The Signature Gesture: A Workshop in Expressive Writing

October 25th, 2014 by

Here is an experiment in something. At the precise moment this post goes live, I am at the Austin Film Festival co-hosting a workshop with Mary Coleman, head of Pixar’s story department. It’s called “The Signature Gesture: A Workshop in Expressive Writing.” Yes, another attempt at emphasizing the importance of visual writing. So in that spirit, here are 20 hand gestures presented by Italian models!

Like I said: Visual writing! Next year, plan on attending the Austin Film Festival. It’s amazing.

“Cross-Cut”: A visual homage to Blow Up, The Conversation, and Blow Out

October 23rd, 2014 by

A wonderful visual homage from Dr. Drew Morton (@thecinemadoctor) to three notable films:

Explore the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT with this video essay entitled “Cross-Cut.”

Via Indiewire and Drew Morton.

Video: “The Wire” cast reunion

October 20th, 2014 by

Via Slate:

On Thursday night, as part of the Paley Center for Media’s PaleyFest 2014, the cast of  The Wire reunited for an hour-long panel discussion, which you can watch in full above. Though not everyone could attend—Dominic West and Idris Elba chimed in via video messages—the panel included the show’s co-creator David Simon and executive producer Nina Kostroff Noble as well as cast members Michael K. Williams (Omar), Wendell Pierce (Bunk), Sonja Sohn (Kima), Seth Gilliam (Carver), Jim True-Frost (Prezbo), John Doman (Rawls), Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. (D’Angelo), and Jamie Hector (Marlo). More cast members—Tristan Wilds, J.D. Williams, Bob Wisdom, and Michelle Paress—were seated in the audience.

Here is video of the event:

Just makes me miss “The Wire” even more.

Slate article here.

Video: “The Silence of the Lambs” – Who wins the scene

October 19th, 2014 by

Deft analysis by Tony Zhou of a key scene from The Silence of the Lambs.

The positioning of the camera is interesting, but that’s something over which screenwriters have little control. Sure, we can write “Clarice sits down” which can create an image in the mind of the reader that Lecter is standing above Starling. But our job isn’t to direct the camera so much as it is to direct the psychological interplay between characters. Obviously we can do that through dialogue, which character assumes a power position through attitude, information, revelations, etc. But we can also convey it through scene description.

Here are some actual description lines of this scene from Ted Tally’s shooting script:

Clarice stops, at a polite distance from his bars, clears 
her throat.

She complies each time, trying to hide her fear.

A tense beat, then a smile from him, at this small boldness.

He rises, glances at it, turning a page or two disdainfully.

Suddenly he whips the tray back at her, with a metallic CLANG 
that makes her start. His voice remains a pleasant purr.

His every word has struck her like a tiny, precise dart. But
she squares her jaw and won't give ground.

He steps backwards, then returns to his cot, becoming as still 
and remote as a statue.

Notice the combination of action and emotion in these excerpts. The scene is most definitely a battle to see who will win it and the description helps to convey that.

Check out Tony Zhou’s Vimeo site for more excellent videosl

Video: Watch the final shot from every Best Picture Oscar Winner

October 10th, 2014 by

As writers, we spend a lot of time thinking about a script’s very first image. What about the final image? What can we write that sums up where we want a script reader to end up emotionally? For inspiration, here is a terrific video compilation: The final shot from every Best Picture Academy Award winning movie:

Via /film,, and The Final Image.

Video: New York Film Festival “Inherent Vice” press conference

October 9th, 2014 by

Here is the trailer for the new Paul Thomas Anderson movie:

Video: 25 years of “The Simpsons” couch gags at once

October 8th, 2014 by

The audio reminds me of that part in The Beatles’ “Day in the Life” where all the of orchestral instruments go up the scale by half-notes [listen here].

Simpsons link via Toybox.

Video: Sarah Polley and Greta Gerwig on “Frances Ha”

September 26th, 2014 by

17 minute conversation between Sarah Polley and Greta Gerwig about the indie film Frances Ha from the Criterion Collection:

Via VICE and Indiewire.

Video: True Detective – A Tribute

September 25th, 2014 by

Via Indiewire.

Video: “The Master” – 20 minute deleted reel

September 24th, 2014 by

HT to one of my students Dakota Proctor for the link.

A 1-hour Q&A with writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson about The Master: