Spec Script Deal: “Moonfall”

June 24th, 2016 by

Universal Pictures acquires science fiction spec script “Moonfall” written by Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, and Spenser Cohen. From Deadline:

This one is best described as Emmerich’s 2012 mashed together with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, following an unlikely band of misfits who must unite to save humanity when the moon falls out of orbit and hurtles towards earth.

Emmerich and Kloser are repped by CAA. Cohen is repped by WME.

You can read my May 2013 interview with Spenser Cohen here.

By my count, this is the 33rd spec script deal of 2016.

There were 35 spec script deals year-to-date in 2015.

2016 Scene-Writing Challenge: Day 18

June 24th, 2016 by

For the fourth straight year, June is Scene-Writing Month here at Go Into The Story. Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific, I will upload a post with a scene-writing prompt. Each day, write a scene per those guidelines. Upload your scene here in the comments section of the original post. That way you can critique others’ pages and receive feedback on your scene as well.

Why scene-writing? If the average scene is 1 1/2 to 2 pages long and a script is 100-120 pages, then a screenwriter writes between 50-80 scenes per screenplay. Thus in a very real way, screenwriting is scene-writing. The better we get at writing scenes, it stands to reason the better we get as a screenwriter.

To provide extra motivation for this series — to get people to WRITE PAGES — I am giving away some of my Core classes to Scene-Writing Challenge participants. That’s right: For free!

Everything you need to know about screenwriting theory in this unique curriculum based on eight principles: Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, Time.

CORE I: PLOT – A one-week class which begins with the principle Plot = Structure and explores the inner workings of the Screenplay Universe: Plotline and Themeline. Start date: June 27.

CORE II: CONCEPT – A one-week class which begins with the principle Concept = Hook and examines multiple strategies to generate, develop and assess story ideas. Start date: July 11.

CORE III: CHARACTER – A one-week class which begins with the principle Character = Function and delves into archetypes: Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, and Trickster. Start date: August 8.

CORE IV: STYLE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Style = Voice and surfaces keys to developing a distinctive writer’s personality on the page. Start date: August 22.

CORE V: DIALOGUE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Dialogue = Purpose and probes a variety of ways to write effective, entertaining dialogue. Start date: September 19.

CORE VI: SCENE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Scene = Point and provides six essential questions to ask when crafting and writing any scene. Start date: October 3.

CORE VII: THEME – A one-week class which begins with the principle Theme = Meaning and gives writers a concrete take on theme which can elevate the depth of any story. Start date: November 14.

CORE VIII: TIME – A one-week class which begins with the principle Time = Present and studies Present, Present-Past, Present-Future and time management in writing. Start date: December 12.

Each is a 1-week online class featuring 6 lectures written by me, lots of screenwriting insider tips, logline workshops, optional writing exercises, 24/7 message board conversations, teleconferences with course participants and myself to discuss anything related to the craft of scriptwriting.

A popular option is the Core Package which gives you access to the content in all eight Craft classes which you can go through on your own time and at your own pace, plus automatic enrollment in each 1-week online course — all for nearly 50% the price of each individual class. If you sign up now, you can have immediate access to all of the Core content.

In June, to qualify to take one of my Craft classes for free, write and submit ten [10] Scene-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers. The former to get you writing, the latter to work your critical-analytical skills.

A chance to take any of my eight Core classes, interface with me online along with the usual stellar group of writers who take Screenwriting Master Class courses, while using writing exercises and feedback to upgrade your skill at writing and analyzing scenes?

ISN’T THAT AN AWESOME IDEA?!!!

That’s what I’m prepared to do to encourage you to write pages.

A couple of logistical notes:

* Limit your scenes to 2 pages. First, most scenes are 2 pages or less in length. Second, out of fairness to everyone participating in the public scene-writing workshop, let’s not abuse anyone’s patience or time with really long scenes.

* Don’t be concerned about proper script format when you copy/paste your scene, rather the content and execution are the important thing. So as a default mode, do this: (1) Don’t worry about right-hand margins on scene description or dialogue, just keep typing until it manually shifts each line. (2) Don’t worry about character name position, rather do this:

SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

RHETT: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Today’s prompt: A scene inspired by this photograph.

