Monday, January 31, 2011

RIP: John Barry

He wrote the music for almost all of the James Bond movies, BORN FREE, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, IPCRESS FILE, ZULU, PETULIA, THE LAST VALLEY, WALKABOUT, ROBIN & MARION, THE DEEP, SOMEWHERE IN TIME, BODY HEAT, FRANCES, JAGGED EDGE, OUT OF AFRICA, DANCES WITH WOLVES, and maybe 100 more! His scores could be lush and romantic or jazzy and cool or strange and haunting or just about anything else. One of the greats.

My favorite cut from the GOLDFINGER score...

So, there was this time when music was on vinyl... and I collected soundtracks, including everything from John Barry I could get my hands on. Here's the strange part - my parents, lower middle class folks who went to the drive in to see movies, owned a bunch of film scores. I think back then, because everything was album oriented, if you liked the theme *song* from BORN FREE you went out and bought the album and got the whole score - and my mom might put on the record while she did housework or cooked dinner and listened to the symphonic parts as well as that hit song. So "normal people" might own some sound tracks - my folks owned a bunch of Henry Mancini stuff because he did music for some of their favorite movies. I grew up listening to ELEPHANT WALK and BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S and CASINO ROYALE.

Here's John Barry's OUT OF AFRICA...

The great part of searching YouTube for all of these clips is that I got to listen to the music all over again... and relive some memories. My soundtrack collection began with YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW because the Lovin' Spoonful did the music, but as a James Bond fan I probably bought GOLDFINGER next. I had the MIDNIGHT COWBOY score before ever seeing the movie, because it was rated X.


When searching for SOMEWHERE IN TIME, I came upon a clip of the big scene and it floored me all over again. This film is kind of slow for today, but a big romance with some amazing scenes that stick with you. It's one of those films that "remembers well" - it may drag a bit while you are watching it, but a couple of days later you'll still be thinking about the penny scene.

Here's the main theme for SOMEWHERE IN TIME:

One of my favorite films, one that influences my writing, is BODY HEAT... and it has a John Barry Score:

So, when I started working at the movie theater there was this guy named Dave who was a big movie fan, and we'd sometimes go to this record store in San Francisco that specialized in sound tracks. Though you could find a good selection of sound tracks in any normal record store out in the suburbs where I lived - and even in the record section of department stores like Sears and Pennys - they probably didn't have any records from 1960s movies... and this place in San Francisco had *everything*. They only carried sound tracks. And they had all kinds of "cut outs" at discount prices. I bought PETULIA there, and still have it.


Maybe once a month Dave and I would go across the bridge and dig around in the store and buy some stuff we couldn't get anywhere else. The place was run by a couple of Gay guys who were human encyclopedias of film music. You could name any film and they'd tell you who did the score plus some back story. They had a service for regular customers - they had a copy of everything in their collection, and if the music either wasn't on vinyl or was impossible to find, they'd make you a tape for $1 (or something). They also had customer cards with your wish list, and if something came in used that was on your list, they'd hold it and call you. If I'd had more money I would have had a better collection - but I ended up with maybe fifty or sixty sound tracks, including...


And here's one of my favorite movies and favorite scores, THE IPCRESS FILE...

Another movie that starred Michael Caine and had a great John Barry score, ZULU:

Here's another sound track I owned on vinyl for *years* before I was able to see the film, a british sex comedy called THE KNACK:


Another great Michael Caine movie that you've never heard of - THE LAST VALLEY - a cool epic written and directed by novelist James Clavell about the 30 Years War, and a valley that both sides decide is off limits - a place of peace in the middle of the war:

Something strange happened and department stores like Sears and Pennys cut their music departments down to only the most popular music. And even the record stores like Tower began pruning their sound track sections down to what I call the Krappy K-tel Kompilations: those collections of *songs* from some movie. Fewer soundtracks. More *songs*. The big change came with BATMAN - great score by Danny Elfman - but Warner Bros released an album of Prince music "inspired by" the movie. I think one or two songs might have been used as background, and the rest was never in the film. The Krappy K-tel Kompilation had taken over, and a movie soundtrack might just be a bunchof pop tunes that were never in the movie! The movie was just a way to sell the music. But "normal people" weren't buying soundtracks at all. The only one they'd buy from that point until now was TITANIC. Soundtracks are pretty much dead... so you may not be familiar with John Barry or his work, except for the James Bond stuff.

