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How to write romance

You have to make us care whether the two lead characters end up together, which is really two requirements.

Is machinima worthwhile?

Machinima offers a lot of potential for making cool projects, but you need to match the idea with the style.

Formatting the faux-documentary

How to format the script for faux-documentaries like “The Office.”

Worst-case thinking for the screenwriter

Screenwriters benefit from worst-case scenario thinking.

Get out of there

In real life, people do say this. But in movies, maybe they shouldn’t anymore.

Don’t make the feature version of your short

Having worked with many emerging filmmakers through the Sundance Institute and other programs, I’m convinced it’s usually the wrong choice.

Academy’s Film Noir series

The Academy is hosting a Monday night screening series focusing on film noir of the 1940’s. I’ll be handling “The Dark Mirror” on July 12. (Olivia de Havilland! Twins! Murder!)

On the physics of space battles

Joseph Shoer looks at some of the uncomfortable science behind these science-fiction mainstays:

Seven writer’s rules for survival in animation

Useful suggestions for screenwriters working on their first animated feature

Zombie-class situations

Zombies are more than the walking dead. They’re a useful paradigm for a range of common scenarios in many genres.

Making Christian movies

Is it a good idea to focus on making a movie for Christian audiences?

“No signal” is the new air duct

This compilation clip demonstrates what a hoary cliché it has become to explain why movie characters can’t use their cell phones.

Groundhog Day and Unexplained Magic

An observation made halfway through a five-hour meeting in Beijing: in the movie Groundhog Day, it is never explained why Bill Murray’s character is stuck in a time loop.

Setting is not story

An LA Times article about the island of Pagasa makes a great case study in the difference between an interesting setting and an actual movie idea.

Challenge results

We’ve got a winner and a slew of honorable mentions in the Superheroic Scene Challenge.

Playing to the core

Brian Lowry cautions against [taking Comic-Con buzz too seriously.

Now that’s a gunfight

I’m busy working on Preacher, and it’s no spoiler to say that it features a gunfight or two. Last night, I twittered to ask what people’s favorite gunfights were, Western or otherwise. I got a lot of replies, but one name that kept coming up was Michael Mann. He consistently finds ways to send thousands […]

How much does a short story earn in a magazine?

I really had no idea what people were getting paid for short stories, so I asked Matt to dig up some numbers.

What does “execution dependent” mean?

What makes one high-concept idea more execution-dependent than another?

You only have to destroy the Death Star

Your hero doesn’t have to fix The Big World Problem by the time the end credits roll.

Should I write a straight-to-DVD knockoff?

Don’t turn up your nose to actual paid writing for a company that makes movies.

Tony Gilroy in The New Yorker

The New Yorker has a terrific piece about screenwriter-director Tony Gilroy.

Pride and Predator

Traditional period costume drama + alien crash landing = the definition of high concept.

Are animated specs worth the time?

Short answer: yes. But be realistic about the chance of it getting made.

Scripting a short film

A short film, like a short story, can’t waste any time. Here’s what to include, and what to leave out.