What is that look: Disbelief? Disgust? Confusion? What is he looking which is causing this reaction?

If you are interested in qualifying for 1 free Core class with me, please note in each post you submit the number of scenes you have written. If today is your first effort, note that it is Scene 1. The next one, Scene 2. And so forth.

Also when you provide feedback on someone’s scene, please note in each reply the number of comments you have uploaded. So if today is your first response, Feedback 1. The next one, Feedback 2.

You are on an honor system, as I don’t have time to check every post, so do the right thing!

Remember: In order to qualify for one of my free Core classes, you need to submit ten [10] Scene-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers. One post and one feedback per scene prompt.

FEEDBACK TIP: Why not genre-switch the scene? If the scene is drama, suggest a comedy approach. If the scene is comedy, how about a thriller take?

Want to join in? Here are the previous challenge prompts:

Day 1 challenge: A scene set in an inhospitable environment, e.g., outer space, underwater, desert.

Day 2 challenge: A scene involving a secret.

Day 3 challenge: Two people talk while dancing.

Day 4 challenge: The audience knows something the characters don’t.

Day 5 challenge: Miscommunication.

Day 6 challenge: A character reviews a series of voice mails, each with worse news.

Day 7 challenge: An intervention.

Day 8 challenge: A scene with a man holding a gun.

Day 9 challenge: Introduce a character with a memorable impression.

Day 10 challenge: A conversation with someone who’s locked him/herself in the bathroom.

Day 11 challenge: One character has to break bad news to the other.

Day 12 challenge: A scene where the entire conversation takes place off-screen.

Day 13 challenge: Settling an argument by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Day 14 challenge: A pet uses voice-over narration to comment on a family fight.

Day 15 challenge: Leaving a voice mail.

Day 16 challenge: Smack talk at a sporting event.

Day 17 challenge: A character has a ‘conversation’ with him/herself in the mirror. 

You can check out the fruits of our collective labor from the last three years:

Scene-Writing Exercises (2013)
Scene-Writing Exercises (2014)
Scene-Writing Exercises [2015]

Finally if you have what you think is a good suggestion for a scene-writing prompt, please post that as well.

It’s the 2016 Scene-Writing Challenge! Give a jolt to your creative and writing muscles… and win 1  free online class with yours truly.

NOTE: When you can verify the 10 scenes you’ve written and the 10 scenes on which you provided feedback, email me and let me know which of the eight Core classes you’d like to take. That’s all you need to do!

Onward!

Writing and the Creative Life: Of Beginnings and Endings

June 24th, 2016 by

Brothers and sisters, we all know the act of writing a story is hard work. Coming up with good ideas. Figuring out characters, Solving plot issues. Confronting scenes that don’t work. Dialogue that won’t come. Losing sight of where we’re going. Sometimes writing can be the very last thing we want to do.

I am here to say… I feel your pain.

I have struggled with my writing the last few days. And then yesterday afternoon as I was pacing around my office deep in thought, I had a feeling…

That you and I could both use a boost.

And so I am here to provide us with a few reminders about beginnings and endings.

Remember when you first came up with the story idea you’re currently writing?

How great that felt?

Let’s take a deep breath and relive the joy of that initial discovery, those first few days and weeks of knowing we’d hit on a spectacular idea for a story. That’s right… take a deep, deep breath right now…

Now here’s another reminder. Remember the last time you finished writing a story? Made it through all the rewrites, that final edit. You clicked on “Print,” then listened as your printer churned out your pages.

Try to remember picking up those pages. Feel their heft, their warmth fresh from the printer. Then lift those pages and breathe in that wonderful smell of completeness… and let yourself feel that incomparable sense of creative joy! You made it to the end!

My friends, a writer’s journey is an arduous one. But armed with a great concept and filled with the knowledge that we have done this before and we can do it again, let us go forth… and get ourselves all the way from FADE IN to FADE OUT!

