Archive for the ‘screenwriting’ Category

“When I started [my film career] there weren’t film schools. I never saw in my life— not even for a second—I never saw a screenplay until I was 33-years-old. And a lot of kids [today] are finished with their careers when they’re 33, because they’ve been to film school, they got their first movie done when they were 23 or 25, and now that they’re 33 they’re directors or whatever else. When I first hear of film schools I thought it was the stupidest f—— idea I’d ever heard of.  Why would anybody—because we fell in love with movies going to the LCN theater in my little town in Illinois. You went to the movies and they were wonderful. And now movies are important, which they never were when I was a kid.”
2-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman (All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid)
Writers Guild Foundation 2010 Interview 

Scott W. Smith


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When I began [writing Game of Thrones], I didn’t know what the hell I had. I thought it might be a short story; it was just this chapter, where they find these direwolf pups. Then I started exploring these families and the world started coming alive. It was all there in my head, I couldn’t not write it. So it wasn’t an entirely rational decision, but writers aren’t entirely rational creatures.”
George RR Martin
The Guardian article by Alison Flood

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“I’m a fast writer. Maybe not the best, but the fastest.”
Stan Lee

RollingStone printed a “Lost” Q&A with Stan Lee and here’s an excerpt that gives you a glimpse of how quickly ideas for the comic books featuring X-Men, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man. Books in the Marvel universe that became the foundations for movies that made billions of dollars at the box office.

Brian Haiatt: Someone asked Bob Dylan, how did you write all those 1960s songs in a short period? And he looked back, and even he doesn’t quite know how he did it. Do you feel the same way?

Stan Lee: No, I know how I did it. I was very lucky, it came really easily to me. Once I knew who the villain was, and if I had already established the main characters, which you only had to do once, then writing the story didn’t take that long. It took a little less than a day. You know, I’d wake up in the morning, I’d talk to my wife for a while, and read the paper, and then I’d start writing, and by dinner time it was over, and I had done the book.

I don’t know if Stan Lee had any superhero powers, but he sure got a lot done on some days. In that interview Lee said of his ideas for the comic books, “Usually a day is all any of them took.”

P.S. Of the $24 billion that Marvel movies have made, one of them was this year’s top-grossing film The Black Panther, which alone made 1.3 billion worldwide. Lee created that character with Jack Kirby in 1966.

Scott W. Smith



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“How did I learn screenwriting? Endless hours at the typewriter, then the computer, which came along later. It was really a lot of applied time and effort and self-study. Which is the way most people learn.”
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption)
The Best of Creative Screenwriting Interviews

And here’s a similar quote from Darabont that I think I originally found in Zen and the Art Screenwriting (Vol. 2) by William Froug:

“For me, it was a matter of years of trying to develop my writing in the same way that some people spend years learning to play the violin.”
Writer/director Frank Darabont (Co-creator of The Walking Dead)

Related posts:

Frank Darabont and ‘The Woman in the Room’
The Shawshank Redemption Payoff of $1 to #1
‘Television Used to Suck’—Frank Darabont
Descriptive Writing (Frank Darabont)
It’s a Wonderful Prison

Scott W. Smith

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If you haven’t seen the documentary Searching for Sugar Man yet check it out on Netflix this weekend. The 2012 film won the Oscar and the BAFTA for Best Documentary, and the Sundance Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary.  Among winning many other awards the film’s writer/director/editor Malik Bendjelloul also won Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary from the DGA.

For whatever reason, I missed it when it first came out and had the benefit of not knowing (or remembering) the backstory on the film. It made for a great movie-watching experience. So if you haven’t seen it, don’t even watch the trailer below or read anything else about it—just experience it.

Scott W. Smith

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Hurricane Michael & The Drunk Donkey

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As I type this, Hurricane Michael is hours from landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Early this morning it became a category 4, and the National Hurricane Center said a category 4 hurricane has never hit the panhandle (at least since they’ve been keeping records since 1851).

Living in Orlando, Florida (and actually far from the storm) I find it interesting that I didn’t see any local or national press on this storm until Saturday afternoon. Then Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday the coverage grew.

But I did know about this storm at the middle of last week from an outlier. Because my wife was flying out of town last Friday and supposed to return today she wanted to know if there were storms on the horizon that would impede her travels.  So days before the press was covering Hurricane Michael—even before it was a hurricane—she was telling me about storm via Mike’s Weather Page on Facebook (also the website www.spaghettimodels.com).

Mike is an amateur weather guy from Tampa, Florida who has a large following and a knack for guessing weather patterns of storms. He acquired the nickname Drunk Donkey from a professional meteorologist who basically was said people shouldn’t be listening to this guy.

I don’t know what his track record is against the big meteorologist, but he has been consistent since I’ve been following him since Hurricane Irma last year. And from what I saw in the past week,  he was days ahead of the national press (and government) in his concerns about Hurricane Michael.

If you’ve ever seen the pilot episode of The Newsroom written by Aaron Sorkin you get a glimpse of how the national press works. It has to make choices on what it’s going to put the spotlight on. Last week it was all about Brett Kavanaugh and the issues over his confirmation or not to the supreme court. The attentional was understandable since it was of national importance.

That and college football filled the news cycle until later Saturday afternoon. Hurricane Michael was still a tropical storm then and Sunday TV viewing is centered around pro football. I wouldn’t say there was much of a concern until Monday or Tuesday.

On NPR this morning they reported about a hurricane party last at a bar just two miles from the beach near where the storm is supposed to make landfall. Now I’m reading that the storm is approaching wind speeds of Hurricane Andrew in 1992—the last category 5 hurricane to hit the continental United States.

I’m also hearing the experts say how this one snuck up on them. But I’m remembering Mike’s concerns a week ago when this storm’s speeds were just 50 mph but potentially heading this way. Just some guy with a passion for tracking hurricanes and reading of the computer data.

This storm certainly gives great street cred (storm cred?) to Mike’s Weather Page. Perhaps we need to listen to the Drunk Donkey more often. I hope after this Mike’s new nickname becomes Hurricane Mike.

It would almost be funny—if lives weren’t at stake.

8:10 PM Update:

Scott W. Smith



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“On the wall behind [Vince] Gilligan was a large corkboard. Across the top were pinned 13 index cards representing the 13 episodes of the season. . . . Under 413, the final episode of the season, there was only one single, fluttering card. It read in bold, matter-of-fact Magic Marker ink, “BOOM.”
Inside the Breaking Bad writers’ room: How Vince Gilligan Runs the show

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“Sometimes bad ideas lead to good ideas.”
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan on the need to crank out ideas in the writer’s room

Yesterday The New York Times had an article titled ‘Better Call Saul‘ Season 4 Finale Recap: Suckers! which includes an embedded video How T Write the Perfect Con. It’s a look inside the Better Call Saul writer’s room and its a solid example of multimedia storytelling, as well as a glimpse into how they create storylines for Saul Goodman.

It also made we want to look around and see what I could find on Breaking Bad— the show that ran from 2008-2013 and spawned Better Call Saul. Here’s what I found:

Additional Links:
Photos inside the Breaking Bad Writers’ room (and what one could call mood boards)
Take a Look Inside the Writers’ Room of AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’

Scott W. Smith

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