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Old June 17th, 2004, 05:54 PM   #16
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At one point I let my son read it and got into a fight with me about how purposeless one scene was. Really pissed me off what a bratty kid he was.

Last week I threw that scene out.
The first time I read that I mistakenly thought you threw your kid out on to the street after that comment ;)

I've tried to write a lot more these days, and it is definitely tough. I'm in the Agathie Christie camp: I usually hate writing it, but I love that I even have a few relatively finished scripts.

I always approach it like a sculpture. You can't sculpt the clay into something good unless you have clay to begin with. With that in mind, I try to write unmediated and get everything out on the first run. Even if it's terrible, at least I have something to revise.
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Old June 17th, 2004, 06:11 PM   #17
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Hey Alex, I see you're in Vancouver.

Ever thought of submitting your script to Praxis?
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Old July 14th, 2004, 09:44 AM   #18
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Finally, I got a response to my submission. It only took four weeks but he's been working on a Disney project. As it turns out, he accidentally deleted Acts 2 and 3 so he only read Act 1. Arrgh.

His comments:

"It's very readable--moves quickly, the dialogue is natural and flows quite well, interesting and well-drawn characters. You obviously know a lot about the subject. I like the main character and the way he's a bit of a jerk, I like the setting, I like where I think the story is going. "

The bad is he thinks my scene descriptions are overly long and I need more white space. The problem I have with that is the scenes are very visual and technical and I'm not sure how else to write them.

More importantly, he said that it's "definitely worth working on" the fixes and resending him Acts 2 and 3.

Anyway, I thought I'd let you know where it is and I'm back to work.
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Old July 15th, 2004, 08:56 PM   #19
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That is wonderful! Keep us posted and Ill keep my fingers crossed for you!
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Old July 15th, 2004, 09:29 PM   #20
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"White space" is good. I forget where I read a description of how to create white space... but it started with a typically overwritten description of a motel room. The paragraph was seven or eight lines long, explaining the stains on the bedspread, the tacky painting on the wall over the bed, the mismatched lampshades and the cigarette burns on the carpet.

Now, the same paragraph written the correct way -

INT:MOTEL ROOM

Crummy



I tell my screenwriting students that if a picture is worth ten thousand words, in screenwriting every word has to be worth ten thousand pictures. "Stop thinking epic poetry, and start thinking Haiku". This is usually what I do in the rewrite. I go through the long loving descriptions of scene or action, and try to cut them in half. What can I say that will convey this concept in the least ammount of EFFECTIVE words. Think Raymond Chandler. "She gave him a look you could pour on a waffle." - Entertaining, instructive, visual and you get an insight into the character.

Kudos for the compliments you received. Take them seriously and pat yourself on the back. Keep going, keep writing.
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Old July 15th, 2004, 09:52 PM   #21
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Congratulations, Rob! Keep us posted.

Keith: I haven't looked into it yet, but that's a good idea. I'm a Film major at SFU right now so I think we actually get our script reviewed by them in 4th year.
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Old July 16th, 2004, 01:39 PM   #22
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<<<-- Originally posted by Richard Alvarez : "White space" is good. I forget where I read a description of how to create white space... but it started with a typically overwritten description of a motel room. The paragraph was seven or eight lines long, explaining the stains on the bedspread, the tacky painting on the wall over the bed, the mismatched lampshades and the cigarette burns on the carpet.

Now, the same paragraph written the correct way -

INT:MOTEL ROOM

Shitty



I tell my screenwriting students that if a picture is worth ten thousand words, in screenwriting every word has to be worth ten thousand pictures. "Stop thinking epic poetry, and start thinking Haiku". This is usually what I do in the rewrite. I go through the long loving descriptions of scene or action, and try to cut them in half. What can I say that will convey this concept in the least ammount of EFFECTIVE words. Think Raymond Chandler. "She gave him a look you could pour on a waffle." - Entertaining, instructive, visual and you get an insight into the character.