So here we go: Another blast of virtual creative juju for the entire GITS community. Whoosh!

Go forth… and write your ass off!

[Originally posted May 22, 2014]

Daily Dialogue — June 24, 2016

June 24th, 2016 by

Ramona: Dude, I’m changing.
Scott: Ah. I’m just cold.

She moves close to him.

Ramona: Does that help?
Scott: Hm, that’s warm.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), screenplay by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright, graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: First Dates.

Trivia: Mary Elizabeth Winstead actually memorized ALL of the kinds of tea that her character rambles. Some crew members kept offering for her to just read it from a piece of paper, but she insisted on learning it all.

Dialogue On Dialogue: There’s the “meet cute” trope. Then there’s the “oops, I stumbled in on you while getting dressed” trope.

Reader Question: Does a writer have any control over casting decisions?

June 23rd, 2016 by

A question via email from Z.D.:

First I would like to tell you that I am enormously grateful for your blog and your advice, which is really priceless, especially for an aspiring screenwriter. You really are a true mentor and a fantastic person for doing that. I could not imagine a better teacher.

I would like to ask you a question, if I may.

Is there any way to convince the producers to cast a certain actor in the movie made out of my script?

Let’s say, they liked the pitch, they are interested in the story and there is a chance they are green lighting the project.

However, to me, there is only a certain person, a certain actor I would like to play the lead. I do not care about the money as much as I care about the story itself, the right casting included, and let’s say I had a certain person in my mind while writing my Protagonist, and I would suffer to see anyone else in this role.

Is there any chance I have anything to say in this, or do I just need to accept the truth – that the producers decide, who is cast, especially if I am a newbie and do not have any connections or know that actor personally.

I would be really grateful for an answer, because in my method of work, I cast certain actors in certain roles in my mind a lot and then get attached to characters who have their faces and their voices and behave in a certain way.

Thank you very much in advance!

Z.D., when you “cast certain actors in certain roles” in your mind, this is a practice pretty common among screenwriters. It’s often referred to as ‘star casting’ and I’ve interviewed pro writers who do the same thing. It’s a way of ‘seeing’ a character, ‘hearing’ a character, getting a fix on them to facilitate the writing process.

That’s all to the good and I can certainly understand how and why a writer such as yourself, Z.D., can “get attached to characters who have their faces and their voices” reflecting a particular actor.

Here’s the deal: You have little to no control over these matters. Let’s say you sell a spec script. In meetings with producers, execs, and the director, you can certainly let them know your desires. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just that at the end of the day, it’s the director who is going to head off and make the movie. A casting director will be hired. They will put up dozens of names for key roles, perhaps including your actors, perhaps not. Offers will be made. Some actors will accept. Others won’t. Some may drop out to schedule issues. Casting a movie can be a highly fluid situation.

And there’s this: The actors you have in mind may simply not be available to do your movie. They may not even respond to the material. You have no control over that.

Besides your focus, especially as someone just breaking into the business, should be on getting the movie made. You want that credit in your resume. That’s how you can start to build a career.

So my suggestion is prepare yourself for the likelihood that your movie will not land your ‘star cast’ actors. However while making that suggestion, let me offer up another thought: What if the actors they do cast knock the ball out of the park? What if they do an even better job than you could have imagined with your ‘star cast’ actors? It’s quite possible they can. So while steeling yourself to shut the door on your fantasy cast, open another door to the chance the real cast can take your story and do wonders with it.

Meanwhile if ‘star casting’ works for you as a tool to help you write great characters, keep at it. Just don’t get too attached to them. Once you set up your script, it becomes the blueprint to make a movie, a process in which the writer’s role gets smaller as the production moves forward. Therefore you would be wise to shift your fixation on your cast of actors to getting the movie produced.

If anyone has another question about the craft or business of screenwriting, please head to comments. For nearly 300 other reader questions and answers, go here.

