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This bed is too hard.
This bed is too soft.
This bed is just right.

The End. There you have it—the essence of screenwriting boiled down to just 15 words. (Yes, shorter than the title of this post.) Inspired by words uttered by my wife when she was the lead in a children’s play based on Goldilocks and the Three Bears performed years ago at the James Best Theatre. (The original title of the fairy tale was The Three Bears until Goldliocks apparently not only invaded their home but highjacked the title.)

No need for film school, screenwriting workshops, or screenwriting books. Just a nice three-act structure in 15 words. But if you want it fleshed out a little more there are over 3,000 blog posts you can find on this site. And if you want that in a nicely condensed 250 page book, I recommend my Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles book.

I recently completed a revision of the book. For those of you new to this blog, I started this blog on January 22, 2008 soon after seeing Juno written by Diablo Cody. The fact that she wrote the script in the suburbs of Minneapolis intrigued me. I was living in Cedar Falls, Iowa at the time and I knew she’d graduated from the University of Iowa. Part of her origin story I was drawn to was she first got noticed in Hollywood because of her blog. (Not sure anyone ever followed Cody’s exact path, but this blog did win a Regional Emmy award in 2008. I collected award in Minneapolis and the next day drove to the Starbucks in Crystal, MN where Cody wrote some of Juno.)

Starting a blog was still a novelty in 2008. And it seemed like a great place to curate notes I’d started collecting since I went to film school back in the ’80s. A to it reading (and highlighting) over 200 books on production, seminars (UCLA extension, AFI, Robert McKee—back when it was a once a week class in LA), DVD commentaries, magazines, podcasts, etc. My original plan was to try blogging for a year and hopefully blog a book in that time. It took well over a decade to complete. It needed to be more than a quote book. To make it stand alone as a book it also needed cohesiveness. It needed structure and I landed on ten chapters all beginning with the letter C.

Conflict
Concept
Characters
Catalyst
Construction
Climax and Conclusions
Catharsis
Controlling Idea
Change
Careers and Cows


I hoped the book & blog would be helpful to others—especially those living far from New York or LA. What I didn’t know in 2008 is Scott Beck and Bryan Woods were students at the University of Iowa. After their breakthrough success writing A Quiet Place (2017), I was told by a mutal production friend we’d both worked with they were familiar with my blog. While I can’t take any credit for their success, the were kind enough to write the forward to my book.

And over the years I’ve been surprise at the shutouts I’ve gotten. Including a mention on the TomCruise.com when his team had blog, filmmaker Edward Burns and producer Ted Hope with mentions on Facebook, and Diablo Cody herself when she was on Twitter. Anyone in the industry who would like to give me a usable quote about my blog or book please email me at info@scottwsmith.com.

After 15 years, it’s finally time I take the next step and launch a podcast and YouTube channel. Starting in February, I’ll start blogging about that process since I’ve spent about six months doing online workshops trying to wrap my head around how some YouTubers create solid content on a weekly basis. (Spoiler alert: To paraphrase what legendary graphic artist said about art, “YouTubing weekly is work.”

When I told a friend about condensing all of screenwriting down to 15 words he said, what about the not so happy ending. I thought for a second and recited the classic Mother Goose nursery rhyme:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Of course, the original Goldilocks story ends with her being awakened by the bears whose home she invaded and her jumping out the window. The actual ending was opened-ended with the writer saying it was not known if Goldilocks broke her neck, got lost in the woods, or made it home and got whipped. I forgot that darker part of that story. Which is maybe why I just stuck with those 15 words about finding a “just right” bed.

But let’s say that Goldilocks learned her lesson and lived happily ever after, as opposed to Humpty Dumpty who had a fatal fall. It’s an echo of Order and Chaos. Yin and Yang. Purpose and Nihilism. Blessings and Curses.

In what way is the abridged version of Goldilocks finding the right bed the essence of life? It’s that aspiration part of human nature that is looking for peace and contentment. On one level it’s our car is running, our bills are paid, our relationships are healthy, our work is fulfilling, and the bad guys get caught. It’s been said that even the person attempting to commit suicide is looking for peace. It is why I think most movies end with what writer/director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) called an uptick.

It’s why when a friend said he felt like my book needed to end with a benediction I thought of the ancient text embraced by multiple faiths:

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.

