Saturday, March 29, 2014

Oculus Trailer

Really looking forward to this. I especially liked the sequence with the apple and the light bulb. Even though we see Karen Gillan pick up the apple, we know something isn’t quite right. When she takes that bite, our worst fears are confirmed aurally then visually. A little bit of suspense and dread really can go a long way...

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Babylon Fields

Fun Fact: Back in the day, NBC passed on The Walking Dead because the network didn’t want to do a zombie show. Well, Well, Well. Look who’s coming back to the zombie genre with hat in hand...

Formerly deceased residents of a small town attempt to resume their lives.

Babylon Fields was originally developed years ago for CBS, but the 2007 pilot never aired. Thanks to the power of the interwebs, you can check it out below:

Not your typical brain-eaters, more like ‘reverse-zombies,’ which seems to be the trend these days: In The Flesh, The Returned, and Resurrection. I’m surprised it got this far because CBS isn't exactly known for genre shows.

All in all, it wasn’t bad. Not as captivating as In The Flesh or The Returned. Aside from folks coming back from the dead, nothing else pulled me in. The acting was solid, but the characters and situations were a tad predictable -- 'cept for the off screen necrophilia. The set-ups weren't particularly strong either. A good pilot should leave you wanting for more.

I do like the casting for the new show (Virginia Madsen, Skeet Ulrich, Meagan Good) so far. Since the same creators are involved, it’ll be interesting to see the choices they’ll make in this incarnation.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Making I, Frankenstein

While in the midst of some podcast hunting on SoundCloud, I came across these interviews from an I, Frankenstein press junket.

Three different perspectives on the same material. Eckhart was under the weather during his interview, so there's not a lot to glean from his segment, but you get a sense of what attracted him to the part of Adam Frankenstein.

Grevioux has a pretty good attitude about the development process.Your script is going to be rewritten. Deal with it. Still, it must have been jarring to see all the changes. I think his original concept of Adam as a hardboiled private detective dealing with classic movie monsters in a noir-styled setting could have been fun.

Beattie had his personal take on the material and focused on elements that interested him. I can understand why he felt another Lakeshore movie featuring vampires and werewolves would be overkill at this point. There are countless mythical creatures just waiting to be introduced to movie audiences.

Interesting to see how the project came to be, the subsequent changes, and the final product. I, Frankestein's box office was a bit of a disappointment -- hey, it happens -- but I get the impression the concept might find life in video games and/or comics.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The World's End (Outline)

The World's End was one of my favorite movies of 2013 and as luck would have it, look what Simon Pegg tweeted today, a one page (first) outline of the script:

Click to enlarge

This is arguably more informative than the actual screenplay because we get to see the how and why of the story.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

2014 Nicholl Screenwriting Competition

Well, that time of the year is upon us again, the 2014 Academy Nicholl Screenwriting and dream crushing Competition is now accepting entries. Last year, I went Nicholl-free for the first time in a while. I’ve run out of things to tweak with the current script so it looks like I’ll be jumping into the fray with my supernatural thriller.

You know the drill:

Early deadline: 5:00 p.m. PT,  February 28; entry fee US$35
Deadline: 5:00 p.m. PT, April 10; entry fee US$50
Late deadline: 5:00 p.m. PT, May 1; entry fee US$65

Details can be found here:

When the notifications are sent out in August, I'll probably be shaking an angry fist the sky and cursing Greg Beal, but I still think it's the best bang for your buck when it comes to screenwriting contests. Good luck!

Friday, January 31, 2014


The mythical inhabitants of American forests are supposedly big, hairy and smelly but over in Norway, they're hot chicks with tails. Thale is a clever little fantasy/thriller about two crime scene cleanup guys who stumble upon a mysterious young woman in a secret laboratory...

Just when you think all the possibilities for low budget, cabin-in-the-woods stories have been exhausted, something like this comes along. There isn't much to spoil because the story itself is fairly simple -- running time is under 80 minutes. Some people will be bored to tears with the film's slow place, but I thought it helped build tension and pays off in Act Three. Ultimately, this is a nice calling card for the director and the visual effects folks. However, it's also a good example of a writer not settling for the usual B-movie suspects: aliens, bigfoot, zombies and the like.

Snagfilms now has it available on their site (for free) but I couldn't, for the life of me, get the embed code to work on blogger so you'll have to watch it over there.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Creature Features

Came across a fun little list from Mike Mendez, director of Big Ass Spider (2013),  the Top 5 Elements of a Great Creature Feature. It’s probably a little more geared towards writer/director types but some of his advice can be applied to plain ole screenwriters.

If I could tack on one more thing, it would be the importance of a good build-up. Suspense and imagination are your best special effects -- especially on low-budget horror scripts.  The tease of the creature is often more effective than the eventual reveal of a guy in a rubber suit or a fuzzy CG creation. I mean, sure, you could reveal the bat-winged, monkey-bird on page 10, but then what? Take a look at this:

The second I got a good look at the Creeper in Jeepers Creepers, the movie lost me a little bit. My rational brain could explain that it was simply a guy in a rubber mask. Cool design though...

While a lot of creature features leave very little to the imagination these days when it comes to marketing *cough*SyFy*cough*, the scripts themselves shouldn't be approached in the same manner.


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