Saturday, November 29, 2014


Cyber Monday... it's the day in America where we shop online. There are no shootings or stabbings or trampled fellow customers. Well, those things may still happen, it *is* America... but they don't happen due to a sale. I want to be part of the big Cyber Monday thing, so...

All of the Blue Books over there >>>>
Usually $3.99, now $2.99 (that's twenty five percent off!).

Sale lasts through midnight on Cyber Monday (12/1).

If I have record sales TODAY, the next Blue Book will release at $2.99 for 2 weeks.
The next Blue Book is:

And should be out in about a week! (was supposed to be today, but those danged holidays got in the way).

Tell your friends about the deal!
Tell your screenwriting group!
Mention it on message boards!
Go into a coffee shop and yell about it!
Tell the security guard who comes to kick you out of the coffee shop about it!

I believe Amazon can do a gift thingie where they send it to your friend in "gift wrap" for the holidays.

Lancelot Links will be Tuesday!

Oh, and this...


Monday, November 24, 2014

Lancelot Link: Part 1

Lancelot Link Monday! MOCKINGJAY PART ONE filled cinemas this weekend, but made me wonder about this practice of splitting movies in half. KILL BILL was filmed as *one film* then split into two... imagine doing that to other movies! TRAINS, PLANE and PLANE, AUTOMOBILES? THE ONE AND A HALF WORLDS OF GULLIVER and THE OTHER ONE AND A HALF WORLDS OF GULLIVER? Where does it all stop??? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Mockingjay Part 1.............. $123,000,000
2 Big Hero........................ $20,086,000
3 Interstellar.................... $15,100,000
4 Dumb & Dumber 2................. $13,820,000
5 Gone Girl........................ $2,815,000
6 Beyond Lights.................... $2,630,000
7 St. Vincent...................... $2,354,000
8 Fury............................. $1,900,000
9 Birdman.......................... $1,855,000
10 Theory Everything................ $1,500,000

2) How People Decide To See Movies.

3) Leak Casting Information, Go To Prison!

4) The Brit List

5) Interactive Short Films From Google... The Next Big Thing?

6) Joss Whedon: The Five Things Your Screenplay Must Have!

7) Five Big Mistakes Indie Films Make.

8) James Gunn on planning sequels before the first film makes any money... Counting chickens @ DC?

9) Mike Le's PATIENT ZERO gets a star. (Congrats to Mike!) (sat next to him at JOHN WICK)

10) My Portland Pal Daniel Wilson Writing New Film For Brad Pitt.

11) Mel Gibson's comeback film?

12) JURASSIC WORLD... an overly nostalgic trailer?

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

Everyone is going to the mall for Black Friday Sales!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quality Rules

From May, 2009... the end of the DVD market is predicted!

From Patrick Goldstein's LA Times Article:
Even more alarming, especially for studios who've thrived on seducing moviegoers into seeing mediocre product, is the realization that audiences are becoming more quality conscious. In the past, if a forgettable action film hit pay dirt at the box office, it would perform correspondingly well in DVD, allowing studios in greenlight meetings to provide a conversion rate--i.e. that if a movie of a certain genre made $100 million in the theaters, that would equal X millions of units in DVD. But judging from recent DVD sales figures, films that had poor word-of-mouth--signaling significant audience dissatisfaction--were underperforming in DVD, even if they had enjoyed lofty box-office numbers.

The example that made the biggest impact in studio circles involved "Iron Man" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." The two films, released within weeks of each other last summer, did almost the exact same amount of business in their U.S. theatrical runs--roughly $318 million. But when they arrived on DVD, "Iron Man," the film that performed far better in exit polls (not to mention with critics), easily outperformed "Indiana Jones," whose DVD numbers were far lower than expected. Among the big-grossing summer films, "Hancock" was also a poor performer (in terms of box office vs. DVD numbers), while the DVD numbers for such well-liked family films as "Wall-E" and "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" held up far better.

The rest of the article: DVD Collapse.

The problem, as on studio chief says in the article, is that they don't know what films will sell well on DVD and what films will sell poorly...

Hmmm.... if quality sells, shouldn't that be the focus?