Number 6:24-26

Peace be with you.

P.S. Stephen King once suggested somewhere trying to write 1,000 words a day. That was an early inspiration when I started this blog. It’s why it was not unheard of to have posts that ran between 1,000-2,000 words. My original goal was a 65,000 word book. When I last checked I’d written over a million words on this blog. The first book came in around 70,000 words. Two more in the works will probably land around 50,000.

And speaking of Stephen King, here’s the just dropped trailer for The Boogeyman based on a short story by King—and a screenplay by Scott Beck & Bryan Woods and Mark Heyman. Warning: It doesn’t start out too peaceful.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“Since those days chucking candy in the grocery store in Cedar Falls, Kurt Warner has been an inspiration.”
Sean Gregory
Time magazine

This week they announced the nominations for this year’s Oscar Awards. But I missed this blog’s anniversary last month, so let me backtrack before I write any posts about the Oscars.

Back on January 22, 2008 I wrote my first blog post for what I thought might last a year. But here we are 14 years later and I’m still at it. It took a lot longer to turn it into a book than I thought it would—but Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles finally came out in 2020. Still working on getting a podcast and YouTube channel going, but some things take time. But it’s been an interesting and enjoyable journey.

And since the LA Rams will be playing in the Super Bowl in three days, it’s time I finally give former Rams quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner an assist on my starting this blog. Warner’s Cinderella story has been condensed to the catchy phrase “From Supermarket to the Super Bowl,” because his road between college football and NFL greatness was a stop stocking shelves at a grocery store.

That grocery store was in Cedar Falls, Iowa—the same town I started the blog Screenwriting from Iowa… and Other Unlikely Places. In fact, the Cedar Falls house I was living in at the time was just a few miles from the Hy-Vee store where Warner worked. Just as unlikely it was that screenwriter Diablo Cody would emerge as a Oscar winner (Juno) just a few years out from going to college in Iowa City (maybe 30 minutes from Warner’s hometown of Cedar Rapids), is Warner becoming an NFL’s MVP and two time Super Bowl MVP. Those two are key to me starting this blog.

Warner went from being a backup for the Saint Louis Rams at the start of the 1999 season to being the ringleader of what was called “The Greatest Show on Turf.” Like many others I was captivated by his somewhat zero to hero story. (Technically he was a great high school player and Gateway Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in college.) I knew well Warner’s story of playing football in Cedar Falls at the University of Northern Iowa and of stocking shelves at Hy-Vee. He put Ceder Falls in the map for me. Unusual circumstances took me to Cedar Falls so in 2004 (for what I thought would be a brief stop), and I ended up being there 10 years.

I later learned that author Nancy Price wrote the novel Sleeping with the Enemy in Cedar Falls, and Robert Waller wrote The Bridges of Madison Country also in Cedar Falls. Both of those became very popular movies starring Julia Roberts, Clint Eastwood, and Meryl Streep. So from my perspective, starting a blog on screenwriting there in 2008 didn’t seem that outrageous. When this blog won a regional Emmy in Minneapolis later that year I was pretty stoked. But part of me also felt like I had that Cedar Falls wind at my back. So thanks to Kurt Warner for planting that first seed over 20 years ago.

Back in 2010, I wrote the post Kurt Warner … What a Story about what an amazing personal story he had. I always thought it could make a super movie, but I also knew the challenge was how do you tell his story in 90-120 minutes? Do you cover his high school years? Warner sitting on the bench for 4 years in college waiting for his shot? His time at Hy-Vee? Playing arena football in Des Moines? Playing football in Europe? The two Super Bowls he played for the Rams and the one later in his career playing for the Arizona Cardinals? His philanthropic and charitable work after his playing days were over?

Back in 2008, I heard novelist John Irving (The World According to Garp) speak at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—see the post John Irving, Iowa & Writing. Afterwords I told him I heard he was working on bringing a screen version of Olympic Gold medallist and legendary Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable’s story to the big screen. He said movies don’t do a great job covering multiple decades of the same person. Tom Cruise today could play the older coach version of Gable (and since Cruise was a high school wrestler and fan of Gable’s that would be perfect). But Cruise today wouldn’t be believable as the high school/college/Olympic-era Dan Gable. Those challenges play a part of why Gable’s story has never been turned into a movie. Perhaps as Cruise can produce a limited streaming series on Gable and make that somehow work.

