Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Stupid Way to Fix Your Plot

Ever tire of watching the damsel in distress trip over her own feet while she's running from a guy with a machete? Well that's the first thing that came to mind when I saw Bill Martell's screenwriting tip today and it's the scene in my head every time I read a screenplay that relies on the stupidity of the good guy to set up a story or the stupidity of the bad guy to bring down the story. And happy coincidence? Rarely leaves me warm and fuzzy. Read "Dumbest Guy in the Room" today on Bill's Script Secrets site. If not, then at least read this quote:
If you have to make your protagonist or antagonist do something stupid to make your plot work, you're better off fixing your plot. Bill Martell

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Theme, You Theme, We All Theme

Watching the Golden Globes last night I realized that even though I saw a lot of films in 2011, I have plenty more to see before Oscar nominations are announced January 24th. Oh sure, I can catch up before February 26th when those naked golden men are handed out but it looks like I have missed out on another kind of golden award --- an opportunity that I didn't think about until I realized just how many films I saw in 2011.

I was looking over my own screenplay yesterday and feeling rather smug about my theme and I got to thinking about what the themes have been of films I've seen this year. Some were memorable because they were either that well done or were my favorite films. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, for example, had a clear theme of redemption and atonement and even though critics didn't rave about this movie, it was my favorite of all the POTC films for one reason: the theme.

I really wish I had taken the time to think about and write down my personal take on the theme of each film I saw in 2011 while it was fresh in my viewing memory. Why? To ask my self, "what was the writer trying to say? Did he get to say it? Did it get lost in production?"

I'm not suggesting that theme should be in your face or that as screenwriters, we should consider every film a homework exercise but since theme is something I've been focusing on as a writer, it sure does seem like a no-brainer that I would have been paying more attention to it as a viewer. Sometimes, I just don't want to be a writer when I'm sitting with popcorn in my lap.

So, here's my proposal. I'm going through my list and trying to figure out the themes of the following films and your thoughts are welcome, solicited, and appreciated. (I did not include any 2011 films that I've seen in 2012 and yes Joyful Noise was seen in 2011, not 2012, because I was in the test audience.)

Oh, and before you start, I should warn you. When my brother was looking for a job, he moved in with me for the better part of 2011 and we had "bad movie days" where we purposely went and saw movies that we knew were terrible. Why? Same reason you slow down when you pass a car accident. (that explains "Drive Angry") And sometimes I take my nieces and nephews to kids' movies... and sometimes I go without them.

Okay, so you're giving me your input on theme. Ready? Go!
Battle: Los Angeles
Captain America
Cars 2
Cowboys and Aliens
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Drive Angry
Gnomeo & Juliet
Green Lantern
I Am Number Four
J. Edgar
Joyful Noise
Just Go With It
Midnight In Paris
No Strings Attached
The Big Year
The Green Hornet
The Help
The King’s Speech
The Rum Diary
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Mister Popper’s Penguins
Our Idiot Brother
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Season of the Witch
Super 8
There Be Dragons
Xmen: First Class

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Challenge Accepted

Nope. I don't blog much anymore. I've fallen prey to the ease of social networks, my small in-home business, and writing schedule. Alas, nothing lasts forever. Or, it does but evolves?


Brett threw down a brass fastener or whatever it is screenwriters throw down to challenge one another (it's certainly not a gauntlet or a glove) and dared us to post the first ten verbs from our current projects. This is designed to give us a spark, kindle, or whatever kind of slap upside the keyboard we need to prevent apathy in our verb writing so here goes:


Ouch. Work to be done. Next!