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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

“Stop making the same, safe, soul-less movies and TV shows.”
Part of a memo from the Sony Pictures leak

“We have a new paradigm, a new reality, and we’re going to have to come to real terms with it all the way down the line.”
George Clooney on the Sony hack and canceling of The Interview release
Deadline Hollywood December 18, 2014

Did you get the memo? If not, maybe that’s because the Sony hack was reportedly 100 terabytes of information. A massive tidal wave of information that if was just in paper form would probably take a lifetime for one person to read it all. (Among the information is said to be 47,000 social security numbers.)

My first thought when I heard the news (with a group called Guardians of Peace taking credit) was something an old boss of mine used to repeat often—”There are no secrets.”

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Radioactive lyrics

I do believe that—as George Clooney basically said, and as the Carpenters used to sing— “We’ve only just begun.” Now an unnamed person or group (many believe connected to North Korea, though the government has denied) has taken the next step and threatened further damage to Sony Pictures if they released their movie The Interview—a comedy about a mission to kill the leader of North Korea—and any moviegoers who watch the film in theaters. The December 25 film release has been canceled.

Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age

The has been much speculation about how the leak—and last month’s shut down of Sony’s website—could happen without some Sony—or former Sony—insider. (To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Hell hath no furry like an employee scorned.”) Perhaps we’ll never know the intricate mysteries behind the hack, but some of the information from it has been interesting.

My favorite line being a plea to, “Stop making the same, safe, soul-less movies and TV shows.” And this extended thought:

“Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but I’ve been disappointed with the content of some of the films we’ve been producing lately. I don’t think people who know me would consider me a prude, but the boorish, least common denominator slate strikes me as a waste of resource and reputation. ‘I think the mirror should be tilted slightly upward when it`s reflecting life — toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging, all those things — and not tilted down to the gutter part of the time, into the troubled vistas of conflict’—(actress/philanthropist) Greer Garson 1990. I think that quote could be adapted to apply to the base elements of some of the films we produce.”

I’ll leave to authorities to sort out the legalities of the hack, and to the pundits dealing with the ramification of Sony Pictures canceling the release of The Interview. But my charge to all screenwriters and film and TV producers is, “Stop making the same, safe, soul-less movies and TV shows.”

Of course, one could say Sony didn’t take the safe road producing a film that depicts the killing of the president of North Korea. And I’ll defend Sony Pictures all day long with its AMC productions Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Neither of which were the same, safe, or soul-less. I don’t know the date of the “soul-less” memo—maybe it’s what led to taking a chance with creators Matthew Weiner and Vince Gilligan.

And lastly, while I haven’t seen it yet, there doesn’t appear to be anything safe or soulless about Sony’s recent release Whiplash, written and directed by Damien Chazelle.

P.S. Countdown to 2000th special post on January 22, 2015—14 posts.

Related Posts:
‘Mad Men’ Diet & Workout
Breaking Bad’s Beginning
Jerry Maguire’s Mission Statement

 Scott W. Smith

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“Let both sides seek to involve the wonders of science…let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage arts and commerce.”
President John F. Kennedy
Inaugural Address on January 16, 1961

Apollo 11 Liftoff July 16,1969

Apollo 11 Liftoff
July 16, 1969

I have news to announce—the Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places countdown. Countdown to what? I’m not 100% sure. But the clock is ticking. (Rumor has it that an ebook may be involved.)

Back in the 1960s the United States had a clear goal—to be the first country to put men on the moon. The Soviet Union had hard landed the unmanned Luna spacecraft in 1959 and the space race was in full swing. (With brilliant Germans working on both sides—but that’s another post.)

The one thing I have in common with Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, and President Obama is I’m a tail-end boomer. Boomers that were too young to know where they were when JFK was shot. But I was old enough on July 20, 1969 to understand how cool it was that Kennedy’s eight year old prediction was fulfilled on that day as men landed on the moon.

“This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
President Kennedy on May 25, 1961

My father got me the front page of the New York Times with its headline MEN WALK ON MOON. (Which I still have to this day.) Following the return of the Apollo 11 astronauts there was a ticker-tape parade in New York City. It was kind of a big deal.

