Fantastic news – The Hitman’s Cookbook, a screenplay I wrote with Gabe Dowrick, is a finalist in the prestigious US screenwriting competition, Script Pipeline. Just 20 of us remain standing from 3500 entries. Top 1%. Winners announced in August. Woohoo!
Fingers crossed for the last round of judging. One of the previous winners, Killing Season, was recently made with Robert De Niro and John Travolta. Another former winner was Snow White and the Huntsman. Who knows what could happen next..?
More great screenwriting ‘do and don’ts’ from that crazy film reviewer.
Part 1 of 9
You can watch the remaining gems here.
Robert McKee’s book, Story, is essential reading for aspiring screenwriters. You can also learn from the insightful and hilarious Mr Plinkett. Watch his 70 minute review of Stars Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace.
Part 1 of 7
Watch the remaining six parts /Film. It’s fantastic!
I ride a bicycle (a push bike, not a Harley!) and catch public transport every day. In that time, I actively think about our characters and the plot. Three years ago I also discovered some fantastic podcasts to supplement my musings. These are my favourites. Most of them are film related. They’re all available FREE on iTunes. You can also DONATE a small amount which I’m sure they really appreciate:
- Creative Screenwriting Magazine (Q&A series)
- USC School of Cinematic Arts (Q&A series)
- Filmspotting (film reviews)
- /Filmcast (official podcast for /Film: www.slashfilm.com, film reviews, insightful chatter)
- Meet the Filmmaker (Q&A series)
- Dr Karl on Triple J (great ideas for Science Fiction!)
- ABC Culture and Society (lecture series)
I’ve learnt more about screenwriting and directing from the Creative Screenwriting and USC series than I learnt from film school (Robert McKee’s story and some of Syd Field’s books are also invaluable). In these podcasts, the writers reveal the secrets of their journey – first break, getting an agent, surviving production, securing the next job, etc. Great career tips. They also talk about their unique approach to creating characters and stories. Check ‘em out.
There are many motivations for why writers write. Here are two that relate to me:
1) Some filmmakers write for the longer term goal of directing their own story – ‘Reluctant Writer/Passionate Director’; and
2) Some filmmakers write for the love of writing – ‘Passionate Writer’.
I used to be a Reluctant Writer/Passionate Director. I’m currently a Passionate Writer/Passionate Director. If I could write full-time, I can imagine myself evolving into a Passionate Writer.
Passionate Writers often complain about the Reluctant Writer/Passionate Director. But they sometimes miss the point. I’d happily direct a script written by another writer and adopt the role of Passionate Director Only. But I find myself in the same quandary as many colleagues – I haven’t encountered a feature script, written by someone else, that I connect with. Therefore, first time directors often write themselves a job because the best scripts go to Steven Spielberg. That is, write yourself into a directing gig. That’s how I began writing. Then I began to discover my love for writing. Sure, it wasn’t love at first sight. More like two strangers cautiously developing a friendship first. Then it evolved into something deeper. I used to hate sitting down at the computer. Writing used to be a ‘means to an end’ so I could direct a story that I felt a connection with. But now I get anxious if I’m not writing.
It’s been five weeks since I stopped writing to focus on producing The Hitman’s Cookbook. And it’s killing me. I miss the rhythm. I miss the challenge and satisfaction of putting words on the screen. Last night I jumped back into Final Draft (screenwriting software) to get my fix. It’s a large scale Science Fiction/Action feature screenplay that Gabe and I began last year. In the tradition of Armageddon, Enemy of the State and The Matrix and 2012. It’s the type of big budget script we’d like to sell in the US as Passionate Writers Only. But that’s for a later date and a few more drafts down the line…
Now, back to producing The Hitman’s Cookbook!
Recently my writing partner, Gabriel Dowrick, and I had a discussion that became a turning point for our filmmaking aspirations.
Everyone knows that a screenplay is the blueprint for the production of a film. But a screenplay can rarely attract an audience unless the film is produced.
Yes, we can share our stories if we adapt them for other mediums (eg. Book, play, live reading, etc). But we want our screenplays to come alive on screen! We’re captivated by the characters in The Hitman’s Cookbook – Angelo, Frank, Haley and Hugo. These characters have entertained and motivated us during the writing process. Not surprisingly, we don’t want these engaging characters to remain locked in a drawer. That’s why we’re making this film. We want to bring these characters to life. And we want these characters to entertain Australian and international audiences. It’s going to be a hell of a ride to get there but it’s also going to be fun!
Bring. It. ;)
UPDATE: Bring it on… with new character names. Only the name, ‘Hugo’, remains. For now.