It seems like every week they announce a new STAR WARS movie!
Now we're coming up on EPISODE XX (which is rumored to be titled JAR JAR DOES DEGOBA) and
I hope it makes up for the last couple. Remember when we were excited for ROGUE ONE?
Though the film is hush hush, I suspect it will be how Jar Jar Binks
evolved from Senator to rugged bounty hunter Boba Fett...
A few years ago I saw the documentary THE PEOPLE vs. GEORGE LUCAS about how much STAR WARS fans love the prequels and Jar Jar Binks.
It's a fun film, and I know a bunch of the people interviewed. We could trash PHANTOM MENACE all day,
but let's talk about one of 2002's worst written films where a bodyguard and the beautiful princess he's
supposed to protect have a picnic together where they talk and talk and talk about how they are falling in
love with each other. That scene just doesn't work. The dialogue is painful, the staging is
dull, and you never believe these people care about each other. If you haven't figured it
out, yet, I'm talking about STAR WARS: SEND IN THE CLONES. The problem seemed
obvious to me - the dialogue was about love, the scene was about falling in love, and
the purpose of the scene was to show them falling in love. Too much love!
That SCENE is on the nose - obvious, plain, too straightforward.
If you're looking for a good example of how to write a scene like this check out some of
the Princess Leia and Han Solo scenes from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. The
scenes that show them fall in love are chase scenes, action scenes, and fight scenes.
The first scene with the couple is all about Han leaving, but Leia wants him to stay
because he's a good pilot. When Han suggests maybe she has a crush on him, she
insists there isn't an ounce of attraction between them, and calls him "scruffy". At no
time does either say they are in love - but we can read between the lines. You want a
Han & Leia love scene? Here's a great example: They have taken the Millennium
Falcon inside an asteroid cave to avoid enemy ships... and the cave begins to move!
Leia is knocked against Han, who holds her steady as everything shakes. When the
shaking is over she demands that he let go of her and they go back to their bickering...
but for a moment, there, they were depending on each other. The first time they kiss?
The scene is about repairing the Millennium Falcon! Han and Leia are working on this
ship, she hurts her hand, he starts massaging it, she tells him to let go because her
hands are dirty, he says his hands are dirty, too... and they kiss. No mention of love or
attraction - all the dialogue is about dirty hands! There isn't a single scene in the film
that is ABOUT them being in love - the love story happens in action scenes. Not a
single On The Nose scene!
Do you have On The Nose Scenes in your script? Here are a couple of things that will
keep your scenes from being On The Nose:
1) YOU know what the scene is supposed top accomplish, but your characters do not.
They may think that scene is supposed to be doing something else entirely.
Here's an example - in BREAKDOWN Kurt Russell's wife has vanished. A truck driver
was supposed to take her to this diner so that she could call a tow truck, but everyone
in the diner tells Russell they never saw his wife - and they make fun of him. Outside
the diner Russell spots this semi-retarded guy washing a car and asks him if he's seen
Russell's wife. Now from Russell's POV (and the audience's) the purpose of this scene
is to see if this guy has seen his wife - and knows why everyone in the diner is covering
up her disappearance. That's what we think the scene is all about. But what the scene
is REALLY all about is the semi-retarded guy (who is just pretending to be retarded) is
pumping Russell for information about who he has talked to and what he has told
them... before he conks Russell on the head and kidnaps him. See, the guy is one of
the villains who snatched Russell's wife. The purpose of the scene is unknown to the
audience, unknown to Russell - but known to the guy. Once we get to the end of the
scene, we understand what it was all about.
There's a cool scene in Bruce Joel Rubin's GHOST where dead Patrick Swayze gives
the name and address of the man who killed him to his widow Demi Moore (through
medium Whoopi Goldberg). Demi talks to Swayze's best friend Tony Goldwyn about
the best way to deal with this information. Goldwyn says they really should try to find out
if the information is accurate before going to the police with it, and volunteers to check
out the address. Now we have this great suspense scene where Goldwyn goes to the
killer's address - Swayze's ghost tagging along behind him. Goldwyn sneaks into the
building, climbs the stairs, checks out the suspect's door... knocks. The killer answers
the door! Goldwyn starts a little small talk with him, trying to dig out information... NOT!
