Screenwriting

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What’s the perfect zombie-killing weapon? We settle the question with writer/director Joel Morgan, who may or may not be opening a crowbar store in the near future. And if one Apocalypse isn’t enough, we’ve got another in the form of comments made by Steven Spielberg about the inevitable “meltdown” of the Hollywood studio system. Geoff and I get our hands dirty with that one before appreciating and responding to this screenwriting post by Scott Myers at Go Into the Story. Grab your crowbar and prepare yourself. For more from us on a daily basis, follow Joel Morgan (@joelmorgan23), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #21 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Zombieland TV

Amazon recently launched 14 TV-style pilots (including Zombieland), and they’re asking users to provide feedback that will theoretically help them decide which shows to keep and what to do with them. Is it a smart move to democratize the development process or will shows end up cowering in fear below a ravenous mob of faceless. aggregated opinions? Veteran actor Donal Logue weighs in on bringing pilots to the people, shares some Copper-style 19th century Irish American history and drops a piece of advice that should make you change your mindset about finding success. Plus, Geoff wants to warn aspiring writers about the wrong way to present your work. Then, screenwriter Justin Marks and The Bitter Script Reader join us to dig way too deep into what Amazon is trying to do. For more from us on a daily basis, follow Logue (@donallogue), Justin Marks (@justin_marks_), The Bitter Script Reader (@BittrScrptReadr), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #16 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Han and Greedo

There were far too many news stories about Star Wars this week. It was a shock and awe campaign of rumors, half-truths and legitimate plans that all pointed to Disney making 29 new films featuring all our favorite characters for the next seventy years. To help dig through it all, Full of Sith podcast host Consetta Parker and Jovial Jay from TheForce.net join us to explain whether a movie about Yoda, Boba Fett or Han Solo should shoot first. Plus, Identity Thief screenwriter Craig Mazin explains how to make an uninteresting character interesting, and Geoff and I tackle a listener question about overcoming the fears of rejection and imperfection by talking about our own biggest failures. Download Episode #5

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Girls Lena Dunham

Hosts Geoff LaTulippe and Scott Beggs hate Girls, so they’re celebrating it with Kate Erbland, who was nice enough to help them understand the genuine love for Lena Dunham‘s terribly average HBO series. Also on this week’s show, Broken City director Allen Hughes talks shooting fast, celebrating 20 years of Menace II Society and why he loves crime dramas, and Geoff explains a truly despicable “management” scam that aspiring screenwriters need to protect themselves against. Don’t get suckered. Listen now. Download Episode #2

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The Black List

As it says on its website, The Black List — the annual guide to the most well-liked unproduced screenplays floating around Hollywood — is responsible for over 200 scripts getting made into films. The unique project was created by Franklin Leonard, a production executive working up until recently for Overbrook Entertainment, who drops the listing every year on the second Friday in December. In the past, it’s been a useful tool for both writers who want to get their work noticed and executives who want to find something worth making. If there’s been any true critique of The Black List, it’s that it’s too insular. As Slate’s David Haglund noted in 2011, it’s a project that celebrates work that’s already made its way inside the impossibly closed circle of the Hollywood studio system. Perhaps in response to that criticism (but probably born more from a broader, higher ideal), Leonard didn’t wait until Christmas to unveil a new mission: to open the Black List to everyone. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter, The Black List is now a machine for getting your work read by the right people. For $25 a month, per script, they’ll host your work in a database where 1200+ professionals (studio and non) will be able to read it, propelled by an algorithm of ratings. Obviously, nothing like this has been tried before, but because it’s such an exciting initiative, it also demands a high level of scrutiny. To that end, Leonard has penned a lengthy piece explaining his […]

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Four Stories Filmmaking Competition

You’ve only got 7 more days to enter the Four Stories Filmmaking Competition, which means you’ve either got to hustle or you’re still polishing and perfecting. Either way, we’ve decided to help out with a few free pieces of advice that might come in handy. The contest – sponsored by W Hotels, Intel, The Directors Bureau and Roman Coppola – is unique in that its prompt involves two strict rules about where the story must be set (inside a W Hotel) and what has to be at the heart of the story (an Ultrabook laptop). Think of it as a grown-up version of creative writing class where the chance to have your script made by a Coppola is at stake along with two cool trips and a bit of spending money. I don’t remember my creative writing teacher ever being able to offer that (sorry, Mr. Boyd!). So if everyone is shackled by these challenges, how do you stand out? The creativity is up to you, but hopefully these 4 tips will get you that extra push you need for that 20th revision to really sing.

