Cameron Crowe’s ALOHA – Watch The First 8 Minutes

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Cameron Crowe’s new movie, Aloha. First of all, they hardly show native Hawaiian people. It’s largely white people, which is completely untrue and the natives are pissed. Second, Emma Stone’s character, Allison Ng, is supposed to be of Asian descent. I could actually see her passing as like 3% Asian. Third, critics and the general public agree this movie is a disaster for several reasons. The acting, directing, dialogue, camera angles, the list goes on…

Although I haven’t actually seen the film myself, I’ve heard some pretty bad reviews.

Christy Lemire from rogerebert.com summed it up as: For all its needless complications, “Aloha” can be summed up simply: It’s “Elizabethtown,” in Hawaii. (For me, Elizabethtown was dreadful).

From seeing the first 8 minutes, I can definitely see that. The acting is a bit off, the dialogue is unnatural. You’d think if a movie has great actors such as Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams, the acting would be above subpar.

Cameron Crowe is known for writing and directing: Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown, and We Bought A Zoo.

Thanks to Sony, you can now watch the first 8 minutes and see for yourself how bad (or good) you think it is. Thoughts, comments? Is it really as bad as people are saying?

SMC

American Ultra Red Band Trailer

I’ve been busy and lazy lately, so let me leave you with this…

The movie trailer for American Ultra starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton, and John Leguizamo.

It’s about a stoner who also happens to be a government agent and fights off some bad dudes in a badass way. Who doesn’t love that, right? It reminds me of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Yes, Michael Cera reminds me of Jesse Eisenberg. They’re both cute weirdos.

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh who also directed Project X.

Written by Max Landis who wrote Chronicle and a few upcoming movies, Mr. RightVictor Frankenstein and Me Him Her. He seems to be in his prime right now.

Check out this great podcast with Max Landis where he talks about his upcoming projects and screenwriting in today’s industry.

Thanks, byeeeeee.

SMC

The Importance of Writing a Character Biography

I’ve always felt the characters I created were real. The situations I’ve thrown them in really had me empathizing with them. Whenever they cried, I cried. Whenever they were sad, I was sad. I’m not sure if I can even put it into fathomable words. The connection I feel with them is real. It is beyond real. To me, they genuinely feel like real people who happen to be going through  very real situations. (No I’m not cray cray).

I was editing one of my scripts and realized I knew my characters in the story I have written, but not as well as I’d like to. By that, I meant I knew who my characters were from page 1 to 114; from beginning to end, but I didn’t feel I knew them outside of the script. I still felt that deep connection with my characters, but felt I didn’t know them as much as I’d like to. I found myself questioning some of the decisions my main character made in the movie. I asked myself, what would he do and why? What is he like as a person? Why is he like that? What made him that way? So I took Syd Field’s advice and wrote a character biography for my characters. Let me tell you, it was one of the greatest experiences.

A character biography is a free-association writing exercise that reveals your character’s history from birth up until the time your story begins. In the book, The Screenwriter’s Workbook by Syd Field, he has a whole chapter titled The Tools of Character, where he talks about creating back story for your character. He breaks it into the first ten years of the character’s life, then the second ten years, then (if applicable) the third ten years. He provides a sundry of questions about your character’s life, some as basic as is your character male or female, where do they live, where were they born. He then goes into more technical questions such as who were your character’s friends growing up, what sexual experiences did they have, if their parents were divorced or not, etc. Of course you can ask your character any question in the world and use it in your biography.

This is a great tool to better understand your character. I now now my characters 100% more than I did before. While writing my character biography, I didn’t even have to brainstorm or hesitate, it honestly came out all natural as if this information was bona fide. I feel I know my characters so much better and you will have a better understanding of who they are and why they do the things they do. So I challenge you to write a bio for your characters. Trust me, it’s life changing. Yeah, me and my characters are closer than ever. I am vicariously living through them, okay? Don’t judge.

SMC

Beverly Hills Cop 4

beverly-hills-cop-two-eddie-murphy-black-enterprise

EDDIE MURPHY!!

