/Answers: The Greatest Movie Heists

Logan Lucky photo

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. Tying in with the upcoming release of Logan Lucky, this week’s edition asks “What is your favorite movie heist scene or sequence?”

Ethan Anderton: Mission: Impossible III

The Mission: Impossible franchise may not immediately come to mind when you think of heist movies since they’re action adventure and spy movies first. But each of the Mission: Impossible moves involves at least one heist where the cast breaks into a seemingly impossible to penetrate facility. While the original is a staple of cinema, it’s been a little hard to appreciate as much knowing that the room containing the NOC list has every security measure imaginable, except video surveillance. But I digress.

For me, I think one of the best heists comes from Mission: Impossible III, when the IMF team has to break into the Vatican City in order to retrieve the MacGuffin known as the Rabbit’s Foot. The only way to do that is to kidnap the man who has it in his possession, the dangerous, underground criminal Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). It’s a task that requires Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his entire team to pull it off, and it also requires the use of the staple IMF mask technology, which makes for a great scene where Tom Cruise slowly is transformed into Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The scene is exciting, suspenseful, and makes great use of the team dynamic that all Mission: Impossible movies have at their center, despite being considered Tom Cruise vehicles. Plus, there’s a great moment of levity when Ethan Hunt, as Owen Davian, and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) have a casual exchange right in the middle of the heist.


Jacob Hall: Rififi

Like the grizzled, older gangster coming out retirement to teach the young punks a thing or two, Jules Dassin’s Rififi remains one of the greatest crime movies ever made over 60 years after it was made. Released in 1955, this noir classic is a noteworthy heist movie for two reasons. First, the big job isn’t the climax of the film – it takes place in the second act, with the rest of the film dealing with the fallout of the “perfect crime.” Second, the big job practically is the entire second act of the film, running 28 minutes and showcasing a jewel heist in such agonizing detail that the film was reportedly banned by French police for being a little too real.

It’s a remarkable heist (sandwiched in a remarkable movie), made all the more breathless and intense because it plays out without dialogue or score. To slip past a vibration-sensitive security system, the crew of criminals use a specialized set of tools to break in through the ceiling and proceed to not make a peep as they carry out the robbery. This means every sound we do hear – a deep breath or the tap of a hammer or even a misplaced footstep – is enough to make you leap out of your seat.

It’s a thrilling experience to watch characters who are good at their jobs do them well. And while Rififi ultimately punishes its characters for their crimes, for 30 minutes, we’re on their side, on the edge of our seats, watching as they showcase true professionalism. Sure, it’s professionalism in service of illegal activity, but you have to admire the nerve and the precision. And that applies to Dassin’s filmmaking, too.

Vanessa Bogart: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

“Do you wanna dance? Or do you wanna dance?” Aside from being one of the sexiest movies ever made (That sheer dress! Those marble stairs! Is it getting warm in here?), the 199 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair boasts not one, but two of the greatest art heist scenes in cinema. And although there is a lot to admire about the opening heist of the $ 100 million San Giorgio Maggiore by Twilight by Monet, the heist that has never been matched in my mind,is the one at the end, the one that adds insult to injury: the theft of The Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil by Edouard Manet.

The heist of the Monet that the film is centered round is impressive, and definitely an intricate affair. It is executed so meticulously that even though the detectives on Crown’s tail know it was him, they can’t seem to prove it. And yet, somehow, this $ 100 million job isn’t the most impressive heist in the film. The whole film is a perfect game of cat and mouse made even more enticing with a passionate love affair. Watching Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan toy with one another almost makes you forget about the expensive object at the film’s center. However, Catherine is a serious woman, and through several misunderstandings, Crown knows, anticipates, and counts on her betraying him to the police. He tells her the exactly when he will return to the museum to replace the stolen Monet.

Upon entering the museum in a grey overcoat and red tie, Crown makes sure all eyes are on him, before placing a bowler hat on his head, the perfect image of the figure in The Son of Man, a painting by Rene Magritte that has been shown more than once throughout the film. Crown utters “let’s play ball,” and walks calmly but purposefully into the crowd. To the police, this seems like it will play out as a simple arrest, but that calm sense of inevitable victory is quickly shattered when they realize that Crown has no intention of being caught. Set exquisitely to the tune of ‘Sinnerman’ by Nina Simone, men with grey overcoats, red ties, and bowler hats fill the corridors of the museum, making it impossible to determine Crown from the lookalikes. It is a perfectly orchestrated dance. Once the distraction is set, Crown changes clothes and sneaks into the impressionist wing under the cover of smoke bombs and a fire alarm.

