Monday, October 23, 2017
Orange County Screenwriters Association


Be Inspired, Do Good Work!



A not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing education and resources to the film community both amateur and professional.


logoThe Orange County Screenwriters Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing education and resources to all aspects of the film community both amateur and professional!


Woody Allen - Seriously Funny

This is basically a transcript of a podcast segment (www.plotpoints.com)…

Rod Serling: Tortured Genius

This is basically a transcript of a podcast segment (www.plotpoints.com)…

Ideal Home

This wonderful movie, "Ideal Home," could not have come at…

Cardinal

I admit that I am a sucker for these shows. …

The Good Fight

When I grow up I want to be The Kings.…

Powerless / Apple Tree Yard

powerlessI have been a comic book fan since childhood when my dad would take me and my sisters to the local drug store to peruse the offerings after church on Sunday; something I'm sure the priests would not have approved of. 

"Powerless" would have been a welcome addition to that ritual although I'm positive it would never have been considered at that time.

The concept is simple: the world has superheroes from the DC Universe and some that haven't been created yet, I'm assuming.  I'm at a disadvantage here because beside the big marque characters I haven't followed a lot of any comic book series for a while.  "Jessica Jones" was new to me although I did remember "Luke Cage."  I can't honestly tell you what DC has been up to - but "Powerless" is a fun step!

In this world, as you can easily imagine, there is a lot of collateral damage in any superhero/super villain fight.  Marvel has already covered this somewhat in "Jessica Jones" a heroine who lives in a post-Avengers battle world where superheroes aren't loved for the destruction they've instigated while saving the world.  Supervillains are one thing, yo; getting to work when entire blocks are closed down due to buildings falling is entirely another.

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Riverdale / 24 Legacy

riverdale header3I wonder at times if I would enjoy being a TV or movie critic.  I do like finding gems and telling my friends and students about them.  Shows that inspire me to be a better writer are always a treat.  But then there's the other end of the spectrum so that would all be a wash I guess. 

In the middle somewhere is most of what I end up watching.  Not groundbreaking material, like "Archer" or "Game of Thrones" but well-conceived and well-written like the two shows in this article.  Both "Riverdale" and "24 Legacy" are well-above middle ground though.

I didn't think I was going to like "Riverdale" - it's not exactly geared to my demographic.  But I did.  A lot. 

Re-envisioning the "Archie" comics (or maybe the comics are now like this - I don't know) has the characters of Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead, Reggie and others living large in Riverdale: a small town with dirty undercurrent, including big time murders and hot affairs between teachers and students.

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Your Script Sucks - Why Are You Seeking Representation?

ranting angry manTHE RANT

Who exactly do you think you are?  Are you a writing genius who has figured out what took the rest of us many months, maybe years to understand?  Has one of your masterpieces gotten so many kudos that you now think you should be elevated to a place that normally takes hundreds of hours to accomplish? 

This is a rant, pure and simple.  You won't learn shit about screenwriting and you'll probably dislike me by the end of this article - if you even get that far.  Fine.  I accept your disdain.

Just don't ask me how to find an agent, manager, production company or anything else until you've written at least three scripts and those scripts (at least one) have gotten a lot of good word of mouth from someone beside your mom.

Deal?

What am I on about?  Simple.  I had a student ask me how to market his/her script.  I stopped what I was doing, blinked three times and had to ask him/her to repeat it. 

I mean, huh?  At the very least, finish a script first then ask me that question.

How in the world can anyone think they're ready to sell anything if they haven't been working for a certain amount of hours to hone their craft?

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Skies Are Clear on Dagobah

I just want to get this out of the way right away, and I know that I will most likely get tons of hate-mail from aspiring screenwriters reading this, but I officially retired from professional screenwriting in 2015.        

And I honestly couldn’t be any happier.  I finally get to consistently do the things that fill my life with joy: spend time with family, train mixed martial arts, spend time with family, go to heavy metal concerts, spend time with family, play videogames on my weeknights, spend time with family, take computer programming classes, spend time with family, draw my own comic books, and most importantly . . . SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY. 

            I have committed to another role since I’m completely out of the business and have absolutely zero silver screen aspirations – the role of the mentor.  Previous students and friends with Hollywood aspirations still reach out to me inquiring on how to transition their dreams into reality.  I don’t offer to introduce them to people who can turn magically materialize their dreams like a genie, but I do offer my time and honesty about the 15-years I spent in the business. 

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Sh*t! That's my idea! What To Do When Hollywood "Steals" Your Baby.

o PICKPOCKET facebookIf you're doing it right as a writer, you're channeling the societal gestalt and the world in general in which you live both locally and globally.  At this moment in time, you're observing the situations taking place societally, politically, culturally, internally, and also exploring the past as things become apparent to you.   Movies and TV are reflections of our world but they also serve to show us truths from the past that cause us to explore further.

