Read. Watch. Write. Repeat.

The Progression of Screenwriting

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Story Idea: “Beyond Neverland”

Neverland is disappearing, and it’s up to Peter Pan and the Lost Boys to figure out why before their home vanishes and them with it. With the help of Tinkerbell, they travel to the Source, the energy that powers all things magical.

I am enamored with the Peter Pan story and loved what they did with Hook. I like thinking of other stories possible in that world and came up with Beyond Neverland.
Here are more notes detailing where the story would go:

At the Source, they find that its power is fading because the children of the real world are losing hope due to dire economic/education situations.

Peter Pan and the Lost Boys travel to earth where they team up with Wendy (now a school teacher) to take down Captain Hook, now a prominent anti-environmental, anti-education politician.

So, like Hook, this story blends the fantasy of Neverland with real world drama. And since it’s me, I made the real world drama political and topical.

Filed under story ideas Beyond Neverland loglines

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Read: Shane Black’s 10 Rules for Action

I read them before and I need to keep reading them again and again. Shane Black’s list of 10 rules for action films are elements that we innately love from the genre. Don’t write an action script without them!

Reprinted from The Guardian

Shane Black’s 10 Rules for Action

1. An action-driven plot

That sounds obvious but I see a lot of movies these days that have a bunch of scenes that concern the plot and a bunch of separate scenes that feature the action. But you could lift all the action scenes out wholesale and it would make no difference to the meaning of the film. The action should always go hand in hand with the story so it’s all invisibly interconnected. Take the original Star Wars movies: every action sequence is perfectly timed and is designed not just to excite the audience on a visceral level but also to reveal crucial elements of the plot and characters.

2. Highs and lows

An action movie should, like any other, follow the narrative traditions of literature. That means there should be subtlety, a slow build and a gradual bringing together of all the separate threads of the plot. To see all of it coming together slowly is very rewarding for the audience. But if you make everything go at 100 miles per hour from the outset, it loses any impact or meaning. I mean, if a flying truck lands on the bonnet of your car, it should be shocking and scary. But if stuff like that is happening constantly throughout the film, it becomes mundane. An action film can have too much action; picture an equaliser on a stereo, with all the knobs pegged at 10. It becomes a cacophony and is, ultimately, quite boring. Now picture the high-low variations in a film such as Jaws. The lulls, the high points: it’s essentially a well-choreographed dance with the viewer.

3. Sudden impact

I have a friend who is a paramedic. Recently he told me about finding a guy who had fallen off a ledge over a freeway and died instantly. The guy had been skipping along with a friend, telling her about a party he was going to, hopped on to a ledge and a second later he was gone. That’s how moments of drama unfold in real life. Quickly, spontaneously and with no warning. That’s how they should be in action films, too. Violence and action should suddenly punctuate perfectly normal circumstances. Take the moment when the house explodes in Lethal Weapon: these two guys, who we’ve already established are a pair of plodding cops, wander up to the building and suddenly, boom! The explosion was immense but it was the only thing of that scale in the entire movie. It was supposed to be shocking and wild and sudden. You could see the protagonists were scared by it. Often, those moments are just stretched out for too long, like in Die Another Day: Bond is driving around on this ice sheet and his car flips on its roof. He pops the ejector seat to make the car flip back on to its wheels and the audience gasp. Now, if he’d quickly fired his rockets and nailed the bad guy it would have been the perfect end to the sequence and the audience would have applauded. But instead they stretched the sequence out for another 10 minutes and it just got dull.

4. Throwaway gags

I always have humour in my action movies. I think characters that make jokes under fire are more real. It somehow helps put you in their shoes. But only if the jokes are conversational and not stupid. I think in recent times people have gone overboard with a certain type of Jerry Lewis style. But I used to love older movies where the jokes were more throwaway: that effortless riffing that Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy did so well in 48 Hrs - remember when they’re trailing a suspect and Eddie says: “For a cop you’re pretty stupid, man. You’re driving too close.” And Nick says: “Yeah, well, most cops are pretty stupid, but seeing as you landed in jail what does that make you?” Real people in real situations don’t stop and wait for their gags to be registered and applauded. They just chuck them out as they go along.