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Charlie Kaufman

Charlie Kaufman is crazy, but he’s not that crazy. This according to Charlie Kaufman. He also can’t tell you how to write a screenplay, which is the frustrating truth straight from the Oscar winner’s mouth. After all, if writing were like putting together something from IKEA, we’d all have golden statuettes. Meaningless gold statuettes. Kaufman is the kind of writer that challenges convention. From Being John Malkovich to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to his directorial debut Synecdoche, New York, even his titles aren’t typical. He’s thoughtful and careful, but most of all he’s a daring explorer tracking through uncharted terrain hoping to find something special but not necessarily hoping he’ll blaze a trail to it. He’s also got a lot to say, so here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a totally sane crazy person.

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Adaptation Nic Cage

The Writers Guild of America‘s latest survey of screenwriters [PDF] shows that the world of storytelling isn’t that sunny. From the bother of late payments to the difficulty of sweepstakes pitching, the overall number of screenwriters is down along with the overall money their industry is able to make. So what happened? For former WGA board member Craig Mazin, it seems like the movie industry is less and less interested in making movies. He joins us to explain a key business shift that created a huge work gap between screenwriters, to dissect the results of the survey, and to define some of the technical jargon. Oh, and if you’re looking for a happy ending, this particular Hollywood story might not have one. Fair warning. Check out the entire 24-minute interview below: Download This Interview Enjoy More Reject Radio

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Adaptation Nic Cage

Citing late payments and a general feeling that giving away some rewrite work for free is necessary to compete, the latest WGA survey shows that writers are more than a bit unhappy. The survey, which is done anonymously for protective reasons, caused the WGA to say that “screenwriters believe their status in the industry has significantly deteriorated over the past several years,” in a recent letter to union members following the results. According to Variety, feature film earnings in 2011 dropped 12.6% to a total $349.1m and employment figures dropped by 8.1% to a total of 1,562 writers employed. Whether or not this lays the groundwork for a new strike is unclear. The 2008 strike focused greatly on payment shares for the burgeoning digital market, but widespread difficulty in securing meaningful work is undoubtedly a more strident reason to renegotiate terms or, if need be, to threaten to stop work. Yes, a strike would affect the entire industry all the way down the line. Even if these conditions are a result of the natural belt-tightening done by the major studios – notably focusing on tentpoles instead of middle-budget features – they all must remember that, without a script, there is no movie. View the entire survey via LA Times (opens as a PDF).

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Aaron Sorkin Syracuse

Aaron Sorkin gave us a counter-programmed President, and now he’s trying to imagine what the world of the press should have looked like over the past two years. Perhaps most known for creating TV shows like The West Wing and Sports Night, he’s also an Oscar winner who’s written 6 excellent films, starting with A Few Good Men. His resume is one thing, but even it can’t really encapsulate why he’s an important figure in filmmaking. That’s more ephemeral, the kind of thing that comes with making a distinctive name for yourself through a particular style. There’s no denying that Sorkin’s writing can be picked out of a line up, and that’s one of the major reasons he’s become such an intractable part of popular culture even while rising above its lower regions. Here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who can handle the truth.

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Nora Ephron on Set

Nora Ephron‘s film career – despite three Oscar nominations and credit with re-inventing an entire genre – somehow doesn’t get the legendary status that it probably deserves. She only wrote and/or directed a few more than a dozen movies, but in those films she delivered iconic characters that achieved a sense of honesty that few filmmakers are even brave enough to approach. She fought myopic views about her sex to build fame as a journalist, an essayist, a novelist, a screenwriter and a director. She got started in screenwriting because everyone else was writing scripts, her film school was being on set with Mike Nichols, and her work made a huge impact on popular culture and faked orgasms. So here it is, a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a comedy genius.

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Daniel Stamm‘s A Necessary Death is like a shot of whiskey that’s easy to pour but not easy to drink. His directorial debut (which won him the job for The Last Exorcism) follows a film student making a documentary about a man preparing for, and going through with, his suicide. It’s difficult territory to be certain, but it’s handled with grace, humor, and more than a few touching moments which make the horror of the inevitable and the twisting emotions growing in the film crew that much harder to handle. It’s an excellent movie, and Stamm joins us to delve deeper into its creation (and audience’s reactions). Download Episode #138

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As Todd Solondz explains, Dark Horse is a different kind of take on the Judd Apatow celebration of the Manchild. It’s a bit more aggressive, a lot more realistic, and complex in the way that fans have come to expect from the director of Welcome to the Dollhouse and Palindromes. Set beyond cheerful pop music, the film follows Jordan Gelber, looking a lot like Jeff Garlin, as he attempts to navigate what he views as a cruel, unfair world in the yellow hummer his parents bought for him. He discovers something like love with the depressed Miranda (a differently-named character reprised by Selma Blair from Storytelling), and he struggles (often hilariously) to understand a world shifting around him. Fortunately, Solondz took some time out to discuss his take on later-life childhood, how to respond to fans who laugh at child-rape, and how the indie filmmaking world has changed since the 1990s. Download Episode #135

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Perfectionist. Demanding. Hard to work with. David Fincher is a man who hates his own brand but is secure in his own reputation. Of course, it’s a little bit easy when that reputation includes stunning movies and a mind that can operate at an auteur speed in the high-occupancy Hollywood studio lane. He’s a (mostly) accessibly genius, which is rare and which means that we as fans and filmmakers can learn a lot from him. Fortunately, he’s as free with his advice as he is with his nightmarish visions. Here’s a bit of free film school from a living legend.

