» Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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Frank DarabontOne of the most pressing questions when filmmakers first get started, the one that seems to always be at the forefront of the mind is, “How do I get into this business? How do I get started?” There are plenty of stock answers, too, like enrolling in film school, studying films and screenplays, moving to LA or New York, buying a bunch of gear and shoot a movie. The list goes on. Writer/Director Frank Darabont offers up his own response, which may leave you frustrated, but may also inspire you to discover your own path to becoming a working filmmaker. More »

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Rod SerlingTo many he’s just that eerie, stilted voice of The Twilight Zonebut to others he was an incredibly talented writer and mind behind one of the most popular TV shows of its time — and still today holding its own. Rod Serling was widely celebrated, winning 6 Emmies, the Peabody, 2 Golden Globes, and 2 Writer’s Guild of America awards during his unfortunately short career. Three months prior to his death, Serling gave his final interview in which he talks at length about screenwriting: his process, his motivation, and how he dealt with rejection early on in his career. More »

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Elmore LeonardWhen I heard about Elmore Leonard’s passing earlier this week, I’m sure I had the same thought many writers had: “I need to read more Elmore Leonard novels.” A few months ago, I read Road Dogs, Leonard’s follow-up to Out of Sight, and realized as much as I have enjoyed Leonard’s characters and stories, I’ve consumed most of them as movies. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have this experience as over 40 film and television projects have adapted Leonard’s work since the late 1950s. Thankfully for writers, Leonard gave us more than his novels and short stories. The prolific author also distilled his habits into the book Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, and you can watch Leonard talk about these rules in the video below. More »

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Robert TowneThe two screenplays that I had to constantly study while in college were Casablanca and Chinatown, the latter of which was written by masterful screenwriter Robert Towne, who also penned Mission Impossible I II, as well as Without Limits (which was filmed in my hometown of Eugene — no big deal.) The Writer’s Guild Association sat down with Towne for an almost hour-long interview, in which he talks at length about his childhood, how he fell in love with the cinema, and how Roger Corman helped him get his big break. Hit the jump to watch the interview: More »

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overcome-writers-blockAny writer who has ever sat down to put pen to paper (or, more likely these days, fingers to keyboard) knows the joy and frustration that are part of a writer’s life. This can be especially true for screenwriters, who are not writing a stand-alone work, but something that will be endlessly manipulated before it (hopefully) ends up on the big screen. But, how does writing affect the brain? Are writers wired up differently than the rest of the population? Click below to check out a cool infographic and find out. More »

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Too often have I experienced the doubled-edged nature of the internet: it’s a great tool, but also a great distraction. We all need to buckle down sometimes and get to work, and the insta-grat (yes) of the internet can be crippling. In comes SelfControl, a free and open-source application that blocks your own access to chosen websites for a designated amount of time. Hit the jump for the details. 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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Ideas are great, but in having ‘too many’ of them, you run the risk of overloading yourself, compounding your creative schedule to a point you can’t actually manage, or worst of all — never actually getting the thing written, or shot, or otherwise made — whatever the case may be. The editor of The New York Times, Hugo Lindgren, has just written a powerful self-case study about the many undeveloped story and concept kernels he’s had, why they never got off the back burner, and where all the time seems to have gone — in other words, a creative thinker’s worst nightmare. Whether you’re a writer, a shooter, a director, or a film editor, you might want to check out Hugo’s editorial, because you might see a lot more of yourself in his words than you may expect. More »

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You see Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the left here? He seems pretty confused. Now, it’s arguable that he’s contemplating the nuances of time travel. Or maybe pondering how he can elude male pattern baldness. But you know what? I think he’s thinking about something else entirely — his MacGuffin in Looper, written and directed by Rian Johnson, who also helmed and wrote Brick and The Brothers Bloom. Hit the jump for a great video by Isaac Niemand that looks at the MacGuffin in general, and a take on Looper‘s MacGuffin by boingboing’s Jamie Frevele that provides a great case study. Note the bottom portion of this post is SPOILER-ridden if you haven’t seen Looper yet! More »

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As fellow NoFilmSchool and feature-film script writer Christopher Boone would tell you (you’re my boy, blue!), writing is something you have to practice daily. The hardest part sometimes is just motivating yourself to stop staring at the blank page and just write something. If you’re the type of person who enjoys a challenge, then perhaps a fun way to get a few good pages in every day is a free platform called 750 Words. Hit the jump for a full rundown on the site, and how it could be a boon to your screenwriting creativity: More »

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Ideas don’t always just come to artists out of thin air, contrary to popular belief. A lot of what happens between the mind and the page (or screen) is just pushing through and making things happen even when you’re not feeling inspired creatively. While this clip from Jack White speaking in the documentary The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights is about music, it can certainly be applied to filmmaking, and more specifically, screenwriting. More »