This is all to say that what you think is some sort of Hollywood conspiracy is just the hard, cold facts that there are a lot of writers out there processing the same information as you - and then they are writing that information into articles, scripts, novels, etc.  You shouldn't be surprised if more than one person has your idea and has written it.

But you also never capitulate to those "thieves."

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Deborah Cook, Premiere Stop-Motion Costume Designer, Shares Her Story with OC Screenwriters

kubo and the two strings costume art 2 600x400

In a historic first, the Costume Designers Guild recognized stop-motion costume designer, Deborah Cook, this past week with a nomination for Excellence in a Fantasy Film for her work on Laika Film's stop-motion animated Kubo and the Two Strings. It is the first time in the guild’s 19 year history of the awards that an animated film has been nominated by the CDG. No small feat for this enormous talent.  

OC Screenwriters was graciously afforded the opportunity from Emily Lu Aldrich and Kevin McAlpine of Focus Features to speak with Deborah to discuss her incredible career, artistry, and why this medium deserves your attention.

Beside Kubo, Ms Cook has been involved in the films Box Trolls, ParaNorman, Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox as a costume designer and visual effects artist. (IMDB)

6a01156f47abbe970c01348026c87f970cWhile her work is astounding in its detail and technical brilliance, we were equally amazed at her endless grace, good humor, and down-to-earth approaches in discussing her work.

“I love what I do,” Deborah tells us with a laugh. “Anything else is just a bonus.”

Keep reading for our exclusive interview.

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Andrew Garfield on Hacksaw Ridge




Video below.

Before the release of "Hacksaw Ridge," I attended a LionsGate screening where lead actor, Andrew Garfield, spoke of what attracted him to the role of Desmond Doss, the first and only Conscientious Objector who ever won the Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty in combat during,WWII.

The film was directed by Oscar-winner, Mel Gibson, who said it was a passion project of his for many years. 

Doss, who saved 75 men on Okinawa in the bloodiest battle of WWII, believed in the war, but not in killing. 

 

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In Praise of - ARCHER

Archer Banner

Admittedly, I'm late to this party.  I've only been watching "Archer" for the last few seasons although I have recently gone back and I am re-watching everything from the first season that debuted in 2009.

How was I so blind?  I heard the word-of-mouth from a friend whose opinion I trust and didn't follow up on it.  I saw the awards, I heard the reviews...I just didn't act on any of that. Damn my lazy viewing spine!  I have miles to go before I sleep and watching a show this terrific should be on everyone's first up list.

And thank god for streaming.  Netflix specifically which has most of the seasons available allowing me to continue to right this egregious wrong.  ?

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Write Your Truths

Write Truthfully In Imaginary Circumstances
Explore the Mythology Inside You


inner truthAs a science fiction fan and screenwriter, I often chuckle at the axiom to “write what you know” - as if Isaac Asimov, a rather robust, Jewish man, knew what it was like to be a spinster scientist or a robot. How exactly did J.K Rowling, a then thirty-year-old, unemployed, working-class mother, create a young, male wizard who went to an exclusive magical school in a mythical land?

People write young, old, male, female, alien, king, peasant, and every variation imaginable. What’s their secret? Good research? A keen observational eye? Channeling a secret muse? Yes, and perhaps. But let me share what is really meant by “write what you know”. It means write your truth - write what you already know as a human being.

Are women and men really that different? Don’t we all share the sting of rejection, the joy of love? Emotionally-speaking, isn’t life, in all its myriad variations fundamentally the same for those in the bush and those in the Hamptons? Is the inevitability of a terminal disease different today than it was 100 years ago?

So how to bridge the gap between what we know and what we don’t empirically understand?

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The Mick

The Mick banner

It's rare for me to find myself laughing aloud at a show, especially one that's done by a network.  "The Mick" made me guffaw several times.  Yes, guffaw - don't judge - that's the word I want and it perfectly describes my reaction to this delightful new comedy.

"It's Always Sunny in Philladephia" alum Kaitlyn Olson spreads her wings (and if you saw the pilot you'd know just how clever a usuage of a cliche that is) in this excellent and hilarious show from producers/writers Dave and John Chernin who were also a bigpart of "IASIP."

The premise is ridiculous and simple:  Olson (Mackenzie "Mickey" Murphy, AKA The Mick) is trying to hit her millionaire sister up for some cash at a party when the FBI swoops in and arrests sis (Poodle) and her husband.  Mickey is tapped to watch the kids for one night on the promise that sis will give her the funds she denied her earlier.  Unfortunately, Poodle and hubby have to flee the country and Mickey is stuck for a while longer watching the brood.

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What's Wrong With This Scene?

Found this article several years ago and I couldn't have said it better.  I see these mistakes every day in my students' work not only when they start but even in experienced students' work. Scriptwriting Clasess

The credits for this article are included below.


This Scene Sucks: 15 Screenwriting Mistakes to Avoid
By: Script Magazine | November 20, 2013
by Timothy Cooper

Please enjoy this scene from my nonexistent, Birds vs. Bees.

