The first and last thing you see

Jacob T. Swinney built a supercut comparing the first and last shots of 55 notable films:

Swinney isn’t trying to prove any specific point, only that these images feel very intentional:

Some of the opening shots are strikingly similar to the final shots, while others are vastly different–both serving a purpose in communicating various themes. Some show progress, some show decline, and some are simply impactful images used to begin and end a film.

Midseason Finale

Scriptnotes: Ep. 188

Craig and John wrap up many plotlines from previous episodes, with follow-up on Three Page Challenges, diversity numbers, Road Runner and other rules, plus the Gravity lawsuit in light of the Blurred Lines verdict.

Then, it’s time to start whole new storylines with discussion of the future of the show, including the Full Script Challenge and the possibility of not losing money on this whole venture. We want to know what you think, so tell us via email, Twitter or our long-neglected Facebook page, which we actually promise to check this week.

And there’s more! Weekend Read 1.5 adds iPad and iCloud support. Courier Prime has two new variants, Courier Prime Sans and Courier Prime Source.

Plus John and his compatriots will be testing a brand-new tabletop game in LA next Monday, and need your help. (Link below.)


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 3-22-15: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

What is a Cinderella story, anyway?

Linda Holmes examines what we mean when we talk about Cinderella:

There’s very little that’s common to every variant of the story, but in general, you have a mistreated young woman, forced to do menial work, either cast out or unloved by her family. She has an opportunity to marry well and escape her situation, but she gets that chance only after being mistaken for a higher-status person, so she has to get the man who may marry her to recognize her in her low-status form, which often happens either via a shoe that fits or some kind of food that she prepares.

Holmes notes that Marian Roalfe Cox had documented 345 variations of Cinderella — back in 1893.

Since then, we’ve come back to Cinderella repeatedly, making movies that retell the familiar story with small variations. The glass slipper can be a cell phone; animals may understand speech; the fairy godmother might be Da Vinci.

But in a broader sense, it often feels like Cinderella is the story of all overlooked, underappreciated protagonists:

If it’s just a rescue of a deserving underdog from an ordinary life and delivery to an extraordinary one, then The Little Mermaid is Cinderella, and Pretty Woman is Cinderella, and — to be honest? — Captain America is Cinderella. Lots of our current stories are. What is a fairy godmother, after all, that isn’t also present in the idea of being bitten by a spider and gaining the ability to climb buildings? What is that pumpkin coach but … the Batmobile?

(I was going to quibble with The Little Mermaid; she was already a princess from the start. But when you look at the story from when she shows up on land, it does track.)

To me, a useful delimiter for the modern Cinderella is the hero’s initial situation and values. “Have courage and be kind,” says the 2015 Disney Cinderella at least ten times in the film. By staying true to her mantra, she escapes her terrible plight and lives happily ever after. The new movie has pumpkin coaches and polymorphed mice, but to me it’s the hero’s journey from ashes to palace that most makes it Cinderella.

Hardy Boys, in outline form

Rebecca Onion looks at the typed outline for a Hardy Boys novel:

In this two-page outline for the 1927 Hardy Boys’ mystery The House on the Cliff, Edward Stratemeyer directed writer Leslie Macfarlane in the construction of the plot of the second book in the franchise’s original series. The book was officially published as the work of Franklin W. Dixon, a fictional author whose name appears on all of the Hardy Boys books.  

It’s fascinating to look at something so old yet so familiar. Most modern televison writing goes through an outline stage, at which point the studio and network sign off on the story — or send it back with notes.

TV outlines aren’t this rough, but they are similarly straightforward in their just-what-happens style. I find them hard to write, because my instinct is always to be fancy and clever. That’s not what outlines are for.

Based on what I read in Marvin Heiferman and Carole Kismaric’s The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Macfarlane would have had a month to turn this outline into a book, for which he would be paid $100.

Rude Awakenings

As longtime readers know, I love me a supercut. This one by Roman Holiday explores the trope of characters sitting up in bed after a nightmare:

I love how the camera circles from left to right. I love that we don’t hear the screams. Stripped of context, it becomes clear what an artificial cinematic construct the wake-scream (or the sweaty wake-gasp) really is. Most people will never experience this kind of event in real life.

And yet: Movies are about extraordinary circumstances. Movies involve heroes taking a journey they’ll take exactly once. So on some level, the wake-scream is less a cliché than a signifier that yup, we’re in a movie, and we are headed on a specific kind of ride. That’s probably why we see them in the first act and not the third.

The Coyote Could Stop Any Time

Scriptnotes: Ep. 187

John and Craig take a look at the self-imposed rules behind the Road Runner cartoons, and how limiting one’s choices is different than following dogma.

Then it’s time for three new entrants in the Three Page Challenge, each presenting a range of issues to discuss.

Also this week, the dismal diversity numbers that don’t need exaggerative charts and how even produced screenwriters often live with precarious finances.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 3-13-15: The transcript of this episode can be found here.