But how would you compress 30+ years of Kurt Warner’s life into one movie?

Well, what screenwriters David Aaron Cohen and Jon Erwin did was make it a love story. A love story about football and a love story about a woman. Ripped right out of the playbook of Jerry Maguire (with a little faith in God tossed in). The script was based upon the book All Things are Possible that Warner wrote with Michael Silver and became the movie American Underdog currently in theaters and available online. I saw the movie in January and really enjoyed it. The movie stars Zachary Levi and Anna Paquin and was directed by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin. The film covers his last year of college, his time stocking shelves, playing arena football, and winning his first Super Bowl—about 7 years of his life.

In the trailer the football footage oddly looks like it was shot video game style, but in the movie it really works because it matches the style of the Arena Football League when Warner played for the Iowa Barnstormers. (Man, I loved those Barnstormer helmets.) The movie is one of the top ten movies at the box office so far in 2022, and has made $25 million since its release Christmas Day 2021.

“This isn’t how I had it planned. I didn’t want to work in a grocery store then go to Amsterdam and play in the Arena League. But as I look back over my life, I realize that I had a lot of maturing to do. I had a lot of growing in my faith.”
—Kurt Warner

I think the tag at the end of the film states something like Warner being the only undrafted player in the NFL who has gone on to become a Super Bowl MVP. It is the epitome of an underdog story. A real life Frank Capra-like story.

P.S. The one disappointment I had with the film is they shot most of it in Oklahoma (probably for tax credits). I would have loved to seen parts of it shot in Iowa—particularly at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Warner played his games in the dome there so it was a little disconnect for me to see UNI home games in the movie being played in an outside stadium. But the filmmakers did what they had to do to finally bring this story to the big screen—and shoot the film during a dang global pandemic.

Related Post:
Why Do We Love Underdog Stories? (This is actually what I wrote 12 years ago at the end of that post: “The University of Northern Iowa is where Kurt Warner played college football before he became one of the greatest underdog stories in contemporary sports history.”

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Note: Check out my new paperback or eBook Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles to help support this blog.

David Huey shooting my senior film with an Arri SR

As I continue to digitize some old files during this pandemic I came across some old film school notes that were from a cinematography class I took 38 years ago. While some of the notes about film stock and cleaning any hairs (slivers of film) from the film gate are less pertinent today in a digital world, other aspects like visual design are timeless.

My professor, Bruce Block, went on to work as a visual consultant or producer on films including Near Dark, As Good as It Gets, and Something’s Got to Give. He’s also done DVD commentaries (Billy Wilder’s The Apartment) and wrote the book The Visual Story; Creating the Visual Structure of Film, Tv and Digital Media. He’s also an instructor at AFI and a tenured professor at the University of Southern California – School of Cinematic Arts.

I’ve won a few cinematography awards for short films I’ve shot and a Regional Emmy for location lighting on a commercial and there’s no question that Bruce was key in building my foundational understanding of visual design and cinematography.

Here are just a couple of pages of film school notes from his class. (Excuse any typos as this was well before I had a computer with spell check.) I recommend you get the book The Visual Story if this is an area you’d like to better understand.

One of the great things about going to film school is not only learning from knowledgable and experienced professors, but working on a wide variety of projects with other people. Getting the opportunity to wear many hats. I know that directing a 16mm project with a 20 person crew at age 22 gave me a lot of confidence as I went out into the world working on paid projects. (A great bit of advice was giving to me by a professor with a thick New York accent: “What you need to know about directing is everyone on the set thinks they know how to direct better than you.” It helps to have a clear vision and a healthy ego to direct anything.)

Here are some photos I came across from my film school days. The equipment has changed, but the basics have remained the same for 100 years—cast, crew, camera, lights, sound—action. Many fine memories of fun times creating stuff. (I’m the guy in the Jimmy Buffett shirt.)

P.S. One drum I like to beat is don’t go into heavy debt to go to film school. I went to school back when people didn’t walk away with crippling student loans. Plus back in the days when film schools shot primarily film, it was one of the key places to learn the craft because equipment was expensive. Now most cameras and editing software are far cheaper than film school. If you do go to film school, find one where you are cranking out content. It’s fine to dream big, but 3-minute webisodes, dramatic podcasts, short films, video essays, micro docs, and spec commercials can help you get work even before you graduate.

