Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Super Screenwriting Tips!

"[The director] knew that the heart of storytelling was to invest yourselves in the characters and the narrative. He never took his eye off of that. He never let the frosting of the sets and the design, even the special effects, overwhelm the story. And that's what he kept center stage. And that's why it was successful. If it was the other way around, it might have been a good trailer, but it wouldn't have been a good movie." - Peter Guber

Pop quiz, movie fans. Which superhero opus was Peter Guber talking about?

It wasn't Tim Burton's Batman (1989), which Guber produced. Not that that wasn't a good movie, too.

And it definitely wasn't this summer's Man of Steel. Great trailer moments, sure. Or as David Denby put it, "Endless declamation, endless violence." Film critic Keith Phipps said it offered "much spectacle, but little wonder." Brian Gibson calls it "self-suffocating grandiosity." And according to Matt Neal it's "a humourless, melodramatic mess of explosions."

Man of Steel wasn't universally bashed, but the classic Guber was referring to is 1978's Superman: The Movie, directed by Richard Donner.
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Richard Donner’s re-imagining of the comic book and kiddie show as an epic fantasy with biblical undertones made verisimilitude the template for all superhero movies that followed. The complex history of the writing, rewriting, and re-rewriting of the multiple versions of the two-part tent pole, are analyzed in this special double-length ScripTipps, uncovering valuable screenwriting tips which can be used to enhance any screenplay, big or small.

Let Superman teach you the secrets of writing strong character arcs and meaningful action sequences, telling stories visually, updating familiar genres with a new spin, avoiding and fixing plot holes when rewriting, and much, much more in this super ScripTipps screenplay study guide!

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Related article: A Brief History of Superman Movies

Friday, August 9, 2013

Gary Shusett

Aspiring screenwriters lost a valuable resource today. Gary Shusett, founder of the Sherwood Oaks Experimental College, passed away after a long battle with cancer.
I attended two of his events, both eye-opening experiences. For one of them, a small group of students were shuttled around to studios over three days to meet with Hollywood insiders in their offices.

The roster included producers, executives, agents, and managers responsible for such films as Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fly Away Home, About Schmidt, Julie & Julia, Working Girl, Midnight Cowboy, Blow Out, District 9, and a producer who was then in development with this year's The Great Gatsby.

I still keep in touch with many of the fellow classmates I met there, and it was through them that I discovered other great screenwriting resources, like the StoryBoard Development Group.

Gary was also a longtime fixture at Scriptwriters Network events. He even dropped in on some of the Scriptwriters Network writers groups to help troubleshoot their loglines and pitches, for free.

Gary served as associate producer on the Golden Globe nominated Paul Mazursky comedy Moon Over Parador starring Ricahrd Dreyfuss and Raul Julia. His brother, Ron Shusett, co-wrote Alien and Total Recall.

As Bill Martell put it, Gary was a character and he will be missed.