Archive for September, 2012

Postcard #29 (Downtown Horses)

A friend called me today and asked if I was going to be in Minneapolis tonight for the Upper Midwest Emmy Awards, where I am up for an award for a project I shot earlier this year. Nope—I’ve been in Des Moines shooting a project since Wednesday.  It’s been a busy month and the Regional Emmy awards have been a little off my radar. Which is probably healthy. (Of course, it’d be nice to win.)

So after the phone call, I thought I’d sneak in a Saturday post and share a photo I took on Thursday when I was in downtown Des Moines shooting some beauty shots for a TV program. I’m not sure who the artist is, but I was drawn to these downtown horses and the beautiful blue sky.

P.S. Last night I had dinner in downtown Des Moines with a director from Santa Monica and the restaurant had a photograph of actress Cloris Leachman on a wall and I told the director she was from Des Moines, Iowa. He didn’t known that and said he actually ran into her at an ATM in Brentwood once. Small world, huh? BTW—Cloris Leachman has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards, which is more than any other performer—to go along with her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in The Last Picture Show. Des Moines is full of surprises.

Update 10/2/12: Didn’t win.

Scott W. Smith 

Read Full Post »

“The biggest lesson a screenwriter can learn is how to master a rewrite of his own script, or someone else’s, and make the change a studio wants without destroying the story. It’s like a football game: If you think of writing an original screenplay as ‘offensive’ creativity, then rewriting is all about ‘defensive’ creativity.

There are some screenwriters who are great on offense while others excel only at defense. The greatest screenwriters–and the ones who are in demand—are those who can handle both kinds of creativity. The problem I’ve found is that young writers usually change too much in a rewrite and old writers often don’t change enough. What writers should remember is to read a first draft or a rewrite twice, not once but twice, before handing it in. First read it for pacing and plot, and then read it a second time to see if there are good parts for the stars, because that’s exactly how the stars are going to read it.”
Garry Marshall
Wake Me When It’s Funny (written with Lori Marshall)
pages 114-115

On the next post we’ll look at the extensive re-writing that changed a dark tale called 3,000 into the romantic comedy Pretty Woman. The film which starred Julie Roberts and Richard Gere and pulled in $463 million (in 1990 dollars) from a script that originated from screenwriter J.F. Lawton. 

(First I’ll give Garry Marshall’s account to how the script was rewritten, and follow it with Lawton’s version if I can find it.) 

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

“Just when I thought I understood how to write  a good line, Phil Foster headed me in a different direction. He was one of the first comedians to break out of the traditional one-line joke format and venture into personal narratives. He would talk about his wife, his childhood, politics—anything he could put his personal spin on. Through his tales of family and friends, Phil taught us that the best way to write comedy was to view everyday life with a comic eye. He encouraged us to abandon our sophomoric gag humor and said, ‘Look at people and pick up on their mistakes and inadequacies. Watch human behavior. Telling the truth about people will make them laugh.'”
Producer/Writer/Director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman
Wake Me When It’s Funny (written with Lori Marshall)

Read Full Post »

Tasting & Smelling Comedy (Tip #61)

Buddy Hackett held up a matchbook and said, ‘What jokes can you write about this?’ I pitched a few about the advertisement on the outside of a matchbook, then a few behavior jokes about trying to light a match with one hand to impress a girl.

‘That’s good,’ Hackett said, ‘but the trick is not only to think about the exterior of the subject like the cover and the matches, but also remember the interior and the lit match. See the flame burn. Part is yellow with blue around it and as it burns the tip twists, turns, tilts, and then drops to one side like a small penis. You must think not only about what matches do, but what they’re made of, too.’

I never forgot from then on to examine a comedy subject from all sides: What it looks like. What comedy smells like. What it tastes like. Years later I wrote a joke that went, ‘My wife’s cooking is like sucking a burnt match.'”
Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall
Wake Me When It’s Funny
Page 53

Read Full Post »

“Be prepared at all times for rejection, even after you break in. One night I was backstage at Jack Silberman’s International Nightclub in New York City. I nervously handed a page of jokes I had written to a famous veteran comedian. He read my jokes without laughing or even cracking a smile, removed a silver monogrammed cigarette lighter from his coat pocket, and set my page of jokes on fire. He then very nonchalantly tossed the burning page into a small metal trash can and walked away. Unable to speak, I simply stood there staring at the can as the bright red flames turned my jokes into ashes. It was my first flaming rejection. I went home that night to my apartment feeling like quitting the business.”
Garry Marshall
Wake Me When It’s Funny (written with Lori Marshall)

Of course, Garry Marshall didn’t quit the business, though he did eventually leave New York and head to Hollywood. There he would write and produce some of the most watched TV in the decade of the 70s, including The Odd Couple, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Happy Days. In the 80s he starred directing feature films including Pretty Women, Runaway Bride, and mostly recently New Year’s Eve.

Hang in there folks.

P.S. I found Marshall’s book at a used bookstore last week when I was in Texas for shoot and will be pulling a lot of quotes from it—good stuff from somebody with six decades of entertainment experience.

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

A Love Story in 22 Pictures

Producer Mason Novack—who discovered writer Diablo Cody and encouraged her to write her first screenplay (Juno)—finally picked up the phone and called Cedar Falls, Iowa. No, he didn’t discover the Diablo Cody/Juno-inspired blog Screenwriting from Iowa and call me. He called a photographer friend of mine Tim Dodd telling him he needed to get an agent.

Tim’s blog post Do you know my friend Taylor Morris? recounted his friendship with Taylor and how the Navy soldier was in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED on May 3, 2012 and lost his legs, left arm, and right hand in the blast. Tim has been documenting through photography and video Taylor’s recovery over the months, and Taylor’s relationship with his high school sweetheart Danielle Kelly.

Over two months ago I wrote a blog called Taylor Morris & the Home of the Brave featuring Taylor’s story and Tim’s photos. Many others have spread Taylor’s story and Tim’s photos until last week went the story went viral after BuzzFeed published the post A Love Story in 22 Pictures. In a way that happens every now and then the exposure resulted in millions being exposed to the story and hundreds of thousands of dollars being raised for Taylor. In just the last few days the story has been featured on CNN, ABC, and on Good Morning America this morning.

Time will tell is Taylor’s story becomes a movie—it certainly has all the elements; A story packed with emotions and a strong willed character in the face of tremendous loss. But also a visual story of faith, hope and love.  Until it becomes a movie we have Tim Dodd’s excellent phootgraphy and a website you can follow www.taylormorris.org and there is a Taylor Morris channel on You Tube.

And, at least for me,  the story’s all the more better that its roots are right here in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

P.S. A few weeks ago Taylor was back in Iowa and had a cameo in an indie film honoring veterans and I said to one of the crew members that because of Tayor’s social media presence that he would be a bigger draw than a couple of the film’s name stars—Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas) and Sally Kellerman (MASH).

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

Postcard #28 (Prime Time)

I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say about the shoot today in which I was field producer on in the greater Dallas area (on behalf of Magnet Media and MWW), so I’m just going to just pull a quote & picture Prime Time tweeted @DeionSanders:
Just finished shoot with BallPark. Prime has own Burger baby! “The Prime”
Read more at http://twitter.yfrog.com/hwc4wdhj#6Vp5Ty6XDDEFCiDR.99

It’s not everyday that I get to work with a Hall of Fame football player who was also a pretty solid professional baseball player. (In fact, he’s the only athlete in history to play in a Super Bowl and a World Series.) One of the teams he played for was the Cincinnati Reds, I wore my Reds hat today. Fun shoot with a talented guy.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: