Slapstick and Zombies: Films That Have Inspired Peter Jackson’s Work

From mindless zombies to Buster Keaton, Peter Jackson has been inspired by them all.

The moment you mention Peter Jackson’s name, you immediately think of what? Middle Earth, the Shire, hobbits, and epic battle sequences between the courageous Fellowship and disgustingly repulsive orcs. But even though The Lord of the Rings series made Jackson one of the most successful directors in the industry, he actually got his start directing low-budget horror comedies, like Bad Taste and Dead Alive, a genre that is clearly miles away from the fantasy adventure films he’s known for today.

This departure from form and content might seem strange at first glance, but once you know which films influenced the work of the New Zealand-born filmmaker, you might get a much clearer understanding of his creative origins. Fandor shares five of these films in the video below.

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Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Unplug your Internet!

And if you don’t have the self-control to do it, I’ve got a tip for you!

An observation from writer and essayist Jonathan Franzen:

It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.

Oh, yes. The evil temptress known as the Web! Sure, you should buckle down and get started on that scene. You know, the one you’ve been struggling with now for a couple of days. You know the only solution is likely just slogging your way through it time after time until you get it right. So here you go, opening the file. And there it is, the vexing scene itself. And here are your hands on the keyboard, ready to go, and then…








Open Internet browser.

And suddenly, it’s two-and-a-half hours later, where you find yourself bidding on eBay for a glow-in-the-dark Michael Jackson prayer shawl or some such nonsense that you have absolutely no need for… other than to distract you from your writing.

So here’s the trick: Stay offline. I mean literally unplug your DSL line. If you’ve got wireless, disable it. Don’t tell me you don’t know how to do that. I’m the world’s dumbest computer person and even I know how to disable my wireless.

Or try a program like Freedom.

Freedom users report gaining an average of 2.5 hours of productive time each day. We’re proud to have helped our users reclaim 10,000,000 hours in the past year. No wonder Freedom is used by people at the world’s best companies and universities.

And then just write.

Facebook will wait for you. The DailyKos will wait for you. Twitter won’t wait for you, but writing requires some sacrifice… even refraining from tweets.

What won’t wait is the solution to that damn scene!

So when you sit down to write, admit that while you may be a grown-up, at least in terms of your age, you really need to treat yourself like a child — and just unplug your Internet.

This has been another installment of “Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work.”

For more posts in the series, go here.

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Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Unplug your Internet! 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

Ever wondered how prank calling would work on ‘Game of Thrones’? ‘The Simpsons’ has the answer


Everyone is obsessed with Game of Thrones these days — even the The Simpsons. America’s favorite TV family is paying homage to the HBO hit in the Season 29 premiere, “The Serfsons,” and we’ve got an exclusive sneak peek at the episode.

After almost 30 years on air, long-suffering bartender Moe Szyslak has had to endure countless prank calls from Bart Simpson — but how would Bart get his laughs if phones didn’t exist? Our clip has the answer, and let’s just say Samwell Tarly wouldn’t approve.

The Game of Thrones-themed premiere also features the vocal talents of one of fantasy series’ stars, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister), in a role that Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman describes as “a character not unlike Jaime. He has a surprising and sexy connection to one of the main characters.” Read more…

More about Video, Game Of Thrones, Animation, Fox, and The Simpsons

Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Set a deadline

Nothing like the fear of being publicly humiliated to motivate you to write.

There are a lot of find things to motivate a writer to write.

The desire to craft a wonderful story…
The fantasy of writing a million dollar spec script…
The realization of putting on paper the singular story your life has led you to tell.

And then there’s possibly the best motivator of all… humiliation. Or the threat thereof.

If you can orchestrate events so that the fear of being humiliated by not writing is greater than the fear of having people read what you do write, then you will be well on your way to getting your ass in chair and plowing ahead to FADE OUT.

So how to ensure this threat of humiliation?

Set a deadline. Not just any deadline. A public deadline!

Prepare an email in which you state your goal — “I am going to finish a draft of my long cherished screenplay ‘Leopard Lips’” — and most importantly, you select and include a due date. To up the stakes, you can add something like, “And if I don’t produce a draft of ‘Leopard Lips’ by [due date], I hereby proclaim you have the right to belittle my manhood / womanhood however you see fit by any electronic means including email, Twitter, Facebook, IM, SMS, BBM, or even archaic conveyances such as smoke signals or semaphores.”

Then take a deep breath, let out a guttural scream, and hit SEND.

There. You’re screwed… unless, of course, you write the draft.

And that’s the point. You will be publicly humiliated by all your friends and family… you’ve opened that door wiiiiiiiiiiiiiidddddddddeeeeee open.

The echoes of their laughter (and the exponential growth of the laughter once they spread your email to their friends and family members) will literally haunt you, getting in the way of any form of enjoyment until you…

So set a deadline. Publicly. Put into motion the visceral threat of abject and utter humiliation.

Or better yet, use Twitter or Facebook. Make it even MORE public.

That act is sure to see you from FADE IN to FADE OUT.

This has been another installment of Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work.

For more in the series, go here.

Comment Archive

Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Set a deadline 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

Reader Question: Could you explain how writing credits work?

Peering into the mystery of screenwriting credits.

From Courtney:

While you’re shooting around the topic could you shed a little light on credits? From what I understand if Scott partners with Scott the credit would be listed as…

Screenplay by Scott & Scott.

However… if Scott was rewritten the credit would be listed as…

Scott and Scott.

I’ve seen some as watered down as Scott & Scott and Scott and Scott.

Are screen credits that important or have the writers been paid upfront and the credit system is more for show and a the resume?

Or… if you receive solo credit are you paid more… with a partner… etc… etc…

Credits are hugely important to TV and screenwriters. They are attached to your ‘brand’, for better or worse depending upon the quality and perception of the final product. They contribute to determining how much you get paid for writing assignments. Residuals and royalty payments are tied to them. And in general, they help to define your career. For more background, you can read this. An excerpt to explain the meaning of various credits:

WRITTEN BY: The writer created the story concept and wrote the screenplay.

STORY BY: The writer created the story (i.e., the plot, theme, main characters, etc.).

SCREENPLAY BY: The writer wrote the screenplay based on someone else’s concept.

TELEPLAY BY: Writer wrote the script for a television program based on someone else’s concept.

CREATED BY: Typically designated as credit for the creators of television programs, where bonuses and royalties for episodes are involved, and the show’s success will determine if co-creators can become an executive.

ON SCREEN PLACEMENT: Generally, the writer’s screen credit should be placed next to the director’s credit. If the writing credits are in the main titles (i.e. before the film starts), they appear on a title card immediately preceding the card on which the director’s credit appears. If the writing credits appear in the end titles (i.e. before the film ends), they appear immediately following the director’s credit.

Up until the 40s, it was common to use “screen play” as two words.

Here’s the deal with “&” and “and.”

  • When you see an ampersand (&), that means the writers worked together on the project and are considered — at least for that project — a writing team. So whatever revenue they generated in the form of compensation, production bonuses, and residuals gets split. If it’s two writers as a team, each gets 50%. If it’s three writers as a team, each gets 33%. In the case of a movie like The Simpsons Movie, which has 11 writers with Screenplay By credit, each with an ampersand between them, I have no clue how they divide that pie.
  • When you see the word “and” between two or more writers, that means the writers worked independently of each other and are not considered part of a team. So for instance if you look at the writing credits for The A-Team, you’ll see this:

Written by Joe Carnahan & Brian Bloom and Skip Woods

That means that Messrs. Carnahan and Bloom are considered a writing team on the project while Woods’ contribution was as a solo writer.

Now I choose The A-Team for a reason: If you recall from this post, 20th Century Fox hired 11 sets of writers for this movie project. How come only Carnahan, Bloom and Woods got credit?

That opens the door to the deep, dark mysteries of the WGA credit system. For more information, you can go here to read the official policy in the WGA Screen Credits Manual. Here is a relevant excerpt:

Screen credit for screenplay will not be shared by more than two writers, except that in unusual cases, and solely as the result of arbitration, the names of three writers or the names of writers constituting two writing teams may be used. The limitation on the number of writers applies to all feature length photoplays except episodic pictures and revues.

The default for the WGA is to give no more than 2 writers screenplay by credit. If there is an arbitration, there can be 3 writers.


As I understand it, this is about trying to maintain some degree of value for a writing credit, the thinking being if, for example, 11 sets of writers’ names appeared in the credits, that would somehow diminish the perception of what writers do.

Try telling that to the 9 other sets of writers on The A-Team who did not receive credit.

Now there are, in fact, specific guidelines in determining who deserves writing credit in an arbitration. Another excerpt from the WGA Screen Credits Manual:

Any writer whose work represents a contribution of more than 33% of a screenplay shall be entitled to screenplay credit, except where the screenplay is an original screenplay. In the case of an original screenplay, any subsequent writer or writing team must contribute 50% to the final screenplay.

For an original screenplay, any writer subsequent to the original writer must contribute at least 50% to the final draft of the script to receive any writing credit.

For a non-original screenplay (based on source material), any writer subsequent to the original writer must contribute at least 33% to the final draft of the script to receive any writing credit.

How to determine the percentages of what each writer contributes to a script? Again from the Screen Credits Manual:

The percentage contribution made by writers to screenplay obviously cannot be determined by counting lines or even the number of pages to which a writer has contributed. Arbiters must take into consideration the following elements in determining whether a writer is entitled to screenplay credit:

* dramatic construction;

* original and different scenes;

* characterization or character relationships; and

* dialogue.