John Barry will be missed in a strange way: you will be watching a movie, maybe a romance, and there will be these pop tunes in the background of scenes instead of the big lush scores that added to the film experience. And you won't know why this film seems less romantic than a movie like OUT OF AFRICA, but it just doesn't feel the same. That's because John Barry wasn't here to write the music.

Let's end with one of my favorite John Barry scores... for an awful movie. The 1976 version of KING KONG:

RIP: John Barry - won 5 Oscars, was 77 years old. I'm going to miss him.

- Bill

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And The Nominees Are...

83rd Acamedy Award Nominees!

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
“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

Writing (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
“The King's Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

Best Picture
“Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
“The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
“Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
“The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
“The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
“127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
“The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ce├ín Chaffin, Producers
“Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
“True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
James Franco in “127 Hours”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Animated Feature Film
“How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
“The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
“Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Art Direction
“Alice in Wonderland”
Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
“The King's Speech”
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
“True Grit”
Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

“Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
“Inception” Wally Pfister
“The King's Speech” Danny Cohen
“The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
“True Grit” Roger Deakins

Costume Design
“Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
“I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
“The King's Speech” Jenny Beavan
“The Tempest” Sandy Powell
“True Grit” Mary Zophres

“Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
“The Fighter” David O. Russell
“The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
“The Social Network” David Fincher
“True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)
“Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
“Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
“Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
“Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
“Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject)
“Killing in the Name” Nominees to be determined
“Poster Girl” Nominees to be determined
“Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
“Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
“The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Film Editing
“Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
“The Fighter” Pamela Martin
“The King's Speech” Tariq Anwar
“127 Hours” Jon Harris
“The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Foreign Language Film
“Biutiful” Mexico
“Dogtooth” Greece
“In a Better World” Denmark
“Incendies” Canada
“Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria

“Barney's Version” Adrien Morot
“The Way Back” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
“The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)
“How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
“Inception” Hans Zimmer
“The King's Speech” Alexandre Desplat
“127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
“The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)
“Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Short Film (Animated)
“Day & Night” Teddy Newton
“The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
“Let's Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
“The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
“Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)
“The Confession” Tanel Toom
“The Crush” Michael Creagh
“God of Love” Luke Matheny
“Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
“Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing
“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

Sound Mixing
“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

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
“Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
“Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

So, what are your favorites? What films/artists do you think should have been nominated but were not? What films/artists do you think shoukld be on the Razzie List instead of here?

- Bill

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lancelot Link Thursday

Lancelot Link Thursday! For those of you who think Bonzo should have run for President after graduating college, 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 four cool links plus this week's car chase...

1) A sentence that only uses one word many times.

2) Movie Reviews, Broken Down.

3) Got a novel? - my friend Harry posted this on his blog - Del Rey has a conest going!

4) Trailer #3 for the movie RUBBER - like PSYCHO, but with a car tire.

5) The car chase is from RONIN - a movie with kind of a nonsense story, but a bunch of great action scenes.

No CGI, no tricks - just some amazing French drivers!

- Bill


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Writing Action Scenes - and the 5 reasons why they need to be on the page.
Dinner: Tortas in Studio City - a burrito as big as my head, salad, chips, salsa... all for less than you'd pay at some fast food joint.
Pages: Yes - slow progress on the spec.
Bicycle: Yes. Sort bike ride to NoHo for the afternoon shift at Panera.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Boys! Boys! Boys!

I’m behind on the new screenplay. I had hoped to make up for lost pages on Saturday, but completely screwed up and didn’t do squat. I can still finish by the end of the month, but it becomes less writing a comfortable number of pages every day and more *work*.

The problem is probably the script I finished last month just before Christmas (actually, I think it was December 24th!) - I haven’t written two scripts back-to-back in about 15 years! It’s like running a Marathon today... then trying to run another Marathon tomorrow. The plan was to work extra hard on Saturday and then take Sunday off - because I think having a day off might help me be more productive (sounds counter-intuitive, but also kind of makes sense). But the various events that caused me to get nothing done on Saturday kind of screwed up that plan. I had to do some work on Sunday just to keep from getting father behind.

