When it comes to sequels, there an expectation to raise the bar. If you think of some of the best sequels of all time, whether that’s The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or Aliens (to name a few), each film improved upon the foundation of the first in major ways. In the second part of our weekly Spider-Man retrospective series leading up to the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 7th this summer, we take a look at how Sam Raimi raised the bar for not only Spider-Man movies, but the entire superhero genre itself with Spider-Man 2. The superhero sequel hit theaters on June 30th, 2004 (that’s 13 years ago!), just a week before 4th of July, and it once again went on to set records at the box office and beyond. ›››
The latest action-packed adventure, starring Mark Wahlberg, will be released June 21.
You’re tearing us apart, Tommy!
The first time I ever saw the worst film ever made, I was with my brother and two of my cousins. We sat down in my living room in my old basement apartment, pulled up a pirated copy that was streaming on YouTube (because my efforts to buy it off of Amazon were unfruitful), and gazed in amazement while it played on a tiny sub-screen at 1.5x normal speed (typical format for pirated shit).
When the credits began to roll, we all just sat there, silent, awkward, and confused—confused by the absurdity of what we just consumed, but also confused by our genuine non-rejection of it, a non-rejection that quickly grew into full-blown love and then obsession. One of my cousins turned to me and asked, «What the f*** did we just watch?» I was like, «The Room.»
One of the most important ways you can learn the craft of screenwriting is by watching movies. Studying them. Breaking them down sequence by sequence, scene by scene. Tracking the story’s pace and the flow of its narrative.
Beyond that movies serve as a reminder…
Of film as visual storytelling…
Of the power of this wonderful medium…
Of your ultimate goal: to see your movie up on that screen.
You may think once you break into Hollywood as a screenwriter, you can slack off on going to the movies.
You would be wrong.
In fact now you have to add some items to the movie-watching agenda:
- Track movie trends
- See how narrative is handled in various genres
- Follow the transition of a project from script to screen
- Appraise the work of actors and directors with whom you may one day work
- Stay informed about the latest projects for meetings with producers and studio execs involved with those same projects
Even if you are a successful screenwriter, it is imperative you continue going to the movies.
Now this may seem like unnecessary advice. Of course, I’ll go to the movies. I love movies.
You say that now. But if your entire life is about movies — the news you track, days spent writing, nights spent brainstorming, every conversation you have inevitably winding its way toward The Biz, every coffee joint you go to inhabited by dozens of people hunkered over laptops open to Final Draft — you’d be amazed at how sick you can become of that thing you profess to love.
Think about it: If there are 4 major releases each weekend, plus another 2–3 indie films opening in theaters, you may have to average seeing a movie every day just to keep up with what’s out there.
That can get old.
What to do? Spice things up!
Let’s assume you’re living in Los Angeles.
First, there are premieres and industry screenings, as discussed here. If you can’t get pumped up to see a movie at an event like this, then you are really in need of a life-injection. Premieres and industry screenings are fun. And even if the movie stinks, you get to network, make connections, and drink free booze.
The next best thing: Go to a screening on a movie’s opening night. Personally my preference are the theaters in Westwood:
Standing in line with people who are motivated enough to show up on opening night, then sharing the movie experience with that same excited crowd can give you a nice emotional jolt.
Then there’s the WGA Film Society which screens movies at the Writers Guild Theater on Doheny in Beverly Hills:
It’s a great deal with the cost per movie about $ 1. Also since they don’t allow refreshments in the theater, you don’t have to put up with the slovenly dumbass directly behind you pawing endlessly at their jumbo tub of popcorn or Hooverizing an Icee. This venue is for serious movie people who are there to watch a film. Added benefit: All the kvetching you hear afterward from fellow writers. No one disses movies better than a gaggle of bitter screenwriters.
For a completely different experience, I’m a big advocate of going to a screening in the middle of the day. No crowds. Your mind is alert. You can spread out. And avoid that same damn dumbass with the jumbo tub of popcorn by moving five rows away.
