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Script Magazine Sampler 2
Apr 22nd, 2017 by paul peditto

script mag 2Today we’ll continue our Sampler Series with some of the best writing from Script Magazine in 2016. I’ve been writing for Script Mag for a couple years. You can check out my articles here. Today it’s other authors, some of the best people in the field. Hopefully it helps you on your way to writing your movie. Vamos!

  • ARE SCREENWRITING CONSULTANTS WORTH IT?

Here’s an honest point-counter-point on the subject of screenwriting consultants. If you read this blog you know I walk a fine line on the subject. I founded a blog named Script Gods Must Die because I had issues with some imposters in the market charging absurd amounts for their services, making a living at what’s been termed The Hope Machine. But look over to the column on the left and sure enough, I’m selling the same damn services! Hypocrisy! Maybe. I always considered myself a writer first, a teacher second. I’m no guru and make no claims to be. I’ve helped plenty of folks through the years and we all got bills to pay. My point being– seek honesty, folks. Tony Larussa was a marginal baseball player at best but went on to the Hall Of Fame as a Major League manager. It is possible to help people write a screenplay without having written Hangover 2, Craig. Here’s an article that brings up some of these points when considering shopping for an “expert” to help you.

“What makes a good script consultant?

Online, I’ve seen many people say they only want to learn from someone who has been a successful screenwriter themselves.

In the land of unicorns and leprechauns, that might just be possible. But guess what? Not all produced screenwriters make good consultants. Being a great consultant requires a degree of patience, hand holding, and tolerance to help elevate writing that is sometimes horrendous.

You also don’t have to be a produced writer to know what makes a good story. Many script consultants have read thousands of scripts. Not all writers have. The more you read, the more you learn how to be an effective storyteller.

Think about it. Those readers the studios use… the ones who decide the fate of your script. Did they have a screenwriting credit? Um, not so much. But they do know about the industry, what moviegoers’ expectations are, what their studio’s needs are, and what makes a solid story. Since they read an incredible volume of scripts each week, they know when a great story comes across their desk.

Having said that, if you can find a produced screenwriter who has the skill set to consult, even better. They’ve walked the walk and will hopefully give you the advice they wished someone had given them when they were starting out.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Really Sad Scenes: Movie Deaths
Apr 13th, 2017 by paul peditto

sdfsfs

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.-- Sylvia Plath, Lady Lazarus

Nothing jerks tears like a good movie death. Acting with nobility, with grace and honor in light of an inevitable end is among the many reasons people pay $12+ bucks to see your movie. Cathartic moments, something universal they can relate to in their own lives. Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, right?

Assembled today are a handful of movies that deal with death, that are famous for it. I’ll present the script scene if it’s out there to be had, if not– like the scenes from Bambi and Sid And Nancy, just the movie clips. Break out the Kleenex and damn you Pixar for those killer montages of cartoon death!

  • BAMBI’S MOTHER DIES

  • SID AND NANCY: TAXI TO HEAVEN

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Legend
Apr 3rd, 2017 by paul peditto

tom hardy

Some Tom Hardy love today. Apologies to all the DiCaprio-Hanks-Gosling-Depp-Denzel fans, but if we’re talking male actors in 2017, it’s Daniel Day Lewis and Tom Hardy. There’s no space today to even get into Bronson, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, or The Dark Knight Rises. And did you see Taboo?!!! Daaaaaaaamn!

Today though, we’ll look at a movie Hardy did that may have flew under your radar– Legend. Hardy pulled lots of Best Actor wins for these roles but no Oscar love, which is robbery. How do you do a tour-de-force on TWO performances as both Kray brothers and not get an Oscar nod? I’ve got the script from Brian Hegeland and a bunch of clips from the movie. Let’s match them up and you tell me this wasn’t one of the best performances from 2016. Apologies for the script non-spacing, I tried fixing it, but the blog tech won’t fix it, so screw it… Let’s do this…

First, the opening, where you get the excellent CG effect of Tom Hardy playing both brothers, setting up the movie:

