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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Screenplay Review: Aeon Flux

Obligatory (minor) Spoiler Warning

I read Aeon Flux, by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, based on characters created by Peter Chung, back in January of '04. Interestingly, the draft I read was dated 2-20-01, already highlighting the long journey this property has had in coming to the big screen. This is underscored by the fact that even since I read the script, nearly two years have passed! I suspect that the script has changed somewhat, but based on the trailers, it doesn't seem that different.

First, my logline:

A rebel assassin walks a line between following orders and discovering the truth about the problems plaguing her semi-utopian society.
Now, let me say that I read this script as a sample for a specific other project that my company had in development (which I have X'd out in my review below), so my comments were geared primarily towards that. So though I will give you those comments, I'd like to first throw out some comments about the script itself. It was somewhat formulaic, but overall a pretty solid sci-fi actioner. Certainly above average, I felt. At the same time, the advance buzz seems to be suggesting this film might not do so well. There really just doesn't seem to be a lot of excitement about it.

I think in large measure, this will have to be due to the long time it took arriving in theaters. Back in the day, Aeon Flux was definitely one of the more popular animated series on MTV's Liquid Television. But now, it has largely lost its core fanbase. Furthermore, the poor showing of The Island -- a film not really related to this, but still in the same genre -- might further hurt Aeon's box office, due to lowered expectations.

Still, Aeon looks great, and the story really draws more from Blade Runner than a film like The Island. That being said, here's what I wrote about it:

Hay and Manfredi have shown themselves capable of writing a somewhat taut and exciting Sci-Fi adventure. Though not extraordinary, this is certainly a decent sample of writing. They are certainly worthy of some consideration in general, but other samples may be warranted, particularly in relation to their promise for XXXX. That project will require a good amount of inventiveness, but since Aeon Flux is based on previously produced work, it is difficult to fully ascertain how much of the cleverness in this script is the product of Hay and Manfredi'’s creativity, and how much has been kept from the source material.

Aeon Flux is a good example of a clever Sci-Fi adventure that has enough inventiveness to separate it from many other similar stories. The relationship at its core (Aeon and Trevor) is a characterization that adds a unique drama. And the Sci-Fi gadgetry and back-story are not just contrivances; they more or less work organically with the story and don't distract from the plot. Still, much of this (if not all) may be found in Chung's original source, and therefore may not show a particular adeptness at invention in Hay and Manfredi as writers. To better determine this, one should look at the original source material and/or other samples from these authors.

Still, the authors have shown some of the skills necessary for XXXX. They have written an exciting adaptation, which will be one of the keys to XXXX. Furthermore, though a somewhat simplistic storyline, overall Aeon Flux still flows generally well. Furthermore, though the characters are generally older than the main characters of XXXX will probably be, Hay and Manfredi still show a recognition of the hipness that can sell a character to today's youth or teen market. In many ways, Aeon is reminiscent of Lara Croft, for example.

In the end, Aeon Flux proves a promising though inconclusive sample of Hay and Manfredi's work, both in general and specific to XXXX. Certainly, however, they warrant further consideration for this and/or other projects.

I was a fan of the animated series, and the film looks pretty cool. So I'm rooting for this one to do well this upcoming weekend!

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Q & A: Writing the "Unshootable"

At my Expo seminar on writing active sequences, "Verbalizing the Visual," one of the things I pointed out was that many successful scenes of this nature will include some "unshootable" material as punctuation. For example, in the battle at Stirling Field, from Braveheart (by Randall Wallace), I looked at the portion of the battle when the Scots kill many of the English cavalry with their long wooden spikes. He wrote:

The Scots stand and watch them [the English horses] come on. It's difficult to imagine the courage this takes; from the POV OF THE SCOTTISH LINES we see the massive horses boring in...
But how would one film, "It's difficult to imagine the courage this takes?" You can't, and typically, beginning screenwriters are told to only write what can be seen or heard.

Another brief example, from Any Given Sunday (revised shooting script, dated 5/1/99, credited to Jamie Williams & Richard Weiner, John Logan, Daniel Pyne, revisions by Gary Ross, Raynold Gideon & Bruce A. Evans, John Logan, Lisa Amsterdam & Robert Huizenga, current revision by Oliver Stone (whew, that's a hell of a list, and no, it wasn't the way it was finally credited -- check with Craig Mazin about how credit is assigned -- nor will I even try to link to all of those people)). In one of the football sequences, a player fumbles the ball. It is described as "a spectacular fumble -- the kind of fumble all running backs have nightmares about." After the fumble is run back for a TD, the running back "drops his head, the loneliest man in the world." All that is filmable in each of those lines is the initial phrase (the spectacular fumble and the dropping of the head). But the other phrases are used for literary embellishment, a general no-no in screenwriting.

My point with these excerpts was that, at times, it is okay to "break the rules" during these sequences. Such rule-breaking should be done sparingly and carefully. But it is certainly okay at times. This piqued the interest of my audience, and I recently received a follow-up question from one of my students. Nathan Flood asked me the following:

In adding a bit of unshootable description to set the mood, is that also acceptable for character intros. I've read to add a mood to the character as well, but I've also seen people react negatively (the jerks) when I write something that's not 'on the screen'.

Example: ...assistant district attorney JEFF WOODS, 45. A pit-bull in a business suit, he's only happy when he hears the word, "“guilty"”.

To me that conveys the character I'm looking for, but should I leave out the '...happy when he hears..."? I like it as I think it better describes the type of guy he is more than the pit bull in a business suit.
It is an interesting question. And before I answer, I should restate something, in case it is unclear. I am not a stickler for format. I don't want to read something that is completely off, as it indicates someone who has no idea how to write a film. But I'm not measuring margins, or tossing something out simply because there's a flashback in the first 10 pages.

I will also say that I can only speak based on my own experience, and may not have the same reactions as all or even most readers. That being said, I know most readers will overlook some "broken rules" and pay much more attention to whether or not the script is well-written and tells a good story. That being said, on to my answer to Nathan's question.

The unfilmable in a character intro is one of those things that I wouldn't mind, but that others might. The reason I don't mind the example you gave is because it really is a description of character. What I definitely DO object to is when I see actual facts that are unfilmable included in character intros. Stuff like "Carol has just lost her father, but is slowly getting her life back on track." (As in the script I just finished, that was written by two people who should have known better how to write a script and adapt a beloved children's book. But which I also can't speak about by name, due to confidentiality. Hopefully some day I can, but I was shocked at how bad the script was, and pray they find a way to improve this screenplay and make the film this book should be. But anyway...)

