A Gift – Two of My Favourite Screenwriting Blogs

So I feel like I left you guys out to dry with my last blog.  No warning or anyway to anticipate that I was slowing down on  the number of posts. I’m sorry! Here is a gift to give you something to read while I’m gone: two of my favourite screenwriting blogs.

1. Go Into The Story

Go Into The Story is the official blog of The Black List. This relationship is why this blog is so valuable.

Confused Justin Timberlake

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Confused? Context: The Black List is a list (shocking) of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Many scripts for some great films started on The Black List, including The Social Network and The Intimidation Game. This list is complied by surveying about 500 development executives on the best scripts they have read in the previous year.

Having this extensive list (see what I did there?) of contacts gives The Black List some incredible insight into why certain scripts are made into films. Scott Myers shares those details in his blog posts. So if you are looking to sell your script and the business side of Hollywood this blog is for you.

2. Flying Wrestler

If the first blog was all about the business of screenwriting, Flying Wrestler specializes in helping you craft the perfect script. It’s written by a Emmy and Golden Globe award winner, so you can be assured that he knows his stuff. All his posts are easy reads, mostly consisting of lists (like this one).

That was easy shrug

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That’s it! I hope you enjoy reading those blogs until I return.

Until Next Time,

Mr. Struggle

 

 

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A Gift – Two of My Favourite Screenwriting Blogs

Writing a Script for the International Audience

When convenient, I’m a man of my word. This is why I’m following-up from an earlier blog to share my experience using my new international approach to screenwriting. Here is how I failed.

I began by adapting my American politics script because the producer liked the overall concept. So instead of the protagonist being a U.S. Governor they are now the American Ambassador to the United Nations. It felt like the perfect change because the political beats of the story remain intact, but I can include Chinese characters.

After a few minutes of editing, my change felt more like I ate a month old sandwich – it seemed smart at first, but I soon realized I just made a terrible mistake. The problem was that I know nothing about the United Nations. This is my only exposure (shout out to Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros Ghali):

So there is no way I could accurately capture the complexity of international affairs, especially if Disney Land finally gets statehood because Disney is an aggressive litigator and I can’t afford the lawsuit. All joking aside, not understanding the United Nations was a huge problem because it made my work feel disingenuous.

This was the entire problem with adapting my writing style. I have lived my entire life in North America. This has exposed me to limited life experiences, which makes it difficult for me to create relatable content for an international audience.


“I have lived my entire life in North America. This has exposed me to limited life experiences, which makes it difficult for me to create relatable content for an international audience.”


Most of my exposure to the outside world is from movies and TV. China to me is Jackie Chan movies. This is so terrible because Jackie Chan isn’t even Chinese! He is from Hong Kong. How I felt when I learned that:

Chan knocks down chaser on bike

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As you can see, I need more exposure to the outside world. Until I booked my next trip to Shanghai, I’m going to stick to writing what I know: divisive American Politics and well-timed slapstick falls.

Until Next Time,

Mr. Struggle

 

 

 

Writing a Script for the International Audience

WTF Is International Appeal

I just met with a producer! A small fry, but at least he’s on the menu. Our meeting was going well. He bought me lunch, which makes me happy because I didn’t have to suffer through a leftover stew. Then we got to my scripts.

He rejected most of my pitches, but he’s ears perked up about one of my House of Cards inspired stories. I gave him an beat sheet (free tip: I like to keep them on hand to help seal a deal). He looked through it quickly and said it was really good!

Happy Christ Pratt

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He then paused and muttered these painful words: “hold on a second.”

Chris Pratt saying Noooo

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He gave the script one more read and passed on it. Shocked, I asked why his opinion changed. He told me the script lacked “international appeal” because it was set in America, had American characters and was about American politics.

Chris Pratt yelling I am not crying, okay!

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I’ve been rejected enough times, but that’s a new excuse. It goes against my entire writing philosophy of putting story-first and trying to make the best movie. Now my execution of this philosophy may be as flawed as a wrestler (not nicknamed “The Rock”) trying to transition into movies, but my intentions are always pure.

