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Posts Tagged ‘MovieMaker Magazine’

The other day I flipped through MovieMaker magazine and came across the article Perfect Pitch by Ken Rotocop that had this interesting insight:

I’ve been the creative head of four studios, so I know what happens when a studio gets a synopsis: One quick glance and it goes right into the wastebasket.

A synopsis cannot help you—it can only kill you.

So what should you do if a producer has shown interest in your idea? 
Send him the first ten pages of the script—and send it with the following letter:
photo-41
In my screenwriting workshops, my students have been sending out the first 10 pages of their screenplays for the last four years—and the response from producers and executives they’ve submitted their work to has been 100 percent positive!…So now that you know the secret, don’t screw it up—make sure those first 10 pages are dynamite!
In those 10 pages, we better darn well learn:
* Who the protagonist is
* What he (or she) wants
* Who or what is stopping him or her from getting it!
Ken Rotocop
MovieMaker Issue No. 65, Volume 13, Page 42
P.S. Now 100% sounds like hyperbole, but any writers out there had success with doing this? Any producers/executives like this technique?

Related posts:
Starting Your Screenplay (Tip #6)/ “As long as the protagonist wants something, the audience will want something.”— David Mamet
“The Inside Pitch”
The Perfect Logline
The 99% Focus Rule (Tip #70) Here Michael Arndt gives the real secret to reaching producers.

Scott W. Smith

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THE HOODS OF TOMORROW! THE GUN-MOLLS OF THE FUTURE!
From the movie poster & trailer for The Delinquents (1957)

“Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food and tyrannize their teachers.”
Socrates (470-399 BC)

“After toiling away in Hollywood in the late 1940s, a frustrated but determined Robert Altman returned to his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri in an effort to focus on his dream of making movies more seriously. It was here he was hired by a local production company, and over the next several years produced more than 65 projects, leading up to his first feature, The Delinquents….The old adage that it’s all about ‘who you know’ may ring true in Hollywood circles, but if your goal is to make movies that matter in the independent world, then it’s all up to you. Sure, film is a collaborative art, but you need to take that first step. So jump right in and write that script, direct that short and take that editing class. The time is now!
Jennifer M. Wood
MovieMaker magazine, Issue 65, Vol 13

P.S. The Delinquents was written and directed by Altman and starred Tom Laughlin—the man who would go on to make the Billy Jack films. Altman would go on to have a career spanning six decades only ending with his death in 2006. He would eventually be nominated for six Oscars including his work on Short Cuts, MASH, and Nashville. My personal favorite Altman film is The Player—check out this great one-shot opening:

Related Posts:

Kansas City’s Robert Altman
Robert Altman
Screenwriting from Missouri
Sacred Land, Moving Pictures
Postcard #1 (Downtown KC)
BOOM! & The Fat Lady in Kansas City

Scott W. Smith

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“I’m in the emotional transportation business. If you want to be in that position, you have to understand drama. You have to understand how characters interact. You must understand how to move audiences emotionally, because that’s what they talk about in word of mouth. You don’t talk about what the film was about, you talk about your experience seeing the film: I loved it, I laughed, I cried, I observed. That’s what makes people go to the movies.”
Peter Guber, Chairman/CEO of Mandalay Ent Group (Exec Producer Rain Man, Batman Returns)
MovieMaker magazine
Winter 2006
Page 69

Related Post: 40 Days of Emotion

Scott W. Smith

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In the short film I recently produced, No Day at the Spa, I actually used part of the quote by screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote,“Don’t give up. You’re going to get kicked in the teeth. A lot. Learn to take a hit, then pick yourself up off the floor. Resilience is the true key to success.” It’s from an article she wrote for MovieMaker magazine called My Golden Rules: The do’s and don’ts of screenwriting.

It’s a quote I just posted earlier this month, but I feel the urge to post it again because I think it’s true and helpful. In fact, it just may be my favorite quote I’ve found in the two and a half years I’ve been doing this blog. What Rosenberg didn’t have time to mention in the article is just in fact who had kicked her in the teeth.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter, but I imagine if she was asked which kicks hurt the most it would be from the ones closest to her. The ones perhaps where she has helped their career only to have them turn on her and watch them do things she didn’t think their worst enemy would do.

Whoever it was, I’m sure it hurt the most when she was kicked in the teeth when her guard was down. When she least expected it. But perhaps the two key words not to miss in the quote are: “A Lot.” You’re not going to just get kicked in the teeth once or twice, but “a lot.”

Read any book on the film industry and you find that conflict is not limited to the big screen. So watch your back, develop a thick skin, and memorize that Rosenberg quote,  “Don’t give up. You’re going to get kicked in the teeth. A lot. Learn to take a hit, then pick yourself up off the floor. Resilience is the true key to success.”

Scott W. Smith

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It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that’s enough reason to go for me

It’s My Job
Mac McAnally

A couple weeks ago I touched on Mark Boal’s Oscar-nominated script for The Hurt Locker which deals with a group of guys whose job is on a bomb squad during the war in Iraq. It was a fresh angle to cover dramatically.  The Messenger is another Oscar-nominated script that also finds a fresh angle to the war, that of the officers who must report the death of a soldier to the next of kin.

“We quickly learned, by all accounts of the officers we spoke to and read about, that casualty notification is one of the most difficult jobs in the military—more difficult, some of them argued, than going into combat. This makes for rich dramatic territory to explore. If there’s one thing I know as a writer, it’s that you can always tell a story about someone doing a job. It can be a job with built-in conflict and high stakes (that’s why movies and shows about cops, doctors and lawyers keep getting made); it can be a prosaic job, seen in unique ways (taxi driver, mailman, gigolo); and if the job is unusual, thankless and dangerous—delivering death notices, firing other people, defusing bombs—one can immediately engage the audience’s curiosity and dread.
Alessandro Camon (co-screenwriter of The Messenger)
MovieMaker magazine
February 3. 2010

What are some of your favorite movies that show work in a unique way?

Scott W. Smith

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Pixar has made some classic films including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc. That made me wonder what the process was for writing a Pixar screenplay and I found this quote:

“The writing process at Pixar is very messy, very collaborative and very labor-intensive. Our films are discovered in the ‘rewriting.’ All of our films are original stories and have often started from simple group discussions between a core group of us at Pixar. Usually I’m the one who will take all the random thoughts of those meetings and turn them into a script. That could take three months or it could take a year, depending on how difficult it is to figure out the story. Then we will rewrite and rewrite scenes forever (for years), until we’re satisfied. It’s different on many of the films; that’s why there are lots of credits for the writing.”
Andrew Stanton
Interview with Jennifer M. Wood in MovieMaker Magazine 

Related links:

Screenwriting the Pixar Way (Part 2)
Screenwriting the Pixar Way (Part 3)
Screenwriting the Pixar Way (Part 4)

Scott W. Smith

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