5. Subjective action

I try to make all the action in my movies subjective; to give a sense of what it would feel like to actually be a part of it. You might see a person disappear in the shadows and then a shot come out of nowhere. A great example of this style is the shootout scene in No Country For Old Men. You’re in the protagonist’s shoes. What surprises him surprises you. Another example, probably the best ever, is the shootout in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You don’t remember specific beats - just the crash of guns, the headlong suicide run, the crescendo and out. It builds perfectly and really creates a harrowing atmosphere.

6. Awkwardness

Amid moments of violence there are often moments of awkwardness. I try to take advantage of the humour and the horror that come from this. In The Hitcher there is a scene where the protagonist wakes up to find that everyone in the police station is dead and the police dog is eating the throat of a corpse. Touches like that lend an uncomfortable realism, like one of those scenes where two men are struggling for a gun, it goes off and they realise they have accidentally shot an innocent bystander. It’s good to show the absurd things that actually happen during chaotic moments of violence. Another great example is in Pulp Fiction, when they’re driving along and John Travolta accidentally shoots the kid in the back seat.

7. Conventions stood on their head

Say you have a character who walks into a haunted house. They realise there’s a ghost there and they decide to investigate further. But if I was writing the movie, I would have that character run out of the house the moment he realises it’s haunted - and not stop running for 10 miles. It’s not what the audience is expecting - but it’s exactly what would happen in real life. In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang I had a character playing Russian roulette. He put a single bullet in a gun and spun the chamber. The tension built - and then he blew his own brains out. Which isn’t what you usually expect to happen when you see a Russian roulette scene. You have to keep surprising your audience.

8. Set-ups and pay-offs

There’s a great example of this in Face/Off. Near the start of the film John Travolta explains to his daughter how to defend herself with a knife: he says she should stab a guy in the leg and twist the knife once it’s in there. By the end of the film, the audience has half-forgotten the scene. But when the daughter has a bad guy holding a gun to her head and pulls out a knife, everybody remembers. When she stabs him in the leg, they cheer. And when she twists it, they cheer louder. Audiences love those moments when something from much earlier in the film comes back and makes them slap their foreheads and say to themselves, “Of course!” Sometimes I write a scene and I think to myself: “That would be even better if I’d somehow set it up earlier in the film.” So I turn back to page 15, insert a set-up and wind up looking like a genius who had planned it like that all along.

9. Reversals

There was a great gag in the TV show Hee Haw that sums up the idea of reversals. A guy is telling a story about a man who fell out of a plane. His friend says: “Oh no, he fell out of a plane? That’s bad!” And the first guy says: “Well, he had a parachute.” So the second guy says: “Oh, that’s good.” But then the first guy says: “Yeah, but the parachute didn’t open.” And so it goes on: the guy had a second parachute, but that one had a rip in it, but it was OK because there was a haystack below him but then it turned out the haystack had a pitchfork sticking out of it. And so on. Action sequences need this constant reversal of fortune. Like where the hero kills a snake but in the process opens a cupboard that’s filled with a hundred more snakes. For this kind of rapid back and forth, check out the Luke/Vader duel at the end of Empire Strikes Back.

10. Quality of edge

If someone fires a gun in a movie, it should always be a big deal. I don’t like movies where someone shoots at someone else but they just run away and manage to dodge the bullet. Or people are all firing at each other continuously for 10 minutes. You need shock and impact and a genuine sense of peril whenever violence takes place. It can’t just be a crazy circus with no jeopardy. For a good example of violence with a real edge, look at Three Kings, where there’s an aside solely about getting shot and a detailed explanation of developing sepsis. Later in the film, there’s one gunfight and when a guy gets shot, you instantly remember that explanation. Boom. You feel like the world’s ending. You realise that the character needs help, now!

