Monday, March 30, 2015

Lancelot Link: BEN HUR edition.

Lancelot Link Monday! Okay, for those of you read Vintage Screenwriting #1 you know that the first two versions of BEN HUR were written by women. But not the Heston version, which I'll be watching at the end of the week. Imagine if Ben Hur were remade as a wacky comedy where Ben Hur was a woman masquerading as a Gladiator? Who would play the lead? What is the rest of the story? Imagine the chariot race... 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 Home............................ $54,000,000
2 Get Hard........................ $34,610,000
3 Insurgent....................... $22,075,000
4 Cinderella...................... $17,515,000
5 It Follows....................... $4,021,000
6 Kingsmen......................... $3,050,000
7 Run All Night.................... $2,205,000
8 Second Best...................... $2,185,000
9 Do You Believe................... $2,150,000
10 Gunmen........................... $2,045,000

Box Office still surging: 4.0% over last year and 12.1% over 2013.

That number five movie IT FOLLOWS is a low budget independent horror flick... that is beating a bunch of big budget Hollywood films because people say that it's, you know, good.

2) Star Salaries: Your romcom where Sandra Bullock has to choose between Denzel and Damon?

3) NOIR CITY Los Angeles... including Woolrich!

4) TRANSFORMERS *spin offs*?????

5) The Terminator Can't Be Stopped... But Can He Play The Drums?

6) Dog Days Of Summer... and WHITE GOD director.

7) Quicksilver? Scarlet Witch?

8) In Case You Missed The SPECTRE Trailer.

9) PRETTY WOMAN didn't start out all that pretty...

10) Raymond Chandler (THE BIG SLEEP) chats with Ian Fleming (GOLDFINGER).

11) Season One HANNIBAL Scripts?

12) Indiewire reports on HITCH 20... My name pops up.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

Okay, chariots.



TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: PULP FRICTION - Characters at war with themselves.
Dinner: Hot dogs at the movies.
Pages: Five pages before the movies.
Bicycle: Rode to the movies.

Movie: HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2... which sucked. Saw it at the dollar cinema, though.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lancelot Link: Spring Surprise

Lancelot Link Monday! Spring is here! You know what that means? No... not the flowers and stuff, the big summer blockbuster are about to be released! Because summer comes earlier every year when it comes to movies. Oddly, summer used to be the dead season in movies and holidays where when all the huge blockbusters came out. Then... air conditioning in cinemas changed all of that. 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 Insurgent....................... $54,025,000
2 Cinderella...................... $34,492,000
3 Run All Night.................... $5,115,000
4 Gunman........................... $5,009,000
5 Kingsmen......................... $4,600,000
6 Do You Believe................... $4,000,000
7 Second Best...................... $3,450,000
8 Focus............................ $3,300,000
9 Chappie.......................... $2,650,000
10 Sponge Bob 2..................... $2,350,000

So far this year we are 4.3% ahead of last year's box office and 15.1% ahead of 2013 box office. People are going to the movioes!

2) New MISSION IMPOSSIBLE *full* trailer.

3) 13 Breakout Movies From SXSW Fest.

4) The Remake Of The Remake Of The Remake Of SCARFACE Hires A Writer.

5) Hope You Didn't Buy Advance Tickets To THE MOON AND THE SUN...

6) I Now Pronounce You Hollywood & China. You May Kiss Each Other.

7) TRANSPORTER reboot is Statham Free... But Is That A Good Thing?

8) Un Film By Credit.

9) IMMITATION GAME writer on writing characters who are smarter than you are.

10) Go Into The Story's 12 Part Writer's Round Table.

11) 13 Keys To A Scary Horror Movie.

12) The Beginning Is The End: First And Last Frames Of Movies.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:





Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Just Do It... NOW!

From 2011... don't ask about the film project I talk about.

Don't wait for someone else to give you permission.

That's a trap.

You either want to so something, or you do not want to do something.

If you want to do something, you will find any way to do it – you will be relentless in finding ways to do it.

If you do not want to do something, you will find ways not to do it – and be just as relentless in finding ways to avoid doing it.