Scott W. Smith

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When I studied dramatic writing in college my professor John Glavin printed out the screenplay for American Beauty and told me, ‘Notice that it says draft 12.’ I remember thinking, ‘That must be an anomaly.’ But it isn’t. Everything I’ve produced on stage or screen went through 10 or 20 drafts. Believe it or not, you’re currently reading the 12th draft of this.

Rewriting is a badge of honor. For a year the final story in The New One took place with my wife and daughter on a beach. And one day Ira Glass said to me “It shouldn’t end there. It should end somewhere else.” (I won’t say where).

I had already toured 30 cities with artwork of myself on a beach. I had made a promotional video with live seals in La Jolla, Calif., on a beach. Now the beach story is gone.”
—Writer Mike Birbiglia (Don’t Think Twice, The New One)
6 Tips for Getting Your Play to Broadway 

Related post:
Bad Script, Good Pizza, Great Feedback

Scott W. Smith

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“The internet is a miraculous things. Just share as much as you can, self-publish, blog, podcast whatever you need to do. Just make sure you are not withholding your gifts from the world. Because you have so many opportunities now….We’re in a new frontier.”
Diablo Cody

Today marks the 12th anniversary of Screenwriting from Iowa … and Other Unlikely Places.  The original goal was to take a year and blog a book. I failed that task—but there’s still hope. And at least in the first year the blog won a regional Emmy so that was a nice tradeoff. (See the post Juno Has a Baby.)

And I got a nice shout-out from screenwriter Diablo Cody when she was on Twitter back in the day. Her Oscar-winning  Juno script and Midwest background were a large part of starting this blog, and she’s been featured in many posts over the years. I think her tweet was a response to my 2010 post Screenwriting’s Biggest Flirt.)

Diablo Cody Twitter copy copy

After chipping away at the book for a decade I thought I was close to finishing it about a year ago. I turned it over to an editor who did what good editors do. His suggested changes and comments totaled 3,000. One of his biggest challenges to me was not to copout saying it was a book cobbled together from random blog posts, but to make a book that stands on its own. So that’s what I’ve tried to do the past six months and believe the finished product is elevated greatly because of the changes. More in coming weeks about the book’s release.

change

But seeing those edit notes was a blow. Like thinking you at the end of running a marathon only to be told, “Oh, this isn’t the finish line, you still have 10 miles to go.” It took me three months just to wrap my head around doing a deep pass on the 225 pages. Now I’m down to a dozen changes so I’m hopeful that I will finally get the completed version of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles out by March of this year.  At least, that’s the new goal.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share my introduction to the book which happens to mention actor Dwayne Johnson’s father—the former pro wrestler Rocky Johnson— who died last week.

Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 4.37.21 PM

 

PREFACE
(For the book Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles  by Scott W. Smith)

“I wasn’t born knowing how to write a play.”
—Sam Shepard, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright

“How did I learn screenwriting? It was a matter of years of trying to develop my writing in the same way that some people spend years learning to play the violin.”
—Screenwriter Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption)

In the ten years of writing the blog Screenwriting from Iowa . . . and Other Unlikely Places, I’ve found advice and insight on the creative process from more than 700 gifted screenwriters, filmmakers, and teachers. I realized that I could consolidate some of this material as a book, revising and reorganizing it in ways that I thought would be most helpful to people’s creative journeys. I want these ideas to function like brass knuckles in an old-school professional wrestling match.

I don’t know if Aristotle ever used brass knuckles, but they are said to have been around since the ancient Greeks. Abraham Lincoln’s secret service men carried brass knuckles. And legend has it that brass knuckles were Al Capone’s favorite weapon.

The term “loaded fist” in Japanese martial arts refers to a martial arts version of brass knuckles that can turn a punch into a sledgehammer. As a troubled youth in Hong Kong, Bruce Lee carried brass knuckles, giving a twist of meaning to his trademark movie Fist of Fury.

Today brass knuckles are brandished in popular video games and music videos. Spike Lee even wore brass knuckles to the 2019 Academy Awards.