The metal guards close over the paintings to protect them from the sprinklers, but they stop just shy of the Pissaro painting that Crown had so generously donated just three days following the Monet heist. The water begins to wash away the paint exposing the stolen Monet beneath it. That son of a bitch. Before the detectives and the audience can even begin to comprehend the fact that the painting had been there the whole time, the metal gates open, and the Manet that Catherine had admired earlier was gone.

The key to a great heist film is to fool the detectives and the audience. Thomas Crown managed to do so with class and a wicked sense of humor. You can’t help but smirk and applaud. You have been fooled in the most delightful way.

Continue Reading The Greatest Movie Heists >>

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Summertime Blues: 15 August Movies That Didn’t Stink

best august movies iron giant 2

August is a precarious month for the film industry; nestled between the blockbuster summer schedule and the advantageous awards season of fall, it’s a quiet time for big budget fare. Though not quite the dumping ground of, say, February, it’s mostly a breather month – a calm before the prestige storm, and where studios can test their less-trusted properties.

It may evade easy categorization, but August can be a stellar month for film. It’s the season of R-rated comedies, violent road movies, and experiments. Some of the best mainstream films of the last 25 years came out in Leo season. We chose 15 of our favorite August releases, films that exceeded expectations – some economically, some critically, and some that linger on for less discernible reasons.

Super Bad

15. Superbad (2007)

August is the perfect month for this hard-R teen comedy about a pair of high school boys who try to lose their virginity at an end-of-the-school-year party. Stuck in the bittersweet-spot between high school and adulthood, that transitional quality is a great summer cap. Superbad was a critical and box office hit that brought a lot of attention to screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who started writing it when they were 13. The film also made stars out of actors Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and, in her feature-film debut, recent Oscar-winner Emma Stone.

best august movies the descent

14. The Descent (2006)

Shot on a micro-budget with a cast of no-namers, and released before fall, the odds were stacked against Neil Marshall’s The Descent. The story follows a group of female adventurers who explore a giant and unmapped cave system in the Appalachian Mountains, only to discover it’s inhabited by flesh-eating monsters. The film wound up grossing $ 57 million against a $ 4 million budget, and in time became a horror classic. Marshall’s star also rose after the film’s release. He transitioned to television, directing episodes of everything from Hannibal to Westworld, though he is perhaps best known for his work on two prominent battle episodes of Game of Thrones: “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall.”

best august movies the man from uncle

13. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

There’s no reason for this Guy Ritchie-directed reboot of a ‘60s TV spy drama to work as well as it does. But the end result is an honest-to-god blast from start to finish. It’s a great end-of-summer movie, with its brisk and breezy action, cool humor, and zest for fun. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer – who play rival spies that must come together for a joint mission – have a natural chemistry, and a then-unknown Alicia Vikander is excellent as their coconspirator. Though technically a box office bomb, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has seen a recent reappraisal from movie buffs, who’ve come to recognize the film for its stylish diversion from typical studio fare. A sequel is allegedly in the works.

best august movies scott pilgrim

12. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the beloved graphic novel series has a special place in the hearts of many. The fiercely original film transposes comic panel to film strip with a frenetic, crackling energy. Sounds and motion are animated, dialogue is fast, and the woes of young love fill the movie with a youthful chutzpah that can be hard to nail down. Though it tanked at the box office, it did well critically, and eventually found a cult audience. Scott Pilgrim is perhaps most notable for its impressive young cast, many on the eve of their big breaks, including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Brie Larson, Alison Pill, Ellen Wong, Mae Whitman, and a pre-Captain America Chris Evans.

best august movies 40 year old virgin

11. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

It may be hard to remember now, but The 40-Year-Old Virgin was a game-changer back in 2005. The raunchy film revitalized the R-rated comedy and sparked the phenomenon of Judd Apatow, whose directing and producing talents remain incredibly influential in Hollywood. Steve Carrell, the virgin of the title, exploded in popularity after release, in a year that also saw his breakthrough TV role as Michael Scott on The Office. The movie opened No. 1 at the box office and was a huge hit – eventually grossing over $ 177 million worldwide.

