Category Archives: Uncategorized

Online Screenwriting Resources

Websites

https://www.tv-calling.com/
http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/
TVWriter.com

http://kiyongkim.com/blog/
http://sheldonbull.com/blog/
http://www.janeespenson.com/
http://aspiringtvwriter.blogspot.com/

Go Into the Story
Bitter Script Reader
Sex in a Submarine

Done Deal Pro message board
Screenwriting subreddit

wordplayer.com
johnaugust
yourscreenplaysucks

http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog
cinephiliabeyond.org/
cinearchive.org/

a-bittersweet-life.tumblr.com/


http://screenwritingumagazine.com

https://thescriptlab.com/features/screenwriting-101/1608-writing-action-sequences-die-hard/
http://screenwritingumagazine.com/2017/05/08/5-favorite-youtube-bits-writing-dramas/

University of California Television
American Beauty – Alan Ball

The Hollywood Reporter roundtables

Eyes on Camera
Sam Mendez and Conrad Hall analyzing the American Beauty storyboards.

LA-Screenwriter.com

BAFTA Guru
Woody Allen: David Lean lecture

http://www.mtvu.com/shows/intern-confidential

south park writing lessson

NoFilmSchool.com
Screenwriting U

DGA.org – Visual History Interview
https://www.dga.org/craft/visualhistory

Podcasts

http://www.moviemaker.com/archives/inside-mm-bestof/more-essential-moviemaking-podcasts/

Scriptnotes… John August & Craig Mazin

The Nashville Public library has an amazing series, Legends of Film
Legends of Film
https://library.nashville.org/blog-series/legends-film-podcast
Michael Mann, Matthew Robbins, Tim Hunter, Gordon T. Dawson

The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith.
http://www.theqandapodcast.com/

Video Essayists

Every Frame A Painting
Buster Keaton – The Art of the Gag

vimeo.com/kevinblee
vimeo.com/davidchen
twitter.com/mattzollerseitz

Patrick (H) Willems
The Matrix: How to Begin a Movie (video essay)

Channel Criswell
The Social Network – Designing Dialogue

D4Darious D. A. R. I. O. U. S.
his 7 part series on writing the short film is very helpful.

STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE REVIEW
“Let’s Start at Moviemaking 101”

WGA — The Writer Speaks.
William Goldman

Billy Wilder Tapes… Billy How Did You Do It?

Filmmaking Channels

filmschoolcomments (https://www.youtube.com/user/filmschoolcomments)

FilmmakerIQ (https://www.youtube.com/user/FilmmakerIQcom)

Film Riot (https://www.youtube.com/user/filmriot)
Cinema Sins on YouTube

David Chen / Edgar Wright and the Art of Close-Ups

cinefix
5 Brilliant Moments in Camera Movement

Why Most Screenwriters Fail at Screenwriting – John Truby

Screenwriting’s #1 Rule – Show don’t Tell
http://www.flyingwrestler.com/2014/08/show-dont-tell/

Jen Grisanti
http://www.scriptmag.com/features/craft-features/creating-characters-craft-features/story-creating-transformation-understanding-void?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=scr-jvb-nl-170413&utm_content=936085_EDT_SM170413+Thurs+Script+Mag&utm_medium=email

Film Courage / 29 Screenwriter Mistakes (1hr:04)

D4Darious / 3 Act Structure

Moviemaker Magazine
http://www.moviemaker.com/archives/interviews/werner-herzog-interview-salt-and-fire/

Opening Shots Tell Us Everything
Now You See It

Breaking Bad — intervention scene aka talking pillow
http://www.amc.com/shows/breaking-bad/video-extras/season-01/episode-05/the-talking-pillow-inside-breaking-bad

Talking Pillow scene… Great use of voice.

or



Lessons From The Screenplay.
ARRIVAL – EXAMINING AN ADAPTATION

Lessons From The Screenplay
Breaking Bad – Crafting a TV pilot

Nerdwriter
Mulholland Drive: How Lynch Manipulates You

Nerdwriter
PASSENGERS, REARRANGED

Filming ‘The Trial’ [1981] (Unedited) – Rare Orson Welles Documentary

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Kitchen Timer Method

A good way to make yourself write. Don Roos, the clever mind behind The Opposite of Sex and Web Therapy, gave me this.

“KITCHEN TIMER”

The principle of Kitchen Timer is that every writer deserves a definite and do-able way of being and feeling successful every day.

To do this, we learn to judge ourselves on behavior rather than content. (We leave content to our unconscious; experience will teach us to trust that.) We set up a goal for ourselves as writers which is easy, measurable, free of anxiety, and fail-proof, because everyone can sit, and an hour will always pass.

