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Scriptwriting Classes

Scriptwriting Classes at Irvine Valley College - Mark Sevi

facebook Scriptwriting Classes
 Taught by a Professional Screenwriter (credits)

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These writing classes are through IVC Continuing Education: Website ( for more information, or call Community Ed (949) 451-5555 if the information is not yet on the website.  
You can also leave a voicemail at 949.610.4299

Learn how to write a script but more importantly learn techniques on how to tell a complete and compelling story!

Get that movie/TV series/animation idea on paper!  Don't think about it - do it now!  
What are you waiting for?  Seriously!

Thursday nights 6:30pm-9:30pm
(normally 8 sessions)
Thursday nights 6:30pm-9:30pm
(normally 10 sessions)

- Winter 2014 -
Thursday, November 6th, 2014, ends January 15th, 2015
(no classes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years week)

- Winter 2015 -
Thursday, February 5th, 2014
, ends April 7th, 2015

You do not have to know anything about writing or scriptwriting to take tis class!
Unleash your inner storyteller in a fast and friendly lecture/workshop setting!


- Winter 2014 -
Tuesday, November 18th, ends January 27th, 2105
(no classes Christmas and New Years week)

- Winter 2015 -
Tuesday, February 3th, 2015, ends April 7th, 2015

This is an ongoing class workshop with students working on material already in progress or new material of their own.  It is ongoing and never stops.

hunger games

I will take you from zero to working on your feature in 8 weeks through home writing assignments and in-class interactive workshops and lectures.

  • Scenes
  • Scene sequences
  • Dialogue
  • Action
  • Story Structure
  • Theme
  • Formatting For The Screen (very easy and simple)
  • And more - are covered completely in class.

This is a dynamic, interactive workshop-based class that puts you firmly on the road to your dreams of writing a movie.


titanicThere is more focus on a dynamic, problem-solving script workshop and in understanding advanced script techniques based on breakdowns of films and submitted ongoing student work.
Class is 10% lecture, 90% interactive workshop.

If you:

  • Have a script in progress.
  • Are continuing from the Intro class.
  • Or have written scripts previously...

...then this is probably your class.

This is a dynamic, interactive workshop-based class that helps you shape your material and get it ready for marketing.

Classroom: A123 - in the A100 Building - Enter on the Quad Side    Classroom: A123 - in the A100 Building - Enter on the Quad Side

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Reese Witherspooon in Devil's Knot

Finally!  I get some recognition for my work.  I wrote the original script that sold to Charlize Theron's company then Dimension Films and finally is being filmed independently with a 20-30 million dollar budget but I've consistently been left out of press releases - until now.  I couldn't think of a better actress than Reese for this.  

Here's the article reprinted from Variety ~~  Mark Sevi

Witherspoon Untangles Devil's Knot For Atom Egoyan

No stranger to controversial subject matter, director Atom Egoyan stepped aboard Devil’s Knot, the dramatic interpretation of the West Memphis Three case back in August. Now he’s found the first of what promises to be a large ensemble cast: Reese Witherspoon.

Devil’s Knot is based on reporter Mara Levitt’s 2003 book, subtitled The True Story Of The West Memphis Three. In it, she followed the tangled, prolonged murder trial of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr, who served 17 years in prison before being released this past August. They were accused of killing three 8-year-old cub scouts found in a wooded area of Arkansas called Robin Hood Hills. While they’re now free, the judge didn’t allow them to seek compensation for the lost years.

Witherspoon will switch into drama mode to play Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the victims who initially thought they were guilty but as the case dragged on, came to believe they were innocent.

With a script originated by Mark Sevi and then re-written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman, Egoyan plans to kick off shooting this coming summer.
James White for Empire Online (LINK)

BoJack Horseman - review

bojack horsemanThere's a certain kind of humor that's hard to define—not quite an anti-humor, but more of a post-humor—where comedy is extracted from what happens after the punchline.

A good example would be a New Yorker article from last year, "Guy Walks Into a Bar." It retells the bar joke about a hard-of-hearing genie who grants a bartender a 12-inch pianist, but continues past the punchline into a kind of absurd Tennessee Williams play. An excerpt:

And the bartender’s, like, “No kidding. You think I wished for a twelve-inch pianist?”

So the guy processes this. And he’s, like, “Does that mean you wished for a twelve-inch penis?”

And the bartender’s, like, “Yeah. Why, what did you wish for?”

And the guy’s, like, “World peace.”

So the bartender is understandably ashamed.

And the guy orders a beer, like everything is normal, but it’s obvious that something has changed between him and the bartender.

It goes on.

BoJack Horsemancan best be explained as applying this post-humor treatment to the increasingly Dadaist world of adult-cartoon comedy. Over the course of its first season, the series mutes from a derivative high-concept sitcom full of sound bites and cutaway gags into a creative character-driven comedic drama, and eventually into a diligent attempt to subvert viewer expectations of characters and plot resolutions.

The high-concept pitch, as laid out in the show's theme song, is thus: "Back in the ‘90s / I was in a very famous TV show / I'm BoJack the horse.” The pilot is so heavy on cut-away gags, parodies of lame ‘90s sitcoms, and rapid-fire jokes about BoJack as an abusive degenerate that it seems cobbled together from a discarded Seth MacFarlane notebook. It seems intent to bank as many disconnected sucker-punch laughs as possible and then cut to black before viewers can even process what’s happened. I hated it.

