Spoiler alert: Oscar winners!

oscar predictionsBest picture? “Argo.” Best director? Spielberg. Best actress? Jennifer Lawrence. Best screenplay? “Django Unchained.” At least that’s the way it stands today, Feb. 20, according to Microsoft researcher David Rothschild, who, after correctly predicting President Obama’s victory in February 2012 — 9 months before the actual election — is applying his prediction modeling to the Oscars. Continue reading “Spoiler alert: Oscar winners!”

Comedy, the Doritos Goat Super Bowl Ad, and no dialogue needed

Doritos goat SuperBowlIt’s easy as a screenwriter to tend to focus on dialogue, but the reality is stories need structure and conflict before they need any dialogue. The Doritos Super Bowl goat ad is a great example of why it is best first to focus on the story before worrying about the dialogue. Continue reading “Comedy, the Doritos Goat Super Bowl Ad, and no dialogue needed”

New screenwriting font: Courier Prime

courier_prime_typeface_a_g_205Unhappy with the style of Courier bundled with your screenwriting software? Introducing a new free style of Courier that may become the new standard: Courier Prime, courtesy of screenwriter John August and designer Alan Dague-Greene. August, who has a design background, Continue reading “New screenwriting font: Courier Prime”

Indiana Jones and — the Story Development Transcript!

Harrison Ford and Karen AllenGrab a seat at the table with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan during their 1978 story development conference sessions for “Raiders of the Lost Ark and the memorable characters who help and hinder Indiana Jones. As Lucas initially describes Indy: “He is an archeologist and an anthropologist. A Ph.D. He’s a doctor, he’s a college professor. What happened is, he’s also a sort of rough and tumble guy. But Continue reading “Indiana Jones and — the Story Development Transcript!”

Required reading — and listening — from Stephen Tobolowsky

You most likely remember him as Ned Ryerson from the brilliantly original “Groundhog Day” — bing! — but gifted actor Stephen Tobolowsky also happens to be among the world’s premiere storytellers, and if you are as yet unfamiliar with his increasingly famous Tobolowsky Files podcast, get familiar, now, before something happens to you. Continue reading “Required reading — and listening — from Stephen Tobolowsky”

Screenwriting setups and payoffs are best as cause and effect

Invariably the best and most entertaining films are dense with clever-yet-subtle setups and payoffs, and “War Games is a great case study in this respect because many of its payoffs not only are setups for more payoffs, but shift the plot in new entertaining directions. What results is a classic cause-and-effect structure that seamlessly Continue reading “Screenwriting setups and payoffs are best as cause and effect”

Why everyone needs an editor

The lingering confusion and disappointment about Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” is a good high-profile example of why everyone — screenwriters, directors, producers not withstanding — need editors to identify plot holes, character inconsistencies, and anything else that undermines a story’s impact and confuses audiences.

One of the most anticipated films of 2012, “Prometheus”
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Recommended screenwriting software: Movie Outline 3.1

Movie Outline SoftwareMovie Outline is a relative newcomer to the screenwriting software world dominated by the “industry standard” programs Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter — both of which I’ve used for years — but Movie Outline 3.1 has some key features I really like, which also makes this a great intro into screenwriting software if you have yet to invest. Continue reading “Recommended screenwriting software: Movie Outline 3.1”

Recommended screenwriting/creativity book: “Imagine” by Jonah Lehrer

[Note: Despite the controversy regarding the fabricated Bob Dylan quotes, I still found this an intriguing read — especially the Pixar collaboration method.]

Jonah Lehrer’s compelling “Imagine: How Creativity Works” demystifies the “creative process” and will empower you to unleash your creativity regardless of your profession. For screenwriters, certainly, “writer’s block” will be a thing of the past. Particularly fascinating is Lehrer’s exploration of how Pixar repeatedly develops incredibly original, entertainting blockbuster films. Of course, another key Continue reading “Recommended screenwriting/creativity book: “Imagine” by Jonah Lehrer”

Sell your screenplay: what producers want to hear

I just got back from the Inktip Pitch Summit, where, for a price, you meet with a variety of producers in five-minute sessions to pitch your screenplay, sitcom, reality TV idea or story concept to as many producers as you like throughout the day. And you’re probably thinking, “no way can I condense my fabulously detailed, intricate story into five minutes!” But the reality is Continue reading “Sell your screenplay: what producers want to hear”