Thursday, December 31, 2015

These Films Are National Treasures

Each year the Library Of Congress Film Preservation Board selects 25 films to be deemed National Treasures and included in the National Film Registry. Here are this year's entries...



















SECONDS (1966)





TOP GUN (1986)

WINCHESTER '73 (1950)

I could not find a BluRay for THE STORY OF MENSTRUATION, but maybe now Critereon will start to work on one. SECONDS is one of my favorite films, and if you haven't seen it you should check it out. I am also a huge fan of the Spanish version of DRACULA, made at the same time and on the same sets as the Lugosi version. They would shoot the English language version by day and the Spanish language version as soon as they finished the day on the English version. The Spanish version is more sexual, with Dracula as a romantic figure that no woman can say no to. Also, the women in this version show a lot more cleavage. I figure you have all seen TOP GUN and SHAWSHANK, so I focused on the others. Oh, and if you don't know who Eadweard Muybridge was - he invented movies with his experiment to see if race horses ever had all four feet off the ground at the same time (to win a bet with Leland Stanford). Muybridge began his experiment... then had to put it off for a few years when he went to prison for murder! When he was released, he finished - using a string of still cameras to photograph a series of stills of horses racing which lead to the idea of moving pictures (and persistence of vision). A fascinating character.

Hollywood Reporter Story.

- Bill

Monday, December 28, 2015

Lancelot Link: Fair Game?

Lancelot Link Monday! Is an episode of a TV series fair game to swipe the plot of and use it for your movie? 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 Force Awakens.................. $153,522,000
2 Daddy's Home.................... $38,800,000
3 Joy (no almonds)................ $17,500,000
4 Sisters (no DePalma)............ $13,880,000
5 Road Chip (no Ernie)............ $12,700,000
6 Concussion...................... $11,000,000
7 Big Shorts...................... $10,520,000
8 Point Break..................... $10,220,000
9 Hunger 3,2........................ $5,300,000
10 Creed............................. $4,600,000

HATEFUL EIGHT opened out of the Top Ten, but it's still the movie everyone is talking about this weekend - because it's either that or DADDY'S HOME!

This year *has* broken Box Office records, as predicted.

2) HATEFUL Digital Or 70mm?

3) Ennio Morriconne On HATEFUL EIGHT.

4) Quentin Tarantino & Paul Thomas Anderson Discuss 70mm.

5) Walt Goggins On Working With Tarantino.

6) RIP: George Clayton Johnson - TWILIGHT ZONE, LOGAN'S RUN, more. Met him several times, kind of a weirdo... but aren't we all?

7) DEADPOOL Red Band Trailer. And Commentary From The Director.

8) RadioHead's Unusued SPECTRE Theme.

9) Disneyland To Change Name To STAR WARS LAND.

10) HATEFUL Pirate... Is Hollywood Exec!

11) BOURNE 5 News.

12) Screenwriters Roundtable Interviews.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

Okay, not a car chase at all... the episode of Andrew Fenady's THE REBEL with Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma that QT, um, homaged. That's the word.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers!

Have some writer friends who need a stocking stuffer? These e-books are the answer! Amazon even has a "gift button" which will send your friend a surprise wrapped gift, that they "open" online! From TERMINATOR fans to ACTION writers to HITCHCOCK fans to generic writers who have barcodes instead of names, there is something here for everyone on your list! And don't forget to put *yourself* on your list! Amazon gift cards for the holidays? Treat yourself!





Why pay $510 for a used version of the 240 page 2000 version that used to retail for $21.95? (check it out!) when you can get the NEW EXPANDED VERSION - over 500 pages - for just $9.99? New chapters, New examples, New techniques!

"SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is the best book on the practical nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing a screenplay I've ever read." - Ted Elliott, co-writer of MASK OF ZORRO, SHREK, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and the sequels (with Terry Rossio). (ie; 4 of the top 20 Box Office Hits Of ALL TIME.)

Only $9.99 - and no postage!



We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?


Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 53 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others. Over 77,000 words, under $5!



Over 240 pages!

*** THE TERMINATOR SERIES *** - For Kindle!

He's back! The release of "Terminator: Genisys" (now on BluRay) is set to begin a new trilogy in the Terminator story... 31 years after the first film was released. What draws us to these films about a cybernetic organism from the future sent back in time? Why is there a new proposed trilogy every few years? This book looks at all five Terminator movies from a story standpoint - what makes them work (or not)? What are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? How about those secret story details you may not have noticed? Containing a detailed analysis of each of the five films so far, this book delves into the way these stories work... as well as a complete list of box office and critical statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.

Price goes up on January 1st!

Only $2.99 - and no postage!


Only 418 Pages!

*** BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!

Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to know for your screenwriting career: from thinking like a producer and learning to speak their language, to query letters and finding a manager or agent, to making connections (at home and in Hollywood) and networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between a producer and a studio, to landing an assignment at that meeting and what is required of you when you are working under contract, to contracts and options and lawyers and... when to run from a deal! Information you can use *now* to move your career forward! It's all here in the Biggest Blue Book yet!

Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!




*** HOOK 'EM IN TEN *** - For Kindle!

Your story doesn't get a second chance to make a great first impression, and this book shows you a bunch of techniques on how to do that. From the 12 Basic Ways To Begin Your Story, to the 3 Stars Of Your First Scene (at least one must be present) to World Building, Title Crawls, Backstory, Starting Late, Teasers and Pre Title Sequences, Establishing Theme & Motifs (using GODFATHER PART 2), Five Critical Elements, Setting Up The Rest Of The Story (with GODFATHER), and much more! With hundreds of examples ranging from Oscar winners to classic films like CASABLANCA to some of my produced films (because I know exactly why I wrote the scripts that way). Biggest Blue Book yet! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 100,000 words - 312 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



*** SCENE SECRETS BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle! (Exclusive)

What is a scene and how many you will need? The difference between scenes and sluglines. Put your scenes on trial for their lives! Using "Jaws" we'll look at beats within a scene. Scene DNA. Creating set pieces and high concept scenes. A famous director talks about creating memorable scenes. 12 ways to create new scenes. Creating unexpected scenes. Use dramatic tension to supercharge your scenes. Plants and payoffs in scenes. Plus transitions and buttons and the all important "flow"... and more! Over 65,000 words!
Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 210 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



*** SUPPORTING CHARACTER SECRETS *** - For Kindle! (Exclusive)

Expanded version with more techniques to flesh out your Supporting Characters and make them individuals. Using the hit movie BRIDESMAIDS as well as other comedies like THE HANGOVER and TED and HIGH FIDELITY and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and many other examples we look at ways to make your Supporting Characters come alive on the page. Includes Story Purpose of characters and Subplots. Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 150 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



*** STORY: WELL TOLD *** - For Kindle!

This book takes you step-by-step through the construction of a story... and how to tell a story well, why Story always starts with character... but ISN'T character, Breaking Your Story, Irony, Planting Information, Evolving Story, Leaving No Dramatic Stone Unturned, The Three Greek Unities, The Importance Of Stakes, The Thematic Method, and how to create personal stories with blockbuster potential. Ready to tell a story? Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 85,000 words - 251 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



*** ACT TWO SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

Expanded version with more techniques to help you through the desert of Act Two! Subjects Include: What Is Act Two? Inside Moves, The 2 Ps: Purpose & Pacing, The 4Ds: Dilemma, Denial, Drama and Decision, Momentum, the Two Act Twos, Subplot Prisms, Deadlines, Drive, Levels Of Conflict, Escalation, When Act Two Begins and When Act Two Ends, Scene Order, Bite Sized Pieces, Common Act Two Issues, Plot Devices For Act Two, and dozens of others. Over 67,000 words (that’s well over 200 pages) of tools and techniques to get you through the desert of Act Two alive! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 208 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)

Show Don't Tell - but *how* do you do that? Here are techniques to tell stories visually! Using Oscar Winning Films and Oscar Nominated Films as our primary examples: from the first Best Picture Winner "Sunrise" (1927) to the Oscar Nominated "The Artist" (which takes place in 1927) with stops along the way Pixar's "Up" and Best Original Screenplay Winner "Breaking Away" (a small indie style drama - told visually) as well as "Witness" and other Oscar Winners as examples... plus RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 200 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Kindle!

*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to find great ideas! Your screenplay is going to begin with an idea. There are good ideas and bad ideas and commercial ideas and personal ideas. But where do you find ideas in the first place? This handbook explores different methods for finding or generating ideas, and combining those ideas into concepts that sell. The Idea Bank, Fifteen Places To Find Ideas, Good Ideas And Bad Ideas, Ideas From Locations And Elements, Keeping Track Of Your Ideas, Idea Theft - What Can You Do? Weird Ways To Connect Ideas, Combing Ideas To Create Concepts, High Concepts - What Are They? Creating The Killer Concept, Substitution - Lion Tamers & Hitmen, Creating Blockbuster Concepts, Magnification And The Matrix, Conflict Within Concept, Concepts With Visual Conflict, Avoiding Episodic Concepts, much more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!





Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! A step-by-step guide to creating "take charge" protagonists. Screenplays are about characters in conflict... characters in emotional turmoil... Strong three dimensional protagonists who can find solutions to their problems in 110 pages. But how do you create characters like this? How do you turn words into flesh and blood? Character issues, Knowing Who Is The Boss, Tapping into YOUR fears, The Naked Character, Pulp Friction, Man With A Plan, Character Arcs, Avoiding Cliche People, Deep Characterization, Problem Protagonists, 12 Ways To Create Likable Protagonists (even if they are criminals), Active vs. Reactive, The Third Dimension In Character, Relationships, Ensemble Scripts, and much, much morePrint version is 48 pages, Kindle version is once again around 205 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 41 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 160 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!

