See Me Sell A Screenplay

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Category: Hollywood news and thoughts (page 1 of 18)

Blake Snyder 1957-2009

I just found out that Blake Snyder, of Save the Cat! fame, passed away unexpectedly on August 4th, 2009. This is truly sad news for the screenwriting community and condolences go out to Blake’s family.

Almost a year ago I got the chance to sit down with Blake in Beverly Hills and interview him for this site. If you missed it, here are the four parts of the interview:

His presence will surely be missed but his influence will remain with his Save the Cat! series.

WB Writers Workshop DOES get you a job

A while back I stumbled upon a blog of an aspiring writer that had just landed a spot in the WB Writers Program. I have been following her blog since then to see if this WB Writers Workshop is all that it is cracked up to be.

If I recall correctly, she did not give a lot of details regarding the actual program. However, she did just post that she landed a gig as a staff writer on the show “Cold Case.” And she credits the WB Writers Program with this success.

Those of you who are interested in this program may want to check out her blog. It is called Holliewood. To read her post on getting the word that she is a staffed writer, check out the Hip, Hip… post.

Future superstar? Or delusional hack?

I think that confidence is a good thing. And you need it to break into Hollywood. But somepeople cross the line from confident to delusional.

Exhibit A:

A recent comment on one of the posts here by one Theodore Anthony Marchlevski III –

Remember my name. I have 3 great script ideas and will be nominated at the very least for one of them within the next 5 years. You should actually print this and keep it.

Keep it indeed.

Open Curtain Contest Winners Announced

Winners have been announced in the Open Curtain contest.

FULL-LENGTH:
1st. place: China Girls
2nd. place: Downtown: A Sub-Suburban Tale
3rd. place: The Harlem Story

SHORT:
1st. place: Eternal Politics
2nd. place: Dial ‘H’ for Happiness
3rd. place: Trying Too Hard

Looking for a place to live in Los Angeles?

If you are planning on heading out here to Los Angeles to try to sell your script be sure to come with some money saved up! Rent out here is pretty expensive. If you do not mind living with other people it is a good idea to look for a share. You can look on Craigslist or you can use a free service like Easy Roommate. Either way, be sure to ask all the questions you can thinkĀ  of before deciding on a place. When I moved out to LA I took the Craigslist route, which turned out to be a huge mistake for me. I ended up subletting a place in the middle of the summer that has no air conditioner and looked like it had not been cleaned since the turn of the century!

If you will have to get a “day job” here is something else to keep in mind – there is a stigma attached to living “over the hill.” What is over the hill? Burbank, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, the Valley, North Hollywood. When you are job hunting for a day job in Los Angeles you will get shunned if you live “over the hill.” Trust me.

Screenwriters, movie making and Netflix

There are two interesting news stories out this week that have to do with Netflix.

First, LG Electronics is unveiling a new television at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that will wireless stream Netflix video. The television is being dubbed the LG “Broadband HDTV” and are HDTV sets capable of streaming Netflix movies and TV shows from the Internet without an external set-top box.

Second, Showtime has partnered with Netflix to give Netflix subscribers early premieres of shows. Netflix members can view the series premiere new series United States of Tara starting on Thursday, which is a full ten days before its debut on Showtime. Netflix subscribers can also view the season premieres of The L Word and Secret Diary of a Call Girl on Netflix this month.

And as you may know, indie filmmakers can self-submit their movies to Netflix as well. If you are a screenwriter that is looking to making your own films in the future then you will want to keep this sort if info handy.

And if you’re looking for a cheap way to rent movies, sign up for Netflix and take advantage of their free trial offer.

Netflix, Inc.

The most pirated films of 2008

TorrentFreak.com has released a list of the top pirated films of 2008. Check out the list below. It includes the number of worldwide downloads.

1. The Dark Knight, 7.03 million

2. The Incredible Hulk, 5.84 million

3. The Bank Job, 5.41 million

4. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, 5.28 million

5. National Treasure: Book of Secrets, 5.24 million

6. Juno, 5.19 million

7. Tropic Thunder, 4.90 million

8. I Am Legend, 4.87 million

9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 4.40 million

10. Horton Hears a Who!, 4.36 million

Slamdance Announces Features Lineup

It is that time of year again. It is getting close to Sundance time. And that also means time for Slamdance. In fact, Slamdance Film Festival has announced programming for its 15th anniversary festival. It is taking placing January 15-23, 2009 in Park City, Utah.If you are interested in what is going on this year, keep reading.

Here are the details for the festival this year –

The festival will screen about 100 films, including 29 features. Twenty of those will screen in the narrative and documentary feature categories, which is strictly devoted to films without domestic theatrical distribution and budgets under $1 million, from first-time feature directors.

Complete feature lineup:

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

The Ante,” Max Perrier (Director), Danek S. Kaus, James Chancellor & Simon Perrier (Writers) West Coast Premiere, Black Comedy/Thriller, 2006, CANADA, 82 minutes An innocent man becomes the killer everyone wants him to be when he gambles with his freedom in order to save it.

A Quiet Little Marriage,” Mo Perkins (Director/Writer) Utah Premiere, Drama, 2008, USA, 83 minutes. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Cy Carter, Jimmi Simpson. A loving young couple square off against each other in a covert, domestic battleground of their own making.

City Rats,” Steve M. Kelly (Director), Simon Fantauzzo (Writer) World Premiere, Drama, 2008, UK, 96 minutes. Cast: Susan Lynch, Kenny Doughty, Tamer Hassan. A modern day Dickensian tale of eight haunted people who meet and fall apart while searching for redemption in each other.

I Sell the Dead,” Glenn McQuaid (Director/Writer) US Premiere, Horror/Black Comedy, 2008, USA, 85 minutes. Cast: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Angus Scrimm, Larry Fessenden. Set in the late 1800’s, a duo of bumbling graverobbers begin to unearth peculiar corpses. (Opening Night Film)

Mississippi Damned,” Tina Mabry (Director/Writer) World Premiere, Drama, 2009, USA, 120 minutes. Cast: DB Woodside, Malcolm David Kelly, Malcolm Goodwin, Tessa Thompson, Michael Hyatt. Three poor Black kids in rural Mississippi reap the consequences of their family’s cycle of abuse, addiction, and violence.

Only,” Ingrid Veninger & Simon Reynolds (Directors/Writers) US Premiere, Coming of Age Drama, 2008, CANADA, 74 minutes One day shared between a young boy and girl, whose story unfolds as a luminous and lyrical study of pre-teen ennui and loneliness.

Punching the Clown,” Gregori Viens (Director), Henry Phillips & Gregori Viens (Writers) World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 90 minutes. Cast: Henry Phillips A satirical songwriter comes to LA and puts his life’s work in jeopardy.

Son of the Sunshine,” Ryan Ward (Director/Writer) World Premiere, Drama, 2008, CANADA, 95 minutes. Cast: Ryan Ward After an experimental surgery seems to curb the symptoms of his Tourette’s Syndrome, a young man (played by writer/director Ryan Ward) must confront the complexities of his life head on.

Spooner,” Drake Doremus (Director), Lindsay Stidham (Writer) World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 83 minutes. Cast: Matthew Lillard, Nora Zehetner, Shea Whigham, Christopher MacDonald. Facing eviction from his parent’s home on his 30th birthday, a thoroughly average guy meets the girl of his dreams and creates his own rules for growing up.

You Might As Well Live,” Simon Ennis (Director), Simon Ennis & Josh Peace (Writers) World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, CANADA, 82 minutes. Cast: Michael Madsen, Stephen McHattie, Joshua Peace. Robert R. Mutt, town loser, sets out to attain the three keys to success – money, a girl, and a championship ring.
SPECIAL SCREENINGS

At Any Second,” Jan Fehse (Director), Jan Fehse & Christian Lyra (Writers) International Premiere, Drama, 2008, GERMANY, 99 minutes. Cast: Sebastian Koch, Mina Tander, Wotan Wilke Mohring. A handful of relationship-scarred individuals zigzag to a new beginning, but the danger of skidding off track is greatest in the home stretch.

Drool,” Nancy Kissam (Director/Writer) World Premiere, Drama, 2008, USA, 88 minutes. Cast: Laura Harring, Jill Marie Jones, Oded Fehr. An abused wife’s plan to escape her husband goes awry when she accidentally kills him, causing her to split on a cross-country drive with her best friend and his corpse in tow.

Finding Bliss,” Julie Davis (Director/Writer) World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 104 minutes. Cast: Leelee Sobieski, Matthew Davis, Denise Richards, Kristen Johnson, Jamie Kennedy. A cutting edge romantic comedy that explores the adult film industry through the eyes of an idealistic 25 year-old award winning film school grad.

Not Forgotten,” Dror Soref (Director), Dror Soref & Tomas Romero (Writers) World Premiere, Thriller, 2009, USA, 91 minutes. Cast: Simon Baker, Paz Vega In a Tex-Mex border town, a man and his wife must face their tortured pasts in order to save their kidnapped daughter.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead,” Jordan Galland (Director/Writer) World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 89 minutes. Cast: Jake Hoffman, Devon Aoki, John Ventimiglia, Jeremy Sisto, Ralph Macchio. Music: Sean Lennon. A theatre director takes a job directing a play that uncovers a two thousand year conspiracy involving vampires, Shakespeare, and the holy grail.

