Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Script Tip July 21, 2011
By Marilyn Horowitz
So often, characters onscreen reveal physical characteristics that reflect the inward person, their history, trials and tribulations, and how they deal with it. In The Wrestler – faded, has-been wrestler Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, played by Mickey Rourke, reveals his past and present without saying a word – through the way he moves, his scars, the long scraggly hair, his pain-pill popping, and clothing.
As seen in the movie, these are not merely the genius and hard work of producer-director Darren Aronofsky, production designer Tim Grimes, art director Matthew Munn and key makeup artist Judy Chin, it all started with writer Rob Siegel as in a scene in the opening montage – where Randy is shown in his glory days – then in the present.
“Present day. Post-match. Randy, pushing 50, still with the same long, dyed-blond mane, sits on a bench in the boys locker room of a Wilmington, Delaware high school.
CHYRON: 20 YEARS LATER
He pulls off his purple spandex wrestling tights. Lime-green
ram's horns run up the sides. They're the same kind of tights
as in the `80s pics----and may well be the actual same pair.”
Here's the exercise:
1. Get a mental picture of your main character, their physical characteristics – clothing, way of moving, tics, physical habits and you, the writer, adopt some physical attribute: such as; sitting the way that they would – slumped or upright.
2. Set a timer for 5-15 minutes, then write a scene.
3. “Writing” as your character, in the first person, compose a story about their glory days - what made them that way - how they got the scars, that fight they won, falling down, when they were on top of the world – as in the photo of Randy standing on the top rope, his bent arms pressed against the sides of his head like RAM'S HORNS. Try to take the story a little further than where it naturally ends.
4. As you work on your script, notice how the story and the resulting physical limitation affect the character’s behavior.
5. Now focus on your obstacle/villain. Imagine a similar scene, such as, in Batman, when the Joker falls into the vat of acid which permanently scars him. This scene reveals when and why the Joker became a super-villain.
6. Set a timer for 5-15 minutes, then write a scene.
7. “Writing” as your villain/obstacle, in the first person, compose a story about what made them look, and move, this way. Try to take the story a little further than where it naturally ends.
8. As you work on your script, notice how the story and the resulting physical limitation affect the villain’s behavior.
In summary, the bumps, trials and tribulations growing up make us who we are, inwardly and outwardly, and this is also true of our characters. By including these experiences in our character’s development, we cannot help but to improve our screenplays.
To read The Wrestler script, check out this link on IMSDB
Copyright 2011 Marilyn Horowitz
Hello Fans, The ‘Here’s the Thing…’ Across America road trip officially wrapped up this past week with our last interviews in Los Angeles and the successful funding of our Kickstarter campaign. To all of you who backed us on our campaign, a HUGE THANKS!!! I am psyched to have pulled off this trip with your help, it means a lot to feel your support behind me. The trip was tremendously rewarding for Jennifer and I, both as filmmakers and human beings. We had so many intense and meaningful moments – we laughed, we cried, we listened in amazement… I was humbled to be invited into our subjects’ homes and trusted with some of their most personal stories. I’ve got a lot to chew on in the next two weeks as I make my way back to NYC (yes, another road trip) and begin what promises to be an interesting editing process. If you missed any of the updates from the road, check out the blog for the full blow by blow of the trip and keep an eye on the Facebook page for updates on the project moving forward. Here’s the final sixteen episode lineup of what we shot: Charlie Brenneman – mixed martial arts fighter, East Hanover, NJ Can’t wait to watch these take shape and bring them to life. Look for the first episodes of the series to be released in the fall… Signing off for now, have a great summer! -miska Here’s the Thing… Created & Directed by Miska Draskoczy
I get a thrill from students and colleagues improving their writing:
Erika Anthony – homicide detective, Birmingham, AL
Lonnie Holley – folk artist, Adamsville, AL
Gary Stamper – hog hunter, South Labelle FL
Virginia – rancher and taxidermist, South FL
Glenn Miller & Randy Saizan – haunted B&B innkeepers, New Orleans, LA
Sonya Howard – tornado victim lost & found organizer, Joplin, MO
Leaford Bearskin – Native American Chief, Wyandotte, OK
Karena Domenico – Earthship resident, Taos, NM
Judy Messoline – UFO Watchtower owner, Hooper, CO
Timmy O’Neill – rock climber and humanitarian, Boulder, CO
Katy Manley – National Park Service Ranger, Grand Tetons, WY
Cary Turner – fireman and paramedic, Salt Lake City, UT
Kye Brackett – musician, choreographer, Las Vegas, NV
Nina Hartley – porn star, sex educator, and Ira Levine – fetishist, director, Los Angeles, CA
Dean Turner – retired hotel developer, Hollywood, CA
What do your possessions say about you?