And quality in this case doesn't seem to mean Oscar winners, those are not doing well on DVD. Quality seems to be big mainstream films that deliver what they promise and are *good* - so that you would want to see them again. IRON MAN... but not the new INDIANA JONES movie.

By the way, for all of you who have asked me over the years where they can get the actual sales numbers for individual DVD titles, the answer is in this article... you can't. They are kept top secret.

Classes On CD On Sale!

- Bill


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Lame Confessions
Yesterday’s Dinner: City Wok sweet & sour chicken.

Movies: CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE - If you like Roadrunner Cartoons, but don’t like animation - this is the film for you. The sequel is just like the first film, only more so. That’s either a bad thing, if you did not like CRANK; or a good thing, if (like me) you thought it was a fun way to kill a couple of hours. These films are so not to be taken seriously, there is no reason for that standard legal disclaimer at the end of the movie that the film is fiction. Folks, this film is so unreal it’s funny - and that’s probably the point. It *is* a cartoon with live actors.

It starts with a clever recap of the end of the last film - an Atari game showing two men falling from a helicopter and shooting and fighting until both are about to hit the ground... then they cut to “real life” as Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) slams into the roof of a car on the street, bounces, and lands right in front of the camera... dead... until one eye pops open. The end of the last film. Then, an unmarked truck pulls up and men in hazmat suits scrape him off the sidewalk and throw him in the back of the truck - taking off before the police and ambulances can arrive.

A couple of months later, Chev wakes up in some back alley doctor’s office hooked up to a million machines - alive - but his heart has been harvested for transplant (because it is the strongest heart of any man alive). Chev has an artificial heart keeping him alive so that the bad guys can sell of any other working parts he might have... including his penis. Chev doesn’t want them to harvest that particular organ and breaks out - fighting a bunch of people - and with his battery powered artificial heart goes on a cross-town quest to recover his actual heart. Even though that Atari game thing was only used for a minute at the beginning of the film, the rest of the movie is no more realistic with humans instead of bad video graphics - and that’s okay. This is a cartoon and cartoon laws of physics apply - also cartoon logic.

After Chev gets into a car wreck chasing his heart, the battery pack on his artificial heart is destroyed and only the small internal battery exists - and it must be manually recharged constantly... in a variety of silly ways that are fun. From jumper cables attached to some gang banger’s low rider car’s battery, to rubbing up against an old woman to create static electricity, to disregarding the Danger: High Voltage warning on a transformer box and just bear-hugging the humming electrical contents. Like Popeye with his cans of spinach, Chev must get charged up before he gets into a fight - and there are many of those. Along the way he finds his true love Eve (Amy Smart) working as a stripper (with strips of electrical tape over her nipples for some reason - makes no sense to me as her breasts are smashed against a police car window at one point just as the breasts of the Catholic High School Girls In Trouble breasts were smashed against the shower door in KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE - and the combination of crass gratuitous nudity and those little bits of electrical tape modesty end up being funny... and maybe that was intended?).

Now that he’s found his true love, he must find his heart - and as silly and cartoony as this film is - this symbolism is entirely intended and is what made me like the first CRANK movie much more than I liked SHOOT ‘EM UP, even though no one can play a cartoon character like Paul Giamatti. The CRANK movies have heart... even though in this one the heart has been stolen.

As Chev and Eve and the other characters chase and fight across Los Angeles, each one sillier than the one that came before - in one instance turning into giant Godzilla-sized people who battle it out in a bad miniature version of the city, knocking down buildings and power towers, we get some Road Runner-Wiley Coyote laughs and at least one public sex scene on a horse racing track. Eventually David Carradine makes his appearance as the Chinese gang lord who needs a new heart - and wants the strongest heart in the world as his replacement... and the villain from the first film, who is now - much like Walt Disney - a head kept alive by machines. It’s just this crazy movie that never tries to be real or even make a whole lot of sense... and by the time we reach the end, they have set up an impossible situation that you know will lead to the third film in the series. I suspect in that one, Chev will have to borrow people’s skin for short periods of time - so maybe he’ll be able to go undercover? At today’s ticket prices, you have to be a fan of the first film to fully enjoy CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE in the cinema, but on 99 cent rental night? You can’t go wrong.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lancelot Link: Awards & Alcohol.

