Monday, February 28, 2011

Who *Should* Have Won?

Here are the nominees and the winners... but who should have won?

BEST PICTURE
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
WINNER: The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Another Year, written by Mike Leigh
The Fighter, Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; 
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Inception, written by Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right, written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
WINNER: The King’s Speech, Screenplay by David Seidler

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
127 Hours, Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
WINNER: The Social Network, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3, Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
True Grit, written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone, adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

BEST ACTOR
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
WINNER: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
WINNER: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
David Fincher, The Social Network
WINNER: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
WINNER: Christian Bale, The Fighter

John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
WINNER: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Black Swan, Matthew Libatique
WINNER: Inception, Wally Pfister
The King’s Speech, Danny Cohen
The Social Network, Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit, Roger Deakins

BEST ART DIRECTION
WINNER: Alice in Wonderland, Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara

Happy Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Inception, Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Doug Mowat
The King’s Speech, Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
True Grit, Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

BEST EDITING
127 Hours, Jon Harris
Black Swan, Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter, Pamela Martin
The King’s Speech, Tariq Anwar
WINNER: The Social Network, Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Alice in Wonderland, Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
Hereafter, Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
WINNER: Inception, Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
Iron Man 2, Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
WINNER: Alice in Wonderland, Colleen Atwood

I Am Love, Antonella Cannarozzi
The King’s Speech, Jenny Beaven
The Tempest, Sandy Powell
True Grit, Mary Zophres

BEST MAKEUP
Barney’s Version, Adrien Morot
The Way Back, Eduoard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk, Yolanda Toussieng
WINNER: The Wolfman, Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

BEST SOUND EDITING
WINNER: Inception, Richard King

Toy Story 3, Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
TRON: Legacy, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
True Grit, Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
Unstoppable, Mark P. Stoeckinger

BEST SOUND MIXING
WINNER: Inception, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick

The King’s Speech, Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, and John Midgley
Salt, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan, and William Sarokin
The Social Network, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, and Mark Weingarten
True Grit, Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
127 Hours, A.R. Rahman
How to Train Your Dragon, John Powell
Inception, Hans Zimmer
The King’s Speech, Alexandre Desplat
WINNER: The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

BEST SONG
“Coming Home,” Country Strong, Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light,” Tangled, Alan Menken, Glenn Slater
“If I Rise,” 127 Hours, A.R. Rahman, Dido, Rollo Armstrong
WINNER: “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3, Randy Newman

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Hors la Loi (Outside the Law) (Algeria)
Incendies (Canada)
WINNER: In a Better World (Denmark)
Dogtooth (Greece)
Biutiful (Mexico)

BEST ANIMATED FILM
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
WINNER: Toy Story 3

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz
Gasland, Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
WINNER: Inside Job, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Restrepo, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
Waste Land, Lucy Walker and Angus Aynley

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT
The Confession, Tanel Toom
The Crush, Michael Creagh
WINNER: God of Love, Luke Matheny
Na Wewe, Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143, Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
WINNER: Strangers No More, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
Sun Come Up, Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
The Warriors of Qiugang, Ruby Yang and Thomas Lenno

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Day & Night, Teddy Newton
The Gruffalo, Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
Let’s Pollute, Geefwee Boedoe
WINNER: The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary), Bastien Dubois

So, who got robbed?

- Bill

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lancelot Link Thursday

Lancelot Link Thursday! For those of you who think 12 MONKEYS would have been better with an additional monkey, here are some articles about screenwriting and the biz that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...



Here are five cool links plus this week's car chase...

1) 5 Hollywood Secrets That Explain Why Movies Suck! (you already knew one of them)

2) How to *Guarentee* your sit-com gets cancelled!

3) Oscar Winning Screenwriter Vs. Scientology - also tons of backstory on Paul Haggis.

4) 11 Biggest Movie Flops Of All Time - I didn't write *any* of them!

5) Aaron Sorkin on Screenwriting.

6) And today's car chase...



Okay, it's a boat chase... but I'm slowly easing you into accepting the Big Wheel Chase clip I have.

