Monday, June 27, 2011

On Second Thought...

I decided that I wouldn't start querying until after the Nicholl quarter-finalists are announced — which is only about a month away. Mentioning my success in genre contests didn't appear to increase read requests. A well-crafted query letter, minus the awards, probably would have fared the same. In fact, I did get a few requests just off my logline.

However, a solid showing in one of the more well-respected contests carries more weight than say placing in Evil Eddie's Screenwriting Extravaganza. As much as I'd love to make the Nicholl quarter-finals, a top 10-15% finish is perhaps respectable enough to mention in a query. It certainly can't hurt.

Now I haven't put all my hopes and dreams on contests this year. I've been playing around with youtube. More and more filmmakers are using it as a calling card. There's a strong possibility that I'll try that route. Nothing too elaborate, but strong enough to get my concept across. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky...

Still in rewrite mode with the current supernatural thriller. I lopped off a big reveal at the end of Act II and planted it earlier in the story. Hard to say when I'll be finished, but I'm anxious to get it out there. The concept is less niche than my last effort. In terms of querying, I'll have a lot more options.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Teen Screams

Meet MTV's Teen Wolf and ABC Family's The Nine Lives of Chloe King. Nice to see the cable channels trying out some genre fare. One is a re-imagining — I hate that word — of the popular Michael J. Fox film from the 80s; the other is based on a series of YA books. The jury's still out on both shows, ratings have been okay, but they already seem like smarter plays than last summer's Gates (ABC). The adults have been relegated to the background, while the teens are front and center.

Nothing especially groundbreaking in terms of story: being a teen with super powers can be cool and suck at the same time. I'll catch a few more episodes before passing judgment though. In the meantime, here's a pretty good interview with Teen Wolf Executive Producer Jeff Davis.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Vanishing on 7th Street

I've come to the conclusion that I enjoy the concept of a contained thriller far more than the finished product. I might find the occasional gem like Splinter or [REC], but that's after sifting through a tons and tons of forgettable films. I’m always getting snookered by some cool-sounding premise, seemingly unable to learn my lesson.

Meet my latest regret, Vanishing on 7th Street. A group of strangers struggle for survival after an inexplicable darkness begins to prey on the living. This sounds cool!!! Sure, there were some obvious red flags, namely Thandie Newton and Hayden Christensen. I’m not a huge fan of their work, but the concept beckoned me like a ship sailing towards the beautiful maiden singing on jagged rocks.

The first twenty minutes are extremely effective at building tension. It paints a vivid picture of a desolate city littered with abandoned cars and empty clothing — the darkness only has a taste for human flesh. It’s somewhat reminiscent of 28 Days Later and (probably a little Left Behind). There’s a fantastic scene where a bewildered Rosemary (Newton) wanders into an Operating Room. But then... the story just kind of settles into familiar and uninspired territory.

Nothing of interest happens after that. Now I don’t mean that characters sit around and stare at the camera for the rest of the film, because they don’t. The usual stuff: someone’s hurt, they have to find X, etc. But does the film make an attempt to address some nagging questions like: WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!? WHAT DOES IT MEAN!? Aside from a few references to the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island and the mystery of CROATOAN, nope. And that can be fine, as long as we have interesting characters. Not the case here. Barely fleshed out. Weak arcs. Which is odd, because based on the audio commentary with Director Brad Anderson, he wanted to focus on the characters and not the mystery. Something about how each chooses to deal with death... I guess. The performances are fine and the effects solid. Just wasn’t for me. Your mileage may vary.


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