Twenty-some objects tell the story.
Join us as we go Across America in this special edition.
Creative Producer – Jennifer Howd
The ‘Here’s the Thing…’ Across America road trip officially wrapped up this past week with our last interviews in Los Angeles and the successful funding of our Kickstarter campaign. To all of you who backed us on our campaign, a HUGE THANKS!!! I am psyched to have pulled off this trip with your help, it means a lot to feel your support behind me.
The trip was tremendously rewarding for Jennifer and I, both as filmmakers and human beings. We had so many intense and meaningful moments – we laughed, we cried, we listened in amazement… I was humbled to be invited into our subjects’ homes and trusted with some of their most personal stories. I’ve got a lot to chew on in the next two weeks as I make my way back to NYC (yes, another road trip) and begin what promises to be an interesting editing process.
If you missed any of the updates from the road, check out the blog for the full blow by blow of the trip and keep an eye on the Facebook page for updates on the project moving forward. Here’s the final sixteen episode lineup of what we shot:
Charlie Brenneman – mixed martial arts fighter, East Hanover, NJ
Can’t wait to watch these take shape and bring them to life. Look for the first episodes of the series to be released in the fall…
Signing off for now, have a great summer!
Here’s the Thing…
Created & Directed by Miska Draskoczy
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Life is supposed to be fun. You said, "I'll go forth and choose. I'll look at the data, and I'll say yes to this and yes to this and yes to this; and I'll paint a picture of the things that I want, and I'll vibrate about them because that's what I'm giving my attention to. And the Universe will respond to my vibration. And then I'll stand in a new place where a whole new batch of yeses are available, and I'll say yes to this and yes to this and yes to this." You did not say, "I'll go forth and struggle into joy," because from your Nonphysical Perspective you know it is vibrationally not possible. You cannot struggle to joy. Struggle and joy are not on the same channel. You joy your way to joy. You laugh your way to success. It is through your joy that good things come.
Excerpted from the workshop in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, August 2nd, 1998 # 136
Jerry and Esther
We made it to Los Angeles, hooray!!! We've got just two more days left in our trip - today we shoot our last two interviews here in LA and then tomorrow we wrap up with a little celebration party and most importantly, the end of our Kickstarter fund raising campaign
We just passed the $10k mark in our campaign but we still need to raise another $1,649 in the next 34 hours or we won't get anything from Kickstarter. For better or worse it's an all or nothing deal! So it's now or never - please donate and help us bring this puppy home! If every one of you reading this gave just $10, we'd easily meet our goal and then some. That's less than what many of us spend on a lunch. Even better, give $20 and I'll send you a unique thank you postcard I picked up on the road (and even cooler souvenirs for $50 and up).
This project is what I like to think of as 'people powered' in the truest sense of the word, both in who we are shooting and how we are pulling it off. There is no studio or corporate backing for this. You, the fans, are the ones making this happen with your pledge as much as we are, pounding the pavement out in the field. So for those of you who have given, A HUGE THANKS!!! This trip has been tremendously gratifying as we've met so many cool and interesting people in a way that has gone really deep, touching our lives and theirs.
I just updated all our travel diaries, so catch up on all the great stories about our exploits on our blog, and If you want to hear more about the backstory of the project and how we set it up, check out this great feature Film Courage just wrote on me.
I hope you'll join us on this great adventure and sit back with a smile when then new episodes come out in the fall, knowing you helped play a part in it.
Thanks for everything, you guys rock... our country rocks,
Here's the Thing...
What do your possessions say about you?
Twenty-some objects tell the story.
Join us as we go Across America in this special edition.
Created & directed by Miska Draskoczy
Creative Producer - Jennifer Howd
follow the series at:
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
My friend and fellow writer, Steve Kaire, will be presenting the following seminar this Saturday in NYC! Check it out!
By Steve Kaire
Why are the studios churning out endless sequels and remakes? It's because they are bankrupt for new ideas. High Concept projects maximize your chances of selling by starting out with a strong, original, intriguing premise that has wide audience appeal. There's a reason why High Concept screenplays sell for double or triple what non-High Concept Scripts sell for.
This unique seminar covers:
- The 5 requirements for High Concept Scripts
- Advantages of High Concept
- Examples of High Concept Films
- Easiest Genres to Sell
- Ten Brainstorming Techniques
Whether you're writing a screenplay or creating a TV series, this breakthrough class can cut years off selling time.