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Jule Selbo Event

Jule Selbo!  A Reel Pro by MANY Definitions of The Word!

jule selbo

She has been "Touched by An Angel" and "Undressed."  Intimately involved with "Young Indiana Jones," "Models," and "Hercules and the Amazon Women." Told "Tales From the Darkside" at "Melrose Place." And made "Cinderella's" dreams come true with a sweet, lonely "Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Jule Selbo, Ph.D. has written and/or produced over 40 movies, television, novels, and theater projects! IMDB Credits
Her credits include over 200 hours of television alone! Jule has worked for Disney, Hasbro, Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm, Aaron Spelling, MTV, Paramount, Universal and many more! And those relationships continue today!
Now she's sharing those hard-won lessons of how she became a SuperStar writer in her latest book -
"Film Genre For The Screenwriter"
Come hear Jule speak about her continuing career in Hollywood 
and what it takes to make the transition from wannabe to pro!
We are giving away a copy of her book!
She will also be signing her book so meet her up close and personal at this breakfast buffet!
Jule is also an educator (Cal State Fullerton's M.F.A. in Screenwriting Program,) author, sought-after speaker, and multi award-winning writer (including a Writers' Guild of America Award) in addition to her film and TV work as a writer/producer.
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rush"Rush" (not the movie or the other TV series) is like any doctor show you can imagine - on steroids.  And I wouldn't doubt it if the main character wasn't actually on steroids - he ingests everything else.  Everything.  Ev-ery-thing.

Let me see if I can encapsulate my feelings about the pilot episode:

  • Love it.
  • Hate it.
  • Love it again.
  • Hate it again.
  • Like it enough to continue watching.

Rinse and repeat.

The main character, William P. Rush as played by Wales actor Tom Ellis is a hard partying doctor who will do just about 1) anyone, 2) any drug or 3) anything for a buck - or, er, actually lots of bucks because usually his clients want to remain "off the grid" for whatever medical procedure they're calling him for and they pay handsomely.

Bank.  Moola.  Cashola - he thrives on it.  

He's also a drug addict, probably alcoholic, and morally-challenged with a heart of gold - that only beats situationally.

marse's picture

Comicon 2014

What can I say about Comicon that hasn't already been said?  Not much.  It's too big. over-crowded, hot, noisy, messy, difficult and just about every negative thing you can imagine at a convention.  It's also weird, wonderful, unique, mind-numbing and mind-blowing and just the hardest fun you'll ever have.

I've been going for almost 20 years.  I feel like one of those old folk who say "You should have seen this when..." - fill in any blanks you want.  I am astounded at the growth.  Mainly fueled by the Hollywood media companies who decided that this was the place to set up shop and sell their dreams the Con has outgrown it's space.  So much so that now they're co-opting outdoor space around the convention center.  

Back in the day 97% of the floor space was comic books and collectibles.  Now that has probably dropped to perhaps 40%.

Comic books are still a part of the Con but nowhere near the largest part.  Massive square feet are taken over by "booths" - I guess that's what you'd call these plastic and steel monoliths.  SyFy Channel, Marvel, DC, Weta (the New Zealand effects company that Peter Jackson used for the Rings and Hobbit movies,) Warner, Legendary Pictures, AMC and just about anyone else who has a fantasy/scifi show or film now, coming soon, or has been popular in the past puts on a show at the Con.

It's great to see the madness these major players engender as rabid fans flock to see something, do something, or get free swag.  This, however, is a major part of what makes the Con suck.  It's impossible to navigate the aisles when those companies are popping off.  IMHO, they should put all these companies on the far ends of the hall and let the center aisles breathe.  It is, after all, called Comicon and though there is still that it's very difficult to deal with tens of thousands of people clogging the aisles to see someone from "The Walking Dead."  Does that make me sound like a grumpy, old man?  Well, you try it and tell me how it affects you!

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I'm a geek, admittedly, who enjoys historical, science-based fiction (like "Halt and Catch Fire") so I'm predisposed to like dramas like this. If it's well-done, I should add.

"Manhattan" doesn't disappoint.

WGN produces the show. I watched "Manhattan" on the WGN channel and Wikipedia lists WGN as:

" American basic cable and satellite television channel, that operates in principle as a superstation feed of Chicago, Illinois television station WGN-TV (channel 9). Owned by Tribune Broadcasting, the channel is one of several flagship properties owned by the Chicago-based Tribune Company, which also owns the Chicago Tribune, regional cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV) and radio station WGN (720 AM)."

The executive producer is Tommy Schlamme, who worked on "The West Wing."

"I'm a history buff, and I did not know the story," Schlamme said. "I knew the story of Oppenheimer and Groves … but I had no idea about the story of the wives. I knew it was a secret city, but I didn't quite know how it stayed a secret city."

There's a ton of production and acting credits but basically the 13 episode series was created by Sam Shaw ("Masters of Sex") and stars John Benjamin Hickey as scientist Frank Winter who is running a rag-tag band of physicists developing the alternative, "second bomb" called Fat Man. Thin Man is the main project that is overseen by J. Robert Oppenheimer and his hand-picked star scientist. As might be expected, the underdog v anointed has some compelling aspects and as the story opens we're approx 2.5 yrs before Hiroshima so the competition to be chosen as the Army's go-to team is fierce.

The show takes place in the New Mexico desert. The site was the famous (infamous) Los Alamos and although there were dozens of other sites, this is the one most associated with the Manhattan Project which is what the series is based on.

I'm not going to parse the scientific or historical accuracy of the show. Purposeless. As a clue, no scientists named Frank Winter (or most of the other scientists) exists that I could find but Oppenheimer (actor Daniel Ondon) was real so it's obvious the producers are cherry-picking what they want and fictionalizing/compositing (based on fact) the rest.

marse's picture


snowpiercerI didn't love "Snowpiercer." But it is a solid action story (once you get past the unbelievable parts) with great production values and good acting.

The storyline:  In the year 2014, global warming has created a horrifying situation for the human race.  To combat it, we seed the clouds (I guess) with a chemical that will cool the planet down.  This isn't all entirely clear but the result is the Earth freezes solid and kills off humanity except for those lucky enough to board a train with an eternal engine that continually circumnavigates the globe.  Yeah.  Uh huh.  That could happen.

