» Posts Tagged ‘script’

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on-story-austin-film-festivalScreenwriters are undoubtedly propelled by the question, “What if…?” Many times when writing a screenplay, however, we are tempted by the question, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” This question can certainly lead to dramatic action sequences or hilarious set pieces, but may not reveal the true nature of our characters or propel the story forward. Thanks to yet another episode of On Story, the PBS series presented by the Austin Film Festival, we can watch the screenwriters of Wanted, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Snitch discuss how they write thrilling action sequences that define the characters in their stories. More »

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green_headshot_300Scriptnotes, the podcast from screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin that we’ve featured on nofilmschool a number of times (and also happens to be one of the most popular podcasts about that topic), is running a challenge for listeners to submit three pages of their original work, to be read and critiqued on an upcoming podcast. Click below for more details and learn how to enter! More »

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goodfellas-bannerMartin Scorsese’s 1990 classic Goodfellas is arguably one of the best modern American gangster films. The film was a return to form for Scorsese, who spent most of the 80s (save Raging Bull) making quirky films and one controversial biblical epic. Goodfellas, adapted from Nicolas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy, was scripted by Pileggi and Scorsese. So what can we learn about the art of screenwriting from the film? More »

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5 more award winning screenwriters charlie kaufmanBack in March, we posted five award-winning screenwriters discussing how they approach their craft. Personally, I find great value in hearing from successful professional screenwriters, learning about their strengths and weaknesses, finding out what works and doesn’t work for them as they work on their screenplays. After originally posting about five award-winning screenwriters, we naturally had to follow that up with five more award-winning screenwriters discussing how they approach their craft because everybody loves a sequel (right?). Grab a snack, sit back and learn from screenwriters Geoffrey Fletcher, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, Sofia Coppola, Pedro Almodóvar, and Charlie Kaufman as they share their thoughts about crafting stories, writing screenplays and navigating the business. More »

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Spacesuit - Black List - Richard CordinerEarlier this week, both Deadline and The Wrap reported news that Warner Bros. hired new screenwriter Richard Cordiner for a two-film blind deal. The first script Cordiner will write for the studio will be Spacesuit, based on the book by Nicholas de Monchaux that tells the true story of bra designers from Playtex who designed the spacesuit for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the moon (which leads to the natural realization that, yes, all you MTV Music Video Award winners, your trophies were essentially designed by Playtex). What is more interesting about the Warner Bros. deal with Cordiner is the writer was discovered and signed by his agent and managers via The Black List service after his uploaded script The Shark Is Not Working about the making of Jaws made the rounds in Hollywood. This is great news for Cordiner and The Black List service, but what does it mean for the rest of us? More »

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scriptnotesWhen we initially put together our stories for our screenplays, we typically think about all of our major story beats, jotting them down on notecards or writing bulletpoints in outlines. Everything looks great on our whiteboards or corkboards or cinema displays and we’re ready to dive into the screenplay itself. We come to the end of our first scene and realize something is missing. Transitions are the glue that holds our screenplays together, the peanut butter between our scene-size crackers, the chewed-up gum in our MacGyver writing contraptions (alright, I’m trying too hard here). Without transitions, we’re left with a bunch of scenes and no cohesive story. On a recent episode of the Scriptnotes podcast, John August and Craig Mazin offer the following five tips on screenplay transitions to help you keep the reader and the viewer engaged in your story. More »

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American Heart Association Heart Walk BenderspinkLast year, we posted about a great opportunity for screenwriters to donate to a great cause and get their screenplay read by a professional manager in return. If you missed your chance last year, screenwriter Joe Nienalt and Benderspink manager Daniel Vang are back to help Joe raise money for the 2013 Heart Walk. Last year, with Daniel’s promise to read screenplays from Joe’s Heart Walk donors, Joe raised almost $45,000 for the American Heart Association (up from over $8,000 the previous year). Over the past two years, two writers and a writing team got representation as a result of Daniel reading their scripts through the fund drive. Joe appreciated our nofilmschool post about his Heart Walk campaign so much last year, he linked to it from his own post to help people understand why they should donate. Joe reached out to us again this year to help him spread the word, and we’re happy to do so. To find out how you can help a good cause and your own screenwriting career, check out the details below: More »

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Shane BlackFor those of us who have experienced the throes of screenwriting; from the writer’s block, the sleeplessness, to the social awkwardness felt when communicating with people outside of your story world, the message from Writer/Director Shane Black is strangely comforting. After years of writing, bolstering your literary toolbox, and seeing your efforts fail more often than they succeed, Black consoles us with the promise that it never gets any easier — but that’s a good thing. More »

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Hollywood rewrites statistical analysis matrixIf there is one axiom about screenwriting for the studios that holds true above all others, it may be this: your screenplay will be rewritten. If you’re lucky (depending on how you define “lucky”), you’ll get to rewrite the script yourself. You may even get fired off your original screenplay only to be rehired a few drafts down the road to fix what other screenwriters have changed, like screenwriter Michael Arndt on his Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine, according to his introduction to the published version of the script. Studios want to take the guesswork out of rewrites to figure out which changes will lead to the biggest return on their investments. Enter the world of statistical analysis and script consultants who make script notes purely based on the numbers. More »

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By now, if you’re planning on submitting a screenplay to the Academy Nicholl Fellowships, hopefully you’ve already done so. If not, your time to submit is quickly dwindling. The final deadline for the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships is 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, Wed. May 1, but don’t wait until the last minute. Get your screenplay submitted now so you’re not freaking out about whether your submission made it into the system on time. Check out the details on how to submit below. More »

