Saturday, 21 October 2017

A spec screenplay, 1912

The stories came from everywhere, from gag-writing professionals, from the actors (Mary Pickford is credited with several), from Griffith himself. Some even came from the public. By now there were movie fan magazines, and Biograph, like other companies, ran a contest in their pages, offering a $100 prize and production for the best screen story submitted, the assumption being that anyone who'd seen a movie could write one. This ruse to get cheap material backfired; expecting one thousand entries, Biograph was flooded with ten thousand. There was no time or money to read them all, and besides they were either replicas of movies someone else had made, or if they were original, repeated the same story, invariably: an orphan boy or girl makes good.
    But the public finally came through—an unsolicited story dropped over the Biograph transom in 1912, titled The New York Hat, written by A. Loos. The story department, finding it cogent, witty, and entire, must have wept with relief. They bought it, and Griffith shot it with two leads, Mary Pickford in her last Biograph movie and a struggling painter named Lionel Barrymore.
                                          "What Happens Next," by Marc Norman.

Anita Loos (1888-1981) began writing as a child and by age 13 was already contributing stories and sketches to magazines. Her family moved to San Diego when she was a teenager, and she briefly acted in a theater company managed by her father.
    Loos went to work as a screenwriter while still in her teens, writing more than 200 movies that showcased such early stars as Douglas Fairbanks. But her real fame as a writer came in 1925 when she wrote a humorous novel called Gentleman Prefer Blondes, which she started while on a long train ride. She claimed she wrote the book, about scatterbrained blond gold-digger Lorelei Lee, as a spoof to entertain her friend, the writer and intellectual H.L. Mencken, who supposedly had a taste for brainless blonds. The book became an international bestseller, was printed in 14 languages, and ran through 85 editions. It was also made into a hit Broadway play in 1949 and a movie musical in 1953 starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, who crooned the famous tune "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."
    Loos, who stood less than 5 feet tall and weighed only about 94 pounds, wrote several other plays and a memoir of her days in early Hollywood.

 

And, if you're in the mood, here's Mary Pickford's color screen test.


First posted: 30 July 2014

Friday, 20 October 2017

Dustin Lance Black shares his outlining method

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar) takes viewers inside his creative process in an explanation of his approach to outlining a script.


First posted: 24 July 2014

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Great Adventures

Gerard Lambkin's short film Great Adventures secured Best of Show as well as Best Narrative at New York's One Show - One Screen awards at the Sunshine Cinema, in New York City's Lower East Side, back in January 2014.


First posted: 23 July 2014

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The making of 'Lagaan'

My experience of Indian films is that when they are good, they are very good, and the rest of the time, they're boring. Even with the dancing.

The first problem you run into when trying to identify some good Indian movies is the fact that Indians, between them, speak some 1,500 languages. According to the Census of India of 2001, thirty languages are spoken by more than a million native speakers each. When you apply that to mass entertainment, conflicts emerge. Ask your taxi driver for a recommendation and the answer given will vary with his language preference. 

 

I found a list of recommended Indian movies online a few years ago and showed it to an Indian woman who was studying in Adelaide. She had previously been employed in television somewhere in Mumbai. She was outraged by the list because they were all made by the 'wrong people.' I don't speak any Indian language; I just get by with the subtitles, so all the in-fighting is wasted on me. I just want an interesting story, preferably with readable subtitles.

One of the best Indian movies I have seen, Lagaan, revolves around a cricket match between untutored Indian villagers and the cream of the local British garrison in 1893. The film was the third-ever Indian film nominated for an Academy Award. It can be found on the list for The 100 Best Films of World Cinema. The soundtrack is listed on Amazon.com's The 100 Greatest World Music Albums of All Time.

Below we have the trailer and a video outlining the making of Lagaan.

Meanwhile, if you get the chance, try some of these Indian films. (I don't know what language they are in, sorry.)
3 Idiots (2009)
Devdas (2002)
Don (2006)
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Ghan (2001)
Munna Bhai MBBS (2003)
Lagaan (2001)
Rang De Basanti (2006)
Veer-Zaara (2004)


First posted: 22 July 2014

Monday, 16 October 2017

Movies within movies

This celebration of cinema within cinema was put together by Clara Darko and
Brutzel Pretzel. It consists of 139 clips taken from 93 different films. Have a look and see how many you can recognize first, then scroll below the video to see the complete list of films used.




