Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ken Levine’

“Protagonists have to be active, they’re making their own fate all the time.”
Screenwriter Robin Swicord (Little Women)

“David Mamet says the one question an audience asks is WHAT’S NEXT? I agree. Let each scene drive the story forward. Make sure each moment is vital no matter what page it’s on.”
Ken Levin (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Fraiser)
Post on his blog The World As Seen By A TV Comedy Writer

“I think of [story beats] more in terms of one scene pushing the next scene into existence. And within a scene there will be certain beats because there’s a kind of progress that happens in every scene. And I think everybody who knows much about drama understands that the character is starting here, certain revelations or actions take place in the scene and you’re in a different place at the end of that scene. And what happens in that scene then makes the other scene happen. And so there’s this kind of because, because, because, that runs all the way through dramatic writing.  And so I don’t create schematics the way so many screenwriting books have done. I don’t think there’s anything magical about a certain page number, but I do know that the story happens in three large sweeps. The three act structure is not that artificial. Some people break it down into five— I think that’s quite legitimate, because act two is very long, so that can be broken down into whatever size you want. But generally speaking there is a progress toward and that is what makes dramatic writing dynamic.”
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Robin Swicord
The Dialogue Interview: Learning from the Masters interview with Jay Fernandez  (Part 2)—at the 14:25 point of the above clip.

Related Posts:
DAVID MAMET’S BOLD MEMO?
Screenwriting Quote #94 (David Mamet) “Each scene must end so that the hero is thwarted in pursuit of his goal—so that he, as discussed elsewhere, is focused to go on to the next scene to get what he wants.”

Scott W. Smith

 

Read Full Post »

Two months ago the official blog of TomCruise.com had a post called Guide for Aspiring Screenwriters Part 1: Story Matters Most When Writing a Screenplay! and I was pleased that one of the two screenwriting blogs that was mentioned was Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places.

Now a post called 60 Best Blogs for Aspiring Screenwriters has listed Screenwriting from Iowa #7 saying, “Scott W. Smith philosophically peers into screenwriting and the creative process that goes into the craft.” Thanks for the shout out.

The saying goes that a number without a context is meaningless, but when I look at some of the blogs listed on there I am honored to be in such good company. The list  appears to have some kind of connection to the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University. But whoever came up with the list really did their homework.

Scott Myers’ blog Go Into The Story is well deserving in the top slot as is Big Fish screenwriter John August’s blog at #2. Ken Levine who wrote on the TV show Mash has his blog listed at #5 so I have no problem at all coming in at #7. (And just for the record, as far as I can tell, none of the other blogs have won an Emmy.)

As I wrap up the third year of this blog (and the second year of daily posts) it’s been a thrill to get some recognition. And it will also give me some added inspiration to get the content into book form.

On Sunday, I’ll be giving an introduction to the 1939 John Ford classic Stagecoach as part of the 100th celebration of the Oster-Regent Theater here in Cedar Falls. I look forward to that because it’s kind of encapsulates what this blog is all about. Not only does the film star John Wayne who was born here in Iowa (Winterset) but the script was written by Dudley Nichols* who was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio. How many could find either of those places without Mapquest or Google Maps?

* I mentioned Dudley Nichols back in October of ’08 in the post Screenwriting from Michigan as he was one of the first, if not the first, to graduate from the University of Michigan and have a screenwriting career in Hollywood. According to IMDB he was also the first artist to turn down the Oscar. (For his screenplay that became the 1935 film The Informer.)

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

“Aspiring screenwriters always ask what’s the best way to break into the Hollywood? I say move to Minnesota.”
                                    Ken Levine 
                                    Emmy-winning TV writer (Frasier, MASH, Cheers)
                                    How to Sell a screenplay by drinking in a bar 

 

Friday I had a meeting in Minneapolis and it’s true there are things the big city has that we don’t have here in Cedar Falls…traffic, difficulty finding a parking spot, and two kids were shot standing on a street corner. Thankfully, the shooting injuries were not life-threatening. The shooting took place near a park where 30 kids were playing. Those kinds of incidents always remind me of Danny Glover’s line in the movie Grand Canyon, “That’s not the way the world is supposed to be.” 

While also in the Twin Cities I noticed that Gran Torino (written by Minnesotan Nick Schenkwas still in the theaters which means it’s been a long run for the movie that came out in December. So I looked it up and saw that it has made $142 million (domestic) and then I compared it to Juno which I found out made a total of $143 million (domestic) last year which means Gran Torino starring Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski will overtake Juno this weekend or next. Though when you include the worldwide gross, Juno still has a commanding $52 million lead.

How does  Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody  match-up against Schenk? First she’s a Chicago Bear and he’s a Minnesota Viking fan so he has a slight edge there. Schenk’s also got a few pounds on her, and he did write the highest grossing movie in Eastwood’s over four decade Hollywood career. But she’s more famous than some movie stars, is working with Steven Spielberg, and has an Oscar. So for now she has the upper hand. Schenk has moved to L.A. but when recently asked by Steve March how Hollywood had he gone Schenk responded:

“Uh, none. I don’t know anybody. My friend called me up the other day and  asked me if my life is like Entourage now. And I’m sittin’ there waiting for my Tomestone pizza to get done in my pizza oven that I dragged from Minnesota–you know, the kind that they have in the bars?”

Somehow, since both writers aren’t that far removed from quitting their day jobs (or night jobs) back in the Minneapolis area I don’t think either are complaining. (And though Schenk’s writing partner—Dave Johannson— on the story for Gran Torino still has his day job in Minnesota selling gas furnaces, he’s probably not complaining either since they sell a lot of furnaces up this way and he probably makes more than the average WGA screenwriter. And dropping you had part in an Eastwood movie has to help sales.)

Still it’s pretty amazing that two screenwriters have emerged from the same area in fly-over county and have had such box-office and critical success. 

Update: It’s official at 8:19 PM I checked with boxofficemojo.com and Gran Torino has passed Juno at the domestic box office this weekend with a total of  143,824,000 verses Juno’s $143,495,265. Congrats to Schenk, Johannson and Eastwood.

 

Related post: Q & A with Movie Critic Colin Covert
                   Screenwriting Quote of the Day # 10 (Colin Covert)
                   Screenwriting Quote of the Day #1 (Diablo Cody)
                   The Oscars Minnesota-Style

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: