Sarah Jessica Parker’s Best Day of My Life has just cast Jacqueline Bisset as Parker’s mother
Emmy-nominated actress Jacqueline Bisset (Joan of Arc, Dancing On the Edge) has been cast in Sarah Jessica Parker‘s (Sex and the City, I Don’t Know How She Does It) upcoming romantic drama Best Day of My Life, according to Variety. Bisset will reportedly play the role of Parker’s mother. Best Day of My Life also stars Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Jerry Maguire), Common (Smokin’ Aces, Now You See Me), Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Death Becomes Her), Simon Baker (The Mentalist, The Devil Wears Prada), Taylor Kinney (The Other Woman, Zero Dark Thirty), and Gus Birney (The Mist, Chicago Med).
Best Day of My Life is the story of a jazz vocalist (Parker) in New York City who gets a terrible diagnosis as she is about to begin a world tour. Her mother (Bisset) comes to visit her daughter for the weekend in New York, and mostly speaks French.
The film will be directed by Fabien Constant and the screenplay comes to us from Laura Eason. Parker will serve as a producer along with Ambi Group’s Andrea Ievolino and Monica Bacardi, as well as Alison Benson. Executive producers include Phil Hunt and Compton Ross of Head Gear Films.
Jacqueline Bisset is known for her work in the miniseries Joan of Arc, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award, as well as Dancing on the Edge, for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. She’s also known for her roles in Day for Night and Murder on the Orient Express.
What do you guys think of the casting of Jacqueline Bisset in Best Day of My Life? Are you interested in the film? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.
Let’s glean some writing lessons from a business book, shall we?
There’s this book “everyone in Silicon Valley is talking about” or at least that’s the way it’s pitched at the book’s website. Its title: “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products”.
If you consider movies and TV series to be products, then it stands to reason so, too, are the screenplays we write.
So I checked it out. Here’s a summary of the four points the book makes:
1. Trigger: How does the loop initiate? In the beginning this may be through external triggers (such as an email, notification, icon badge, etc) but through successive loops the user eventually creates internal triggers where a particular thought or emotion will send them back to your product.
2. Action: Once the user is aware they need to use your product (through the trigger), what it the simplest action they can perform to get some kind of reward. For example a Facebook “Like”.
3. Variable reward: How are they rewarded for this behavior? This could be social validation (e.g. “my friends approve!”), collection of material resources (e.g. add a photo to a collection) or personal gratification (e.g. inbox zero). The “variable” part is important — rewards should not always be predictable, encouraging users to repeat the cycle.
4. Investment: Finally, the user needs to put something back in to increase the chance of repeating the loop. This could be content (e.g. a book in your Kindle), user entered data (e.g. profile information or linked accounts), reputation (e.g. something to gain a 5 star seller review), or a learned skill (e.g. I’m now really good at this software program). The investment also sets up the trigger to for the next cycle of the loop.
Okay, let’s work with a scenario applicable to screenwriters. We create the product: Our script. And the buyer? In the script acquisition process, it all starts with the supposed lowly script reader who actually has the first pass at creating an impression of our ‘product’ that follows all the way up the food chain, so in fact they are quite important to us.
In this scenario, it’s a Sunday night. Late. Our script reader — let’s call her Lilah — has been shut in at her cramped North Hollywood apartment all weekend, providing coverage on six screenplays, the proverbial ‘weekend read’. Now she taps out the last words on her final script coverage, checks her watch. Just enough time to catch a drink with some friends before she has to get to sleep for another harried 80 hour work week.
And just as Lilah begins to shut down her laptop… ping. An email. She winces. From her boss. Cover this script for tomorrow morning’s meeting.
That script? Yep, our script. So Lilah hates our script even while knowing NOTHING about it.
[I’m going to fudge this scenario a little bit in this respect: Our script has a logline. That’s normally not the case, but let’s run with that.]
Now back to the book “Hooked”, let’s focus on the four points cited above:
Trigger: How do I “initiate a loop” with poor Lilah? My logline. I’m hoping the central concept, the Protagonist’s situation, and the story’s entertainment potential will ‘trigger’ a response. That response? Open our script with an open mind.
Action: Lilah does, indeed, open our script. Now we’re concerned with this: provide the “simplest action [she] can perform to get some kind of reward”. That’s easy. We want to write an opening set of pages, in fact, a compelling first page to get Lilah to take ‘action’: Turn the page. Well, there’s Lilah who has scrolled to P.2… then P.3. How to keep her turning pages?
Variable Reward: “How are they rewarded for this behavior… The ‘variable’ part is important — rewards should not always be predictable, encouraging users to repeat the cycle.” Fortunately when we wrote our script, we varied multiple narrative elements: scene types, pace, subplots, plot twists and turns, and so forth. Ooh, look at Lilah now. She’s zooming through the script.
Investment: That’s easy. We want her to write coverage that is favorable to our script. And what’s that? OMG! She actually clicked on Recommend which is virtually unheard of.
Good job, folks! We got Lilah hooked on our script!
For more on “Hooked”, here’s a video by the book’s author Nir Eyal:
The single greatest inhibitor to creativity is fear. Do you recognize any of these voices?
I am afraid of typing FADE IN.
I am afraid I won’t be able to finish this script.
I am afraid I don’t have enough talent.
I am afraid the words won’t come.
I am afraid my characters won’t feel real.
I am afraid people won’t like my writing.
I am afraid people won’t like my story.
I am afraid I won’t get an agent.
I am afraid I am wasting my time.
I am afraid I don’t know enough about the craft.
I am afraid people will laugh at me.
I am afraid I won’t make any money writing.
I am afraid of not succeeding.
I’m not a psychologist, but I know enough about the writing process to understand that if you allow these and other like-minded voices to dominate your thoughts, you will have a hardtime nurturing your creative self.
So the question on the table is, How to deal with fear? I don’t think there’s any right or wrong approach — a writer will do what they need to do to vanquish or, at least, manage their apprehensions. Some times you may be able to ignore the voice, the doubts, the insecurities — a good way to do that is to go so deeply into your story, your experience in that ‘world’ shuts out your negative thoughts.
Other times, you can use fear as a motivator: If, for example, you make a commitment, to friends and family, whereby you guarantee you will finish this script, your fear of public humiliation can spur you all the way to FADE OUT.
The simple fact is that whatever you do, you must do something, or else fear can devour your creativity.
Two of the greatest American novelists, William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald, wound their way to Hollywood, and worked as screenwriters. Read these quotes below, and see if you can grasp the palpable sense of fear in their words:
“I think I have had about all of Hollywood I can stand, I feel bad, depressed, dreadful sense of wasting time. I imagine most of the symptoms of blow-up or collapse. I may be able to come back later, but I think I will finish this present job and return home. Feeling as I do, I am actually afraid to stay here much longer.”
— William Faulkner
“My only hope is that you will have a moment of clear thinking. That you’ll ask some intelligent and disinterested person to look at the two scripts. Some honest thinking would be much more valuable to the enterprise right now than an effort to convince people you’ve improved it. I am utterly miserable at seeing months of work and thought negated in one hasty week. I hope you’re big enough to take this letter as it’s meant — a desperate plea to restore the dialogue to its former quality…all those touches that were both natural and new. Oh, Joe, can’t producers ever be wrong? I’m a good writer — honest. I thought you were going to play fair.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald in a letter to producer Joseph Mankiewicz
Faulkner? Fitzgerald? Reduced to “I’m actually afraid to stay here much longer,” and “I’m a good writer — -honest?”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!
This is what fear can do. Strangle creativity. Squash talent. And in Hollywood, a city built on dreams, but run by fear, it can eat you alive.
My advice? Don’t avoid your fear. Don’t run from it. Rather, acknowledge it.
Feel it. Let it be. Let it breathe. Let it take you deeper into the core of your emotional self. You will discover things there you can learn in no other place. Emotions, memories, experiences have collected in that inner place for years, untouched because most people never go there. If you can get curious about why you are afraid, what are the particular animating elements behind your fears, you will discover a deep reservoir of personal insight and, almost assuredly, great story “stuff” as well.
Once you know that you can go there, acknowledge and experience your fears, and survive that process — which you will because fear is nothing more than an emotion state — what you will unveil over time in going there and coming back is… courage.
The courage to give yourself… To your creativity… To your stories… Each one a great unknown… Waiting for what you will find in your creative journey.
530 million people watched the the first humans walk on the surface of the moon, but no one has seen the moon landing quite like this before.
NASA’s 1969 moon landing was an epic event all on its own, but it’s made all the more monumental and awe-inspiring in the incredible short film Lunar. Motion designer Christian Stangl and his brother, composer Wolfgang Stangl gathered thousands of photos from NASA’s Project Apollo Archive and decided to stitch them together and use stop motion to bring the moon landing to life, allowing people to watch the historic mission unfold in a way they never have before.
Stangl decided to embark on the project after being impressed by the quality of the images in the Project Apollo Archive. The high-resolution images, as you might recall, were captured using the famous Hasselblad-Moon cameras, which were build using a Hasselblad 500EL body and a whole lot of rocket science to make the process of exposing and image capture easy for astronauts operating in 1.) space suits, and 2.) 83.3% less gravity than on Earth.
