KARL: What do you think of this heat? JOHN McCLANE: Indian summer, huh? KARL: Feels like it’s going to rain like dogs and cats later. Here’s one of your guys. Detective, uh, Otto, isn’t it? JOHN McCLANE: John McClane. KARL: Mike, how you doing? I keep telling myself I’m going to take the stairs just for the exercise… but on a hot day like this, it seems I always end up riding the lift. JOHN McCLANE: What was the lottery number last night? You play the lottery? No? My wife buys me two tickets every week. Plays the same two numbers all the time. I say, “Why don’t you play a different number?“ She goes, “Those are my lucky numbers.“ I got the tickets right here-
— Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1996), written by Jonathan Hensleigh, certain original characters by Roderick Thorp
The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Elevator. Today’s suggestion by Gisela Wehrl.
Trivia: Jonathan Hensleigh was actually detained by the FBI after completing the script for the film because he knew extensive information about the Federal Gold Reserve in downtown Manhattan. Hensleigh stated that he got all the information from an article written in the New York Times.
Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Gisela: “This is one of the scene, where you convinced that John McClane is a real cop. He feels by heart, who the bad guys are! But the dialogue gives him some clues as well. The impostor cop mixes dogs and cats and talks about the lift instead of elevator. The next clue is a silent one — McClane sees the NYPD badge with his friend’s number. Therefore McClane talks about the lottery (as it was planted in the beginning of the movie). It gives him a reason to grab into his jacket. That’s one thing, what makes the Die Hard series so funny, McClane sometimes talks himself out of a situation. That he survives the shooting with several guns within an elevator (and ricochets), that’s due to the action genre.”
I’m attending a fundraiser for my son’s elementary school. It’s an alternative private school on the Westside, an institution that prides itself on its “diversity”… which I’ve discovered pretty much means they have parents who are agents and directors, entertainment lawyers and producers, studio execs and writers.
One of the parents is the President of Production for a major movie studio and the fundraiser just happens to be at his house.
It also just happens that my partner and I recently turned in a draft of a writing assignment at that same studio, our script well received there. So I am feeling rather jaunty as my wife and I enter the lavish home of our hosts.
The studio chief is at the door to greet us. His first words to me are these:
“Congratulations. We just green lit your movie.”
Feeling even jauntier, I bump up the amount of money we had figured we’d give the school. Hell, I have a green lit movie. Why not splash some of that cash around?
Uh, not so fast.
Later that week our agents tell us the studio has hired a well-known screenwriter to do a rewrite on our script. Nothing serious, we’re told. Just some minor character work and a polish to “bring the script home.”
Several months later, the screenwriter’s draft comes in. The studio’s reaction? Not so good. He does another draft. The response is even more tepid. Whatever heat the project had is now dissipated.
And the supposed green lit project? Dies on the vine. A little game that gets played out in Hollywood all the time: Green light. Red light.
I had a similar thing happen two other times. One was a remake of a 50’s comedy. The script we wrote got a major comic actor attached. The news was announced in the trades. Studio green light. The talent and his writing team were going to do a “polish” on the script. When the draft came in, they had completely retooled the story. The studio’s reaction?
Green light. Red light.
On another project we were in active pre-production, busy doing a polish on the script with the film’s director. Budget, casting, locations, schedules, the whole nine yards, all in progress. Then a movie came out with one similar narrative element to our project, much more prominent than anyone had anticipated. Basically blew us out of the water.
Green light. Red light.
Which goes to show you, there’s a green light… and a GREEN light. The regular old green light turns out to be a provisional one. A blinking green light, if you will. A GREEN light means they are actually by God committed to making the movie. How do you know when you get a GREEN light? Honestly you can’t really know until that first day of principal photography, the director yells “Action,” and the cameras roll. Because any number of things can go wrong in pre-production that can turn a green light into a red light.
So a word of advice: When someone says to you, “Congratulations, your movie is green lit,” nod your head, smile, and reply, “From your lips to God’s ears.” Then get your ass back to work on another story. Hopefully they’ll make your movie. But you always want to have something else going on… in case that green light turns red.
The Business of Screenwriting is a weekly series of GITS posts based upon my experiences as a complete Hollywood outsider who sold a spec script for a lot of money, parlayed that into a screenwriting career during which time I’ve made some good choices, some okay decisions, and some really stupid ones. Hopefully you’ll be the wiser for what you learn here.
Although Hugh Jackman has made it very clear that Logan will be his last movie as Wolverine, he’s not above indulging in some what-ifs. He hedged his bets when asked about a potential Wolverine / Deadpool movie, and now he’s entertaining the hypothetical possibility of a Wolverine / Avengers movie. No, it’s never going to happen — but Jackman admits that he might have been tempted to stick around if it had been an option.
Although Wolverine’s hung out with the Avengers plenty of times in the comics, it’s a completely different story on the big screen. 20th Century Fox retains the rights to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, while Marvel Studios owns most other characters from the Marvel Comics. While it’s technically possible for Marvel to strike up a sharing agreement with Fox — like they did with Sony to bring Spider-Man into the MCU — it seems very unlikely that Fox would want to. The X-Men films are still doing fine. There’s just no reason Fox would agree to overhaul the entire franchise to bring it in line with the rest of the MCU.
Still, a fan can dream. Screen Rant played the what-if game with Jackman, asking whether he’d be interested in an Avengers movie. His answer might make some of you sigh with regret:
If that was on the table when I made my decision, it certainly would have made me pause. That’s for sure. Because I always love the idea of him within that dynamic, with the Hulk obviously, with Iron Man but there’s a lot of smarter people with MBAs who can’t figure that out [laughter]. You never know.
He added, “At the moment, honestly, if I really did have them there, I probably wouldn’t have said this is the last. It just feels like this is the right time [to leave the character].” But that didn’t happen, so now not only are we never getting a Wolverine / Avengers movie, we’re never getting another Jackman-as-Wolverine movie.
Of course, it’s easy enough for Jackman to play along right now, when he’s under no obligation to make another Wolverine movie. It’s probably better, PR-wise, for him to agree that he’d like Wolverine to join the Avenger than it would be for him to shut down this line of questioning with a flat “no” — especially since it’s a safe bet no one will ever call his bluff. If I had to guess, I’d say that Jackman is probably really and truly done playing Wolverine. (And after 17 years, it’s hard to blame him for wanting to move on.) But never say never, right?
Working faster oftentimes means working smarter, especially when it comes to editing in Premiere Pro.
Finding ways to speed up and organize your workflow is extremely important if you’re a video editor, because not only will it cut down your turnaround, but it’ll help you maintain your sanity while editing a project for long periods of time. In this video from PremiumBeat, editor Jason Boone gives you 5 tips for customizing Premiere Pro to not only make it more efficient and easy to work with, but to also make it more conducive to the way you work.
Here are the 5 tips Boone talks about in the video:
Organizing your media is a key part of having a good workflow. If you’re spending most of your time looking for clips, music, and sound effects, you might want to start creating and organizing custom bins in Premiere Pro. Boone suggests making bins for video, audio, graphics, and sequences, as well as sub-folders within them for more specific assets, but you can customize it to fit your needs.
I imagine at least a few of you reading this are in high school. Maybe you’re even in class at this very moment. Perhaps you’re bored in computer class, anticipating your daily extra-long bathroom break and casual stroll down the hallway. What if the next time you’re taking a little break from class, you notice the whole school happens to be going underwater? That’d be pretty freaky, right? Well, that’s the premise of the aptly titled My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea, an animated film featuring the voices of Jason Schwartzman and Lena Dunham.
Below, watch the My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea trailer.
Writer-director Dash Shaw‘s film follows two sophomore students, Dash (Schwartzman) and his best pal Assaf (Reggie Watts), getting ready for their second year at Tides High School. Their friendship is threatened when Assaf grows closer to Verti (Maya Rudolph), editor of the school paper. The two friends wind up having bigger things to worry about when they’re precious little school turns into the set of a Rolan Emmerich movie. They’ll have to survive their school sinking, with or without the help of a know-it-all student (Dunham) and one mysterious lunch lady (Susan Sarandon).