So basically, I'd be careful with using it, and be aware that you MAY piss some people off. Plus, I'd keep it to no more than a single phrase, as you did. And only then, occasionally.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

When it Rains, it Pours; or: Renewing Focus

December is always a slow month for "the industry" here in LA. I remember, two years ago, my first December in LA, I literally had no film-related work the entire month. And only one month in to my life here. Not only did I take a hit in the wallet (or bank account, as it were), I also was extremely unproductive personally.

Last year, I planned ahead. I knew things would be slow, work-wise, and decided I wanted to focus on my own writing, so I could be productive then. I was moderately successful, and also did actually have some work during that month as well. But I still wasn't as productive as I wanted to be, so I got angry at myself. It did, however, force me to truly focus my energies and knock out my D2DVD-type horror script in 15 days during the month of January (with one quick revision). That script still awaits a more solid (but hopefully still quick) revision, but it was still an accomplishment of which I am proud.

Then comes this year. Things had been going well for me overall, with a new part-time job (started back in May or June or something) taking some of the monetary pressure off. I still had a good amount of work, but I knew that there was still the possibility that my reading work would slow down. Then it rained.

I got word at my PT job that I was no longer needed, at least not until after the holidays. Their work also slows in December. And to make matters worse, I was only given a week's heads up. This upset me, because when they hired me, it wasn't presented as a "temp" position, for just when they needed me. It was presented as a permanent, part-time position. I had no reason to expect that things might change, and they weren't unhappy with my work, so I was taken by complete (and unpleasant) surprise when they told me this.

Still, I decided, this would be a great opportunity in some ways. I was forced to recognize the reduced workload I'd have in December with extreme clarity. And I noticed it early, before it really hit. So it gave me the opportunity to try to ensure that I was productive through the next month or two. I began organizing my life with two goals in mind.

Firstly, I'd get back to writing more on the scripts, with the goal of getting them all in good enough shape to start taking out early in the new year. But I also decided to renew my focus on freelance writing. I currently write regularly for scr(i)pt magazine, and I've occasionally had other things published and/or had other freelance writing gigs. So I decided to make a target list of publications for which I might be able to write, and began to start thinking up story ideas to pitch. Many were film or writing related, but some focused on other interests I have. But I figured if I could get 2 articles a month, along with my other work (such as reading), I'd be in pretty good shape financially. My expenses, after all, are thankfully not that high.

Then it poured.

In a sense.

I got woken up this morning by my friend Jason, from whom I sublet my room. Jason is someone who used to live in LA, then moved to New York. When he found out I was thinking of moving to LA, he set me up with an apartment. He lived in LA, with my roommate, and since the rent in this apartment is really cheap, he wanted to hold onto the room in case he ever wanted to move back here. So he sublet the room, to other people previously, then to me. It did make for a weird situation, where I would send my rent check to NYC, and then Jason would send his check back to my roommate here in LA (since the roommate is the one on the lease). But it made no difference to me. So I was fine with it, especially because my rent was so damn cheap. Just what I could afford!

But when Jason called this morning, it was to tell me that he'd decided to move back to LA, and was going to want his room back. So now, I not only have less work (and therefore less income), but I also have to find a new apartment, most likely one that will cost me more overall. Ugh. Too bad I couldn't have lost my apartment in the same way that forced Julie to move.

So, what to do? I could allow this to distract me, as I've let similar things do in the past. But I know that would be bad. Instead of letting it get me off track, I need it to force me to redouble my refocusing efforts. Getting my scripts into good shape so I can get them out there has become even more important now. So has finding new sources of freelance income. Of course, I'll also look for an appropriate replacement job. But the bottom line is, I need to maintain, and even intensify, my focus. And hopefully, all the other pieces will fall into place as well.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

About 3/4 of an hour in, and I'm already wishing you a good one!

I'm thankful for the community that I've grown to be a part of, via this blog, and the ever-expanding scribosphere. Thank you to the approximately (unique) 150 or so of you who visit the blog each day (and no, I know that's not the same 150 or so each day, and yes, that's not completely accurate, since it does get consistently lower each weekend day). Thanks to those of you who logged in on my big-hit days (significantly more than 150), most prominently the day or two that followed Expo.

Thanks to all of you who have commented on the blog, and/or asked me questions here or via email. Taking a page from Neil's book, I'll also thank my very first commenter. Back on my very first post: Tamara. I don't believe she's posted a comment since, and probably doesn't even read the blog much. Which would make complete sense, since she has absolutely nothing to do with the screenwriting world. So I don't blame her, and would actually be surprised if she were in fact reading.

Thank you, as well, to all the other great bloggers around the scribosphere. I've learned so much from you as well, and have found hours of enjoyment while trolling through them!

Lastly, I'm thankful that I live in America, where I can say, write, think, do, eat, practice, exercise, drink, etc., whatever I like, when I like.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

LA WiFi?

So, now that I have my laptop, I'm looking for good places to get out and write. Both places that are closer to me than the Creative City Cafe that I recently checked out, as well as places in other parts of the city, should I find myself there. Preferably free (since I think Charbucks charges to use the WiFi in their stores).

So, do any of you know of good free places around LA? More importantly, I've found a couple of resources on the web that list these "hotspots," but firstly I don't know how accurate and up-to-date they are, and secondly I don't know if there are better sites out there. So, if anyone has a good web resource, it would be awesome. Maybe another of those cool Frappr! thingies? Or a different map mash-up? That would be cooler than just an alphabetical listing.


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Rewatching Platoon

Spoilers (but if you ain't seen the film in the last 19 years, it ain't my problem!)

I just rewatched Platoon, which I hadn't seen in a number of years. The main thing that spurred me to watch it was that it was one of the screenplays I referenced in my "Verbalizing the Visual" seminar at the Expo.

First, a brief note about the seminar. Essentially, I took well-written excerpts of memorable visual sequences from various screenplays, and examined/highlighted the specific techniques the different writers used to turn the images into words on the written page. The scene I used from the Platoon script (by Oliver Stone) was the plot-significant scene in which Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) murders Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe).