So, when you start with that slim of a premise, things aren't likely to get much better - or sometimes they do, I guess.  Fans of "Suits" or "Psyche" or dozens of movie sequels would probably argue the point with me.  Premise,schemsis bring on the cool aftermath.

I give "Snowpiercer" props for many things.  I've never seen a movie like this take place on a train.  The idea of taking a post-apocalyptic world and confining it to a train works somewhat and it's undeniably audacious.  Problem is, trains are linear and as the group moves through the train, you wonder how in the world they all don't run into each other more.  Some sort of added-on passage way would have been nice.  You have to see the film to fully get my point but imagine every time you wanted to get your hair "did," or lounge around drinking and smoking cigars, you had to walk many, many feet through all sorts of things like disco clubs and orgy rooms.  Got it now?  It's a linear world.  To get from A to F you have to go through...ok, I'm sensing you got it.

But let's start closer to the beginning.

So, slags in the back of the train, the privs up front.  Society is clearly divided inside.  The have-nots are regularly murdered, kids stolen, arms chopped off (cool moment there) but basically they (the scum) are allowed to live in their own filth as long as they play by the rules.  Willford is the god of the train.  He designed it and had the foresight to make it self-sustaining.  He's the dude from which all benefits flow.  This is one of things I really hated in this story - the false recitations of his godhood, etc.  Yeah, I know it's allegorical but give me a break; how many times do we need to see this concept unfolded on the screen?  It was old when I was young - hell, when my parents were young.  It was old when Kirk's Star Trek was...yeah, I know I'm ranting.  But if you want a small proof that it's used and overused in every dystopian film from the last fifty years, look no further than 2012's "hunger Games" - I could match dialog to dialog on that film and this.

marse's picture

The Strain

Not a huge Guillermo del Toro fan.  I respect his work and his unique visions but most of his stuff is just meh for me. Probably because "Hellboy" isn't my cuppa and I haven't seen "Pacific Rim" at this point - which I hear is great.  In-between are various likes and dislikes.  I do like some of his work - just don't love it like say, Ridley Scott.  Yet.  He is most definitely, for me, an acquired taste.  But this new series has me appreciating him more and more.

"The Strain" is a perfect example of del Toro's unique assets and liabilities.  Some truly wonderful, creepy opening moments, and also serious unfortunate leaps of logic occur within the first twenty minutes of the pilot.  You notice that Del Toro isn't a slave to logic and that's okay but it does bother me.  That's on me.  Plenty of people don't care because Del Toro is such an amazing visualist and fantasist.

The story opens on a 767 in flight that's about to land.  *Something* strong and evil in the cargo hold breaks out as the plane is on approach and causes all the passengers to die - maybe.  The plane itself "goes dead" on the runway which causes every imaginable first responder to gather including the CDC (Center for Disease Control.)  There have been no 9-1-1 calls, no texts - nada - from the plane since it landed.  Even though no one knows what may have caused the plane to go dark, the CDC apparently gets first priority (something I had major issues with even though they try to explain it) - and the central character, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, played effectively by Corey Stoll, dons his bio-level 4 hazmat suits and heads inside.  They soon discover an entire plane of dead passengers and some huge anomalies as they explore the interior filled with people who died from apparently no cause.

The mystery deepens as we tangentially meet several characters including a man living in a cold room who has a companion that doesn't breathe and has the freakiest eyes ever, and an old man (Holocaust era) who kicks the asses of two punks who try to rob him and then talks to a brain while feeding it his blood.

Oh, and those crazy worms that burrow into your skin.

Ok - I'm liking this more and more.

I don't want to give away too much because del Toro's story-telling is based in large part by shock factors and to reveal them would do the storyline a disservice because they're like a sudden slap in the face.  Those I did enjoy quite a bit and is always what I've liked about del Toro's stuff.  The eyeball dude in "Pan's Labyrinth" is freaky cool and quite disturbing when we meet him.  What I also like about del Toro's is his ability to continually shock and entertain you.  He doesn't hold back on anything - it just keeps coming and coming at you, wave after wave of weird, disturbing stuff that isn't like anything else anyone else is doing.  I've never seen a man's head being...uh, never mind.  I did promise not to reveal too much.  But stick around for awhile and you won't be disappointed.

"The Strain" is good enough to keep watching.  What I like about it most is the idea that there is an intelligent force behind the supposed "virus" that is obviously infecting the passengers on the airplane.  When I watched "World War Z" I wasn't nearly as entertained by the storyline (although the effects and scenes of the zombies attacking were amazing) because a virus has no agenda beyond infection.  Obviously, there are stakes here promulgated by several actual individuals including the creature in the hold of the airplane.  Without agendas the stakes and interest level are lessened somewhat.  It becomes a simple matter of survival.  In "The Strain" there is so much more going on to keep it interesting.

I put the show on a Season Pass.  I'll watch it until it crosses the line which it almost did a few times last night.  I mean there is just stupid stuff happening in some scenes that make me grind my teeth.  But there is also some really, really cool stuff happening too and I, for now, am wanting to see more.

"The Strain" is based on the New York Times bestselling novels from del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  Rated MALV, FX is the channel. Sunday nights at 10:00pm is the time so set your DVRs.

marse's picture

Halt and Catch Fire

The first time I saw a personal computer it felt like that moment in a romantic comedy when the hero/heroine sees the man or woman of their dreams.  I swear I stopped breathing for a period of time.  My heart raced.  I was gobsmacked and moonstruck.  So, yeah, when I say I'm a geek trust that I am.