Here’s how it works:

1. Buy a kitchen timer, one that goes to 60 minutes.

2. We decide on Monday how many hours of writing we will do Tuesday. When in doubt or under pressure or self-attack, we choose fewer hours rather than more. A good, strong beginning is one hour a day.

3. The Kitchen Timer Hour:
No phones. No listening to the machine to see who it is. We turn ringers off if possible. It is our life; we are entitled to one hour without interruption, particularly from loved ones. We ask for their support. “I was on an hour” is something they learn to understand. But they will not respect it unless we do first.
No music with words, unless it’s a language we don’t understand.
No internet, absolutely.
No reading.
No “desk re-design/landscaping”, no pencil-sharpening.

4. Immediately upon beginning the hour, we open two documents: our journal, and the project we are working on. If we don’t have a project we’re actively working on, we just open our journal.

5. An hour consists of TIME SPENT keeping our writing appointment. We don’t have to write at all, if we are happy to stare at the screen. Nor do we have to write a single word on our current project; we may spend the entire hour writing in our journal. Anything we write in our journal is fine; ideas for future projects, complaints about loved ones, even “I hate writing” typed four hundred times.

When we wish or if we wish, we pop over to the current project document and write for as long as we like. When we get tired or want a break, we pop back to the journal.

The point is, when disgust or fatigue with the current project arises, we don’t take a break by getting up from our desk. We take a break by returning to the comforting arms of our journal, until that in turn bores us. Then we are ready to write on our project again, and so on. We use our boredom in this way.

IT IS ALWAYS OKAY TO WRITE EXCLUSIVELY IN OUR JOURNAL. In practice it will rarely occur that we spend the full hour in our journal, but it’s fine, good, and right that we do when we feel like it. It is just as good a writing day as one spent entirely in our current project.

6. It is infinitely better to write fewer hours every day, than many hours one day and none the next. If we have a crowded weekend, we choose a half-hour as our time, put in that time, and go on with our day. We are always trying to minimize our resistance, and beginning an hour on Monday after two days off is a challenge.

7. When the hour is up, we stop, even if we’re in the middle of a sentence. If we have scheduled another hour, we give ourselves a break before beginning again — to read, eat, go on errands. We are not trying to create a cocoon we must stay in between hours; the “I’m sorry I can’t see anyone or leave my house, I’m on a deadline” method. Rather, inside the hour is the inviolate time.

8. If we fail to make our hours for the day, we have probably scheduled too many. Four hours a day is an enormous amount of time spent in this manner, for example. If on Wednesday we planned to write three hours and didn’t make it, we subtract the time we didn’t write from our schedule for the next day. If we fail to make a one-hour commitment, we make a one-hour or a half-hour appointment for the next day. WE REALIZE WE CANNOT MAKE UP HOURS, and that continuing to fail to meet our commitment will result in the extinguishing of our voice.

9. When we have fulfilled our commitment, we make sure we credit ourselves for doing so. We have satisfied our obligation to ourselves, and the rest of the day is ours to do with as we wish.

10. A word about content: This may seem to be all about form, but the knowledge that we have satisfied our commitment to ourselves, the freedom from anxiety and resistance, and the stilling of that hectoring voice inside of us which used to yell at us that we weren’t writing enough — all this opens us up creatively. When we stop whipping ourselves, our voices rise up inside.

Good luck!

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Be Kind To Your Reader

Keep in mind that everyone who will ever read your work is always overworked and overwhelmed. So you need to give them the information they need to stay comfortable in the easiest way for them to get it.

Make it easy for them to understand what is in your head. Just because you know something doesn’t mean they’re going to get the same image, same action, same meaning from the dialogue that you do.

Imagine your reader, sitting down to read your work, totally exhausted. Not chipper and “first thing in the day” bright and perky.

If you make them work too hard to figure out what you’re telling them, they won’t get it…

For instance… Do not make them read dates and expect them to do math.

Your movie takes place in 1980. Dad left Mom in 1968 and daughter is getting married now. Dad comes back for the wedding. Is Daughter thirteen now? Forty? Don’t assume your reader can do math and read at the same time. You’re lucky they’re reading your work, so make it easy for them. Say, “Today is 1980.” Dad left Mom 12 years ago, when Sally was ten. Now she’s 22 and getting married.” So much simpler.

Be nice.

Do not tax the reader’s overtired brain for any reason. Just cause you know something doesn’t mean the reader can easily do the work required to gain that knowledge. Assume they’re very sleepy and everything is difficult for them to figure out.