I pointed out how the script did a wonderful job of delivering character through this action scene. But I was actually mildly disappointed when I watched the film now. Two of the details I picked up on in the screenplay as evocative and/or significant were actually dropped from the final production. One was a subtle bit of description, actually split between two "scenes" (since it is all continuous and in the jungle, it is hard to call them "scenes," but they do have separate sluglines). Barnes is described as "moving through the jungle... resetting his course. Like a hunter stalking a deer." Then later, when Elias comes face-to-face with the rifle-wielding Barnes, things click and he knows what is about to happen. "Quick as a deer, he makes his move, trying to plunge back into the bush."

I really liked the way they were tied together with the animalistic/deer reference, and clearly on opposite sides. It was subtle, and simply meant for the reader. Obviously, there was no way we'd make a connection between hunter and deer while watching the sequence. Still, I glommed onto it, and appreciated the description. But then, during the scene, Elias never makes that move. He just stands there, and Barnes shoots him before he even makes a move. Not really a big deal, but disappointing nonetheless.

Also, immediately after that point, in the script we see the following lines: "Elias jerking backwards into the bush, mortally wounded. Bird cries. A crime against nature." I loved that piece about the bird cries as punctuation to the scene. Except, you guessed it -- no bird cries in the final film. Again, not a major thing, but disappointing nonetheless.

Finally, I realized another thing that bothered me about the film this time around. Mind you, I really love the film, and think it is one of the better Vietnam movies, if not one of the better war films overall. Still, through the film, Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is the humanizing voice. He fights against Barnes' murderous and barbaric impulses. He yells at the soldiers for raping the Vietnamese woman. And overall he is a voice of reason, or at least commentary on the insanity of the war. Then, at the end, he is pushed to the edge, and murders Barnes in cold blood, getting his revenge for both the murder on Elias and his attempted murder of Taylor himself. I have no problem with this shift in character, and in fact think it is one of the major points of the film.

What I do have a problem with is the aftermath of this event. As Chris leaves, and is airlifted away, he is perfectly calm, and even lighthearted and happy. Just a few minutes after going against his very nature to murder his nemesis in cold blood. It left me feeling empty, after a film of emotionally powerful scenes. Anyone else ever notice this? Or am I just overanalyzing?

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Web Resources

I'm going to be writing a brief article for the online edition of scr(i)pt magazine about the various screenwriting resources on the web. I already know plenty, but I'm sure there are some good ones that I'm unaware of. So if you've got any faves to suggest that you think I may not be familiar with, please drop me an email or leave it in the comments, in the next few days!



Sunday, November 20, 2005

Show and Tell

I've been thinking a bit, recently, about the famous maxim of screenwriting: Show don't Tell.

The idea is, action is character, and film is a visual medium, so if we want to really enliven our characters, we should show them taking actions that define them, rather than simply talking out their feelings, or whatever.

But then I thought about the progression of films overall, since the silents until now. Certainly, before the age of sound on film, actions were everything, and at the beginning of the sound era, the remnants of that remained. But then as film history progressed, films got more an more talky. (I feel the weaknesses of Neil LaBute's films are not just that people are saying what they should be doing, but that in their talking, they're really just talking about nothing. So instead of saying what they feel instead of showing it, they're just talking loud but saying nothing.)

Anyhow, I started to wonder if this was actually indicative more of a trend in culture in general. Has our society become one of talkers, rather than doers? Is our talk actually the action in itself? I mean, how many people do we know that would rather sit around and argue about something, rather then get up and do something about it? Maybe, talky movies are less inaccurate or inappropriate than they'd seem.

Now, believe me, I'm not suggesting that it's okay to just have a bunch of people sitting around and talking for a whole film. Just as Hitch said that "drama is life with the dull bits cut out," we should aim to write movies that are more interesting than real life, even if people sitting around and talking all the time is realistic. Might it be appropriate for certain characters, in certain films, to sit around talking all the time?

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Follow-Up Blogging

I truly thank you all for your input on that last post. Much obliged.

So here's what I've learned/decided. Basically keep doing what I'm doing, and just accept the lack of comments. Throw in some more short posts occasionally, and try to pose a few more questions in them. Even if I remain a "non-personal" blog, perhaps throw out a few more personal tidbits mixed in (especially if they are about the Arctic Monkeys).

Something else I discovered is that a number of you feel as if you have "nothing to contribute" since you are more beginner than experienced. Well, please don't let that stop you. I mean, hey, if you have no questions, that's fine. But never feel like a question you ask is a "stupid" question. As I always say, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people! ;-) No really, I think the Socratic method is the best way to learn, so ask away. And if you're embarrassed to post 'em, send 'em to me directly. If I think they are too simple, I can respond directly, and if not, I can throw 'em up on the blog. Hell, I'm bound to run out of things to say eventually!

Which also brings me to a different, but related topic. So when I was at Expo last weekend, I was teaching a couple of seminars, as you know. But I also went to one (and would have gone to others, schedule permitting). I also still read various screenwriting books (currently I'm in the middle of Alex Epstein's Crafty Screenwriting). Why? If I teach, write for scr(i)pt mag, etc., shouldn't I be some kind of "expert?" Well, I do believe I have some decent measure of expertise (hopefully), but at the same time, I hope that I'll constantly be striving to learn for the rest of my life. This is how I operate, not just in my writing, but in life in general. It's been said that "life is a journey" and I agree wholeheartedly. So no matter where you are in your writing development, I encourage you to strive to learn more and improve.

And see this recent post at The Thinking Writer for similar advice!

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Thursday, November 17, 2005


Now, I know that since this is a screenwriting blog, you probably thought, based on that title, it would be a post about writing good dialogue. Right?

Well, I will talk about that some other time (probably in a post entitled something witty and clever like, "On Dialogue"). But this post is more about the blog in general.

I know lots of you read this (I can see it from StatCounter, BlogPatrol, and SiteMeter, all of which I use for slightly different reasons). I know that some of you are people who just stumble onto the blog accidentally, and it isn't really your cup of Joe(l), and that's cool too. But I also know that a number of you are regular or semi-regular visitors here.

So speak up, will ya? I love reading comments, and I know that some posts get decent numbers of comments. But I also find that my posts get many fewer comments than those of other screenwriting blogs. So it is less a dialogue (as I'd prefer it be) than a monologue in which I feel like I'm lecturing or something.