Kudos for the compliments you received. Take them seriously and pat yourself on the back. Keep going, keep writing. -->>>

Thanks for insight. Makes sense to me and my screenplays always have action that just drones on and on. Next time Ill keep this in mind.
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Old July 16th, 2004, 01:43 PM   #23
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Alex, Praxis also takes interns who become Story Editors. The head of Praxis is Patricia Gruben so you may have already had her as a professor. Sweet lady.
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Old July 16th, 2004, 04:43 PM   #24
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I agree whole-heartedly about keeping it lean, but don't go overboard. Take a look at some scripts from great films and you'll see that verbose descriptions are pretty common. Take this opening sequence from "Thelma and Louise" for instance:
Quote:
FADE IN:

INT. RESTAURANT - MORNING (PRESENT DAY)

LOUISE is a waitress in a coffee shop. She is in her early-thirties, but too old to be doing this. She is very pretty and meticulously groomed, even at the end of her shift. She is slamming dirty coffee cups from the counter into a bus tray underneath the counter. It is making a lot of RACKET, which she is oblivious to. There is COUNTRY MUZAK in the b.g., which she hums along with.

INT. THELMA'S KITCHEN - MORNING

THELMA is a housewife. It's morning and she is slamming coffee cups from the breakfast table into the kitchen sink, which is full of dirty breakfast dishes and some stuff left from last night's dinner which had to "soak". She is still in her nightgown. The TV is ON in the b.g. From the kitchen, we can see an incomplete wallpapering project going on in the dining room, an obvious "do-it- yourself" attempt by Thelma.

INT. RESTAURANT - MORNING
Louise goes to the pay phone and dials a number.
Not much white space, eh? But damn descriptive. Or consider this example from "The Big Lebowski":

Quote:
ON THE DOOR SLAM WE CUT TO:

BOWLING PINS

Scattered by a strike. Music and head credits play over various bowling shots--pins flying, bowlers hoisting balls, balls gliding down lanes, sliding feet, graceful releases, ball return spinning up a ball, fingers sliding into fingerholes, etc. The music turns into boomy source music, coming from a distant jukebox, as the credits end over a clattering strike. A lanky blonde man with stringy hair tied back in a ponytail turns from the strike to walk back to the bench.

MAN
Hot damn, I'm throwin' rocks tonight. Mark it, Dude.

We are tracking in on the circular bench towards a big man nursing a large plastic cup of Bud. He has dark worried eyes and a goatee. Hairy legs emerge from his khaki shorts. He also wears a khaki army surplus shirt with the sleeves cut off over an old bowling shirt. This is Walter. He squints through the smoke from his own cigarette as he addresses the Dude at the scoring table. The Dude, also holding a large plastic cup of Bud, wears some of its foam on his mustache.
Same goes for many other scripts I've read. The most lean script I've ever read was "A Fish Called Wanda". It was almost completely void of scripting format and the descriptions were very brief...of course, when you're John Cleese, you can get away with that.

Read other scripts (the "scripts"...not the transcriptions)... that's the way to get your finger on the pulse of what will and won't sell.
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Old July 22nd, 2004, 10:54 AM   #25
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Both those scripts were written by the film's directors. So, they want to be as visual descriptive as possible and include camera movement, etc as you saw in the last one. Spielberg did the same on films that he wrote and directed.

Anyways, there are really no rules. Just get the formatting right....most of these people that read the scripts are 22 year old story-editors trying to work their way up the showbiz ladder.
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Old August 27th, 2004, 06:15 PM   #26
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The hardest part is to think like a writer not a director. It used to be when I'd get bogged down in a scene 7 out of 10 times its because I'm trying to direct it. Now it happens 3 to 10 times so I'm getting better.

Also the best advice I ever got was from Oscar winner David Ward over lunch one day.

Now remember these are his words not mine.

"F**K, the studio, f**k the producer, f**k the director, f**K your friends and write for yourself."

Taking his advice I rewrote a draft the way I wanted and the scirpt became a 200% better.

Now once they buy it that's another story.
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Old August 27th, 2004, 06:32 PM   #27
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Good advice Gary.

My last script went through a great review process. At the very end of it my Producer mentor told me that the chances of my script getting produced were nil but that I have to finish it as a calling card. He said that, ironically, scripts that are used for calling cards have to be much more polished than scripts that are actually produced. I originally wrote that script just for myself and it got enough attention that I owe it to myself to make it even better. That's what all writers have to do. Write the best script possible. The rest is up to fate, other people, money.
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