Because Goldwyn and the killer are friends! Goldwyn warns the killer that Whoopi
knows who he is, and they decide to kill her. We THOUGHT the purpose of the scene
was for Goldwyn to check out the killer before they called the police, the REAL purpose
of the scene was for Goldwyn to warn the killer that Whoopi is on to him.
The writer knew the real purpose of that scene. Goldwyn's character knew the real purpose of that scene.
But the Audience was living the protagonist's life, seeing the world through his eyes, and Swayze thought the
scene had a much different purpose. It was presented to us as if it had that different purpose. So when the true
purpose of the scene is revealed, it's unexpected... certainly not obvious, plain, or straightforward.
Just because YOU know the purpose of the scene doesn't mean your characters do.
They may have one goal in a scene when the SCENE has a different goal.
2) Imagination. In my Scenes Blue Book I have a bunch of different ways to make your
scenes different - and they are all about using your imagination.
Take that cliche scene where a pair of mobsters are going to take a guy who ratted out the boss
"for a ride". We've seen this one a million times before, so how do we make it different?
How about changing the location? What if the scene takes place while the rat is with his
family at an amusement park and they grab him in front of his wife and kid... then take
him to the Tunnel Of Love ride? Now these 3 guys want to get into the same boat
together, but the rules say 2 per boat, and all of the other people taking the ride are
couples. Oh, and the rat doesn't want to go. That's a scene! Or maybe they go to the
roller coaster, or the Ferris wheel? Take the scene and put it in a location you've never
seen it played in before. Or make the CHARACTERS different - what if our two
mobsters are Gay? Or beautiful women, and the rat thinks it's his lucky day? Or what if
the killers are KIDS - remember the opening of ROMANCING THE STONE where the
little boy playing on the street is the assassin? What if the killers are an elderly couple,
like in CLOAK AND DAGGER? Use your imagination to find the way to do that scene
that we have never seen before!
Make sure your scene isn't obvious and On The Nose! Find a way to make it different, or make
sure the audience doesn't know the true purpose of the scene.
Loglines, Treatments, Pitching, Look Books, Pitch Decks, One Pagers, Rip-O-Matics?
You have written a brilliant 110 page screenplay, but how do you get anyone to read it? You need to distill it down into some form of verbal moonshine or story rocket fuel that will ignite that bored development executive or manager or agent and get them to request your screenplay. But how do you shrink those 110 pages into a 25 word logline or a 2 minute elevator pitch or a one page synopsis or a short paragraph? This 100,000 word book shows you how! Everything you need to know! From common logline mistakes (and how to solve them) to how your pitch can reveal story problems to the 4 types of pitches!
Making Your Own Movie?
Writing An Indie Film?
Writing A Low Budget Genre Script To Sell?
Writing A Made For TV Holiday Movie?
You will be writing for BUDGET. On a standard spec screenplay, you don’t have to think about budget, but these types of screenplays writing with budget in mind is critical!
If you are making your own movie, budget, is even more important - and you need to think about budget *before* you write your screenplay... or you will end up with a script that you can’t afford to make (or is a struggle to make). Everyone is making their own films these days, and even if you have done it before there are lots of great techniques in this book to get more money on screen - for less money! You can make a film that looks like it cost millions for pocket change.
ARE YOUR SCENES IN THE RIGHT ORDER? AND ARE THEY THE RIGHT SCENES?
Your story is like a road trip... but where are you going? What's the best route to get there? What are the best sights to see along the way? Just as you plan a vacation instead of just jump in the car and start driving, it's a good idea to plan your story. An artist does sketches before breaking out the oils, so why shouldn't a writer do the same? This Blue Book looks at various outlining methods used by professional screenwriters like Wesley Strick, Paul Schrader, John August, and others... as well as a guest chapter on novel outlines. Plus a whole section on the Thematic Method of generating scenes and characters and other elements that will be part of your outline. The three stages of writing are: Pre-writing, Writing, and Rewriting... this book looks at that first stage and how to use it to improve your screenplays and novels.
Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?
William Goldman says the most important single element of any screenplay is structure. It’s the skeleton under the flesh and blood of your story. Without it, you have a spineless, formless, mess... a slug! How do you make sure your structure is strong enough to support your story? How do you prevent your story from becoming a slug? This Blue Book explores different types of popular structures from the basic three act structure to more obscure methods like leap-frogging. We also look at structure as a verb as well as a noun, and techniques for structuring your story for maximum emotional impact. Most of the other books just look at *structure* and ignore the art of *structuring* your story. Techniques to make your story a page turner... instead of a slug!