Now I'm not asking you to just leave a comment for the sake of leaving a comment, and to make me feel better. But I kind of wonder what it is about my posts that seem to elicit fewer responses than others. Am I forceful in my writing, in an overbearing kind of way? Do I not ask enough questions of you? (Here's a few.) I hope the subject matter is interesting. Yes? No?

Regardless, I'd love it if y'all left me comments more regularly, and not just those that let me know you're reading. Although those are cool too. But rather, let's turn this into more of a dialogue. If you're interested, that is!


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Q&A: Common Genre Flaws

John Donald Carlucci wrote me to ask the following question:

Is it possible to get a few copies of coverage you've done on romcoms or action pieces that illustrate the things that really turn you off as a reader?
Is it possible? Sure! But to be honest, an individual coverage on one of those won't be that illustrative, plus it would take me a long time to go through them all to find an appropriate one.

Instead, since I mentioned some of this in my morning Expo seminar this past Sunday, I figured I'd instead turn to my notes from that, and cull the most common flaws for each of these genres. Just the things to avoid. The things that I see most frequently in bad scripts from these too-frequently-bad genres.

RomCom: Way too often, Romantic Comedies are completely unoriginal and utterly formulaic. I'd say this describes the bulk of RomCom scripts out there. Furthermore, make sure it has equally strong Romance and Comedy elements. This is a good idea for any genre blends you write. I'm aiming for this with Hell on Wheels, and I think that The Watch didn't do a particularly good job of this, in the draft I read.

Also, be aware that many romances should remain straight romances, and not aim to be the RomComs they're not. There is nothing wrong with a Romantic Drama, or even a Romantic Tragedy.

Make sure you have as many and as complex complications as possible. Too many poor RomCom scripts rely on a single major complication, drawn out for as long as possible. This is simply bad writing.

Action: Less variety here in terms of what most commonly makes for a bad one. A lot have some good style but a weak plot. Like RomComs, they may also be well-written but formulaic. Too frequently I also see an overly inactive protagonist or a protagonist about whom we don't really care. This is a kiss of death for Action movies.

These things are all categories of problems in the semi-decent examples of these genres, by the way. I'm of course not even talking about those examples of the genres that suck. Not much to be learned from those, other than "don't suck."

Lastly, don't think you can cover up story weaknesses with cheap gimmicks. I see that too often, and we (readers) can see through it!

And by "you," I didn't really mean you, specifically, John. I just meant the writer in general. ;-)

Hope that helps!

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FFFJ: Venus Kincaid

As promised, my second FFFJ post of the day.

I saw this one on the script sales board a few days ago, and was honestly surprised. I read this script (by Lori Lakin, based on an animated series by the Love Brothers) back in March, off a draft dated 1/3/05. And I have to be honest. I thought the script was pretty bad. But first, so we're on the same page, the logline:

"Secret Agent foils plot against the world while fighting disorder that shifts her age from 30 to 13 and back."

Now, I definitely saw the commercial potential in a 13-year old, black female, kick-ass heroine. Unfortunately, that was the only thing this script had going for it, and unless they completely overhauled the screenplay, I'd be surprised if the film does well. Then again, maybe they did/will completely overhaul it, and/or maybe the heroine's potential will be enough.

Still, let's examine some of the details. First of all, let's examine the heroine herself. While she'll be played (for most of the film) by a 13-year old, she will be acting like a 30-year old trapped in that body. And while 13 Going on 30 is a cute enough concept, it plays into an adolescent fantasy; teens want to be adults. 30 going on 13 might just annoy that audience.

More importantly, however, the script itself was terrible. It was long and rambling, with an overly repetitive and drawn out second act. There were numerous irrelevant sequences as well. Dialogue mixed some decently hip slang with some spot-on obvious statements. And the bulk of the other (non-Venus) characters were completely unimaginative. Finally, most plot points were telegraphed and/or overly familiar as well, making for a boring storyline.

The comedy also fails. While there might be a few decent slapstick-style laughs, more often then not, the comedy was just plain silly, rather than witty. And the premise itself seemed much better suited to comic book (not surprising, seeing its origins) or TV type humor. As a feature, however, it seemed more akin to a Tank Girl type bomb than a Men in Black style super-hit.

But who knows? I could be wrong. Or, they could overhaul that darned script.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

FFFJ: The Watch

Purchased earlier this month, The Watch seemed like a good candidate for my next FFFJ post (probably the first of two today).

I read this script just over a year ago, and the draft was dated 8/11/04, FYI. May have been a different draft (not just based on the timing, but also since my draft was credited to Victor Salva rewriting John Claflin and Daniel Zelman, while on Done Deal it only lists the latter two).

Here's my logline for the script:

WWII soldiers battle a demon unleashed by the Nazis that stays alive by inhabiting and animating dead bodies.

Now first off, what recent movie does the set-up have reminiscences of? I'll wait...

That's right. Hellboy. And the fact that that movie had recently come out, as well as its less than stellar box office, did impact my comments. Though the script's plot, setting, and style were all quite different than those of Hellboy, the simple similarity alone was enough to make the concept seem less original. Had this script been produced and released prior to that film, it would've felt very fresh and inventive.

Still, there were some solid points to this script. It featured good dialogue, decent characterization, and most importantly, an interesting genre blend between war and horror. Of course, this blend nicely underscores the theme, relating how horrific war actually is, and the script wisely handles this theme even-handedly and without preachiness. This theme helps the screenplay gain more depth and substance than a standard horror film.

Even still, it is the same genre blend that ultimately failed in the script version I read. While the blend itself was intriguing, neither of the individual elements worked particularly well. Since it played off elements from both genres, the screenplay felt like a watered down version of both, instead of a blend of two equally strong parts. Ultimately, the screenplay lacked the "oomph" necessary to push it past its similarities to Hellboy, and to make it live up to its concept's promise.

Could this film be good and/or profitable? Certainly. But the draft I read was flawed enough that it's marketing complications were more worthy of consideration. Who knows how much the script changed from the version I read?

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Live From the Triple-C

Now that I have the laptop, have set things up, and have a bit more time than I did the last couple of weeks, I figured it would be a great time to do the writerly thing. Yep, I'm writing from a coffee shop!

After work today, I headed straight over to Santa Monica and Poinsettia to the new Creative City Cafe. It is one of the newer "writers' cafes" out here, with free WiFi, a script library, library of writing books, and writer-friendly environment. They have a number of writing-themed events planned as well.