My sleep patterns are all messed up, and add to that some stupid stuff - like leaving some materials I needed at a copy place on the other side of the valley. The problem with sleep being off is that it makes you stupid. So I’ve been doing all kinds of stupid things over the past few days in addition to not getting many pages written.

One of the other problems with this screenplay - it was originally about a 12 year old girl. The problem is that a 12 year old actress can only work 4 hours a day, and must have an on set teacher, and there are all kinds of other fun rules that will screw up making the film. But an 18 year-old actress pretending to be 16 years old? No restrictions at all! Work them ‘till they drop - they are adults. So I switched the lead from 12 years old to 16 years old... Simple!

Except there is one HUGE difference between a 12 year old girl and a 16 year old girl.

Okay, boobs... but also what comes with boobs...

Boys. A 12 year old girl may like boys and have crushes, but a 16 year old girl may be boy crazy - and boys are part of their every day life. A 12 year old asks her parents if she wants to go to a movie, a 16 year old is asked out by a boy or wishes she were asked out by a boy... or goes with a group of other girls and they talk about boys, etc.

There were no boys in my story idea. No romantic subplot.

I tried to just ignore boys when I started writing the script, but it wasn’t working. So I had to go back and add boys - rewritting a bunch of scenes. The lead girl’s best friend went through a sex change operation (behind the scenes) and Alice became Arlo. This solved part of the problem, but I’m still having boy problems on almost every page. What was outlined to be a scene where she watches a sporting event... is about *boys*! Because boys are the athletes. What was outlined as a scene where she becomes involved in a hobby that’s the main plot... is a problem because she can’t spend that time thinking about *boys*! I’m trying my damndest to keep the boy stuff to a minimum because it has nothing to do with the plot, but it isn’t easy. By the way, here’s a tip: the problem is usually the solution to the problem - so a scene where she had problems with her hobby is now going to include *boys*!

There will still be no romantic subplot for my 16 year old girl.

The other issue with this script - it is not KICK ASS 2. The 12, now 16 year old girl is not shooting guns or outrunning explosions. She also isn’t the reincarnation of a serial killer victim hell-bent on revenge. She is just a girl. This is a family film. Not my genre. Though it is *my* story, and I have a connection to it and a passion for it - um, I want something to explode on page 24. So, on top of this being a Marathon right after a Marathon, it’s a Marathon I’m not obsessed with winning. Hey, it would be nice, but there are many other races that I am more interested in. So, while I’m running this one I keep thinking of other races.

And now I’m just bitching. Venting. Using you kind folks. Sorry about that.

Sometimes, it’s work. You have that fantasy that you’re going to sell that script and tell your day job boss to take this job and shove it (though my boss was a great guy) and then live this romanticized screenwriter’s life where you sleep until noon and type either in your pjs like Marcel or in the bathtub like Waldo... and sometimes you can do those things. Other times, it’s work. You still love it, but it’s that love you feel for your spouse when she does something that screws you up bigtime and you are mad as hell but bite your tongue. You may almost hate her now, but in a couple of days or a week all of this will be dust in the wind and you’ll be back to loving her. You *know* you’re going to still love her when all of this blows over (and you still love her now, you’re just mad at her, too) - so you stick with it and put on that “Yes, Dear” smile and say it doesn’t matter when it does and work to get past it. I’m going to work to get through this script because I know somewhere down the line - maybe the day after tomorrow - I will fall back in love with it and everything will be wonderful.

Except for all of those scenes that now require *boys*.

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Beginning, Middle, and End - and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.
Dinner: Carls Jr Chicken Strips.
Pages: Yeah, read the blog entry.
Bicycle: Yes. On Thursday I took a bike ride of epic length - all over NoHo, then to Burbank, then to Writers Store, then to an undisclosed drinking location, then home. Saturday - another long one. Sunday - short ride, but should have just rested my legs.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lancelot Link Thursday

Lancelot Link Thursday! For those of you who wonder why Marcel the monkey didn't get a spin off series from FRIENDS, 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 four cool links plus this week's car chase...

1) Talk like a Cowboy!

2) The Strange World Of Sherlock Holmes.

3) What If That Movie Had Been Made In Japan?

4) The Writer Behind THE KING'S SPEECH.

5) And this week's car chase...

RIP: Peter Yates.

