#screenwriting #film #short
“Comedy production power-house Hat Trick Productions are looking for short films for their new competition, Short & Funnies. Films can be between 2-5mins long, but the hook is that they have to a rabbit in the film in some way (as a nod to Hat Trick’s logo, and to show that the film is specially made for the competition, but don’t use a live rabbit!).
The prize is £3,000 and a pitching session with the Hat Trick comedy team.
Closing date for entries is midnight, 14th February 2013.
Full details and how to enter HERE.
Also, a final quick reminder to vote for the UK Scriptwriters podcast in this year’s European Podcast Awards. It takes 4 clicks, and no registration is required. Easy! Click HERE to vote.”
#screenwriting #screeplay #film
“Alfred Hitchcock worked with several great writers, one of them being John Michael Hayes, who wrote the screenplays forRear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief(1955), The Trouble with Harry (1955), and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). After he and Hitchcock had a falling out, Hayes went on to write numerous other movies such as Peyton Place (1957), Butterfield 8(1960), The Carpetbaggers (1964), and Judith (1966).
Here are excerpts from “Backstory 3: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 60s”, edited by Patrick McGilligan.
ON HOW HE MET ALFRED HITCHCOCK
I had worked on a radio show called Suspense, which was a half-hour drama. Then I worked on The Adventures of Sam Spade and a number of other radio detective shows. He used to listen to them. He heard my name all the time. That’s really what got him interested in me, because I doubt if he had gone to see War Arrow or Red Ball Express or anything else. So he inquired about me. It turned out we had the same agency, MCA, but we were in different departments. He gave me a tryout, and it stuck. He needed a writer for Rear Window, so I went from B movies to A movies overnight.
ON THE WRITING OF ‘REAR WINDOW’
Paramount found Rear Window. Hitch had left Warner Brothers and was looking for a home. And Paramount said if he could get a screenplay out of a Cornell Woolrich story, they would make a deal with him. They gave him a collection calledAfter-Dinner Story, by William Irish [Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1936], a pen name of Cornell Woolrich. Out of about five or six stories, he liked “Rear Window” and brought me in on it. There was no girl in the original. I created the part. Hitch had done Dial M for Murder  with Grace Kelly, and she was beautiful in that film; but there was no life, no sparkle there. He asked me what we should do with her for Rear Window, so I spent time with her for about a week. My wife, Mel, was a successful fashion model, so I gave Grace my wife’s occupation in the film. The way the character posed, the dialogue—it reflected actual incidents in our life.
That was my first A picture with a big director, and I was so keyed up. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have, because I was worried about everything. Yet it turned out well. We worked beautifully together.
I like to write dialogue. It’s one of my skills, character and dialogue. Hitchcock, of course, grew up in silent films, and all those directors who did silent films have a tendency to rely on the camera as much as they can. And I caught some of that spirit. Hitchcock taught me about how to tell a story with the camera and tell it silently.
We used a long camera movement to open Rear Window. In The Man Who Knew Too Much, in the scene at Albert Hall with Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart, we had written some dialogue in case we needed it, but we didn’t intend to use it if we didn’t have to. Hitch, with his mastery, felt that without dialogue this whole final sequence where the assassination is about to take place—of a central figure from some nameless country—would be stronger. We discovered we didn’t need the dialogue at all. But we wrote it protectively.
I think suggestion is better. I’d rather say things through a literary device that’s interesting than just say it out flat. So much of my dialogue is indirect, with layers of meaning, sub-rosa meanings. It’s more challenging to write that way, and people remember the lines. Frequently, people came up to me for autographs, and they quote some of those lines from my Hitchcock movies.
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HITCHCOCK
His whole life was motion pictures; there didn’t seem to be much else in it. He just loved what he was doing, and he transmitted that feeling to you, rather than hovering over you like a giant genius. He was encouraging. He used to say, “It’s only a movie. Don’t worry about it, just do your best, and let the public decide.” Hitch was humorous and relaxed on the set. We’d go to dinner or lunch, but in no sense was I his personal confidant. He used to go over his early pictures and tell me how he had solved problems.
