Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Amy Pascal is talking about why she pulled the plug on 'Moneyball' 5 days before it was set to shoot. You can read it over here.

Carson Reeves wrote an excellent post about the two scripts. You can read them

Based only on those two articles, I'm going to have to side with Pascal on this one.

Out of the big three, baseball is probably my least favorite sport to watch, but for some reason, I love baseball movies. The idea of this story, written by Steven Zailian, starring Brad Pitt, and directed by Soderbergh sounded darn near perfect (though somehow they needed to squeeze in Kevin Costner. How can you make a great baseball movie without him anymore?).

I'm usually not one to side with the studio exec. I actually have some fascination with stories about studio execs ruining movies (for a really good one, check out The Bitter Scriptreader's interview with Dan Callahan

Sounds like Pascal wanted what I wanted: 'Ocean's 11' meets 'Major League.'

Soderbergh wanted something more realistic. Nothing that didn't really happen with interviews of real people telling their stories.

But when it comes to baseball, I'm more a fan of fiction than reality.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Beaver

As part of the ScriptShadow challenge this week, I read "the Beaver" by Kyle Killen. Carson lists it as a dark comedy, and while it definitely dips into dark on many occasions, I had a hard time finding the comedy, which is strange in a script about a man who speaks through a hand puppet for the majority of the story.

I have to admit, I never really felt engaged by "the Beaver." A big part of that is that I never really connected with the main character Walter Black. The script starts with a montage of Walter and his family's life narrated by the Beaver's voice. Now I'm not one of those people that flat out says that voice over is lazy. Though I do admit that a lot of lazy writers use it. It can end up being completely pointless and shitty. Want an example? Go watch Heroes. That voice over at best is redundant and poorly written and sometimes even takes the moral ambiguity out of the story.

The opening voice over/montage in "the Beaver" is actually pretty well written. It catches us up to the situation of the Black family really quickly, but there in lies the problem. By page 4, Walter's packed, kicked out of his home, and I can't really see that as a bad thing. The Beaver even says that Walter's depression "is an ink that stains all who touch him. A black hole that swallows all who get near."

So, yeah, we see that Walter's clinically depressed, but we never see him when life was going well. We never see him as a good father, a loving husband, or a happy employee. We never know what was lost as Walter sunk into his depression, so I never felt like I was rooting for him to get better. All I did see was how Walter ruined the lives of those around him, so why should I want him back with his family?

Another thing we don't see is how his family fares while he's gone. Basically he moves out on page 4 and is back with his furry mouthpiece by page 12. Would their lives improve once his cloudy presence had gone? Worsened? Who knows.

For a script with such an unusual hook, everything from that point on feels so cliche. Everyone's lives improve, the company turns around, Walter becomes a self-help guru. I kept waiting for something else. Something besides the obvious straight line the script ran, but it never came. The only two things that really stuck out to me were 1) how Walter's oldest Porter dealt with his stress by pounding his head into the wall and 2) how Walter finally separated himself from the Beaver. Though both of those elements were really interesting but also totally out of tone with the rest of the script.

Far more interesting to me than Walter and his Beaver, was the B-story of his son Porter. The kid is desperately trying not to be his father. That story, too, swings the way of cliche as it focuses more on him selling papers and speeches and falling for the hot head cheerleader who has tons of emotional baggage.

The Final Say: while well written with a bunch of intriguing concepts, "the Beaver" gets drown out by obvious choices. It took one big chance and then went the easy route for rest of the ride.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dragging my feet

Patrick gave me notes on V.E.N.O.M. last Saturday afternoon. I forced myself to e-mail it to him on the 16th. If I hadn't, I would have spent forever tweeking it. I already passed several self imposed deadlines without giving him any pages, but I stuck to the 16th. Spent the day in Starbucks even through a bomb scare, and sent off the PDF just before midnight.

I squirmed for two weeks as I waited for him to read it and get back to me. Finally, we met up, got some BBQ and discussed the script.

Then... nothing.

Other than a few notes I took on the back of an envelope during a concert Sunday, I haven't put pen to paper. Hell, I planned on starting this blog Monday, and now on Thursday, I'm making my first post.

I don't know why I am dragging my feet. The notes Patrick gave me really good and overall quite positive. I mean, if there's a theme in feedback of wanting to see more of certain characters because they worked so well, you have to be doing something right.

I had such a good writing routine while I was finishing off the first draft, but as soon as I hit send, that all went to shit. Don't know why. It's so strange to get positive feed back on a screenplay, especially since the last two I wrote on my own were deemed "unsellable" by people who either do now or have in the past made their livings selling scripts. Apparently protagonists with no motivations or goals and that end up shooting up abortion clinics don't really go over well in Hollywood.

But tonight's the night. I know I've been saying that for the past few days. This time I really mean it. I'm going to Starbucks with a pen and a copy of the script and I'm not leaving until I have at least a solid plan on how I'm tackling this rewrite.

And I did finish my first blog post. That's a start.