Posts Tagged ‘The Wall Street Journal’

“[Franklin] Leonard grew up in Columbus, Ga., as one of a handful of black students in his high school, which he says has always helped him identify with outsiders.”
Rachel Dodes
The Wall Street Journal

"Screenwriting from Iowa...and Other Unlikely Places" readers in 2013 represent 116 Countries

“Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places” readers in 2013 represent 116 Countries

It always seems to come back to Juno.

Yesterday I came across the The Black List Annual Report for 2013 and it’s fun to look at just because it’s so well designed by Glen Charbonneau. I also learned that the first script on The Black List to win an Oscar was Diablo Cody’s Juno. The same movie that inspired the launching of this blog because it was written by an outsider. Cody was Chicago born and raised, received her college education in Iowa, and lived and worked in Minneapolis when her writing on the side got the attention of a Hollywood insider.

But beyond the design and glance at the history of launching the first Black List in 2006 the report also gives a sweeping overview of the work they are doing. If you are unfamiliar with The Black List check out The Wall Street Journal article, For Budding Screenwriters, a Way Past the Studio Gates

Franklin Leonard’s had an interesting journey on his way to being the founder of The Black List; Raised in small town Georgia, degree from Harvard, analyst at McKinsey in New York, agent assistant at CAA, and creative executive at Will Smith’s company is Los Angeles.

The Black List has morphed and grown over the years and now includes Scott Myers’ Go Into The Story as its official blog and a forums section, The Black Board, with Shaula Evans as the Keymaster. I see The Black List as a place that celebrates talent, fosters community, and is doing its part in providing a pathway for screenwriters and producers to connect.

And while the bulk of the screenwriters connected with The Black List are in the Los Angeles area it’s also nice to see that they are providing a door to people in unlikely places all over the world.

P.S. On a similar note check out the Reddit poster “profound_whatever” who is a script reader who has also put together a nice screenwriting graphic that offers some insights into where scripts come from and some “recurring problems”the ones he reads has—such as “The story begins too late in the script.” That’s the most common problem I see when people ask me to read a script. Many times I’ve told writers the same thing, “I read ten pages and nothing happened.” And the most common answer I get back  is, “Well, I’m setting up the story.” Go watch Kramer Vs. Kramer and then Winter’s Bone and see how long the filmmakers take in setting up the story. (Spoiler: They both come out of the gate like horses at the Kentucky Derby. Granted ever script doesn’t need to have a scene one inciting incident, but I think the less established you are the sooner your story should start.)


P.P.S. Going back to a quote by CodyI first read in ’08, “Just put your stuff out there and see what happens,” I get a kick that since its inception this blog has been read in more than 85% of the countries , regions, and dependent areas of the world, including BurndiMacau, Suriname, and Yemen. Thanks for reading wherever you are in the world and best wishes on your writing finding an audience.

Related Posts:

The Outsider Advantage
The First Black Feature Filmmaker
Screenwriting Quote #180 (Justin Kremer)
The World Outside of Hollywood (Buck Henry quote)
One of the Benefits of Being an Outsider ( Robert Rodriguez quote)

Scott W. Smith

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“For the love of money is the roots of all sorts of evil.”
1 Timothy 6:10

“Great broker! Would recommend them. They’ve started TV Advertising which I think is always a sign of confidence from a broker looking for new wealth to manage.”
Online user review for PFGBest April 16, 2012
(Less than three months before that company filed for bankruptcy)

It’s not every day that Cedar Falls, Iowa makes the front page of The Wall Street Journal—but sadly, yesterday was one of those days. When Russ Wasendorf Sr., the founder and chairman of PFGBest, a locally-based international futures trading business, attempted suicide on Monday and the FBI began a fraud investigation into $215 million in customer money allegedly missing, it had a way of attracting national news.

Back in February, I did a video shoot inside the company’s building and all looked right in the world. In fact, the 50,000 square foot state of the art building of the business—now shut down and under scrutiny—is one of the nicest in Iowa. European in design, eco-friendly, and three stories of glass fill the offices with natural light.

During the shoot I briefly met Wasendorf and the word that I ‘d use to describe his outward appearance would be “successful.” He supported local charities and in 2009 pledged $2 million to the University of Northern Iowa. He also opened a terrific Italian restaurant on Main Street and brought his chef here from Chicago. In fact, my wife and I ate at his restaurant Saturday night.

And though I’d only seen Wasendorf a handful of times since he moved here, I saw him walking out of his restaurant Sunday afternoon just as I was driving by. I even had the thought, “That dude’s got it made.” About 8 hours later he drove to his company’s headquarters and drank a bottle of vodka and at some point hooked up a hose from the tail pipe of the car to its interior. Later that morning he was found unconscious and a suicide note was found.

“I have committed fraud. For this I feel constant and intense guilt. I am very remorseful that my greatest transgressions have been to my fellow man. Through a scheme of using false bank statements I have been able to embezzle millions of dollars from customer accounts at Peregrine Financial Group, Inc.”
Part of Wasendorf’s suicide note

The fact that he got married in Las Vegas nine days before his attempted suicide adds more bizarreness to the situation.

Amid the headlines, gossip, and speculation my thoughts and prayers go out to all of the employees and their families that appear to have lost their jobs, to the defrauded customers, and to Wasendorf and his family. You always hope that wrongs can be made right. But I’ve also been thinking about a poem written over 100 years ago by a poet raised in Gardiner, Maine, educated at Harvard, and well versed in the works of Shakespeare, small town life and “the American dream gone awry.”

Richard Cory
By Edwin Arlington Robinson
(Poem written in 1887)

Whenever Richard Cory went down to town,
We people on the payment looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Related articles:
The Wall Street Journal/Online—July 11, 2012, In Two Communities, Esteem Turns to Shock as Details Become Known
Cedar Valley Business/Online—July 11, 2012, Peregrine files for bankruptcy, feds seek to freeze assets
P.S. Oddly enough, someone has done a mash-up of a Simon & Garfunkel version of Richard Cory and the movie The Shawshank Redemption.

P.P.S. And on a more positive note, The Wall Street Journal also reported this week that fixed home mortgages in the U.S. are at a 30-year all-time low. So it’s a good time to buy or refinance.

Update 7/13/12: Peregrine CEO Arrested

Scott W. Smith

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