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Screenplays look deceiving. Short paragraphs, blocks of dialogue and all of that white space can lure new writers into the trap of believing that writing a screenplay just can’t be that hard. That is, until they actually try to write a screenplay. As aspiring screenwriters, we know it is so much more than putting words on a page. We have so much creative work to do before we even type word one of our screenplay. Yet, ironically, after we have grappled with concept, story, structure, character development and setting, we still face the long process of, well, putting words on a page. John Buchanan of Script Magazine interviewed professional screenwriters Erik Bork (Emmy winner for HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon and Band of Brothers) and Pamela Gray (Conviction, A Walk on the Moon) and uncovered valuable perspectives on tackling the long haul of writing screenplays. More »

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Scott Myers and the Go Into The Story blog is a tremendous resource for screenwriters, regardless of whether you’re an amateur or a professional. Over the past few years Scott has been writing about simple tricks that can help get you unstuck when you’re writing your screenplay. Most of them are straightforward, but a few are a little unorthodox. There’s a good chance you’ve heard some of them before, but I’ve compiled a list of 17 tips that Scott has shared on his site. More »

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Director and Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats (@lawnrocket) recently tweeted out 22 tips for storytelling, one of which ends with “Endings are hard, get yours working up front.” From day one I always knew how I wanted Manchild to end — and throughout a year and a half of writing, the ending has never changed. Perhaps that’s why, while it is not the first feature I’ve written, it will be the first feature I actually make (more news on the project when I have some… soon). Here are the tips, handily compiled in list form: More »

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For screenwriting, I’ve been a long-time Final Draft user, but I’ve never been a huge fan. It’s like the Microsoft Word of screenwriting software — ubiquitous and adequate, but not something you’re particularly excited about. I’ve been using it since Version 4, and it has definitely improved since then, but for a $250 program I’ve never felt that it has evolved as much as I’d like. What am I looking for? More structuring and outlining tools. This is where Movie Draft comes in. Note that it’s Mac only available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, it’s rated nearly 5 stars in the Mac App Store, and it only costs $30. More »

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Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield and now The Chicago Code, is probably the best-known filmmaker to graduate from my alma mater, Middlebury College. Shawn broke into the industry after writing “thirteen or fourteen spec scripts,” a testament to his drive as a writer. In a pair of interviews I found myself reading and watching recently, Shawn gives excellent advice for aspiring writers. The first interview is actually by a classmate of mine, Astri von Arbin Ahlander conducted by Evan Dumouchel, who asked Shawn, “What advice would you give to young people as they develop their craft?”: More »

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Community-based website Reddit has an ask reddit section wherein users can pose questions for other users (aka “redditors”). Redditor The.Quiet.Earth posed the question, “Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU?” In response, Prufrock451 (real name James Erwin) began writing a serialized story of this exact scenario. Madhouse Entertainment’s Adam Kolbrenner caught wind of the story after it hit the reddit front page, helped develop the story further, and sold the idea to Warner Brothers. Now called Rome, Sweet Rome, here is an excerpt from the short story as it first appeared on reddit: More »

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First of all, industry standard screenwriting software Final Draft is $70 off until Sept 30. But thanks to @navesink on Twitter, I found out about a new screenwriting program that brings some appealing changes to the table. Movie Draft SE is available through the Mac App Store for just $30 (“for a limited time,” though I don’t know how limited of a time we’re talking) with some very promising features. It’s also available for Windows and Linux. Chiefly I’m interested in the modularity of the scenes and the navigation sidebar, as demonstrated in this video: More »

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Despite writing about Apple’s iPadrepeatedly — I’ve been holding off on getting one. On my wish list: the ability to use a stylus. And while there are a few iPad styli out there, it’s hard to beat the feeling of real paper. As someone who does a lot of freehand writing (my first draft of Man-child, for example, was freehanded in a notebook), I’ve been considering a [easyazon-link asin="B003RAE19Q"]Livescribe[/easyazon-link], which is popular with the entrepreneur set but seems a bit primitive since the dawn of the iPad. Now Wacom has join the paper-to-digital party with a new product named the “Inkling,” and watching the video demo, I can’t help but think of storyboarding: More »

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I just finished reading The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories by Wired writer Frank Rose. The book provides an overview of all the changes taking place in our connected, interactive, game-ified culture, more than justifying its lengthy title in the process. As someone who’s interested in interactive storytelling in addition to more linear film narratives, I found the book to be packed with flavor crystals of brain candy (how’s that for an endorsement?). Here’s the first chapter, free: More »