Friday, December 31, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

National Film Registry inductees 2010

These 25 films have been deemed "national treasures" by the Library Of Congress. There are several of my favorites on the list every year, this time around we get AIRPLANE! and ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and McCABE AND MRS. MILLER. The last film on the list is a documentary ride on a cable car down San Francisco's Market Street only days before the earthquake.

AIRPLANE! (1980)



CRY OF JAZZ (1959)







IT'S A GIFT (1934)




MALCOLM X (1992)











How many have you seen?

- Bill

Monday, December 27, 2010

Week Between

I am not shacked up with Scarlett Johannson, I was not run over by a raindeer, nor was I returned without a receipt and had to pay a restocking fee... I’ve been too busy to blog. That’s why you’ve been getting all of these YouTube videos - even though, some of them were kinda cool - love the zombie one. Between family holiday stuff, hanging out with old friends, and trying to get this danged new spec finished; there’s been no time to tell you about doing all of those things.

First off - I finished the new script the day before Christmas... a couple of weeks behind schedule, but before the end of the year. This script is DREAM LOVER, the one I plan to shoot sometime in the last half of 2011 up here in the Bay Area with the guys I’ve been hanging out with. It’s a thriller with a high concept twist about a guy with a dead end job and dead end marriage who begins to have dreams about his college girlfriend and wonders where she is... and whether they might hood up again... after he dumps his cheating wife and steals the money his evil boss has been embezzling. So it’s kind of like BODY HEAT meets DREAMSCAPE - designed for most to be shot in my friend John’s luxury home. I’m happy with the first draft - it’s full of suspense and has lots of twists.

And around Thanksgiving I had a potential script sale that fell apart - but for about 2 weeks it was on again / off again and kind of consumed my attention. A producer who had a star (from a big movie that played in cinemas over summer) under contract and a director signed and a start date in January... but no script. I’m assuming they had a script but it fell out. Well, my amazing Lawyer sent them some loglines including three of mine, they wanted to read one of the scripts: Producer loved it, director loved it... star took his time deciding it didn’t wow him. Producer liked the writing, asked for another one of my scripts: Producer loved it, director loved it... star took his time deciding it didn’t wow him. End result - I don’t think they are making a movie. No way they can make their start date. Stars run the biz, and after talking to a couple of friends who have also had dealings with this star - he takes forever to make up his mind and then nothing wows him. But for a couple of weeks, my life was all about some star liking one of my scripts, saying yes, and I end up with a nice big deal. The good news is, a director and producer who have never read my stuff read it and liked it. Hey, somewhere down the road they may call me about one of those scripts.

Those couple of weeks put me behind on the spec... plus all of the holiday stuff.

I had lunch with some friends from High School who had moved away and were just back for the holidays.

I had Chicken & Waffles and saw THE FIGHTER.

It rained. A lot. Not as much as in Los Angeles, but enough to keep that new bicycle in the garage. I took it out one day, and the back tire was flat - there used to be a Shell gas station a few blocks from my parent’s house - a guy I knew from high school used to manage it (Rick), but they tore that whole block down and put in a mall with a Bed bath & Beyond. Closest place to put air in the tire? I do not know. So I returned the bike and walked down the street (been doing too much driving - no exercise!). That was one of a handful of days that it didn’t rain.

I had planned to post some new Friday’s With Hitchcock - um, one is a couple of hours from finished and a couple are partially written, but I made an executive decision to save them until next year - Christmas Eve and New Years Eve not the best days for blogs.

The plan is always to kick off the new year with 2 weeks of new tips - but I don’t see those being written in the next couple of days. I will try to get some new tips into the mix in January - which had almost all new tips last year (and some great ones) - and might end up with 2 full weeks of new tips in February instead. Still working on that.

This week I also planned to write 5 new Hitchcock articles as chapters for the first ofthe three Hitchcock screenwriting books, plus rewrite the others... um, not gonna happen.

January I begin a new spec script - which looks like it has a deal in place. I believe there’s a producer with a funding source and a distributor. It’s a movie waiting for a screenplay - which means it is waiting on *me*. No pressure. So that has to be finished before the end of January.

So this week I’m going to try to get as much stuff done as possible before New Years Eve and then next year... when I’m writing a new spec script after finishing this last spec script a few days ago. There may be some short entries, some of those movie reviews, and some more YouTube videos... maybe even some actual entries in the next week or two - but mostly, I’ll be busy writing.

So I wish all of you a Happy New Year, and I hope 2011 is *your* busy year!

- Bill

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mermaids, Zombies, Blackbeard!


- Bill

The Black List - 2010

Here is a link to the list:
Black List 2010

And here is the story of the Black List:

Which scripts look interesting on this year's list?

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Protagonists At War With Themselves - and IN BRUGES.
Dinner: Three Brothers From China - Shanghai Pork Chop.
Pages: Yes! Am plugging along on a new spec - 5 pages yesterday, 6 or 7 pages every day for the past couple of weeks - and should have it finished in a couple of days!
Bicycle: No.
Movies: Yes, and some reviews are coming soon.

Tourists vs. Amtrak

Below is a photo of Yoshi's Jazz Club in Jack London Square. Jack London Square is a tourist destination - upscale restaurants, night clubs, ship tours, etc. There's also a multiplex cinema with discounts on Tuesday nights, so my friends and I have been seeing movies there... on Tuesdays.

But here's the strange thing about Jack London Square - railroad tracks run right down the middle of the street! Both Amtrak and freight trains use these tracks... frequently. Like every half hour some train flies through. Yeah, there are gates that lower to keep tourist cars from getting hit, but tourist pedestrians need to get off the street when a train shoots through. So far, people have gotten off the street when the gates lower - but this is kinda crazy!