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Character Driven Blockbusters?
Dinner: Roast Beef sandwich at Togos.
Pages: Some pages on the new spec - I'm a little behind, but okay.
Bicycle: First medium ride since returning from the holidays!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Do Not Drink Liquids While Reading This

My friend Ronson posted a link to this on Facebook. I've been to this page before, laughed too hard in public, and then forgot about it.


- Bill

Best Of The Blog

So, here's a sample of the posts that usually pop up on this blog...

1) The LEOPARD MAN post on creating dread and suspense.

2) How NOTTINGHAM became ROBIN HOOD. - my most read blog entry.

3) Chess Moves and DARK PASSAGE.

4) The Fridays With Hitchcock Index - What we can learn about screenwriting from Hitch's films.

5) What does a car chase look like on the page?

6) My First Agent! - actually, the only one I've ever had.

7) Last, but not least: The Saga Of The Brad Pitt Guy. There are 5 parts to it, next part linked at the end of each part before the comments.

What are your favorite blog entries?

- Bill

Friday, January 07, 2011

Wish I Would Have Thought Of That

I never come up with any good Get Rich Quick schemes - mine are always the ones that take a lot of hard work.

A friend of mine came up with a scheme to sell stuff that was made by other people - he'd just be the middle man. I thought this was a dumb idea, as customers could buy the products from the manufacturer for *less* than he sold them for. But his theory was that if you put a bunch of connected products from different sources on the same website, people would buy from you rather than go all over the place online - even if you would save money doing that. And he was right. I was wrong. He makes a living with a website that sells other people's stuff... and now I wish I'd have done that.

So when I was e-mailed by the writers of this proposed screenwriting book, I felt like an idiot again. Great idea! Why didn't I think of that? They had professional screenwriters and screenwriting teachers each write a chapter of their book... and they wrote the introduction! (okay, they had to plan and edit the book, too.) So you get a bunch of name writers each doing a chapter - like an all star movie.

Meanwhile, I am writing my own damned books - doing all of the writing myself! And I don't have an all star line up of writers - just me.

I wish I would have thought of this book!

- Bill

Monday, January 03, 2011

Crank It To 11!

Welcome to 2011! Though last year was so much better than 2009 for me, I’m hoping this new one will be better still. And I’m hoping that it will be a good year for all of you as well. I mean, what if those Mayans were right? If this is the last full year before all of that stuff from that John Cusack movie happens, let’s hope it’s a good one! So get those specs finished and sold and made... and I hope your film premiers happen before December 20, 2012! Just in case.

If the Mayans motivate you to get things done, that’s a good thing. If something else motivates you to get things done, that’s a good thing. The key is to get things done. We have a whole new year to get things done in. Wipe away any deadlines you may have missed and start with some new ones. Or some new projects. Whatever works for you.

I ended the year with a new spec, and am starting the year with a new spec...

Which means the 2 weeks of new Script Tips I had planned to kick off the year with? Not going to happen... but I had almost a full month of new or completely rewritten Script Tips last year, so I’m going to run those and then try for 2 weeks of new Script Tips in February. Heck, maybe even a whole (short) month of new and completely rewritten tips.

Tuesday’s New Script Tip rerun is on making some sort of plan so that you can get something done before those earthquakes and giant waves and flocks of dead birds falling from the sky that means the world is coming to an end. This is a good tip - don’t miss it!

Though I haven’t secured the venue, yet, I plan on doing my first USA screenwriting class in *years* on April 16 & 17 - probably at the Burbank Airport Marriott.

I hope to do a few small blog entries every week, and get around to those epic multi-part stories about people who claim to have urinated with Brad Pitt once this spec is finished. I may squeeze in some Hitchcock entries and maybe talk about some more of my favorite films in January - provided I don’t get too far behind. I hate/love Stephen King for having enough residual energy left after writing an 800 page novel to knock out a couple of short stories. Even if I crank my energy level up to 11, when I finish a script I want to take a nap. But I’ll try to get some new material up here in the new year.

And I want *you* to create some new material of your own. This is the year to crank your energy up to 11 and get some stuff done!

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: That's Episodic! - and a movie starring Jack Black.
Dinner: Pizza with everything on it.
Pages: Did some work on the Action Book rewrite.
Movies: TRUE GRIT in the cinema and John Sayles' MEN WITH GUNS on DVD.
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