That's why AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire" was a must-see for me.  It covers some of the earliest days of the nascent personal computer era.  IBM is mentioned prominently as are other companies like Digital Research and Apple (Microsoft wasn't really a player yet.)  

It's 1980-ish. The PC is just coming on like gangbusters.  Big Blue has made it possible for everyone to have a machine that does much, much more than play games for less than the cost of the national budget.  "A Chicken in Every Pot" is now "A PC On Everyone's Desk."  One of the characters says "It's done.  You missed it.  We all did."  A recognition that IBM was already so entrenched and shooting past everyone that no one has a chance to catch them.

Well, not everyone believes that and that belief forms the basis of the first season.

Keep in mind this was a time before the Internet as we know it.  Monitors were green screens and weren't graphical - just text.  The average computer has no mouse, no hard drive and not even small (3.5") floppy drives - 5.25's were the rage, don'cha know?  Memory was around 640k (not megabytes, kilobytes!)  I wish I had a cool stat like the one about the moon shot and computing but let's imagine the state-of-the-art PCs of the day were like a one-wheeled skateboard and today's PCs are like the jet cars we were promised.  Our current phones and tablets of today would have been considered beyond the Cray SuperComputers of the 1980s.

The characters are as follows:  Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) is a "MadMen" Don Draper-sort who pontificates on the horizons of computing rather than the here and now he lives in.  He talks in metaphoric and metaphysical terms because he has that "vision thing."  He's a mysterious salesman type who walks out of IBM one day and doesn't hit anyone's radar until a year later where he convinces another (fictional) company in Texas to hire him.  His target is really Systems Engineer Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) with whom he wants to reverse engineer an IBM BIOS so they can build a computer like no one in the world has.  "The computer isn't the thing.  The computer's the thing that gets us to the thing."  Yeah, he says that and it's probably true but how easy was that to see in 1980?  He sees it and tries to convince others of it.  They also need Cameron Howe (MacKenzie Davis) who is a crackerjack young, sexy programmer who screws dudes she just meets in backrooms and plays video games ("Asteroids") like a pro, to help in some very convoluted legal strategy when IBM decides to scorch the Earth around this company MacMillan works for and has forced into building this clone.  Yeah, it's all a stretch but it's also fun - like "Suits" (a USA show) is fun.  Implausible fun.  A clearly established hallmark these days of a lot of these shows on various channels (like "Castle" "Psyche" "Burn Notice", etc.)

Derek N.'s picture

NBFF - Closing Night I

regency lido theatre

As part of our ongoing school outreach program, we asked two outstanding high school students to attend the closing night of the wonderful Newport Beach Film Festival and report back on their experiences.  This is the first of two reports by Derek and Pauline.  Derek reports here.  (editor)

Closing Night at the Newport Beach Film Festival 

The 15th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival was a cinephile’s heaven.  
The renowned Lido Theatre served as the venue for the night. As I walked to the theatre, I quickly realized that its fame is well deserved. The theatre exudes a classic aura with its clean 1930’s architecture. I felt like I had travelled back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, with staples like the “Grand Marquee” in the front and the classic movie art ranging from films “Gone with the Wind” and “Casablanca”.
The Lido Theatre was the perfect place to celebrate cinema. At the Lido Theatre, I first met with the manager, the illustrious Larry Porricelli. Through the also amazing Mark Sevi, I was able to obtain press passes to the festival, and Larry Porricelli allowed me to attend the closing night with VIP privileges. He immediately made me feel comfortable and welcomed at the event. His enthusiasm for film was present in everything he did, from showing me specific facets of the theatre to just mere conversation. I was captivated. It was only until the bustling crowd started to form and grow that we had to part. 
The sea of people made it clear that the theatre was going to be packed. Surging with anticipation, excitement, and plain joy, the theatre was speedily filled once the doors opened. After only a few moments, the lights dimmed and the film’s director, co-producer, writer, and star Jon Favreau himself introduced “Chef”, a comedy film centering on a workaholic chef and father struggling to balance his life. 
Pauline N.'s picture

NBFF - Closing Night II

As part of our ongoing school outreach program, we asked two outstanding Corona Del Mar High School students to attend the closing night of the wonderful Newport Beach Film Festival and report back on their experiences.  This is the first of two reports by Pauline and Derek.  Pauline reports here.  (editor)
Chef, a fun and mouthwatering film directed and starred by Jon Favreau is in every sense of the word, a feel-good movie. 
I had the absolute pleasure of viewing this film at the Newport Beach Film Festival on its closing night this year and was able to see Jon Favreau himself introduce the film to the audience. I had high expectations and the film delivered.   
The event itself was a wonderful experience. The theater was packed and you had to arrive very early if you wanted good seats. The Lido theater, which was the venue for the evening, was 
stunning in its quaint and historic feel. The theater even featured balcony seating.  
The after party commenced as the film ended and featured a great sampling of food from the sponsors and food trucks which was only fitting as we had just viewed a very tasty film. The atmosphere was lively with a live DJ and lights strewn about the plaza surrounding the theater.  
But onto the movie itself. 
The plot follows Carl Casper (Favreau), a chef whose restaurant gets ripped apart by a renowned food critic and his quest to regain his identity as a chef and as a father. The film is humorous throughout with undertones of family drama.   
marse's picture

Newport Beach Film Festival, 2014

Because of a film project I'm currently involved in I was unable to attend the opening of the Newport Beach Film Festival.  I was doing story meetings with a producer who had flown in from North Carolina and we worked from Friday to Sunday.  The reason I mention this at all is because of some things that happened Saturday night, when I did attend, that involved him.  More on that later.