Lancelot Link Monday! The Hollywood Film Awards were broadcast last week and many of you are wondering what the heck those are and who the heck runs it? Good question! More proof that *anyone* can turn a screenwriting contest into an awards show and celebs will actually show up. This is more disturbing than NIGHTCRAWLER! While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Dumb & Dumber To................ $38,053,000
2 Big Hero Six.................... $36,010,000
3 Interstellar.................... $29,190,000
4 Beyond Light..................... $6,500,000
5 Gone Girl........................ $4,625,000
6 St. Vincent...................... $4,025,000
7 Fury............................. $3,810,000
8 Nightcrawler..................... $3,038,000
9 Ouija............................ $3,025,000
10 Birdman.......................... $2,450,000

2) INTERSTELLAR: From Spielberg To Nolan... what changed?

3) Six Studio Heads Discuss The Biz.

4) Number Crunching The Black List Site's Readers Reports.

5) Nicholl Fellowship Live Script Readings.

6) The Black List's Live Readings.

7) My friend Steve Weller's Blog is on props in Indie Films.

8) Five Types Of Twist Endings.

9) Egoyan talks about his new film.

10) James Gunn on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2.

11) The Hollywood Film Awards... WTF?

12) Women Who Can Kick Steven Seagal's Ass.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

From HIT & RUN...


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


From 2009...

Saturday I played hooky and rode my bike to the Laurel Canyon bus, went over the hill into Hollywood and then rode to a theater where my friend Danny’s film was playing at MockFest. It was either watch a movie or work on this troublesome scene... and watching a movie won. Danny is a member of the SoCal Film Group, which is comprised of a bunch of people I know from a screenwriting message board who just decided to make their own movies. They pooled their resources and labor and, well, it’s some kind of communism I’m sure. They work on each other’s films and use each other’s equipment. HUAC should be notified of their activities. Their short films play in festivals all over the world and often win awards. They had a film play on USA Network’s Halloween show. And their entries are usually picked every year at MockFest. A couple of years ago the film was CHILDREN OF SCUM, which I played a pivotal role in... and was cut. This year the film showing was TOSSERS about Gay Frisbee dancers. MockFest is all about mockumentaries, and SCUM was the DVD behind the scenes extra doc for a film that doesn’t exist. TOSSERS is a doc about the art of Frisbee dancing - think ice dancing without the ice and with Frisbees.

A couple of years ago MockFest was at a cinema in Beverly Hills, this year it was at a stage theater modeled after the Old Globe, with built in digital projector and sound system... in West Hollywood. Now, for those of you out of town, West Hollywood is the Gay district of Los Angeles, like the Castro in San Francisco. Though there’s a Gay nighclub down the street from where I live in the Valley, there are probably 40 Gay nightclubs in West Hollywood. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But this film is about *Gay* Frisbee dancing - would that be a problem in a theater in West Hollywood? When I rode up and locked my bike, it wasn’t just a theater - it was a theater specializing in Lesbian plays. This could be interesting.

The theater *was* interesting, by the way - some old building converted into a theater, not much from the outside but inside they had worked hard to replicate the Old Globe and it was really cool. And the posters on the walls from past and present shows was interesting, too - I never knew there were so many Lesbian plays. Maybe I’ll go back and see one sometime.

Danny and a handful of people involved in the film (or friends of Danny) arrived and they tore our tickets and allowed us into the theater for this program of short mocks.

First film was a promotional film for a very perky and aggressive female real estate agent who wanted you to vote for her as Relator Of The Year. This was a hundred times funnier than the two episodes of PARKS & RECREATION I have seen - and I love Amy Pohler! I’ve been a fan since she played Andy Richter’s little sister on Conan O’Brien. But this short just kept the gags coming. The relator was trying to sell us on this beautiful neighborhood - which appeared to be an un-kept slum filled with neck high weeds instead of a lawn and graffitied houses. Then they showed a series of people who bought houses from her - listing their jobs and credit scores and anything else that was funny. And the people were, well, you wouldn’t want any of them living in your neighborhood even if you lived in that slum. Crazy! Ended with her plea to vote for her as Relator Of The Year... short and sweet.

There were no protestors for TOSSERS, and the film was funny and didn’t make fun of Gay people... it made fun of just about everyone and everything else. There was archival footage of the founder of Frisbee dancing, an interview with the man running the annual competition and organization, and footage of two pairs of dancers as they prepare for the big competition. The male pair consisted of a full of himself artist who works in shopping carts and his boyfriend who believes he’s a werewolf... though he has yet to go through the transformation. The female pair are extreme vegans, one is a folk singer and the other... secretly wants to eat meat. And many complications ensue. I laughed a lot, but he strange thing is that by the end the film becomes a love story that is actually emotional.

The next film was about a couple that break up and then she hops a train at Union station and he follows - and they argue on the train. This was not a mockumentary. The two actors, playing the fighting couple, were on a real train full of real people and the film was about their interactions with the passengers. Now, this could have been a BORAT kind of film with the couple becoming more and more outrageous... but it didn’t go that way. Instead it was realistic and the reactions were realistically uncomfortable and watching it made you feel uncomfortable for the real passengers who were feeling uncomfortable around the bickering couple. And the film was seemingly endless it was a cross-country train journey - I wouldn’t know if it *ever* ended because after half the audience snuck out I followed them when we got the "Day Two" title card (after it had already seemed like a week). Eventually everyone from the TOSSERS group was in the lobby, and we decided to get a drink. Or five.

I like promoting my friend’s projects. That’s what a friend does.

Last week I had dinner with a friend of mine who works at a studio with a Christian specialty division and mentioned that I have two other friends who made a Christian film that is looking for distribution. I haven’t seen this film, but I know these guys and I’m going to support their film. It helps that the film has won at a festival and has some great reviews. The filmmakers are smart guys and I hope the studio picks it up.

I like helping my friends. I’m much better at pitching someone else’s projects than my own. I feel like I’m bragging if I tell someone about my projects, so I either say nothing about them or soft-pedal them. But someone else’s project I can pitch like crazy.

But sometimes cheerleading a friend’s project or a friend can backfire. A decade ago when I was getting three films made every year, I had a friend who would do anything to break in. I’d read one of his scripts and it was pretty good, so when a producer I had worked for in the past was looking for someone to write a script (and I was booked on another script) I did my best cheerleading job to promote my friend as the writer. He got the job... then proceeded to blow through the deadline without getting anything written. He had written a pretty good script, but I guess it took him forever to write it. Or maybe he just choked. Whatever the reason, I’d gone out of my way to tell this producer what a great writer my friend was... only to have my friend drop the bal and cause a major problem for the producer... who now hated me.

And when another friend did a terrible job of promoting his film, I jumped in and pushed the hell out of it for him, sight unseen. Well, that film ended up finding a distrib, and gets solid one star ratings on IMDB - most people saying it is the worst film they have ever seen. If you were to ask me point blank whether I thought that film was any good while I was talking it up, I would not have lied to you - I worried that it sucked. But it was my friend’s film! I was caught between being the supportive friend and being honest. And, I had never actually seen the film, so maybe it *was* good. Plus, there are plenty of bad films out there - and the publicity departments at the studios still promote them as brilliant. I’ve even seen Oscar campaigns in the trades for movies that just plain sucked.

And there are millions of times where I am saying encouraging things to friends when what I really want to say is: Your script sucks, get a day job now! You want to be honest, but at the same time the guy’s your friend. You give some constructive suggestions, but the guy doesn’t listen. I have one friend who gets the same constructive suggestions from all of his friends and completely brutal comments from everyone else... and doesn’t change his script. Oh, and always says that his friends “get him” and others don’t seem to. I think we all want to tell him that his script sucks - I don’t mean this script needs some work, it *completely* sucks. But how do you tell the guy? He won’t take it well. Some people take criticism well, this guy doesn’t take it well at all.

I have other friends who are on the wrong path in their writing and are about to hit a big brick wall. I think about telling them about the approaching wall, but I’m not sure they would believe me. I slammed into it, everybody else I know slammed into it, but they think they will be different. So I just continue to encourage them as I put my hand over my eyes to avoid witnessing the big car wreck that I know is coming. After they hit the wall, they will have learned and I will be there to encourage them when they head in the *correct* direction.

And I can't tell you how many screenings of friends films I've been to where they asked me what I thought afterwards, and I had to find something good about the movie that I could talk about... "Great cinematography! How did you get that shot where..."

I can never figure out what’s the right thing to do - be honest or support my friends?

It’s so much easier when it’s something like Danny’s movie, that is actually funny... and won Best Director Award at Mockfest! Or even my friends with the Christian movie that has also won awards and got good reviews. Then I can be honest and cheerlead at the same time.

Somewhere out there, the friend of the guy with the endless train movie is telling people about that film and trying to make it sound interesting.

Classes On CD On Sale!

- Bill


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Take Us Someplace Cool & STAR TREK.
Yesterday’s Dinner: Burrito.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lancelot Link: Hunt For The Blood Banana

Lancelot Link Monday! A week into NaNoWriMo... how are you doing? Even if you are way behind, keep going! Maybe this will just be NaNoDecWriMos in your case, but you will get something done! I suspect some of you may have been playing hooky from writing by going to the movies... this was a record weekend. In fact, we've been having a bunch of those lately! So why are there news stories about how Hollywood is in trouble? Is that just wishful thinking by sloppy entertainment news people who wish comic book movies weren't making so much money? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Big Hero........................ $56,200,000
2 Interstellar.................... $50,000,000
3 Gone Girl........................ $6,100,000
4 Ouiji............................ $6,017,000
5 St. Vincent...................... $5,707,000
6 Nightcrawler..................... $5,512,000
7 Fury............................. $5,500,000
8 John Wick........................ $4,075,000
9 Alex Terrible.................... $3,495,000
10 Book Of Life..................... $2,800,000

2) DeNiro Eats Pasta For RAGING BULL: 20 Greatest Actor Transformations Of All Time.

3) Fellow Raindance Juror Edgar Wright's Top Film Influences.

4) *Mensa's* Most Scary Movies.

5) BATMAN Home Video?

6) How Likely Is It That You Will Make One MILLION Dollars In The Film Biz?

7) INTERSTELLAR Interview With Nolan & Cast.

8) Remove One Letter And It's An Entirely Different Movie.

9) The Young & Hungry List: Give 'em A Sandwich & Wait 'till They're Older!

10) PULP FICTION 20 Year Anniversary Panel Discussion.

11) Martin Scorsese On His career So Far.

12) They Have Already Given Out Some Oscars! Who Got 'em?

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

From BOLT.


Monday, November 03, 2014

Lancelot Link: NaNoWriMoNaNoNaNo

Lancelot Link Monday! Happy November! This is not only NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where everyone writes a novel by the end of the month) it's also Movember (where people grow a mustache). I already have a mustache, and am working on a screenplay rewrite instead of a novel, but I urge the rest of you, men women or children, to write a novel while growing a mustache this month. Plenty of famous novelists had facial hair! I'm sure the Bronte sisters did. They were writing in a time before the invention of the NoNo Facial Hair Removal Device. Isn't it weird that the one things you would never want to use in Movemeber when participating in NaNoWriMo is the NoNo? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Nightcrawler.................... $10,909,000
2 Ouiji........................... $10,900,000
3 Fury............................. $9,100,000
4 Gone Girl........................ $8,800,000
5 Book Of Life..................... $8,300,000
6 John Wick........................ $8,050,000
7 St. Vincent...................... $7,752,000
8 Alexander Terrible............... $6,485,000
9 Judge............................ $3,400,000
10 Dracula Untold................... $2,946,000

2) Distribution Strategies For Your Indie Film.

3) 10 Lesson Learned From Making A Film For $10,000... that includes helicopters!

4) NIGHTCRAWLER's screenwriter Dan Gilroy Interviewed.

5) The 11 Scariest Films Of All Time According To Martin Scorsese.

6) Alexandre Aja on HORNS and PIRANHA 3D's TV Cut.

7) Behind The Scenes On TERMINATOR GENISYS... Will Ahnuld Use A Rascal?

8) Actors Who Win Oscars For The Wrong Roles.

9) Ivan Reitman: From Porn To Cronenberg To GHOST BUSTERS.

10) FLIGHT Writer John Gatins Hired For SKULL ISLAND.

11) JOHN WICK's Adrianne Palicki On Switching Genders!

12) An Ebola Proof Cinema For Your Safety!

And the Car Chase Of The Week:


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