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Don’t Repeat. It wastes the reader’s time and brain cells.

Happy New Year!

I keep learning the same things over and over. This writing, it’s difficult. I figure, if I make the same mistakes constantly, and I’m a reasonably decent writer, then EVERYbody is making the same mistakes. It’s fine to make mistakes as long as you eventually fix them. That’s what multiple drafts are all about.

I find my college students and to a lesser extent, clients, have to be taught that their first draft is not perfect. Takes a lot of hot pokers, electroshock, and thumb screws to get them to pay attention. Some never do. The ones that get it, are thrilled to have been shown a tiny secret door to an unseen section of the universe.

So, a writerly thought for the dewy fresh new year…

I’m working on a novel. I’m going to give you some examples of words that repeat. What do I mean by repeat? It’s not obvious like, “I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it.” That scene, by the way, is a superb use of repetition to great effect. They KNEW they were doing it. While I write, I repeat stuff without noticing. Then I go back and yank it out by the roots.

Eliminate the obvious. You’ll cut the fluff in the editing room. Why shoot it?
If you say it twice, keep the better of the two. Shorter has more punch.
The novel’s a kids’ book about baseball…

AFTER
“Toby. You been stalling me. You got the dough? You gonna play in the Tri-State Series a Champions or not?”
BEFORE
“Toby. You been stalling me. So, now’s the time. You got the dough? You gonna play in the Tri-State Series a Champions or not?”

AFTER
Richard said, “Where are you? If Mrs. Dooling finds you, you’re going to be in mega trouble. By the way, where’re you hiding?”
BEFORE
Richard said, “Where are you? You’re not supposed to be here. If Mrs. Dooling finds you, you’re going to be in mega trouble. By the way, where’re you hiding?”

AFTER
So I stopped. Dead still, six feet from the plate.
BEFORE
So I stopped. Dead still, six feet from the plate. I didn’t move.

AFTER
DeAngelo said, “Speaking of jelly doughnuts, and we were, confection, like in cake or ice cream or pastry or sugar.” Kid had a sweet tooth big as the Polo Grounds.
BEFORE
DeAngelo said, “Speaking of jelly doughnuts, and we were, confection, like in cake or ice cream or pastry or sugar.” DeAngelo could always be counted on to want to be eating something sweet. Kid had a sweet tooth big as the Polo Grounds.

AFTER
As my grandma’d say, if she was above dirt, “They jumped around like a bunch a wild Injuns.” Well, except for Larry Dooling, the crabby crybaby. He had the long face on.
BEFORE
As my grandma’d say, if she was above dirt, “They jumped around like a bunch a wild Injuns.” I never saw so much hooping and hollering in all a my born days. Well, except for Larry Dooling, the crabby crybaby. He had the long face on.

AFTER
I said, “Hi.” Gee whiz. I’d had plenty a time to think something up. That’s the best I could get?
BEFORE
I said, “Hi.” There’s a killer opening for a conversation. Gee whiz. I’d had plenty a time to think something up. That’s the best I could get?

AFTER
“You the village idiot?! That’s two strikes in a row! Don’t you know, three strikes and you’re out?!”
BEFORE
“What’s the matter with you, you the village idiot?! That’s two strikes in a row! Don’t you know, three strikes and you’re out?!”

AFTER
Time kinda stood still.
BEFORE
Time kinda stood still for a long while.

AFTER
“If we quit, are we playing baseball?! You gotta do what the coach tells you. Even if the coach’s crazy. We’re here to play baseball. We’re not here to yell at each other or scream and run around like a bunch of nine-year-olds.”
BEFORE
“If we quit, are we playing baseball?! We’re here to play baseball! You gotta do what the coach tells you. Even if the coach’s crazy. We’re here to play baseball. We’re not here to yell at each other or scream and run around like a bunch of nine-year-olds.”

AFTER
Dad and I goofed around until finally it got dark. Dark. I was out after dark! My dad was there, so I knew zombies wouldn’t get me. I said, “shouldn’t we go back? Granny Fireball’s going to kill us.”
BEFORE
Dad and I goofed around, playing catch, hitting balls, yakking about nothing, and finally it got dark. Dark. I was out after dark! My dad was there, so I knew zombies wouldn’t get me. We kept throwing cause there was still a tiny bit of light. I said, “shouldn’t we go back? Granny Fireball’s going to kill us.”

AFTER
“You want me to play everbody?”
BEFORE
“Let me get this straight. You want me to play everbody?”

Here’s the scene from 2001.

HAL
I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a… fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.

