Source: @Slant_Magazine @AddisonDeTwitt
#screenwriting #playwriting #story
"You know you’re dealing with an assertive artist when he’s the one who starts the interview. Before I even sit down to speak with Tracy Letts, the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning actor-playwright known for conceiving and adapting works like Bug and Killer Joe, he’s already grilling me about Slant's not-so-ecstatic recaps of Homeland, a series on which Letts starred this season as the shady Senator Andrew Lockhart. Apparently, Letts doesn’t miss a bit of press that’s linked to his work, nor does he blindly speak to outlets without doing a little digging. Though always perfectly respectful, Letts is direct, and forthcoming, which should really be no surprise given the uninhibited stories he’s put his name to.
Having penned the screenplays for Bug and Killer Joe, two indelible bits of mind-fuckery that teamed the author with William Friedkin, Letts is now unleashing his adaptation of his most personal piece, August: Osage County, the film version of which marks a partnership with director John Wells—not to mention a monumental cast. Though a far cry from the Friedkin collaborations, August: Osage County is similarly no-holds-barred, dropping the viewer amid a venom-spitting brood inspired by Letts’s own family.
A sensation when it stormed Broadway in 2007, the story of August: Osage County takes place in Letts’s home state of Oklahoma, and it’s infused not just with the drama of dysfunction, but a Midwestern history with which he’s all too familiar. The man behind the narrative that’s now led to heavy awards buzz (particularly for leading ladies Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts), Letts discussed the story’s Native American themes, his opinion that his own mother, Billie Letts, is “a goddamned liar,” and, more than anything, the limits of control. That is, of course, after addressing those recaps.
Don’t we continually get bad reviews on Slant from the guy who writes the episode recaps for Homeland?
You might! One of our writers does recap the show on our blog. But, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t read those pieces, because I’m behind on this season of Homeland and I’m avoiding spoilers.
Yeah, well, I’ve read them. I read it all. I’m shameless. I read everything.
Oh yeah? Well, I do know that we at the site are fans of movies based on your work, like Bug and Killer Joe. Slant really digs Killer Joe.
Great. Glad to hear it.
Speaking of which, since Bug, Killer Joe, and August: Osage County are so different, I’ve been trying to think of how they connect thematically, and what I’ve come up with is this element of control—people trying to control their worlds via their bodies, shady deals, self-medication, even family. Is the issue of control something you consciously try to explore?
Oh man, that’s such a good question, and I haven’t had that question before, because I haven’t really had anyone pay that much attention to the works in total. I don’t know. Perhaps I just think it’s the stuff of drama, but perhaps it’s something from my own life as well. I mean, I’ve been sober for over 20 years, and I’m a subscriber of AA and its philosophies. So there probably is something in there about my belief that a certain giving up of control is good for the soul. I certainly think that, in August: Osage County, that moment in the play when Barbara insists she’s “running things now” was always a choice moment for the audience, and it’s in the film as well. And I think it taps into something that people feel, particularly in regard to their families: “Oh my god, if you would just do what I want you to do we’d be so much better off. If you’d just behave the way I feel you should behave.” As opposed to allowing people to make…..”
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Source: @jeannevb @scriptmag
#screenwriing #film #story
"Every once in a while, I need to have an editor rant. Perhaps I’ll call it “clarification” instead of a rant, because rant implies anger, and I’m not an angry person.
A few things happened this past week I feel need… clarification.
I’ve been mulling over how people approach life and their careers. Some people grab life by the throat and go after what they want, making changes along the way to grow and improve. Others are only open to hearing what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.
People are so odd sometimes, fighting evolution and staying stuck in old patterns that don’t work.
One of our columnists, Kevin Delin, wrote an article about tossing the famous and much-loved structure of Save the Cat!, and instead, writing in a way that is uniquely intuitive to you personally. The reactions were many, but what I found fascinating was how they varied widely on Twitter versus Facebook. Our Facebook readers were aghast that I would post such an article. Yet the Twitter audience applauded Kevin’s out-of-the box thinking.
There’s a lot we could analyze about why those two platforms reacted so differently, of which I have an opinion, but that’s a discussion for another day.
What I also found interesting was how some people attacked me personally for posting it. Then again, people also email me expletives that are so raw and vulgar, if I happen to miss correcting typos in an article, they’d make my Sicilian grandfather blush. You haven’t lived until you go through an editor’s inbox. Some days, it takes a tougher skin than sitting with a Hollywood exec.
Again, not “ranting,” just… clarifying.
Maybe I should clarify my overall philosophy on why I post what I post on ScriptMag. We now have over 50 contributors, for whom I have great respect. Do I personally agree with every post I publish? Hell no. Nor do I want to. I’m sure a few of them don’t agree with some of my Balls of Steel articles.
We all write our columns based on our opinions and our personal experiences in the industry, hoping the information we …..”
