MONDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:

WHEN YOU WANT TO HURT THE WORLD


Your villain has spent his entire life hurting people one by one, and now he's ready to move on to world destruction and/or domination. He wants to blow up Cleveland or wipe out his enemies' family lines. How do you make such massive destruction personal?

Buy the death of Bond DVDs

Everyone thought that Daniel Craig was going to be the downfall of the Bond series. He's blond, he's short, he has blue eyes, he gets his teeth kicked out in fights, he can't drive a stick, he's just not anything like James Bond! Ends up that all of that message board angst was meaningless - Craig turns out to be a great Bond, and CASINO ROYALE has re-energized the series... at least until QUANTUM OF SOLACE killed it for a moment before SKYFALL brought it back full force. But let's forget QUANTUM even exists. CASINO ROYALE *was* your father's James Bond - Craig brings the same savage brutality to the role as Connery did, but unlike QUANTUM, CASINO still had the gloss and wit and travelogue elements we expect from a Bond movie. M calls him a "blunt instrument" and that's exactly what he is - a sledgehammer slamming anything that gets in his way. A bull in a china shop (as opposed to QUANTUM, where he is a bull in an ugly crap filled bull ring - no contrast). Craig is no pretty boy, he shows his acting chops by having Bond move like a gorilla (in the Ursula Andress scene) and later in the film you can see the emotional pain from betrayal on his face... before he puts his armor back on.

The first film with a new Bond is usually pretty good, then they tend to get silly. GOLDENEYE breathed new life into the series, but a couple of films later Brosnan was doing shtick right out of a Roger Moore Bond movie. I hope this time around they keep on track and keep the rough edges. THUNDERBALL opens with Bond paying his respects to the widow of a French spy... by savagely slugging her in the face! Knocking off her wig, and exposing her as the supposedly dead French spy in drag! What follows is a *brutal* fist fight using everything in the room as a weapon - the kind of realistic fight scene that looks like stuntmen may have been injured while filming it. The kind of stuff we expected to see in a Connery Bond film. I think that fight scene may have been a model for the fight scene in BOURNE IDENTITY in Bourne's apartment, where they use everything on the desk as a weapon (pen shoved through a hand!) That kind of realistic action scene is what made BOURNE a hit... and made BOND movies seem silly and dull.

CASINO ROYALE is obviously in response to BOURNE - bringing us back full circle. If past Bond films would have been more like this the series would have never produced all of those duds they had to package with a couple of good films to get you to buy them. We start out in black and white with a savage fight scene in a men's room where not a single piece of porcelain isn't smashed by somebody's face. It's ragged and bloody and real. Then we get the cooler side of Bond as he dispassionately shoots a traitor. Now that he has his second kill, he's officially a double 0 agent - licensed to kill (I guess the first two were on a learner's permit).

SMALL AND PERSONAL

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The rest of the action scenes in the film keep it small and personal - we get a fantastic foot chase instead of a less-personal car chase. Bond chases a bomb maker through Madagascar - the bomb maker using parkur - that French urban running discipline where you run *over* obstacles like cars and fences and buildings and climb up the sides of cranes - this is one of the most exciting chase scenes I've ever seen in a Bond movie. Keeping with the idea of Bond as a blunt instrument, he uses a bulldozer at one point to smash through a fence and a stack of building materials. In a great bit of role-reversal, Bond and the bomb maker end up on the top of a crane high over the city - the bombmaker empties his gun at Bond - missing him - then does what the hero does in this situation: throws the gun at Bond's face. Bond catches the gun and throws it back! That's a great action gag!

We also get a great fight scene *inside* a tanker truck that is reminiscent of the truck fight in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK - lots of amazing stunts all over a speeding truck. Plus an amazing fight scene against one guy with a gun and another with a machete in a stairwell. The machete *sparks* off the railing when it isn't slicing through Bond's shirt. Both are savage, realistic, brutal fight scenes that have more energy than the last three Bond films combined. A great combination of writing, direction, stunts and acting. The only gadget is Bond's fists (if you can excuse the ridiculous glove box defribulator - why didn't they just have him use one in the hotel? Public buildings are more likely to have a defribulator than a car). This is the most exciting Bond film in decades... so why does the end seem to drag on forever?

