FRIDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:
Remember the series of commercials where two people
would collide, then exclaim: "Hey! You got chocolate in my peanut butter!" "Hey! You
got peanut butter in my chocolate!" - the buddy cop comedy SHOWTIME was the film
version. It feels as if two - or maybe four - office assistants collided in a hallway, script
pages flying. "Hey! You got parody in my ultra-derivative action script!" Because there
isn't enough gig-space on this website to list all of the credited writers on SHOWTIME,
that may have been exactly how this script came to be! It sure doesn't read like
something than someone wrote...
Now that Eddie Murphy came back with DREAMGIRLS and then left again in the awful STARSHIP DAVE (or whatever they called it) and the flop IMAGINE THAT, and now has returned in the brilliant DOLEMITE IS MY NAME and COMING 2 AMERICA...
I thought it would be fun to look
back on some of those movies he did that may not be making his current resume, starting with the all-star flop SHOWTIME (which made a recent list of WORST buddy cop movies of all time).
SHOWTIME begins with a scene that completely undercuts its next scene! It opens
with DeNiro lecturing to a classroom full of kids about being a cop... then goes to a
scene where overly ambitious patrolman Eddie Murphy is playing video games in a
convenience store when a grungy guy comes in to buy an Icee - and Murphy notices
that he's armed. Murphy follows the grungy guy, he pours out the Icee on the street,
sticks his gun in the plastic cup, then enters a store. Sounds okay - but here's the
problem: the grungy guy is DeNiro and we've already established that he's a detective
in the completely out of character scene at the beginning of the film. So we know that
Murphy is making a mistake from the beginning, which makes him look like a moron.
The more Murphy watches DeNiro, the more stupid he seems. We completely lose
identification with him, because we know DeNiro is armed because he's a cop. If we
DIDN'T know that DeNiro was a cop the scene would have been really effective - we
would completely understand Murphy's actions. We know that DeNiro will be his partner
from the poster, but what if this is a 48 HOURS in reverse thing? What if DeNiro is a
crook who has to partner with Murphy? Without the classroom scene, the audience
doesn't know what happens next, with that scene they are miles ahead of the story!
The film continues to splinter as it goes on.
One concept seems to be a parody of reality TV shows - DeNiro and Murphy are
partnered for a reality cop show that might save a failing network, and producer Rene
Russo goes about teaching them to act like movie cops (with the help of William
Shatner, playing himself) and refurnishing the police station and their apartments to
look "more real" (ie: more like TV show cops). DeNiro is assigned a dog, both are given
outlandish cars, new wardrobes... This concept is all about the difference between
reality and TV and how the media changes reality to create Reality TV. It's a comedy
But not for long. Because another concept is parody of Buddy Cop Movies. DeNiro
and Murphy are forced to work together, have their disagreements, get thrown off the
case, and have those moments where they finally open up to each other... except it's all
played with the same tone as AIRPLANE. Everything about these characters is so over
the top that they are cartoons of buddy cops, doing all of the things we've seen a
hundred buddy cops do before them. We laugh at them! They aren't real characters,
The third major concept is in direct conflict with the previous two... It's a standard
buddy cop action movie like LETHAL WEAPON - the kind that's made fun of in the
second concept! The most cliche, poorly plotted buddy cop film you've ever seen -
cliche villains are using these mega-guns to pulls armored car robberies and kill anyone
who gets in their way (there's a scene where they shoot a house to pieces that is
played seriously... except the same scene was played for laughs back in 1980s
HOPSCOTCH with Walter Matthau). This plot is so lame that you wonder why the
crooks aren't in jail 5 minutes after the film starts. Dumb crooks means the protagonists
don't have to be smart to catch them... and do you really want your protagonists to be
It's a floor polish! It's a dessert topping!
These three concepts, and a couple of others, fight for screen time. You never
know whether this scene is supposed to be a parody, or a reality. Are DeNiro and
Murphy buffoons like in AIRPLANE or are they supposed to be reality-based
characters? The film tries to have it both ways, and as a result succeeds at neither.
When we find out that DeNiro is divorced and lonely, is that real or parody?
And we keep getting additional subplots that have nothing to do with the story - they
just serve to dilute it. To keep your script focused, you need to chose ONE concept.
Subplots are fine, but they will be part of the main plot - like splinter beams from a
prism. Each beam illustrates a different aspect of the main conflict or shows a different
step in the solution of the main conflict. Dealing with each subplot moves your
protagonist closer to the solution of the main plot.
To keep your script moving you need a strong external conflict
- an obstacle that comes between the protagonist and their goal. ONE conflict. Not a
scattershot group of conflicts. What does the evil villain have to do with the reality TV
show? If we removed the reality TV show concept, there would be no impact at all on
the villain & big guns concept. If we removed the villain, the reality show concept would
actually work better. There would be more time to explore the way TV changes reality to
create entertainment, and we could FOCUS on how DeNiro deals with this. Instead we
have too many concepts at war with each other - and none of them get enough time to
work. The pieces are all from different puzzles, so they don't add up to a picture. It's
just a mess.
For your script to work, someone has to want something and
someone else wants to keep them from obtaining it. One conflict
per story... One main concept per story. Every subplot is a way to explore the conflict in your
main plot. All of the pieces are from the same puzzle. All of the pages need to seem like
they are from the same script. Your screenplay needs to be one focused story about a
character in conflict... not like the result of two office boys with scripts colliding in a
hallway. One script = one main concept.
Don't over complicate things, or try to be all movies to all people.
* Who is your protagonist?
* What does your protagonist want?
* What keeps them from getting what they want (something physical)?
* What is the emotional problem they have to deal with to get what they want?
* What happens if the fail? What is at stake?
Write up the logline for your screenplay. That is the story you are telling, not some other story.
Meanwhile, Eddie is still the comeback kid - and proof that no matter how many flops he makes like SHOWTIME, he will always have a place on cinema screens.
Can You Make It bigger?
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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!
OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC Blue Book.
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.
DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!
DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book.
IS HALF OF YOUR STORY IN TROUBLE?
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?
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THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!
*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Kindle!
*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Nook!
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READY TO BREAK IN?
*** BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!
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Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!
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*** 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!
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MOVIES ARE CHARACTERS!
*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Kindle!
*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Nook!
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!
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*** 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!
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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.
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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.
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I WRITE PICTURES!
*** 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!
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*** 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!
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PRO DIALOGUE TECHNIQUES!
*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!
*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!
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 PAGE
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.
FIRST STRIKE PRODUCTIONS
Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.
NAKED SCREENWRITING MP3s
The NAKED SCREENWRITING CLASS ON MP3!
The 2001 London Class on 8 MP3s! Recorded *live* the morning after the Raindance Film Festival
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BOOKLETS & PRODUCTS
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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!
THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING The Best Nuts & Bolts Screenwriting Book On The
nineteen produced films, interviews with me in magazines,
several sample scripts, my available scripts list... And MORE!
CLASSES ON MP3
CLASSES ON MP3! Take a class on MP3! GUERRILLA MARKETING - NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM! and WRITING THRILLERS (2 Full length classes on MP3). Now Available: IDEAS & CREATIVITY, WRITING HORROR, WRITING INDIE FILMS, more!
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