I used to work with a guy named Owen who did not want to work – and would do twice as much work to *avoid* working as he would have had to do if he'd just done the job. He would take pallets at the warehouse and reorganize them so that it looked like he'd done the assigned work. If he'd just done the work assigned to him, he'd probably have worked *less* - but if you don't want to do something you will find a million excuses and side tasks to do instead of what you are supposed to be doing.

I know this first hand because there are times when I need to write an article, but instead I work on a script... and times I need to work on a script, but instead I write an article. You have to want to do something, or you will never get it done.

Don't create your own obstacles – if you want ti do something, just do it.

There's a guy on a message board who hasn't written his first screenplay yet, because he's waiting until he has the right connections to sell it. That really doesn't make much sense. Let's say he makes some great connections and they ask to read his script – do you really think they will wait for him to write it and rewrite it and get it good enough for that big connection to read?

Don't wait for things that you can't control – do the things you can control.

I'm on vacation in my hometown, and Sunday night I hung out with a couple of guys I used to make short films with way back when we were in community college. All of us are blue collar guys - no money, but we had a love for film. We spent every spare cent that didn't go to rent and food on films – and sometimes the food money got spent. Lots of the night's conversation was about the old days...

When I was in community college (Diablo Valley College – home of the sex for grades scandal!) I had a full schedule of classes, and two part time jobs that added up to over 40 hours. I have lived on my own since turning 18, and before that I was responsible for paying bills at home... and had a full time job at a movie theater while I was in High School. Before that, I had a variety of jobs going all the way back to moving a half dozen lawns in my neighborhood. My buddies had similar lives – they had jobs and took a full load of classes, and we decided to sleep when we died. Um, wish I'd banked some sleep when I was a kid!

So, Sunday night we talked about how we could not afford film, so we would make flip book animation with note pads. Van would storyboard scenes for films he planned to shoot. John got into acting and stage direction because you didn't have to buy film (he was also the DP for a lot of film students – so that he could make films that someone else paid for).

My first little film starred my roommate (another guy who worked at KMart) and was made in an hour or two before we went to work... while we were doing laundry at the laundromat. Between my jobs and my classes and seeing movies, *making* movies was hard to find time for. So I planned ahead. I had my story boarded and a shot list and all of the props were in an old paint bucket by the front door of the apartment. When both of us were free during the same time period – doing laundry - all of the stuff was ready. We went to the Laundramat, and while Dave and I did our actual laundry, I also shot a short film called LAUNDRA-MATT about a guy named Matt doing his laundry. I mean, what else do you do while waiting for your clothes to dry? Oh, yeah – homework. Well, this was *my* homework, sort of.

I ticked off the shots on the shot list, I had the boards so that I knew the angles, and made a 3.5 minute short film in about an hour - we both got our laundry done and got to work on time. Now here's the kicker: this was film and I had no editing equipment at the time, so it had to be shot *in order* in the camera and every single take had to work. A mistake would ruin the whole film. Not only were there no mistakes, at the end my crazy roommate did a stunt that was *suggested* in the script - but he went ahead and did it! He crawled into the big dryer, put in some quarters, and hit the start button... and did a revolution or two! Guy could have been killed. Instead - absolutely the most amazing ending ever!

And my two pals had similar stories of their first films - one worked a construction crew and the other installed carpet full time. They had also carefully planned their films so that when they had the time, none of it went to waste. We all found the time to make our films, instead of waiting for the perfect conditions or waiting for someone to give us permission. We just did it. Van mad a documentary that won some festivals and *sold* to the government for about a dollar fifty. He may have bought the pitcher that week.

You don't need to wait for Hollywood to hire you, you can just do it yourself. Write your scripts, make your films, write your novel, do whatever the heck you want to do (within the law... okay, if you shoot a film without a permit don't tell me). Don't wait for permission. Make a plan on how to get it done, and then just do it.