VILLAIN'S PLAN?

All of the attention seemed to be focused on reinventing Bond, and none seemed to be focused on the Villain's Plan - and the most important thing in any action film is the Villain's Plan.

Le Chiffre's plan is... A reasonable rate of return on investment.

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He's a banker to terrorists and third world dictators. Though CASINO ROYALE never falls into the trap of discussing banking, the way PHANTOM MENACE spends too much time on taxes, having a banker as villain is still kind of dull. Mads Mikkelsen gives a marvelous performance as Le Chiffre, who has some of the standard Bond Villain quirks: he uses an inhaler and has tears of blood due to some injury that corrupted his tear ducts. Plus he's a ruthless banker, and not entirely honest. He tells his terrorist clients that he will not risk any of their money... and then gambles it all by selling short on an airline stock. Of course, he has a plan - to blow up the prototype of a new SkyBus style super plane. Bond prevents this from happening, and now Le Chiffre has to recoup the money before the terrorists and third world dictators notice it missing - so he organizes a game of high stakes poker in Montenegro's Casino Royale. Now the villain's plan is to win at poker - only slightly better than banking.

M sends Bond in to play poker against Le Chiffre, warning him that, "If you lose our government will have directly funded terrorism".

THE "OR ELSE FACTOR"

When James Bond plays a friendly game of poker with Le Chiffre in CASINO ROYALE, the fate of the world should be in his hand. If he's dealt the wrong cards, he needs to find some way to play them to win. The problem with the film is that there is no "or else factor" - no concrete consequences. If Bond loses the poker game, he will have funded terrorists... but to do what? That's a vague consequence. We don't have specific terrorist act that winning this poker game will prevent. It would have been better if the terrorists had a mission they were going to use the missing money for - and when Le Chiffre lost the money in the stock market, that was a big problem. This adds even more motivation for Le Chiffre to win the poker game, and more motivation for *Bond* to win the game. It's not just about some money that terrorists might use someday, winning the game means preventing the terrorists from doing something awful. That makes the game itself more exciting.

So when Bond wins at cards, he prevents a *specific* terrorist act.

A good villain's plan is something that threatens the audience sitting in the cinema. We want our hero to stop the villain because if he doesn't bad things will happen to *us*.

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In the script for my HBO World Premiere film CRASH DIVE!, a group of terrorists have hijacked a 688 Attack Class nuclear submarine, and are threatening to nuke Washington DC. Because I realized that might sound like a good idea to some audience members, I added the threat of firing at a random "small town" target as well. Like the very city where you're watching the movie CRASH DIVE! on HBO... in the "safety" of your own home. Wasn't so safe after all! Now you, the viewer, have a stake in the outcome.

In CASINO ROYALE, if Le Chiffre wins the card game... well, something somewhere might or might not happen. Not a threat to the audience in the cinema, and really not much of threat at all. Bond must win the card game or else... ?

Since the Villain's Plan is to win the poker game, that turns a game of cards into the pivotal scene in the movie... and they don't make the card game very exciting. We've had all of these great action scenes, and the best they can do in the card game is have Bond gamble recklessly in order to spot Le Chiffre's "tell". Not much tension built with the gambling itself - even though poker can be an exciting game to watch (which is why at any time of day or night you can turn on ESPN and watch people playing poker). They just decided it wasn't important to make this pivotal game exciting... nor to give any of the others at the table any character. There are ten people playing poker against each other, but only Bond and Le Chiffre seem to matter. The others get almost no dialogue and no character at all! Hey, Bond has to win against *them*, too! Keeping the other eight players out of the story really becomes silly when one of them ends up being CIA agent Felix Leiter (who helps Bond in almost every film). You mean that dude in the background of the poker game shots was *important*?

Bond does get the greatest line in the movie in this scene - after almost getting killed in an action scene between hands, he asks the waiter for a martini. "Shaken or stirred?" Bond replies, "Does it look like I give a damn?"

SPOILERS!

