Friday, May 31, 2013

Now You See Me and The East

This weekend's hot new release is NOW YOU SEE ME. It's a high-concept heist flick about four superstar magicians who pull off live bank robberies as part of their act. The FBI has trouble proving they're crooks since the suspects are on stage when the robberies occur.

The 2009 spec script was written by EDWARD RICOURT and BOAZ YAKIN. Ricourt is a member of Marvel Studios' writing program. His spec script, YEAR 12, made the 2009 Black List. Now You See Me is his first produced credit. Yakin's credits include Clint Eastwood's THE ROOKIE and PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME. He wrote and directed the 1994 Sundance hit FRESH, starring Samuel L. Jackson, as well as last year's SAFE, starring Jason Statham.

Picked up by STAR TREK producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the script was rewritten by ED SOLOMON, best known for MEN IN BLACK. Solomon's other credits include BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, CHARLIE'S ANGELS, and LEVITY, which he also directed.

Also opening in limited release on four screens this weekend is THE EAST, starring and co-written by BRIT MARLING.

The actor/writer also co-wrote and starred in 2011's ANOTHER EARTH, an unforgettable drama about forgiveness with sci-fi elements. The following year, she played Richard Gere's daughter in ARBITRAGE, which she did not write.

Both movies have a car crash as their inciting incident. The crash in Arbitrage occurs nearly a half hour into the picture. Having seen the trailer first and knowing the story revolved around this crash, I kept waiting for it. And waiting. If I hadn't seen the trailer, I would have bailed on the movie. The crash in Another Earth takes place in the first three minutes. Story started. Hooked.

Earlier this year, Marling appeared in Robert Redford's THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, about a retired domestic terrorist on the lam. Including Redford, the cast boasts four Oscar winners, five nominees, a 12-year-old opera singer who has three albums that debuted in Billboard's top ten, and Shia LaBeouf. The script gets squashed under the weight of all that talent and the subplots all add up to less than the sum of their parts.

The East, also about domestic terrorists, puts you inside an active underground anarchist cell. The script is about things that matter, while Redford's movie is more about things that used to matter, to one person. Thought provoking and suspenseful, The East is a great alternative to the summer tent poles.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Hangover ScripTipps

The Wolfpack are back in theatres this weekend with the final installment of the billion-dollar franchise that began with the unexpected 2009 hit comedy The Hangover.

The Hangover Part III was co-written by Craig Mazin and director Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Old School). Mazin also wrote The Hangover Part II (with Scot Armstrong) and Identity Thief, the fourth highest-grossing movie of this year so far.

On his recent podcast, when asked a question by a listener about the difference between the "inciting incident" and "plot point one," Mazin had this to say:

"There is nothing that [screenwriting books] can teach you that you can’t learn yourself by watching movies, reading screenplays of those movies, reading screenplays by professionals, and then writing, and writing, and writing."

We couldn't agree more!

For that very reason, ScripTipps do not attempt to teach a new screenwriting theory or formula that we claim will guarantee you a million-dollar spec sale.

Instead, we aim to help aspiring screenwriters learn the craft of screenwriting by doing exactly what A-List hit screenwriter Craig Mazin suggests, through our in-depth analyses of select screenplays that exhibit excellence in story structure, character development, and scene construction. Each ScripTipps screenplay study guide in the series analyzes one movie and its story and screenplay in full, scene by scene, from beginning to middle to end, gleaning useful and practical screenwriting tips along the way.

Study the screenwriting and storytelling tricks and techniques that worked for professional screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore when their spec script sold for $2M and went on to become the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time. ScripTipps: The Hangover mines The Hangover for invaluable screenwriting tips on the use of in media res, character development, misdirection, conflict, subtext, comic set pieces, humor in exposition, and much, much more!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Star Trek Mistakes and Strengths

This Star Trek (2009) parody trailer highlights the film's "mistakes."