The latter film focused on the sometimes-fraught relationship between Adam Nimoy and his father, Leonard, who played the iconic Star Trek vulcan Mr. Spock on TV and films for almost 50 years. It was also an examination of how Nimoy built the character of this seemingly emotionless and exasperatingly logical starship science officer. Read more…
«Well, go on… impress me.» Magnolia Pictures has debuted an official trailer for a fun documentary titled School Life, formerly known as In Loco Parentis when it premiered at film festivals last year/this year. From filmmakers Neasa Ní Chianáin & David Rane, the documentary profiles two inspirational teachers at Headfort, the only primary-age boarding school in Ireland. «Long careers are drawing to a close for John and Amanda, who teach Latin, English, and guitar at a stately home-turned-school, where they are legends with a mantra: ‘Reading. ‘Rithmetic. Rock ‘n’ roll!’ But leaving is the hardest lesson.» I haven’t seen this yet, but it seems like I need to catch it when it opens. This looks seriously charming and inspirational, indeed a «heartwarming look at youth» and the fearless teachers who help shape them into good people. Have a look. ›››
The highly anticipated CW series Life Sentence, starring Lucy Hale, is moving to Vancouver this summer, even though the pilot was filmed in Atlanta, one of the United State’s most popular filming locations at the moment. It’s not a big surprise to see the series move since The CW seems to love Vancouver. Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale, and Supernatural are all filmed in Vancouver, too. CW Series Life Sentence starring Lucy Hale moving to #Vancouver from Atlanta to film the series this summer @WhatsFilming @olv #yvrshoots — Lindsay B (@lemon_buzz) May 24, 2017 Life Sentence stars Lucy Hale as a young woman, Stella, who is dying of cancer, but then learns she isn’t going to die after all. The news means she has to learn how to live with the choices she made when she was “living like she was dying,” including marrying a complete stranger. It also means she sees her family’s problems for the first time, after they finally stop pretending everything is OK to protect her and, for the first time, she sees the full impact her illness has had on those closest to her. Some are comparing the series to NBC’s hit This Is..
Jeff Goldblum has signed on to reprise his Jurassic Park character of Ian Malcolm for J. A. Bayona‘s upcoming sequel Jurassic World 2. Hit the jump for more details on the Jeff Goldblum Jurassic World 2 casting.
Goldblum will be joining Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in the currently filming yet-to-be-officially-titled sequel. The film also features Justice Smith, James Cromwell, and Toby Jones. Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow reteamed with his writing partner Derek Connolly for the sequel’s screenplay and the details have been kept tightly under wraps.
Goldblum co-starred in 1993’s Jurassic Park and the 1997 sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park as Dr. Ian Malcolm, a know-it-all mathematician who specializes in a branch of mathematics known as “Chaos Theory.” He was brought to Jurassic Park as a consultant for the park’s insurance.
He somehow survived the events of the first film, attempted to go public about his experience on Isla Nublar but was discredited by Hammond’s nephew, Peter Ludlow. He was ridiculed in the public media, and his University tenure was revoked. Summoned by an ill John Hammond, Malcolm was convinced to go on another adventure to Site B; a separate island where the dinosaurs were bred before being moved to the main island. While that sequel was not as good as the original film, Goldblum is one of the film’s highlights (alongside that cliff sequence). I’m extremely excited to see Goldblum back and hope it’s more than a one-scene cameo appearance.
I was able to get an exclusive comment from the film’s legendary producer Frank Marshall:
“I’m excited to have him back. The world has changed a lot since Ian Malcolm went to Jurassic Park and we need his point of view now more than ever. He told us about chaos theory, he was right.”
We’ve been told the second Jurassic World film will deal with animal cruelty and exploitation.
Last month, the filmmakers released the first official photo from the movie that showed a new character, a young girl named Lucy, looking at a museum-like collection of dinosaur skeletons. Even though we have a photo of the actress, we still don’t know her name. That speaks to how secretive this project has been. Many fans are speculating that the private dinosaur collection might be somehow connected to John Hammond.
Jurassic World 2 is set for June 22, 2018 release. Goldblum will next be seen in Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, which hits theaters on November 3, 2017.
In Part 1, we considered a Harvard Business Review article about the influence of stories on the brain. My thoughts on the article:
For years, I’ve used the term audience identification. Something about your story, most particularly involving your Protagonist, must resonate with a reader. What that boils down to is creating a sense of empathy on the part of the reader with at least one of your central characters. If you do that, you shrink the distance between the reader and the story universe you are creating. Indeed, the reader can begin to live vicariously through the experiences of the Protagonist, the degree of empathy so strong as to pull the reader into the story.
