Thursday, September 30, 2010

Perfect Creature Script



It seems like yesterday when I first blogged about Perfect Creature. Actually, it was way back in 2007... three years ago. I had fully expected to be plucked out of screenwriting obscurity at this point. Making seven-figure script sales and a long list of expletives at the ready for the hapless newbie who dared to ask for a script read. But I'm okay with the lack of progress. Persistence... something, something... where was I again? Oh, yeah. The script has finally made its way onto the net. Check it out at horrorlair.com.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Summer Rap

I meant to do quick wrap of some summer TV earlier, but I got more than a little side-tracked. Even though Noel Clark's Triangle Challenge ended a few weeks back, I aim to finish what I started. Anyway, here goes:


The Gates



The supernatural teen love triangle wore on me a bit, but the other storylines held my attention. With the likes of True Blood, Twilight and yet another Underworld movie on the horizon, viewers are probably experiencing vampire/werewolf fatigue at this point. Although the ratings weren't huge, they were fairly stable. Hardly groundbreaking, but watchable. Things might have been more interesting if the focus was on other supernatural creatures. I'll never understand why a limited run series would opt for cliffhangers instead of giving loyal viewers closure. It makes me less likely to pick up the DVD. Who knows if it will be back next year. We'll likely get repeats on Chiller or SyFy.


True Blood



Started off strong, but didn't deliver a strong enough payoff. The whole season was underwhelming and unfocused. Too much stuff with Jason and the Hillbilly Were-Panther People, Sam and his trashy shape-shifting relatives, Arlene and the baby, etc. I'll admit, the stuff with Russell was fun, but the previous season did a better job of tying the various subplots together. Maybe it's a set up for things to come.


Persons Unknown



Missed a bunch of episodes and never got back on track. I hear the finale didn't answer a lot of "burning" questions. Why am I not surprised?

Haven



I lost interest after a couple of episodes. However, I caught the last few and they weren't half bad. There was a Stephen King reference that made me chuckle. Sometimes the phenomena is downright goofy. But character stuff makes it worthwhile. Curious to see where it's headed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Event



What's your theory?






Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Grudge 3



I'm a big fan of Toby Wilkins' Splinter and was eager to see what he would do at the helm of the third installment of the Grudge films. I enjoyed the first one, but absolutely hated the poorly constructed sequel. Wilkins had managed to create some interesting characters and suspense in a simple tale about a group of people terrorized at a gas station by a monstrous parasitic organism, so the Grudge franchise seemed like a great fit.

The Grudge 3 is one of the better looking straight to DVD features you'll ever see. Operating at half the cost of the original, which was $10M, the production values don't miss a beat. They also did a surprisingly effective job of making Bulgaria look like Chicago. And although the cast consists of mostly unknowns — with the exception of Marina Sirtis, the acting is pretty solid. There's only one small problem. No real scares...

Horror fans can be incredibly forgiving. They can excuse bad dialogue, bad acting and even a shaky story, but don't promise scares and not deliver. As much as I had problems with The Grudge 2, at least there were some tense moments. This time around, the attacks by the ghost lacked creativity and suspense — one looked like it was lifted directly from The Ring.

Here's the thing, the audience knows Mr. X is going to die, but they don't always know when or how. It's our job to keep them on their toes. Sometimes folks get too caught up in the kill, when it's the build-up that should be their main focus. This isn't about budget either. Suspense can your best special effect. I'm not sure who's at fault here, the writer or director. Both would probably disagree, since the film went on to gross $38M.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Made You Look

And the award for the most misleading trailer of 2009 goes to...

Whiteout!

Seriously, doesn't this:



Make you think you're getting something a lot like this:



I know the Marketing Department's job is to get butts in the seats by any means necessary, but that was downright evil. They're not even in the same genre! Based on its performance at the box office, moviegoers weren't fooled by the deceptive trailer -- that and the fact that it simply isn't a very good film. The Thing is a sci-fi classic, while Whiteout is yet another forgettable graphic novel adaptation with a paint-by-numbers plot, set in atypical location. And why does it seem as if Hollywood is giving movie deals to just about anyone with a graphic novel these days?

Obviously, comics are vastly superior visual aids than a plain .pdf of a spec screenplay. But a comic book panel does not equal storyboard, nor does niche fanboy enthusiasm automatically translate into mainstream appeal -- *cough* Scott Pilgrim *cough*. Still, the suits seem a little more receptive to comic book properties. Here’s an illuminating '09 interview from Creative Screenwriting with the guys behind 30 Days of Night. Originally, it was screenplay that could not find any takers. I'm not quite there yet, however, I have been looking at comic book scripts. The world probably isn't ready for my mediocre drawings, but places like Dark Horse Comics will accept scripts. Maybe after another batch of querying...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Golden Ticket

Got a letter from the Austin Film Festival today. Aside from a small note of encouragement, my script didn't get very far in the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting Competition. Still, I felt pretty good about my chances with Austin. They had about 2,000 fewer entrants than Nicholl and include a genre category. So I open my letter and ...



Okay, maybe it wasn't *that* harsh. But you get idea. I only made it past the first round...

*shrugs*

I was hoping for a few contest placements/wins to pad my query letters, but alas, no such luck. Nobody said this was going to be easy. But I think it’s also important to be realistic. If a script keeps striking out, then maybe it’s the script (or the writer). I can’t remember where I heard this, but some ideas are doomed before FADE IN. There's a lot of truth in that. Honestly, I don’t think that’s the case here. There are some fantastical elements, but the story has broad appeal — execution could be sharper. I’m going to continue pushing it with queries, but at the same time, work on other projects.

P.S.: The letter is the automatic kiss of death. Semi-finalists get phone calls, but I felt like some Kanye-styled rambling.

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