The Slammin’ Salmon,” Kevin Heffernan (Director), Broken Lizard (Writers) World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 92 minutes. Cast: Cobie Smulders, Michael Clarke Duncan, April Bowlby, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhanske The owner of a Miami restaurant indebted to the mob institutes a contest to see what waiter can earn the most money in one night.

Weather Girl,” Blayne Weaver (Director/Writer) World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 90 minutes. Cast: Tricia O’Kelley, Mark Harmon, Jane Lynch, Kaitlin Olson, Jon Cryer, Patrick J. Adams, Ryan Devlin A Seattle weather girl freaks out on-air over her cheating boyfriend, the morning show anchor, and moves in with her little brother.
TWILIGHT SCREENINGS

The Conjurer,” Clint Hutchison (Director), David Yarbrough & Clint Hutchison (Writers) Utah Premiere, Thriller, 2008, USA, 88 minutes. Cast: Andrew Bowen, Maxine Bahns, John Schneider. A grieving young couple relocates to a rural farm, and encounters disturbing occurrences surrounding an old cabin with a dark history.

Mum and Dad,” Steven Shiel (Director/Writer) North American Premiere, Horror, 2008, UK, 86 minutes A murderous and perverse family imprison a young woman in their suburban house of horrors where she discovers she has to become part of the family–and join them in their insanity–or die.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

Graphic Sexual Horror,” Barbara Bell & Anna Lorentzon (Directors/Writers) World Premiere, 2009, USA, 85 minutes A look behind the terrifying facade of insex.com, the most notorious of the ‘violent porn’ websites, while exploring the dark mind of its artistic creator and asking hard questions about personal responsibility.

Hard To Be An Indian,” Beth Toni Kruvant (Director), Jonah Kruvant (Writer) World Premiere, 2007, USA, 84 minutes The trials and tribulations of an inner city school and the principal, Jewish alumni and gang members who return it to safety and restore its former glory.

Lost Sparrow,” Chris Billing (Director/Writer) World Premiere, 2009, USA, 78 minutes Filmmaker Chris Billing probes at his family history while investigating the tragic 1978 deaths of his adopted Crow Indian brothers.

Oh My God, It’s Harrod Blank,” David Silverberg (Director/Writer) World Premiere, 2008, USA, 75 minutes A portrait of the eccentric art-car artist Harrod Blank, following him from his youth in the woods to his current multi-faceted career as creator and head of a nationwide art- car movement. With appearances by his father, filmmaker Les Blank.

The Road to Fallujah,” Mark Manning (Director/Writer) World Premiere, 2009, USA, 85 minutes Exploring Mark Manning’s unique access as the only westerner to live with the people of Fallujah immediately following the November 2004 battle that destroyed their ancient and holy city, offering an in-depth and humanizing look at current issues in Iraq.

Second Sight,” Alison McAlpine (Director/Writer) US Premiere, 2008, SCOTLAND/CANADA, 51 minutes A cinematic, non-fiction ghost story featuring the last generation of Gaelic storytellers on Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

Smile Til It Hurts,” Lee Storey (Director/Writer) North American Premiere, 2009, USA, 81 minutes The amazing true story of Up With People, the singing group that represented an establishment-friendly alternative to the counter-culture.

Strongman,” Zachary Levy (Director/Writer) World Premiere, 2008, USA, 113 minutes A man strong enough to bend a penny with just his fingers, Stanless Steel reaches middle age, career disappointments and difficult personal relationships that begin to test his strengths and force him to struggle with the weaknesses around him–including his own.

Unwanted Witness,” Juan Jose Lozano (Director/Writer) US Premiere, 2008, SWITZERLAND/FRANCE, 87 minutes In the middle of Colombia’s humanitarian tragedy, a journalist fights to report and disclose the barbarity of the conflict.

Zombie Girl,” Justin Johnson, Aaron Marshall, Erik Mauck (Directors/Writers) Utah Premiere, 2008, USA, 91 minutes An inside look at the two years that it took 12-year-old Emily Hagins to write and direct her feature-length zombie movie, Pathogen.

Winning a contest can actually benefit you

If you do not read the trades you may have missed the story before Thanksgiving about the sale made by a first time writer. The script sale was for Best Man-A-Thon. And the writer is actually a student at UCLA. The screenplay was actually at a workshop in the UCLA MFA program.

The writer, Richard Rapoza, was signed to CAA after winning $4,000 at the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards for “The Hole in the Brain of Phineas Gage” this month. When the agency asked if he had any other scripts, he handed them “Man-A-Thon,” which was quickly shopped around.

Working writers talk

There is a good article up at the Hollywood Reporter that aspiring screenwriters will want to have a look at. The article is Oscar Roundtable: The writers.The writers featured talk everything from where to find inspiration to writing schedules.

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