After our meeting, I Googled “Hollywood and international appeal.” To my surprise, he was right – Hollywood is now a global game.  If you want to maximize your box office returns, you need to make money overseas. So far in 2017, the top five grossing movies have made 65% or more of their box office revenues overseas.

The forefront of the global movement is China. The rise of the middle class has turned the country into a box office powerhouse. China now has more movie theaters than the U.S.A and its box office revenue is predicated to surpass the United States in 2017. One word: holy crap! I know that’s two words, but now you see how surprised I am.

So Hollywood has to release movies in China. Simple enough, right? Come on, you already know the answer. It’s not simple at all because the Chinese government restricts the number of foreign films allowed in the country. You better please the Chinese government if you want access to their market. Vox has a good explanation of how to do exactly that:

Not knowing this information burned me before, but now it is an opportunity to make my scripts more enticing to buyers. Moving forward, I’m going to include international and Chinese elements in all my scripts.

Need a location in my next action film? Shanghai it is! Need a foreign power as an enemy? The Netherlands haven’t done much for America lately. Hopefully these changes can help give me a leg up to sell my art in the business known as Hollywood.

Until next time,

Mr. Struggle

WTF Is International Appeal

Why the Best Picture #OscarFail Really Stings for La La Land

A little different blog today. Taking a break from the screenplay stories to share a thought about last night’s show.

Like many people, I spent Sunday evening watching (and live-tweeting #selfplug) the Oscars. 95% of it was a pretty standard, boring show.  Then Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway stepped onto the stage to deliver the award of the evening, Best Picture.

After what we thought was some showmanship by Beatty, La La Land was announced as the winner! The La La Land crew and cast stormed the stage to accept their award. They were ecstatic! They were celebrating! Then this happened:

Whoops! Moonlight was actually the winner of Best Picture and #OscarFail was born. This moment was awkward, shocking and really sucks for La La Land if you know the campaigning process for the Oscars.

Let me explain. In theory, Best Picture should go to the best movie of the year. However, this isn’t the case because it is all done by voting and people can be swayed and wooed.

This is why Oscar campaigning is so important. To win an Oscar, a film’s producer and studio must run ads, set up free screenings and hold fancy parties, lunches, brunches and dinners. Their goal is to get their film seen and loved by Academy voters. The video below does a great job explaining the campaigning process:

As the video mentioned, Oscar campaigns are expensive. The 2017 Oscar campaigns cost between $3 to $10 million. That’s more than the budget for Moonlight ($1.5 million)! They’re also a grueling process, lasting up to a year because studios want to make sure their film is in the best position to take home the gold.

Clearly, Oscar campaigning is insane. So imagine being the team behind La La Land. You’ve spent all that time and money trying to raise your film above the competition. Then for one fleeting moment your dream became a reality. You succeeded! Then, well, this moment again:

In context, this moment really stings for La La Land, eh?

Until Next Time,

Mr. Struggle

 

Why the Best Picture #OscarFail Really Stings for La La Land

Live-Tweeting the Oscars

The glitz, glamour and GOLD of the Oscars is tomorrow night (start time is 8:30 pm EST). To celebrate, I’ll be live-tweeting the night’s events. Get excited like Danny B:

Danny Boyle Jumps

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As someone who’s fashion-sense never left hammer pants, I don’t feel well-suited (gotta love puns) to comment on the red carpet. With that said, I do know movies! So expect witty banter, intrigue and shock as the actual award ceremony unfolds.

Follow my Twitter to watch in real time and use #StruggleOscars to join the conversation.

Once its all done, I’ll have a complete Storify of the night’s events! Enjoy and let the best (campaigned) movie win!

EDIT: Here is my updated Storify story: https://storify.com/MrStruggle/lets-struggle-through-the-oscars

See you tomorrow,

Mr.Struggle

Live-Tweeting the Oscars