A collection of links, fun and serious, on film and culture, to start the week, with a special focus on screenwriters’ blogs.
What’s So Special about Mirror Neurons?, by Ben Thomas (Scientific American)
“There’s something strange about the range of actions mirror neurons respond to. They don’t respond to pantomimes, or to meaningless gestures, or to random animal sounds. They seem specially tuned to respond to actions with clear goals – whether those actions are perceived through sight, sound, or any other sensory pathway.”
Blog link: Favourite Screenwriting Books, by Charles Harris
Blog link: Stand Back, I’m The Hero! or Three Rules For Television Characters, by Debbie Moon
“The central characters in television shows are the hardest characters to write. They’ve got to have enough depth to sustain an audience’s interest for multiple episodes, potentially for years, and yet be strong and eye-catching enough to create immediate empathy.”
Spit Takes: About Me and How to Talk Sh*t with Comedy Writers, by Stephany Folsom (ScriptMag)
Terminology and lingo from the comedy writers’ room.
It starts with an itch, by Alan Bennett (London Review of Books)
“Some plays seem to start with an itch, an irritation, something one can’t solve or a feeling one can’t locate. With People it was a sense of unease when going round a National Trust house and being required to buy into the role of reverential visitor. I knew this irritated me but, like the hapless visitors whom Dorothy Stacpoole, the former owner of the house, confronts as they are leaving, I still found it hard to say what it was I had expected to find and whether I had found it.”
Deer Father – A Short Film (Indiegogo)
Jacob, a state trooper, attempts to put a dying buck out of its misery, but in the process he finds that the deer is actually his reincarnated father. As the deer recalls his past life through surreal memories, Jacob must decide whether he can kill the deer or save his father.
Blog link: Making your script stand out, by Emily Blake (Bamboo Killers)
“My former manager told me once that she generally gets 10 queries a day. I know reps who get way more than that, and as you can imagine, most of them are terrible. It’s not enough to have a good script, you have to let the person reading your query WANT to read that script. She could be reading 30 queries in a row at the end of a very long day – what makes yours jump out at her?”
Blog link: On Being Rewritten, by Andrea Nasfell
“For a while I have been getting up the courage to write about something that no one really prepares you for in the screenwriting world – having your work taken away and rewritten by someone else. It’s always awkward, it’s usually painful, and as far as I can figure, it’s a fate that is unique to the film industry, and screenwriters in particular.”
Writers in Hollywood, by Raymond Chandler
The Atlantic Magazine 1945
“To the writing of his detective stories RAYMOND CHANDLER brings the experience and the skepticism of a newspaper reporter, the narrative gifts of a born storyteller, and a mastery of pungent American dialogue. His leading character, Philip Marlowe, is a professional detective who has held the spotlight thus far in four novels, all of which have been purchased by the movies. One of them, The Big Sleep, in which Lauren Bacall plays the lead, is soon to be released. In his screenplays as in his books, Mr. Chandler has scored a personal success, but he has done so without losing sight of the difficulties encountered by the creative writer in the studios. For this is the anomaly: the producers pay their authors large fees apparently for the purpose of disregarding their advice and their text.”
“HOLLYWOOD is easy to hate, easy to sneer at, easy to lampoon. Some of the best lampooning has been done by people who have never been through a studio gate, some of the best sneering by egocentric geniuses who departed huffily – not forgetting to collect their last pay check – leaving behind them nothing but the exquisite aroma of their personalities and a botched job for the tired hacks to clean up.”
Blog link: Five Ways To Kill Audience Satisfaction, by Jason Arnopp
“Here are five of the mental notes I’ve made over the years, while trying to work out why some stories leave you feeling instinctively dissatisfied. There’s no exact formula for making audiences happy, with that indefinable sense of ‘fiction fullness’, but we can certainly try to avoid these pitfalls…”
“Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.”