All Six Movies analyzed! All of the mission tapes, all of the “that’s impossible!” set pieces and stunts, the cons and capers - and how these scenes work, the twists and double crosses, the tension and suspense (and how to generate it), the concept of each film as a stand alone with a different director calling the shots (broken in the sixth film), the gadgets, the masks, the stories, the co-stars and team members (one team member has been in every film), the stunts Tom Cruise actually did (and the ones he didn’t), and so much more! Over 120,000 words of fun info!
*** HITCHCOCK: MASTERING SUSPENSE *** - For Kindle!
Alfred Hitchcock, who directed 52 movies, was known as the *Master Of Suspense*; but what exactly is suspense and how can *we* master it? How does suspense work? How can *we* create “Hitchcockian” suspense scenes in our screenplays, novels, stories and films?
This book uses seventeen of Hitchcock’s films to show the difference between suspense and surprise, how to use “focus objects” to create suspense, the 20 iconic suspense scenes and situations, how plot twists work, using secrets for suspense, how to use Dread (the cousin of suspense) in horror stories, and dozens of other amazing storytelling lessons. From classics like “Strangers On A Train” and “The Birds” and “Vertigo” and “To Catch A Thief” to older films from the British period like “The 39 Steps” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to his hits from the silent era like “The Lodger” (about Jack The Ripper), we’ll look at all of the techniques to create suspense!
All five "Bourne" movies (including "Legacy" and it's potential sequels) - what are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? Reinventing the thriller genre...
or following the "formula"? Five films - each with an interesting experiment! A detailed analysis of each
of the films, the way these thrillers 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.
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NOIR & MYSTERY80 minute MP3 packed with information on writing Film Noir and Mystery scripts. Using examples from CHINATOWN to OUT OF THE PAST to DOUBLE INDEMNITY you'll learn how to create stories in this dark, twisted genre. How to plant clues, red herrings, suspects, victims, spider women, fallen heroes, the funhouse mirror world of noir supporting characters... and the origins of Film Noir in literature Noir dialogue and how noir endings are different than any other genre. All of the critical elements necessary to write in this critically popular genre. The Noir & Mystery Class is only $10!
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IDEAS AND CREATIVITY - 80 minute MP3 packed with information. Tools to find ideas that are both personal *and* commercial. Hollywood wants scripts with High Concept stories... but not stupid scripts. Developing *intelligent* high concept ideas. How to turn your personal story into a blockbuster - or find your personal story in a high concept idea. Brainstorming and being creative. Ideas and Creativity is $10.00!
WRITING INDIES - Writing an Indie film? This class covers everything you need to know - from Central Locations to Confined Cameos. Using examples from SWINGERS, THE COOLER, STATION AGENT and others, this 80 minute MP3 is packed with information. How Indoe films challenge the audience (while mainstream films reassure the audience). Structures, using BOYS DON'T CRY, RUN LOLA RUN, HILARY & JACKIE, and others as example. Writing for a budget, writing for non-actors, getting the most production value out of your budget. Writing Indies is $10.00!
WRITING HORROR - The essentials of a horror screenplay - what do ROSEMARY'S BABY, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE EXORCIST, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE OTHERS and OPEN WATER have in common? This class will tell you! All of the critical elements necessary to write a script that scares the pants off the audience. Writing Horror MP3 is $10.00!
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.)
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!
$4.99 - and no postage!
NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!
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!
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 more. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is once again around 205 pages!
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 well over 200 pages!
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.
Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 170 pages!
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.
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.
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!
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!
Expanded version with more ways to create interesting dialogue! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 50 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 175 pages!
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E BOOKS: New Blue Books and Novelettes!
I am expanding all of the Blue Books from around 44 pages of
text to around 200 pages! Some are over 250 pages! See what is availabale and what is coming soon!Also, I've been writing Novelletes and there
will soon be novels. E BOOKS: BLUE BOOKS & NOVELLETES
MY OTHER SITES
B MOVIE WORLD Cult Films, Exploitation, Bikers & Women In Prison, Monster Movies.
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Each Blue Book is 48
pages and focuses on a different aspect of screenwriting. Dialogue. Visual Storytelling. Your First Ten Pages. Act 2 Booster. Protagonists. Great Endings. Seventeen Blue Books now available!
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