So, the reason for our meeting was our movie. Because I'm not as smart as I look, after everybody I know made their own film... I decided it was time for me to make my own. What was I waiting for? Permission? DON'T WAIT FOR PERMISSION! (this means me!) So a couple of years ago I decided to make my own movie with my two oldest friends and started writing a script and then got sidetracked by a paid gig – I think the 80s horror movie remake – and kept putting off writing the script because it seemed like a crazy longshot to me...

And it probably *is* a crazy longshot – but what the heck?

Part of the reason for making the film is so that I have some real-world experience making a no-budget film so that I can write some new articles to go with the thirteen articles I wrote for the Independent Film Channel Magazine many years ago on low budget screenwriting... and end up with a book on how to write and make your own film. That's why I'm not taking this project to some producer or distrib connection for funding – the person who buys the book won't have that ability. But we did talk about crowd-funding, since everyone I know is using that method to fund their little films. Originally I was going to credit card the film, but that seems so 90s now (wait a minute – HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE was made in the *80s*!), so we'll probably put together some Kickstarter page to fund the film. We aren't waiting for someone's permission – we're just making the movie.

My dad asked me about distribution, and that's a very good question. A couple of years ago I “test pitched” my story idea to low end distribs to see if they might be interested. Because this is *not* a horror movie, I was worried that it might not have a market. But the distribs all seemed very interested in the story and genre and a couple offered to help me find funding for it...only problem with that is that they would then own the film and if it was a hit *they* would make all of the money. Um, even though this is to get experience for a book and work with my buddies, I'd still like to make some money – since I'll be calling in favors and working my butt off for free to make it. But here's the thing – if every distrib says no to the finished film, it's not over! We can self distrib and do streaming online and all kinds of other ways to get the film to the audience. I'll just do that.

Part of our meeting was on making a poster and a trailer and looking at casting possibilities. Our biggest issue right now is that John is working a construction job that will take him to the end of the year, so we've postponed production until early next year. Instead of *waiting* for John to be finished with his job, we're going to do all of our prep work and pre-production and build props and maybe set elements. By the time John is available we will have everything planned out and be ready to make the film. We aren't going to let this stop us – or even slow us down. When there is some hurdle, you jump over it. When one element isn't ready, you work on another element. You don't wait for someone to give you permission and you don't allow small problems to be big problems. Life is full of hurdles – you have to jump over them.

As a screenriter who always had a full time job (until breaking in) I realized that if you only write one page a day, that is 3 feature length screenplays by the end of the year. So I wrote 3 scripts a year while working full time and having a life. A page a day? Possible – even if you are busy. If you end up too busy to write your page today, *think* about the next two pages and have them planned out in your mind so that you can write two pages the next day.

If you don't have time to do the whole thing, do it a piece at a time.

Will you be faced with a million problems and a thousand hurdles and all kinds of great reasons *not* to do something? Of course! But if you want to do it, you will find the way to get it done. If you aren't motivated to get it done, you need to spend some time on introspection to figure out why – maybe you really don't want to write scripts or make movies. Maybe what you want to do is... sing!

- Bill

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lancelot Link: Fairy Tales About Shoes

Lancelot Link Monday! WIZARD OF OZ is about two women fighting over a pair of shoes. CINDERELLA is about a woman who falls in love with a man who brings her a shoe. They probably get married and she ends up The Old Woman Who Lives In A Shoe. Why are these stories always about shoes? Is that the key to cracking this market? Shoes? 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 Cinderella...................... $70,053,000
2 Run All Night................... $11,015,000
3 Kingsman......................... $6,200,000
4 Focus............................ $5,805,000
5 Chappie.......................... $5,800,000
6 Second Best...................... $5,700,000
7 Spongeworthy..................... $4,100,000
8 McFarland........................ $3,692,000
9 Am Sniper........................ $2,930,000
10 DUFF............................. $2,900,000

Box Office is *up* 4.4% over last year and 15.0% over 2013. Yeah, Hollywood is doomed and out of touch.

2) George RR Martin (GAME OF THRONES) On Storytelling (video)

3) Scott Frank lands a gig.

4) Francis Ford Coppola Discusses His Career With Robert Rodriguez.

5) Will It Still Be A Sailboat?

6) IT FOLLOWS director David Robert Mitchell interview.