My introduction to brass knuckles was watching professional wrestling on TV as a kid. This was not the high-dollar spectacle of today but the low-budget version, usually taped in a small studio in Tampa, Florida.

Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s father, Rocky Johnson,* was a wrestler in the pre-WWE era when professional wrestling was more regionally orientated and the bag of tricks (and storylines) was more limited.

This was at a time in my youth when I didn’t know if professional wrestling was real or not. What I did know was that professional wrestling had a cast of characters with colorful names like Abdullah the Butcher, Dusty “The American Dream” Rhodes, and Andre the Giant, and it was flat out entertaining.

Inevitably, when one wrestler was getting beat up and close to losing a match, brass knuckles would magically appear (and oftentimes un-magically when he reached into his wrestling trunks and pulled out brass knuckles).

The announcer Gordon Solie would say something like, Wait a minute, what’s he have in his right hand? It looks like a foreign object. Oh no, it looks like a pair of brass knuckles!

At the last minute, this would give the almost beaten wrestler an upper hand in the match. It would result in not only a victory for the trickster but also in a bloody mess. For a ten-year-old boy this was as good as a vampire movie.

My goal with this book is not to create a bloody mess, but to offer the equivalent of brass knuckles for writers — screenwriters in particular. Ideas found in this book can serve as powerful resources in urgent moments of desperation—or to avoid those moments altogether.

By “screenwriting” I mean any screen: the big screen, TV, computers, tablets, mobile devices, virtual reality, video games, and even some non-screen dramatic writing such as theater and podcasts.

This book will not substitute for a good writing teacher or mentor, but it can give you some valuable ideas to hang on to, “foreign objects” thrown into the ring as you struggle to craft and sell your own stories.

*Rocky Johnson was actually the 1976 NWA Brass Knuckles Champion.

Related post:
Hitting Rock Botton with The Rock (And my very loose University of Miami football connection with The Rock.)

Scott W. Smith

 

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“When I first meet with the scriptwriter, I never tell him anything, even if I feel there’s a lot to be done. Instead I ask him the same questions I’ve asked myself: What is the story about? What did you see? What was your intention? Ideally, if we do this well, what do you hope the audience will feel, think, sense? In what mode do you want them to leave the theater?”
Director Sidney Lumet (Network, The Verdict)
Making Movies 

P.S. This quote is actually a nice bridge between the worlds of podcasting/radio and filmmaking. One of the things that makes Ira Glass’s work stand out is he is known to sometimes ask over 150 questions to decide if a person or topic is worthy of a radio program on This American Life. That and he’s also said to have a 40% kill rate of shows they start to produce but do materialize in a way that is worthy of the program. The great thing about asking questions is they’re quite inexpensive.

Related posts:
‘Out on a Wire’ Podcast (A good list of sample questions to ask?)
The Major of Central Dramatic Question
Screenwriting Quote #194 (John Jarrell)
Is It a Movie?
What is it about? (An Oscar-winner weighs in on asking questions.)
What’s Changed (Tip #102)

Scott W. Smith

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“I know when I write a line that I like. When musically it feels right. What the words sound like are as important to me as what they mean….I don’t know [while writing] we’re going to be saying ‘You can’t handle the truth,’ however many years later.”
Aaron Sorkin
Interview with David Brooks

“I’m not writing something that’s meant to be read; I’m writing something that’s meant to be performed. Just having written a screenplay is no more satisfying to me than if a songwriter handed out pieces of sheet music.”
Aaron Sorkin
Inside Aaron Sorkin’s Writing Process
by Christy Groaz, Variety  

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is one of those exceptions to the rule. Movies are a visual medium so there is much emphasis to write visually. (Visual Conflict, Visual Subtext, George Miller Masterclass in Visual Storytelling, Show Don’t Tell.) Which explains these quotes found on the ScreenCraft website.

“A good film script should be able to do completely without dialogue.”
Screenwriter/playwright David Mamet (The Verdict)

“Dialogue is a necessary evil.”
4-time Oscar-winning producer/director Fred Zinnemann (High Noon)

And this one from a Timeout interview:

‘I’m not one of those people who writes long soliloquies… And I just think that visual storytelling, for me, is more interesting. So if I can show something rather than say it, I will. And to have a character who almost says nothing is perfect for me, I love that.’
Oscar-winning screenwriter Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List)

But Sorkin wasn’t a hyper movie buff growing up, his parents took him to plays and he developed an ear and appreciation for dialogue. He majored in musical theatre. And so one of the things that set Sorkin apart was his knack for writing sharp dialogue.