Continue Reading The 15 Best August Movies >>

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Well, It Worked in the 80s

John and Craig look at four films from the past and discuss how we could make them today.

Then we have more listener questions on internships and alternate jokes.

Next week is a deep dive on Unforgiven, so get to watching if you haven’t seen it recently.


Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.


The Beast is an Animal in Development at Amazon with Ridley Scott

Amazon Studios to develop Peternelle van Arsdale's The Beast is an Animal with Ridley Scott

Amazon Studios to develop Peternelle van Arsdale’s The Beast is an Animal with Ridley Scott

Amazon Studios is in development with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free production company to create a movie based on the science-fiction fantasy novel The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale, according to Variety. The streaming service is reportedly in final negotiations with Bert & Bertie (Dance Camp) to direct and adapt The Beast is an Animal. The directing duo are also attached to Amazon’s Troupe Zero for Amazon.

Here is the Amazon.com description of the book: “Alys was seven the first time she saw the soul eaters. These soul eaters are twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly grew into something not quite human. And they feed off of human souls. When her village was attacked, Alys was spared and sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think he is. And neither is Alys.

“Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.”

Have you guys read Peternelle van Arsdale’s The Beast is an Animal? Are you excited about the film? We want to hear from you. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.

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Cate Blanchett in Talks for The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Cate Blanchett is in early talks to join Jack Black in The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Cate Blanchett is in early talks to join Jack Black in The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Cate Blanchett is in early talks to join Jack Black in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, according to Variety. The Amblin Entertainment and Mythology Entertainment film is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by John Bellairs, and illustrated by Edward Gorey. Eli Roth will direct the film from a script from Eric Kripke.

RELATED: Amazon Studios acquires Lucy and Desi with Cate Blanchett set to star as Lucille Ball

The House with a Clock in Its Walls, which is book one of Bellairs’ Lewis Barnavlet series, is described on the late author’s official site as follows:

Lewis had always wanted to live in a house like Uncle Jonathan’s — full of marble fireplaces and secret passageways and dozens of unused, unexplored rooms. And living with Uncle Jonathan, a real wizard, was full of fun and surprises.

But while Uncle Jonathan practiced funny and comfortable white magic, the original owner of the old house, Isaac Izard, had been an evil sorcerer. Isaac Izard had devised a plan for bringing about the end of the world. Somewhere in the walls of the house he had hidden a clock. Every night Lewis and Uncle Jonathan could hear it ticking — sometimes loud, sometimes soft — marking off the minutes until doomsday.

Lewis knew they had to find the clock before it was too late. Then he decided to dabble in a litte magic of his own, and their time almost ran out.

Kripke, Brad Fischer and James Vanderbilt will produce and William Sherak, Tracey Nyberg and Laeta Kalogridis will executive produce.

What do you guys think of a film based on The House with a Clock in Its Walls? Let us know @ComingSoonnet.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn Coming in October

George A. Romero - Between Night and Dawn

New box set from Arrow Video compiles three of George A. Romero’s most interested films and packs them withe extras

This writer is still reeling from the loss of the great George A. Romero, a filmmaker that altered the course of the contemporary horror film but who also fully embodied the independent cinema spirit. And on top of that, he was a sweet, kind, funny, intelligent and humble human being whose company I will forever miss.

RELATED: George A. Romero’s Dead Films Ranked

But in the context of his filmography, there are a slew of fine films George made in the 1970s post-Night of the Living Dead that are flawed, fascinating and essential pieces of his cinematic journey. There’s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch, and The Crazies, made between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, showcase the extraordinary versatility and dynamism of this irreplaceable American auteur,Three films from the late, legendary director that prove that although he might have defined zombie cinema, it didn’t define him. And now, Arrow Video has compiled these three pictures in a stunning 6-disc, limited edition set, due out October 24th.