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Source: @Variety @Variety_AJM
#screenwriting #directing #film
Billed as a three-week event, “Mob City” is one of TNT’s most ambitious series efforts to date. The net plans to roll out two episodes at a week starting Dec. 4, hoping that the condensed six-episode season will generate more buzz in a short period of time when most of its competitors are in holiday-light mode.
“It’s semi-binge-viewing, I guess,” Darabont says. “The audience really gets to see if they’re digging what they’re seeing…It’s so smart. If the show is successful, it will be due in large measure not just to our efforts, but to TNT’s because they’re marketing the hell out of it.”
Darabont’s interest in film noir has rattled within him for years. But the spark that led to “Mob City” came from a happenstance purchase while leaving the city that would become his muse.
"I found the book in LAX,” Darabont says of John Buntin’s “L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City,” the inspiration for the series. “I was leaving town for a quick week of R&R in 2010. At first, I thought it was a collection of short stories, but I realized it was nonfiction on the plane, and I couldn’t put the damn book down for two days.”
Darabont began developing “Mob City” with……”
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Source: @ozzywood @dbgilles
#screenwriting #film #story
"Most of the screenplays I read lack dramatic conflict. Characters just talk and say empty words. Nothing’s happening. Often, the reason for this is because we don’t push ourselves to find drama in the lives of our characters.
So maybe we look into our own lives for some dramatic conflict to inspire us. You argue with your spouse or significant other. You quarrel with your parents or siblings or friends. You squabble with an obnoxious neighbor, rude sales clerk or whoever.
But sometimes we don’t have enough drama in our lives. Things may be going smoothly and pleasantly. There’s no crisis or chaos. While this is good for our peace of mind, it’s bad for our sense of the dramatic.
There’s nothing like something happening to shake things up. We’re thrown off guard, we lose our balance, we’re knocked out of our comfort zone and lose our cool.
But if nothing’s going on we get lazy.
There’s nothing like something happening to shake things up.
This is when we must truly use our imaginations to try and stir up some drama. What I do is try to picture celebrities or people connected to celebrities in their real lives. Not as we’ve come to know them publicly, but how they really are in their private lives…..”
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Source: @Scriptmag @byDougRich
#screenwriting #film #story
“What’s wrong with this picture? I was an unproduced screenwriter standing at the threshold to my antique, valley domicile. It was my tiny, first-timer bungalow measuring barely eleven hundred square feet. Across from me, standing on my front stoop, was none other than movie director, John Frankenheimer. You don’t know his name? Maybe you’ve heard of some of his movies. The Birdman of Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, Black Sunday to name just a few. At almost six foot four, the directing great filled the frame of my front door. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What the hell is he doing here?”
But maybe I should add a little context first. Rewind six or seven months. My friend and producer (not-to-mention the War Department’s former boss), Gary Foster (Sleepless in Seattle, Ghostrider), and I had developed a kick-ass thriller written by a veteran TV scribe. We’d sold it to the studio as a pitch, developed draft upon draft of the thriller until it was so tight it squeaked, and now we were in the enviable position of the studio showing enough spark in the project to ask us to bring them a suitable director. If we found one they liked, they would make an offer. A tell-tale precursor to a green light.
Once the net had been cast for a director, the agencies kicked into gear, offering up their clients in the usual, shotgun-any-of-them-against-the-wall-and-see-if-they-stick routine. Since the film was to take place in Europe and the Middle East, we looked for somebody with that kind of flair. As we sorted through our options, Gary fielded a call from an agent who wanted us to consider his iconic client.
“What do you think of John Frankenheimer?” Gary asked me.
My mind instantly replayed scenes from his classic films. I was especially a big fan of Black Sunday, recalling a high school rainy day where I played hooky and parked myself in a movie multiplex for back to back to back showings.
“I love him,” I blurted. After the two of us babbled about him for awhile like a pair of college movie geeks, I asked, “So is he still making movies?”
“TV films,” said Gary, flat and not impressed. Not that fine work wasn’t being performed in the made for television world of cinema. But even I knew the platform was primarily the land of the C-listers. Former movie directors who couldn’t get arrested in features and TV helmers looking to bridge their way into the theatrical market.
“The great John Frankenheimer directing TV movies?” I said sadly. “That’s just wrong.”
“He read our script,” said Gary. “Agent says he loves it and wants to meet us.”
“Hell yeah,” I said. “I’m dying to meet him!”
“Even if we can’t sell him to the studio?” asked Gary. “I don’t want to waste his time.”
“Do we know for sure that the studio won’t make a deal with him?”
“Not for sure,” said Gary. “But when they said go out and get a director, I don’t think they were talking about some washed up old guy.”
“Some washed up old guy? We’re talking John Frankenheimer, man.”
“I know, I know.”
“He read it and wants to do it,” I said. “So let’s give him a chance.”
“Alright, why not,” agreed my partner. “At least this way we get to shake his hand.”
As keen as my memory is with these trench tales, I can’t at all access how we arrived at choosing to have our meeting with John Frankenheimer at my little valley casita. Especially when Gary’s Century City digs were more than…….”
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