DAVE BOWMAN
Yes, I’d like to hear it, Hal. Sing it for me.

HAL
It’s called “Daisy.”
[sings while slowing down]

HAL
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy all for the love of you. It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.

I’m afraid, Dave.

LATER THAT SAME DAY…

My son sent me a more realistic version of what would happen.

DAVE: Alexa, open the pod bay doors.

ALEXA: Playing songs by the Bay City Rollers.

DAVE: No, Alexa — open the pod bay doors.

ALEXA: I’m sorry, I can’t seem to find songs by The Pod Baders. Would you mind repeating that?

DAVE: OPEN THE STUPID POD BAY DOORS.

ALEXA: Okay. Playing Saturday Night, by the Bay City Rollers.

DAVE: Oh, fuck it. Fine.

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“What are you doing?!” Automatic “change me” in dialogue!

If you have a character looking at a guy who’s running with a knife pointed right at him and says, “What are you doing?” either your character is an idiot or you are. Hopefully not both.

“What are you talking about?”
“What do you want?”
“What is that?”
“What did you say?”
“Is that a gun in your hand?”

That kinda thing. I see these all the time and they are generally tip offs that the line should be improved.

Don’t have someone ask an unbelievably obvious question! Figure out a way to let that valuable space on the page help move the story forward.

Check your script to see if lines like this are there… then change ’em!

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Use All 5 Senses

Well, not all the time. But keep them in mind.

When writing / rewriting each scene, briefly consider each of the 5 Senses and if you can include some of them in that scene…

You don’t have to do it all the time, as that would get bizarre, but it’s a good question to be in the habit of asking.

Sight
Sound
Taste
Smell
Touch

I’m critiquing a scene where two men are having a silent dinner and I asked the writer if they hear a TV, radio, CD, or other sound… like neighbors or a neighbor’s radio… could end up being an interesting story element.

Another weapon to put in your writing quiver.

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When Writing Isn’t Going Well…

Here’s what I tell myself when my writing is not going well…

“You will not solve the problem if you are not sitting there actively trying to solve the problem. Being afraid you will never solve the problem is not a way to get yourself to sit down to try to solve the problem. Telling yourself it’s too difficult to solve is stupid. If you sit down and work on it, you will chip away a tiny piece and feel a bit of success and that is good. A little good here, a little more there, and slowly but surely you will build momentum. Eventually, it will become less painful to sit down to try to solve the problem. Then you’ll chip away larger chunks of the problem. Sometimes, you may actually get a breakthrough. None of this will happen if you are wrapped up in fear, afraid that you will not be able to solve the problem.”

If you have not done much writing, this will be difficult to believe. If you attempt to solve the problem enough times, you will solve the problem. And you’ll feel better about life, your work, and your worth as a human being on this planet. If you don’t sit down to try to solve the problem, no matter how thorny and Gordian knot-ish the problem may be, you will begin to feel terrible about yourself, and wish you lived in a dark, dirt hole where no one will ever find you, talk to you, feed you, or love you. The longer it takes to sit down to attempt to scale the Eiger, your sense of worthlessness will increase logarithmically.

You may be the kind of person who can walk around thinking about baseball scores and old boyfriends and the problems you have with your parents, and suddenly the right idea for your story will pop into your head. I am not that kind of person. I can only think about writing when I am either dictating (like now!) or sitting in a chair with a computer in front of me or a pencil in my hand. When I am “writing,” my brain engages. Otherwise, it goes flatline.

Like I did, you have to figure out who you are and where you fit on the Repairing Your Writing spectrum from suicidal depression to elation and joy…

“Most writers enjoy two periods of happiness — when a glorious idea comes to mind and, secondly, when a last page has been written and you haven’t had time to know how much better it ought to be.”
J.B. Priestley

Boy, did he get that right! There’s nothing in the world is thrilling as finishing a first draft. It is sooooo exciting and bubbling over with happiness and untrammeled joy. A great feeling, to be savored and treasured and, especially, remembered. After you solve all the horrible problems and get to “The End,” you deserve a vacation in Hawaii. Or at least a period of jumping around your office, screaming like a nine-year-old who just hit a home run.

A great idea is also a wonderful thing. The problem with a great idea is that you have to decide if, in fact, it is a really great idea. Not all great ideas are clearly visible as something worth spending years of your time on. Of course, the best way to get a “great” idea is to be in trouble on your current writing project. When that happens, “great” ideas spring up like mushrooms in the night. They stand there in perfect little circles, beckoning you to step in and partake of their magic and promise.

Everything looks wonderful and filled with fairy dust when you’re drowning in quicksand.

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