George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn includes the following films:

There’s Always Vanilla (1971): Young drifter Chris and beautiful model Lynn embark upon a tumultuous relationship which seems doomed from the outset.

Season of the Witch (aka Jack’s Wife, 1972) : Joan Mitchell is a bored housewife whose dissatisfaction with her humdrum life leads to an unhealthy interest in the occult.

The Crazies (aka Code Name: Trixie, 1973): A small rural town finds itself in the grip of an infection which sends its hosts into a violent, homicidal frenzy.

Special Features Include:

– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations
– English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
– Limited Edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the films

There’s Always Vanilla:
– Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative
– Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
– Brand new interviews with actors Judith Ridley and Richard Ricci, producer Russ Streiner and – sound recordist Gary Streiner
– Digging Up the Dead – The Lost Films of George A. Romero – archive interview with Romero looking at his early films There’s Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch Trailer
– Trailer

Season of the Witch:
– Brand new 4K restoration from original film elements
– Alternate extended cut
– Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
– When Romero met Del Toro – celebrated filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro sits down with George Romero for this candid career-spanning conversation
– The Secret Life of Jack’s Wife – archive interview with actress Jan White
– Alternate Opening Titles
– Trailers

The Crazies:
– Brand new 4K restoration from original film elements
– Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
– Romero Was Here – featurette revisiting The Crazies filming locations in Evans City, PA
– Never Before Seen BTS footage
– 2016 Q&A with Lynn Lowry from Abertoir Film Festival
– Alternate Opening Titles
– Trailers

Pre-order this amazing set HERE.

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Official Trailer for Prison Escape Thriller ‘Maze’ Set in Northern Ireland

Maze Movie Trailer

«It was supposed to be the most secure prison in Europe. It wasn’t supposed to have a flaw.» Lionsgate UK has debuted the first official trailer for an action thriller titled Maze, telling the true story of how 38 IRA prisoners escaped from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland in 1983. The full cast includes Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Martin McCann, Barry Ward, Eileen Walsh, and Aaron Monaghan. This premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in July, and will be released in UK cinemas in September, but there’s still no US release date yet. I don’t know much about the history of this story, but I am intrigued to find out how they escaped. The main guy kind of reminds me of Ralph Fiennes. This is worth a look, might be good. ›››

Continue reading Official Trailer for Prison Escape Thriller ‘Maze’ Set in Northern Ireland


100 Screenwriters on Screenwriting

Professional screenwriters reflect on the craft.

“My one note of screenwriting advice is: Make sure you can *see* the movie before you start writing the actual script.”

— Arash Amel

“Sometimes you’re swinging your way through a first draft like a blind miner with a pick-axe. That’s OK. Just get it done.”

— Justin Marks

“It’s really important to start off well. If you grab people early in a script, they’re going to keep reading.”

— Carter Blanchard

“No matter what the concept is, nobody cares if there’s not an empathetic way into the story.”

— Daniel Kunka

“The challenge of screenwriting is to say much in little and still preserve an effect of leisure and natural movement.”

— Raymond Chandler

“Outlining is necessary work, but you have to have something left to discover during the writing or you won’t be inspired.”

— Liz W. Garcia

“I think it’s always easier to revise a script, even a truly awful one, than face the tyranny of the blank page.”

— Stan Chervin

“You have to empathize with, even love the villains you write. Otherwise it just becomes caricature.”

— Lisa Joy

“A screenwriter’s currency is a finished script. Not an outline, a take, a beat sheet, a rough draft. A finished script.”

— F. Scott Frazier

“My best writing has been on the scripts I wrote as suicide notes to the industry — sort of, ‘Fuck you, guys, I’m outta here.’”

— Marc Norman

“I have learned the first rule of screenwriting is having no rules. Everyone has to find their own way of doing things.”

— Guillermo Arriaga

“Eighty percent of a motion picture is writing, the other twenty percent is the execution.”

— Billy Wilder

“If you’re not prepared to be rejected, don’t try to write films.”

— Peter Hyams

“The single most important question one must ask oneself about a character is what are they really afraid of.”

— Robert Towne

“Each scene must be a drama in itself. The whole picture must be made up of a series of small dramas.”

— Jeanie Macpherson

“Plot does not drive characters. Characters drive plot. Characters want, need, feel, act, react. This creates plot.”