I wrote this opening scene specifically for this article, but there isn’t a single error in it that I haven’t read in actual screenplays hundreds of times. I’m serious.

Can you spot all 15 (at least) errors?

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TV - A Vast Wonderland

television is deadOnce upon a time, television was called a "vast wasteland."  Granted, this was years before PBS and many groundbreaking dramas and comedies but the perception has remained.  And, to be fair, for every brilliant series (like "Game of Thrones") there's double the amount of crap being foisted on the viewing public whether that viewing is online, streaming or on "traditional" TV or cable.

Here's a few new shows I thought would be worth mentioning.  Some are "bingey" and some are being released more traditionally week-by-week.  They also share the fact that it's a pretty disparate list of production entities that have traditionally not been involved in original programming.  This is, in a word, wonderful.  The more the better as far as I'm concerned although it can be a challenge keeping up with them all.

This list, which is simple and by no means comprehensive, doesn't include so many other worthy series but these are just the ones I've been watching lately.

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"Gold" Writing Team Patrick Massett & John Zinman Teach Us How to Write Practical Scenes



To write "Gold", duo Patrick Massett & John Zinman drew from their background in acting to develop practical scenes. They also looked to "Amadeus" for inspiration on "peeling back layers" and "turning over the final card".

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Insider View Podcast on iTunes!

Original author: Final Draft
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"Hunt for the Wilderpeople" Writer/Director Taika Waititi Talks Keeping Your Audience Engaged



Writer, actor, director Taika Waititi tells us about creating a new comedy scene in New Zealand and how to keep people feeling like they're a part of your story. He also let slip the inspirations for his What We Do in the Shadows character Viago: His mother combined with C-3PO. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Insider View Podcast on iTunes!

Original author: Final Draft
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"Arrival" Screenwriter Eric Heisserer on NASA, Palindromes and Breaking the Rules of Writing



Eric Heisserer brings the science world to our doorstep and tells us what it's like to break unspoken rules while writing. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Insider View Podcast on iTunes!

Original author: Final Draft
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"Jackie" Screenwriter Noah Oppenheim Discusses the Custodian of a Presidential Legacy



Screenwriter Noah Oppenheim talks with us about writing his first screenplay "Jackie" and the inspiration he drew from Jackie Kennedy as the custodian and myth-maker of her husband's legacy.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Insider View Podcast on iTunes!

Original author: Final Draft
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"Lion" Screenwriter Luke Davies Talks the "Rapid, Intense Process of Writing"



Screenwriter Luke Davies sits down with us to discuss how he fell in love with the story behind "Lion". 

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Insider View Podcast on iTunes!

 

Original author: Final Draft
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SPOTLESS

spotlessOne the things I absolutely love about today's entertainment landscape is the ability to see shows that we might never have seen given where they were made.

I've always embraced the shows that were coming across from other countries.  BBC America probably started it but Netflix really pushed this effort. This continues with "Spotless" a Franco-Brit combined production that deals with a quite unusual premise but the world set up here slants everything including normally familiar relationships and consequences of those relationships.

The Premise: Jean Bastier (Marc-André Grondin) who owns a business that cleans up crime scenes, gets involved with gangsters after his shady brother Martin (Denis Ménochet) comes back into his life, forcing Jean to use his cleaning skills to eliminate evidence of crimes.

It's hard to describe this show in some senses.  It's well written, acted and shot.  What also works all the time are the relationships which seem both mundane and profound. spotless

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Hacksaw Ridge Screenwriter Robert Schenkkan Talks Heroism and Writing Battlegrounds

Hacksaw Ridge Screenwriter Robert Schenkkan Talks Heroism and Writing Battlegrounds

Robert Schenkkan returns to our podcast to discuss heroism and writing battlegrounds in his latest, Hacksaw Ridge - in theaters now. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Insider View Podcast on iTunes!

Original author: Final Draft
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GOLIATH

goliath"Goliath" is the newest show by super-producer/writer David E. Kelly. 

It stars Billy Bob Thornton and features some great supporting actors like Maria Bello (ex-wife/rival attny), Olivia Thirlby (rival attny), Sarah Wynter (client), Tania Raymonde (hooker/paralegal), and Molly Parker (attny in rival firm.)  William Hurt plays a demonic figure (ala "The Natural") who sits in the dark and uses a clicker to show his anger or disdain for people (you'll just have to see it.)

Kelly tells a personal story of how he promised his kids he wouldn't write any more lawyer shows.  But this isn't like anything you've seen from this prolific writer.  Bad words, drinking, drug use, violence...it follows the trend of the  edgier shows that have been coming out.  It's an Amazon Prime original so they can get away with challenging the audience.

And it does.

Taking place in Santa Monica with locations at the famous dive bar Chez Jay, "Goliath" features an attorney on the edge of slipping away from the legal world until he's approached with a redemption-type case.  The storyline of redemption borrows heavily from "The Verdict" the Lumet/Newman/Mamet courtroom masterpiece that for me never gets old.

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