The movie features the voice of filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell (Rabbit Hole) and is produced by director Craig Zobel (Z for Zachariah). Here’s the trailer:
Dash’s film looks like a delightful 75-minute mashup of a high school comedy and a disaster movie. It’s a fun concept that Dash and all involved could probably get creative and weird with in animation. Based on the reviews out of the festival circuit, My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea lives up to its premise by going to some bizarre and surreal places. Critics praise Dash’s story as much as the hand drawn animation.
Here’s the synopsis:
GKIDS proudly presents a new animated comedy from acclaimed cartoonist Dash Shaw (New School), featuring the voices of Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Reggie Watts, Maya Rudolph and Susan Sarandon. Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and his best friend Assaf (Reggie Watts) are preparing for another year at Tides High School muckraking on behalf of their widely-distributed but little-read school newspaper, edited by their friend Verti (Maya Rudolph). But just when a blossoming relationship between Assaf and Verti threatens to destroy the boys’ friendship, Dash learns of the administration’s cover-up that puts all the students in danger. As disaster erupts and the friends race to escape through the roof of the school, they are joined by a popular know-it- all (Lena Dunham) and a lunch lady (Susan Sarandon) who is much more than meets the eye, in this wild send-up of disaster cinema, high school comedy and blockbuster satire.
My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea opens in theaters April 14th.
Who is the costume designer for Aquaman? Which other Marvel heroes have been inhabited by The Phoenix? How power hungry is Superman in the new Injustice 2 trailer? Want to see a fanmade trailer for a Christopher Nolan directed Nightwing movie with Casey Affleck as The Riddler? What Batman story has Neil Gaiman been working on for nearly 30 years? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.
With apologies to my loved ones, the best Christmas gift I got last year was the Sense8 holiday special. It had been over a year since the first season hit Netflix, and the two-hour extravaganza had everything I’d hoped for from the return — drama, action, romance, tons of earnest metaphysical nonsense, and, yes, even a meticulously choreographed orgy. Best of all, it heralded the arrival of even more episodes to come in the new year, with Sense8 season 2 scheduled to hit in May.
Of course, May’s still a ways away. But Netflix isn’t leaving us completely high and dry. They’ve just dropped a big batch of Sense8 season 2 images, teasing more good times, more bad times, and lots of sweet cluster meetings that are probably going to make me cry. Flip through the new photos below.
Sense8 Season 2 Images
It’s tough to glean much from these photos, but it looks like Lito will continue dealing with the fallout of his outing and Sun will continue her stint in jail, while Riley will spend a lot of time standing around outside in the same brown sweater. I’m really looking forward to the episode shot at São Paulo Pride last summer — the celebration looks like a nice respite from the heavy drama that’s usually coming our sensates.
The new season of Sense8 brings back Tina Desai as Kala, Miguel Ángel Silvestre as Lito, Jamie Clayton as Nomi, Tuppence Middleton as Riley, Brian J. Smith as Will, and Max Riemelt as Wolfgang, with Toby Onwumere replacing Aml Ameen as Capheus. (“New barber,” says Capheus by way of explanation after one character points out he’s looking different these days.) Lana Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski are back as writers and producers, although co-creator Lilly Wachowski is sitting out this season.
Sense8 returns for season 2 on May 5. Here’s the synopsis:
Picking up where season one left off, Capheus, Kala, Lito, Nomi, Riley, Sun, Will and Wolfgang come together both physically and mentally, plunged into the middle of each other’s tragedies and triumphs. On the run from Whispers, and forced to question their very identity, it’s a matter of survival as the Sensates must find a way to live with, understand and protect one another against all odds.
I have this theory about theme. In two parts. First, a principle: Theme = Meaning. What does the story mean? Second, while there is almost always a Central Theme, there are multiple other Sub-Themes at play in a story. Therefore the question, What does a story mean takes on several layers of meaning?
Time to ponder themes in La La Land. You can download a PDF of the script here.
Written by Damien Chazelle.
Plot summary: La La Land tells the story of Mia [Emma Stone], an aspiring actress, and Sebastian [Ryan Gosling], a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.
