Video: THR’s Drama Writer’s Roundtable

September 2nd, 2015 by

Showrunners Lee Daniels (‘Empire’), Damon Lindelof (‘The Leftovers’), Alex Gansa (‘Homeland’), Sarah Treem (‘The Affair’), Michelle King (‘The Good Wife’), and Beau Willimon (‘House of Cards’) for The Hollywood Reporter’s Drama Showrunner Emmy Roundtable where the writers discuss their characters and their work.

Via THR.

Video: The Use of Doors in Film

August 5th, 2015 by

This is an excellent tutorial on the use of doors in narrative, well worth watching.

Doors can signify separation… inclusion… warning… welcome… power… weakness. They are threshholds and crossing through one can lead to new experiences… and consequences.

The next time you write a scene, consider if you can use a door to add some visual meaning to the narrative.

Via Darren – MUST SEE FILMS.

Questions: What’s Your Favorite Line From A Movie?

July 29th, 2015 by

Another in great videos from the Academy Originals series. Here filmmakers share their favorite lines from movies.

Some great lines mentioned here by a bevy of people involved in the film business — writers, actors, producers, production designers, editors. And a nice treat, most of the lines are featured on an actual script page, a nifty nod to screenwriters.

HT to @amandapendo for the link.

To check out more Academy Originals videos, go here.

Video: “The Power of Storytelling”

July 28th, 2015 by

This came across my Twitter feed yesterday:

Naturally I had to watch it and I’m glad I did. Beginning with a cautionary tale about two villagers who go off on a hunt, the video makes four points about the power of story. Here they are with excerpts from McKellan’s commentary:

1. Story is a vessel for information: “The villagers who listen, learn the lessons and live longer.”

2. Story creates an emotional connection: “A good story well told makes our brains simulate what if would actually be to live those events.”

3. Story displays cultural identity: “Culture can be defined as the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, a way of sharing who we are.”

4. Story is fun: “Evolution has made the three most important things in life deeply enjoyable: Fuel, sex, and survival have become cuisine, love, and stories. Each taps into a raw human desire and fulfilling them, gives us a kind of happiness hundreds of thousands of years in the making.”

There you go, straight from the mouth of Gandalf by way of Frodo Baggins, a nifty reminder about the power of story.

For the Vimeo site of the video, go here.

Video: Now THIS is how you pitch a movie!

April 9th, 2015 by

Via Whitest Fan You Know.

Video: “Subconscious Cinema” (Supercut)

March 23rd, 2015 by

Earlier today, Gabe Adelman sent me a note re a supercut he’s just uploaded to his Dreamscience Vimeo site. Called “Subconscious Cinema,” it’s an excellent visual exploration of dreams in movies. Check it out!

Here is a list of the film excerpts featured in the supercut:

Sherlock Jr. 0:00
Spellbound 0:04
8 ½ 0:07
Vertigo 0:08
Little Nemo in Slumberland 0:09
The Big Lebowski 0:14
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 0:16
Blade Runner 0:20
Aliens 0:22
Brazil 0:23
A Nightmare on Elm Street 0:24
American Beauty 0:27
Inception 0:30 0:55
Vanilla Sky 0:32
Un Chien Andalou 0:35
Waking Life 0:38
Eraserhead 0:43
The Wizard of Oz 0:46
Dumbo 0:47
Take Shelter 0:50
Paprika 0:57
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 0:59
Alice in Wonderland 1:03
The Matrix 1:06
Cache 1:09
Waltz with Bashir 1:12
The Cell 1:14
Shutter Island 1:22
Watchmen 1:28
Terminator 2 1:30

The voice-over narration used in the video comes from Waking Life, Spellbound and Inception.

Gabe’s supercut reminds us that dreams have a long history in filmmaking. Several reasons for this:

* They are visual which plays to the cinematic strength of this narrative form.

* They can reveal a character’s backstory and do it in ways ranging from mystery to unvarnished truth.

* They can physicalize in images a character’s deepest fears.

* They can show us a character’s secret desires and needs.

In other words, they are a visual way of tapping into a character’s subconscious self, exposition relying on images rather than dialogue, entertaining as well as revelatory due to their kinetic, even chaotic nature. When used well, dreams are a valuable asset in a filmmaker’s arsenal of storytelling tools.

For the Dreamscience site, go here.

Video: “First and Final Frames”

March 19th, 2015 by

Takeaway: As screenwriters, we need to be mindful of our script’s opening image and last image. Not only grab their attention as they start the script. Not only to leave the reader with a specific emotional state at the end. A first and final image can visualize the nature and degree of transformation on the part of key characters, most notably the Protagonist.

Via Jacob T. Finney.

HT Mental Floss.

Video: Ava DuVernay’s Keynote Address at SXSW Live 2015

March 18th, 2015 by

Ava DuVernay is one of the brightest, most talented filmmakers I have ever had the opportunity to interview. She is the first African-American woman nominated for Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards for Best Director for Selma, in addition to Independent Spirit and NAACP Image Award nominations. She won the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 for her acclaimed feature Middle of Nowhere. Her previous narrative and documentary work includes I Will Follow, Venus Vs., My Mic Sounds Nice and This is The Life. Prior to her directorial career, DuVernay worked as a film marketer and publicist for more than 14 years.

It’s a rousing speech focusing on this theme: The intention of our attention.

For my June 2013 interview with Ava, go here.

Video: Paddy Chayefsky in 1969 “The Mike Douglas Show” appearance

March 17th, 2015 by

The only screenwriter to win three Academy Awards for his movies: Marty, Hospital and Network. Here in a 1969 appearance on “The Mike Douglas Show” with Jack Lord, star of of “Hawaii 5-0,” which probably explains the leis.

Video: “The Origins of Auteur Theory”

March 13th, 2015 by

Filmmaker IQ has been running a recurring series of videos on the history and development of movies. Their latest offering is excellent: “The Origins of Auteur Theory”.

The very idea that the director is the “author” of a movie, ushered in during the French New Wave movement, and its acceptance by film critics and promulgation by university cinema professors was a massive blow to screenwriters, a battle we are still fighting to this day.

Yes, directors go off and make movies. They can do anything they want to the script. However unless they write the script, it is specious to claim they are the “author” of the movie. Moreover filmmaking is a collaborative effort involving dozens or even hundreds of people. The notion is simplistic.

Anyhow the mentality still exists, more or less, and if you wish to work in Hollywood, you would do well to understand the historical context out of which the auteur theory arose. The video above does a good job in presenting that history.

For the rest of the videos in the Filmmaker IQ series, go here.