— Chuck Wendig

“Screenplays don’t have to read like an instruction manual for a refrigerator. You can write them as a pleasurable read.”

— William Goldman

“If you’re inviting people into a story, invite them into all parts of it. Inhabit each character as fully as possible.”

— Nikole Beckwith

“Every five to ten pages, I want a big fist to come out of the screenplay and punch the reader in the gut.”

— Allan Durand

“If I have anything to say to young writers, it’s stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work.”

— Paddy Chayefsky

“Interesting things happening to interesting people is basically the only rule of screenwriting.”

— Brian Duffield

“That’s something I always ask myself: ‘Is this a movie that I would go to see?’”

— Charlie Kaufman

“Each writer starts differently, but the only valid way is start with character. Character IS plot. Character IS story.”

— Eleanor Perry

“A writer can always write. That’s one of the great luxuries we have: Words are cheap.”

— John August

“When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words.”

— Francis Ford Coppola

“I start thinking about key scenes. I write those scenes first, out of order. I call it ‘the scent of blood.’”

— Jim Uhls

“If you trust the moment as you write, it will always bring you what you need.”

— Bruce Joel Rubin

“I’m not romantic at all about the creative process. I feel like a plow horse — just one foot in front of the other.”

— Caroline Thompson

“At the top of my computer in big, bold letters, it says, ‘What is the simple emotional journey?’ I look at that all the time.”

— Billy Ray

“Forget every rule Syd Field, Robert McKee or any other screenwriting guru ever taught you. Except one: Never be boring.”

— David Mamet

“I force myself to sit down, write and hope it doesn’t turn out shitty. If it turns out shitty, I change it.”

— Will Beall

“It’s not until you really throw your character into the story that you can genuinely understand who they are.”

— Elijah Bynum

“Never attack a scene head on, do it obliquely. It makes the audience more curious if you approach your points sideways.”

— Catherine Turney

“For me, a screenplay starts with something I can tell other people in five minutes.”

— Harold Ramis

“I endlessly chart and re-chart a movie. Before I write, I have all the scenes listed, what happens in each scene.”

— Paul Schrader

“Good dialogue comes from character development. The better you know your character, the more specific the dialogue will feel.”

— Chris McCoy

“The job of the screenwriter is to run the film in the reader’s imagination. And nothing should get in the way of that.”

— Colin Higgins

“If I could say anything, it’s keep going. Don’t go back and fix that scene, that dialogue. Just write the next word.”

— Anna Hamilton Phelan

“A movie is about an emotional struggle. The physical struggle is a manifestation of that.”

— John Gary

“It’s the words, it always gets back to the words…”

— Julius Epstein

“Character is destiny. Change, growing from within and forced from without, is the mainspring of character development.”

— Rita Mae Brown

“The first draft is the one thing they can’t take away from you, so revel in it.”

— Daniel Waters

“Character exists in emotions and sensations. Without it, they no more represent a living person than a fleshless skeleton.”

— Francis Marion

“A bad script written is still better than an amazing one that isn’t.”

— Jon Boyer

“Write what you want to see. If you don’t, you won’t have any true passion in it, and it won’t be done with any true artistry.”

— John Milius

“That’s our job, to spark curiosity and emotion from an audience, for them to discover what’s going on in their own heads.”

— Seth Lochhead

“Screenwriting is all about what happens next, what happens next. It’s speed chess, not chess.”

— Richard Price

“One day, you will sell your screenplay, and then your problems will begin.”

— Audrey Wells

“I realized screenwriting was a real art form. I had to prostrate myself before it and study it if I wanted to be good.”

— Stephen Gaghan

“Writing is the best gig in the whole business, as far as I’m concerned. You just sit down and make shit up.”

— Robert Mark Kamen

“To make something really great and different and interesting means taking risks and following these ideas in your head.”

— Brad Bird

“Reprogram your brain so THE END isn’t a giant finish line. You got pages done today. You’ll do more tomorrow.”

— Eric Heisserer

“It’s really important to know not to panic, it’s all going to come together; you’ve just got to keep pushing forward.”

— Lisa Cholodenko

“Emotion, by definition, is invisible. So cinema is, by definition, dealing with the invisible.”

