Writer / Director / Producer Lou Simon talks about her fourth feature film, All Girls Weekend.
Screenwriter Shane Weisfeld talks about selling his screenplay Freezer, starring Dylan McDermott, all while living in Toronto.
Writer / Director Curt Wiser Talks About His New Thriller Feature Film, Cam-Girl.
Writer / Director Christian Sesma Talks About Vigilante Diaries
Writer / Director JT Mollner Talks About His New Feature Film, the western Outlaws And Angels with Luke Wilson.
Rick Ramage talks about his long screenwriting career writing such films as Stigmata and The Proposition.
Stephan Bugaj and Justin Sloan from the Creative Writing Career Podcast talk about making a living as a writer.
"Don't Breathe" breathes new life into the tropes of horror.
It's hard to find new ways to spin tales of terror, but this one surely does. Written by Fred Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, and directed by Alvarez, "Don't Breathe" is a deceptively simple tale of a robbery gone wrong when the three perps discover that the blind old man they're robbing is one resourceful Iraq War vet. Suddenly, their prey becomes the predator, and he locks the robbers in his haunted house filled with secret corridors, hostage rooms, and other scary surprises. The story takes what could have been cliché characters and obvious set pieces and turns them into something more complex and riveting. Perhaps the biggest shock in this film, one that's filled with them, is how much surprise the filmmakers add to nearly every frame.
"...The biggest problem with Suicide Squad is not Jared Leto's method acting antics. It's not the egos of all the many stars that were involved. It's not even the many places where the logic of the script just doesn't make sense.
The real problem with Suicide Squad is the problem of too many good ideas.
This is actually one of the most common things that we see in screenplays: too many good ideas. And when you get attached to having too many good ideas what ends up happening is that all the ideas end up suffering.
So what's the difference between too many good ideas and too few? And how do know if you're building ideas that are going to work together, and build together structurally, so you can avoid ending up with script soup..."
This is a recording of a live teleconference from Saturday, August 20, 2016...
Jacob Krueger has been a friend of the ISA for years. We've supported his Jacob Krueger Studio in multiple ways, and he has done the same for the ISA. We consider Jacob and his WriteYourScreenplay.com as part of the ISA family, so it's ironic that this is the first time he and I have jumped on a podcast together! In this recording of a live teleconference, Jacob and I discuss the intricate elements of his approach to story by way of seven acts, and how three acts may be the industry standard, but it doesn't necessarily help a writer during the writing process, specifically. I especially love his approach to the acts as being a series of choices - one choice after another that then allows for a more structured and character-motivated approach to building your story. He isn't throwing out the old Syd Field way of breaking a story, he's merely allowing a writer to dive much deeper into his/her script, and developing a much more emotional and conflict-oriented adventure. Even though this teleconference was a bit shorter than usual, it's packed with excellent tips, advice, and insights which is the norm any time Jacob grabs the mic.
Welcome back to The Craft, everyone! My name's Max and folks, we're on episode 20 of this podcast! I'll be honest - I never expected to go much further than 12 episodes since my initial inkling when I considered hosting a solo podcast was to just cover the process of sequential writing. 12 sequences, 12 episodes. But this has evolved into something pretty fun, and it seems that you actually enjoy listening to me ramble on and on. Most of my friends get glassy eyes when I start rambling, which, I suppose, I don't blame them. I'm a talker and usually say more than necessary. But what I've noticed about this podcast series is that it has kind of turned into a bit of an audio diary for myself, because as most solo podcasts go, I'm just sitting here talking into a microphone with no one else around. And most of the time, I just have a basic concept or theme I want to touch upon and suddenly, boom, I have a 15-minute podcast episode. I usually surprise even myself that I have so much to say about the craft of writing.
"Florence Foster Jenkins" is a movie that hits all the right notes.
One of the best comedies of the year is "Florence Foster Jenkins." It's about an American socialite in the 1940's who fancied herself an exquisite soprano, but couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Meryl Streep plays the title character and earns guffaws every time she sings badly, but this sophisticated entertainment has a lot more on its mind than easy laughs. It's actually a deft character study about her complex marriage to her greatest fan and enabler St. Clair Bayfield (a never better Hugh Grant).
Nicholas Martin's script has a lot to say about what constitutes love and marriage, as well as the pursuit of one's dreams. It may be a period piece but it serves as a deft commentary on fame and talent, especially in our reality TV age. Veteran director Stephen Frears puts it all together perfectly, from the detailed costumes to the vivid production design to the clever cast of supporting players, including a sweetly meek Simon Helberg as Florence's embarrassed accompanist. Few movies can be described as both hilarious and poignant, but this special film is indeed that.
It's something we all need to deal with and there is no getting around it! Rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. Welcome back to The Craft, everyone. I'm jumping back into a regular schedule, here, and I'll do my best at keeping up the momentum. Last episode I talked about writer's block and, well, how and why writer's block is pretty much a whole bunch of bullshit and to quote Terry Pratchett, "something invented by people in California who couldn't write". This episode, as I already said, I'll be discussing rewriting. But because rewriting is such a layered, involved, and subjective process, meaning it's different for every project and for every writer, this will be a relatively shorter episode. I don't want to completely confuse everyone, but at the same time, it's a subject that absolutely needs to be discussed. It is also a process that truly needs a helping hand. In other words, please try to not go through the rewriting process on your own and without support. I stress this all the time. Hire a consultant. Take a writing class. Get into a writer's group. The first draft process is one thing, but the rewriting process is an entirely different monster.