My first impressions of the festival this year, its 15th year, are overwhelmingly positive even at this early point.  There's something different about this year. It's the same basic NBFF but there's more energy, excitement.  The volunteers have always been the best part of the festival - enthusiastic, personable, wonderful people who spend a great part of their lives giving to this event to make it fun and easy to attend.  But beyond that, there's just such a tremendous sense of professionalism in every facet that hasn't always been a part of this great event.

In years past, because of circumstances beyond the control of the organizers, the festival has had to change venues.  When The Islands Cinema was under renovation, the festival moved most of its operations to Triangle Square which itself was undergoing a massive facelift.  Although I enjoyed the festival those years it wasn't quite the smooth and impressive operation it is today.  Now, with the festival using not only The Islands but also The Triangle (as Triangle Square is currently called) the festival fairly hums.  They've expanded their venues and feature many local theaters for a full slate of films and seminars.

In addition to expanding their venues, it also seems to me that the organizers have worked hard to create more special events.  They have a Youth Film showcase, Latino showcase, Henson showcase, John Wayne showcase and about 10 others that make the festival that much more interesting and focused.  I might attend these targeted showcases beyond the films I want to see because they seem interesting and informative.  I haven't watched a John Wayne film in years - this may be the right time to do that!

Greg Schwenk and his crew have done a great job setting the festival up and expanding it.  Keep it moving forward, guys!

The venue I attended last night was the amazing Lido Theatre, part of the Regency chain.  I went to see "Growing Up And Other Lies" a quirky little film about four friends walking the length of Manhattan on the eve of their artist friend leaving New York to go back home.  

The film was professionally done.  The acting was terrific.  In many ways, this was a cool little film.  Unfortunately, I felt that the storyline, which was supposed to also include "Buried conflicts emerge as the group must confront the inevitable disappointments of adulthood and the changing nature of friendship as they discover the truth behind the lies we are all told, most notably that we never grow up at all" didn't expand as strongly in the narrative as I would have thought it should or wanted.

The Immortal Augustus Gladstone

augustus gladstoneThe Immortal Augustus Gladstone 

Augustus Gladstone wears a spit-curled wig, lives in a condemned apartment building in Portland, and uploads videos to Youtube about his views on modern life. He may or may not be an immortal vampire.

In The Immortal Augustus Gladstone—a fake documentary written by, directed by, and starring Robyn Miller in the titular role—a film crew arranges an extended interview with a vampire to learn more about his claims and the people in his life. It’s a fun idea that mixes the fantastic and the mundane in some unexpected ways, but it has no focus. It’s quirky, but not sharply so, and maybe too interested in itself to make an attempt to draw viewers in. It feels like some very talented graphic designers, set designers, and camera operators got together to make a movie based on a few plot beats scribbled on a napkin. If any story was intended, it’s lost in a dry slog through endless interviews.

Much like Augustus' claim of being a vampire, it’s all words, words, words, without much to back any of it up. There is too little attention put towards capturing moments as they happen, so not much happens at all. Emblematic of the film as a whole, Augustus’ trip to the doctor—which feels like a major setpiece with so little else happening—ends with a non-diagnosis. A medical professional attests vaguely that there is something seriously wrong with Augustus, which we already knew.

It seems like the goal was to leave Augustus’ condition a mystery, but there is no creativity put into maintaining the secret other than generally avoiding the issue. At one point Augustus says he doesn’t need to eat or drink, but nobody even bothers to verify the claim one way or another. Certainly whether the crew had seen him eat or not over the course of their time with him, it would be worth mentioning. When the crew doing the interview is this apathetic about providing an answer, it’s hard to care if it ever comes.

Instead, we get a lot of dreamy shots of Augustus walking around with his parasol, overlaid with music or voiceover. Sometimes the music or voiceover ushers us through still shots of Augustus’ hoarded knick-knacks. It’s all nicely shot, but it doesn’t move things along. And the lion’s share of the film is spent speaking to the camera.

larry's picture

CinemaCon Frontlines - III


angelina jolieThe story on Wednesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, was the size of the crowds that had come from all over the world to preview the upcoming films from Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, meet and hear director Christopher Nolan discuss filmmaking, screenwriting, and the current state of movies, and as a bonanza, see the first laser projector, (only costing $120,000) present movies with the brightest colors and picture ever seen, accompanied by Dolby Atmos sound which blows away anything else, and brings you right into the picture.

Perhaps, though, the most notable thing was how screenplays have been uplifted and the bar has been raised, as filmmakers want every area to be beyond perfect and screenwriting has taken a prime seat.

Disney began the day providing a special breakfast treat for everyone when Angelina Jolie stepped out before the crowd to discuss her project for Disney, “Maleficent,” which will hit theatres for Memorial Day Weekend, and what a weekend that will be. Jolie is magnificent as the evil queen of “Sleeping Beauty” and the backstory of what happened to turn her into the mean antagonist most foul that makes Lady Macbeth look like a saint. This is one masterpiece of film, and Jolie is just brilliant in the role. The story is superb, and only Disney could pull this story off so well without becoming caught in the web of the original animated feature. Mark this one down as a definite yes.

The lineup for Disney is big, and kicks off in a few weeks with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” This one is also from a great screenplay, with Steve Rogers battling the demons of living in the present, and, so appropriate for the current moment in world events because he must battle a Soviet agent called The Winter Soldier. The last CA was a blast, this one takes us where we have not gone with this character, rich in depth, story, and great sideplots.

Disney wouldn’t be Disney without animation, and has “Planes, Fire, and Rescue,” a spinnoff from “Cars.” Disney also reboots “Cinderella,” with a live-action film directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Cate Winslett, Hayley Atwell, and Helena Bonham Carter, and this is also no child’s play but a stunning and great story written by Chris Weitz.

Another film screened was the Jon Hamm starer, “Million Dollar Arm,” just in time for the baseball season to begin, with a great story of a slightly out there sports agent who plots to get some Indian cricket players into the big leagues.