Steve Kaire has been a Screenwriter/Pitchman for over 30 years. He's sold 8 projects to the major studios without representation. He holds a Masters Degree in Dramatic Writing and has taught writing classes at the American Film Institute. He's also appeared on the Tonight Show's "Pitching to America" with Jay Leno. His CD, "High Concept - How to Create, Pitch & Sell to Hollywood" is a top rated best seller. His website is: HighConceptScreenWriting.com
High Concept: Creating Original Compelling Scripts
July 16th - 3PM sharp!
244 West 54th Street (12th Floor)
Between B'way & 8th
By Kara Lennox
She thinks it shouldn’t be that hard.
As an award-winning New York University professor, script consultant, producer, and the author of six books, her goal s to help writers write good scripts without all the suffering.
“I help people get over that last little thing so they can sell,” she said at the Scriptwriters Network meeting on June 18th. And as part of her overall writing system, she developed the “four magic questions.”
With this one set of sharp tools, Horowitz said, you can stop being a student and become a writer “You're all professional writers,” she said. “Once you have written a screenplay and you've told a whole story, you are a writer. Own that."
A writer has to be the most important character in his or her life, she said. “You are the filter through which this story is going to come out.” So no one can tell your story like you can; you are the expert. We all know what it is to have a dream because we’ve located our writers’ hearts; ergo, we can locate our characters’ hearts.
All of which leads to the first magic question:
1. What is Your Main Character's Dream?
“Never think of your hero without a problem,” Horowitz says. She advises creating a strong villain from the beginning, rather than taking six drafts to create adequate opposition. The villain (who is not necessarily an evil person, just someone in your main character’s way) must have a dream, too, one that opposes that of your main character. She also says you should have more than one opposition character, or it gets boring.
If the two dreams don’t line up exactly, she says, it’s more interesting.
Using an example from the audience: The hero’s dream is to prevent a kidnapping. The villain’s dream is to restore the honor of his tribe.
Which leads you to a question with rich possibilities: How can kidnapping redeem the honor of a tribe? With that question, she says, “we can start seeing what the movie is going to be.”
This is a fundamental story technique. If you can find the basic opposition, you’ve got a movie on your hands because we can see it rise to a crisis. “We have a clear target to drive toward: losing the kid or losing the honor. You must have a clear sense of what is blocking your main character. Many screenplays I work on involve making things worse. So start out with stakes as high as you can make them.
Moving on to the second question...
“How many think Act II is hard?” Horowitz asks. “Anyone who didn't raise their hands is a liar.”
Questions 2 and 3 help writers to structure Act II from the beginning. Horowitz breaks Act II into two pieces: Act II, Part 1 (pages 30-60) and Act II, Part 2 (pages 60-90). “If we break Act II into two pieces and ask two different questions,” she says, “we can have an easier time structuring the movie.”
If Act I is all about the character's dream, she says then Act II is the character's nightmare. So that is the actual question:
2. What is Your Main Character’s Nightmare?
“Whatever you set up in Act I goes terribly, terribly wrong.” (She made the point that you can reverse these two concepts, and have Act I be the nightmare and Act II be the dream.) By using this “hard flip,” she says, you can do much more than you thought possible. She advises against being subtle. “Always push your story hard, throw in your strongest plot point,” she says, so you’ll have enough momentum to get through Act II.
Things go wrong in Act II because the character hasn’t yet evolved to the point where he’s capable of achieving his dream. She used the movie Tootsie as an example. In Act I, the main character uses people, he’s inconsiderate, etc. which is why he’s where he is (a loser). Act II Part 1 is his nightmare. The nightmare is not necessarily the failure to attain the dream, it’s just the dream gone wrong.
Moving to Act II, Part II, the third question we ask:
3. Who or What Would Your Main Character “Die” For?
“’Die’ is in quotes because in a comedy you're not wanting real death,” she says. In Tarot cards, the death card doesn’t stand for literal death; it stands for change on a more fundamental level. “On more fundamental level, movies teach us how to deal with fears,” she says, where Change = Death. In Act II, Part 2 the character has to change, has to have an experience that changes him.”
Using The Godfather as an example, Horowitz says that by the midpoint, Michael isn't ready to be the godfather. The writer used up that plot in the first half of the movie, so he had to add a new element. What part of the story had he not been using? “When his love is blown up in the car,” she says, “that's when he becomes capable of being the godfather. If you can find that in your script, you'll succeed. Put your character through a crucible so they become (or don’t become) the person they need to be to overcome the obstacle in Act I.”