- Bill
IMPORTANT UPDATE:

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: When The Hero Runs Out Of Time and a couple of Denzel films.
Dinner: Airport food.
Pages: Travel day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Self Imposed

If you wander into the Studio City branch of the Los Angeles Public Library system, as I do every once in a while when I need to do research that can’t be found online, you will find a couple of rows of computers you can sign up to use in the back... and probably at least one homeless guy (with a duffle bag containing all of his belongings) surfing porn while the librarians discuss how to get him the hell out of there. In the old days, before computers, there were rows of typewriters in some libraries that you could rent for 25 cents and hour... and just like those rental computers in Kinkos, they were often being used by students who didn’t own a typewriter but still had to turn in typewritten papers in order to get a grade. Years ago Ray Bradbury, who did own a typewriter, bought a couple of rolls of quarters and went to his local public library to write a novel. The reason for going to the library is that a limited number of quarters equals a limited number of hours and the minute you sit down to that keyboard the clock is ticking. You need to get pages written! By the way, that novel was FAHRENHEIT 451.

Writers do all kinds of tricks to get themselves focused on writing. As I write this, the greatest living writer of private eye fiction, Lawrence Block, is *somewhere* writing a new novel. He’s not telling where. He’s been posting on FaceBook, but makes sure any clues to his location are impossible to figure out (a photo through his hotel room window has a view you could find in a million places). This is a common thing for novelists - they go to writers retreats or some strange city’s hotel room without their normal life’s distractions and lock themselves away in order to get a book done. Raymond Chandler was once famously locked in a room with a week’s supply of booze and a typewriter so that he could finish a project. Whatever works to get the pages done.

I usually look at time away from home as a way to get things done. Over the holidays I wrote a new script, and that wasn’t the first time I’ve done that. I”ve written several scripts over the holidays, using the time I spend out of town as a self imposed deadline. I wrote JUST BEFORE DAWN in 2 weeks over the holidays... and thought I had a deal for it when I returned... but the deal fell apart.

This time over the holidays (Thanksgiving to New Years - extended vacation) I planned on writing the new script *and* working on the book rewrite... but only managed to get the new script finished. Part of the reason for not getting things done was hanging out with friends, and that’s an acceptable excuse. The other part was a deal that seemed to be about to close any minute, my lawyer doing a great job of keeping things going in my absence. But the strange distraction of having to hop a plane at any minute for a meeting, and the strange way the deal was evolving from spec sale to some other sort of strange thing that didn’t make any sense, kept distracting me from writing. I was that dog in UP and the deal was the squirrel. The deal kept falling apart and then coming back together again and again, and it became a crazy soap opera where I had to know what happens next... and that took time and focus away from the work I was supposed to be doing. That deal eventually fell apart. It involved an actor whose name you know.

But over the holidays, while the deal looked like it was going to happen, airfares went on sale and I bought a round trip ticket to an undisclosed location. I thought I’d probably be doing rewrites on the deal in January and I had this other script I needed to get written, and would probably need some time off in late February. Plus - the airplane tickets were a deal! But when that spec sale fell apart, I got bummed out and thought maybe that week of vacation might be the consolation prize.

Except, like a squirrel, another spec deal popped up with its own set of strange elements and my hard working lawyer was busy again hammering out contract points. Once again, this was a distraction that kept getting in the way of my writing the new script, and at one point I went a little crazy about one of the deal points and probably spent a whole week doing nothing but bouncing off the walls. But this deal also crashed and burned at the last minute a day before I left for vacation. So, I was behind on the new script, and had not finished the rewrite of the Action Book, and had not done a pile of other things on the To Do List (new Script Tips? Um, never got around to writing any).

So, I decided to take this vacation week and write. I wouldn’t lock myself in my hotel room, but I’d be in a strange city without any of the usual distractions with a limited amount of time. I would not be able to finish the Action Book rewrite, but I could get a huge chunk of it done and finish the rest at my leisure. I decided to tackle the chapters that needed the most work, get them out of the way. I was looking forward to crossing off chapter after chapter and finishing the week with all of the heavy lifting done on the book rewrite. I would come home with things crossed off the To Do List!

