Posts Tagged ‘Rob Roy’

Steven R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Habit #2)

After I wrote the last screenwriting tip, Writing Good Bad Guys (Tip #85), I discovered a Facebook thread over at The Inside Pitch where WME Story Editor Christopher Lockhart listed some of his favorite bad characters in movies. (I’ve added his list to that post.) The first character mentioned was Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth) in Rob Roy. I’d never seen that 1995 movie before and caught it on Netflix over the week.

Tom Roth’s character is in fact a bad guy of the highest caliber. No question there. It made me want to find a screenwriting quote from Scottish born writer Alan Sharp (Rob Roy, Night Moves, My Talks with Dean Spanley) who just died earlier this year.

“I try to get the story to tell itself from front to back. It’s very helpful to have a final scene in mind, a sort of destination, if you like, but often that doesn’t reveal itself until you’ve taken a number of false turns. Re-writing is the key and the ability to view previous drafts as material to be changed, cut and shaped. Start thick and end up thin.”
Screenwriter Alan Sharp
RT Burns Club Interview with Scottish Screen Writer Alan Sharp 

Here’s a scene from Rob Roy where actors Jessica Lange, Brian Cox, and Tim Roth, under the direction of Michael Canton-Jones, and the cinematography of Karl Walter Lindenlaub bring to life Sharp’s words. (Semi-spolier note: It’s a powerful scene that does foreshadow the wonderful Rob Roy ending.)

P.S. Rob Roy was overshadowed at the box office in 1995 by that other Scottish-centered movie Braveheart. Both films stand on their own as well made movies, and I’m sure more than one person has done an analysis of the similarities and differences of both films. Both Liam Neeson and Mel Gibson are characters at the end of their rope.  One has a theme of intergity and the other about freedom. But from my limited knowledge Rob Roy MacGregor (even by Sharp’s admission) was a minor character in Scottish history. William Wallace was a major leader in the War of Scottish Independence. Given the choice to pick a major or minor character in writing an epic film—go with the major character.

But I think what really separated the two films is Rob Roy had a good ending and Braveheart (to use Michael Arndt’s words) had an insanley great ending. Braveheart’s highly emotional scene hit audiences hard.

Braveheart walked away with five Oscars including best picture and is listed at #80 on the IMDB Top 250 chart. Rob Roy is unfortunately still known more as a cocktail.

Related Posts:
Insanely Great Endings
Insanely Great Endings (Part 2)
Earn Your Ending (Tip #76) Writer/director Edward Burns on It’s a Wonderful Life
Coppola and Rewriting
Screenwriting Quote #177 David O. Russell quote about rewriting Silver Linings Playbook “over 20 times.”

Scott W. Smith

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“Stop me if this seems familiar: There’s a new cop comedy coming out that pairs a loose-cannon SNL veteran with a growling, resentful partner in a semi-sendup of the 80’s buddy comedy genre. “
Kyle Buchanan
The Other Guys Trailer: Cop Out with Jokes

I didn’t see Cop Out last year, but I’ve read that it was a similar buddy cop spoof as The Other Guys. So I don’t know if it would qualify as a movie clone, but Cop Out director Kevin Smith on his blog Silent Bob Speaks fills in the blanks about the Hollywood process:

“Ideas cost NOTHING & require ZERO risk. And yet, oddly, the LEAST amount of time’s usually spent in the idea stage before a small fortune is dumped on a whimsy that’s still half-baked.

Case in point: Cop Out.

When I was brought in, there was talk of spending $70mil on a Will Ferrell/MarkyMark version of A COUPLE OF DICKS (the pre-COP title). Then WB didn’t wanna pay the actors’ full quotes, so off go they go to do the over-$70mil+ OTHER GUYS. WB then made WAY less expensive deals with Bruce & Tracy, I cut my salary by over 80%, and we were off to the races with what became a $32mil flick (which is why, hate on it all you must, but – as per two high-level studio sources & one of our producers – Cop Out turned a profit already; it did what it was designed to do). All of that came from Jeff Robinov’s idea stage. The idea that the movie could go on without Will & Mark resulted in Cop Out. And while some may harp about whether the flick was their cup of tea or not, the people who paid to have it made were content we all hadn’t wasted money.”

So now you have the inside scoop to why Ben Joseph (and his readers) in his article Attack of the Clones: Suspiciously Similar Movie Showdown find common DNA in the following films:

The Truman Show/EdTV (1998/1999)
Mission to Mars/Red Planet (2000)
The Cave/The Decent (2005)
Garden State/Elizabethtown (2005/2006)
The Illusionist/The Prestige (2006)
Juno/Knocked Up (2007)
The Arrival/Independence Day (1996)
Jurassic Park/Carnosaur (1993)

And way back in 1994/95 audiences could choose Mel Gibson (Braveheart), Richard Gere & Sean Connery (First Knight), and/or Liam Neeson & Jessica Lange (Rob Roy) for their medieval movie feast. And the lists could go on and on.  These things go in cycles.
In Vanity Fair (December 2010) Jim Windolf had an article titled “Is The King’s Speech Really Just The Karate Kid in Royal Vestments?” You’d have to read the whole article to see why he thinks that, but here’s the shorthand list:
1. A circumstance beyond the hero’s control compels him to learn a new skill or fail utterly.
2. The hero is humiliated in the presence of his future teacher.
3. The teacher’s unorthodox methods humble the student and even cause him to quit, albeit temporarily.
4. The teacher may be a quack.
5. The teacher is an outsider, with low social status in his new land.
6. The unorthodox, uncredentialed teacher is contrasted with a cruel—but more respected—educator.
7. In the teacher’s backstory lies patriotic wartime service.
8. The teacher helps fill a void left by the student’s absent father.
9. The teacher prepares the student for a grand stage, where he must display everything he has learned or suffer public defeat.
10. The teacher looks on with pride at the moment of his student’s final triumph.

I don’t remember how old I was when I actually realized that the Chevy Camero and the Pontiac TransAM were basically the same car, but I remembered it confused the heck out of me. Now that I’m all grown up I realize that some people want a Toyota and some people want a Lexus. Hollywood confuses me a little less these days as well. And even the creative process confuses me a little less. I realize that painters, cameramen, editors, actors and the rest of the freaky people who’ve joined the creative circus are drawing on a mix of creative influences to create something new that will help put food on the table.
And the stew isn’t always fresh and original, but every once in a while the right combination falls into place and it’s a large feast.
I think it was writer/director Frank Darabont who said Hollywood is like a shipwreck, and that every once and a while a survivor makes it to shore. You don’t get to make The Shawshank Redemption—quality films every year.  Actually, with even the giants two or three memorable films is a good career.
So don’t get caught up in all this talk about cloning. Like in the 1996 Harold Ramis film Multiplicity some of the clones of Michael Keaton were helpful and some were a little odd.  Tomorrow we’ll look at what Joseph Campbell has to say on the topic of monomyth and why there is really only one story. But for today we’ll let Kevin Smith have the last word of encouragement,“Ideas cost nothing yet have the potential to yield inexplicably long careers & happy lives. So go ahead: dream a l’il dream.”

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