“22 Story Basics from Pixar”

June 23rd, 2016 by

In researching a previous post, I ran across a slew of blog items I’ve done over the years featuring the Pixar process of storytelling. How about this from 2012:

Emma Coats — “freelance director of films, boarder of story” — recently posted 22 #storybasics I’ve picked up in my time at Pixar. Here is a series of posts I ran featuring each of the 22 which I and members of the GITS community analyzed each one.

“22 story basics from Pixar”: #1-4

“22 story basics from Pixar”: #5-9

“22 story basics from Pixar”: #10-13

“22 story basics from Pixar”: #14-18

“22 story basics from Pixar”: #19-22

But this particular story doesn’t end here witness an email I received from Stephan Vladimir Bugaj:

Hi Scott,

I’m a filmmaker who has been at Pixar for 12 years, including codeveloping stories with one of our directors for the last 3 years, and then cowriting a feature screenplay for one of those stories full-time for the last year. I’m also an avid GITS reader.

I love sharing what I’ve learned at Pixar with other filmmakers, and to that end I have a free eBook available which goes in-depth into the now famous “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Story”.

I think it would be of interest to other GITS readers.

It’s totally free for anyone who wants to read it, no strings attached.

Please feel free to share the link, or embed the PDF download directly, in a GITS article online.

To download the free ebook, click here.

At the time I noted how I disagree with the term “rules”. First off, I don’t believe there are any rules related to screenwriting and storytelling in general. Second, I don’t think Pixar perceives their practices as rules either. A better word choice might be principles or practices or as Emma Coats referred to them in her original post story basics.

In any event, Stephan’s ebook is a valuable addition to our collection of texts in helping us learn more about the Pixar process and their success as storytellers.

I think anyone who works at Pixar would tell you there’s no magic formula involved. Just a lot of hard work and trusting in their collective process.

One Way to Deal With Peak TV: Watch Programming in Fast Forward

June 23rd, 2016 by

Click on the video below and watch the clip.

Is this how you want to watch TV? 1.6 times faster than normal? May not be your cup of tea, but it works for Washington Post ‘Wonkblog’ writer .

I have a habit that horrifies most people. I watch television and films in fast forward. This has become increasingly easy to do with computers (I’ll show you how) and the time savings are enormous. Four episodes of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” fit into an hour. An entire season of “Game of Thrones” goes down on the bus ride from D.C. to New York.

I started doing this years ago to make my life more efficient. Between trendy Web shows, auteur cable series, and BBC imports, there’s more to watch ever before. Some TV execs worry that the industry is outpacing its audience. A record-setting 412 scripted series ran in 2015, nearly double the number in 2009.

That’s right: 412 scripted series.

This is where the trick of playing videos at 1.5x to 2x comes in — the latest twist in the millennia-old tradition of technology changing storytelling. The concept should be familiar to many. For years, podcast and audiobook players have provided speedup options, and research shows that most people prefer listening to accelerated speech.

In recent years, software has made it much easier to perform the same operation on videos. This was impossible for home viewers in the age of VHS. But computers can now easily speed up any video you throw at them. You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like. YouTube allows you select a speedup factor on its player. And a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime.

Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. “Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I’ve lived before finding this gem!!” one user wrote.

Well, speeding up the programming is one way of handling all of this TV programming. Here’s another suggestion which doesn’t require any special software.

Turn off the goddammed TV! Take a walk! Talk with your family! Commune with nature! Read a book! Or you can live your life like this:

For the rest of the Washington Post article, go here.

2016 Scene-Writing Challenge: Day 17

June 23rd, 2016 by

For the fourth straight year, June is Scene-Writing Month here at Go Into The Story. Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific, I will upload a post with a scene-writing prompt. Each day, write a scene per those guidelines. Upload your scene here in the comments section of the original post. That way you can critique others’ pages and receive feedback on your scene as well.

Why scene-writing? If the average scene is 1 1/2 to 2 pages long and a script is 100-120 pages, then a screenwriter writes between 50-80 scenes per screenplay. Thus in a very real way, screenwriting is scene-writing. The better we get at writing scenes, it stands to reason the better we get as a screenwriter.