0:01 Ed Wood
0:02 Singin’ in the Rain
0:03 Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
0:04 The Purple Rose of Cairo
0:06 The Aviator
0:08 The Majestic
0:11 An American Werewolf in London
0:15 Donnie Darko
0:17 Grease
0:19 Blazing Saddles
0:22 Annie Hall
0:25 The Final Destination
0:29 The Purple Rose of Cairo
0:31 The Majestic
0:33 Ed Wood
0:34 Annie
0:35 Holy Motors
0:37 Up
0:38 The Perks of Being a Wallflower
0:39 The Life Aquatic
0:40 Cinema Paradiso
0:41 Explorers
0:42 The Flintstones
0:43 Taxi Driver
0:45 The Third Man
0:46 La Haine
0:47 In the Mouth of Madness
0:48 Public Enemies
0:49 True Romance
0:53 Hugo
0:54 Curly Sue
0:55 Matinee
0:56 The Purple Rose of Cairo
0:58 Bachelor Party
1:00 The Shawshank Redemption
1:04 Cinema Paradiso
1:06 Avalon
1:08 Biloxy Blues
1:09 Scream 2
1:10 Gremlins
1:11 Inglorious Basterds
1:12 The Artist
1:15 Son of Rambow
1:17 All That Jazz
1:18 Twilight New Moon
1:20 Hannah and Her Sisters
1:22 The Departed
1:24 The Player
1:25 Taxi Driver
1:28 Pierrot le Fou
1:31 Not Fade Away
1:40 Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1:41 Sullivan’s Travels
1:43 Burn After Reading
1:44 Singin’ in the Rain
1:46 Cape Fear
1:53 Bonnie & Clyde
1:59 You’ve Got an Email
2:01 How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days
2:07 True Romance
2:18 The Notebook
2:20 Notting Hill
2:22 High Fidelity
2:24 Brokeback Mountain
2:26 Sunset Boulevard
2:28 Midnight Cowboy
2:29 Amarcord
2:32 Summer of 42
2:34 Diner
2:37 L.A. Confidential
2:38 Donnie Darko
2:40 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
2:41 Lucas
2:42 Who Framed Roger Rabbit
2:47 Midnight Cowboy
2:47 Sherlock Jr.
2:49 500 Days of Summer
2:50 Twelve Monkeys
2:58 Last Action Hero
3:03 The Blob
3:04 Outbreak
3:05 Inglorious Basterds
3:07 An American Werewolf in London
3:08 Hardcore
3:09 The Tingler
3:11 Scream 2
3:13 Barton Fink
3:14 The Hard Way
3:16 Bachelor Party
3:18 Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
3:20 An American Werewolf in London
3:21 Manhattan Murder Mystery
3:22 Saboteur
3:23 The Hard Way
3:24 Inglorious Basterds
3:25 Matinee
3:28 Gremlins
3:29 Gremlins
3:30 The Blob
3:32 Silent Movie
3:33 Twister
3:35 Cinema Paradiso
3:38 The Final Destination
3:42 Inglorious Basterds
3:43 Matinee
3:44 The Final Destination
3:48 Inglorious Basterds
3:53 The Cider House Rules
3:58 Sherlock Jr.
3:59 Cinema Paradiso
3:59 Inglorious Basterds
4:01 Waking Life
4:02 Fight Club
4:03 Sunset Blvd.
4:04 The Bad and the Beautiful
4:12 Catch Me if You Can
4:20 L’armée des Ombres
4:21 Leon
4:25 El Espiritu de la Colmena
4:29 Be Kind Rewind
4:30 Bonnie & Clyde
4:33 Interview with the Vampire
4:37 The Green Mile
4:39 Cinema Paradiso
4:40 Cinema Paradiso
4:43 Simone
4:46 Amelie
4:48 The Artist
4:52 Atonement
4:54 The Majestic
4:56 The Aviator
4:58 Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
5:00 Ed Wood
5:03 Gremlins
5:05 The Cider House Rules
5:07 Hugo
5:09 The Purple Rose of Cairo
5:25 Singin’ in the Rain
5:36 Matinee
First posted: 20 July 2014

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sympathetic doesn't have to mean likeable

Yes, we've heard all this before.
Your protagonist does not have to be likeable. ~Bill Froug

Characters don’t have to be nice to be likeable. Nice is boring. But they do have to be entertaining. ~Nigel Cole

I don’t care if people like a character or not; we don’t always like everybody. But you have to be able to understand them. ~Julianne Moore

It doesn’t matter if your lead character is good or bad. He just has to be interesting, and good at what he does. ~Justin Zackham
Jennine Lanouette, who made this video clip, believes that characters need to be vulnerable. Her point is made with examples from movies. 


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First posted: 5 July 2014

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Art of Silence - Martin Scorsese

Even though Martin Scorsese is famous for his use of music, one of his best traits is his deliberate and powerful use of silence. Take a glimpse at fifty years of this simple technique from one of cinema's masters. “The Art of Silence” also examines the depreciation of quietude in Hollywood blockbusters, from 1978′s Superman to 2013′s Man of Steel, alongside Spielberg’s inventive deployment in Saving Private Ryan.


First posted: 3 July 2014