Filed under Shane Black action genre lists

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Watch: Midnight in Paris (2011)

Woody Allen, the man who has made more good films than most filmmakers ever get greenlit, lands another simple story that manages to be infectious and entrancing due the specificity and reverence of the subject matter.

Owen Wilson plays Gil, a successful screenwriter turned struggling first-time novelist on vaction in Paris with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her right-wing-but-paying-for-the-trip parents. Gil is in love with the city, but longs to be in the Paris of the 1920s: the greatest city during its greatest era.

While walking through the streets one night, Gil is invited into a turn of the century automobile, packed with Parisian partiers. They take him to a night club, an exact replica of a 1920s saloon, but it’s no imitation. Gil has been transported back in time, to his favotire time, and runs into just about every literary and artistic lumainary of the era, Fitzgerld, Hemingway, Stein, Picasso, etc.

Gil doesn’t spend much time considering the implications of his journey, and when Gertude (Gerdy to friends, I’m sure) offers to read his manuscript, Gil can’t wait to get back to the 1920s and pal around with his historic heroes.

Along the way, he meets a young woman (Marion Cotillard) caught up in the laissez-faire life of passion, drama, art, and Paris of the 20s. And soon Gil begins to feel pulled towards her and away from his fiancée back in the present.

Will Gil finish his book? Will Gil marry his fiance or stay in 1920s Paris? 

I really liked Midnight in Paris. But, as with any story starring a writer, Allen had me at hello. The story is very simple and doesn’t have any beats that the genre, and Allen himself, haven’t played many times before. What’s fun to watch, and become absorbed by, is Wilson’s joy of getting his ultimate wish and befriending the greatest writers and arists of the time. The dialouge and characterization of the historical icons are what is best displayed. I could watch a whole film of Hemingway being Hemingway. And Adrian Brody steals a scene as Salvador Dali.

The best moment of the film comes when Gil runs into Luis Bunuel and tells him he should write a story about a dinner party where the guests are unable to leave. “But I don’t get it, what force is keeping them there,” said by Bunuel, is the kind of fun historical license only time travel allows, and must have tickled Allen to death to write. 

By the end of the film, an interesting point is made about how the present always seems a bit lackluster compared to the past. Gil longs for the 1920s, those in the 1920s long for the 1800s, those in the 1800s long for the Renaissance… (and it goes on until Aristotle proclaims “the best time now and forever is whenever I’m alive.” That Aristotle was kind of a prick.)

Midnight in Paris won’t change your life, but it’s a solid, entertaining, and makes you jealous if you’ve never been to gay Paris of any era.

Rating: 3/5

Filed under Woody Allen Watch review movies

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Casablanca - Plot and Structure

There are many ways to break down screenplay structure. The basic three acts, the 5 plot points, and one of my favorites, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beats.

Here’s Casablanca, summarized and broken down in the STC 15 beat structure.

Opening Image

A world at war and one destination for refugees: Casablanca

Theme Stated*

Ferrari to Rick: “isolationism is no longer a practical policy”

Set-Up

Police are on the lookout for the murder of two couriers carrying valuable documents. They round up suspects off the streets.

Rick (Bogart), a saloon owner in Casablanca, makes business serving drinks and gambling to the myriad of people that come through and get stuck in town. Rick is a loner, bitter, and content with a life that has more darkness than light. 

Catalyst

Ugarte (Lorre) asks Rick to hold two letters of transit that will allow its holders to exit Casablanca and make passage to America.

Debate

Rick doesn’t want to get involved, but agrees to hide the documents for Ugarte until later that night. Ferrari, a competing saloon owner, propositions Rick to sell his saloon, but Rick isn’t selling. Ferrari tests the loyalty of Sam, the piano player, who politely rejects Ferrari’s offer to work for him.

Captain Renault (Rains), the local governing official, chides Rick when he sends a drunken woman home without taking advantage. Later, Renault informs Rick that the police will be arresting the man who murdered the couriers tonight, in Rick’s saloon. He also tells Rick that a French Freedom fighter, Laszlo, is in town, seeking passage to America with a beautiful woman. And that fact has brought a German officer, Major Strasser, to Casablanca.