Act II, Part II has to provide a new experience. But you do have to set it up in Act I. “Plant it in Act I so it's not coming out of left field,” Horowitz says, “and it feels inevitable.” But when you are actually coming up with this “new element,” she advises you “go crazy, knowing you can go back and plant it.” Something crazy happens, and then you reverse engineer. “We all have these amazing things we call coincidences happen to us,” she says. “That's what you get to use in Act II, part II.” For example, what are the chances of Corleone going to Sicily and meeting the most beautiful girl in the world and falling deeply in love?
For Act III, we get to ask the fourth and final question:
4. Does Your Main Character Attain His Dream, Fail, or Get a New Dream?
You may ask, do you have to know your ending? “Your best writing comes when you are entertaining yourself and you're not sure,” Horowitz says. “You can plan a happy ending but be open to something different. You can dance with your characters more [using this method] than if you have a hard outline.”
She urges writers to think of the wildest ending possible, but above all, to be open to changing it. This "soft target" approach allows us to be looser as writers, she says. That way, if our characters start running away with our movie, we can let them. Being open to new, intense experiences in Act III—perhaps even giving our characters a new dream—reflects the more intense experiences we’re having in today’s world.
Horowitz then offered one last trick, which is not in her book but is her favorite thing. “I call the technique ‘Understand the Want versus the Need.’” She used the movie Wall Street as an example: The main character wants money, but he needs his father's approval. The same dynamic is true for The Godfather. “The trick of being a writer is to knowing what your character needs but not letting them know it.” In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wants to go home, but she needs the ruby slippers so she's empowered.
To recap the four questions (and a few sub-questions), each covering ¼ of the script:
1. Whatis my main characters' dream? (And what is the opposition character’s dream?)
2. What is my main character's nightmare? (And these two questions can be reversed.)
3. Who or what would my main character “die” for?
4. Does the main character attain the dream, forfeit the dream, or get a new one? (soft target approach)
In a comedy, Horowitz explains, they get the dream; in a drama they forfeit it. (The Godfather is an example of this.)
When dealing with wants vs. needs, she says, we want to go for the external conflict. Because we are writing movies, we can only show what is physical. Our conflicts have to be shown externally. So the dream has to be a visible, tangible goal. We have to show it, then we have to give the character something to push against.
In response to a question from the audience, Horowitz explained that the dream can be just to stay alive. “That’s about the highest stakes. And if the stakes aren’t life or death, you have to sell it to the audience.” In Little Miss Sunshine, for example, the little girl isn't going to die if she doesn't make it to beauty pageant. “But doesn't it feel like it?” Whatever the character needs, you have to prove it to us, and it can’t be subtle.
When asked how we decide whether a character should achieve, forfeit or change his dream, Horowitz responded, “Hopefully you have enough courage to work with your character and not know. Aim them toward your target but let them be 50 percent of the story… In first draft, you have to see what happens. In act II Part 2 there's a kind of alchemy that happens. You might come up with something completely new. Your interest might shift. You might even change genres.”
Horowitz says this system works whether you’re writing for features or TV, short or long. “This rhythm is story-telling, and it works in all formats. You can take this and be masters, you don't have to be students anymore.” Horowitz ended her talk with some compelling advice: “Take back your power. Own it. If something gets you screwed up, don't use it. This is just top of the iceberg. This is my party trick. Listen to others talk about writing, but make your own determinations. If you hear yourself say something that makes sense, assume you do."
More on Marilyn Horowitz's books, DVDs and consultations can be found here:
PhD in Him - Vanessa Hidary (Hebrew Mamita)
"If I counted up all the hours
Gotten up and been resilient about
Not given up on
So believed in
Ignored my friends advice about
Did I mention talked about?
I'd have a PhD in him.
By now, I could have had a PhD
Middle Eastern Studies,
But no, I have a PhD in Him.
Funny how he brings me no income,
Did I mention no future?
Funny how he brings me no Roth IRA funds
No medical plan including dental
No sense of security
No sense of security
Funny how he became my career
Yes, he became my career
My daily ambitions
My to do list today reads:
And so don't ask me what I did this year
I didn't write any plays or any books
I didn't do some responsible shit like
Pursue a backup career.
I was fully employed in the fury of him
The fury, the passion
Clocking in 80 hour weeks
Graduated valedictorian at the tippy top of my class
Magna cum fucking laude
And a waste of fucking time
Hours upon hours
Spent figuring out his equations
Cracking his codes
Philosophizing his constitution over grand marnier
Oh, did I mention vodka?
By now I could have been a brain surgeon
A Pulitzer Prize winner
I could have fed under nourished children
Volunteered at soup kitchens
Fuck that – built soup kitchens!