I think the worst fight we ever had was over the ending of To Catch a Thief. We had different ideas. I wrote twenty-seven different endings and still don’t like the one that was used. We had a couple of slam-bang script fights. Still, we got along fine until I got too much press.
When we went to Paris for the premiere of To Catch a Thief, I was getting mentioned everywhere—they value writers in Paris—so I was promptly banned from all public relations events. If I was mentioned in the fourth paragraph of a story, that was okay but not in the first or second. I was becoming known for my dialogue and characterizations. They even talked about “the Hitchcock-Hayes fall schedule” in either Variety or the Hollywood Reporter.
When you show up in the same sentence—Alfred Hitchcock and John Michael Hayes—that was more than he could bear. He wanted to be the total creator: Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Hitch was so unkind about giving credit.
In an interview he did with Francois Truffaut years later for example, Hitch tried to make it seem as if he had written the screenplay for Rear Window. I heard about that too late; I tried to contact Truffaut, but he had died. I did a sixty-five-page treatment of Rear Window that Jimmy Stewart committed to, that Paramount committed to. I had met with Hitch once or twice. He had nothing to do with the writing.
I was nominated for an Oscar. When I won the Edgar Allen Poe Award [for Rear Window ], the first time it was ever given for a movie, I showed Hitch the ceramic statuette, and he said, “You know, they make toilet bowls out of the same material.” Then he almost pushed it off the end of a table.
Hitchcock’s advisers asked him when his pictures got into trouble—on The Birds  and Marnie  and Torn Curtain  and Topaz —to bring me back. But he never would, because it was an admission that he needed me, and he’d never do that. Those pictures didn’t have the characterizations, the believability. They didn’t have the fun. The films we made together, people call it his golden period. It was a tragedy. We were a great team.
ON WRITING ‘PEYTON PLACE’
I just felt comfortable with the material. I tried to tell the story of the difficulty adolescents have passing through that invisible pane of glass as they become adults. I examined the turmoil they go through, especially in the town of Peyton Place. I was sympathetic to these young people. The first draft was nearly three hundred pages, and it took eight drafts to finally boil it down. I had little bits of my own philosophy woven in—I always do that. I drew on my own experience of living in two small New Hampshire towns. It was not an alien land to me. I could see the town in my mind. I could feel it.
The hard part, of course, was to get over the censorship hurdles; we had to imply things. Everybody had read the book, so we couldn’t disappoint them—without offending the censors and without offending the other countries in which it would be seen. Getting the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency seal was probably the most difficult thing. People felt it was a book that couldn’t be made into a picture. We had to make it acceptable but entertaining and good. And the Legion didn’t change a line. The man in charge, Monsignor Biddle, told me, “John Michael, you’ve done it!” He was a jolly fellow, reminded me of Barry Fitzgerald……..”
#screenwriting #film #screenplay
“Your premise dictates the ideal shape of your story.
What is “premise”? Everybody defines it differently, and it’s pretty confusing. So let’s cut through the fog:
The premise is the smallest packet of information that suggests a story. The premise is the “story idea” from which a story can be built.
The premise has to at least be two nouns. Pixar seems to go into each new project with just a single noun. To complete the sentence “Let’s do a movie about…” they supply a noun: “toys”, “superheroes”, “the sea”.
These are not story ideas. There is no story idea there. There’s no premise.
To generate a premise, something in the noun’s world must be doing something. “A new toy challenges the established order.” “A superhero family fights evil.” “A fish searches for his missing offspring.”
Once you have a person place or thing in a world doing something, you have a story idea. There’s your premise. It’s basically a sentence. Subject and predicate. Subject-verb-object. Actor acts upon object.
How do you get a screenplay out of this? It’s easy. Idea = Ideal. The premise dictates the ideal shape of the story. How?
By abstracting the components of the premise.
