Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

“Every artist confronts a series of issues that are constraints.”
Frank Gehry

Please allow me to run with this architectural theme for a few days. Architect Frank Gehry is perhaps best known for his buildings the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall* in Los Angeles. I’ll never forget in 1999 when I saw my first building designed by Gehry—”Dancing Building” in Prague. The last design of his I’ve seen is the Weisman Art Museum on the campus at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Disney Concert Hall (Photo by Kwong Yee Cheng)

Disney Concert Hall (Photo by Kwong Yee Cheng/CC)

“I think creativity… I guess (Henry) James wrote that it was like poking around in a deep well with a big stick, and every once in a while you would pull this stick out and something was there. These ideas are not easy to describe. They’re easy to rationalize after the fact, like the sense of movement is easy to rationalize, or certain materials, or certain constructs, and shapes, and forms. But basically, I am trying to make buildings and spaces that will inspire people, that will move people, that will get a reaction. Not just to get a reaction, but to get a positive reaction, hopefully, a place that they like to be in. My greatest thrill is to still be friends with the clients and people that helped me make these buildings.”
Frank Gehry
Academy of Achievement

That’s not too hard to draw parallels to your screenwriting and filmmaking. If you haven’t seen the documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry I recommend it.It also happens to be the last film made by director Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Tootsie).

*An interesting side note that is not commonly known about the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the above photography is the limestone is from Iowa. The Weber Stone Company hauled nearly 800 ton of Anamosa Limestone to Los Angeles.

Scott W. Smith

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“I was really beginning to question if I’d ever catch my proverbial big break. I drifted away from film work and started applying for police jobs.”
Chris Sparling, Buried screenwriter

“(Chris Sparling) went directly from struggling indie director to successful Hollywood scribe when the screenplay for his horror thriller Buried was picked up, cast with a major up-and-coming star, and thrown before the cameras in just six months. And now it’s receiving its U.S. première at the Sundance Film Festival.
Melissa Silvstri
Filmmaker Magazine Winter 2010

Until this morning I had never seen or heard the name Chris Sparling. Then I read on Scott Myers’ screenwriting blog (Go Into The Story) about a movie Sparling wrote called Buried that sold at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for between $3 & $4 million. Sparling is from Providence, Rhode Island and has made short films and one low-budget independent feature five years ago that had little distribution.

He was looking to write a movie that could be shot quickly and cheaply when he stumbled upon the idea for Buried.

“Stealing a page from Hitchcock’s playbook, I decided on writing a story that takes place entirely in one small location. In my case, this was inside an old, wooden coffin.”
Chris Sparling

While his sudden rise is rare, the process that he took to be a screenwriter in demand is a familiar story. One of dedication and hard work.

Sparling was asked in an interview with Carson Reeves at Script Shadow, “How many scripts had you written before Buried? Which script did you realize that maybe you were getting the hang of it?” Sparling said, “Before Buried, I think I’d written about nine or ten features and two TV specs. Truth be told, it didn’t start to click for me until about my seventh feature script.”

I think to pull off writing a 90 minute story in a coffin one has to have a solid handle on the craft of screenwriting. You have to think that having a story set in a coffin would cut down on crew, cast, wardrobe,  lighting, etc.. The film was directed by Rodrigo Cortes and shot in 21 days in Barcelona, Spain. With Ryan Reynolds in the lead role it couldn’t have be too low a budget film.

Renyolds plays a  U.S.  contract driver in Iraq who is attacked and placed in a coffin with a flashlight, a cell phone and a lighter and must find someone to pay a million dollar ransom or he’ll soon die. A primal survival story reminscent of low-budget success stories of past years; The Blair Witch Project, Open Water and Paranormal Activity.

Is there a Midwest angle? Of course.  The character Renyolds plays says that he’s from Hastings, Michigan. Below is the promo for the movie that is said to being released this spring. If you do a little homework you can find a version of the script online.

Scott W. Smith

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Since I like to focus on dramatic writers with origins outside L.A. I think Lope de Vega qualifies. The playwright was born in Madrid, Spain in 1562 and is thought to have written around 1,500 plays. I was unaware of him until I read The Tools of Screenwriting by David Howard and Edward Mabley a few years ago.

In the book’s introduction is sound advice with what to do with all that you’ve learned about screenwriting:

“My hope is that the reader will take all the rational and reasonable body of knowledge this book offers, that he or she will digest it in the manner recommended by Lope de Vega…in his comprehensive study of dramatic theory and practice, Writing Plays in Our Times (published in 1609 and written in verse) he stated openly and bravely, after having introduced all the “rules”: ‘When I have to write a play, I lock up the rules with six keys.”‘
                                          Frank Daniel
                                          The Tools of Screenwriting


Scott W. Smith

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