Posts Tagged ‘J. Michael Straczynski’

“In just a moment we’ll see how thin a line separates that which we assume to be real, with that manufactured inside of a mind.”
Rod Serling
Introduction to The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Episode 23
A World of Difference

Since it’s Thanksgiving weekend and many people are watching football games, shopping, or working (at football stadiums and malls), I thought I’d expose you to another part of the United States you may not be familiar with—as well as give you a little trivia about The Truman Show that I think screenwriters will find interesting. (This post is also a good example of what happens when you poke around in unlikely places.)

A short drive—or bike ride—from beautiful Seaside, Florida (where they shot much of The Truman Show) is Grayton Beach State Park that back in 1994 was named the number 1 beach in the US by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman (known as Dr. Beach).

I took the photo at Grayton Beach State Park by a lagoon near the beach.  If you’re looking for a classic white sandy beach complete with sand dunes and not spoiled by condos and hotels, yet has nearby hotels and restaurants for cast and crew then Grayton in  Santa Rosa Beach, Florida fits the bill. As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on Seaside, if you’re interested in shooting a film in that area contact  The Emerald Coast Film Commission.

I also found a link at The Wall Street Journal where Don Steinberg pointing out how two Twilight Zone episodes are similar (perhaps story influences or story echoes) to The Truman Show. In Special Service from the 1989 season, “A man and his wife discover that their lives are secretly being videotaped and is a huge hit on a network television show.” Here’s the entire episode written by J. Michael Straczynski.

The other is from the 1960 Twilight Zone episode A World of Difference where, “A businessman sitting in his office inexplicably finds that he is on a production set and in a world where he is a movie star. Uninterested in the newfound fame, he fights to get back to his home and family.” Here’s the entire episode written by Richard Matheson. (Note the great inciting incident at the 2:04 mark.)

Remember the saying, “Producers want similar, only different.” Here a a couple qualified creative sources that I found over at Brain Pickings to help explain why there is nothing new under the sun:

“All ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources.”
Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s Letters, Vol. 2 of 2

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
Salvador Dalí
Letters of Note

Shakespeare was not only a master dramatist, but a master of sampling stories by other dramatists.

Related posts:
Screenwriting Quote #24 (J. Michael Straczynski) ““It doesn’t matter if you didn’t go to the best schools, if you’re a kid or in your 50s….”
Starting Your Screenplay (Tip #6)
Where Do Ideas Come From (A+B=C)
Movie Cloning (Part 2) “I think it’s fine for young (filmmakers) to out and out rip off people who come before them because you always make it your own.”Francis Ford Coppola

Scott W. Smith

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Before J. Michael Straczynski created Babylon 5 or wrote the feature Changeling he wrote The Complete Book of Screenwriting back in the 80s. In 1996 he updated the the book. Straczynski didn’t attend film school but received degrees in psychology and sociology. He seemed to take the dream big, start small approach, “I cut my teeth on little community theater, local newspaper and radio stations.”

Now with hundred of produced credits to his name I’m guessing that he’s the most produced writer to ever write a book on screenwriting. (I’m sure there is a tip or two in there for you that makes the $1.46 plus shipping worth it to pick up from Amazon.) For the quote of the day by him I actually had to look up the word chockablock, which means exremely full, crowded, or jammed. (Don’t remember reading or hearing that word before.)

“The scriptwriting field is unpredictable and potentially hazardous to your sanity, chockablock with all the paraphernalia of warfare–booby traps, blast craters, land mines, poison gas and agents. Your best hope of survival is to begin the journey with as much information as possible about the landscape and the strange people who live hereabouts. Because, while there are certainly those among us out here who’d as soon shoot you as look at you, there are just as many happy to give aid and comfort to a weary soldier.”
J. Michael Straczynski
The Complete Book of Screenwriting
page 2

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The movie Changeling was nominated for three Oscars last week. It’s success has made the writer,  J. Michael Stracyznski, an A-list writer in Hollywood. And though he had been writing for TV for 20 years before Changeling sold he recently wrote in Script magazine,”Nobody in features knew me from Adam.”

They didn’t know about his Emmy winning work on Babylon 5, his novels, short stories, or comic book writing. What got him attention in the feature film world was a script that he spent a year researching going through 6,000 pages of documents. Now he’s been attached to projects with Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass and Brad Pitt to follow his Changeling story that attracted Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie.

Because he saw first hand how one script can change people’s perception he wrote the following:

“It doesn’t matter if you didn’t go to the best schools, if you’re a kid or in your 50s. It doesn’t matter if, like me, when I moved to Los Angeles in 1981, you come at the business without friends or relatives in the business. It doesn’t even matter if you spent formative years digging carpet scraps out of dumpsters instead of going to film school. The only thing that matters is the quality of the storytelling. More than hearing about techniques, more than discussing the construction of dialogue, I think that’s the important message; that it’s possible.”
                                                                          J. Michael Straczynski
Volume 15/ Number 1
Pages 38-39  

And though he was born in Newark and graduated from high school in the San Diego area he did live for a time in Kankakee, Illinois.Which is perhaps why he mentions Kankakee in the video below.  And he was an early adopter (going back to the 80s) of using the computers to Interact with audiences.

Straczynski also wrote The Complete Book of Scriptwriting.

Scott W. Smith

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