Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Contest Alert: Austin Film Festival

Got my annual call for entries from the Austin Film Festival the other day. Their screenplay competition has an impeccable reputation and industry awareness, but my werewolf script didn’t fare too well when I entered a few years back so I usually pass. I know, I know, it’s all subjective but [whine] that same script made the finals and semi-finals of reputable genre contests and received two positive reads from Nicholl!![/whine] I’ve been reluctant to take another shot... until now.

“Due to an increasing demand by our industry judges, we’ve created a new horror award category for the Screenplay Competition. This category is open to any feature horror script including dark suspense, thriller, sci-fi and macabre themes.”

Austin has always had a genre category, but I like the new emphasis on horror. Not sure if my odds will be any better though.  Check out the details here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Impending Doom

 


I’m really enjoying the heck out of FX’s new espionage drama The Americans. Set in the 80s, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys star as Russian spies posing as an all-American married couple. The pilot had a great cinematic quality and pacing that grabbed me from the start. The third episode ("Gregory") had a terrific scene last week, where a character thinks they’re going to have a happy ending, but there’s this (figuratively) black cloud looming above. While everyone is saying all the right things, you just know this person is doomed. It was fascinating to watch it play out. Instead of punctuating the scene with garrotte around the neck, a muffed scream, or a gunshot, the character cheerfully gets into a van. The camera lingers on the two stars as they wrestle with what they've just done. It takes a lot of trust on the part of the writers to let the actors emote and not force a few words out of their mouths. One of the pitfalls of some newbie writers is an overdependence on dialogue. Characters say exactly what’s on their minds, or respond verbally to everything going on around them. It might be a good exercise to try out one of those elephant-in-the-room scenes...


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do No Harm Axed!


A brilliant neurosurgeon who has to battle his own alter-ego so that he can live a normal life.  

Not as compelling as BBC’s Jekyll, but certainly watchable. I am surprised that NBC went this route after similarly-themed Own Worst Enemy fizzled a few years back.

The marketing could have been stronger. After you get past the Jekyll & Hyde stuff, what kind of show are viewers dealing with? Medical procedural? Crime drama? Thriller? Viewers want a clear sense of what they’ll be getting every week. On the other hand, the marketing folks can only work with what they’ve been given. The “all of the above” approach to the concept probably contributed to the muddled advertising. I don’t understand the image of Ian's face in Jason's hands. Is that supposed to be scary?

I hope the produced episodes eventually find their way online or on SyFy...

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