P.S. Ironically the two credited screenwriters on Moneyball are Sorkin and Zaillian. A film which happens to have some moments that play out visually and others that play out with dialogue that flows like music. Sorkin & Zaillan—yin & yang.

Related posts:
‘Everyone wants to say cool dialogue.’
‘Storytelling Without Dialogue’
Writing Actor Bait (Tip #64)
Directing Tips from Peter Bogdanovich  “Silent looks between people—to me, that’s what movies are about.”—Peter Bogdanovich
The Four Functions of Dialogue 

Scott W. Smith

 

 

 

 

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Here’s the good news about bad ideas & writing poorly:

“Write. Write poorly. Continue writing poorly. Write poorly until it’s not bad anymore, and then you’ll have something you can use. People who have trouble coming up with good ideas—if they’re telling you the truth—will tell you they don’t have very many bad ideas. But people who have plenty of good ideas—if they’re telling you the truth—will say they have even more bad ideas. So the goal isn’t to get good ideas, the goal is to get bad ideas. ‘Cause once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.”
Author & speaker Seth Godin
The Tim Ferriss Show podcast interview 

P.S. Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow had a hand in me launching this blog. How do you stand out from the crowd? That was the basic question he asked. And the title is a reference to  when you’re driving down the road and see brown cow after brown cow how they all blend together. But if there’s a purple cow in the field it will stand out. So that in part was how I came up with the title “Screenwriting from Iowa.” (It helped that I lived in Iowa at the time—a state which has more cows than people.) If you want a good metaphor for your screenplay, make it a purple cow. (You know, like what Diablo Cody did with her Oscar-winning Juno screenplay.)  “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”Seth Godin 

Related posts:
Where Do Good Ideas Come From? (A+B=C)
A Perfect Bad Idea (& Oscar-winner)
Creativity & Milking Cows
The Advantage of Boredom
Filmmaking Quote #7 “If you wait until the right time to have a child you’ll die childless, and I think film making is very much the same thing. You just have to take the plunge and just start shooting something even if it’s bad…Pick up a camera. Shoot something.”—James Cameron
The Best Idea Wins 

Scott W. Smith

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“Let both sides seek to involve the wonders of science…let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage arts and commerce.”
President John F. Kennedy
Inaugural Address on January 16, 1961

Apollo 11 Liftoff July 16,1969

Apollo 11 Liftoff
July 16, 1969

I have news to announce—the Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places countdown. Countdown to what? I’m not 100% sure. But the clock is ticking.

Back in the 1960s the United States had a clear goal—to be the first country to put men on the moon. The Soviet Union had hard landed the unmanned Luna spacecraft in 1959 and the space race was in full swing. (With brilliant Germans working on both sides—but that’s another post.)

The one thing I have in common with Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, and President Obama is I’m a tail-end boomer. Boomers that were too young to know where they were when JFK was shot. But I was old enough on July 20, 1969 to understand how cool it was that Kennedy’s eight year old prediction was fulfilled on that day as men landed on the moon.

“This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
President Kennedy on May 25, 1961

My father got me the front page of the New York Times with its headline MEN WALK ON MOON. (Which I still have to this day.) Following the return of the Apollo 11 astronauts there was a ticker-tape parade in New York City. It was kind of a big deal.

Admittedly, my countdown news is not quite as big a deal. I’m not expecting any front page headlines or ticker-tape parades. (Though I’m open to both.) And I don’t know what exactly is going to happen at the end of the countdown, but I know the countdown officially starts today and ends on January 22, 2015. Mark your calendars now. Something’s going to happen.

In the next 20 posts spread out over the next two months I will lead up to my 2000th post. Again, not man on the moon stuff, but worth celebrating. That will also coincide with my seventh anniversary of this blog. I had some modest goals when I started this blog—none included writing 2,000 posts over seven years.