For any given premise, there is a certain ideal shape to the story that results. The ideal may be endlessly elaborated, given the many configurations of characters, time periods and story worlds in which a given plot may rest — but it will be essentially the same ideal for any……”
Source: The Screenwriter’s League
#screenwriting #film #screenplay
“When should I get an agent?
What writer hasn’t asked this question? It’s probably one of the first things I asked (myself, my professors, countless message boards and blogs about screenwriting). I was eager for an agent; an agent would launch my career seemingly overnight. Step one: write script. Step two: land agent. Step three: $$$. Right?
I now have an agent. I’ve had an agent since October 2010. I have yet to sell a screenplay.
This is not my agent’s fault. I was actually quite fortunate to land a well-known agent at UTA in my one and only agent meeting. Far as I know, the producers who set up that meeting for me had essentially orchestrated a done-deal. As long as I was personable and could hold my own in the meeting, then it was a shoo-in. At that time, we all had high hopes that my post-Apocalyptic spec - the one I was taking the meeting about - was on the verge of selling, so it was looking like an easy and mutually beneficial relationship all around. The day after the meeting, which went well, my manager told me that the agent had agreed to take me on, and that my manager had agreed in turn that I could and would deliver two scripts a year going forward. It seemed a lofty but doable goal.
I’ve kept writing in the 18 months that have followed, but my agent hasn’t seen a word from me (other than a few loglines early on). Due to what might seem a large period of inactivity, I worry that I’ve missed my chance. My manager never fails to try to console me, saying that no, the agent will read whenever I next present a script to him. When that day comes, we can tell him that I’ve been working on other things since we met, but that they just weren’t right for one reason or the other. The chance to get him to read my next script is still there, though, and theoretically will be for quite some time.
Yet, this fear that I’ve missed an opportunity to get new material in front of my agent isn’t the only concern that’s come from the situation. I feel as though my access to my agent is incredibly limited, almost to the point on nonexistence, until I have something new to show him. And there’s good reason to this. It’s been a year and a half. How does it look if my first email to him - seemingly out of the blue - is about the one and only project he knows me from? What will his impression of me and my work in the long run be? Will it seem as though I’m still a promising young, new client, or will I be that writer who only has one thing under his belt and, years later, still wants that to be his ticket in? I’m working on new things, but the older I get, the more I’ve done this, the more I know that “hey, I am working on something else, but you can’t see it yet” emails aren’t just a waste of time, they can actually serve to discredit you. It’s that basic writing 101 mantra - show me, don’t tell me…….”
#screenwriting #film #screenplay
“Research Commissioned by Gin Brand Bombay Sapphire Reveals Audiences are Keen for More Original Screenplays and Less Technology
A survey around modern film-making has revealed that 81 percent of the international film community believe mainstream audiences now have an appetite for more imaginative films, a trend that would seem supported by the surprise commercial success of ‘The Artist’ this year (named in the survey as the second most imaginative film people had ever seen).
The research also revealed two-thirds of those surveyed feel there is a shortage of original screenplays hitting cinemas, with big film franchises being favored, and that 60 percent had a concern that too much emphasis on new technology could distract from the importance of imagination in overall film-making.
Despite this, 3D adventure ‘Hugo’ (2011) came out on top when respondents were asked to name the most imaginative film they have ever seen, followed by 2012 Oscar winner, ‘The Artist’.
Joanna Botwood, Bombay Sapphire, Global Brand Manager said: “Bombay Sapphire commissioned this research to spark the debate around imagination within the film industry and highlight some of the challenges that budding film-makers are facing. We believe imagination is the key ingredient in any creative endeavour and, as such, we are working to understand how we can support the film industry going forward.”
BOMBAY SAPPHIRE®, the world’s number one premium gin by value for a second consecutive year,surveyed more than 3,000 members of the international film community, made up of industry voices and film enthusiasts on the state of imagination in modern film-making.
*Research carried out through Screen International and EMPIRE international databases. 3,065 were surveyed between the 23 and 27 March 2012……”