Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alone with Her

Image is everything. Here's a film that takes a familiar premise and presents it in a clever manner: we see the story entirely from the POV of several spy cams — most are placed inside the home of the victim (Ana Claudia Talancon) by her stalker (Colin Hanks, who gives an absolutely chilling performance). It's a nifty presentation that makes the story seem fresher, but also doubles as an incredibly creative way to handle the obviously limited budget.

Initially, Stalker Doug seems content with just watching the lovely Amy play with her little doggie, undress and take showers. But voyeurism can only take your so far, so he attempts to insert himself into her life — "hilarity" ensues.

Exceptional presentation, some strong performances... but a terribly predictable plot. The story beats are almost identical to every crazy stalker flick you've ever seen. And that's unfortunate, because writer/director Eric Nicholas, really might have had something here. I remember a recent spec sale about cops having to solve multiple murders and the only pieces of evidence were several video cameras found at the crime scene. Maybe that script got it right...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Contest Alert!

I always mention this contest and never enter, but things might be different this year...


The New York Television Festival and Fox Broadcasting Company have teamed up to offer aspiring TV writers the opportunity to win $25,000 and a development deal with FOX!

Additionally, the 25 finalists will receive NYTVF designation as 2011 Official Artists and be invited to the New York Television Festival, held in NYC in September, 2011.

Enter the 4th Annual FOX-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest and submit your script for an original half-hour comedy series. 25 Finalists will have their scripts evaluated by FOX for a possible development deal with the network and one winner will receive $25,000 and a development deal. Scripts must be entered by uploading them in a PDF format on the NYTVF upload page, which can be found here beginning April 4, 2011. The submission period will open at noon Eastern Time (ET) on April 4, 2011 and will close at noon ET on April 18, 2011. All submissions must be uploaded during this time period, without exception. The contest will stop accepting entries when this period elapses or when the Festival receives 1,500 script entries, whichever comes first.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Writing

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

This is one of those intended posts that got lost in the ether somewhere in 2010. The recent news about The Stand and Pet Cemetery remakes is what jogged my memory. I'm a longtime fan of his work and the book is a terrific listen — got it on audio. King gives a detailed account of how he became a successful writer, kicked a nasty addiction problem and recovered from that devastating, near-fatal car accident.

There's no magic bullet to success, no secret formula to be found, just hard work and a bit of luck — his wife Tabitha pulled an unfinished Carrie manuscript from the trash and encouraged him to work on it.

One my favorite parts of the book is a little exercise he takes the reader through. You start off with a fairly generic plot, and then twist it until it becomes something unique, or at least not so run-of-the mill. It took me a couple of stubborn years to realize that ideas are a dime a dozen. I kept searching for "the one..."

Anyone can Google the weird news story of the day and dream up an idea for a script. Heck, I do it three times a week on Twitter for fun. But can you turn it into something that stands out from countless writers with the same exact idea? That's your true challenge. Execution is King — pun partially intended.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Terra Nova

This looks expensive. I read somewhere that 10 million dollars had been spent before anything was shot — okay, ridiculously expensive. The promo makes it seem like a mix of Jurassic Park, Avatar, Primeval and a pinch of Lost. Nice job of casting. Will Terra Nova be able to deliver high-level effects/stunts on a weekly basis and not break the bank? *shrugs* My guess is that the dinosaurs will mostly be heard and not seen (ala Smokey on Lost). I wish there was more focus on the characters. The promise of dino action will get some viewers to tune in, but it's the characters that'll keep them coming back. Although the concept seems better suited for a mini-series or feature length film, I'm not one to bet against Steven Spielberg.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Good News. Bad News.

The good news is that I discovered a flaw in my old script over the weekend, and I owe it all to Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I was planning to critique Percy's flimsy third act when it suddenly occurred to me that my screenplay suffered from the same problem: a protag with victory that doesn't feel completely earned. The conflict is almost entirely external. It's very easy to get caught up in a big action sequence and lose your way. Gonna have to take a long hard look at Act III and figure some things out.

The bad news? What took me so long!? This flaw has been staring me in the face since like forever. Screenwriting: easy to learn, hard to master. Sticking a script in a drawer for a month or two, really helps with the objectivity when the time comes for the inevitable rewrite.

My current supernatural thriller isn't quite there yet, but I'm still hoping it'll be ready for the Nicholl Fellowship.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


Way before Andrew Lincoln had a pesky zombie apocalypse to deal with on The Walking Dead, he was a skeptical professor writing a book about a kooky lady (Lesley Sharp) who claimed she could communicate with the dead. This brilliant, short-lived U.K. series had a much different take on the TV psychic than we're used to seeing. There's very little chance of you mistaking Alison Mundy with Allison DuBois (Medium) or Melinda Gordon (Ghost Whisperer).

Alison's haunted by the ghost of her OCD mother, while exhibiting the same disorder as she tries to help others in need. Basically, she *might* be psychic or crazy. There's also an excellent chance that she's a little bit of both. I got hooked after catching a few episodes during a marathon on Chiller.

It seemed as if the writers relished leading the audience down long, dark corridors and into the vault where television taboos are usually kept under lock and key. You can get a sense of that from a snippet of the pilot I found on youtube.

Creepy, huh? Unfortunately, last time I checked, the DVD boxset (14 episodes total) was only available for region 2 players. I'm surprised someone hasn't tried to do a U.S. version yet.


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