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Archive for the Category "Blake Snyder"

Is quadruple mumbo jumbo killing True Blood? Jul 19

Blake Snyder

Blake Snyder, the late author of the superb screenwriting book, Save the Cat!, coined the term: “Double Mumbo Jumbo.”

I propose to you that, for some reason, audiences will only accept one piece of magic per movie. It’s The Law. You cannot see aliens from outer space land in a UFO and then be bitten by a Vampire and now be both aliens and undead.

That, my friends, is Double Mumbo Jumbo.

Of course, as Blake goes on to say, this rule is broken all the time in Hollywood. Sometimes it works fairly well — Monsters vs. Aliens. Most times it doesn’t — Howard the Duck (A trash-talking alien duck that has sex with Marty McFly’s mom — what could go wrong?).

Obviously True Blood is an adaptation, where characters and situations from the books need to be incorporated to stay true to the source material. I’ve never read the books, but I have to wonder — has the cable show gone off the rails recently?

More shapeshifters than you can shake a stick at

True Blood Mumbo JumboTrue Blood used to be my favorite show. In season one, it was an intense exploration of the vampire genre with very adult themes and a wicked sense of humor. Now it tends be more of a bizarre mishmash, where every other character turns into a different animal or creature.

We’ve seen vampires and demons and shapeshifters — who can turn into anything, and shapeshifters — who can only turn into wolves, and shapeshifters — who can only turn into panthers, and faeries and witches and possessed babies and now there’s talk of werewolves…

I don’t know how loyally Alan Ball has followed the Sookie Stackhouse books, but it seems to me there’s way too much mumbo jumbo going on in Bon Temps these days.

Why did Buffy work so well?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a very similar universe, and worked exceptionally well. So what’s the difference?

I think Buffy works, where True Blood doesn’t, on a few levels:

– Buffy had a lighter feel to it. The focus was usually on the snappy banter and most scenes were played for laughs. Whereas True Blood definitely has a darker tone. That more adult vibe makes it harder to get away with the sillier elements of the story.

– Every season of Buffy had a “Big Bad” — a main foe that the characters had to face. True Blood seems to be lacking that this year. Perhaps the witch lady is gearing up to fill those shoes.

– The core group of “Scoobies” on Buffy were usually pitted against one particular opponent. It was rare that two dissimilar foes would be brought into the picture per episode. You definitely can’t say the same for True Blood. It feels like there are a dozen different storylines per episode.

Anyone else think True Blood has suffered from some growing pains these last couple of seasons?

365 Days of Missing Blake Snyder Aug 04

Blake SnyderOne Heck of a Guy

A year ago today, on August 4, 2009, popular screenwriting mentor Blake Snyder died unexpectedly of a pulmonary embolism. It was a tragic loss to those who knew him. Because to know Blake, was to love him.

I was one of many aspiring screenwriters lucky enough to attend several of his legendary weekend workshops. What set Blake apart wasn’t his command of screenwriting craft — though he was one of the most successful spec screenwriters of all time. What truly made him stand above the other so-called “gurus” was his ability to instill in you a belief in yourself.

His optimism and enthusiasm for screenwriting (and screenwriters) was infectious. During the sessions he would often jump up and down like a little kid, and say with each bounce, “I – Love – This – Stuff!” It was not some false cheerleading-style technique; he was literally bursting at the seems with excitement about the mechanisms of story and the possibilities of your script.

More Than Motivational

He wasn’t just a motivational speaker with blinders on either. If he thought you were off about something he’d definitely challenge you. But he’d do it in a way that was not only humorous, but eye-opening.

I remember him listening to someone’s movie pitch, while pretending to be driving down the highway at 55 miles an hour. “There’s your billboard. I’m almost past it…” This, of course, emphasized how important it was to have a clear concept that people could embrace quickly and easily.

Blake Snyder NoteSave The Cat!

If a screenwriter, who’s just starting, out asks me which screenwriting book I’d recommend first, I can answer without hesitation — it’s Save The Cat!

It may not be the most comprehensive book on screenwriting, but if you’re looking for fundamentals on concept, loglines, and structure, this is your book. It’s also revolutionary in the way it looks at movie genres. And it’s all done in that trademark Blake Snyder style — which takes the overwhelming task of writing a screenplay and makes it approachable and fun.

Lots More Blake

In addition to his books, Blake left behind a wealth of information for screenwriters at Pick any article at random to read and you’ll immediately feel your spirit buoyed by his patent joy of screenwriting and interacting with screenwriters.

The Blake Snyder team continues to post insightful articles on his web site. Today’s post lets you hear from the man himself. You can listen to a 47 minute interview that’s guaranteed to inspire, because that’s what Blake did best.

I sure do miss him.

My Save The Cat GroupSave The Cat! Beat Sheet Workshop – January 2009
Blake in the purple scarf.
Me on the right in the striped shirt. Ahhh… good times.

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