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Killer Premises: It’s All In The Execution?

BEWARE: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS Scribes seem to always bemoan the fact *their* premise has been used already in a film. Very often you’ll read on an online forum a writer saying they “can’t” pursue a script because a produced movie is *practically* the same. Other times a writer will press on only to be put off by feedback and/or their colleagues’ insistence the idea is “too derivative” of a particular movie. Yet the “pre-sold” notion – this idea that audiences are already familiar with a particularly story and its characters – is actually GOOD NEWS for writers. I don’t… Read More »Killer Premises: It’s All In The Execution?

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WATCHMEN: Mini Text Review

NO REAL SPOILERSAs you know, my spies are everywhere, reporting back to me all things of screenwriterly/movie interest. This week alone I have received reports of Keira Knightley (or someone who looks rather like her) in a coffee shop in Soho and someone off Eastenders having an argument on their mobile in the middle of the street. However, my favourite has to be this mini review of the film WATCHMEN I received last night: Hey, I rmbr [your lad] saying he couldn’t wait to see the film Watchmen. Well I’ve just seen it – don’t let him!! Apart from it… Read More »WATCHMEN: Mini Text Review

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The Story Engine, Notes, Pt 3: Features, Training, Scriptreading, Simon Beaufoy

Here’s the final instalment of the marvellous Helen’s notes – some interesting realities about the industry here in particular. Read on…————————————————————————————–My First Feature (sponsored by Northern Lights Film Festival) David Lemon discusses his experience of writing Faintheart with Brian Gordon, the director of NLFF. David Lemon – writer of Faintheart He won the myspace movie mashup competition. He wrote it in 2005 and developed it through taps.org. Slingshot Studios had a £250-£500K microbudget but the Director got in touch with Vertigo Films and eventually Film 4, the Film Council were also involved. There were 12 producers, some had more input… Read More »The Story Engine, Notes, Pt 3: Features, Training, Scriptreading, Simon Beaufoy

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Preaching To The Converted? 6 Of The Best — Drama

Your Honour, members of the jury: we are gathered here today to discuss the impact of feature length dramas on an audience… Though drama is indeed my favourite (yes, possibly even above my beloved Horror), it has long been my belief such fare has no impact whatsoever in changing the attitudes of their viewers. Why? Because the very viewers such films attract already possess the beliefs and values explored by the drama in question – hence the audience watching said dramas in the first place: like attracts like. But don’t take my word for it; I will demonstrate. [Box Office… Read More »Preaching To The Converted? 6 Of The Best — Drama

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WTF? On Film 4: The Running Man

As regular readers know, I’ve always had a soft spot for Arnie, probably becuase he’s always been in the kind of movies I favour – the ones with monsters, extreme violence and quirky quips. My Dad was a big fan in the middle of Arnie’s heyday, so it was kind of inevitable: he had all the Big Man’s movies on VHS. We’d watch Arnie’s comedies like Twins together – but I was told I was SO grounded if I watched the likes of The Running Man or Predator. Hah. By the time I got to secondary school in 1990, I… Read More »WTF? On Film 4: The Running Man

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WTF? On Film 3: Van Helsing

SPOILERS DELUXE I can just imagine the Execs who commissioned VAN HELSING: “Get me a screenwriter who can deliver a script based on the Dracula myth… but make it new and make sure there’s some like, ninja stars/mini buzz saws in it. Oh: and Frankenstein. And Jekyll & Hyde. And monks. And hell! Let’s shove some werewolves in too, why not? But make sure there’s a reason FOR ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING IN IT – except maybe the ninja star/buzz saws, we’ll let them off that one. And call Hugh Jackman, he looks good with his shirt off, maybe he carry long… Read More »WTF? On Film 3: Van Helsing

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WTF? On Film 2: Doomsday

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS I had high hopes for Doomsday: the trailer looked cool I thought and I’d enjoyed both of writer/directior Neil Marshall’s previous efforts, The Descent and Dog Soldiers, bar a few minor quibbles over character. But horror is not *usually* noted for sympathetic characters and let’s face it, the boys in Dog Soldiers had some killer lines: “So if Red Riding Hood turns up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I want you to chin the bitch!” Plus The Descent was one of the few horror movies to freak me out so royally I needed to… Read More »WTF? On Film 2: Doomsday

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WTF? On Film 1: Silent Hill

MEGA SPOILERS PRESENT When I first watched Silent Hill, I had no idea it was previously a video game. Even if I had, I doubt it would have deterred me; though I have never played on form of games system in my entire life (that’s right!) and have zero interest in computer games generally, I am actually of the opinion video games *can* create interesting, fun, movies – just as I believe comic books (sorry! GRAPHIC NOVELS) can too. And I wasn’t disappointed by Silent Hill (for the first three quarters anyway, but I’ll come back to that in a… Read More »WTF? On Film 1: Silent Hill

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Scene Focus 3: Readers Versus Writers

As my final word on this series, I thought I would take a look at the decisions we make in pushing the story forward with our scenes throughout our scripts. Very often scenes are good in the spec script: the dialogue may be well-drawn, the characters interesting – yet the scene does little to move the story forward. But what does this mean? Well, as a reader, very often I will read a scene and wonder how it “fits” in the bigger picture of the script itself. It’s as basic as that. It appears to me as a reader (rightly… Read More »Scene Focus 3: Readers Versus Writers

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Festive Favourites

Here’s some Christmas clips to feast your eyes on… The Muppets’ Christmas Carol – Marley & Marley Gremlins – “Get Out Of My Kitchen!” American Psycho – “Have A Holly, Jolly Christmas” The Grinch – “I’m Booked!” And finally – perhaps one of the craziest, daftest movies ever, yet I somehow can’t resist it… I first watched it the day after I had had Lilirose and nearly had a haemorrhage from laughing so much (I thought the brothers’ fights were particularly true to life, or maybe I just grew up in a war zone??). Enjoy! Just Friends – All the… Read More »Festive Favourites

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Another Course For Screenwriters

Initialize Films would like everyone to know they’re running a course in the new year for those of you who want to get your first feature script written. It’s really good value – just £195 (+ VAT) for eight sessions over eight weeks. Don’t forget Skillset does bursaries for this sorta thing too, but if you don’t ask you don’t get!! ———————————————————————————PROJECT DEVELOPMENT – FEATURE SCREENPLAY DEVELOPMENT (FIRST DRAFT) “I had never written a script before but after taking this course I now have a feature script with an established producer. I can’t rate it highly enough!”
Pavel Barter, Screenwriter Who… Read More »Another Course For Screenwriters

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Scripts I’ve Seen # 5: TRAIL OF EVIL by JK Amalou

You may have seen JK Amalou’s name on the SP Screenwriters’ list – like me, he offers a script reading service for you lot out in www.land, but unlike me, he’s written, produced and directed his own films, not to mention worked in the US as a writer and consultant for all sorts of Hollywood Tinsel types, including Martin Scorsese and Richard Gladstein. JK is a trusted reader and contact of mine and I’m pleased to say over time he’s trusted me with all his scripts too. I’ve been quite privileged to see such a body of work (oo er)… Read More »Scripts I’ve Seen # 5: TRAIL OF EVIL by JK Amalou

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