It’s not enough to create empathy. Empathy does not necessarily translate into a compelling story. To do that, we need to craft a narrative that involves some sense of tension. You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t have good drama without conflict”? That is the same sentiment as what is at work here. There have to be problems to solve and obstacles to overcome in order for a narrative to create a sense of tension in a reader. Of course, the presence of this tension presupposes a resolution to it which in turn provides a sense of emotional satisfaction.
The intriguing thing here is that while we, as writers, are thinking about emotions and psychology, much of it apparently boils down to a chemical reaction in the brain.
That chemical is called Oxytocin. This discussion led me to another Harvard Business Review article: The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool.
It’s not often that you hear Budweiser and Shakespeare mentioned in the same breath. But according to new research from Johns Hopkins University, the Bard’s deft application of storytelling techniques featured prominently in the beer company’s Super Bowl commercial.
In “Puppy Love,” a perfectly adorable yellow lab becomes inseparable friends with a Clydesdale. Sneaking out of his pen, the pup and the horse “talk” in the stables and cavort on an idyllic farm –until someone comes to adopt the dog. The distressed puppy whines and places his paws against the window of the car set to take him to his new home. All seems lost until the Clydesdale rallies the other horses to stop the vehicle from leaving. Reunited, the two commence frolicking in the horse pasture and, we assume, live happily ever after.
Here is the commercial:
Currently at 53M+ views on YouTube, so clearly something at work here in terms of the story. But what?
If Keith Quesenberry were a betting man, he would have cleaned up. The researcher at Johns Hopkins predicted that the Budweiser spot would be a winner after conducting a two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials. In a paper that will be published in the Fall 2014 issue of The Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Quesenberry and research partner Michael Coolsen focused on brands’ use of specific strategies to sell products, such as featuring cute animals or sexy celebrities. But they also coded the commercials for plot development.
They found that, regardless of the content of the ad, the structure of that content predicted its success. “People are attracted to stories,” Quesenberry tells me, “because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people.”
It’s no surprise. We humans have been communicating through stories for upwards of 20,000 years, back when our flat screens were cave walls.
“Especially in the Super Bowl, those 30-second ads are almost like mini movies,” he says. Quesenberry found that the ads that told a more complete story using Freytag’s Pyramid — a dramatic structure that can be traced back to Aristotle — were the most popular.
Shakespeare had mastered this structure, arranging his plays in five acts to include an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and a dénouement — or final outcome. The “Best Buds” story also uses these elements to great effect. The more of the acts each version of the ad had, the better it performed.
Storytelling evokes a strong neurological response. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak‘s research indicates that our brains produce the stress hormone cortisol during the tense moments in a story, which allows us to focus, while the cute factor of the animals releases oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that promotes connection and empathy. Other neurological research tells us that a happy ending to a story triggers the limbic system, our brain’s reward center, to release dopamine which makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic.
We can now add Cortisol and Dopamine to Oxytocin, all chemical reactions in our brains related to storytelling. But to get there via a story, we have Freytag’s Pyramid. Looking at it, I still see three movements with concurrent chemical reactions:
Empathy [Oxytocin]: Establish a point of emotional resonance with characters. Tension [Cortisol]: Create a dilemma that arouses disunity. Release [Dopamine]: Resolve the dilemma that brings about unity.
Yet another way of looking at Three Act Structure.
Of course, this approach assumes we want to write a story that leaves people in a happy place. Obviously there are stories that do not do that. Which is, of course, completely fine.
However there is a reason why a vast majority of mainstream Hollywood movies have happy endings. Actually two reasons: Meet Mr. Dopamine and Ms. Oxytocin!
In Part 3, we delve into the science of a well-constructed plot.
Writing and the Creative Life is a weekly series in which we explore creativity from the practical to the psychological, the latest in brain science to a spiritual take on the subject. Hopefully the more we understand about our creative self, the better we will become as writers. If you have any good reading material in this vein, please post in comments. If you have a particular observation you think readers will benefit from and you would like to explore in a guest post, email me.
Trust us: you don’t really want a real life hoverboard — at least not in the first few iterations of the future tech.
Sure, you’ve probably been impatiently waiting for the day you’d finally be able to zoom above the pavement from the moment you saw Marty McFly defy the laws of gravity in Back to the Future Part II — but there’s more than just a crew of angry bullies that could make the practice IRL a bad and dangerous idea.
Your dream hoverboard would probably be a floating injury machine at first, with potentially sketchy internals, a super-high price tag, and a high level of skill needed just to take it for a spin. Read more…