292 Days. That’s how long it’s been since my last post. Yikes. So where the hell have I been and what have I been doing?
As much as I love this blog, it occurred to me a while back, that I didn’t want to be a successful blogger. I wanted to be a successful screenwriter/filmmaker. So it was time to adjust my priorities.
Let’s see how things have panned out so far. In the last 292 days I’ve:
Had one script place in the semi-finals of Blue Cat
Had another script optioned
Had my latest script place in the top 25 (semi-finals) of the Tracking-Board.com’s Launch Pad competition (fingers crossed for the finals)
Learned how to use Adobe After Effects
Wrote a martial arts action movie that’s in pre-production in Thailand (paid assignment)
Wrote a short film, that I’m directing in a few weeks
In a nutshell, things have been gaining momentum.
My Demon Girlfriend
I’m really excited about the last item I mentioned. The short I’m directing is called My Demon Girlfriend, and it’s a funny little script that may be the start of a web series, and will allow me to showcase my new special effects skills.
I’ll post updates as things progress on the production. I will also be writing other articles about screenwriting, movies and television, that I feel need to be discussed — I’ll just be posting them less frequently.
Bottom line is — I’m back! So stay tuned.
Did you miss me? Or were you happy to have less noise to distract you from your screenwriting career?
I’m all for paying homage to classic movies, or using concepts from old shows or books as jumping off points to begin an original story, but did these movies take it too far?
CRACKED.com’s insightful and thought-provoking article provides a historical perspective, videos, and side-by-side screen captures, where applicable, of seven such instances.
Here are few images comparing Black Swan to a Japanese animated film called Perfect Blue, about:
… a pop singer instead of a ballet dancer, but other than that, Black Swancould pass for its American remake. In both movies, the young, innocent protagonist has just moved on to a more demanding job (dramatic actress/lead dancer), and the pressure turns her apeshit. She gets chased by a “double” who may or may not be the product of her imagination, and at one point becomes convinced that she killed someone.
Yes, the pictures also come to life and taunt her in Perfect Blue.
Here’s the full list of movies that they scrutinize:
#7. Pirates of the Caribbean Is Suspiciously Similar to the Game The Secret of Monkey Island
#6. The Matrix Was a Comic Book
#5. Black Swan Was a Japanese Cartoon
#4. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Is Really Star Wars
#3. Wild Wild West Was an Episode of Batman: The Animated Series
#2. Terminator Was a Bunch of Harlan Ellison Sci-Fi Stories
#1. Reservoir Dogs Was a Film From Hong Kong
It’s worth pointing out that a few key scenes and ideas does not a movie make. All of these movies (with perhaps the exception of Wild Wild West) feature brilliant story elements, dialogue and cinematic innovation that did not appear in the sources that are being cited. The execution of an idea is a thing unto itself. That’s why you can’t copyright a concept.
But — if the execution is virtually identical, that’s another matter… Seriously, check out the Reservoir Dogs section and tell me that wasn’t a flagrant rip-off something more than an homage.
What’s your take? Does the knowledge that these filmmaking icons borrowed (stole) key elements from these previous sources cause you to look at them in a different light?
There’s a really engaging TV series in the UK, on Channel 4 (E4), called Skins (not to be confused with the short-lived MTV version). Part raunchy drama, part teen comedy, the BAFTA-winning show is packed with gripping characters and storylines.
It’s made all the more impressive by the fact that the entire main cast is replaced every two years! (And you thought Glee was harsh!) On top of that, each episode focuses on a different character that you can’t help but love by the end of the hour.
On seasons/series 3 and 4 there were two stand-out characters — Emily and Naomi (known as Naomily by their legions of fans); fearlessly played by Lily Loveless and Kathryn Prescott.
Their two-season journey was exciting, poignant, surprising, touching, agonizing and uplifting. Everything you’d want in a story arc. So much so, that I decided to use my screenwriting sensibilities to create [say this next part in your head with an ominous echo] the ultimate Naomily Youtube video!
It’s called “Naked.” (Settle down, no one’s actually naked. It’s a play on the many definitions of the word, like exposed, raw, vulnerable… Plus the main song used is “Naked” by Tracy Bonham.)
Why spend the time to make such a video?
A few reasons:
1. I love the show.
2. The challenge.
How do you distill two seasons into a video that’s under ten minutes in length, present it in a way that’s fresh, and hone the story so that it can stand on its own?
It involved doing what all good screenwriters do — strip everything out until you’re left with only the story you want to tell. Similar to writing a script, there were so many wonderful scenes that I wanted to include but didn’t support the main narrative, so they had to go. It was a really good exercise in killing your darlings.
3. To create something visual.
We toil away for years in our darkened rooms, writing stories that we hope will sell or, dare we dream, actually dance across the silver screen one day. Sometimes it just feels nice to be able to create something that people can see right now and say, “Wow.” (Of course an original short film would be better, but…)
The resulting video utilizes non-linear storytelling, and synchronizes key actions and scene cuts to the music, to enhance the emotional punch. In doing so, hopefully it becomes more than the sum of its parts. Let me know what you think!
This video doesn’t contain any nudity or significant swearing, and would probably be acceptable by late-night network television standards (tame by cable television standards). However, it does contain several scenes of girls kissing, etc. So if you’re homophobic, or lesbi-antsy, you might want to stay away from this vid… But if you do, you’ll be missing out on something rather beautiful.
Can’t see the video above? Want to download it? Naomily.avi (Optimized for Windows | 1280 x 720 | 174 MB) Naomily-iPad.mp4 (Optimized for iPad/Mac | 1024 x 768 | 125 MB)
FYI – The first three seasons of Skins can be streamed through Netflix or Amazon. The fourth season DVDs can be rented or purchased through the same.
You might be missing out on some really cool stuff. I often post additional entertaining news stories, links and shorts on this page, that tend to be a little more lighthearted than my standard blog posts.
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