Or, “Three Ways to Collaborate on a Screenplay.”
A lot of people offer advice to screenwriters. We don’t. We write scripts in-house, produce our own stories, and provide services to film production companies. So, screenwriters are not our target market.
So far, apart from a few student projects where working as part of a team was part of the grade, I tend to write alone. I’m not looking for a writing partner, and unless I were hired to work as part of a team I don’t know if I’d work with one.
However, if you do write screenplays, and you have found your writing partner, I can tell you what seems to work for others.
- 1. Taking turns.
- I found this one reading Joe Eszterhas’s autobiography. He did this with a friend and said it was a lot of fun. The resulting film wasn’t one of his biggest hits, but oh well. Taking turns is as simple as it sounds: One writer writes one draft, then sends it to the other writer for the next draft, bouncing it back and forth until they’re both happy with the final result.
- 2. Alternating scenes.
- I also read a book by two comedy writers whose movies I enjoy, called “writing movies for fun and profit.” I laughed at Ben Garrant and Thomas Lennon’s films (the Pacifier, Night at The Museum, even Balls of Fury), but their scripts were much better than that book. Some jokes just have to be performed to make sense, I suppose.
Anyway, since the book is mostly written tongue in cheek (their films grossed a billion worldwide perhaps, but they’ve only seen a tiny fraction of that), I can’t be sure that this is really their working method, but it might work. First, you sit together in a room and rack your brains until you come up with an outline. Then, each writer writes a scene for part of that outline. They claim the outline is the hard part. After you’ve written the odd scenes and your partner the even scenes, you switch and polish off the other writer’s work.
- 3. Lyrics and rhythm.
- Teachers of music composition often express doubt that creative collaboration is possible. When confronted with great collaborators, they assume one artist wrote the lyrics and the other composed the melody, or something like that.
This can work in musicals, as illustrated in Topsy Turvy, and sort of reflects the way the famous 1930s Wizard of Oz was written. With a non-musical script, it’s a little more tricky. But, it can be done. French films have two kinds of writing credits, one for the storyline or treatment, and one for the writer who does the dialogue.
Now, before you approach me or anyone else with one of these, consider that all work best if you know your writing partner well, or if you have an existing working relationship with the writers. Do you share the same taste in films and stories? Do you have a story that you both want to tell in the same way? If you’re not on the same page, it probably won’t work.
Also, unless you’re both loaded, you’ll probably need some money to sustain yourselves while writing, or extra patience while your partner tries to find time to write. The reality is multitasking celebrities usually get ghostwriters to write for them, and even full-time screenwriters would normally take 3 months, 6 months, or even a year to complete a script. The mythical stories about someone writing a draft in three days leave out all the months that went into preparing that first draft and the additional months that went into writing the more careful second draft.
We’re growing tired of remakes. Some rehashes claim to be better than the original, but we’re not sure “better” is the right word.
Do we need another Karate Kid, another Dr. Doolittle, another Ghostbusters, another Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or another Steel Magnolias? What was wrong with the first film?
(The second Karate Kid was okay, but “Pick up your coat” is incredibly lazy compared to “wax on, wax off.”)
However, some remakes add something, and in some ways improve upon the original. A few, in fact, are so good that we sometimes think that the remake is the original. Continue reading “5 Remakes that pass for originals”
For most, Easter is a wonderful time of year. Schools (and even many employers) are closed, so families of all religions can celebrate together. Some paint boiled-eggs, then hide them for children to find. Others use chocolates (or even toys) in place of boiled eggs. In any case, they are hidden in places that aren’t obvious, but for obvious reasons aren’t too hard to find.
Children then seek out these treats, which they enjoy and share. This is called the Easter Egg hunt.
When children look for the eggs, they come equipped with baskets. Though some make it competitive, organizers usually ensure that there are enough eggs for everyone. Sometimes we even limit what each child can gather.
The spirit of Easter is about giving and even sharing, not competition. (Although there are sports competitions that sometimes accompany the hunt.) Continue reading “Easter Eggs.”
Walter Murch, yes the Walter Murch, travelled all the way to Aberystwyth to take questions on his film, Apocalypse Now.
Okay, so Murch was only the sound stylist, right? An editor, not a director, star, screenwriter or even a producer. Producers take home the best picture award, directors get to be thought of the auteur, actors get famous, screenwriters can say they thought it all up, but without people working below the line there’s only so much you can do.
Continue reading “Apocalypse Now Redux: review”
Ptara Ltd has a strict policy of respect for creative integrity and intellectual property. By using our services, content, and/or any of our websites, you agree to abide by this policy. Continue reading “Creative integrity and intellectual property policy”
Not everyone agrees with the academy results. Rather than predicting who would win the big awards, we’ve decided to wait for the elites to pick their winners and then list the films that we enjoyed the most. Continue reading “Our top picks for 2017”
Mountains out of molehills
First published on Social Media: Mar 1, 2016
I had many titles for this post. The ass-u-mers, The Bore Who Cried Adolf, A Pipe is just a Pipe, but most of them were, well, a bit hyperbolic.
Anyway, take a look at the image above for a few seconds, and register in your head what it is.
Done that? Good, now scroll down so you can’t see it.
Done that too? Good, now get out a piece of paper and a pencil and see if you can draw the image from memory. This isn’t a test of artistic skills, just see if you remember what the image was of.
Have you finished with that? How well did you remember the image? Continue reading “Mountains Out of Molehills”
If you ask us the price of producing a one minute film, sorry, you can’t multiply that by 100 to make a hundred minute film. As the project gets bigger, things get more complicated. It’s like comparing a shed and a skyscraper.
You have to take into account the one reel rule.
So, what is this one reel rule?
Continue reading “The one reel rule”
There are many great films about entrepreneurship, and the importance of a great team. Two of my favourite are the first Ghostbusters (1984) and the first Cool Runnings (1993). I haven’t seen the remake of Ghostbusters, I’m not a real fan of remakes.
Now, here’s a little game: Which of these are you? Continue reading “Which Ghostbuster are you?”
At Ptara, I directed two microbudget feature films. Make that nanobudget.
One had a crew of two (excluding the three actors, who also crewed, and a few kids who helped out on sound one day), and the other was basically me editing a large variety of footage to make it coherent. There were challenges in both, and everyone learned a lot. And, what these films lack in production values is made up for in performance and storyline.
By contrast, Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” had a budget that was about 1000 times either of my films. He worked with a much more expensive kit and a more experienced cast and crew. Yet, “The Room” was filled with continuity errors, bad acting, and an incoherent plot.
Continue reading “The Disaster Artist (review)”