I think the place could be a bit cozier, to be honest. But it is a generally decent place to write. I'm feeling kind of hot in here, but then again, I'm a New Yorker who wears shorts all "winter" here, because I don't get cold easily. I laugh when I see people in LA in 55-degree weather wearing scarves and parkas. So maybe it is a comfortable temperature for the "regular" SoCal folks. So yeah. In general, I'd say the CCC is a cool place to at least check out if you're in the area. And we'll see how it grows and develops over time.

Anyway, this is just a small "writing break" for me. Time to get back to the real writing. I've done about 3 more pages on Hell on Wheels, but I'd like to at least finish this scene before I take off. So back to it!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pics From the Scribosphere Meet-Up

...are up at Warren's site.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Expo Wrap-Up (Part I)

I had a great time at Expo 4 this weekend, and I'm sure many others will be posting their experiences as well. But here's where I stand (broken into a few parts for ease of reading).

So, I was only at Expo for part of the day on Friday, and then the whole day on Sunday. First person I saw at Expo whom I knew was Shawna, at the registration area on Friday.

Then I headed over to hear Jeff "The Dude" Dowd speak. As I mentioned, he's a producer and producer's rep who was also the inspiration for the character of "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski. I'll be honest. The Dude was not the greatest speaker. He seemed to know his stuff, but wasn't very organized about delivering it. Still, I don't regret going, and I think he did make some good points. One was stressing the importance of creating a great entrance for your lead character(s). He illustrated with the openings of Cool Hand Luke (which I'm embarrassed that I've never seen) and (a personal fave of mine) L.A. Confidential. A good entrance, said Dowd, is one of those things that helps attract actors, along with extreme behavior and complexity, and attracting actors is a key element to getting your film made.

He mentioned a conversation he had with the Coen Brothers where he was discussing their writing process. Joel writes a scene and makes it as difficult for the main character as possible, and then Ethan comes in and tries to make it worse. Then Joel tries to top it, etc. It is driven by sibling rivalry. I found this a good way of working, especially if you have a collaborator, and I may need to talk to MLee about that!

Dowd also spoke about using anticipation as a means through which we can draw viewers into a scene, rather than keeping them as outside viewers. After the intros of L.A. Confidential, we very clearly anticipate the way these characters will all lock horns. Dowd also reminded us of McKee's point that a good third act should not present a choice between good and bad, since any character will have an easy time choosing good. Rather it must be a choice between bad and different bad.

Lastly, Dowd's big pushing point was that, especially now in the digital age, when things are cheap and still high quality, and easily and quickly mutable, we have the benefit of making movies via a truly dramaturgical process. We need to get actors to read our scripts, accept and listen to feedback from regular people (since they know films better than anything else), tweak and change as appropriate, etc.

More to come in Part II.

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Expo Wrap-Up (Part II)

After hearing The Dude, I headed over to the trade show area to work the scr(i)pt magazine booth. Was pretty busy over there, but I still got the chance to talk to lots of people and walk around a bit to see other booths.

Bill Martell was there, and as fun and entertaining as always. John Scott Lewinski was there too, and we chatted for a bit as well. I got the chance to pop over to Chris Soth's booth for Million Dollar Screenwriting, and we met briefly, in anticipation of better times later in the weekend. Among other people who stopped by to introduce themselves to me or say Hi at the scr(i)pt booth were Warren and Neal, as well as Emily. I also met Maziar, whom you should all use to copy your scripts ($.02 per page!), and who was kind enough to give me a ride home that afternoon.

Saturday, I did not attend the Expo, and I spent Saturday night prepping for my seminars on Sunday, and going to sleep early!

Sunday began bright and early, so I could make it to Expo on time for my 8 AM session. I have to say that the two sessions I had on Sunday went as well as I could have possibly hoped. I had about 35-40 people in each one, and I was really happy with those numbers considering that A) this was the first time I was presenting seminars here, and B) the first seminar was at 8 AM on a SUNDAY! and the second was up against some pretty hefty guests of honor: William Goldman and David Koepp.

I was also really pleased with the feedback people in the seminars gave me, and was quite flattered by some of the awesome compliments I received. I won't repeat them here, but I'll just say thanks very much to those of you reading this who may have been among my students in those seminars. (And if you were there, and this is your first time reading my blog, please stick around for a while. Poke through the archives. Leave a comment or two. And check the links in my sidebar.)

Another really cool experience from Expo was another benefit of being a speaker there. I got to hang out in the speakers' "Green Room." Why was this cool? Well, some free food and drinks, for starters. But more importantly, it really made me feel like a part of a community of colleagues, and specifically made me feel like I was beginning to become a part of a new community of colleagues of whom I was "the rookie." People in the room, some of whom I met/spoke with, and some of whom I just saw, were Michael Hague, Karl Iglesias, Jim Mercurio, Rob Tobin, Linda Aronson, Michael Halperin, Julie Marsh Nelson, Robin Russin, Brad Schreiber, Richard Michaels Stefanik, and Marc and Elaine Zicree, among others. And everyone was really nice and friendly.

But what was even more thrilling was to look over at one point and see William Goldman sitting there as well! He was waiting to begin his first Guest of Honor lecture, and a few people were going over to talk to him. I did the same, which was a thrill. I introduced myself, and thanked him for coming to speak and being so encouraging to everyone there. Then I joked about being "up against him" in the scheduling, and he was perfectly encouraging. What I didn't do, but I thought would've been funny, was to walk up to him and say, "Mr. Goldman, I think you're writing stinks." And then when he reacted however he would, I would have said, "Not really. I just didn't want to sound like everyone else when I came up and told you how great your writing is, and what a fan I am." Instead, I didn't tell him anything of that nature, and simply left it to a polite thank you.

Final Wrap-Up to come in Part III

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Expo Wrap-Up (Part III)

After my second seminar ended, I headed over to the Pitch Fest being run by scr(i)pt magazine. It gave me a chance to briefly catch up with Shelly (the editor), a few other writers, and Zack, the marketing manager. And via that, I made some progress on those two surprises I promised you guys (but I'm still not revealing them).

Then there were a few free drinks at the post-pitch cocktail party, where I also had a really nice conversation with one of the students from my second seminar. (If you're reading this -- hey!)