Writing Exercise: Explore the themes in La La Land. What is its Central Theme? What are some of the related Sub-Themes?
Major kudos to Sharita Gopalfor doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.
To download a PDF of the breakdown for La La Land, go here.
For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.
The last thing you should do before you type FADE IN…
Do you have a story you want to write? A feature length movie screenplay? An original TV pilot? A web series pilot? A novel? Short story? An epic length limerick?
The Zero Draft Thirty 2017 Spring Challenge is for you!
March 1: You type FADE IN / Once upon a time.
March 31: You type FADE OUT / And they all lived happily ever after.
Hold on. I’ve just heard from the proper authorities that our request for an additional day in March has been granted. So technically, you’ve got 31 days, but since we’ve already got all the invitations printed as Zero Draft Thirty, we’ll just keep it at that.
In any event, here is some background on exactly what the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge is. On October 15, 2015, I posted this, inviting people to join me in November as I pounded out a draft of a comedy script. Hundreds of people responded.
So I posted this a few days later. Hundreds more people enlisted in the cause. We even got a groovy visual to go along with the initiative:
Then every day for 30 days in November, I did a Zero Draft Thirty post with inspirational writing quotes, videos, and handed out a daily Trumbo Award to the person who was deemed worthy for their efforts in supporting our collective cause.
Eventually over 1000 writers joined up for the Challenge. Via Facebook, Twitter, or email, nearly 200 writers let me know they had finished their Zero Drafts.
In processing all of this and noting how I had long promoted the idea that we should aim to write two scripts per year, I thought why not do a spring ZD30 Challenge and a fall ZD30 Challenge.
Hence the Zero Draft Thirty 2017 Spring Challenge in March.
And you are cordially invited.
In the days leading up to ZD30, I figured we could spend some time talking about story prep as well as psychological prep for our collective writing effort.
Today let’s talk about one of the most valuable first draft resources I have discovered: Script Diary.
The last thing I do before I type FADE IN is create yet a Word file, which I call Script Diary.
I come to the diary to start every writing session. I visit it when I get stuck. I return to it when I hit on a story revelation. Day after day, I use my script diary to chronicle the writing of the story.
At the start of a writing session, I note the date and time in the script diary, then get my fingers and brain loosened up by typing up my thoughts about the scene I am about to tackle. I’ll remind myself what type of scene it is, which characters are participating in it, what each of their agendas is, who is playing what story function for that scene, how the scene relates to the overall plot, what the central point of the scene is, and so on. As I’m doing that, normally lines of dialogue pop to mind and I’ll put those down — so in essence I’m pre-drafting the scene, and can take that sketch to my script file and use it to write the actual scene.
I also use the script diary to track my emotional connection to the story. For instance, I may be worried about whether the scene I’m about to write will work or not. I may be concerned that one of the characters doesn’t feel quite right. If I’m stuck, I use the diary as a place to express my fears about the story; in fact, if I’m really stuck, I’ll ‘ask’ the characters, right there in my diary, to talk to me, show me what they want or need.
Now you may think I’m crazy — talking to my characters, asking them for help! But ever since I’ve started using a script diary, my experience of my story’s characters has become that much more… real, I suppose is the best way to describe it.
Whenever I am stuck, I start writing in my script diary, and invariably I become aware of my characters. Suddenly, one of them will turn and halfway glance at me or motion, and I’ll ‘follow’ them.
What I am saying is that my characters lead me deeper into my story. They show me the way. And the script diary is a crucial part of that experience because, I think, I am opening myself up to my characters, creating a ‘dialogue’ with them on those diary pages.
And there’s something else that’s very cool about a script diary: when you’re done with the project, you’ve got this journal of the entire writing process. You can go back to see and feel the actual moments where you found a breakthrough, where you busted through a story block, where your characters spoke to you.
Like everything else in this succession of posts, a script diary may not work for you. However, I encourage you to try it at least once. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Back to the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge:
March 1: Type FADE IN. March 31: Type FADE OUT.
One month. A first draft of an original screenplay. TV pilot. Or a rewrite of an existing script.
For background on the Zero Draft Thirty challenge, go here.