Another thing to do: See multiple movies in one day. For my first two years in L.A., I did this a lot. It not only allows you to cover most of the week’s new releases in one fell swoop, I find I also make interesting connections and comparisons between the films I see: tone, pace, intensity levels, scene constructions, visual style, and so on. A sort of Gestalt cinematic experience.
Every so often, be sure to check out some of the revival theaters like the New Beverly Cinema [on Beverly Blvd one block west of La Brea] or the Nuart Theatre [just off the 405 on Santa Monica Blvd]. There is nothing like seeing a classic movie on the big screen. I still get chills thinking about the time I saw Patton when they opened the AMC theaters in Century City. Wow!
This one is critically important: At least once a month, go outside of L.A. and watch a movie. Why? Because real people live there. Ventura, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Camarillo. Those are my favorites. These moviegoers are much more representative of what the rest of America is about than folks in the 405–10–110–101 Bubble. And in a very real way, they are your audience, you are writing your stories for them. Trust me, this will be the single most difficult thing for you to do as the 405–10–110–101 Bubble has this strange, but powerful gravitational pull making it extraordinarily difficult for you to leave its gestational womb. But you must stay in touch with people who don’t work in the industry in order to have some sense of what plays and doesn’t play out there in Real America.
Finally, here is a temptation you have to resist. As a member of the WGA come award season (December-March), you will get screeners (or access to movies at restricted sites online). Over the course of the year, you will have this conversation with yourself multiple times:
“Do I really want to pry my tookus off the Barcolounger, schlep across town to the movie theater, pay all that money for tickets, popcorn, parking, when in a few months, I can watch the movie at home for free with a screener?”
Yes, you do. While you can use DVDs and screeners to re-watch and analyze a film, you should watch a movie for the first time in a theater with a crowd, this unique group of strangers which gathers together for a mere two hours of time. Something remarkable can happen there, sitting in the dark, communing with these other souls as we laugh, cry, or shriek.
A movie theater is like a cathedral. We are the congregants. And the movie is the liturgical experience. Where once again we behold the magic of images and words on screen, transporting us from this world to That World, and come to believe again… there is nothing like a movie.
As successful and inside the business you get to be as a screenwriter, it’s easy to lose sight of that magic.
The best way, perhaps the only way to stay in touch with it is… going to the movies.
UPDATE: In comments kellisays notes this:
American Cinematheque is also a great resource, they show classic films at the Egyptian and Aero theaters.
Which reminds me there’s also The Cinefamly at the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax.
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.
The Business of Screenwriting: Going to the movies was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
The Raid 1 & 2
The Raid surprises with an amazing – and for most people unknown – new style of Indonesian martial art called Pancack Silat. Coming out in 2011, The Raid stunned audiences with its fast and acrobatic fight scenes, letting everyone experience a new part of the diverse martial arts world.
One of Jackie Chan’s earlier films, Drunken Master shows his genius martial arts abilities, not only in an effort to entertain the audience with extraordinary fighting skills, while also making them laugh. This gained him cult status all over the world.
Tony Jaa’s thaiboxing masterpiece Ong Bak shows phenomenal acrobatic performances. Even though thaiboxing was a known martial art the world over, this film made everyone want to go out and learn it. Not only does it contain awesome fight scenes, but it is also provides audiences with a great story of the culture of Thailand.
Ip Man 1, 2 & 3
Although Bruce Lee is a cult figure in the action film world, little is known about his master Ip Man. This film, and the two sequels following, show his early life and struggles in the years before he became Bruce Lee’s teacher. Containing numerous visually-captivating fight sequences, this film introduces us to the old, tradition-rich martial art known as Wing Chun.
Undisputed 2 & 3
UFC and mixed martial arts are controversial topics in the media today. Undisputed presents us this art of mixing the two forms in an entertaining way. The first Undisputed is a boxing film; whereas it’s sequels concentrate on awe-inspiring and fast-paced action fight scenes, leaving audiences behind with open mouths.
A new British action thriller!
Raindance Raw Talent is proud to introduce our latest project: Amber.
We are crowdfunding the remainder of the movie right now. if you want to visit the set and see professional stuntpeople in action, secure your place by donating here.