But then it was off to the Figueroa for drinks with the extended Scribosphere family! At the certainty (it ain't even just a risk) of leaving some of you out (and if I do, please accept my apologies and chime in in the comments field), we saw Wise Warren (of course), Shawna, Chris, Neal, Jim, Kira, John, Trish (and roommate Andi (or is it Andy)), Writergurl, Bill, Sarah, and many others. Warren, Shawna, and Trish all had digital cameras there, so they might post some pics. Or if they email me, I may post a few as well!

I'd say about 85% of the people hanging around the Veranda Bar were Expo attendees, so even those who were not officially part of the Scribogathering came to drink and chat with us. In particular, I had a lovely time with Zack and Jak of the London Script Consultancy. They're cool, lots of fun, and certainly not shy about speaking their minds.

Also spent some good time with Chris Soth, and we had a nice chat on the way home. A good man and nice guy who knows his stuff. Check out Million Dollar Screenwriting, as I mentioned previously.

Lastly, I'll give a brief shout out to a few other of you fine people that I saw over the course of the weekend. It was really lovely to finally meet Liz, and catch up with her briefly. And there was also Bernie Su (whose TV blog address I can't find, or who has taken it down). Good to see you again, bro. I'm sure there were others, but my brain is still a bit fried! :-)

All in all, an awesome weekend full of good friends, good conversation, good experiences, and lots of free shit. ;-) Hope to see you all at similar events in the future!

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Just Don't Let Him Give You a Watch!

Beats the heck out of me whether this is a joke or for real, but frankly, I can't say it matters at this point. Apparently, Christopher Walken is running for President in 2008 (heh heh -- Walken is Runnin'). See here.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter what his politics are. He'll just scare America into voting for him! Or as this letter that was supposedly written to him by a child (I also suspect this is a joke) calls it: "put the fear of God" into them.

(And by the way, for those who didn't get it, the post's title is a Pulp Fiction reference.)

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ineligible Bachelor

From Done Deal:

Title: Bachelor Party 2
Log Line: n/a
Writer: Jay Longino
Agent: Mngrs. Bernie Cahill and Jay Froberg of Roar Entertainment
Buyer: 20th Century Fox
Price: n/a
Genre: Comedy
Logged: 11/9/05
More: Assignment. Sequel to the 80's film. Ron Moler, who produced the original film, and Blue Star Pictures' William Sherak & Jason Shuman will produce.

So, what's wrong with this picture? Sure, the original Bachelor Party was a solid comedy, that featured a good enough Tom Hanks before he got too popular and famous for his own good. I even remember a few lines and scenes from that movie, more than I can say for many of the other mindless comedies from that era.

But I can't possibly be the target audience for this film, can I? They've got to be targeting a younger audience, no?

So why set this up as a "sequel to the 80's film?" Those who saw that one will be unlikely to see this one, and those in this film's target demographic will be unlikely to have ever even heard of the original, let alone be familiar with it.

It will be interesting if this remains positioned as a "sequel" if the film actually ends up going into production, or if the "market research" indicates a new name might serve it better.

But as far as I'm concerned, the only reason this would be worth viewing as a sequel is if Tawny Kitaen is back, too!

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Expo 4 -- Fun Joel Recommends...

Just wanted to throw out a few things that I've selected out of the spectrum of seminars and events at Screenwriting Expo 4 that I recommend, for what that's worth! In no particular order...

John August -- He may be doing other events, of which I'm unaware, but at the least, I know he was scheduled to be the Guest of Honor on Friday at 2 PM.

William Goldman -- Duh. One of the most entertaining and enlightening screenwriters out there. I enjoyed hearing him at last year's Expo. And of course, if you have not yet, read as many of his books and screenplays as possible, and see the movies too! He is scheduled to be Guest of Honor at 10 AM on Sunday, and together with David Koepp at 2 PM on Sunday (though, of course, I'd also recommend you attend my second seminar at that time).

Bill Martell -- The man behind Script Secrets, a colleague of mine at scr(i)pt magazine, and a heck of a nice guy. He's had a bunch of movies produced for TV, and always has offers great, practical advice. He's got a ton of seminars going on through the Expo, so look through the schedule and find one or three that appeal to you.

Jeff Dowd -- El Duderino (since I'm not into the whole brevity thing) himself. Friday at 10 AM and Saturday at 8 AM (that's being very un-Dude).

Billy Mernit -- He wrote the book on Romantic Comedy (literally the book -- it's the only one there is), and he's a nice guy too. He's teaching a RomCom seminar on Saturday at 10 AM.

Heather Hale -- The founder of the wonderful TheIndustry.LA (which recently had a nice facelift). She also has a number of seminars going on, so check the schedule.

Chris Soth -- Member of the scribosphere, and creator of "Million Dollar Screenwriting," on which he'll be presenting a seminar at 8 AM on Saturday.

PitchXchange -- sponsored by scr(i)pt magazine, and a great way to gain access to people you might not otherwise have access to.

Networking parties -- One of the best things about Expo is all the people you meet/can meet. There's a pre-Expo party on Thursday night at 7, Opening Night party on Friday at 10 PM, a free networking party at the convention center 10 PM on Saturday, and various post-pitch session parties each night at 5 PM.

Trade Show -- 10-6 each day. Lots of good booths, with discounts and great information. You can find me at the scr(i)pt mag booth on Friday from around 12-3.

Closing ceremony -- can be a bit long-winded, but is fun. You can win lots of prizes, hear readings from some of the scripts in competition, etc.

Post-Expo Scribosphere Meet-Up -- wind down with your newfound friends from around the scribosphere. Just please let me know if you think you'll be joining us!

Hope you'll be at the Expo, and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible. And most importantly, Have Fun!


Kudos Around the Scribosphere

Well, either the scribosphere has some pretty good writers in it, or they're casting a really wide net over at the Writers Arc. I tend to think it is the former.

At least four members of our extended (and ever-extending) virtual community have advanced to round two of the Writer's Arc fellowship competition. So here's my congratulatory shout out to Warren, Shawna, Writergurl, and The Big Woo!


