characters that range from psychotic to psychopathic will discuss the difference between the two, as well as their own mental decisions when crafting such complex characters. Join the brains behind Fight Club, Big Fish, and Donnie Darko for an inside look at exploring distorted realities and the sanity spectrum in screenplays. We promise they’ll tell the truth.

If you have any questions for John August (Big Fish), Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), and Jim Uhls (Fight Club), please post them in comments. Make sure they have some relevance to the subject of the session as detailed in the paragraph above and I will consider including the best questions for the discussion.

You may follow these screenwriters on Twitter:

John August: @JohnAugust
Richard Kelly: @JRichardKelly
Jim Uhls: @wohojak

For those of you who will be at this year’s AFF, be sure to look me up. Also we will have a very casual Go Into The Story / Screenwriting Master Class meet-up in the Driskill Hotel bar area on Sunday, October 26 beginning at 4:30PM. Spread the word and see you there!

Go Into The Story Week In Review: October 13-October 19, 2014

October 19th, 2014 by

Links to the week’s most notable posts:

9 Interviews with Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship Winners

Black List Live! presents Brian Duffield’s “Your Bridesmaid Is a Bitch”

Daily Dialogue Theme for Next Week: Dying Words

Declare Your Independents: Volume 34

GITS Interview: Damien Chazzelle (Whiplash)

Great Character: Rosemary Woodhouse (Rosemary’s Baby)

Great Scene: Apocalypse Now

Great Scene: As Good As It Gets

Great Scene: Back to the Future

Great Scene: Cast Away

Great Scene: Full Metal Jacket

Great Scene: On the Waterfront

Great Scene: Schindler’s List

Interview: Frank DeJohn & David Alton Hedges (2013 Nicholl winners)

Interview: Stephanie Shannon (2013 Nicholl Winner, 2013 Black List)

Interview: Barbara Stepansky (2013 Nicholl Winner, 2013 Black List)

Interview: Michael Werwie (2012 Nicholl Winner, 2012 Black List)

Interview (Video): David Ayer

On Writing: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ron Meyer on Hollywood ‘Assholes,’ CAA ‘Monsters’ and Advice for the Next Generation

Saturday Hot Links

Scene-By-Scene Breakdown Challenge in November

Screenwriting 101: Ashleigh Powell

Screenwriting as Problem-Solving

Screenwriting News (October 7-13, 2014)

Script To Screen: Blue Velvet

Spec Script Sale: “Low Tide”

Spec Script Sale: “The Feud”

The ‘shortening’ of movies

THR: TV Agents Roundtable

Word Cloud Logline Challenge Winners!

Writing and the Creative Life: Seeing… Hearing…