To provide extra motivation for this series — to get people to WRITE PAGES — I am giving away some of my Core classes to Scene-Writing Challenge participants. That’s right: For free!

Everything you need to know about screenwriting theory in this unique curriculum based on eight principles: Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, Time.

CORE I: PLOT – A one-week class which begins with the principle Plot = Structure and explores the inner workings of the Screenplay Universe: Plotline and Themeline. Start date: June 27.

CORE II: CONCEPT – A one-week class which begins with the principle Concept = Hook and examines multiple strategies to generate, develop and assess story ideas. Start date: July 11.

CORE III: CHARACTER – A one-week class which begins with the principle Character = Function and delves into archetypes: Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, and Trickster. Start date: August 8.

CORE IV: STYLE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Style = Voice and surfaces keys to developing a distinctive writer’s personality on the page. Start date: August 22.

CORE V: DIALOGUE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Dialogue = Purpose and probes a variety of ways to write effective, entertaining dialogue. Start date: September 19.

CORE VI: SCENE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Scene = Point and provides six essential questions to ask when crafting and writing any scene. Start date: October 3.

CORE VII: THEME – A one-week class which begins with the principle Theme = Meaning and gives writers a concrete take on theme which can elevate the depth of any story. Start date: November 14.

CORE VIII: TIME – A one-week class which begins with the principle Time = Present and studies Present, Present-Past, Present-Future and time management in writing. Start date: December 12.

Each is a 1-week online class featuring 6 lectures written by me, lots of screenwriting insider tips, logline workshops, optional writing exercises, 24/7 message board conversations, teleconferences with course participants and myself to discuss anything related to the craft of scriptwriting.

A popular option is the Core Package which gives you access to the content in all eight Craft classes which you can go through on your own time and at your own pace, plus automatic enrollment in each 1-week online course — all for nearly 50% the price of each individual class. If you sign up now, you can have immediate access to all of the Core content.

In June, to qualify to take one of my Craft classes for free, write and submit ten [10] Scene-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers. The former to get you writing, the latter to work your critical-analytical skills.

A chance to take any of my eight Core classes, interface with me online along with the usual stellar group of writers who take Screenwriting Master Class courses, while using writing exercises and feedback to upgrade your skill at writing and analyzing scenes?

ISN’T THAT AN AWESOME IDEA?!!!

That’s what I’m prepared to do to encourage you to write pages.

A couple of logistical notes:

* Limit your scenes to 2 pages. First, most scenes are 2 pages or less in length. Second, out of fairness to everyone participating in the public scene-writing workshop, let’s not abuse anyone’s patience or time with really long scenes.

* Don’t be concerned about proper script format when you copy/paste your scene, rather the content and execution are the important thing. So as a default mode, do this: (1) Don’t worry about right-hand margins on scene description or dialogue, just keep typing until it manually shifts each line. (2) Don’t worry about character name position, rather do this:

SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

RHETT: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Today’s prompt: A character has a ‘conversation’ with him/herself in the mirror. 

Write a 1-2 page scene, then copy/paste in comments.

If you are interested in qualifying for 1 free Core class with me, please note in each post you submit the number of scenes you have written. If today is your first effort, note that it is Scene 1. The next one, Scene 2. And so forth.

Also when you provide feedback on someone’s scene, please note in each reply the number of comments you have uploaded. So if today is your first response, Feedback 1. The next one, Feedback 2.

You are on an honor system, as I don’t have time to check every post, so do the right thing!

Remember: In order to qualify for one of my free Core classes, you need to submit ten [10] Scene-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers. One post and one feedback per scene prompt.

FEEDBACK TIP: Does the dialogue sound conversational? If not, suggest some edits which can make the scene feel more authentic.

Want to join in? Here are the previous challenge prompts:

Day 1 challenge: A scene set in an inhospitable environment, e.g., outer space, underwater, desert.

Day 2 challenge: A scene involving a secret.

Day 3 challenge: Two people talk while dancing.

Day 4 challenge: The audience knows something the characters don’t.

Day 5 challenge: Miscommunication.

Day 6 challenge: A character reviews a series of voice mails, each with worse news.

Day 7 challenge: An intervention.

Day 8 challenge: A scene with a man holding a gun.

Day 9 challenge: Introduce a character with a memorable impression.

Day 10 challenge: A conversation with someone who’s locked him/herself in the bathroom.

Day 11 challenge: One character has to break bad news to the other.

Day 12 challenge: A scene where the entire conversation takes place off-screen.

Day 13 challenge: Settling an argument by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Day 14 challenge: A pet uses voice-over narration to comment on a family fight.

Day 15 challenge: Leaving a voice mail.

Day 16 challenge: Smack talk at a sporting event.

You can check out the fruits of our collective labor from the last three years:

Scene-Writing Exercises (2013)
Scene-Writing Exercises (2014)
Scene-Writing Exercises [2015]

Finally if you have what you think is a good suggestion for a scene-writing prompt, please post that as well.

It’s the 2016 Scene-Writing Challenge! Give a jolt to your creative and writing muscles… and win 1  free online class with yours truly.

NOTE: When you can verify the 10 scenes you’ve written and the 10 scenes on which you provided feedback, email me and let me know which of the eight Core classes you’d like to take. That’s all you need to do!

Onward!

The Business of Screenwriting: Chilled white whine

June 23rd, 2016 by

On March 7, 1988, the Writers Guild of America went on strike. It lasted 155 days and is the longest work stoppage in Guild history. Having only joined the Guild one year previous, the experience was an eye-opener for me.

Am I referring to how studios and networks treat writers shabbily? The long and storied history of the Guild? Appropriate picket line etiquette?

Sure, all that. But what I remember most from the experience is this: Writers just bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch.

Or perhaps more appropriately: Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch, kvetch, kvetch.

Whether it was picketing studios or meetings at the Hollywood Palladium, you never heard such a whining group of people in your life. It seemed like every single writer with whom I spoke had one or more sob stories. Even at the general meetings with like 1,000 members in attendance, where the WGA board was sitting up on stage, and there were two microphones for the membership to voice their concerns about the strike, more often than not what emerged from the lips of writers and boomed across the P.A. system was not some erudite assessment of labor negotiating points, but rather some long-winded saga about how the writer had been screwed by a studio / network / director / producer / agent, take your pick.

Seriously, that is my main memory of those 155 days. Tramping along in a picket line next to all these slump-shouldered, slack-jawed, squinty-eyed writers pissing and moaning about this deal that had gotten screwed up… or that script which had been rewritten… their movie that had been butchered.

It was a weekly dose of chilled white whine.

Then after the picketing was over, these same writers would shuffle off to their BMW’s, Jaguars, or Mercedes-Benz coupes, motoring off to their homes in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, or Pacific Palisades.

[That is supposed to be ironic.]

Why do I bring up this bit of arcane history? Because when you sell a script and move to L.A. to work in the film or TV business, you will rub shoulders with lots of writers. And as sure as there will be stop-and-go traffic on the 405 every day, those writers will whine.

Then check this out: If you have a long enough career, all sorts of professional evils will befall you that will make you whine.

It comes with the territory: Writer = Whiner.

You need to understand there are times when you can safely whine… and times when you really should keep your damn mouth shut. Here are some basic guidelines.

Persons, entities, or objects with whom you can whine at any time: Spouse, pet (dog or cat, although I find dogs to be better listeners), your car, tennis pro, hair stylist, psychiatrist, masseuse, rabbi, minister, yoga instructor, next door neighbor (although that depends upon if they work in the entertainment business or not), clouds, bottle of Scotch, Hector the yard guy, and most of all other writers. Writers are the only group you have a free pass to whine at any time about any subject related to the business. We are an equal bitching opportunity community.