The brand-new ScripTipps: Star Trek screenplay study guide (available for Kindle and NOOK) highlights its strengths. Find out why a confusing subplot with Nero in a Klingon prison camp was jettisoned in favor of having him wait around patiently for 25 years, and learn other screenwriting secrets that address some of the other points raised in the parody. Except the lens flares. Those were over the top.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Star Trek ScripTipps

With Star Trek Into Darkness beaming into theatres in just two days, the just-released ebook ScripTipps: Star Trek is a fun way for screenwriters to revisit the 2009 J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot. The in-depth script analysis is loaded with screenwriting tips and tricks that can be applied to any screenplay.

Screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman certainly had their work cut out for them restarting this particular franchise. Aiming to impress casual fans and newbies alike, they knew they would also have to answer to a vocally fickle group of hardcore Trekkers. They needed to reintroduce seven beloved characters and establish a new and endearing origin backstory for each that would land them all in their familiar positions on the bridge of the Enterprise by the end of the movie, without those predictable paths being too predictable along the way.

The movie also needed to work as a standalone story that could accommodate a guest appearance by 77-year-old Leonard Nimoy as the original Spock, and his presence had to be logical and organic to the story or the movie would not have been made. That’s like juggling seven knives on a high wire, without a net, during an earthquake.

You may not be writing a reboot of a major studio-controlled franchise with 40+ years of canon to draw from and build upon, but lessons learned from studying the creative choices Orci & Kurtzman made in crafting this box-office smash can be applied in other screenwriting situations. For example, you may be writing a vampire movie (ugh, please don't). You'll want to respect and use the established lore of the genre while also giving it something new. Or werewolves, or zombies, or anything in an established genre (westerns, horror).

Writer/director Jonathan Levine faced similar questions when adapting Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies earlier this year. In it, zombies acquire memories of their victims when eating their brains. Would zombie fans accept this new conceit or revolt against it as an abomination of zombie canon? It's the same line Orci, Kurtzman, and Abrams had to tread.

Explore how they masterfully handled this and other everyday screenwriting techniques, such as writing a two-hander with co-protagonists who start as enemies then come together to battle the main antagonist, writing an antagonist who drives the story, writing a game-changing midpoint, writing toward a specific endpoint that is known in advance by the audience, and finding the best place to start your story through rewrites and trial and error. All this and more is examined in-depth in the brand new Star Trek ScripTipps screenplay study guide.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Will Gatsby Be Great This Time?

The first attempt to adapt the 1925 novel for the silver screen was a 1926 silent film that no longer exists. A 1949 remake with Alan Ladd still exists but the DVD is not in print.

Nearly fifty years after the book's publication, Truman Capote turned in a new screenplay adaptation. He was fired and his script was hastily rewritten by Francis Ford Coppola. The previous year, Coppola had won the Oscar for his screenplay adaptation of The Godfather, his second in that category, having taken home the same prize in 1971 for his screenplay adaptation of Patton.

The 1974 Gatsby remake starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. While it won 2 Oscars, for its costumes and music, Coppola's writing went unrecognized, though he was nominated five more times that same year. He received Best Picture and Original Screenplay nods for The Conversation and won Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay for The Godfather: Part II.

Set to dominate the box office this weekend, the new 3D Gatsby was co-written by its director Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. The pair previously collaborated on the Red Curtain Trilogy (Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge!, and William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet). Rouge was their highest-grosser, with $57 million, but R+J's take, adjusted for inflation, was $82 million. Gatsby brings the writing partners back together after a screen absence of 12 years. Luhrmann's last feature was 2008's Australia, while Pearce co-wrote 2010's Charlie St. Cloud and worked on a draft for a Dark Crystal sequel, The Power of the Dark Crystal, which has been suspended indefinitely.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Still Under Construction

Hi again. Not really sure how you got here, but feel free to look around while we continue putting this site together.

While you're waiting for the official ScripTipps launch, why not browse around the ScripTipps store? It's not fully stocked yet, but we've found some screenplays you might want to read in the mean time, as well as some of our favorite screenwriting books. Just click on the "Resources" tab in the menu bar above.

Go ahead. Try it. Don't be afraid.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Under Construction

Hi! Thanks for stopping by. We're not open for business yet. Please check back later. See you soon.