Hell or High Water is a modern western, as well as a nuanced morality tale.
Just when you thought the entire summer was lost to disappointing comedies and superhero movies, along comes Hell or High Water. It's a chase movie, modern western, and an astute character study of desperate people in Texas doing what they can to survive, even if that means robbing banks. It's also one of 2016's best movies - a taut and suspenseful tale filled with rich performances from top to bottom.
There are no black hats or white hats in this script. The banks robbing brothers driving the story are relatable and sympathetic, and Chris Pine and Ben Foster portray them as complex antiheroes. Equally as nuanced are the Texas lawmen, played by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, talking smack with each other while hot on the brothers' trail. Taylor Sheridan's character-driven script and David Mackenzie's mindful direction bring a decimated America, still reeling from the 2008 banking crisis, to vivid life onscreen.
Here's my definition of writer's block. One word. Lazy. And I'm fully responsible for being just as "lazy" as anyone else. I'm completely including myself in this mix, so I'm not separating myself here. Why did I tell you all that my last two months have been so busy? Ya know? Why did I go into that little diatribe early on in this episode. A) to let you know what I've been up to, obviously, but because more importantly, B) I made a choice to focus on something other than my personal writing during those two months. I didn't have writer's block. Even when I knew I had time during those two months to sit down and write, I didn't say to myself, "Oh, I can't come up with anything to write. I'm blocked." No, my energy wasn't focused on my writing and so I made an excuse and then a choice that I would do something else. Maybe the choice wasn't a conscious one, but it was still a choice.
The TV market and industry has changed so much in such a short period of time - we all know that - but I wanted to get an in-depth analysis of the other side of the TV world, so I brought on two veteran ad agency executives, Andy Bryant and Charlie Mawer. Their London-based Red Bee creative agency has worked on branding campaigns for Doctor Who, Sherlock, The Walking Dead, and a bunch more, but because they have been working in the TV branding world for so long, and because they recently released a book titled, "TV Brand Builders: How To Win Audiences and Influence Viewers", I wanted to get their behind the scenes perspective of the ever-evolving world of TV in general.
"Suicide Squad" continues DC's difficulty with adapting their titles for the big screen.
If you thought "Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice" had story problems and seemed like it was made by people who didn't know the properties they were adapting, wait till you get a load of "Suicide Squad." This superhero movie about a group of bad-ass villains on a dangerous mission to save the world may have had eager fans lined up to see it opening weekend, but what they saw was super disappointing.
This actioner should have been a fun and nasty romp, but it's a hodge-podge of too many characters, too much story, and too few laughs. It wanted to be DC's answer to Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" but it's woefully lacking in wit and exciting set-pieces. Will Smith, Viola Davis and Jared Leto are among those stranded in this hot mess written and directed by David Ayer. Warner Bros. certainly knows how to adapt DC titles for the small screen, but this big budgeted movie arrived in Cineplex's DOA.
"Batman: The Killing Joke" misfires as an adaptation of a classic graphic novel.
Producer Bruce Timm has been making brilliant and beloved adaptations of DC's most popular superhero since 1992's "Batman: The Animated Series" for WB Kids. But his stellar record now has a blemish on it what with this misbegotten adaptation of "Batman: The Killing Joke." Perhaps Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's 1988 graphic novel should have remained unfilmed, as its controversial story is dated and extremely polarizing. Even Moore distances himself from it today. But Timm and company bravely attempted an animation take on it and it's wrong on most every level.
The cartooning style drawn here looks far too friendly for a narrative whose main story beats include Joker shooting Batgirl in the abdomen and paralyzing her, as well as kidnapping and torturing her beleaguered father Commissioner Gordon. Yet Timm and company add more insult to those injuries by creating a Batgirl back story that has her sexually tryst with Batman. Even the return of Bruce Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (The Joker) reviving their iconic vocal performances from the 1992 show can't rescue this botched adaptation that blunders from first frame to last. No joke.
"The Infiltrator" has problems digging deeper into its drug trade story.
The true story of how customs agent Robert Mazur brought down the Escobar drug cartel in the early 90's is at the center of "The Infiltrator" and should have made for one taut, involving thriller. It almost does, but its rather conventional script robs it of true tension and surprise. Character arcs are started and drift away by the 30-minute mark. Themes are set up and then never heard from again. And Mazur's undercover sting operation is so expertly executed at every turn that his safety never really seems to be in question.
Still, this movie is supremely well-acted, with Bryan Cranston adding edgy layers to Mazur that are not in the script. He's ably supported by Diane Kruger, John Leguizamo and Benjamin Bratt performing similar feats with their characters. The drug trade is a terrifying world and this examination of it should have had the audience on the edge of its seat from start to finish. It does occasionally, but with a more intoxicating script, it would have truly gotten under our skin.