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This is a combination PSA/light a fire under your a** post to make sure you are writing, rewriting, and rewriting some more to get your screenplay ready for the Academy Nicholl Fellowships regular deadline of Apr. 10. I’ll be honest, my latest script will not be ready by that deadline (needs a little more seasoning – okay, a lot more seasoning), but if you’ve been diligent, hopefully your script will be ready. Otherwise, it will cost you another fifteen bucks for the late deadline on May 1. Check out current stats on this year’s competition and details on how to apply below. More »

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Many of us here on NFS will write screenplays for our own films that we plan to make ourselves. That said, it’s always good to know which scripts are selling in the marketplace: 1) to know what movies may be coming to a theatre near you soon so your script is different (or better); 2) to know the styles and genres of scripts that studios and financiers are buying should you want to sell your own spec; and 3) to know who represents and manages writers of scripts like your own to help you find representation. To shed some light on the spec script market, Scott Myers at Go Into The Story has been running a weekly series on this very topic, covering the history of the spec script market, the buyers of spec scripts, the spec screenwriter-representation relationship and more. More »

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New screenwriting competitions appear all the time, as we discussed earlier this week here on NFS. As always, when evaluating a competition, I consider what it will do to further the career of an aspiring screenwriter. So when the Chinese government decides to launch a screenwriting competition specifically for U.S.-based screenwriters of any nationality, that’s not a screenwriting competition you hear about every day. Don’t start firing off your script just yet, though. You want to enter this contest? You’d better have a story that takes place in Beijing. More »

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At the beginning of 2013, I wrote about 6 things I’m doing to write my best screenplay ever this year (and you can too!). I thought it would get my usual small number of hits, disappear under the camera posts, and I’d move on to writing more posts about successful screenwriters and their words of wisdom. But I was wrong. While the post didn’t generate nearly as much traffic as our more popular camera posts, a lot of you read it and passed it around, making it one of my more popular posts, so thank you. Two months into the year, and based on the success of that post, I thought I would share with you my progress and delve into my own screenwriting process.
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In the spirit of consideration for the highest honors a work may receive in our field, we have been keeping you up to date with a number of scripts seeking nomination — one of the earliest of these was Moonrise Kingdom, which has in fact been nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Interestingly enough, and in contrast to the rest of the scripts you may have caught so far, the script for Moonrise Kingdom is now also available in a new, very unique textual-visual version, complete with an interactive navigator. Read on for the details of this ‘Screenplay 2.0′ below. More »

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A few months ago I finished the screenplay for my feature MANCHILD (for now, at least). I’ll have more updates on the project soon, but suffice to say there’s been a long rewriting process since I ran my Kickstarter campaign over a year ago. And while this wasn’t the first screenplay I’ve written, it’s certainly the best, and the one on which I’ve worked the longest and hardest. Over the past two years, here are the things that have helped my screenwriting process. More »

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At the beginning of 2012, I made a New Year’s resolution. Mind you, I never make New Year’s resolutions, but last year I did because I was so annoyed at my lack of progress with my screenwriting. I decided I was going to wake up at 5:30 am every morning to write my best screenplay ever and that screenplay would get noticed. With the exception of some weekends and family trips, I managed to drag myself out of bed and focus on my screenwriting every day. The result? I rewrote a screenplay that made it to the semifinal round of the 2012 Nicholl Fellowships and got the interest of a few producers and managers, I finally hammered out a long-gestating comedy spec that I posted online when it suddenly became DOA during the rewrite process because the exact same movie came out this fall, and I outlined my next screenplay similar in tone and style to my Nicholl script. Am I happy with the results? Yes. Am I satisfied? Not even close. So, since I’m not keen on giving out my own advice on screenwriting since I’m not a professional screenwriter, I’ll share with you how I plan to write my best screenplay ever this year, and maybe you can too. More »

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Many screenwriters talk about the difficulty of facing the blank page as they start page one of their screenplays. The desire to get the opening of the screenplay right can overwhelm, even paralyze. Yet, as the screenplay finally begins and takes shape, the first page is not necessarily the most difficult page. In reality, the challenge tends to come later, not when the audience is introduced to the movie, its characters and its world, but rather when the story truly launches into what will compel the audience to stay engaged for the next 90 minutes or more. Thanks to Kyle Buchanan at Vulture (and Movies Editor for New York Magazine), we have a series of screenwriters from some of the most acclaimed films of 2012 describing in their own words what were the toughest scenes to write in their own screenplays. More »

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One of the most talked about screenplays in awards contention this fall is also one of the few screenplays not available for free, legal download for your consideration: Argo. I imagine for guild members and members of the Academy, Warner Brothers has most likely sent out copies of this screenplay, but for the rest of us mere mortals that would like to consider the screenplay for educational purposes, it’s “Argo [bleep] yourself.” So, instead of reading the screenplay, why not hear from the screenwriter himself? Thanks to David Poland and his DP/30 series, we have an in-depth interview with Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio, covering his filmmaking history, his screenwriting approach, and specifically his process for adapting the original Wired article by Joshuah Bearman for the Argo screenplay. More »

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A month ago, when the Black List launched its new paid screenplay service to provide aspiring screenwriters with access to industry professionals, I had some concerns. After hearing Franklin Leonard discuss the service in more detail with John August and Craig Mazin on their ScriptNotes podcast, I was more encouraged, but still not sold 100%. More specifically, I voiced my hope that Leonard and his team at The Black List would not only share successes of the service, but would also provide statistics about the service that would provide aspiring screenwriters with data they could use to make informed decisions about paying for this new service. I’m happy to report that on the heels of sharing its first success story, The Black List has done almost exactly what I asked. More »