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Okay, so after the poker game, which Bond wins, Le Chiffre kidnaps the really hot British Treasury gal Vesper Lind (the love interest) and sets a trap for Bond... which Bond falls into! Now Le Chiffre gets to torture Bond using the same methods that kids use on their dads in about half the clips on AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS - trying to get him to tell the secret password for the bank account where the poker winnings have been deposited. Despite the overused torture (which was brutal and fresh when the book was published in 1953), it's a pretty good scene because it allows Le Chiffre and Bond to face off against each other. But once the poker game is over, the film is pretty much over... and this torture scene ends with some dude walking through the door and killing Le Chiffre. Since the villain is the driving force in any action film; once the villain is dead, the movie is over. We're grabbing our coats, preparing to leave...

Except there are almost 40 minutes left in CASINO ROYALE!

And that's the problem.

What has been moving at a good clip so far, now grinds to a stop. There is no villain, no villain's plan, nothing for Bond to prevent. The story is basically over - except for almost 40 minutes of stuff happening. Bond has nothing to do.... and no pressing reason to do anything. There is no longer an "or else factor". He has the money in a numbered Swiss account - so the terrorists didn't win. They can't do something somewhere someday... whatever that might have been.

With no threat, no consequences, no "or else factor", we end up with a protracted and dull third act. CASINO ROYALE turns into a romance. We get a never ending sequence of Bond recuperating in a hospital as Vesper stays by his side. A lose end tied up with a possible double agent captured. A love scene in the rain. A love scene on the beach. Bond tells Vesper, " I have no armor left, you've stripped it from me." A love scene on a sailboat. Bond tells Versper that he loves her. Another love scene in a Venice hotel... and we "get it" after the *first* love scene! In fact, we got it much earlier in a scene during the poker sequence where Bond comforts Vesper in the shower after an action scene - it's a tender and romantic scene. Bond shows that he has feelings for her that aren't just about her amazing cleavage.

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The film drags on and on and on! Eventually they introduce a *new* villain, some dude with half sunglasses that we know absolutely nothing about. But the Half Sunglass dude allows us a final action scene in a crumbing building - but there is still no "or else factor" - no consequences. It really doesn't matter if Bond wins the fight or not. He kidnaps Vesper at one point, but at that point their relationship is over and Bond actually wants to kill her for betraying him. If he just walks away, nothing happens - in fact, Half Sunglasses will kill Vesper - and save Bond the trouble. All of the cards were played half an hour ago, and nothing that Bond does at this point in the story really matters.

All of this could have been prevented if the terrorists had an actual mission they were going to use the missing money for... so that we still has something for Bond to do after Le Chiffre is dead. If, from the very beginning we knew the terrorists were going to use the money for something like buying a nuke from North Korea and detonating it in Venice at the height of tourist season (you know, Venice gets so many tourists that they're thinking about charging around $3 per person to enter the city). That way, preventing Le Chiffre from wining the poker game prevents that very tangible act of terrorism. When Vesper screws him out of the money, the terrorist act is back on. This makes the terrorist leader the new villain for act 3... but the villain's plan is pretty much the same throughout the story.

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Now, you can decide whether Bond just gets the money back and kills the terrorist leader dude before they buy the nuke (preventing it financially) or whether he gets to make that choice between cutting the red wire or the blue wire like in every other Bond film. Either way works. But the film right now has no consequences if Bond fails. And the only "terrorist act" we see on film is an attempt to blow up a completely empty plane in order to drive a stock price down... not something that really matters to the audience. No threat... unless you were invested in that mythical airline, too. Oh, and sold short on the same day. Hmm, okay, there's no possible threat to anyone in the audience.

Any movie idea (regardless of genre) is going to have an *or else factor*. The protagonist must resolve the conflict, *or else*...

These are the consequences for failure. If there are no consequences, the stakes are meaningless. What happens if your protagonist doesn't solve the problem? What is your protagonist risking in your screenplay? The greater the risk, the greater the reward... and the more interesting your story.

The reason why we seldom see a standard murder mystery on screen is that there is no "or else factor" involved. If the hero fails, what happens? The killer just isn't caught. The dead guy remains dead - no change in his condition. This probably explains why, when we do have a detective story, it's about a serial killer. If the detective doesn't catch the killer they will kill again. A movie like SEVEN is all about preventing the next murder by solving the current murder.

