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Film Industry

How movie money works

When you read articles claiming every Hollywood movie loses money, an obvious question arises: “Why do they keep making them, then?” In this installment, John and Craig explain how the film industry spends and makes money.

Your projectionist and you

Witney Seibold has an extremely useful explanation of what a projectionist does, and why filmmakers should care.

Motion picture film cameras, 1888-2011

The three major manufactures of motion picture cameras have stopped making new film cameras.

Still suing

Remember that guy who’s suing the agencies for not representing him? Jim Vines has an interview with him, and asks one question that kept nagging at me.

Oh, they’ll remember his name

Aspiring screenwriter leaves locked suitcase at talent agency. Bomb squad destroys it.

R-rated comedies to the rescue

Superhero movies continue to make money, but the rise of very profitable R-rated comedies is the box office story of the summer.

Hollywood interns aren’t essential

Nicole Iizuka takes issue with my assertion that “All the interns in Los Angeles could get Raptured tomorrow and the town would function just fine.”

Suing to get an agent, cont’d

Justin Samuels, the aspiring screenwriter who filed a lawsuit against two agencies for not representing him, wrote in with comments on my original post about his case.

Harry Potter and the Well of Red Ink

Cory Doctorow revisits a 2009 Harry Potter participation statement, marveling at how the hugely successful fifth installment manages to lose $167 million.

Get a manager

Justin Marks argues on behalf of literary managers.

Staying indie after getting big

Following up on an email exchange, I sat down for a conversation with writer/director Jay Duplass to talk about his Kickstarter-backed indie documentary, and the larger questions of balance indie projects with studio features.

Can my script be as short as Somewhere?

As a screenwriter, with no aspirations of getting behind the camera, how hard is it, or would it be to sell a spec script, that could possibly be a 100-110 min movie, but only a 65-70 page script? Understanding that execution is key, is it even possible to get your screenplay looked at, with it being so short?

The podcast with me in it

I’m the guest on the most recent installment of the New Mediacracy podcast, discussing The Remnants, this blog, and the shifting role of the screenwriter.

Revenge of the snarky script-reader

I wrote a lot of coverage during my first few years in Los Angeles. Sometimes, the only way I could get through 120 terrible pages was imagining what I’d get to write about it.

Don’t send him everything

An agent may ask to see “everything you’ve ever written.” Don’t take that too seriously. Show him your best screenwriting.

You can’t copyright titles

Copyright is a bundle of protections granted to the creator of a work. It doesn’t cover the pure idea (“Save the Last Dance with dinosaurs”); it covers the expression of the idea (your original, 120-page screenplay Dinosalsa: The Jurassic Dance).

Amazon Studios now slightly less terrible

When it was announced in November, one of the bold new ideas of Amazon Studios was letting any user rewrite any screenplay in the competition. I thought that was a terrible idea, and users agreed.

Giving up on Blu-ray

Khoi Vinh argues the Blu-ray format is demonstrably worse than what came before it.

2010, the year in film

I’m perpetually amazed by mega-edits like this one, which combines pieces of 270 movies from this past year.

Dick jokes for classy producers

While you can intuit a bit about producers’ taste by the films they’ve made, don’t assume producers only get certain genres. And never turn down a chance for a read.

Getting paid late

A screenwriter colleague recently vented her frustration with always getting paid late for her studio jobs. I didn’t have any particularly good advice for her — what she describes is hardly unique. In fact, the situation is so much the norm that I asked if she would write up a post about her experiences, since I’ve never really discussed it on the blog.

On the Amazon film thing

If Amazon Studios were a simple finance and production outfit like Relativity or Morgan Creek, there would be nothing more to say. But Amazon Studios has an unusual strategy that combines competition, crowdsourcing and a lot of question marks.

Oh, Jessica

I have to believe she was misquoted, or excerpted in some unflattering way, because Jessica Alba couldn’t have actually said this.

When is it okay to write for free?

Any work you’re not getting paid for should be yours and yours alone. That’s why aspiring screenwriters write spec scripts. That’s what you should focus on writing. Still, there may be situations in which it makes sense to write a script for someone else without getting paid.

The One-Month Manager

What’s a reasonable amount of time to give your manager to read a draft of your script? It sometimes takes this screenwriter’s manager up to a month.