— Jim Sheridan

“The blank page is the greatest moment of writing a script… be happy that you have the privilege of facing it.”

— Lorenzo Semple Jr.

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

— Joss Whedon

“I think one of the reasons that people resent writers is because when we are writing, we are God.”

— Phil Alden Robinson

“The people I believe in the most create work about people who are real. When people see truth in art, it resonates.”

— Jill Soloway

“Sometimes you’re swinging your way through a first draft like a blind miner with a pick-axe. That’s OK. Just get it done.”

— Justin Marks

“What does this character want and more importantly why do they want it? Those are what I look at as I’m writing dialogue.”

— Brad Ingelsby

“The more you adhere to some kind of screenwriting formula, the more likely you are to end up with a formulaic screenplay.”

— Gary Whitta

“Quality prep work makes writing the script much easier. I know what I need out of each scene going forward.”

— Jeff Morris

“If you’re doing it to tell stories that need to be told, you can get yourself through the bad moments.”

— Naomi Foner

“Audiences go to movies to feel. When the movie becomes too mechanical instead of organic, audiences detach from the film.”

— Simon Kinberg

“Slack is one fault and slick is another. Both are bad faults in story.”

— James M. Cain

“Make sure your first 20 pages kick serious ass. Hook that first reader, get them INTERESTED, then it’s off to the races.”

— Scott Neustadter

“Emotional authenticity is more important than historical. We can’t recreate a world, but we can recreate the emotions of it.”

— James DiLapo

“I’m always looking for stories, that next diamond in the rough, something that’s been looked over or can be reinvented.”

— Lindsay Devlin

“The best writing is also subconscious where you don’t know that you’re doing it, and you don’t realize you’ve done it.”

— Scott Frank

“A great script creates an irresistible narrative flow that propels a reader to an inevitable dramatic conclusion.”

— Javier Grillo-Marxuach

“Every movie ever made is an attempt to remake The Wizard of Oz.”

— Joel Coen

“Characters should never enter. They should storm in, they should skulk in, they should tremble in. Create visual pictures.”

— Larry Ferguson

“I find their voices by writing down every thought that would be in their head and then cutting off the fat.”

— Julia Hart

“I fell in love with screenwriting. It’s like story poetry, the most disciplined form of modern writing.”

— Shawn Lawrence Otto

“I don’t have a formal rewrite process; I just compulsively groom and regroom scenes like a cat with OCD.”

— Diablo Cody

“I want to know my whole story works before I start writing.”

— Tom Schulman

“No matter how big or high concept your story is, it only works if there’s a small, personal story at its core.”

— Chris Sparling

“When I write a screenplay, I create an emotional map, where the characters are, where they’re going and where they’ve been.”

— Ava DuVernay

“People always say, write what you know, and I think it’s write what you know emotionally.”

— Spenser Cohen

“You can dress it up, but it comes down to the fact that a movie is only as good as its script.”

— Curtis Hanson

“I try my very best in every film I’m working on to make you fall in love with those characters.”

— Mark Bomback

“The first draft, the first structure is really important… Do it fast, don’t get stuck.”

— Oliver Stone

“Don’t worry about getting an agent. When you have enough quality work under your belt, they will come calling.”

— Stephany Folsom

“The secret to screenwriting is short sentences, small words, and BIG pictures.”

— William Kelley

“One of the few things I’ve discovered about writing is to form a habit that becomes an addiction.”

— Frank Pierson

“Everything is a more perfect in your head. Once you make concrete choices — one word over another — everything gets worse.”

— Damien Chazelle

“Remember, not every idea is a movie. You don’t want to run out of plot before you run out of pages.”

— Mike Sweeney

“It’s like building a wall. You’re changing the details, but you’re still trying to keep the overall shape of the story.”

— Leigh Brackett

“I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. I know in advance that my so-called first draft will be my tenth draft.”

— Carol Foreman

“Hollywood lives or dies on something that seems new and original, but is very much like something that made money before.”

— Michael January

“There’s a magic to being present when you’re writing a character. Just spit it out, then go back and edit it later.”