FREE DECEMBER 26 - 30th!





Screenwriting books have been around as long as films have. This series reprints vintage screenwriting books with a new introduction and history, plus new articles which look at how these lessons from almost 100 years ago apply to today’s screenplays. Anita Loos book is filled with information which still applies. In addition to the full text of the original book, you get the full screenplay to Miss Loos' hit THE LOVE EXPERT, plus several new articles on the time period and women in Hollywood.

Only $2.99 - and no postage!

These links all lead to the USA store, if you are in some other country and want to write a review for your country, go to your Amazon website.

Thank you all again.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Lancelot Link: Alvin & The Chipmunks Edition

Lancelot Link Monday! All of my friends were excited about the new movie opening over the weekend, and those who saw it said they laughed and cried and it was so great they forgave the previous three crappy movies... so I went to see ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP! Kind of disappointed. You stand in line for hours, you'd think it would be worth the wait, right? 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 baker's dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Star Wars:TFA.................. $238,000,000
2 Chipmunks:TRC................... $14,400,000
3 Sisters (not DePalma)........... $13,420,000
4 Hunger Games:MJ2................. $5,650,000
5 Creed:RB6........................ $5,085,000
6 Good Dino:WTF?................... $4,232,000
7 Krampus:HHH...................... $3,780,000
8 ITHOTS........................... $3,465,000
9 Dilwale.......................... $1,875,000
10 Bajiaro.......................... $1,660,000

STAR WARS record breaking $238m opening weekend... and when you include foreign it's hit $517m so far. First weekend. People online are saying they are going to see it a couple more times... which means it will continue to make a ton of money. Also - because so many showings have been sold out, and there are lines and crowds, many people are waiting until later to see the film. This was already a great box office year *before* STAR WARS. I suspect this will end up the new record ticket sales year in the USA.


3) Old STAR WARS Characters Who Didn't Get Rehired Bitch About It.

4) Carrie Fisher On The STAR WARS Red Carpet.

5) STAR WARS Secret Cameos.

6) Other STAR WARS Cameos You May Have Missed - Obi Wan?

7) The Secret Backstory Of Finn's Character & Princess Leia's Cell Number.

8) JJ, Kathleen, Cast Members, Discuss The Power Of Storytelling.

9) STAR WARS Music Sung By The Cast On Jimmy Fallon.

10) Lawrence Kasdan (writer of the next two STAR WARS movies) Talks About His career.

11) Oscar Isaacs Covers Bill Murray's STAR WARS Theme.

12) Original STAR WARS Audition Tapes.

13) They'll Be Back!

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

In keeping with this week's theme.


Buy The DVDs




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Caution: Subconscious At Work

From 5 years ago...

For me, part of writing is figuring out what my damned subconscious is up to. I am a planner by nature. Part of my outline process is trying to find the parts that go together and why they go together so that I can make sure to highlight that in the screenplay. Our minds are mysterious places. They connect things that may not seem to be connected on the surface. When I'm thinking about my story before writing it, all kinds of strange elements may pop into my noggin that don't seem to be part of the story... but my subconscious is way ahead of me. Often in outline stage, I discover the connections... sometimes I can't see the connections and either leave the weird stuff out or leave it in for the first draft hoping that I will figure out where the heck that idea came from as I am writing, and make it work in the next draft.

That's kind of what happened on the spec I'm working on now. There were 3 subplots, and though all were connected to the story on the surface, I had no idea how they were connected to the story on a deeper level. One subplot had to do with the character's problems in school. One subplot had to do with the character's father's problems at work. One of the subplots had to do with a specific type of sidekick and that sidekick's background – also specific. Now, there was some reason why my subconscious selected that sidekick with that background... but I didn't know why when I began writing the screenplay. I've read many screenplays where it seemed like characters and incidents were picked blindly from a hat and just jammed into the script arbitrarily. That's what I try to avoid at the thinking-about-it stage and the outline stage – I try to find the connections. But on this script? Not a clue.

But why did my brain pick these specific elements? There is always some reason, and the trick to a good screenplay is to know the reason so that it can be communicated to the audience in the film and not just some weird thing that only makes sense to you. Screenwriting is communication – and if for some reason you just know that the character is left handed, part of the job is to figure out why they are left handed and why that is critical to the story and make sure the audience understands these things so it's not just some whim that the character is left handed.

So, a few days ago I was writing a scene... and had this flash. Suddenly, I could see what my subconscious was getting at! I knew the why for these subplots. I knew why there was only one choice for type of sidekick and background of sidekick – no other version would have worked as well. No other version would have illustrated the theme. No other version would have shown the protagonist's emotional issues as well. And that sidekick was connected to the two other subplots in ways I'd never seen before. Connections that were always there, that my subconscious could see, but I had not been able to see before. This allowed me to write a scene that was about one of the subplots but also addressed the two other subplots on the sly... so that all three subplots could make sense as part of the story to the audience. Now, those subplots made sense to me so I could write a scene so that they'd make sense to the audience. My subconscious knew these were the best subplots for this script before I did.

The trick is to listen to your subconscious, but also to find the way through that wall between right brain and left brain so that you understand what the heck your subconscious is up to and get that stuff on the page in a way that the reader and viewer can understand as well.

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Protagonist's Job - How your protag's job is part of the story and important to the story... using the new movie WIN WIN as an example.
Dinner: Subway sandwich.
Pages: Dang - fell off the horse! But I did get a couple of pages written.
Bicycle: Mostly short rides.
Movies: WIN WIN - great little movie by the writer-director of THE VISITOR and THE STATION AGENT.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lancelot Link: Nobody Wants To See That Film!

Lancelot Link Monday! I can't figure out why people are surprised that Ron Howard's new film is bombing. If you had pitched me that script, I would have passed on it... How many people want to see a remake of MOBY DICK, based on a famous novel? Okay, now divide that by 100 because this isn't based on the famous novel, it's based on the true story that inspired the novel. Snooze! What *dream* of the audience does this film fulfill? And it's not even "cultural" like some movie based on MOBY DICK (which allows you to sound as if you maybe read the book, when you just skimmed the Cliff Notes in High School). How did *anyone* think this would make money? Oh, and the title SUCKS! 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 Hunger Games 3 Part 2............ $11,300,000
2 Fart Of Sea...................... $11,005,000
3 Good Dino........................ $10,497,000
4 Creed............................ $10,120,000
5 Krampus........................... $8,010,000
6 Spectre........................... $4,000,000
7 Night B4.......................... $3,900,000
8 Peanuts........................... $2,650,000
9 Spotlight......................... $2,508,853
10 Brooklyn.......................... $1,975,000

2) Remember when the sequel to INDEPENDENCE DAY was going to be a remake of FANTASTIC VOYAGE?

3) Francs Ford Coppola on APOCALYPSE NOW and his recent films.

4) Golden Globe Nominations! Who Are The "Hollywood Foreign Press" Again?

5) Tarantino Talks With Nolan about HATEFUL EIGHT.

6) Adam Sandler's RIDICULOUS SIX Nominated In All Categories!

7) Brad Pitt's Company Also Making Movies For Netflix.

8) MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 breaks Kickstarter records.

9) Variety's Actors On Actors: McKellan & Blanchett.

10) Bradley Cooper directs Beyonce in STAR IS BORN remake.

11) Bill Murray On The New GHOSTBUSTERS and Wes Anderson.

12) Morricone on HATEFUL EIGHT score.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

This is *not* a Ron Howard movie...


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Monday, December 07, 2015

Lancelot Link: End Of The Year?

Lancelot Link Monday! Some of this week's links are to Best Films Of 2015 Lists... and this year isn't even over! This is worse than Christmas decorations and music before Thanksgiving! Hey, most of the big Oscar movies will be released just before Christmas, so how can you know what the best movie of the year is when a whole bunch of really good ones haven't even been released yet? Did they use a crystal ball? Did they call one of those TV psychics? What if some movie that hasn't been released yet is better? 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 Hunger 3 Part 2................. $18,600,000
2 Krampus......................... $16,020,000
3 Creed........................... $15,540,000
4 Good Dino....................... $15,512,000
5 Spectre.......................... $5,425,000
6 Night Before..................... $4,920,000
7 Peanuts.......................... $3,525,000
8 Spotlight........................ $2,926,844
9 Brooklyn......................... $2,430,000
10 Secret Eyes....................... $1,950,000

Box Office has dipped below 2013 & 2014 at this point in time, but International Box Office is breaking records.

2) Lawrence Kasdan on writing STAR WARS movies.

3) Over 100 Free Legal Download Screenplays!

4) And The Best Film Of 2015 Is...

5) The BIFA Winners!

6) The Hit List - This Year's Hot Scripts!

7) Interview With Director Of HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT.

8) Relativity... Not Quite Dead.

9) Tarantino & Cast Talk HATEFUL 8 in 90 Min Interview.

10) HANNIBAL (TV show) Script To Screen Comparison.

11) L.A. Film Critics Awards... The Year Isn't Over Yet!

12) Last Year's Oscar Nominated Directors Talk About Their Favorite Scenes.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

The *Next* Series In The STORIES IN ACTION Books will talk about this chase.


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