7) TRAVIS McGEE casting.

8) Is Netflix The New Miramax?

9) STAR WARS gets a bluray release where Han Solo shoots first, and New Films get Titles!

10) THE CROW is cast... and it's this dude from an arthouse film I saw at Raindance!

11) No Budget High Concept Sci Fi.

12) What Are You Doing This Weekend? Why Not Make A Movie?

And the Cinderella Story Of The Week:



TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: The Mind Of The Villain - How To Think Like A Badguy.
Dinner: Pizza.
Pages: Poking around on a script after finishing the book.
Bicycle: Short ride to NoHo Coldwater Starbucks.

Movie: That Farmer's Almanac Movie at the dollar theater.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Free Book! Vintage Screenwriting Book #1

I have a new book, and it's almost 100 years old.

Vintage Screenwriting Series #1: HOW TO WRITE PHOTOPLAYS by Anita Loos (#2 screenwriter in Hollywood when this was first published... in 1920!) is FREE until 3/18 (Wednesday).

There have been How To Screenwriting books as long as there have been movies. The earliest one I have is from 1911... and there were books before that. In 1913 there were at least 4 books on writing screenplays published! Movies didn't suddenly get worse: they got *better*. So I thought it would be fun to republish some of these old books as ebooks along with new material on the history of Hollywood and screenwriting at that time and a bio of the writer, plus a look at how these 1920 lessons apply to screenwriting today. When this book was published, half of all movies in Hollywood were written by women, so we look at women in Hollywood at the time... and find out *why* there were so many women in the film business back then.

You get the full text of the 1920 book, a complete screenplay by Miss Loos (one of her hits), and then a bunch of new articles (over a third of the book).

And it's free until 3/18. A thank you to those who have bought my books in the past. If you haven't bought one of my books yet, it's still free (but, come on! This of this as a Buy One, Get One Free. If you've already bought some of my books, just grab this one. If you haven't, grab this one for free and buy one of the others.)

This is the first in a new series, and I hope to republish 2 or 3 of these vintage screenwriting books (with new articles) every year. I have about two dozen on my hard drive right now, and I'm searching for more. My (longterm) project is to take my couple dozen vintage books and clean up the "scannos" like "IT'S SEVEB O'CLOCS. YOD KOSTS'T WASTE THE GOLDEN H0TO3. •" and "eaoBonju'3 Bsdbooh. runt Ih). Close To or Ceobsiaha" and "DCHE 18 HOLES THIS KOEBIBO, 1ET" (all on the same page of HOW TO WRITE PHOTOPLAYS) and clean up anything else, then add a handful of historical articles (about half the length of the original book) to each and republish them as ebooks for free... though Amazon only allows five days of free per quarter, but I'll make sure everyone knows when those five days are so they don't have to pay.

I was looking for a "give away book" to thank everyone who bought my other books, but couldn't find time to write one. Then realized these vintage books would be a good fit for that. The first one has been fun to do research on. Eventually I will have enough so that when one five day free runs out another will begin. There will *always* be a free book. Of course, that's a lot of work from now!

And, like all of my other ebooks, NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!

Click the book cover for more info!

Also... when I post a picture of one of my books next to some other book on FB, the other books all have hundreds of reviews... and mine have fewer than fifty! As Popeye would say: It’s embarrrasking! And someone said the other day that books with more than fifty (and then more than 100 reviews) get bumped onto the You May Like section, which helps keep the book in front of people.

Telling people about the books on social media helps inform people that the books exist without me doing my daily sledge hammer posts about where the books are in the rankings. This is about *all* of the books, so if the STORY Blue Book is your favorite... tell people!

Thank you to all who help me!

USA People, Click Here!

UK People, Click Here!

Germany People, Click Here!

Canadian People, Click Here!

French People, Click Here!

Spanish People, Click Here!

Other people check the Amazon store in your country.


More Info.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

No Pants Friday On The NYC Subway

So, you are riding the subway to work one day, when people begin taking off their pants and underwear... *hundreds* of people!