Except, that hasn’t really happened. It was a great plan, but I managed to impose all kinds of problems on myself that sabotaged my self imposed deadlines. The first thing that happened wasn’t really my fault - I twisted my leg and my trick knee decided to become tricky again... as I was leaving the plane. So, I start off in pain. On top of that, I hadn’t been sleeping well, and that carried over on vacation for a while - then I ping-ponged between not enough sleep and over sleeping. But the biggest hurdle I imposed on myself was a frustration/depression/anger over having two deals crash and burn. That nagged at me - was there some reason? Was it because the scripts sucked? Was it because I’ve lost it? Was it because I’m out of touch?

Standard “Writer’s Paranoia” - when there often doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the business, you start to wonder if maybe your whole career is a mistake... and someone finally caught on. Or maybe there was an expiration date no one told me about, some sort of LOGAN’S RUN for my screenwriting career? These worries are silly, but like those squirrels they can keep you from focusing on what’s important.

Add to that the idea of starting with the most difficult stuff - which isn’t exactly a confidence or momentum builder. I *struggled* with the most difficult chapter to rewrite for freakin’ **days**! The plan was to knock off a chapter a day, and when that didn’t happen I became even more frustrated/depressed/angry. Crap! What if I never* get the book revised? What if it takes me months when I’m working on it full time? This made me want to avoid work, rather than continue... and I was on vacation, wasn’t I?

But here’s where I really screwed up - when I was playing hooky, I just felt guilty over not working... and didn’t enjoy myself much. Man, I just ruined a whole week! I didn’t get much done and I didn’t have much fun.

I have not gone to the movies. I brought 4 new DVDs with me, and have not watched any of them. I brought a book with me, and haven’t opened it. I have walked past a museum almost every day I have been here, and have not gone inside. Whenever I have done anything touristy, I have felt guilty about not writing.

So, now I have the most difficult chapter rewritten, but lots more to do. And I have to get back to work on the new script, because I really should have spent the week working on that - people are waiting. That means - I’m going to have to self impose a deadline to get that new script *finished* and just forget about the squirrels and forget about those self doubts and f/d/a about having a couple of deals crash and burn late in the game.

This is being written on the last full day of my vacation, and I think I’m just going to just say screw it and take the rest of the day off. Then, when I get back to Los Angeles, write like a son of a bitch to get this script finished. Maybe I’ll take another self imposed vacation week to get a few more chapters of the book rewritten.

Meanwhile, my lawyer has been working his ass off while I freak out and it seems one of the dead projects may be alive at some other place. The director from the busted project seems to have carried my script to a company that wanted to hire him. Maybe I'm not a fraud afterall?

If you have trouble getting pages written, find some way to create a self imposed deadline... then actually write!

- Bill

PS: Folks, no cheering up needed! I'm fine. Part of this blog is sharing what I am feeling, especially if it's something I think you guys might also experience. I don't want to be some god-like Robert McKee that you are not allowed to make eye contact with and has no emotions. I'd rather be as honest as I can.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Script Secrets Class: Los Angeles

It's been almost 5 years since I last did my 2 day class in the USA! I've been busy writing, but done it in London and Hong Kong and Denmark. But now I'm bringing it back to Los Angeles...

SCRIPT SECRETS: THE BIG IDEA is an INTENSIVE two day course - screenwriting stripped of the theoretical nonsense! This is the "classic class" - starting with finding an amazing million dollar idea - the kind that makes producers salivate! Learn brainstorming techniques, how to tell the difference between a movie idea and a book or stage play idea. The basics of high concept. And how to kick-start your imagination.

This class is jam-packed with techniques to create great film ideas, then I'll take you step-by-step from black page to the big screen and show you how to create great characters from that idea. Learn how high concept can be *your* personal story. How to find theme within the concept. How to create amazing high concept scenes that actually *explore character*, plus solid techniques to improve your dialogue, create lean-mean-evocative description, flesh out your story and improve screenwriting abilities! Plus a section on selling your script!