What is the *or else factor* in your story? How will not resolving the conflict bring about the end of the world for your protagonist? Will he end up alone and unloved because his one true love has married somebody else? Will the forces of evil take over The Shire? Will LeChiffre's winning fund terrorist acts that will kill millions of people? Look at your story and ask yourself "or else".....what?

Of course, in retrospect, the Villian's Plan in CASINO ROYALE is pure genius compared with whatever was going on in QUANTUM - cornering the market on water? Pretending to be environmentalists in order to fiendishly buy and clearcut forests? The Villian's Plan in QUANTUM is almost as silly as the villain's henchman - Bowl Cut! (like Odd Job... but pathetically weak and with a bad haircut). SKYFALL made the Villain's Plan personal - but used the exposure of deep cover agents to create a global threat. The Villain's Plan doesn't have to be world domination, but it needs to be something worth sending out James Bond to prevent.

Does your Villain's Plan make sense? Does it affect the audience? Are they included in the threat (either through active participation or vicariously through your protagonist)? If not, you need to re-think your Villain's Plan... that's the most important element in an action or thriller script.


COMING SOON!

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THE MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MOVIES

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 100,000 words of fun info!

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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!

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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.

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DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!

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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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NEW AND HOT!

*** STRUCTURING YOUR STORY *** - For Kindle!


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!

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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!

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KINDA NEW!

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This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock's 52 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock's *silent* films! We'll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

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What is a scene and how many you will need? The difference between scenes and sluglines. Put your scenes on trial for their lives! Using "Jaws" we'll look at beats within a scene. Scene DNA. Creating set pieces and high concept scenes. A famous director talks about creating memorable scenes. 12 ways to create new scenes. Creating unexpected scenes. Use dramatic tension to supercharge your scenes. Plants and payoffs in scenes. Plus transitions and buttons and the all important "flow"... and more! Over 65,000 words! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 210 pages!

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Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!

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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.

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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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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!

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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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hcd

FINAL DRAFT SOFTWARE

Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays. Its ease-of-use and time-saving features have attracted writers for almost two decades positioning Final Draft as the Professional Screenwriters Choice. Final Draft power users include Academy, Emmy and BAFTA award winning writers like Oliver Stone, Tom Hanks, Alan Ball, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and more. * * * Buy It!

copyright 2018 by William C. Martell


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SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING

bluebook IT'S BACK! SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING
Over 460 pages packed with tips and techniques. How to write a plot twist, the four kinds of suspense (and how to create it), reversals, ten ways to invent new action scenes, secrets and lies, creating the ultimate villain, five kinds of love interests, MORE! CLICK HERE!

CLASSES ON CD

Class CDs CLASSES ON CD! Take a class on CD! GUERRILLA MARKETING - NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM! and WRITING THRILLERS (2 CDs). Full length classes on CD. Now Available: IDEAS & CREATIVITY, WRITING HORROR, WRITING INDIE FILMS, more!
Take classes on CD!

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 CDs

Naked Class The NAKED SCREENWRITING CLASS ON CD! The 2001 London Class on 8 CDs! Recorded *live* the morning after the Raindance Film Festival wrapped. The two day class on 8CDs, plus a workbook, plus a bonus CD.
The 2 Day Class on CD!

BOOKSTORE

Every screenwriting book in the world!
SCREENWRITER'S BOOKSTORE
In Association With Amazon.com
From the latest screenwriting book to guides for finding agents and producers... all with at the Amazon.com discount!

ONLINE CLASSES
Furious Action Class
SCRIPT SECRETS STORE

Script Secret Store SCRIPT SECRETS STORE From Typing Monkey coffee cups to messenger bags to T shirts - everything a screenwriter needs to look sharp while working on that Oscar nomination! Get your Script Secrets Coffee Cup today!

BILL'S CORNER

My nineteen produced films, interviews with me in magazines, several sample scripts, my available scripts list... And MORE!
...............................BILL'S CORNER


Available Scripts

E BOOKS PAGE

bluebook 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

BOOKLETS & PRODUCTS

bluebook FIRST STRIKE BLUE BOOKS
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 OUT OF PRINT!