Major Strasser arrives at Rick’s saloon to watch Renault arrest the murderer, Ugarte. Renault’s men attempt to arrest Ugarte and when Ugarte pleads for Rick’s help, Rick tells him there is no use in running and doesn’t get involved.

After the arrest, Strasser asks Rick to join his table and questions him on his past and his loyalties. Though Rick has a past as a fighter for the underdog, his equivocating answers show Rick’s loyalties aren’t to any flag, and Renault assures Strasser that Rick is completely neutral.

Break into Two

Laszlo enters Rick’s saloon, with a beautiful woman, Ilsa (Bergman), who catches Sam’s eye. Laszlo and Ilsa, there to meet Ugarte, encounter an underground Free France operative, but the meeting is interrupted by Renault.

Renault introduces Strasser to Laszlo and Ilsa. Strasser requests Laszlo and Ilsa meet him in the morning to discuss their being in Casablanca.

Laszlo continues his conversation with the underground operative, who tells him of a secret meeting the next night.

Sam pulls his piano next to Ilsa, who asks him to play some of the old songs. She asks about Rick, and Sam tries his best to lie and keep them from seeing each other. Ilsa asks Sam to play “As Time Goes By.” Rick enters, overhears the song, and storms over to Sam. Rick spots Ilsa and is shocked to see her.


Laszlo and Renault join and all are introduced. Rick and Ilsa talk about the last time they saw each other, in Paris the day the Germans marched in. Laszlo and Ilsa leave, not before being reminded by Renault to meet with Strasser in the morning.

The lights go out at Rick’s Cafe.

B Story/ Fun and Games

Rick drinks alone in the dark. Sam tries to get Rick to go home, but Rick wants to wait for Ilsa, he’s convinced she will return tonight. Sam, ever loyal, keeps him company. Rick can’t imagine why Ilsa is back in his life. He asks Sam to play “As Time Goes By,” which transitions into a flashback of Rick and Ilsa’s romance in Paris.

In Paris, Rick and Ilsa fall madly in love, though they intentionally don’t tell each other personal details of their respective lives. When the Germans march toward Berlin, Ilsa urges Rick to leave for fear they will discover his record and that he’s on the blacklist.

Rick wants Ilsa to leave Paris with him, and while she loves him, she is conflicted. They agree to meet at the train station the day the Germans arrive. But that night, while waiting for Ilsa at the train station, Sam gives Rick a letter Ilsa left for him which says she isn’t coming. Rick’s heart is broken and he doesn’t know why.

Back to the present, Ilsa enters Rick’s to explain what happened that day in Paris. But Rick is inconsolable. Ilsa conveys how special her time was with Rick, but it falls on Rick’s drunk, deaf ears. Ricks asks who Ilsa left him for, Laszlo, or others in between. Ilsa leaves.

Laszlo and Isla arrive at Renault’s office to meet Strasser. Strasser informs Laszlo that he will not be permitted to leave Casablanca, unless he gives Strasser information on the French resistance. Laszlo is resolute, rejects the offer, feeling somewhat safe in non-German controlled Casablanca. Renault discloses that they know Laszlo was to meet with Ugarte and Strasser takes the pleasure to inform Laszlo and Ilsa that Ugarte is dead.

Rick meets with Ferrari at his saloon, the Blue Parrot. Ferrari wants the letters of transit and offers a deal to whomever has them, and he’s convinced Rick knows where they are. Rick sees Ilsa at the bazaar and goes to talk to her.

Rick apologizes for not being more welcoming the previous night and wants to hear Ilsa’s excuse for standing him up in Paris at the train station. Ilsa declines, saying that Rick has changed since those days. She wants to keep their time in Paris in the past. Ilsa tells Rick that Laszlo is her husband, and was during their affair in Paris.

