Archive for the ‘screenwriting’ Category

“Have you ever wondered why it had to be so hard to get through school? Or just make it from day to day? Well, that’s because what you were building [your foundation] had to be strong enough to support the weight of whatever you could dream. And if you’re like me, you’re a huge dreamer.”
Tyler Perry
2016 Tuskegee University commencement speech  

How big is Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia? Well, as CBS’s Norah O’Donnell points out, if you take the Los Angeles/Burbank studios of Warner Bros., Paramount, and Disney and combined them together—they’d still be smaller than Tyler Perry’s 330 acres studio.

Scott W. Smith 

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Last year when the first version of The Quiet Place screenplay found its way online it was unorthodox in that Scott Beck and Bryan Woods where on one page they used just one word (SNAP…) among other techniques. (See the post Writing an Unorthodox Script.) Well, this year’s unconventional script (or maybe just unconventional page) goes to The Lighthouse written by Max Eggers with the director of the movie Robert Eggers.

In the last day or two, A/24 made the script available for consideration during award season.

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Scott W. Smith 

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If you’re on Twitter, two writer/directors that I’d recommend you follow are Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place, Haunt) who go by @beckandwoods on Twitter. Here’s an example of one of their tweets.

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“A writer who has had experience in newspaper reporting has an advantage [of finding movie story material] because he has learned what offers human interest. If the life of the world about you seems dull, the fault lies in yourself. You are not seeing it clearly or not interpreting it rightly. Life is the basis of all drama, but you must learn not to look for stories nor even for plots, but for story material, a different thing. You must watch what people about you are doing and what is happening to them, and always where there is interesting action or change you must seek for motivation. You will learn that the nuclei of touching stories lies not in the lives of the eccentric or abnormal, but often in the lives of apparently commonplace persons. It was among the poor and humble that Dickens found lives rich in sacrifice and love.”
Oscar winning screenwriter Frances Marion
How to Write and Sell Film Stories (first published in 1937)
page 169

P.S. Of course, I am aware that I as I wrote this post that The Joker is currently the number one box office movie (and the top grossing R-rated film ever) and is the epitome of an eccentric and abnormal person. (At least, it appears that way. I have yet to see the movie.)

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Here are a couple helpful videos I found online that can help you further understand lens and shot selection in relation to filmmaking.

Also, glancing over at my bookshelf here are some books that can help you understand shot selection.

The Five C’s of Cinematography
Cinematography for Directors
Cinematic Storytelling
Master Shots 
Film Directing Shot by Shot
Film Directing, Cinematic Motion

Scott W. Smith


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L.A. vs. Washington

Every once in a while two distant and loose threads of my past cross paths. That happened last night in the playoff baseball game in Los Angeles when the L.A. Dodgers played the Washington Nationals.

Nationals’ Howie Kendrick had the best moment of his career when he hit a grand slam home run in the tenth inning to help his team beat the Dodgers, 7-3, in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. High drama.

The National manager, Dave Martinez, went to my high school and graduated two years after I did. I covered his baseball games while working for the Sanford Herald when I was a 19-year-old photojournalist.


After high school Martinez played for the college where I now work, and then went to have a 15 year career playing professional baseball. He then began coaching and won a World Series ring as a coach with the Chicago Cubs. The next year he became the manager of the Nationals. Now in his second year his team with be facing the St. Louis Cardinals in hopes that he can lead the Nationals to their first trip ever to a World Series.(The Nationals along with the Montreal Expos are the only teams in MLB to never play in a World Series.)

Former Dodger great Orel Hershiser is currently a broadcaster with the Dodgers. I saw him pitch at Dodger Stadium early in his career (and when I was in film school) and later in his career against Texas Rangers in Arlington, TX.

For a few years after he retired Hershiser lived in Orlando. I knew his agent Robert Fraley who once negotiated Hershiser’s then high record contract. I also knew the publishers of Hershiser’s book Out of the Blue and one of them asked me to produce a video for an event honoring Hershiser.

As a extra thanks for producing that video in 2000 I was given a signed baseball from Hershiser that I still have in my home office today.


Scott W. Smith


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Producer/director Ron Howard uses a checklist to evaluate scripts he wants to develop which includes rating them according genre fulfillment, strength of characters, emotional reaction, thematic relevance, structure (he prefers thinking in terms of sequencing), and suspense.

“I do believe all pieces need to be suspense pieces in a way. It’s that question of, ‘Is it a page turner?’ Is one scene pulling you along to the next?—whether it’s a comedy, fantasy, drama, or suspense thriller. Does the structure of the story offer twists and surprises? Audiences love that. It makes us vulnerable to the possibilities that the story may not end the way we predict.”
Ron Howard
Masterclass, Evaluating a Script

Related posts:
Movie Making in 10 Minute Sequences (According to Ron Howard)
Sequence Writing (Tip #105) 
Ron Howard on Theme

Scott W. Smith

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