Now with The Thematic - the most powerful screenwriting tool I've ever created! Start with a story idea or a character, and it will take you step-by-step, finding the perfect supporting characters, amazing dramatic scenes, dialogue that works on more than one level, actions that show emotional conflict, and more. Thematic uses your story's theme to generate the other elements of the story, creating the template for a tightly focused character and theme based screenplay. This is not a machine or a formula, but a unique way to look at writing your screenplay.

For 2011 we'll be using the movie GHOST as our primary example, with clips from that film as well as NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE MATRIX, AIRPLANE, THE BIG SLEEP and DILLINGER.

April 16 & 17, 2011
Burbank Airport Marriott - Producer's Room.
Register TODAY!
Only $249

Click For More Info.

Yes, this is spammish - sorry! I finally booked the hotel and wanted to get the word out to people who have asked about the class.

- Bill

Lancelot Link Thursday

Either 1 day late or 6 days early! Lancelot Link Thursday! For those of you who wonder why your waitress has hairy legs... and a hairy back, here are some articles about screenwriting and the biz that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent's waiter brother...



Here are five cool links plus this week's car chase...

1) Movie Posters for remakes we wish were true!

2) The Coen Brothers Screenwriting Secrets Revealed!

3) Real James Bond era Spy Gadgets!

4) Time Out's 100 Best British Films - with an upset! The BFI's #1 film is pushed to #2 by another thriller!

5) What if David Lynch directed the Superbowl?

6) This week's Car Chase is from a Luc Besson movie...



I watched this film on VHS back in the day and thought it was crazy... but fun. Wonder what else this guy has made?

- Bill
IMPORTANT UPDATE:

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: How To Study A Screenplay .
Dinner: Fish & Chips at what has to be the last remaining H. Salt Esq - in NoHo. Place ain't cheap! Greasy fast food - over $10.
Pages: Yes - a great scene yesterday. Still way behind, but you will cry every 15 minutes when reading this script!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Chain Gang Escape

Almost three years ago (beginning of May 2008) I bought a bicycle and began riding again. Though there were many reasons, the main one was because I was fat and not in great health. I needed to get some regular exercise, and riding a bike from coffee shop to coffee shop not only kept the blood circulating, it was also a great way to think about the next scene while I was cycling there. I have lost weight, am in better health, and know how to quickly put my bike on the front rack of a city bus without tearing my hand off...

But Saturday, someone else was riding my bike - it was stolen.

The real pisser is that I had just changed the rear tire and tube - and that’s a bitch to do. Had I known the bike was going to be stolen, I would have left it as it.

So I have to buy a new bike.

The pisser is that the bike was locked, at a public place where it shouldn’t have been stolen, and there were other, better, bikes parked nearby that were not stolen. My friend Mark had his bike parked next to mine, and they didn’t steal his.

Sometimes life is like that. I may have blogged about my general bad luck in the past - a couple of years ago I was standing with some other folks in line to get into a screening and a bird pooped on my head. Just me. No one else got pooped on. Now, maybe I slighted this bird sometime in the past, who knows. But when something like that happens, even though you know it’s completely random, you begin to buy into those bird conspiracy theories. To feel like you’re getting screwed and everyone else is not (well, they don’t have bird poop on *their* heads). But the reality is just that bird poop happens. It’s not personal. Best to just shake it off and keep going.

I talked to my friend Mark about the bike theft - and he’s had several stolen as well. Sometimes you can have the greatest lock in the world, and they use freon to freeze it and smash it and steal your bike. You can’t kick yourself for not having a better lock, and you can’t go around blaming everyone for your missing bike... and you can’t be paranoid that evil bike thieves are following you everywhere just waiting to get your new bike. Just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to your life.

The good news is: soon I will have a new bike.

- Bill

Avoid TV in the UK Today...

Wow - it's playing all week! They still have the synopsis wrong, but the film sucks - so who would ever notice?




- Bill
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