FADE IN:
EXT. LONDON SKYLINE – DUSK
PANNING DOWN from the heavens to the city below. Seen from
the East End looking west. Traffic in the streets, the
Thames, St. Paul’s. The BELLS at Bow Church can be heard.
FRANCES (V.O.)
London in the 1960’s. Everyone had a
story about the Krays. You could
walk into any pub to hear a lie or
two about them.
EXT. LINCOLN CONTINENTAL – ROLLING THE WEST END – NIGHT
We are low on the rear fender looking up, awash in neon:
Ronnie Scott’s, the Marquee Club. We catch glimpses of the
pretty people passing by.
FRANCES (V.O.)
But I was there and I am not
careless with the truth.
INT. LINCOLN CONTINENTAL – ROLLING THE WEST END – NIGHT
 In the backseat, the Krays: REGGIE tough and fit, RON off
kilter in style. An odd slowness here, like time has stood
still. Are they on their way to gangster heaven?
FRANCES (V.O.)
They were brothers. But bound by
more than blood, they were twins as
well. Counterparts. Gangster princes
of the city they meant to conquer.
Ron, heavier, thicker, bespectacled, looks to his brother.
FRANCES (V.O.)
Ron Kray was a one man London mob.
Bloodthirsty, illogical, but funny
as well.
Reggie looks out the window watching London pass by.
FRANCES (V.O.)
Reggie was different. Once in a
lifetime do you find a street
fighting man like Reg. Believe me
when I say it took a lot of love for
me to hate him the way I do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Great Movie Speeches: Mix 1
Mar 24th, 2017 by paul peditto

king_of_comedy

Why couldn’t I have written King Of Comedy? I could croak in peace having penned that serious black comedy. Deniro as Rupert Pupkin, a loooooooong way from “you talking to me” Travis Bickle. I doubt this makes many people’s Top 3 Scorsese movies but it makes mine because, I’m mean– who thinks up a story like this? Sandra Bernhard tying up Jerry Lewis with gaffer tape and having an intimate dinner with him?! Tell me you’ve seen it… If not, get on it.

Pupkin’s lifelong dream, doing standup on a Johnny Carson-like Tonight Show leads off my Best Speeches V 1.0. These are classic movie monologues and I’ve accompanied the script with the clip to see the changes made from the original conception. Hope these inspire your own screenplay. Writing that key monologue is a bitch, but if you pull it off, you might just be remembered 100 years from now.

Also here, fav scenes from Amadeus and two different takes on Love and Hate. Vamos!

  • KING OF COMEDY: PUPKIN DOES STAND-UP
133   INT:   THE STAGE - NIGHT

      Finally after what seems like an eternity, PUPKIN emerges,
      straightening his jacket a bit and trying to crane the
      kinks out of his neck. He is a bit tense but very high
      and in full command. As he delivers his monologue, PUPKIN
      is more confident, comfortable and self-assured than we
      have ever seen him.

                         PUPKIN
             Good evening, ladies and gentleman.
             Let me introduce myself. My name is
             Rupert Pupkin. I was born in Clifton,
             New Jersey, which was not, at that
             time, a federal offense. (laughter)
             Is there anyone here from Clifton?
             (silence) Good. We can all relax.
             Now, I'd like to begin by saying that
             my parents were too poor to afford me
             a childhood but the fact is nobody is
             allowed to be really poor in Clifton.
             Once you fall below eleven thousand
             you're exiled to Passaic. My parents
             did, in fact, put down the first two
             payments on my childhood. Then they
             tried to return me to the hospital
             as defective.   But, like everyone else
             I grew up in large part thanks to my
             mother. If she was only here today
             I'd say, "Hey, mom. What are you
             doing here? You've been dead for
             nine years?" (laughter) You should
             have seen my mother. She was wonderful
             -- blonde, beautiful, intelligent,
             alcoholic. (laughter) We used to
             drink milk together after school.
             Mine was homogenized. Hers was loaded.
             (laughter) Once she was picked up for
             speeding. They clocked her doing fifty
             -- in our garage. (laughter) When
             they tested her they found that her
             alcohol was two per cent blood. They
             took away her license and she died
             shortly afterwards. We used to joke
             together Mom and me, until the tears
             would stream down her face and she'd

             throw up. (laughter) And who would
             clean it up? Not Dad. He was too
             busy down at O'Grady's throwing up on
             his own. In fact, until I was sixteen,
             I thought throwing up was a sign of
             maturity. While the other kids were
             off in the woods sneaking cigarettes, I
             was hiding behind the house with my
             fingers down my throat. (laughter)
             I never got anywhere until one day,
             my father caught me. Just as he was
             giving me a final kick in the stomach,
             for luck, I managed to heave all
             over his new shoes. "That's it,"
             I thought. "I've made it. I'm
             finally a man!" (laughter) As it
             turned out, that was the only time my
             father ever paid any real attention
             to me. He was usually too busy out
             in the park playing ball with my
             sister, Rose. And, today thanks to
             those many hours of practice, my
             sister Rose has grown into a fine man.
             (laughter) Me, I wasn't especially
             interested in athletics. The only
             exercise I ever got was when the
             other kids picked on me. They used
             to beat me up once a week, usually
             Tuesday. After a while, the school
             worked it into the curriculum. And,
             if you knocked me out, you got extra
             credit. (laughter) Except there was
             this one kid who was afraid of me. I
             kept telling him, "Hit me! Hit me!
             What's the matter with you? Don't you
             want graduate?" As for me, I was
             the only kid in the history of the
             school to graduate in traction. The
             school nurse tucked my diploma into
             my sling. But my only real interest,
             right from the beginning, was show
             business. Even as a young man, I
             began at the very top, collecting
             autographs. (laughter)