Midpoint

Laszlo and Ilsa meet with Ferrari, who tells them that Ferrari, with his past, won’t be able to leave. Ferrari says he could get a visa for Ilsa, but after talking it over, Laszlo and Ilsa tell Ferrari they will continue to try to get two visas. Before they leave, Ferrari tells them that Rick has the letters of transit that can get them both out of Casablanca.

Bad Guys Close In

Rick drink back at his saloon, and is joined by Renault who asks directly if Rick has the letters of transit. Rick responds with a direct question himself and Renault relents the line of questioning.

A fight between a German and French solider breaks out and Rick breaks it up. Seeing the sentiment of the French, itching for resistance to the Germans, Strasser tells Renault that Laszlo is too dangerous to be let out of Casablanca, and too dangerous to be allowed to stay.

A young woman approaches Rick and questions if Renault is trustworthy. She and her husband have no money, and are trying to get visas to America. Rick hones in on the dilemma; the young woman will have to do something she doesn’t want to do to get the visas from Renault, something she could never tell her husband. The woman asks Rick if he could ever forgive a woman who did something horrible but with his happiness in mind. Rick leaves her, saying her problem might work itself out.

Laszlo and Ilsa arrive and Rick seats them at a table. In the gambling room, Rick finds the young woman’s husband, losing and down to his last chips. Rick tells him to put it all on 22 and gives a look to the croupier. The man wins and Rick tells him to leave it on 22. Again, he wins and Rick tells him to cash his chips and never come back. Rick walks out, graciously thanked by the young woman who saw what Rick did. Renault, who also observed, is convinced Rick’s action proves he’s a sentimentalist.

Laszlo meets privately with Rick and offers to buy the letters of transit. Rick declines to sell them to him, and tells Laszlo to ask his wife as to why.

Down the in saloon, a group of German soldiers start a chorus of a German song. Laszlo approaches the band and tells them to play a French song. The entire place joins in, singing the French song and drowning out the German soldiers who eventually give up. The saloon swells with French pride. Strasser tells Renault that it’s clear Laszlo has the potential to be dangerous to the German agenda.

All Is Lost

Strasser tells Renault to close Rick’s down immediately. Strasser tells Ilsa that the only safe place for Laszlo is back in German-occupied Paris.

Dark Night of the Soul

Back at their hotel, Laszlo and Ilsa spot a man shadowing them, standing across the street. She tries to convince Laszlo not to go to the underground meeting tonight, but Laszlo doesn’t think hiding and cowering is productive. Laszlo tells Ilsa that Rick won’t sell him the letters of transit and said to ask her why. Laszlo asks Ilsa if she was lonely in Paris while he was in the concentration camp. He asks if she has anything to tell him but she says no. She asks if she does something, will he believe… He cuts her off, saying he will believe. He kisses her goodnight and leaves. Ilsa stops him at the door and tells him to be careful. She runs to the window and sees Laszlo walk into the night, the man following them nowhere to be seen. Ilsa immediately grabs her coat and leaves the hotel room.

Rick closes up and finds Ilsa in his upstairs apartment. Ilsa pleads for the letters of transit. Rick rebuffs her, not able to trust what she says or her motives. She says Laszlo will die without his help, but Rick doesn’t care. Ilsa pulls a gun and demands the letters, but Rick walks up to her and the gun, calling her bluff. Ilsa lowers the gun and admits she never stopped loving Rick.

Later, Ilsa tells the story of how Laszlo got caught in Czechoslovakia while she was in Paris and word got out that he was killed trying to escape. She explains that she didn’t tell Rick about her husband Laszlo because of information she knew due to Laszlo being a part of the resistance. Ilsa says didn’t find out that Laszlo was alive until the very day she was supposed to leave with Rick. Ilsa tries to get Rick to help Laszlo leave Casablanca, so that she can stay there with Rick.

Laszlo returns to Rick’s from the underground meeting with Rick’s employee, Carl. Rick quietly orders Carl to take Ilsa home and goes down to talk to Laszlo. Laszlo tells Rick that everyone has a destiny for good or evil and that Rick is conflicted with himself. Laszlo puts the cards on the table, knowing that Rick and Ilsa have a past. He asks Rick to help Ilsa get out of Casablanca. Then, the French authorities arrive to arrest Laszlo.

