Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Summer of BLOCKBUSTERS!!!

It's no secret that I love Blockbuster movies. Not the video store. The actual huge tentpole movies that come out every summer.

I can't remember a summer I have been more excited for.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet there has NEVER been a summer that has had as many tentpole pictures in it.

The one stat I find amazing is the number of 3rd movies are coming out.

Spiderman 3
Pirates of the Carribean 3: At World's End
Ocean's 13
Shrek the Third
Rush Hour 3
The Bourne Ultimatum (The third installment)


Resident Evil: Extinction (The third installment), which is set to be released Sept. 31st, hitting the Halloween season.

That makes 7 movies that are not just a sequel, but a second sequel. Right on.

Other tentpole sequels include:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (5)
Fantastic Four #2, which actually look better than the original, but is going to once again get slaughtered due to the high volume of tentpoles this summer.

I'm probably missing some, but seriously, who can keep track?

John August's Great Character Intros

When you google "Great Character Intros" this site comes up as the first choice. Second is John August's blog.


In fairness I did write mine first. But, really, who wants to hear me over a professional right? John has two or three seperate posts on creating great character intros. When I read them I was like, "Damn straight, I hit the nail on the head. Even the pros agree with my little discovery." It was a nice ego boost.

So, here's a link to John August's articles. Read the man's thoughts. They are $$$. Especially since he does get paid $$$ to write screenplays.

The one thing that I think he hasn't gone into much depth about is that the SCENE in which the (main) characters are introduced should reflect every aspect of that character.

In LETHAL WEAPON, Riggs is introduced at the beach, as a drunk, who protects a dog that bums are picking on. We also find out he is a cop in this scene. The scene nails tone of the entire movie, Riggs "crazy" character, his job, his kind hearted/protective nature, and his fighting skill. Not to mention the scene itself is a great hook.

That is some heavy lifting for an intro scene. And you should expect no less from your own.

Sometime in the future, I will be posting more great character intro scenes, making a series out of it. That is, if I can find the free time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


As of today, production on The Riches Season 1 has wrapped. That means my job, along with 100+ others, has come to its conclusion.

I started this blog because I had absolutely no idea what it would take to find success as a screenwriter. I hoped that through my trial and error, my failures, my triumphs ... maybe someone would gleam some insight.

So I'll start with a short list of my misconceptions:

1) I thought that by the end of season, we would know if the show (The Riches) had either been cancelled or renewed for a new season.
(Note: By we, I mean everyone in the producer and writer offices ... which includes the producers and writers)


As of today, FX has not decided one way or the other. This may have something to do with being on cable.

The Riches has generated critical acclaim, much to the delight of Dmitry the show's creator. In addition, its ratings have been good by cable (and FX) standards.

Crazy, huh?

My best guess is that FX will renew the show. They are probably just waiting till more episodes have aired to give the final say so. But who knows?

2) Executive Producers, Producers, and Writers are NICE.

I know. Who knew?

I can honestly say that everyone I worked with in the producer's office was a genuinely nice person. Sure, they got stressed, tired, were overworked, but man ... were they a pleasure to work with.

3) The Network - Sometimes gives good notes.

Granted, they give like ... I dunno ... somewhere in the ballpark of 5 trillion notes per episode, so a couple have to be good by sheer volume, right?

But some execs do know what they are talking about. And they'll conference call the creative types with 6 other execs that have a hard time figuring out how the Mr. Coffee works.

4) Bad scripts - can make good episodes.

I know books and school and everyone tells us, screenwriters, that a great script can make a great movie, but not the other way around ... Well, that's not really true.

Granted the best episodes usually come from the best scripts (watch 111 and 112 - the season finale - 112 was my personal favorite), but oftentimes the collaborative process makes up for a deficiency in one area.

5) Television is a much different beast than film.

I knew this going in. I just did not know the extent. Let me talk about story theory here just for a moment...

A film is this self contained thing. Whether it is a blockbuster or a small indie, when you reach the end of the film there should be some huge dramatic conclusion that pays off the premise of the movie.