And in other news, the new issue of scr(i)pt magazine should be on stands now. For some odd reason, my issue hasn't arrived in the mail yet! I have an article in there this month about choosing good titles and character names. And I believe I should also have a very brief piece in the front section about the very same Writer's Arc I just spoke of above. The cover story (not by me) is about The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. And though I had nothing to do with it directly, it is produced by Walden Media, the company for whom I do the majority of my reading work these days. I've heard honestly wonderful things about the film, and hope it does really well for us!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Celebrating my Centoscribery

100 posts is a time for celebration, in my book!

So a bit of a "State of the Blog" posting here. I'm really pleased with the way my blog has been progressing. Steady growth of readership, ever-widening geographic circles, new and ongoing features that I hope others will like, and (I think) a contribution to a growing community. I appreciate the "scribosphere" and feel like a relatively ensconced member. So I take pride in watching the numbers of writers in it grow alongside the readers I find I'm gaining. I also appreciate the budding friendships I've made through this virtual-cum-real community, and the supportive environment the scribosphere has fostered.

Thus, as I list a few stats, etc, I hope it is a source of pride to all of you, as it is to me!

100 posts
5 ½ months since Post #1 (166 days)
16,000+ total hits (non-unique)
5 posts about the Enneagram
3 FFFJ posts (with another to come soon)
4 Screenplay Review posts (with another in less than a month)
and at least a little snarkiness (I'll let you search for that on your own)

So, what's in store for Fun Joel moving ahead? Well, let's see. There is of course the upcoming Post-Expo meet-up, and hopefully more such events in the future. MLee and I are steadily moving along on Hell on Wheels, so you'll be hearing more about that. I'll continue with the features I mentioned above.

Plus, I may have one or two bigger announcements to share. One about the blog itself, and one about something I may be working on that is screenwriting related, but outside of the scribosphere. Nothing like a little suspense to keep y'all coming back, eh?

And now back to your regularly non-self-congratulatory blogging!

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Official Expo Meet-Up

Okay, it's official! Warren and I are co-organizing a Scribosphere Post-Expo Meet-Up.

This Sunday night, November 13, after the Screenwriting Expo ends, we'll be heading over to the nearby Figueroa Hotel for drinks in their Veranda Bar. All are welcome, but please let us know in advance. Figure (or Figueroa) we'll get there around 6ish, though it might be a bit later, depending on how late the Expo Closing Ceremonies go.

This of course does not preclude meeting up any other time at the Expo, but this one will be organized. But as I say, please let us know if you plan to make it. You can post a comment, or even better, send me or Warren an email. Then, if I make an evite or something, I'll add you.

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CSS and the Blogging Screenwriter

Just a quick post...

Any of you out there pretty comfortable with CSS and also working with Blogger's templates? I've tweaked my template a bit, but I'm certainly no coding expert. But I'd like to make use of some of the space off to both sides of my central "paper style" page. If anyone thinks they can lend a hand, please drop me an email at FunJoel[AT]Earthlink[DOT]net (replace the bracketed words with the appropriate symbols).


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Friday, November 04, 2005

Meet Me in Los Angeles (or Fun Joel shills)

I know it was originally Meet Me in St. Louis, but I dug the title.

Anyhow, as you must know already, if you read this blog at all, Screenwriting Expo 4 is next weekend (Nov. 11-13). As you must also be aware, I'll be teaching two seminars at the Expo, and would love to have as many of you as possible come and join me for one or both. They are both on Sunday. Here's a brief run down on each:

"Writing to be Read" (Sun. 11/13, 8-9:30 AM) --
You all know I'm a professional script reader. Over the years, I have given many scripts the dreaded PASS rating. Ever wonder why? We all know there are at least 500 ways to annoy a script reader, and I'd tell you that most are probably valid. But it isn't enough to avoid these things (or do the right things, as the case may be). Plenty of the scripts I've PASSed on were written in the proper format and had the correct number of brads. So I decided to go through my files (the same ones that supply us with FFFJ), and pick out categories of scripts I rejected. I wanted to classify the bigger mistakes people make that causes their scripts to be rejected. Then, if you can keep these things in mind, you'll have a better chance of getting your work past the reader, and passed UP (instead of PASSed on) to a development exec.

"Verbalizing the Visual" (Sun. 11/13, 2-3:30 PM) --
Many of us focus too heavily on dialogue when we write. Remember that film is, at its core, a visual medium. So what about those sequences in which there is almost no dialogue spoken? I'm talking about physical comedy, sports, general action, battles, sex, etc. What are some of the better ways to write such scenes? By referencing the screenplays of many famous films, with well-written active sequences, I will be highlighting a number of techniques to write such scene effectively.

So, please come and take a seminar or two. And I know there are others I know from around the scribosphere who are also giving seminars. When I have time later, I'll try to write another post highlighting their seminars as well.

Still, even if you can't make it to either of those seminars, I'd love to meet you all anyway. You should be able to find me at the scr(i)pt magazine booth on Friday, around 12-2:30. I might be attending the party at the Expo on Saturday night. And Warren and I were thinking about organizing a get-together of sorts. I don't remember his schedule, but maybe midday on Sunday might be good, say around lunchtime? Alternatively, I'm able to hang out somewhere after the Expo ends, on Sunday night, if people are up for that. So if you're interested in meeting up sometime during, or around Expo, let me know! Drop an email or something.

Looking forward to seeing many of you next week!

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

On Flexibility

I am not a very flexible person. Physically that is. My extra gut-pounds definitely causes this to a certain degree, but it goes further than that. I've never been very limber. Sitting cross-legged (or Indian-style, as we used to call it when I was a kid) was never comfortable, and I could never really get my knees to go down very far.

I'm sure I could try some yoga to improve this, and I actually do want to some time (though I still want to lose some weight first, and I'm trying to do so now -- eating better, etc). People who do yoga tell me that it will help me lose the weight, but I still feel I need to make the first improvement on my own, and then use the yoga to take it further.

But none of this is really what this post was intended to be about! It's about a different kind of flexibility. While I am not physically flexible, I am generally a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy. (After reading John August's very cool "Screenwriting Style test" this morning (but more on that later), I referred once again to my Myers-Briggs personality typing. So I'd say this personality trait of mine is likely relatable to my ENTP personality (even though I wrote ENTJ in my comments on JA's post, I realized I was wrong, and very clearly an ENTP)! Which of course dovetails nicely with my Enneagram type 7.)