Break into Three

At Renault’s office, Rick tells Renault that he doesn’t have anything to hold Laszlo for long. Renault tells Rick that he knows he has the letters of transit and to not help Laszlo escape. Rick comes clean, saying he has the documents and intends to use the letters himself, tonight, to get him and Ilsa out of Casablanca. Renault questions Rick’s motives, and Rick says he has a interest in Laszlo not leaving Casablanca so Rick and Ilsa can be happy in America.

Rick offers to set Laszlo up, offering to selling him the documents so that Renault can catch him and lock him up for good. In exchange, Rick wants Renault to allow him and Ilsa to leave without any interference. Renault agrees to let Laszlo go and to follow Rick’s plan.

Rick meets with Ferrari and finalizes the sale of his saloon, making sure his loyal employees are taken care of. Back at Rick’s saloon, Renault arrives to make sure everything is set. Rick sends Renault to wait in his office when Laszlo and Ilsa arrive.

Ilsa pulls Rick aside, worried that Laszlo thinks she is leaving with him. Rick tells her they will tell him at the airport. Rick gives the documents to Laszlo and Renault enters to arrest him. However, Rick has a gun pointed at Renault. Rick tells Renault to call the airport and clear the way for the letters of transit. But, Renault doesn’t call the airport, he calls to alert Strasser, who gathers his men and heads to the airport.

Rick, Ilsa, Laszlo, and Renault arrive at the airport. Rick tells Renault to make the airport crewman put Laszlo’s bags on the plane and Laszlo goes with him. Rick tells Renault to sign the letters of transit himself, and, revealing his true intentions, to put Laszlo and Ilsa’s name on it.

Ilsa doesn’t understand, this isn’t what they agreed on the night before. 

Rick tells her if they stay, they will both be imprisoned by Strasser. And that Laszlo needs Ilsa at his side to continue his fight for freedom. Rick intimates that his and Ilsa’s love will keep them together wherever they are.

Rick tells Laszlo that Ilsa came to him last night, pretending to be in love with him to get the letters of transit. The plane readies for takeoff. Ilsa says goodbye to Rick and she and Laszlo walk to the plane and fade into the fog.

Renault declares he was right that Rick had a heart and knows that Rick lied when he said Ilsa was just pretending to still love him. Renault warns Rick that they are both in trouble. And when Strasser arrives, Rick keeps him from stopping the plane by shooting him.

When Strasser’s men arrive, Renault tells them that Strasser has been shot, but doesn’t give up Rick. Rick and Renault watch as the plane takes off into the night.

Renault recommends that Rick leave town. Rick reminds Renault that he owes him money for betting that Laszlo wouldn’t escape Casablanca. Renault agrees, saying the money should cover both of their travel expenses.

Rick gets the hint, they both need to leave town and thinks “this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Final Image

Rick and Renault walking into the night fog.

_______________________________________________________________________

Wow, what a story. I mean, it’s #1 on the greatest screenplay lists for a reason!

 *Theme Stated is always the hardest for me to figure out. It doesn’t come early like STC outlines, but Ferrari’s line about Rick isolating himself is the first line that gets at the heart of the story conflict, as well as protagonist’s conflict.

Filed under Casablanca structure plot STC WGA101

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Read: Casablanca

"Everybody Comes to Rick’s"

And it’s clear to see why.

Having read the 1st screenplay on the WGA 101 Greatest list, I am 1/52 finished with my goal to read one script on the list every week. Was the first on the list deserved?

Casablanca, like all classics, has a life bigger than itself. There are lightyears between the script I read dated 1942 and the cinema classic we know today. The script, while great, is only made better by the legendary production that gave Bogart and Bergman their most iconic roles.

The story itself is quite simple. Rick (Bogart) runs a bar, with a little illegal gambling in the back, during World War 2. He’s a gruff guy, a loner, and you’d never guess it was because a woman (Bergman) broke his heart. When he crosses paths with this same woman, Rick must choose between his selfish wants and the greater good of love, valor, and, really, human decency.