Persons to whom you can whine often but not always: Your agent, manager, lawyer. The commission you pay to them buys you the right to complain… occasionally. However you must be cognizant of their eyes when you get caught up in your whine-fest. If they start to glaze over, wrap it up and bounce. [Kvetching to them over the phone is a total waste of time because you can be assured they are not paying you any attention, instead tracking the CNBC stock market scroll on their TV]. If you whine too much or too frequently to an agent, manager or lawyer, you will get the reputation of being… well… a whiner… and that can lead to your phone not ringing.

Persons to whom you can rarely whine: Producers. Technically this ought not be the case as the producer on a project is supposed to be involved in much weightier matters than listening to you drone on and on about yet another senseless rewrite the studio wants you to do, but producers are used to dealing with so much shit on a daily basis, you can go whine-o on them occasionally without any fear of retribution.

Persons to whom you should never whine: Studio executives, director, actors. As far as all these people are concerned, the writer’s primary function is to solve problems. The script has issues? The writer takes care of them. If you whine to them about the injustice of your fate, that is equivalent to jamming a car into reverse without using the clutch. You are not supposed to whine. You are supposed to listen to them whine.

Here is a short glossary of phrases you can interject into your whining:

“I mean who are they kidding?”

“Rewrite this!”

“How many trees have I killed writing treatments for these bozos.”

“Uh, yeah, I’m serious.”

“And of course, that would change the entire plot!”

“They told me I had that assignment.”

“I hate this city.”

“And they like literally had not even read the coverage.”

“Those were his exact words.”

“Give him a dead wife. That’s what they want.”

“Sometimes I… I… … …”

Armed with this vital information, you should be set up for years and years of meaningless whining.

The Business of Screenwriting is a series of GITS posts based upon my experiences as a complete Hollywood outsider who sold a spec script for a lot of money, parlayed that into a screenwriting career during which time I’ve made some good choices, some okay decisions, and some really stupid ones. Hopefully you’ll be the wiser for what you learn here.

[Originally posted September 22, 2011]

Daily Dialogue — June 23, 2016

June 23rd, 2016 by

GOOFY: You’re doing the right thing, son.
MAX: Yeah, I know, but she’ll probably never talk to me again.
GOOFY: Well, if she doesn’t, maybe she’s just not the one for you.
MAX: That’s what I’m afraid of.

Max walks to the door of the house and rings the bell. Roxanne’s father answers the door.

MAX: Uh, hi. Remember me?

The door slams in Max’s face.

ROXANNE: (Inside) Daddy! (She opens the door.) Max? I saw you on TV. You were great!
MAX: Yeah? I…I mean no…no. I mean I…Roxanne, I lied to you. I don’t even know Powerline.
ROXANNE: What are you talking about? A billion people saw you dance with him.
MAX: Yeah, well, I…I never met him before…the concert, that is.
ROXANNE: You mean that story about Powerline and you dad…? Why would you make up something like that?
MAX: I don’t know. I guess I just wanted you to like me.
ROXANNE: I already liked you, Max. From the very first time I heard you laugh. The “hyuk.” So, you want to do something tonight?
MAX: Definitely. Oh…oh no, I can’t. I can’t.
ROXANNE: What?
MAX: Well, uh, I’m kinda doing something with my dad. Honest! How about tomorrow?
ROXANNE: Deal.

She holds out her hand. Max kisses her.

A Goofy Movie (1995), screenplay by Jymn Magon, Chris Matheson and Brian Pimental, story by Jymn Magon, story supervisor Brian Pimental, additional material by Curtis Armstrong and John Doolittle

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: First Dates. Today’s suggestion by Will King.

Trivia: Early drafts of the script had different destinations for Goofy and Max to drive cross-country to including getting to Hawaii and getting on a game show called America’s Funniest Gladiators.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Will: “The entire premise of this movie is an elaborate prank by Max to win a date with the girl of his dreams: Roxanne. Max is sure she would never date him, so he makes up a story that his father knows one of the greatest entertainers on earth, Powerline (a Michael Jackson clone), and scrambles to make the lie a reality while trying to keep his father in the dark during a summer road trip. The ruse becomes the truth when Max and Goofy actually do end up on stage with the performer, but now Max must return to the beginning and admit to his falsehood.”