And “Big Hero 6,” is Marvel’s first project at Disney and what a project it is. Disney Animation did the work on this homage to big screen heroes in a story where the government recruits a young robotic prodigy to enlist the help of six friends to all become crimefighters and defend the world’s biggest city from a gang of very nefarious criminals.

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CinemaCon Frontlines - II


costnerWhat a great second day at CinemaCon 2014. Universal Studios has a huge lineup of diverse film, and Universal has been on a roll, and with the upcoming slate, will continue that roll through this year. And Lionsgate with director Ivan Reitman at the helm brought out a film that established Kevin Costner as one of the best actors of our age, as well as giving us a film set against a sports backdrop that will literally take your breath away.

Universal Distribution President, Nikki Rocco, presented their lineup and the stars to a jam-packed Coliseum Theatre at Caesar’s Palace of industry people and media from throughout the world.

Universal screened Neighbors in its entirety, and footage from Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West; The Purge: Anarchy; Fast & Furious 7, with a great tribute to Paul Walker; the James Brown bio pic – Get on Up; Fifty Shades of Grey; the great sequel, Dumb and Dumber To; the animated Minions, which is a spin-off from the hugely successful Despicable Me; Angelina Jolie directed Unbroken; Luc Besson’s Lucy, which stars Scarlett Johansson.

“Neighbors” stars Seth Rogen and Zac Effron and is a bawdy comedy that had industry insiders roaring and this will be big for Universal, as it is in the model of “Ted” and just as funny, if not funnier.

Seth MacFarlane the creator of “Ted” was up next with his “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” which is a hilarious take off on many of the western dramas of Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, and has a great group of stars carrying it off.

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House of Cards Collapses

First, a disclaimer.  I don't like "Dexter" but I did rabidly follow "Sopranos."   In general, I like supremely flawed anti-heroes.  My issue with "Dexter" is the conceit of trying to convince people that a serial killer can be an instrument of justice in any way, shape or form.  Both Dexter and Tony Soprano are sociopaths but no one is pretending Tony isn't anything else.  The idea that this grand experiment of Dexter's father channeling his son's murderous urges just left me cold (so to speak.)  I watched the first season with growing malaise and when it ended, so did my watching of it.

I mention this because I'm not interested in following serial killers as my focal character, especially those who purport to be "understandable." A sociopath is not someone to root for.  When, at the end of "Silence of the Lambs" Hannibal Lector said to Agent Starling "I have to go.  I'm having a friend for dinner," and the camera then cut to the "evil" psychologist coming off the plane, people in the theater I was in clapped and cheered.  I blanched and got nauseous at the idea of it.  The filmmakers had so thoroughly convinced most in the audience that Hannibal was an appropriate instrument of justice that murdering and eating this vain man of a psychologist was desirable.  Like I said, I was nauseous at the thought.  You are too if you think it through. 

While the distinction I see between Tony Soprano and Dexter may be slim, I do see it clearly. Kevin Spacey's character in "House of Cards" who is basically a sociopath at best, and as it's turning out, a serial killer at worst is not someone I want to celebrate for more than a few hours.  Sure, I'd follow him if it was a shorter subject but the idea that he can kill with impunity anyone who thwarts his political plans makes me want to turn the show off and not continue after Season Two's opening ep.  Which I did.  This is not some gangster who grew up on the mean streets.  This is a highly accomplished man who went to the best schools, has walked the halls of power with seeming grace and distinction for decades, and has attracted men and women of power and distinction to his causes.  Sure, there's the religious fanatics who do the same things to weak-willed people  And yeah, I know that a higher education doesn't guarantee that someone won't grow up sick and twisted.  But Frank Underwood isn't a kid.  If he had these tendencies, he's always had these tendencies and they would have manifested before this. 

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CinemaCon Frontlines


Hello to OC Screenwriters and our web followers around the country and to all the ships at sea.

Day One at CinemaCon 2014 in Las Vegas, where its been home for more than thirty years, kicked off at Caesar’s Palace, with a preview of the entire week and in addition to the film stars, the largest film convention in the world, with every major studio and producers, directors and stars attending from around the world, soon to be standard technological achievements in everything from cameras used in filming to advanced popcorn poppers was teased to an audience of more than 20,000.

Paramount lit the fireworks that started CinemaCon. The annual convention where theatre owners from all over the world gather in Las Vegas and meet and greet the stars and hear what product will be offered over the next six months from the studios, had Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Will Arnett delighting the huge crowd with story after story of their upcoming films for Paramount to be released by summer.

Paramount presented its product reel of glimpses from summer films that included Transformers: Age of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hercules, and 3D SpongeBob.

Remembering (Film Legend) Rudi Fehr

robert rollins and rudi fehrOne of the greatest influences in my life was by a gentleman named Rudi Fehr.  He was not only my mentor, but was my dear friend.  I first met Rudi in my freshman year at California Institute of the Arts, while attending his editing course.  He must’ve seen something in that quiet, frightened and lonely boy I once was because he quickly took me under his wing and we became fast friends.  Rudi had great patience.  He would always listen attentively, never growing impatient with my constant chatter, never taking sides if I was having a disagreement with my parents and was always willing to give sagely advice when necessary.

Rudi is gone now, but there isn’t a day that passes for me without a thought of him, remembering him with a certain amount of magical awe.  I have often spoken about the love and respect I have for Rudi, but I realize the unfortunate fact that nobody really knows about this incredible man.  Therefore, to honor my dear friend I would like to share with my readers, the life of Rudi Fehr.

