New Media and Made for TV Films

Remember when feature films used to be the leaders in cinematic expression?

No?

Well, come to think about it, that was pretty long ago. Here’s an interesting video about the new leaders of the media pack. Enjoy and learn, gang!

From Cinema Cartography

Learning from the Best – Lawrence Kasdan

Lawrence Kasdan on how he writes those beautiful scripts. (Don’t worry if you aren’t sure who he is. The second paragraph below will fill you in.)

How They Write a Script: Lawrence Kasdan
by Scott Meyers

“I wrote screenplays as a way to get into production. I wrote six or seven before I sold one; that was The Bodyguard. I thought if I started selling these screenplays, I’d get a chance to direct. I thought that was the way in.”

Writer-director Lawrence “Larry” Kasdan is a prolific talent who has written movies in almost every genre including the thriller Body Heat (1981), possibly greatest action adventure movie of all time Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), arguably the best of the Star Wars movies The Empire Strikes Back (1983), the ensemble drama The Big Chill (1983), the western Silverado (1985), the adaptation of a best-selling drama The Accidental Tourist (1988), and the romantic thriller The Bodyguard (1992) among many other titles. Kasdan also makes for a great interview, a thoughtful observer of the craft of filmmaking. These excerpts come from “Backstory 4”, another in the fantastic “Backstory” series by Patrick McGilligan.

ON HOW HE GOT INTO SCREENWRITING

“I was interested in writing, and when I got to Ann Arbor [University of Michigan] I started writing theater and fiction and was able to see my plays get produced. I didn’t get into the film program for a while. I was never formally part of it — I was an English literature major — but I eventually started taking film courses. Very quickly I began writing feature-length screenplays.

I wrote screenplays as a way to get into production. I wrote six or seven before I sold one; that was The Bodyguard. I thought if I started selling these screenplays, I’d get a chance to direct. I thought that was the way in.”

ON HOW HE GOT INVOLVED IN RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

“Steven [Spielberg] had purchased my script Continental Divide, which was very different from the film which resulted. The script had a kind of Hawksian speed, momentum, hopefully with about it. I don’t think the film turned out that way, which was one of those painful experiences I had early on. But Steven’s enthusiasm for it was what got me involved with him and George. I think that what they were looking for was someone who could write Raiders in the same way that [Howard] Hawks would have someone write a movie for him — a strong woman character, a certain kind of hero. So that’s what got me the job….

Read it all at blacklist.com

How They Wrote Fight Club

How in the world could anybody who has ever heard of Fight Club resist watching a video about the creation of this classic film?

Chuck Palahniuk (author), Jim Uhls (screenwriter), David Fincher (director), plus a host of others who were involved with the project are here for our educational pleasure. Who needs clickbait when you have info like this?

See more videos like this on the Behind the Curtain YouTube Channel

John August Talks About Writing

When the writer of Aladdin, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Charlie’s Angels talks about screenwriting, we listen. And we think you should too.

John August: ‘The Greatest Barrier To Writing Is Just Starting”
by Lucy V Hay

I had the pleasure of talking with ALADDIN, BIG FISH, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and CHARLIE’S ANGELS screenwriter John August recently.

John is not only an amazing and successful screenwriter, he is also generous in terms of the knowledge that he gives away. His in-depth podcast Scriptnotes (hosted with CHERNOBYL writer Craig Mazin) has more than 400 episodes and his blog (which can be found at www.JohnAugust.com) has more than 1500 posts.

Because he has already given away so much instruction in screenwriting, it was hard to find things to ask him that he hasn’t already answered a thousand times.

So instead of talking about the biz per se, we talked about his writing and his personal approach to the craft. I was thrilled to learn that despite his impressive CV, he’s a lot like the rest of us and his core advice is simple and actionable.

Famous screenwriters, they’re just like the rest of us … Who knew??

Here are three top insights from my chat with John. Enjoy!

1) Stop asking for permission

As a development executive and working screenwriter myself, I am always thinking about whether or not my ideas will sell. I get caught in the loop of wondering if something is marketable enough. This means I forget to just get on with creating a good story.

John echoed this when I asked him what questions he would like screenwriters to stop asking: “All the questions that start with some variation of “can I” or “am I allowed to” … That sense of needing permission.

Now, of course there are basics like proper formatting, grammar, and structure that should be addressed and mastered. But in terms of making a gripping story, John says not to worry about that too much….

Read it all at bang2write.com

How Dungeons & Dragons Can Improve Your Screenwriting

Found on the interwebs, a writing trick that not only makes sense, it also embodies that much misunderstood TV term, “high concept.”

This TVWriter™ minion is telling you straight from the, um, well, the place where most people have their hearts but I’m too snarky to admit it, the following info is gold. Way to go, Beverly Peders and WeScreenplay.Com.

by Beverly Peders

Recently I’ve helped a friend create a homebrew Call of Cthulhu campaign, which is a pen and paper roleplay like Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) only in Lovecraft’s world of Elder Gods. She handled most of the story since I don’t have much experience with either H. P. Lovecraft’s work or pen and paper role plays while I helped create props and a cipher-based language for her.

Seeing the behind-the-scenes work of a Dungeon or Game Master intrigued me. The construct of these campaigns doesn’t stray too far from what creating an interactive story like a video game would be. The only difference is that this seems like an incredible resource for writers to use as a tool for creating their own worlds and stories.

Here are just a few things you can improve by approaching your story with the mind of a Dungeon Master:

Character Construction

First off, every story needs characters. Every character gets split up into races, classes, etc. and are awarded points for their attributes (strength, charisma, etc) depending on what the character would realistically have. The specifics aren’t important, what’s important to note is that characters must be completely understood. Think to the strict formula Lajos Egri had for character development (see Building Characters with Lajos Egri). You have to know your character(s) inside and out. It is important to know that they are an entire individual.

While it may be time-consuming to create a complete character from scratch, that’s why there are D&D character sheets that ask the basic questions. You could use Lajos Egri’s formula if you like that better. Try not to let the statistics get to you, after all, this is meant to be a tool, not a game (unless you want to get some buddies together to role play your story idea – which doesn’t sound half bad!). However, think of what questions those statistics may bring to your mind. If this character has low constitution, is this because of a childhood sickness that affected their immune system? What does this mean about how your character reacts to certain problems in the future…?

Read it all at wescreenplay.com