— Reid Carolin

“It’s the words, it always gets back to the words…”

— Julius Epstein

“Roger Corman taught me you could make a movie about anything as long as it had a hook to hang the advertising on.”

— Amy Holden Jones

“I don’t think writing is as much an act as a way of being. It’s the living and thinking that makes the writing.”

— Sean Hartofilis

“Don’t write what they want, they don’t know what they want, just make it GOOD.”

— Nora Ephron

“To make a great film, you need three things — the script, the script and the script.”

— Alfred Hitchcock

“If you’ve got craft, you got game. If you got game, you can write your way in and out of anything.”

— Robert Mark Kamen

“A lot of writers try to get approval and love way too early. Get the script right first.”

— Allison Burnett

“The question to ask about a new story idea: Can you really see it opening at a theater next weekend?”

— John Swetnam

“The writing period is the same: 5 pages a day, 7 days a week. Nothing magical. You just sit there and keep typing.”

— Stirling Silliphant

10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 1
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 2
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 3
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 4
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 5
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 6
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 7
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 8
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 9
10 Screenwriters on Screenwriting: Vol. 10

To read 50 Things About Screenwriting, go here.

100 Screenwriters on Screenwriting was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Superhero Bits: The Gifted Gets a New Producer, The Runaways Casts a Former Marvel Villain & More

Deadpool - The Shining

Where are the stars of the failed Justice League of America TV series at today? Who would Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi want to score the move if they were still alive today? Which former Marvel movie villain has joined the cast of Marvel’s new Hulu series The Runaways? Will Cable time travel in Deadpool 2? What did Kurt Russell keep accidentally calling Star-Lord during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 production? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.

Marvel executives Cort Lane and Joe Quesada talk about the making of Disney XD’s animated Spider-Man series.

Ryan Reynolds released a statement about the stunt driver death that has forced Deadpool 2 production to cease.

Justice League of America Cast

Comic Book Resources lets us know where the stars of the original Justice League of America TV series are now.

The events of the Vixen animated series will have some impact on the characters in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Here’s a quick new teaser for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6 animated series coming this November to Disney XD.

Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim reveals the brain trust working on the Arrowverse crossover this year.

Deadpool - The Shining

The latest edition of The Line It Is Drawn combines comic book heroes with the Stephen King universe like this.

Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi says he’d want Freddie Mercury to score the movie if he were alive.

Continue Reading Superhero Bits>>

Due to the amount of graphics and images included in Superhero Bits, we have to split this post over THREE pages. Click the link above to continue to the next page of Superhero Bits.

The post Superhero Bits: The Gifted Gets a New Producer, The Runaways Casts a Former Marvel Villain & More appeared first on /Film.


Great Scene: “This is Spinal Tap”

“These go to 11.”

This is Spinal Tap is still the gold standard in mockumentaries. Since most of the movie’s dialogue is improvised, I also thought it would be interesting to see the script, written by Christopher Guest & Michael McKean & Harry Shearer & Rob Reiner, from which the cast worked. The entire script is written this way, so it’s only 60 pages long.

Here is the famous “These go to 11” scene featuring documentary director Marty (Rob Reiner) interviewing rocker Nigel (Christopher Guest)
amidst all the guitars and amps he’s acquired over the years.

During the soundcheck, Nigel is showing Marty
DiBroma his large collection of guitars, including
a cordless model which plays through its amp by
means of a tiny radio transmitter. It's like
watching a kid show off his toys. He points out
that he has his amps customized with special dials.
Unlike most amps, whose highest volume level is
indicated by a "10" on the dials, Nigel's dials go
up to 11.

Here is a transcript of the last part of the scene’s dialogue from the movie:

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

And now the scene as it plays in the movie:

My movie Alaska was a Castle Rock production, so I was hanging around their offices doing rewrites when Christopher Guest and company were shooting Waiting for Guffman. As a bonus, I got to see some of the dailies and read the script. Guest uses pretty much the same approach with every one of his movies which include Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration: Work out the story with each scene’s beginning, middle and end, cast the movie with skilled improvisational actors, try out a variety of takes, edit the best story possible. Spinal Tap was in effect the proof of this particular concept — and it has proven to work wonderfully as with this great scene.

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Great Scene: “This is Spinal Tap” was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

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