Get ready for the summer movie season! Kicking off today, on May 5th with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the 2017 summer movie seasons runs through August and features plenty of big blockbusters and franchise sequels to enjoy. As a preview of what’s to come to the big screen this summer, film critic Amon Warmann has put together this video called the «Summer 2017 Blockbuster Montage«, or «AMONtage». Featuring footage from over 15 big summer blockbusters, this plays the perfect sizzle reel to put dollar signs in the eyes of studio executives everywhere. Guardians already opens today, with Alien: Covenant, King Arthur, plus Baywatch coming up in a few weeks. Some of our most anticipated movies open in July, including War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk and Valerian. There’s plenty to look forward to over these next few months. ›››
Continue reading Get Ready For Summer Movies with This ‘Blockbuster Montage’ Video
(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: James Ponsoldt’s The Circle.)
Based on the Dave Eggers novel, The Circle sees entry-level tech employee Mae Holland (Emma Watson) swimming through the hipster-bait open office of a Hooli-esque search engine company. Her life perks up as she rises through the ranks of the company, but success is a matter of compromising. Mae has to trade away something that most of us trade away everyday by using Facebook and Twitter and Instagram: her private life. At the heart of the company is its rock star founder Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) who wants to help society by making it more open and free.
Yes, the whole thing is one big trigger for introverts. It’s also a case of too-good-to-be-true revealing its price tag.
The Devil’s Advocate
Always remember to read the fine print. The Devil’s Advocate is the perfect message movie about winning everything in life while losing your soul. A real Matthew 16:26 type situation.
As Kevin Lomax, Keanu Reeves smooth-talks his way through Floridian court rooms and Manhattan murder cases by twisting the letter of the law and his own moral compass. The American Dream is handed to him and his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) on a silver platter. The gorgeous apartment. The massive salary. The high life. The only catch is that they’re working for Satan (played by Al Pacino, doing some of the best scream-acting of his career). Like The Circle, it presents a corporate reality where being a team player in a deeply flawed, unethical system, is the key to success, and the whole world is on the line.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Speaking of which, there’s an unmistakable Bond villain quality to Tom Hanks’ Eamon, who exudes evil as benevolence. A mad genius who sees beyond society as it is to what it could be if “perfected.” Like a fictional Elon Musk.
Bond’s nemeses have been toying with tech for a half-century, but the grandest (dumbest?) experiment with global social tools came from Tomorrow Never Dies‘ Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), a Rupert Murdoch figure who angled to start a major war in order to boost profits for his media empire. It turns out that unchecked power over the informational flow isn’t a good idea. Neither is getting lax on missile security.
Travel with me now, 22 years into the past, to a magical time when floppy disks were king, hacking into the FBI only took typing super fast, and modems were laughably slow. It’s fascinating to get a double-feature view of Zero Cool (Johnny Miller), Acid Burn (Angelina Jolie), and the gang matching wits with the skateboarding corporate hacker The Plague (Fisher Stevens) as the latter attempts to extort millions by threatening the ballast programs on oil tankers.
Hackers is a perfect example of how films of the time treated the emergent internet, giving us a mystical view of game-changing technology that many people didn’t have access to. Ridiculous as it was even then, there’s something quaint about the film’s targets: telephone networks, street lights, banks. The internet’s nefarious intrusion is on physical spaces while everything in the era of the social network shows how far the internet has come (with us as willing conspirators) to invade our very personalities and behaviors.
The post Movie Mixtape: 6 Movies With Connections to ‘The Circle’ appeared first on /Film.
The former Miss America contestant also guest-starred on dozens of TV shows, including ‘Maverick,’ ’77 Sunset Strip’ and ‘Batman.’
Put down the chocolate! Make movies!
Why dither and make reasons to delay your movie? Move up from amateur to professional. Stop making excuses why you can’t make a film. Stop blagging the blag. Get off your couch and start doing something meaningful! You don’t need no film school!
1. Your filmmaking plan and make it realistic
There’s no point in telling your friends that you are going to make a film, or, in telling everyone you are going to make it your way and reinvent the industry. It just ain’t that simple.