While some might say I'm actually just easily distracted (I am) -- and this post's rambling manner is clear proof of my distractability (no, it's not really a word) -- I would also point to the strengths of my being able to alter a plan in mid-course, should the need arise. This, of course, applies only to cases when I've even bothered to make a plan in the first place. Usually I don't plan things more than a day or two in advance, anyway!

So other than that brief mention of John August's post, what does this have to do with screenwriting? Good question. Glad you asked. It is this lack of wanting to plan that has made me a more sparse outliner, over the years. Sure, I think it is necessary to have a decent idea of where you going and how you'll get there, when it comes to writing a screenplay. I'm not of the variety of screenwriters who just start writing and see where the script will take tham. Perhaps I simply don't trust myself enough. Whatever the reason -- I don't do it. But I still was never one to write a tremendously detailed outline/treatment/beat sheet/whatever else you'd like to call it. (Maybe that could be another axis on August's system -- Planner versus Improviser or some such.)

Then, when I decided to knock out a cheapo direct-to-DVD type horror script in 15 days (with a revision), I knew I could only do it if I worked out a pretty thorough outline in advance. So when I did it last January, the outline was a huge help. I still need to give it one more quick revision, but it was the quickest, by far, that I'd ever written anything remotely script-like. Then came Hell on Wheels. We decided to lay out a pretty detailed outline first. As I mentioned, with a collaboration, it is that much more important to make sure you and your co-writer are on the same page, so to speak.

So now I'm in the middle of my pages (yes, I'm behind schedule, by a lot), aiming to get done by the end of this week. And I got a good amount done today (though I still am aiming to do about 3-5 more pages before I go to bed). But it was slow going at first due to some structural overhauling I needed to do. When MLee and I last met to discuss the project, we decided to cut out some of our previously planned scenes from the 2nd half of Act 2. We realized they were relatively extraneous and redundant, and also that we had put too much in there.

So I was left the task of figuring out how to make it all work. So before I even began my pages, I had to decide which scenes would be cut, which would then necessarily need to be pushed earlier in the Act (interspersed with the pages MLee wrote), and where to insert those scenes. So, after completing my revisions on the previous pages, I dove into inserting the scenes that had to be pushed up. Then I also began the second half of the act. So I'm hoping it's all downhill from here on out.

Bottom line: it paid to be flexible, even though we'd set out an outline in advance.

And lastly, in case you thought I'd forgotten...

I am an LFRS in John's system, but I'm trying to become more of an LFRT. Which, in fact, is partially what my Expo 4 seminar "Verbalizing the Visual" is about! But I'll post more on that in another day or two!

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

FFFJ: Fanboys

I saw the following on Done Deal's daily Script Sales board and decided it warranted another FFFJ post:

Title: Fan Boys
Log Line: A group of young, hardcore 'Star Wars' fans from the Midwest are determined to take their dying friend to Skywalker Ranch so that he can see the seminal sci-fi film in its perfect setting before he dies.
Writer: Adam F. Goldberg and Ernest Cline
Agent: n/a
Buyer: The Weinstein Company
Price: n/a
Genre: Comedy
Logged: 10/31/05
More: Preemptive purchase. Trigger Street's Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti,
Evan Astrowsky and Matthew Perniciaro will produce. Kyle Mann will direct. Dan Fogler will star.

I read this script a few months ago, and though I didn't think it was an excellent script, I did feel the concept had some strong commercial potential, based on its subject matter. The version I read was dated 5/21/05, and may have changed slightly for the version that was just purchased.

By the way, on a side note, in case any of you out there are wondering how loglines get written, let me show you my own logline for this film. Be aware that the one you see above is for selling purposes, and mine was for review/summary purposes. I almost always keep my loglines at 20 or fewer words (rarely I'll allow myself up to 25). So I think this can be mildly instructive as to how to boil a script down and distill the core of it's essence. So compare the Log Line above with the following 19 words:

Star Wars nerds take dying friend on cross-country adventure to the Skywalker Ranch to preview The Phantom Menace.

Not much that the version above adds, is there? Sure it includes a bit of color and context, but in actuality it says virtually the same thing in 18 more words. You can cut your loglines down the same way I did, and should.

Regardless, the one change that I'm curious about is the difference between my log line that refers to The Phantom Menace by name, and theirs which refers to it as "the seminal sci-fi film in its perfect setting." I wonder if this means they changed the film from a period piece set around 1998 to one set now. In the version I read, they wanted to see a copy of Episode I before it came out, while this seems more about simply viewing a perfect version of Episode IV in a pristine setting. Hmmm.

Anyway, my basic comments on Fanboys (my version titled it as one word, not two) were that while it was mildly entertaining, it was also utterly unoriginal. Nearly every road movie cliche has been recycled in this script. However, the fact that Star Wars fans are such a rabid lot, and form a massive potential market, I felt this film held some decent commercial potential nonetheless. It remained a PASS for the company for whom I read it, simply because it was not appropriate for them -- not in keeping with the type of films they make by design. But it could definitely prove profitable in the long run.

I also noted the fact that similar films, such as Detroit Rock City and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, generally underperform at the box office, but still are usually good for strong DVD income. Thus, even if the film fails at the box office, it could potentially gain cult status. I also want to make clear, that while the details were highly cliched, the script itself remained entertaining and humorous. It wasn't a bad or poorly written script, just a generally unoriginal one, cleverly set in a commercially promising context.


Incidentally, the "dying friend on his last trip" element also reminds me of another film, that I just rewatched this morning, and since I wasn't planning to mention it in a separate post, I'll mention it here. A number of years ago, I caught Ocean Tribe at the IFP Market in NYC (though it may have still been called the IFFM -- Independent Feature Film Market -- back then). I really loved this film and had wanted to get a copy for a while. Only recently was I able to score a copy after I saw the DVD laying around at one of the offices where I read.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this little gem (and I'm sure that means most of you), it was written and directed by Will Geiger (I also recently read his upcoming Elvis and Annabelle), and centers on some boyhood friends who grew up surfing together in a small California coastal town. When one of them, as an adult, is dying of cancer, the others reunite, kidnap him out of the hospital where he is recovering from chemo, and take him down to Baja California for a final surfing trip.

While the film definitely bears the mark of an indie feature debut, it remains a cut above. The surfing footage is nice, the dramatic moments are moving, and the comedic moments are funny. While this is by no means a perfect film, it is definitely one worth seeing, and I highly recommend it, if you can find it somewhere!

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