Television is different, in that ... you aren't looking for a conclusion. Duh, right? The point I am making is that I believe The Riches does so well because the premise itself is very open-ended.

A family of Travellers adopt the rich life of a family they accidentally killed.

The possibilities are limitless. However, the threats, the dilemmas, the payoffs, the rewards, the benefits, and the consequences are all very specific.

For Americans, we tend to like our movies closed. But we love open-ended television. Lost. Alias. Heroes.

Anyway. That's about all my brain can handle for today. Ciao.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Getting an Agent

Here is the key to getting an agent:



Since any more explanation is not only unnecessary, but will invariably get you thinking about this imaginary world, in which agents are magical fairy creatures that can materialize jobs out of thin air, I am not going to write about getting an agent.

Instead, I am going to tell you a story.

THE RICHES is shot in a studio in Santa Clarita. Santa Clarita Studios to be exact. Imagine that. The stages lie at the bottom of a hill. But at the top of that hill is where the producers and writers reside (at least for the interim of the season).

This too, is where I find my happy little home.

Believe it or not, but this kingdom on the hill runs perfectly without any input at all from me. I know! Unbelievable. I find most of my time is best spent reorganizing the goodies in the snack room. Restocking. And cleaning out the fridge. Primarily anything I can do to be helpful, but stay out of the way.

One day a new show joined us on top of the hill. A show called DRIVE. They rented the office space next door. And built a make believe convenience store, called Preston's ... right into the back of our office building. Right where our parking use to be.

Not a peep was heard from anyone at THE RICHES. We are a friendly bunch.

But due to the, now, strange layout of the building, people from DRIVE were often seen roaming the halls. This became commonplace. And luckily the people involved with DRIVE reciprocated our friendliness.

The weeks went by. And there I was ... with not much to do. So I took it upon myself to empty out the fridge of a week's worth of take-out that still managed to look edible despite the contrary smell.

As I walked into the snack room, what should I see, but a small little man in nice shoes and a wrinkled sport coat. He was filling his pockets with candy and gum galore. A forty year old kid in a candy store.

My presence didn't seem to dissuade him from his pillaging. A few more chocolates and his pockets were overflowing. He popped a piece of gum into his mouth and chewed rather vigorously.

I returned to my desk. The small man strutted into the room and asked Ralph a question. (Ralph is the main man. He is the assistant to the producer and anyone that wants to talk to anyone in our building atop the hill must first go through Ralph. He is the gatekeeper. And a chill laid-back one at that).

This strange little man in his nice shoes and wrinkled sports coat, smacked on his gum and asked, "I was just visiting a client from DRIVE. Do Dawn and Nicole work here?"

For those of you that don't know ... Dawn and Nicole are the showrunners of THE RICHES. And very happily represented writers at ICM.

Ralph replied, "I think they are upstairs. May I help you?"
"Nah. That's all right. I'll just go on up and ask them myself."
To which I replied, "I 'd be happy to check and see if they are available."
"Sure thing."

The small man shoved his hands in his pockets spilling a few pieces of candy. He paced around the room in what would appear frantic for most, but seemed to simply be the man's natural state.

I relayed the message to Dawn and Nicole's assistant, who promptly responded, "Who?"
Then I relayed the message to Dawn and Nicole, who promptly responded, "Who?"

When I came back downstairs I informed that, yes, in fact, Dawn and Nicole were upstairs. To which he proceeded to climb the stairs for an impromptu meeting with them.

They were gracious. Inviting the small man into their realm, where they were otherwise busy with a grueling day's work. They listened to his pitch, but ultimately Dawn and Nicole really did like their present representation and saw no reason to switch.

So the small man headed downstairs. Even in defeat, there was an eerie gleam of triumph in his eyes. He made his exit in much the same way he entered. A wrecking ball of energy. No sooner arrived, than vanished.

But his mark had been left.

Take from this story what you will. But rest assured that given enough hard work, perseverance, and practice honing your craft, and yes, even you may have a small, creepy man pursuing you.