But let me thank you ahead of time, because without people reading this blog there’s no way I would have sustained this blog all these years. The Regional Emmy, the TomCruise.com mention, the Script Mag screenwriting website of the week, and various other shout-outs have been nice—but it’s people reading this blog that have been the fuel to keep going.

My goals all along has been simple—to improve my own writing and understanding of screenwriting/filmmaking with hopes that it would also help other people with their own writing and understanding of screenwriting/filmmaking.

Cheers—

P.S. Any ebook gurus who read this blog and can offer a handle on Amazon, Gumroad, Shopify, and the like shoot me an email at info@scottwsmith.com .

Related Posts:
Screenwriting from Space (Star Trek)
Postcard #46 (Huntsville) “Dr. von Braun Says Rocket Flights Possible to Moon”—1950 Headline
Creating ‘I Dream of Jeannie’
Shoot for the Moon
The Story of Men on the Moon Remember where you’re standing when the spotlight goes off, you’ll have to find your own way off the stage.” — Down to earth advice from Apollo 13 astronaut James Lovell
Life Beyond Hollywood My very first post on January 22, 2008

Scott W. Smith

 

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“As the day ended, the five were satisfied, they had done something new, something different, something more!”
The Numberlys
William Joyce & Christina Ellis

Now that my life is so prearranged
I know that it’s time for a cool change
Cool Change/Little River Band (Written by Glenn Shorrock)

Today is post #1,901 on Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places. I know I haven’t done something as “different” as The Numberlys did. After all they took a world that knew only numbers and formed letters and words. Now that was revolutionary.

All I’ve done is spend a few thousand hours laboring over books, magazines, online interviews, etc. looking for a cohesive (and sometimes contradictory) view of screenwriting (sometimes spilling over into other filmmaking disciplines). I think I have 99 more posts in me to make it to 2,000. After that? I don’t know.

But it’s time for a cool change.

My original goal in 2008 was a book and it just grew and grew. I’m actually on the tail-end of editing the “best of” posts down to three 60,000 word books. Sort of a beginning, middle and end. I’m exploring some ebook options and if you have any experience or advice in that world please shoot me an email at info@scottwsmith.com .

I don’t have much more of a game plan than that. When I was in film school I used to have a Nike poster in my dorm of a lone runner with the words, “There is no finish line”—which seemed cool at the time. But on a little reflection, I realized I like finish lines. We need finish lines. Finish lines are useful. It’s a way to measure things.  (You know what doesn’t have a finish line? Hamsters running on a wheel.)  It just seems like 2,000 posts on screenwriting is a good finish line.

theres-no-finish-line

The Regional Emmy Award and shout-outs from Diablo Cody, Edward Burns, and TomCrusie.com–as well as the many readers over the years have all been much appreciated. (Heck, yesterday had the most views all year.) Even if I stop writing daily posts here I’m sure something new will pop up. A new blog or perhaps weekly videos.

Finding a way to monetize it or have it open up more speaking opportunities would be great. Spending time getting more dramatic writing done would be ideal.

Playwright/screenwriter David Mamet was once asked if the theater was dying and replied, “The theater is always dying and always being reborn.” Certainly that definition could be used to explain a lot in our ever-changing society. I just found out today that the cable on our TV has been off for two months because we didn’t get a new box thingy. They credited our account and since we didn’t miss it we dropped cable altogether.

I’m not a Luddite, I’ve been watching The Sopranos via Amazon Prime and movies on Netflix streaming through my BluRay and playing on my TV.  Most college freshman I’ve read don’t have a TV in their room preferring to watch everything on their computers or phones. TV is dying and being reborn.

And so it is with Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places—it’s dying and being reborn. I’m just not sure yet what that new manifestation will look like. All suggestions welcomed.

‘The very impulse to write springs from an inner chaos crying for order, for meaning….”—Arthur Miller

P.S. The Numberlys book, App, and film was created by Oscar-winning Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana—Shreveport qualifies as an unlikely place. I wrote some posts about them ( Filmmaking in the Other LA, Old Fashioned & Cutting Edge) a couple of years ago.

Update: Soon after I wrote this post, I heard some people talking about the bowling alley at Downtown Disney (Splitsville Luxury Lanes) and one of the people said, “Bowling’s coming back.” Bowling is always dying, and always coming back.

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Scott W. Smith 

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