- Bill

Monday, March 09, 2015

Lancelot Link: Rise Of The Monkey Machines

Lancelot Link Monday! Drones and computers are taking over! This week we have links to drone cinematography and computer screenwriting... which may leave you living in your car! 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 Chappie......................... $13,300,000
2 Focus........................... $10,020,000
3 Second Best...................... $8,600,000
4 Kingsmen......................... $8,300,000
5 Spongebob........................ $7,000,000
6 Fifty Shades..................... $5,604,000
7 McFarland........................ $5,318,000
8 Lazarus.......................... $5,100,000
9 DUFF............................. $4,850,000
10 Finished Business................ $4,800,000

2) FAULTS: Script Makes The Black List, Snatched Up By Producers Of THE GUEST, Interview With Writer.

3) If You Are Lucky Enough To Get $200k To Make A Movie, How To Spend It.

4) Chinese Box Office Surpasses USA Box Office.

5) Notes From Comedy Central.

6) Trailer For New Wim Wenders Film Plus Interview.



9) Wait... Was That...? Uncredited Film Roles.

10) Drones: Not Just For Science Fiction Stories!

11) Rules Of The Road (runner cartoons)

12) The Realities Of Being A Screenwriter... You may be sleeping in your car.

13) After Being Replaced By A Computer!

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

The robot that took your job wants everything else...





Thursday, March 05, 2015

Truffaut - The Brats

Because I'm behind in my work, Thriller Thursday will be back next week!

Here's a short film from Truffaut about childhood and bicycles...

- Bill

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Carbon Arc Projectors

My first job (other than moving lawns and delivering papers and helping my dad) was at the Century Movie Theater in Pleasant Hill... where I was a doorman, an usher, and acting manager (which required me to run the projectors sometimes).

Back in those days they didn't have digital projectors, they didn't even have those platters that held a whole film... Films were in reels that were 20 minutes or less and had to be changed over from one projector to another seemlessly - you've seen how that works in FIGHT CLUB.

But what FIGHT CLUB didn't have the balls to show you - or the research to mention - is that projectors did not have *bulbs* back then... they used *fire*. There were not light bulbs bright enough to project a movie on a screen that far away, so the only other option is FIRE. A carbon arc. So I had to learn how to run the projectors and replace the carbons (probably once a night for each projector) in case the projectionist got sick or drunk or just didn't show for some reason. The show must go on - and that meant I had to run the projectors. And I did this *many many many* times.

A couple of years later I had a job as manager/projectionist at a little indie cinema and ran the projectors 6 nights a week. Those projectors also used fire and had a changeover about every 17 minutes. Here's how that works...

- Bill

Monday, March 02, 2015

Lancelot Link: No Awards!

Lancelot Link Monday! Awards season is finally over! The Best Actors are back to being actors, the Best Directors and back to directing... anbd hopefully you have returned to writing. Unless you are still caught up in the White/Gold or Blue/Black debate. Or trying to capture llamas. Or wearing Lupita Nyong'o's Oscar gown. Did that gown have white pearls or black pearls? 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 Focus........................... $19,100,000
2 Kingsman........................ $11,750,000
3 Spongebob Worthy................ $11,200,000
4 Fifty Shades.................... $10,927,000
5 Lazarus......................... $10,600,000
6 McFarland........................ $7,797,000
7 Am Sniper........................ $7,700,000
8 DUFF............................. $7,150,000
9 Still Alice...................... $2,695,000
10 Hot Tub 2.................... $2,400,000

2) General Meetings Explained.

3) How Much Does An Oscar Mean At Box Office?

4) BREWSTER MILLIONS Again! But this time with Robert Townsend directing.

5) Alfred Bester's STARS MY DESTINATION to finally hit the screen? Hey, there's an Oliver Stone script for DEMOLISHED MAN out there, too!


7) Will new ALIEN movie ignore 3 and 4?

8) Return Of The Power Rangers?

9) THE CROWDED ROOM still has DiCaprio, seems to be loosing Cameron.

10) SPECTRE News.

11) ROCKY sequel CREED turns Stallone into Burgess Meredith.

12) A nice collection of interviews with Writer/Directors.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:





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