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Alfred Hitchcock was born in the 19th century but gave birth in the 20th century to the age of modern filmmaking. Famous for his wit, inventive appreciation of the macabre, and a firm belief that suspense involves bringing a victim out from the shadows into the light he crafted the kinds of movies that made you care about characters even while reaching for your cholesterol medication. He also has a lot to teach. To fellow filmmakers and fans alike. Which is why we’ve chosen him as the first teacher in a new series of weekly articles where master movie-makers share their insights. Throughout his life, Hitchcock was candid about his methods and philosophies (amongst other things he flung around freely). Here’s a bit of free film school from a true visionary.

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Greta Gerwig is no stranger to screenwriting, as already in her young career she’s had writing credits on indie standouts like Nights and Weekends and Hannah Takes the Stairs. But, most recently, she’s been focusing more heavily on acting, as she’s been getting a string of roles in increasingly more mainstream projects. She’s gone from being the darling of the mumblecore movement, a sort of punk rock form of indie filmmaking that was all the rage a few years ago, to having roles in mainstream comedies like Arthur and No Strings Attached, and being featured in the films of big names in the arthouse world like Noah Baumbach, Whit Stillman, and Woody Allen. Still, despite her success in front of the camera, it doesn’t seem like the actress is ready to give up her creative pursuits behind the scenes just yet. In an interview promoting her work in Stillman’s recent release, Damsels in Distress, Gerwig talked to The Telegraph about a project that she has recently written; one that’s already been shot, even though there isn’t any news about it out there. That’s very sneaky.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

I know you are all wondering which local film was my favorite at SXSW 2012, and though I know that you know that by asking that question you are placing me in a very awkward position because I do not like to play favorites I will oblige your request nonetheless. Kid-Thing. There, I said it. Are you satisfied now? I suspect I will find a severed horse’s head in my bed courtesy of Jonny Mars (America’s Parking Lot) and/or Bob Byington (Somebody Up There Likes Me) as early as tomorrow morning. Thanks a lot! Well, can I backtrack and say that they were all great?

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It’s always refreshing to hear a filmmaker talk candidly about the concerns and difficulties of creating something as large as, say, a blockbuster comic book movie that’s expected to draw in millions of fans and even more millions of dollars. Today’s burst of honesty comes from The Avengers director Joss Whedon, who told Empire Magazine (via Comic Book Movie) a ton about the project. Check out the link for more. The money quote: “It was an up-all-month job. Finding the characters’ voices was not only easy, but glorious fun. It doesn’t suck to write Tony Stark, yet finding the structure was just brutal. I haven’t had that much trouble making a screenplay work since Serenity and, embarrassingly, for the exact same reason: there’s just too many characters.” It’s fair to say that’s also a concern for fans, but it’s less that there are so many characters and more that there are so many massive, super-powered, enlarged egos in the film. How do you give them all space to shine brightly? Fortunately, the best reason to be optimistic that Whedon stuck the landing with the script is his work on “The Astonishing X-Men,” a comic book series that might just be the best X-Men storyline in Marvel‘s catalog. If the man can handle that universe and that many larger-than-life characters, it seems reasonable he can do it in the condensed format of film. It’s also fantastic to see him talk about how much fun he had crafting the heroes. Joss Whedon […]

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This week, on a very special Reject Radio, we talk with the filmmakers behind The Devil Inside about going guerrilla in Vatican City (and responding to negative reviews) and writer Derek Haas (3:10 To Yuma, Wanted) about jumping between screenwriting, short stories, and his “Silver Bear” novel series. Plus, it’s Rob Hunter vs. Robert Fure in the first Movie News Pop Quiz of the season. Let the slap fight commence! Download This Episode

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we speak with Paranormal Activity 3 star Lauren Bittner, get some minute-by-minute screenwriting tips from “Something Startling Happens: The 120 Story Beats Every Writer Should Know” author Todd Klick, and we present a very special interview with Mr. Orson Welles (as played by an inebriated Geoff LaTulippe). At least 2/3rds of the show is a great idea. The rest is a genius idea that just might burn down the internet. Download This Episode

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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