This script would never be produced today.

First, it’s a romantic drama. Decidedly film noir in tone due to Rick’s hard boiled nature and the purgatory like setting of a town filled with refugees attempting to escape war. There are no car chases, and fewer guns that the genre might imply. What is there, is a lot of characters talking, negotiation, all trying to get what they want in the world where not everyone ends up happy, or alive.

What strikes me most after reading the script is how most of the scenes are servicing the plot, various refugees and scoundrels attempting to leave the city, hopfully by getting their hands on the transit papers (aka the McGuffin) that only Rick has. However, the conversations have a great deal of subtext. It’s clear no one can be trusted. A smile from a stranger might mean your wallet. The script litters examples of life in Casbalanca in a way that makes it really come alive.

I’ll never know what the character of Rick on the page is like on his own, because the image and voice of Bogart are just too powerful. He IS Rick. But there is a lot of the character in the script, and the script does a great job at keeping us outside of Rick’s head when we want to be inside - much like the people around him.

The other most striking experience reading the script is seeing how the pop culture references, the lines we all know and love, are quite magical in context. “Here’s looking at you, kid” is great the first two times we hear (read) it, but the final time, it’s packs a punch! And that’s really because it was setup before being said in the final scene. We know it’s a shorthand between Rick and Ilsa. We know it means more than just the words it’s comprised of.

In film school, film noir was my first love genre-wise, you know, after I discovered the genre had a name. And the same fast talking, sly, clever dialogue that drew me to the genre (in addition to the violence and darkness of course) is at work in Casablanca. And often it produces some laughs. You just have to love a guy who is so “fuck my life” that almost anything and everything is a joke. Even life. And you’re asking youself, how far off the deep in is Rick? Can his humanity be redeemed? Or is that spark extinguised forever?

Rick, the anti-hero in his own romantic story, manages to walk way a hero, not with the girl, but happy nonetheless. Not quite a noir ending, but it’ll do.

Next on my to-watch queue: Casablaca the film.

Filed under Casablanca script review

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Random Logline: “Incognito”

A hapless scientist becomes the target of international spies who want his formula for an invisibility serum that can change the nature of espionage, and privacy, forever.

Well, that seems like an interesting movie. But there’s really not enough in this logline. But hey, I just came up with it 5 minutes ago! It needs something about who he’s teaming up with (since he’s hapless) and something that at least hints at his personal journey. I’ll keep some thoughts on this one stewing on the back burner.

Filed under loglines story ideas

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Random Logline: “Pretty Dead”

A high school senior determined to become Prom Queen dies in car accident a week before voting begins. But she’s not going to let death stop her from the crown.

"Pretty Dead" is a story I came up with while half asleep and drifting towards unconsciousness. I thought it was interested enough to force myself to remember. Coming up with a title helped. And yes, it’s a Zom-Com!

The pitch would be something like: Death Becomes Her in high school.

Filed under loglines story ideas zombies

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My Writing Goals for 2012

Scott @ Go Into the Story has a great series of posts about Writing Goals for the new year. It’s a must read!

Making your goals public is on the list, and a big reason this blog was started.

So, here is my primary writing goal for 2012:

Follow the 1, 2, 7, 14 plan every week for 52 weeks

I plan to accomplish that goal mostly by reading/watching #s 1-52 of the WGA 101 Greatest Screenplays and writing everyday.

There are plenty of details to work out. For instance, I’m not sure what 14 hours/week of story prep looks like. I’m not sure how to guage the output of that. It might turn into synopsizing/outlining stories. It might be generating loglines. We’ll see.

What else?

This year I will:

Finish my feature script Hard Times Ahead (currently outlining)

Start and complete an as-yet-to-be-determined feature script

Complete a Rewrite Outline for my two previously completed features,The Purloined Key and ReGenesis

Bonus: complete said rewrites

That’s a lot. For me, that’s a super lot. Looking forward to the challenge.