Posts Tagged ‘Castaway’

It looks like 2011 is going to be the year of the clones. Not in terms of movies in the theaters (because that’s always the case), but in terms of my exploring the topic from a screenwriting perspective.

“You don’t get to be a Hollywood hitmeister like (Michael) Bay — 200 Zillion Tickets Sold! — without indulging in formulas, and the characters Star Warshero Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation) play in The Island bear a striking resemblance to the hyperactive narcs of Bad Boys, the tireless Earth-savers of Armageddon, and the dashing flyboys and selfless nurse of Pearl Harbor. Bay watchers know the king of the big-budget directors has been in the cloning game for a decade now, and that he knows a good thing when he repeats it.”
Bill Gallo
Send in the Clones
SF Weekly July, 20, 2005

And though Gallo’s quote from a critic’s perspective is meant in the pejorative sense, for the screenwriter inside you it is should make you sit up and take notice. Time and time again it’s been said that getting a feature produced and released into theaters takes a minor miracle. (Getting people to see the film and then to win awards takes a major miracle.) So it’s worth it to at least take a look at what kind of films are being made because most screenwriters would rather be writing movies rather than just scripts that are left unproduced.

Again don’t be turned off by the word clone. Don’t think of it as a mere copy, but as containing similar DNA. If it’s good enough for Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese, etc.—maybe there’s something to it. Yes, of course, there are bad clones (Pasadise two years after Blue Lagoon*) but keep in mind that Castway was a modern retelling of Robinson Crusoe and (as Lee A. Matthias points out) Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet was updated into West Side Story.

In fact, there were 13 Oscar nominations between Castaway and West Side Story. Take what you want and make it your own. And just for the record Robinson Crusoe was first published in 1719 and Romeo and Juliet circa 1560. With reports of similar stories of both being told even before those authors were born. The quest for love and survival are as primal and universal as you can get.

*Of course, I haven’t seen it since in came out in 1980, but Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields was probably just a retelling from a youth perspective of Robinson Crusoe. Toss in the TV shows LOST and Gilligan’s Island and you can see the stranded on an island concept is never going away. Here’s a trailer you may have never seen from a movie called Horrors of Spider Island about “eight beautiful girls” and one man stranded on an island (Hmmmmm):

Scott W. Smith






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Since yesterday I found a couple quotes from screenwriter Bob Gale about he came up with the idea for Back to the Future in his parent’s basement in St. Louis, I thought I’d find a quote today from the other half of that screenwriting team, Robert Zemeckis. Zemeckis also directed the film as well as  Romancing the Stone, Forrest Gump, and Castaway.

“You have to hope that you can get your investment back, which is what we [filmmakers] all try to do. What we really want to do is make one dollar profit back, so that nobody gets hurt and the movie exists. Anything else is arrogant and unrealistic. All of us in this business are a bit superstitious as well. We don’t really talk about that, although I must say that [Paramount Motion Picture Group chair] Sherry Lansing would always talk about what she thought the success of the movie would be. And she was wrong by about $150 million. Nobody in their right mind is going to say a movie is going to make $300 million.”
Robert Zemeckis
DGA Interview with Ted Elrick

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“It’s also important to remember it’s not about the setting anyway—it’s about the story, it’s always about the story.”
Stephen king
On Writing 

Today we’ll look at three well-known movies and see how parts of  particular scenes were written from the perspective of settings:


Our executives work amid the army of EMPLOYEES sorting the rivers of Christmas packages that flow relentlessly into the Hub. Some still have ties on, others have on Christmas hats incredibly complex; the work is demanding, intense. Like “Modern Times”: on overdrive. Above them is a COUNTDOWN clock approaching 00:15:00.
written by William Broyles, Jr.


Furnishings in hypermodern gray and black lacquer, Modern Art range from field paintings by Art Reinhardt to the smashed dishes of Julian Schnabel. Nautilus equipment, hi-tech gadgets are in evidence, including a splendid Howard Miller World Time Clock, and a world map…

Three of Gekko’s people, young MBA’s dressed for success, are scattered about the room, on phones, calculators, coming in and out.
Wall St.
Oliver Stone & Stanley Weiser


Brody and Hooper are approaching Quint’s house. They enter through the big wooden doors, into another circle of Hell. Smoke and steam from two big oil drums sitting over fires fills the air. Quint and his mate, Herschel, are grinding pieces of pilot whale into chum. The whale lies bloody on the floor, its ruined carcass adding to the stench of other sharks being boiled in the drums, their tails suspended in the air.

Diesel fumes and decay fill the air, and tools, ropes, broken bits of iron and engine parts litter the floor. Wall hangings of rope and floats, and buoys, barrels, tackle and gear and conspire to frame the killing floor.
Screenplay by Carl Gottlieb & Peter Benchley

Scott W. Smith


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