But instead, I have a PhD in Him
Wasted hours in the library of man
So quiz me
I know him better than he knows himself.
I'm that matriculated doctorate ho
Paid full tuition at his All-About-Him University
Ladies have you visited?
See they pat you down at the gates for self esteem
And your core syllabus is a well-crafted list of lies
Study hard, bitches!
You’ve got a paper due Monday morning titled “My man wants to be treated like a man but won’t act like one.”
Any of you fools want to sit in my lecture hall?
See, now I'm licensed to teach and preach
Sparing my pride
In hopes that other women will read my dissertation
See, I have a PhD in Him
And my transcript is rolling off my wicked tongue.
Not sure of how my most difficult degree might serve me
But think one day I'll thank him
For reminding me how fierce a pupil of life I really am."
Greetings LISG Members,
Have you finished your screenplay and are you looking for a screenplay contest to enter?
I have been asked by the ISA: International Screenwriter's Association to help promote the EMERGING SCREENWRITERS Screenplay Competition. The ISA has created a special discount code for the LISG members to use when they enter.
I have included the EMERGING SCREENWRITERS Screenplay Competition website links and the e-mail blast announcement below which includes more detailed information.
The GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive the following:
Meet 20 Hollywood Producers at a special ProSeries Alumni event. (value: $650)
Airfare and Hotel— 2 night stay in Los Angeles'' (value $500)
ProSeries Screenwriting Class (value $1100)
Screenplay Studio (value $620)
MovieStorm Packs + 12 Months Subscription
Professional Screenplay Coverage by Victoria Wu. (value: $275)
PLUS, $1000 CASH!
For anyone seeking script analysis this looks like it would be a beneficial contest to enter.
The ISA is offering the LISG members a special early-bird registration discount code!
Regular feature script registration is $29.00 during the Early bird deadline period.
Feature Entry plus Basic Feedback (2 pages of notes) is normally $79. Use the code and save $29!
Your early bird discount fee = $50.00
Feature Entry plus Extended Analysis (5 pages of notes) is normally $170. Use the code and save $50!
Your early bird discount fee = $120.00
Either way, if you use the code for FEEDBACK or ANALYSIS your entry is FREE!
THE SPECIAL LISG DISCOUNT CODE IS: R4HWIE
The early bird deadline is July 15th
The second deadline is August 31st
Note - There is a price increase for entries after the first deadline.
The LISG Discount code expires on August 31st!!
Here is the EMERGING SCREENWRITERS Screenplay Competition website:
ONCE AGAIN THE SPECIAL LISG DISCOUNT CODE IS: R4HWIE
E-mail me with your thoughts and questions.
Please let me know if you plan on entering the contest and e-mail me after you have registered.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The Nancy Malone Directing Award provides $1,000 to a New York area based woman director for a narrative short or feature film.
Nancy Malone was a founding member of Women in Film in Los Angeles. She began her career as an actress, worked as an executive and then as a producer and director—one of the first women directors in television.
In 1976, she became the first female vice-president of television at 20th Century Fox. In 1977 she was awarded one of the first Crystal Awards by Women in Film for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. She won an Emmy Award for producing Bob Hope: The First 90 Years (1993) (TV) and was nominated for Emmy Awards for directing episodes of Sisters in (1991), and The Trials of Rosie O'Neill in (1992). In 2007, she was inducted as an honoree into the "She Made It: Women Creating Television and Radio" collection at the Paley Center for Media.
Films may be of any length. The funds will be awarded to help complete a work-in-progress. Films must have completed principle photography to be eligible. Films that are already finished are not eligible. Filmmakers must be based in the New York City area.
Please download the application form from the top right of this page, fill iout the form, or facsimile thereof, and submit with a 2-page description of the project; a project budget, indicating amount raised to date; a list of key creative personnel with one-paragraph bios; and a DVD of the work-in-progress.
Applications must be received by July 25, 2011.
Applicants’ paperwork may be sent electronically, but works-in-progress must be mailed or delivered. DVDs must be labeled with the project name and name of the director. To submit paperwork electronically, email this form, the project description, the bios and the budget as separate attachments to email@example.com.
Mail or deliver the DVD of the work-in-progress, with a copy of the paperwork, if not sent electronically:
New York Women in Film & Television
Nancy Malone Directing Award
6 East 39th Street 12th FL
New York, NY 10016
Applications and DVDs must be RECEIVED by July 25, 2011. There will be no exceptions.
Contact Easmanie Michel at 212-679-0870 x 39, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.