The life of Rudi Fehr is an incredibly rich story of an immigrant refugee.  He rebuilt his livelihood in the United Statesand has left a cinematic legacy to the classic Hollywoodstudio era. Rudi joined Warner Bros in 1936 as a film editor until attaining producer status in 1952.  In 1954, Rudi was elected to the board of governors of the Academyof Motion Pictures Artsand Sciences.  After retiring from Warner Bros. in 1976, he returned in 1977 to supervise foreign language adaptations of the studio’s films for France, Germany, Italyand Spain.  In 1980 Rudi joined Zoetrope Productions and worked with Frances Ford Coppola.  He returned to the editing bench in 1984 to gain an Oscar nomination for John Huston’s black comedy Prizzi’s Honor.

A native of Berlin, Germany, Rudi was born on July 6, 1911and studied at the Lyceum Alpinum in Switzerland.  “I really intended to be a diplomat,” Rudi once told me of his early years in Berlin, but, because of the Hitler regime and his ethnic background, it was not possible. So he studied music and wanted to be a symphony conductor.

Rudi’s father was a banker on the board of one of the leading German film combines, Tobis-Klangfilm.  He arranged a job for his son to work as an apprentice film editor and within months Rudi was editing his first film, Der Schlemiel (1931).  Rudi worked for the producer Sam Spiegel in Germany, then in Austriaand Englandafter the Nazis came to power.

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Sasquatch In The Paint

“Sasquatch in the Paint” Hits a Grand Slam
“Sasquatch in the Paint,” written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, is the story of Theo Rollins and the tough moments he faces in turning thirteen and becoming a teenager, and while an element of the story is set against the backdrop of basketball, this book hits a Grand Slam. 
And just as the title foretells, Theo must get into the paint of his life and establish his game there as well as on the basketball court, as he faces major conflicts at every turn. Early in the story, Theo is playing in a school basketball game and his opponent in the paint is majoring in confidence. Theo asks himself what is he confident about in his life, if anything, and knows the answer is zero. And we go from there into the mixed up and confused world of a young teen that climbs a seemingly endless staircase with no elevator to the top, but that is the heart of the journey we take with him.  
Theo is a thirteen year-old African-American boy at Orangetree Middle School in Orange County, California,  a school where only a handful of black students attend, and is populated mostly by Asian students, with a dabbling of America’s melting pot mixed in. His father is Marcus Rollins, police officer and widower, thus Theo is without a mother, and his best friend is Brian “Brainiac” Horowitz, a husky boy quick with quips and sarcasm, who is Theo’s partner on the school academic team called Brain Train, and who happens to be Jewish.
Theo grew six inches over the summer and his height bestowed some attention in the school halls never before given and he likes that, and when asked to join the school basketball team by Coach Mandrake he agrees, and that’s where the story begins – in the middle of a game that Theo blows because of his lack of playing skills, as up to that moment Theo had chosen academic achievement over sports. 
Right then, in the first few pages of the book, the reader knows Jabbar and Obstfeld have crafted an adventure much more than an episodic coming of age tale, and that the story, rich with humor as well as the angst we all faced in our own coming of age, is something far broader, and bigger, and a challenge to stereotypes and prejudices. 
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Allan Holzman Brunch Event Review

c-c-cut movieOn Saturday, OC Screenwriters was thrilled to present filmmaker Allan Holzman (credits) at a brunch that included a movie and a fantastic Q&A afterwards.

Allan played his documentary on his life called "C-C-Cut" which details his journey through both the film world and his personal world as a stuttering director.  Afterwards Allan spoke for another 1.5 hours on that film and his process.  As a 'slash' - writer/director/producer/editor/etc (Emmy/Eddy/Peabody Award-winning, no less) - Allan's information was amazingly diverse and comprehensive.  His 30+ years in the trenches of all things film made for an encyclopedic presentation of how to succeed in a business that counts winners in terms of hits, not necessarily longetivity and quality.

Allan has had all in copious amounts.

As his movie and later he pointed out, Allan started with Roger Corman, the low-budget uber-producer, who has turned out many of Hollywood's biggest names.  The Q&A after the film covered even more of Allan's journey and insights as he talked about his struggles to stop his stuttering while pursuing a lifelong love of cinema.  

One of the things you quickly learn about Allan is that he is a true student of film.  He speaks with equal veracity on "Attack of the Crab Monsters" and Truffaut's "400 Blows."  Nothing seemingly has escaped his notice from the world of film but more to the point, he's absorbed and learned from all these sources and is able to then transmit that knowledge into self-deprecating and hilarious anecdotes but also in deeply held convictions about how to make a movie.

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Allan Holzman Brunch

Two-time Emmy Award®-winning Director/Producer/Editor Allan Holzman (IMDB) has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood (beside his) including:

Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Roger Corman and James Horner, among others!

He will be screening his award-winning film, C-C-Cut and talking about his upcoming book "Celluloid Wars" (sample chapter)

His latest video used to honor legendary guitarist Todd Rundgren at the recent Gibson Les Paul Awards is embeded below or view on YouTube here!

Allan is hot, hot, hot and we've got him one on one!!!

Join on us for an up-close and personal brunch with Allan in Fountain Valley as he discusses his career, film tips, and the business of working in the Land of Holly and Wood - reserve your seat for brunch below.

Seats limited so tickets at the door may not be possible.  RESERVE NOW!

Choose status:


WOW - a copy of Final Draft 8 will be given away to someone in attendance!

Date: Saturday, 03.08.2014
Times: 9:30am-1:30pm

Location: Claim Jumper Restaurant Banquet Room
18050 Brookhurst Street Fountain Valley CA 92708 714.963.6711 (map)

Reservations recommended since seating is limited.

Non-Student: 20:00

Student:15.00 Valid Student I.D.'s checked at door.

09:30am-10:00am - check-in
10:00am-11:30am - Allan shows his film
11:30am-1:15pm - lunch (included) and Q&A with Allan
1:30pm end

Note: Choose quantities of reservations at PayPal checkout. 

(includes lunch, 1/2 sandwich and salad - choice of Turkey, Chicken or Tuna and coffee/beverage service)
Order taken at banquet room.  Veggie option available.


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Killer Women

killer womenShe's sexy, sassy, and kicks ass.  What's not to like?  And in the case of Tricia Helfer, there is absolutely nothing not to like.  She's all of those things and a bag of chips.  

Coming from her sexy/scary stint as a uber-hot Cyclon in "Battlestar Galactica" Helfer infuses this new series with a much needed edge.  Not the kind of edge like in "The Shield" or even "Prison Break" but an all-over edge that gives you a reason to come back because she is writ large on the small screen in all manners and her presence is about all that elevates the somewhat-tired storylines.

Premise:  Here's a cop who goes after criminals - female criminals.  Focus on the X-chromosome segment of the bad-guys, uh, girl population.  Throw in the physically believable, and acting capable Helfer, a taste of sexism in the cop ranks that she has to deal with, a bit of secret spousal abuse (sorta unbelievable,) promote as (another very attractive woman) Sofia Vergara's ("Modern Family") production company (based on an Argentine series) and mix.

The first ep shows another hot woman (getting the focus here?) in a red dress walking to a church (to the wonderful Mavericks "Come Unto Me") who then enters and shoots the bride, blowing her brains all over her groom.  Good opening.  Goes nowhere.  Cartels, chase scenes, kidnappings in Mexico...zzzzzzz.  All pretty standard fare, really.  Not that it's bad - it isn't.  It's just not as good as it could have been or could be.

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Feral Feature Announced!


LOS ANGELES - L.A.-based Torture Chamber Productions is currently in pre-production for the feature film titled "Feral."

Written by Mark Sevi ("Pterodactyl" "Arachnid" "Devil's Knot",) the scifi-horror film follows a group of teens who were born carrying tendencies and differences in DNA that disenfranchise them, and which manifests suddenly in physical and mentally disturbing ways.
Uber-violent with deep themes of alienation and the fundamental nature of violence, the film marks a collaboration between a "dream team" production group who were gathered from professional backgrounds in graphic novels, comics, horror films and photography.
"Feral" will be directed by cinematographer Ryan Amendt. This will be his first feature film as a director although Amendt has worked on many productions in other capacities. It will be produced by Mark Sevi, Victor Phan, Ryan Amendt, Jeff Blaxland, and Rudy Garcia as an independent feature for SyFy Channel and/or A&E.
The script is currently undergoing pre-production revisions. Preliminary storyboards, promotional materials, and budgets are being developed for potential investors. Production is expected to begin in 2014 with locations on and around in Orange County, California.  Visit the Facebook page ( and website ( for more information on the
background, production, and press and investor packages.
About Torture Chamber Productions:
The production company was founded in 2006 by Victor Phan, Ryan Amendt and Clark Jones
in Fullerton, CA. They produce horror films and thrillers while also creating graphic novels
for its clients. 
Download this release in PDF: HERE
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12 Years A Slave

12 years a slave

Congrats, OC Screenwriters Board Member and contributor, Lorenzo Porricelli!!

“12 Years a Slave” is perhaps the most important film produced since we began watching “motion pictures” in the penny slots on boardwalks, carnivals, and city emporiums in the 1880’s.  It is based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northrop, a free man from Saratoga, New York, who was tricked, captured and made a slave for twelve horrendous years. Northrop is played by actor Chiwetel Ejiofor in a performance done with such magnificence it removes the actor from the role, for what is memorable is the depth of character and the story his work tells us of a terrible human experience.  
Movies are entertainment first, entertainment that provides two hours of escape from our lives and allows us to enter the lives of characters on the big screen. Movies involve us in the adventure of the story and the ramifications of issues raised, whether comedy or drama, just as those first penny slots involved its first viewers in the real life and death battle of a cobra and a mongoose. 
However, there are some movies since film began that have been epic in meaning and revelation of the human experience. From “Birth of a Nation” to “Schindler’s List,” and more, these films have been important films because they affected and/or changed or challenged generations of mindset on issues, i.e., the Ku Klux Klan in “Birth of a Nation,” and the Holocaust in “Schindler’s List.” Both films took us past what the public had settled as the comfortable mindset on those subjects, a mindset that didn’t disrupt our then present-day lives, and those films forced us to make moral decisions on life and death questions.  
12 Years a Slave” presents the absolute truth of slavery’s work - the humiliation and murder of the body, mind, spirit, and soul of the slave. Its portrayal of the sick minds and perverted bodies of slave owners(they couldn’t have possibly possessed a soul) is the true story of a brutality that shames mankind. It is a film where the lack of humanity in the minds, words, and actions of slave owners and slave sellers at that time, the common white Southerners, is displayed in their treatment of black people as animals and beasts, and worse. 
And in spite of its most atrocious horror, it is entertaining first, endearing us to the characters, and forcing us to go along for the most riveting, cruel journey we have ever experienced with a film, and possibly in our lives, as these people we come to love are abused beyond imagination, and we sit with disbelief, hoping for escape, for help, for even a minute of peace for the people we meet – for they are that first – people - people who become slaves. And we watch their lives drained of life by the mean, sadistic lifestyle of the pre-Civil War South, with not a minute lived without drama and fear. There were no good masters.  
The film is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northrop, the free man who led a rather middle class life in Saratoga, N.Y., a man who owned a home, had a wife and two children, and who played the violin professionally. That was until two con men tricked him into joining their musical troupe for a few weeks, and used that to lure him to Washington DC, where they sold him to a slaver. And from there, the story goes to several plantations, from horror to horror, from story to story, and reveals the absolute viciousness of both the men and women who owned slaves. 
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