Far better to do what Shane Meadows did when he was starting out and make a series of short films – one a week – until he got really good. I asked him what the budget of a short of his we screened at Raindance Film Festival in 1997 was, and he answered £1.69. I asked him how he could be so sure and he told me that the main actor was mildly diabetic and was having a sugar low and he had to get him a cheese sandwich which cost £1.69.
Good businessmen make business plans. Why don’t good filmmakers make business plans too? It doesn’t need to be complicated or extreme. Just attainable. Bite size chunks or even chunkettes are far more sensible than signing up to an imaginary project so fast and unrealistic that not even your top trust fund baby filmmaker could pull it off.
I’m not bragging here, but I recently found this business plan I did a few months before the first Raindance Film Festival in 1993. To my surprise, Raindance today is pretty much like I planned it. Have a peek and see for yourself how my plan worked out.
2. Get a screenplay and make sure it’s great
How often do we say it? “How did they get the money to make that movie?” Here are the three basic ingredients of filmmaking success: Script. Script. Script.
We spend nearly half our teaching focus at Raindance on screenplay. It is that important. I’m not going to bitch about the chocolate on your breath this Easter Sunday except to say: Until You Get A Script You Are A Nobody.
How do you know what to write about? Here are 8 Questions Writers Must Ask When Developing Audience Profiles
3. Get your social media going
In this day and age there is no excuse for not developing your own social media profile. Your blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts are essential ingredients to filmmaking success.
It’s always been about the people that watch or read your stuff. This is how you get people to watch and read your stuff in the age of social media. Just do it.
Another great way to build your lists and your audience is to comment on relevant articles. Have you commented on this article?
4. Get some money
Now that you have your excellent script and business plan, you need to get some money. But how much money? There are loads of things you can do without much money at all. The first money in is called development money.
There are 10 ways you can finance your film. Each investor you approach will want to know what’s in it for them, and how you can de-risk their investment. The more you can learn about the flow of money and the different ways you can finance your film, the better off you will be.
You can get big tax inducements from British taxpayers who invest in your project. You don’t need to be a British taxpayer to access this money either. Read up on the Enterprise Investment Scheme. Use the EIS risk assesment tool here.
Maybe you want to crowdfund your film. You can see how we crowdfund here.
5. Get going
Enough is enough. At some point you just need to take a deep breath and do it. You will never have enough money. You will never be totally happy with the cast and crew. You just need to take the plunge and do it. Practice makes perfect!
6. Be submissive!
Once you’ve finished your film, it’s time to get it seen at a film festival. But what festival to choose? There are thousands around the world. Film festivals fall into 5 types or categories. To help you wade through the myriad of film festival, here are our recommendations for the top 100 film festivals around the world.
There are 4 reasons to submit to film festivals. The main one is to get a distributor to see it and buy it. But beware of creepy people preying on naive festival newbies. Don’t fall for one of these 5 cons filmmakers fall for.
If you have made a short – here is a short film distributor list – this should save you tons of time. Read our list of the top 100 film festivals for shorts too.
Raindance Film Festival is open for submissions until June 2nd.
7. Trouble shooting
Are you making these deadly filmmaking mistakes?
What about your screenplay? Have you forgotten the basic elements of a storytelling?
What are you reading this for anyway when you could be out shooting. Easter Sunday in London has dawned bright and sunny.
But wait, before you go, here are 7 things successful filmmakers eat for breakfast.
Is AI the future of screenwriting? Not if screenwriters can help it.
«Subjective decisions lead to box office failure,» reads a tagline from the new algorithmic service ScriptBook, which claims to predict a screenplay’s critical and box office success.
For a price of $ 100 a pop, ScriptBook users upload their screenplay to be analyzed by ScriptBook’s patented software, Script2Screen, which generates an AI-based assessment indicating the commercial and critical success of a project, along with «insights on the storyline, target demographics, market positioning, distribution parameters,» and more. ScriptBook trained its algorithms to detect patterns that compelling storylines have in common based on a dataset of scripts which have had a theatrical release between 1970 and 2016.
«The added value of our technology,» the website further reads, «lies in the improvement on the current, human decision-making process throughout the spectrum from script to screen, limiting false decision-making while maximizing the potential.»