Read the rest of this entry »

Go Vertical
Mar 12th, 2017 by paul peditto

pvertical

Remember with screen direction, you want the eye to roll down the page, to make the script a “page turner.” How do you do that? Go vertical. Keep the reader’s eyes moving vertically down the page. For example, from Seven:

He reaches to the nightstand, to a wooden, pyramidical metronome.

He frees the metronome’s weighted swingarm so it moves back and forth.  Swings to the left — TICK, swings to the right — TICK. Tick… tick… tick… measured and steady.

Somerset situates on the bed, closes his eyes.  Tick… tick… tick.  The metronome’s sound competes with the sound of the car alarm.  Somerset’s face tightens as he concentrates on the metronome.  His eyes close tighter.  Tick… tick… tick.  The swingarm moves evenly.  Somerset’s breathing deepens.

Tick… tick… tick.  The car alarm seems quieter.

Tick… tick… tick.  Somerset continues his concentration.  The metronome’s sound seems louder.

Tick… tick… tick.  The sound of the car alarm fades, and is GONE.  The metronome is the only sound.

Somerset’s face relaxes as he begins to fall asleep.  Tick…tick… tick…

The “tick tick tick” device is terrific. It moves your eye down the page, makes you wonder what’s coming next.

Another method of shaking up the reader visually is…

SINGLE LINE SPACING:

Condensing screen direction offers the reader a more visceral experience, faster, raw and more exciting. While I don’t use this style, it’s totally viable, as here from Alien 3 (Walter Hill & David Giler draft):

26.          INT. ASSEMBLY HALL    26

Four stories high.

Minimal electric light.

The assembled prisoners move into position…

Hang from railings

Smoke.

A convict population of 25 men.

She struggles for control.

Impossible

Her eyes fill with tears.

Eyes brimming, Ripley spots the remains of Newt’s cryotube.

Faceplate is broken.

Probably happened in the crash.

There’s a strange discoloration on the metal below the faceplate.

She leans forward, running her fingers over it…

He hears something in the darkness to his left.

Stopping, he sees a recessed storage area built into the wall of the

air-duct…

A gurgling sound is coming from inside.

Curious, Murphy moves closer.

Stopping before the recessed area, Murphy peers inside.

Sees the Alien —

Still fawn like, but growing

Time stops a second.

Suddenly, the creature — spits acid in Murphy¹s eyes…

Clawing at his face, flesh tom away from his cheeks —

Murphy reels backwards.

Smoke pours through his fingers.

Screaming, he slam s into a wall and staggers backwards into

The fan…

Which rips him to pieces —

In a blink of an eye, the walls of the Air-duct are splattered

with his remains

The fan CLANGS to a ringing stop as Murphy¹s  skin fouls the blade.

SOUNDS/ VOICE OVER VS. OFF SCREEN

Sounds don’t need to be capitalized. Older scripts often did cap them: “The Chihuahua BARKS.” Again, no absolutes. There are scripts littered with WHOOSHES! SLAMS! BAMS! For example, this from Hellboy:

Leaving a trail of blood, Broom crawls to a dead G.I. and grabs a grenade from his belt.

TCHKKK!!! Kroenen extends two gleaming blades from twin steel bands on his wrists and takes on an entire group of soldiers, mowing through them with swords spinning like deadly rotors. The steel chops clean through their weapons.

Broom pulls the pin and throws the grenade at the generator.

CLICK-CLACK!! It wedges itself between two moving tie rods.

Kroenen squeals and — retracting his blades — lunges after it. The gyrating rails slice through his leather jacket. As his fingers reach the grenade, it EXPLODES!!!

Kroenen flies through the air, hitting a stone wall, where two long pieces of shrapnel pin him like an insect.

Another rail plunges — FFFFT!! like a javelin — into the earth right next to MATLIN.

Here, it works. But many scripts don’t have a single FFFFT! This is a stylistic thing. If you want to cap sounds, cap ‘em. Just be consistent with your choice.

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