Admittedly, my countdown news is not quite as big a deal. I’m not expecting any front page headlines or ticker-tape parades. (Though I’m open to both.) And I don’t know what exactly is going to happen at the end of the countdown, but I know the countdown officially starts today and ends on January 22, 2015. Mark your calendars now. Something’s going to happen.

In the next 20 posts spread out over the next two months I will lead up to my 2000th post. Again, not man on the moon stuff, but worth celebrating. That will also coincide with my seventh anniversary of this blog. I had some modest goals when I started this blog—none included writing 2,000 posts over seven years.

But let me thank you ahead of time, because without people reading this blog there’s no way I would have sustained this blog all these years. The Regional Emmy, the TomCruise.com mention, the Script Mag screenwriting website of the week, and various other shout-outs have been nice—but it’s people reading this blog that have been the fuel to keep going.

My goals all along has been simple—to improve my own writing and understanding of screenwriting/filmmaking with hopes that it would also help other people with their own writing and understanding of screenwriting/filmmaking.

Cheers—

P.S. Any ebook gurus who read this blog and can offer a handle on Amazon, Gumroad, Shopify, and the like shoot me an email at info@scottwsmith.com .

Related Posts:
Screenwriting from Space (Star Trek)
Postcard #46 (Huntsville) “Dr. von Braun Says Rocket Flights Possible to Moon”—1950 Headline
Creating ‘I Dream of Jeannie’
Shoot for the Moon
The Story of Men on the Moon Remember where you’re standing when the spotlight goes off, you’ll have to find your own way off the stage.” — Down to earth advice from Apollo 13 astronaut James Lovell
Life Beyond Hollywood My very first post on January 22, 2008

Scott W. Smith

 

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Happy 80th Birthday Garry Marshall

Writer/Director Garry Marshall (Happy Days, Pretty Woman) was born on this day 80 years ago.

Back in 2012 I was in Dallas/Ft. Worth on a video shoot and I came across a used bookstore that had a copy of Garry Marshall’s Wake Me When It’s Funny (written with Lori Marshall).

I wasn’t sure how well received advice from someone in their late 70s would be on this blog even if they had more than 50 years of film and TV experience.

At the end of September of 2012 I started a few Marshall-related posts and they were so popular I ended up filling the following month with posts based on Marshall’s experiences—and to date, that month of Garry Marshall posts has remained my most viewed month of posts in the seven year history of this blog.

Here are all the Garry Marshall-inspired links:

Flaming Rejection “Be prepared at all times for rejection, even after you break in…”
Tasting & Smelling Comedy (Tip#61)
Telling the Truth=Humor
Offensive & Defensive Writing (Tip #62)
Garry Marshall’s ‘Gentile Hilarity’ “I always wanted to direct positive, uplifting films that reached for the heart rather than the mind, the emotions rather than the intellect.”
Writing & Rewriting ‘Pretty Woman’ (Part 1)
Writing & Rewriting ‘Pretty Woman’ (Part 2)
‘The Power of Gentleness’
Screenwriting Quote #171 (Garry Marshall)
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 1)
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 2)
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 3)
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 4)
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 5)
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 6)
Garry Marshall’s Chicago Detour
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 7)
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 8)
Garry Marshall Directing Tips (Part 9)
Garry Marshall & James Bond
Garry Marshall Directing Tip (Part 10)
Jumping the Shark
Happy Days in Hollywood
Wanted: Writers with No Lives
The ‘Stuckinna’ Plot
The Odd Monks
Garry Marshall Survivor 

Happy 80th Garry Marshall.

Scott W. Smith

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Postcard #82 (Berlin Wall)

“If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He’s not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he’s really needed.”
Czech politician and playwright Vaclav Havel (1936-2011)

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall so it seemed liked a fitting place to drop in a photo that was taken of me on a video shoot about ten years ago in former East Germany. I’m leaning against a sculpture that represented the separation of East and West Berlin and I’m actually facing a large section of the Berlin wall that was still standing at the time.

I’ve been on hundreds of shoots in my career, but the one day of driving around Berlin shooting b-roll on a sunny, blue sky day is easily one of the top five single shooting days in my life.

Germany, like the United States, has a mixed bag of history—and thankfully many talented filmmakers over the years that have shown the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Berlin Wall 1889

 

Here’s a bonus video featuring a studio in Berlin which is one of the oldest movie studios in Berlin. (And now also one of the largest studios in Europe.)

Scott W. Smith

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Someday I’ll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
Over the Rainbow
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen
Performed by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz 
Named #1 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs

P.S. Long before the classic The Wizard of Oz hit theaters in 1939, the Frank Baum story was a Broadway hit in 1903 and a silent film failure in 1925. Despite not being a box office success and losing the Oscar for Best Picture to Gone with the Wind, according to the Library of Congress, The Wizard of Oz (1939)—thanks to its many viewings in the early decades of TV— “has been seen by more viewers than any other movie.”

Related post:
‘Shelter From The Storm’ (Dylan)
The Weather Started Getting Rough…
…and Dark and Stormy Nights

Scott W. Smith

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I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”
Lyrics by Bob Dylan

On my top shelf of storytellers sits Bob Dylan.

His songs written and/or performed over the last 50 year have appeared in movies or Tv shows more than a staggering 550 times. Along with his creative influence he’s won many awards including an Oscar for his Things Have Changed which he performed on the movie Wonder Boys (2000).

Ever since seeing St. Vincent (2014) a week ago I’ve been listening to Dylan’s Shelter From The Storm over and over again. It hit me that Shelter From The Storm could sum up what most movies are really about:

I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail
Poisoned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail
Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

Many great movie characters seek shelter from the storm;  Rocky, Terry Malloy (On the Waterfront),Norma Desmond (Sunset Blvd.) , Rick (Casablanca), Erin Brockovich, George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life), Tom Joad (The Grapes of Wrath), Norma Rae, Oskar Schindler, Maximus (Gladiator), Karen Silkwood, Tyler Durban (Fight Club), Indiana Jones, Ellen Ripley (Aliens), Chuck Noland (Cast Away), Joan of Arc, Sophie (Sophie’s Choice), C.C. Baxter (The Apartment), Andy Dufresne (The Shawshank Redemption), Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, and Bogart and Hepburn’s characters in The African Queen.

If you’re looking for a standard and proven theme/desire to hang your story on take a tip from Dylan and write about characters who are seeking shelter from the storm. It emotionally resonates with movie audiences —people who are also seeking shelter from the storm.

P.S. Couldn’t find a good version of Dylan singing Shelter From The Storm, but I did find a version with Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris.

Related posts:

Off-Screen Quote #22 (Bob Dylan)
Bob Dylan’s Brain
Revisiting ‘Highway 61 Revisited” (2.0)
‘Against the Wind’ Bob Seger’s version of “Shelter From The Storm”)
Jimmy Buffett in Iowa (Part 1) Buffett’s version (written with Bobby Holcomb):
And there’s that one particular harbour
Sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within
Highway 61 Meets A1A
Protagonist=Conflict
Neil Simon on Conflict (Conflict and more conflict.)
Everything I Learned in Film School (Tip #1)

Scott W. Smith

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Three nights ago 25-year-old San Francisco Giant pitcher Madison Bumgarner helped his team win the World Series by earning a save in the 7th game of the World Series. He also won the World Series Most Valuable Player.

Though sports is filled with cliché quotes, Madison’s father Kevin gave a line about his son to NY Times after the game that hit me as a fresh description. It may be a common phrase in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina where the Bumgarner’s are from, but I’d never heard it before:

“That boy would try to steal a steak off the devil’s plate.”
Kevin Bumgarner
NY Times article by Michael Powell

If that was a character description or a line of dialogue in the first page of a screenplay I’d think the writer was in command of his or her craft.

P.S. Kevin’s line also reminded me of the well-known proverb, “He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.”

Related posts:

Descriptive Writing (Frank Darabont)
Descriptive Writing (Stephen King)
Descriptive Writing—Part 1 (tip #22)
Descriptive Writing—Part 2 (tip #23)
Descriptive Writing—Part 3, Characters (tip #24)
Descriptive Writing—Pt. 4, Action (tip #25)
Descriptive Writing—Pt. 5, Setting tip #26)

Baseball Related Posts:
Burns, Baseball & Flawed Characters
Screenwriting, Baseball & Underdogs
Baseball, Bergman & Bull Durham
September 6, 1995
‘Field of Dreams’—25th Reunion

Scott W. Smith

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