So I was just IMDB-ing (if that’s a word?) Beverly Hills Cop and noticed they’re making a Beverly Hills Cop 4 that will be out in 2016. Brilliant. Yay!! *clap clap* I have a soft spot in my heart for the Beverly Hills Cop movies. Although I’m not quite sure how long they’ve announced this for but Eddie Murphy ain’t doing it unless it comes along with an incredible script. (How many more Beverly Hills Cop plot lines can they have? And when do audiences grow hoary of the concept of a riotous cop determined to solve the murders/shootings of his friends?) According to Murphy, he’s “not doing a shitty movie just to make some paper.” I’m not sure how much more room Hollywood has to do this kind of stuff, but we will find out.

Link down below for the IMDB page.

Beverly Hills Cop 4 – IMDB

Few details are known. The plot is unknown. The release year is 2016, although I’m almost positive it will be pushed back a few years or months after 2016, due to the circumstance this movie has to be absolutely incredible to be made. (I doubt it will be but let the excitement ensue anyway.)

Directing this feature will be – Brett Ratner who has directed movies such as the Rush Hour franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand, Tower Heist, and Hercules. He has a good mix of epic action films and comedy in his repertoire.

Written by Josh Appelbaum who has also written the likes of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

And of course it will be starring Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, possibly the craziest, most hell-bent cop ever. (After Jack Bauer…if he was a cop)

It will be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (per usual) and Eddie Murphy.

So, all in all, cross your fingers this movie gets made and will average above a C+.

SMC

Why Syd Field’s Books Matter

If you’re an aspiring screenwriter, the very first book you should pick up is Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. It’s one of the first screenwriting books I ever read and let me tell you, it’s the greatest tool. It’s the most important 309 pages you will probably ever read in your screenwriting career. The book is filled with rich information on how to write a screenplay, from the very concept, all the way to completion and what to do after it’s written. He covers the basics, starting with what actually is a screenplay then delves deeper into theme and subplot. I honestly learned so much from the man, Syd.

Syd Field makes you believe in yourself as a screenwriter. After reading his book, you actually feel like you have a chance in the industry. Most people and books will tell you that you have a better chance of starring in an NBA playoff game, like Michael Hauge said in Writing Screenplays That Sell.

Syd came up with the Syd Field Paradigm which is prominent to every movie ever made.

how-and-why-syd-field-paradigm

The paradigm is a good guide to follow when writing a screenplay. It helped me immensely and will do the same for you.

It would also be beneficial to read Syd Field’s Selling A Screenplay: The Screenwriter’s Guide To Hollywood, The Screenwriter’s Workbook, and The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver. Pretty much anything by Syd Field, read it and retain all the information…well, as much as you can anyway. Selling A Screenplay covers how to sell your script to the big guns and how their minds work. It’s pretty much everything you will do after you’ve written your screenplay and you’re ready to send it off and pitch it.

The Screenwriter’s Workbook gives you great exercises you can do to better your script. Confession, I actually haven’t finished reading this book but I will soon, I promise, okay? Don’t hold that against me.

The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver by Syd is also a great book to read and I highly recommend it. It provides exercises and strategies to get past writer’s block and helps you actually identify the problem of your screenplay. He covers common problems people have when writing and in general covers problems, problems, and more problems. This book was a lifesaver. Go buy it!

Other great books you can read to better yourself as a Screenwriter:

  • Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

Blake comes with a batch of fresh new concepts and ideas for screenwriting, including his own Beat Sheet, called the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. Ironic, right?

STC_BeatSheetRev3Pg1-2

At the end of each chapter he provides helpful exercises to try.

  • How NOT To Write A Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn

This is an easy book to follow with a lot of great insight on what not to put in your screenplay. Such as, don’t add song titles or music in your script unless it pertains to the movie (Across the Universe), don’t list a cast of characters, and don’t include camera instructions, you are NOT the director…unless you are. Denny is also so kind as to tell you what you SHOULD include in your screenplay, cover letter, etc.

  • Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge

I’m about a third into this book and it’s a great tool for screenwriter’s. It’s full of plenty of information the other books will tell you but in a different method with a different point of view. Pretty much all these books are the same concept, just explained and conceptualized differently, but you get the same outcome. 2+2=4. 1+1+1+1=4. 2+1=3 +1=4. Something like that. I do enjoy how I attempted to use math (in the real world) to explain something about writing. Good for me. Maybe math did pay off, Mrs. Hartwig. (My 12th grade math teacher).

  • Writing Movies by Gotham Writer’s Workshop expert instructors, edited by Dean of faculty Alexander Steele

I’ve taken a few classes through Gotham Writer’s Workshop online. It’s a great platform for those interested in learning about screenwriting, also simply writing. They offer a myriad of writing classes online and in NYC. I’ve had some great teachers teach me a lot about the craft of screenwriting. The instructors have published a rather thick book on the art of writing movies. It goes over the fundamentals and covers plot, dialogue, tone and theme, etc. Pretty much everything you need to know about writing a script, this book has. Linked below is the website to sign up for classes at Gotham Writer’s Workshop.

Gotham Writer’s Workshop

There are a ton more screenwriting books I’d like to read. If you know of any, please let me know which ones I should read.

SMC

Great Websites For Screenwriters/Filmmakers

Hello, Clarice. (Silence of the Lambs, anyone?)

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you great websites for screenwriters and filmmakers and all the people alike.

www.stage32.com/

Stage 32 is a great place for creatives within the film, TV, and theater industry. It’s a great place to connect with other screenwriters. They have discussion boards that you can contribute or start any topic discussion. It’s also a great place to make connections with people in your similar field of creativity. It provides great, helpful articles about film making and screenwriting.

http://www.indiewire.com/

IndieWire is one of my favorite websites. It provides great articles, reviews, and interviews with filmmakers, screenwriter, actors, producers, etc. On the website, they discuss upcoming projects and it really gives you an insight into the film world.

http://thescriptlab.com/

The Script Lab is a great platform for screenwriters. There are movie reviews, screenwriting articles, pretty much everything screenwriting, they have. Also, I am a writer for The Script Lab. I wrote 2 different reviews I will link if you want to check those out.

Fargo Movie Review- The Best Fake True Screenplay Ever

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Review- A Controversial, But Marketable Screenplay

https://www.blcklst.com/

The Black List website is a great website if you’re looking to get noticed in the industry. For a fee, you can put your script on The Black List and producers, directors, and other industry professionals look for the next best script. It’s a great platform to get started and screenwriters have had their scripts picked up through this website.

http://www.bluecatscreenplay.com/

Bluecat Screenplay Competition is a great competition for screenwriters. I entered two scripts into the 2015 competition but didn’t make it, and rightfully so. Looking over my scripts, I agree with Gordy Hoffman, (founder of Bluecat) my scripts weren’t ready yet. Anyway, it’s a great website filled with rich articles, notes, and messages from screenwriter Gordy Hoffman (the brother of late Seymour Hoffman). Gordy holds screenwriting workshops in different cities in the US and online. It’s a great honor for Gordy to give you feedback.

https://www.withoutabox.com/

Withoutabox is an awesome website which shows all of the upcoming film festivals for screenwriters and filmmakers. It’s a great way to enter your scripts into the business (via film festivals and competitions) and it gives you the guidelines and deadlines of the film fests. Great for filmmakers.

https://vimeo.com/

Vimeo is a wonderful place for filmmakers to showcase their films and projects. It’s a video website for the creative soul. It’s filled with short films and videos. It’s a very inspiring site. One of my favorites on there is Philip Bloom. Check him out.

http://www.moviemaker.com/

Movie Maker Magazine is a magazine and website with great articles about film making and screenwriting and everything alike. There are tons of great stuff on this site!

This next website isn’t a screenwriting or film website, but rather a tool for saving all those excellent articles to read later.

https://getpocket.com

Pocket – This is the website I use to save any videos or articles to read later. My pocket queue is filled with screenwriting and movie articles. You can sync it up with your phone, computer, tablet, etc to just click a button and it saves it in your pocket to read later at your convenience. I use it every single day. It’s so much better than emailing myself the articles.

Hope you guys can check out these awesome websites. They’re of so much value to screenwriters. I’ve learned so much solely from these websites.

SMC