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“I know everything there is to know about the greatest game ever invented. “
Hoosiers (Dennis Hopper’s character)

Since tonight’s NCAA championship basketball game is an extension of March Madness, I’ve finally posted my March Screenwriting from Iowa video. The game tonight between powerhouse Duke (with several national championship) versus Butler (in their first national title appearance) has been called Hoosiers II. Not only because Butler is the smaller school going up against the well established program, but because part of the movie Hoosiers was actually shot in the Butler gym in Indianapolis, Indiana.

You know the ending part of the movie where little Hickory High School walks into the big gym and the players are in awe. And the coach (played by Gene Hackman) takes a tape measure to show the players that the rim is the same height as their little gym back home. They go on to pull off an upset victory in the closing seconds.

Hoosiers was released in November of  1986 and who knows how many basketball players have watched it for inspiration. Butler forward Gordon Hayward said, “I can’t really tell you how many times I’ve watched that movie. I think everyone growing up in Indiana watches that movie. I’ve lost count.”

And a fitting quote to tie-in screenwriting with basketball comes from Geoffrey Fletcher who reportedly wrote thousands of pages before his work finally made its way to the screen in the movie Precious: Based on a Book by Sapphire.

“I watch, say Michael Jordan play and he makes it look quite easy, but we never see all the hours, and hours, and hours of years of practice beforehand. So when people ask me if writing Precious was difficult (to write), well certainly it was. The subject matter…we have a semi-literate character telling us the story. But a lot of the difficulty was writing all of those pages of original material before I got this opportunity.”
Oscar-Winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher
wga.com interview

PS. One of the great things about the new HDSLR cameras is that shooting videos with it opens up new opportunites. I bought the Nikon D90 which was the first HDLS released that shot HD video. I took it with me to the Northern Iowa gym to take some still photos for the above video and ended up thinking, “why not shoot a little video while I’m here.” So other than the greenscreen opening section that was shot on Panasonic HPX 170, I shot all the photos and video with the Nikon D90. It doesn’t take much surfing on the web to see many high quality short narrative films and videos that are being made with this new jump in technology. (Just did some test shooting with the very popular Canon 7D last week and that camera is solid.)I haven’t heard of a feature being made with a HDSLR yet, but I’m sure that’s just around the corner.

Related Posts:
Storytelling from Indiana

The King of Cool’s Roots

Why Do We Love Underdog Stories?

Scott W. Smith


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Later today is the showdown match between the USA & Canada in men’s hockey as the 2010 Winter Olympics come to a close. If Team USA wins it will be the first time they have one in hockey since the 1980 Winter Games. The was the famous “Miracle on Ice” when a bunch of college experienced young men from the United States beat Russia’s finest and most experienced players.

I’m not a theologian, but if Team USA wins today I don’t think anyone will call it a miracle. In fact, the loss for Canada will have more impact on Canadians than a USA win will have on Americans. “The Miracle on Ice” did not make life-long  hockey fans of Americans, it just made many people extremely proud to be Americans. Heck, we’re still celebrating that underdog victory 30 years later.

So for my second video blog (and just under the February deadline) I’d decided to play off the game tonight and touch on the movie Miracle, and address the question, “What makes a good sports film?”

P.S. A Few video details.

You may look at the video and ask in the tradition of Field of Dreams, “Is that Vancouver?” No, it’s Iowa. George Wyth State Park by my house and popular for cross-country skiing and ice fishing in the winter, and biking and boating in the summer and fall.

What’s up with the Minnesota Twins hat? A little nod to the closest major league team to my house, and a reminder of Diablo Cody’s success as a writer who wrote Juno in the Minneapolis area. (Though since Cody is from Chicago, if she has a favorite team I bet it’s the Cubs.) The Twins used to have spring training in Orlando so I saw them play a lot growing up. Loved watching Rod Carew practice the art of bunting during batting practice. And the 1980 Team USA hockey coach, Herb Brooks– as well as many of the players–were from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Plus the hat is red, white and blue so it seemed like a fitting hat to wear for this video blog. Maybe I’ll make it a staple of all the videos.

A little reminder of regionalism and that talented athletes and screenwriters come from everywhere.

Related post: Screenwriting & the Miracle on Ice

Scott W. Smith

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“It was a brilliant script.”
Director Rodrigo Cortes on Chris Sparling’s script Buried
(And why he didn’t change the one location/one on-screen actor concept.)

So here’s my latest angle to give “Screenwriting from Iowa” a new perspective. My first video blog. Since shifting to daily posts was burying me why not add video into the mix? Right now, I’m going to try doing one video a month for now and see how it goes. (Of course,  the shooting style of this video is best understood if you’ve seen the original trailer for Buried.)

Buried was purchased by Lionsgate for between $3 & 4 million after the film was shown at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival just a few days ago. The entire movie is said to feature one person (Ryan Reynolds) held captive in a coffin for the entire length of the film as he tries to call people on his cell phone to secure his $1 million ransom.

Buried alive? There’s no app for that.

Scott W. Smith

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