Archive for April, 2014

Writers Not Breaking In (Part 2)

“The most important thing new writers can do to help themselves is to get better at their craft and educate themselves about the business. You don’t want to get ripped off by the sharks that feed on aspiring writers? Learn the business and be smarter than the sharks. No one can take advantage of you if you have a solid understanding of how the business operates. New writers need to develop some self-awareness in regards to the business, their place in it and their craft/writing. And learn from your mistakes. When things aren’t going your way, stop, reassess and re-strategize. Stop making the same mistakes over and over and over again and blaming Hollywood. It’s your lack of talent and stupidity that’s keeping you out.”
WME Story Editor Christopher Lockhart
(From The Inside Pitch screenwriting forum on Facebook)

Related links:
The “A” List
Think “Hallewood”

Related posts:

The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously) —John Logan
How to Become a Successful Screenwriter (Tip #41)—Michael Arndt


Scott W. Smith 


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“Most writers fail at all entry points because their loglines don’t work. And the loglines don’t work because the screenplays don’t work. You’d be amazed at how much easier it gets when the writer has material that actually piques the town’s interest. But to gain full access, the screenplay has to deliver too. And that’s rarely the case.”
WME Story Editor Christopher Lockhart
(From The Inside Pitch screenwriting forum on Facebook)

Related link/PDF by Lockhart:

Related post:
Screenwriting Quote #172 (Christopher Lockhart)
The Perfect Logline
Writers Breaking In

Scott W. Smith

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Dina Gachman: What advice would you give to writers who are trying to break in?

Brooklyn Weaver (CEO Energy Entertainment):Mickey Fisher, for example, had written about 10 scripts and a slew of plays prior to sending Extant. He finally had a script that he’d worked really hard on and that he felt was the best representation of him. Brad Ingelsby had written a dozen scripts prior to The Low Dweller. It’s about being attuned to who you are as writer and a voice and knowing what your strike zone is.”

Read the entire interview at Studio System News A-List Spotlight. You can find Weaver on Twitter @BrooklynWeaver. The Tv show he referenced, Extant,  stars Halle Berry and premieres on CBS in July 2014. One of the executive producers is Weaver…another is Steven Spielberg.

Related post:

The Myth of ‘Breaking In’ (Tip #58)
Write 2 or 3 Scripts This Year (Tip #87)
Beatles, Cody, King & 10,000 Hours
The 99% Focus Rule (Tip #70)
Commitment in the Face of Failure
The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously)


Scott W. Smith

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“When I look out and I see people, who most likely have no idea who we are, responding to our music, it’s pretty damn rewarding.”
Roadkill Ghost Choir frontman Andrew Shepard
Band on the Rise article by Donovan Farley

For the past year or so I’ve been using Saturday’s to repost some of the screenwriting posts going back as far as 2008—the start date of this blog. But because music is such a major part of films, I think from time to time I’ll mention more musicians, bands and composers—so for the first time in a long time I’m starting a new category simply called music.

And today’s band is the Roadkill Ghost Choir (@RoadkillGhosts). They’re from Central Florida and made their national TV debut earlier this year on the Late Show with David Letterman. I don’t think their music has been featured in any movies yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

Having a banjo and a trumpet mixed in with guitars, keyboards, and drums puts a little extra independence into this indie band.

The band formed in 2011 in DeLand, Florida and profiled this month in the Orlando Weekly and interviewed on WPRK.

P.S. Roadkill Ghost Choir’s folk-rock music has been called neo-Americana, and for whatever reason their song Beggars’ Guild reminds me of the Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash duet of Girl from the North County from The Johnny Cash Show in 1969. (A  TV show, by the way that U2’s Bono watched as a kid. Bono later helped Cash have a musical resurgence in his later years.)

P.P.S . A nice tie-in to a blog called Screenwriting from Iowa is Roadkill Ghost Choir played last year in Iowa City. Screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) —an inspiration for starting this blog went to college at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Americana-related posts:
The Civil Wars
Off Screen Quote #22 (Bob Dylan)
Postcard # #38 (Lincoln Highway)
The Tennessee Williams Project
Creativity & Milking Cows “All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.” Grant Wood (Iowa painter, American Gothic)
Postcard #61 (Hannibal, MO)
Postcard #62 (Beale Street)
Postcard #63 (Graceland)
Postcard #52 (Pascagoula)

Scott W. Smith

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 “I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope.”
Stanley Elkin

I’ll round out a couple of weeks of movie related golf posts with a scene of a not so happy Adam Sandler character at the end of his rope. The comedy Happy Gilmore was a fictional story about a former hockey player who became a game changer in the world of golf and surged the sport’s popularity. The movie came out it 1996—the same year Tiger Woods became a professional golfer, who in reality became a game changer in the world of golf and surged the sport’s popularity.

While Happy Gilmore made $41 million dollars at the box office the year it came out, according to Forbes, Woods has been the highest paid athlete for 11 of the past 12 years. In fact, he’s personally made more that $41 million each year since 2002 and four times has had total yearly earnings of over $110 million.

And as a bonus here’s a video of some real pro golfers doing their best to do their best imitation of the Happy Gilmore swing;

P.S. The only professional golfer I could find with a screenwriting connection was Britney Hayes, she’s a rookie this year and studied theater and screenwriting at Bosie State.