- Bill

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fridays With Hitchcock:

Fridays With Hitchcock seems to be on accidential hiatus as I deal with the Holidays and try to finish this new script before the end of the year.

You know, the original idea was to do one of these a week for a year... just dash out 1,000 words (4 pages) a week and post it. Nice plan, but it didn't work. Most of the entries are around 4,000 words (16 pages) and take a couple of days to write after I've watched the movie and taken notes... and finding the 2 or 3 or 4 days a week required to produce one of these entries? Hey, I have screenplays to write! So there have been months without a single entry. Sorry!

The original plan was to take those 53 articles at around 1,000 words each and add a prologue and epilogue and turn it into a screenwriting book. Um, make that 3 screenwriting books! The first, EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR, should be out early next year - the blog entries are being rewritten for the book, and the versions here will have most of the "meat" deleted (the lessons) and some new elements added (Hitch stock company players listed). So read any you missed before they go on an information diet!

Here are the Fridays With Hitchcock that have run so far, in case you missed any:

The Lost Hitchcock Film.

YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1937) - Show The Decision, Gags, A-B-C Plots, In Media Res, Disguises, Disasters, Only A Model.

THE LADY VANISHES (1938) - All Of The Caldecott & Charters Films, Unusual Act 1, Clues, Great Dialogue, Supporting Characters.

JAMAICA INN (1939) - Bumpers, Opening Scenes, 3 Act Structure, Early Reveals.

REBECCA (1940) - Negative Cinderella, Minefields, Mood Reveals, Three Characters.

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940) - Set Pieces, Gags, Leading The Audience, Human Villains, Speeches.

MR. & MRS. SMITH (1941) - Bellamys, Symbolic Characters, Visual Symbols, Escalating Conflict, POV In Scenes, "If You Know What I Mean" Subtext.

SUSPICION (1941) - Creating Suspicion, Test Audience Endings, Leitmotifs.

SABOTEUR (1942) - Nice Villains, Invisible Storytelling, Biggest To Smallest, Hitchcock's Chocolates, Trapped In A Crowd.

SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) - Did He or Didn't He?, Unusual Characters, Small Suspense, Protag & Antag Similarities.

LIFEBOAT (1944) - Contained Thrillers, Symbols.

SPELLBOUND (1945) - Dali Dreams, Psychiatric Mystery.

NOTORIOUS (1946) - DNA, Focus Objects, Odd Ticking Clocks, Subtext.

THE PARADINE CASE (1947) - Selznick, Converting Ideas Into Actions or Situations.

ROPE (1948) - Single Shot, What Is A Scene?, Poking The Tiger!

UNDER CAPRICORN (1949) - Fake Twists, Melodrama, Novel vs Screenplay.

STAGE FRIGHT (1950) - Flashbacks That Lie, Not My Problem (wrong protag).

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951) - Transference Of Guilt, Sound Triggers, Suspense.

I CONFESS (1953) - Character & Story Flow, Chess Dialogue, Misunderstandings, String Theory.

DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) - Focus Objects, Suspense Triggers, Unlikeable Leads.

REAR WINDOW (1954) - Kuleshov, One Point Of View, Helpless Suspense.

TO CATCH A THIEF (1955) - Alliances, Allegiances, Adversaries. Opening 10 pages.

THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955) - Clever Dialogue, Comedy Suspense, Death Can Be Funny.

THE WRONG MAN (1956) - Passive Protagonists, Verite, Faith On Film.

VERTIGO (1958) - Nexus, Ticking Clocks, Visual Storytelling.

NORTH BY NORTWEST (1959) - MacGuffin Definition, Suspense, Focus Objects, Which Of These Red Caps Is Not Like The Other?

PSYCHO (1960) - Serial Protagonist, Non-Voice Over, Rule Of The Logical Opposite.

THE BIRDS (1963) - Visual Links, Unseen Threats, Building Suspense.

MARNIE (1964) - Dirty Pictures, Soap Opera Plotting, Split Screen Suspense?

TORN CURTAIN (1966) - Making Murder Difficult, When Act 3 Peters Out.

TOPAZ (1969) - Pulp Fiction, Multiple Stories, All Suplot & No Plot.

FRENZY (1972) - Hitchcock Wipes, World Of The Story, Twist Ends.

FAMILY PLOT (1976) - Intersecting Stories, Out Of Control Car, Puzzle Chase.

THE TV SHOW - You Can Watch Full Episodes On HULU - Free!

I'm going to add to this index with each new blog entry, and index the "screenwriting lessons" from each entry to make it easier to find what you may be looking for.

- Bill

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Lancelot Link Thursday

Lancelot Link Thursday! For those of you who think PLANET OF THE APES was based on a true story, 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) Understanding INCEPTION.

2) Combine the titles of several books to form a story!

3) Almost Every Line From Almost Every Movie.

4) Rudolph, You Don't Have To Put On The Red Light!

5) Truth In Advertizing - Movie Posters

6) This week's car chase is from... THE BLUES BROTHERS.

- Bill

Friday, December 03, 2010

I'm Sorry...

UK's Movies For Men channel...

12/5 - 12:50 - Steel Sharks - When a United States submarine is seized by terrorists, a rescue attempt by Elite Navy Seals goes awry. The submarine crew wages a silent war beneath the waves in this tense undersea thriller.

12/6 - 13:40 - Crash Dive - The crew of a nuclear submarine rescue supposed victims of a boat disaster, but the victims turn out to be terrorists intent on capturing nuclear weapons aboard the sub.

(The STEEL SHARKS synopsis is still wrong - they don't hijack a sub, they kidnap a chemical weapons specialist and take him aboard one of 3 identical subs, creating a "shell game" for the US submarine - which can they return fire on?)

- Bill
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