Inner movie geek to the rescue!

What can we expect when we see YOUR movie?

No doubt you’ve heard “write what you know”. But how often do you hear “write what you love,” or “write something you would want to see”?

If you have a favorite genre, try writing something in that style. Put your own spin on whatever it is you have a strong appreciation for.  I’m not at the same level as STAR WARS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK or THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but that didn’t stop me from devising my own thrilling rollercoaster ride of an adventure. Hence DREAMSHIP.

“Familiar, yet different” is another mantra. Use well-known examples as a model or guideline for your story, but figure out how to make it different. You don’t want somebody to read your script and think “blatant ripoff”. What would make  it completely your own?

The more appreciation you have for a style or genre, the more it will show on the page. You want your work to capture the mood or essence of what it is you liked about it in the first place. Reach inside and use it to enhance your story.

Chances are you could easily fall into that trap of writing something very cliched, so while you’re still in the planning stage, take a step back and think “What would be a more interesting way to do this? What would I as a moviegoer NOT be expecting? What have I NOT seen before?”

The great thing about writing something like this is that you already know what works and what doesn’t. And even better, you have can fun with it. Because if it’s not fun, then why are you doing it in the first place?

Perfect! Brilliant! Oh, wait…

Not bad for a first attempt. Try again.

For some inexplicable reason, my brain decided to cooperate and I was able to navigate a somewhat twisty-turny route that got me to the end of Act Two. After some self-inflicted nervous anticipation, it actually worked out better, and admittedly easier, than I expected.

But all is not sunshine and roses. There’s one short sequence that still bothers me.  As it reads now, it comes across as too comedic, almost even silly, and it doesn’t seem to match the tone of the rest of the story.  At the time it seemed great, but in retrospect…not so much.

My first instinct is to dive in and change it. But before I do that, I need to approach it from several angles. Does it move the story forward in terms of plot, character and theme?  What other way (or ways) could this happen so it still maintains the overall feel of the story? How could this play out so it surprises and entertains  the reader/viewer?

Granted these are things that should apply to every scene and sequence throughout the entire script, but they’re always in the back of your mind when you’re narrowing your focus.

-As far as I know, there are still some slots for this fantastic opportunity. If you can attend, I highly recommend it.

-I recorded a special summer movie preview edition of The Script Adventurer! earlier this week with some movie-loving chums. It was a lot of fun, and will air Monday at the usual time (1PM PST on radioslot.com).

I also found out how to break the bonds of your computer and listen to the show on your smartphone. Open your phone’s web browser, go to radioslot.com, click on ‘Listen Now’, then click ‘Listen Now’ under the Talk Slot section. On the right side of the space marked ‘Now Playing’, there should be 4 little icons. Click the left-most one – WinAmp. And voila! My dulcet tones should be working their way into your earholes. Let me know how it works for you.

Ain’t 21st-century technology grand?  But sadly, still no jetpacks or flying cars.

Follow that bad guy!

Villains should be just as interesting as heroes; maybe even more so

It’s been a real process working my way through the end of the current project’s Act Two. I know what comes before it, and how Act Three plays out; it’s all that stuff in the middle that’s throwing me.

So while that occupies part of my attention, I also need to build up the antagonist’s story line.  Right now, he’s pretty absent from most of the story, which is not good. I came up with some stuff early on, but it was too silly, so out it went.

I thought about watching/studying something to get a better sense of how to approach this, but I’m not sure what would be comparable.  Basically, the protagonist is actively pursuing the antagonist, who doesn’t know it and is going on about his usual bad guy business until the protagonist catches up to them.  My first thought was RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, but any other suggestions would be welcome.

Developing that storyline will also mean cutting back on protagonist scenes.  At first this was a negative, but eventually became a necessary positive.  The last thing I want to do is drag this out.

-Movie of the Moment – BATTLESHIP. Wow. Somebody was actually paid to write this? Shouldn’t they have done a couple of rewrites before production began? This reeked of amateur. Cliched characters straight off a checklist. Bad guys with ambiguous intentions. Unoriginal dialogue. Predictable to the nth degree. Major overuse of rock music to ’emphasize’ the mood of a scene.

Imagine a second-rate 80s action flick spruced up with 21st-century special effects.

What’s even worse is that this is NOT the last movie based on a board game. Apparently we can look forward to catching RISK, MONOPOLY and CANDYLAND at the local cinema sometime soon.

And the studios wonder why they’re losing money.

Telling & selling your story

Would YOU buy a script from this guy?

While I wait for feedback on the rewrite from friends and colleagues, I’m keeping my creative muscles in shape by jumping right in to the ongoing development of the next script.

I was working on this before I started the rewrite, so a lot of the material is in place, but it still needs a lot of work.  While some may look at this situation as a negative, I don’t. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Is it typical for a writer to be excited about a project?  That’s how I am about this one. I love the subject, the story, the characters, and most of all – the possibilities of what I can do with it.  When I tell people about it, my excitement comes across both physically and verbally.

Hypothetical situation time! For reasons far beyond any rational explanation, you find yourself before a major producer. His/her involvement in a project is an automatic greenlight.  And now you have the chance to tell them about your script.  How would you do it?

It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. Maybe you’ve written the next HANGOVER. Would you describe it in a dull monotone?  A thrilling edge-of-your-seat adventure?  Do you make the person feel like they’re right there in the middle of it, practically gasping to catch their breath? Your words have that ability. You just need to know how to do it.  Practice if you have to.

Writing scripts goes beyond being a good writer. You also need to be a good salesperson. If you’re not excited about your script, why would somebody else be?

So close I can taste it

Not my first choice for a celebratory meal

You know that feeling when you’ve been working on something for a very long time, and then you get to the last part? The little voice inside you saying, “Don’t stop! You’re almost there!”

That’s where I am with this edit/polish.

One scene remains to be rewritten. I did a lot of last-second rewriting throughout the whole thing over the past couple of days, but this one’s pretty important – wrapping up some minor subplots. It would be too easy to fall into the trap of putting too much into it, so this is going to take some planning.

It was a challenge to go through this as both writer and editor. Not only did I have to make sure everything was working in terms of the plot, story, character development, and that kind of thing, but also had to keep an eye out for spelling mistakes, overuse of prepositional phrases, repetitive dialogue, etc.  End result – leaner, tighter, faster-moving pages.  I hope.

Also nice – page total down 4 to 111, and I already know a few things here and there that could be taken out, or at least changed.  Part of that will also depend on the feedback and comments I get from the select few I’ll ask to read this latest draft. Count me among those who appreciate constructive criticism.

-Movie of the Moment – DARK SHADOWS (2012). Entertaining, but poorly written. Too much tell, not enough show. Lots of set-ups without payoffs, and vice versa. Characters disappear for 30+ minutes. Didn’t like the ending either.  Just because you like the guy who wrote PRIDE, PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES or ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER doesn’t mean you should have him write your movie. Incidentally, the trailer for the latter made K laugh harder than anything in the movie we came to see.

I thought Johnny Depp did a pretty good job as Barnabas, but I wonder how he would do in a non-quirky role. (Although I am interested to see the forthcoming LONE RANGER, but not because of Depp).

Not necessarily something I was looking forward to, but glad I only paid $6 to see it. Also – way too many trailers!  Ben Affleck’s ARGO looks really good. Adam Sandler’s THAT’S MY BOY looks like total shit.

-If you’re in the Westwood area of Los Angeles this summer and want to get really serious about writing a screenplay, you can’t go wrong by clicking here.