Scott W. Smith

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‘Falling Down’ Golf Scene

“Just remember where you came from and treat people like you’d like to be treated.”
Arnold Palmer

David Mamet (And, yes, the all caps are Mamet’s)

When the movie Falling Down came out in 1993 the prevailing image of golf was white, rich, and pure country club. Actor/screenwriter Ebbe Roe Smith tapped into that imagery for the scene below in his Falling Down script. A simple set-up; A troubled man (Michael Douglas) decides to take a short cut, and a private country club golfer wants the troubled man off “his” golf course. Simple conflict.

Here’s what can happen if you don’t follow the Golden Rule—but shown in a way that you probably won’t see in a Sunday school class.

Scott W Smith

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“We wrote a script but didn’t really have a clue on how to get it made.” 
Neal Purvis

Before Robert Wade and Neal Purvis became working screenwriters Robert Wade and Neal Purvis—credited on several James Bond scripts (Skyfall, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace)—they wondered if they’d ever see a script they’d written get made. As the writing partners wondered—they also  played a little golf.

Note: They did not write the above clip of James Bond (Sean Connery) on the golf course. In fact, Goldfinger (script written by Richard Malbaum and Paul Dehn) came out in 1964, just a few years after Wade and Purvis were born. (And for what it’s worth, Malbaum studied acting at the University of Iowa)

Here’s part of a Q&A with Purvis and Wade found in the book Screenwriters’ Masterclass, edited by Kevin Conroy Scott.

Neal Purvis: We got a big six-page article about us in The Face magazine. And so we thought that we’d arrived. But the option on the script went to a couple of different people over a couple of years and nothing came of it.

Robert Wade: What happened then was that we took a year off and played golf. That’s the other good thing about having a partnership.

Neal Purvis: There was the assumption that you write one script, get it made and then write another one. So when this one wasn’t really happening, we played golf.

Question: How long did it take from when you were first writing screenplays till you got your first screenplay produced?

Robert Wade: Six years.

Neal Purvis: That was Let Him Have It, which was a departure for us, because it was more serious than what we had done before. We set out to make it light throughout, and then it got serious. We really thought if that didn’t get made, we might give up on screenwriting.

Question: What sort of work did you do to make ends meet?

Robert Wade: We’d get option money for different things and sign on a lot, social security. And we also would ghost-write pop-videos.

P.S. In the video below Wade and Purvis talk about the third writer on Skyfall, John Logan.

Related posts:

James Bond, Spy/Orphan
James Bond is Philip Marlow
“I can’t keep handling this…rejection” (Screenwriter Graham Moore talks about his struggles.)
The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously)—Insights from screenwriter John Logan

Scott W. Smith





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No movie related golf link today—but a compelling golf related story via ESPN’s E:60:

Challenged Athletes Foundation: It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) to provide opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. CAF believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.

Related: In four days there will be a St. Andrews Tournament at The American Veterans Golf Course in Lakewood, Washington. According to the website for Friends of American Lake Veterans:

The American Lake Veterans Golf Course is proud to sponsor this event to help send four combat wounded golfers to Scotland for six rounds of golf on some Scottish Links to include the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.  We solicit your participation and/or support to make this an enjoyable event for some of our own.


Related posts:

Screenwriting from a Wheelchair
Screenwriitng from Hell

Scott W. Smith



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“The manly sport of golf—where you can dress like a pimp and no one will care.”
Comedian Robin Williams

Though The Honeymooners (created by Jackie Gleason) is one of those classic and timeless programs from the early days of televison, the original 30-minute program only had a one  year run. A total of 39 episodes aired from October 1955 to September 1956. Of course, the resuns will run forever.

Sketches of The Honeymooners first aired on Cavalcade of Stars before exanding to the 30-minute versions, and sketches of The Honeymooners also became a part of The Jackie Gleason Show, a variety show that began airing in 1956.

But it’s amazing to think that Gleason and the “Classic 39” writers—Herbert FinnMarvin MarxA.J. RussellLeonard SternWalter Stone and Sydney Zelinka cranked out 39 episodes in one year.  Of those writers and the four main actors, only Joyce Randolph (who played Trixe—the wife of Art Carney’s character) is still alive. If anybody has any links to The Honeymoon writers talking about the process of writing that show please send it my way.

P.S. Tonight at 10 PM (ET) on The Golf Channel, In Play with Jimmy Roberts will be doing a feature on Caddyshack creator Harold Ramis.

Scott W. Smith


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“When Sofia Coppola, the director of Lost in Translation, sent me the script, she included a photo and said, ‘This is what I have in mind.’, It was Brad Pitt in an ad for espresso in a can, and he had the same grimace: ‘I can’t believe I’m selling this can of coffee.’, That influenced me when I had to do my own shtick.”
Bill Murray

When people think of actor Bill Murray and golf I imagine 99.99% of the time the movie Caddyshack comes to mind first. But there’s actually another movie that features Murray on a golf course—Lost in Translation (2003). Written and directed by Sophia Coppola, she received an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. (Murray was also nominated for an Oscar. )

So once again tapping into the mystical side of golfing…

Related Posts:
Postcard #74 (Bill Murray)
Harold Ramis on ‘Caddyshack’
Murray, Miller & Mass Appeal (Tip #78)

Scott W. Smith

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