It is up to the arbiters to determine which of the above-listed elements are most important to the overall values of the final screenplay in each particular case. A writer may receive credit for a contribution to any or all of the above-listed elements. It is because of the need to understand contributions to the screenplay as a whole that professional expertise is required on the part of the arbiters. For example, there have been instances in which every line of dialogue has been changed and still the arbiters have found no significant change in the screenplay as a whole. On the other hand, there have been instances where far fewer changes in dialogue have made a significant contribution to the screenplay as a whole. In addition, a change in one portion of the script may be so significant that the entire screenplay is affected by it.

You can see the issue: The guidelines can’t be arbitrary because story is an organic entity which means there is by definition a lot of latitude in terms of analyzing multiple drafts. So in some case, as noted above, a writer can change every line and not be deemed to have substantially altered the story while another writer may make a few changes, but are of such importance they are considered to have contributed enough to receive credit.

I have served as a judge on perhaps 10 credit arbitrations. Bizarrely enough, this is where some of my training in biblical studies at Yale came in handy because I learned source criticism, which is the core of what is required when assessing a credit arbitration: determine who wrote what, when they wrote it, what type of content it is, and so forth. The underlying principle judges operate on is that whatever material in the shooting script appears in whatever drafts, the writer of the earliest version of that material gets credit, the assumption being that subsequent writers would have had access to the prior material, even if they claim they never read that script.

There’s actually some practical takeaway for your writing from this lengthy post. Look at those categories again: Dramatic Construction, Original and Different Scenes, Characterization and Character Relationships, Dialogue. You don’t see Narrative Voice, you don’t see Style, you don’t see Pace. As important as those are to the marketability of a script, the perception within the industry as to what comprises a story are those four categories above: Structure, Scenes, Characters, Dialogue. That is the guts of a story.

For the record I have three Written By movie credits. I also used a pseudonym for a writing credit on another movie. In addition, I was one of a number of writers on three other movies that got produced for which I received no credit.

I am reminded of the value of those Written By credits every three months when I receive these pale green envelopes with residual checks.

So yes, writing credits are incredibly important.

I have a question for GITS readers: Should all writers who worked on a movie project receive some sort of credit? For instance, after the official Written By or Screenplay By credits are determined, why not in end credits add “Additional Writing Services,” then list all the other writers? Everybody and their mother who works on a movie gets a credit. Why not all the writers?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention a couple of things:

  • The first name listed in a credit with two or more writers is to acknowledge the primacy of their writing contribution to the final script.
  • Of all the reasons people get hot and bothered within the WGA, credit arbitrations is near the top of the list. Some articles on that if you’re interested: here, here, here.

Comment Archive

Reader Question: Could you explain how writing credits work? 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

Watch: Vimeo Paves the Way for 360° Video Creators to Upload and Sell Their Work

Vimeo takes the lead in 360° education, exhibition and monetization for creators.

360° and VR video could be seen as simply a passing trend, but Vimeo envisions an explosive space for creatives to explore new avenues of expression and, ultimately, a way to make money. As a platform that has always set a high bar for video quality, Vimeo’s approach to 360° video and VR is no different. With the recent release of Vimeo 360, the company has put together the world’s first platform for creators to truly cut their teeth in the rapidly-evolving world of this burgeoning visual medium.

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An envelope in a Barcelona flea market held the work of an unknown master photographer


Image: Milagros Caturla, courtesy of Tom Sponheim

In the summer of 2001, American Tom Sponheim was vacationing in Barcelona with his wife. On their way to the cathedral of Sagrada Familia, they wandered through the bustling flea market of Els Encants.

Sponheim spotted a stack of photo negatives on a table, and after checking that they were decently exposed, asked the vendor how much. She asked for $ 2.50 for an envelope of the shots. He paid her $ 3.50.

Upon returning home, Sponheim scanned the negatives and discovered that he had stumbled upon the work of an unknown but immensely talented photographer. Read more…

More about 1960s, Barcelona, Spain, History, and Retronaut

See how the store of the future will work


Here’s an idea: all the convenience of online shopping combined with the instant gratification of shopping in physical stores IRL. 

This is the vision of shopping in the future, and it’s very close to a reality. All you have to do is hand over your data.

This week Mashable got a sneak peek inside a “Store of the Future” by London-based startup Farfetch, during a demonstration and conference to brands and fashionable types. 

Farfetch was founded in 2008, and if you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry. It’s an e-commerce platform for luxury fashion.  Read more…

More about Shopping, Farfetch, Retail, Uk, and Business

People applied to work for Hub, a fake startup whose smart home device doesn’t do anything


This April Fools’ Day, one joke long in the making about Silicon Valley got kind of out of hand. 

An Indiegogo campaign for “Hub: the ultimate IOT smart device” got the attention of students at Yale University — so much so that some applied to work at the burgeoning campus startup. 

But the entire project was a joke, meant to mock smart home devices like Alexa and Google Home, along with the rest of the ever-proliferating internet of things. 

Hub, as presented in a highly-produced marketing video, doesn’t really do anything. It’s just a hunk of metal that promises to connect to the internet of things. The big tech words and fancy production, though, caused some viewers to miss that lack of purpose.  Read more…

More about April Fools Day, Internet Of Things, and Business

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