Protagonists mean prizes
It’s that time of year again, time to dust off or finish up your scripts for the Screenwriting Expo competition. Follow the link for all the blurbage:
Surprise – he’s still a douche!
Admit it, you are going to see this movie because the trailer somehow managed to convince you that Michael Bay had learned his lessons from the ultimate creative bankruptcy that was Transformers… whatever the last one was called. Two, or whatever.
You are going to see this movie because the scenes in the trailer set on the moon are kind of eerily beautiful. There is an almost contemplative quality to the images of astronauts discovering the remains of alien technology. What’s more, taken alone the historical twist the sequence gives to American motivations for carrying forward the Apollo program raised the left (or right) side of your mouth one millimeter.
Given the legacy of the Transformers series thus far, that single millimeter was so much more positive a reaction than you ever thought this trailer could evoke that your whole attitude to going to see it mysteriously changed. “If I was Michael Bay,” you thought, “I would have learned my lessons and tried to tell an actual story this time rather than give the audience two hours of giant space robots endlessly bitch slapping each other on a pyramid to no purpose whatsoever.”
Through the whole pre title sequence your little clenched… clenchedness will be relaxing by degrees. “This is kind of fun,” you will be thinking, despite a terrible makeup job on the wholly unnecessary JFK impersonator who turns up at one point. Maybe my trailer-mouth-millimeter was right after all…
And then the title card comes up and it reads: Transformers: Psych- I’m Still a Douche! And you have to sit through another two and a half hours of the most appallingly dull, story free, unendingly pointless pre-teen hyper violence ever forced onto a movie screen. Or leave, of course. Or just not go. I’d take option three.
Not only is the film boring and vastly insulting to the intelligence even of its core demographic of teenage boys, but it re-imagines moments of great historical trauma as unfunny comedy and throwaway spectacle. Chicago becomes the “ground zero” through which the legions of staggeringly uninteresting military minor characters fight after a battle cry of “let’s roll”. The Autobots’ spaceship blows up in a fiery duplicate of the Challenger explosion. (By the way Michael this is not poignant, it is simply one of many examples of you holding up a sign which reads: “I am an arse!”) And so it goes [sic]. It’s like Bay made a list of ‘cool stuff’ he wanted to see in a movie and then just went out and paid technicians to build the effects. Despite the credits, the film leaves you distinctly uncertain whether he even bothered with the optional intermediate step of writing a script.
This would feel like some kind of historical revisionism if the film actually had a purpose in revising history. As it has none, we are just meant to recognize the moments as they pass and go: “Oh that’s that thing, only not.” This is movie making so uninflected by ideas that the endless kinesis ends up feeling like the calm before the storm. We are waiting desperately for some – any – kind of creative let alone human engagement until it feels like the action has taken on the roll of the dialogue scenes in a porn movie without sex. All we are watching is filler between payoffs that never arrive.
When we do get human interaction it is played through a huge cast of cameo stars whose whole function seems to be to add their own scenery chewing excess to the rest of the visual un-spectacle in a desperate attempt to protect the fragile teenage audience from any single moment of humanity. The closest the movie comes to acknowledging human emotions – or at least glands – is in its extended and predictable leering at the body of the (terrible) female lead. Sadly this happens too near the start and millions of teenage boys will have to suffer another two hours in their seats with what the director clearly hopes will be a raging boner. I can’t recall ever seeing a film with so little reason to care about anyone or anything. Oh wait, I’m forgetting Transformers 2.
The only person who leaves the movie with any credit is Shia LaBeouf who clenches his teeth and gives a less than nothing part his full commitment. It’s not his fault that he ends up being a fart in a sexist windstorm.
“Kino movement has cells all over the world including Montreal, Paris, and London. We are pleased to announce its first event in SF!
Our first Kino short film night will be August 13th and will be open to public and especially everyone who is interested in showing their short films. A selection process will be made, but any good film submitted will be put on a list and shown at a future KINO SF event. The deadline for submission is august 6th. The best films will be shown at other Kino events all over the world.
We will also be hosting a 30 second film contest open to everyone on the night of the event. In order to participate you will have until august 12th to create a fictional piece.
For more info on how to submit you film or about KinoSF, just come to our fan page.
And don’t forget to like us on FB and follow us on twitter @kino_sf!”
For more info: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KinoSF/220533521303804
Here’s a link to a useful little piece from Script Magazine on how to get an agent if you want to be a TV Writer. Nothing new exactly but it’s pretty straightforward and gives basic hints and tips. I’m including it in the Baby Steps section because its all part of the wild and wooly experience of getting feet stuck in doors. There are lots more home grown Baby Steps posts in the works from lots of lovely alumni so keep watching this space. Until then, here’s some ground level info:
Radical philosopher Slavoj Žižek has made his mark on how we view and interpret film through his writings as well as through his documentary, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. Now Verso Books and The Church of London are sponsoring a competition to produce a short film on Žižek’s theory of the end times. The winning entry will be chosen by Žižek himself. The deadline is July 30.
Global capitalism is fast approaching its end times, says “the Elvis of cultural theory” Slavoj Žižek in his new book, Living In The End Times.
The upcoming zero-point is heralded by these ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse’:
1. ECOLOGY: Impending ecological catastrophes
2. ECONOMY: The global financial meltdown
3. BIOLOGY: The biogenetic revolution and its impact on human identity
4. SOCIETY: Social divisions leading to the explosion of protest and revolutions worldwide
But from the ashes of the coming crisis, is there opportunity for a new beginning?
To celebrate the launch of Living In The End Times in paperback, Verso Books and The Church of London are inviting filmmakers to submit short films which respond, in creative and innovative ways, to Žižek’s theory of the end times.
The film—up to ONE minute in total—can take any format: animation, drama, documentary, stop-motion or other.
The winner will be picked by Žižek himself!
The winning film will screen before an open lecture by Žižek in London and the winner will receive a selection of Verso’s back catalogue, curated by the subversive publishers themselves.
Entries can be uploaded to a video-hosting website, like YouTube or Vimeo, with a link sent to email@example.com by July 30.
For inspiration, visit the following links to see a few of the entries currently under consideration:
NOTE: Although filmmakers will retain ownership over their submissions, Verso Books and The Church Of London will have full permission to feature content across all their platforms.
I’ve just finished reading a useful little book by Linda Seger (you may know her from: Making a Good Script Great) focussing on show don’t tell and on the nose fail avoidance!
Now you know that, just like me, you have been guilty of both of those crimes at some point in your writing – I’m looking at you, The Entire Class. That’s why you could do a lot worse than to check out: Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath.
Usually when we think of subtext in screenwriting we mean that characters don’t always speak their minds, or rather that their feelings and motivations are often revealed around or ‘beneath’ their words and not in their literal meaning. We can say “I love you” and not mean a word of it just as we can comment on the weather and have it be, in context, the most profoundly romantic statement possible. Seger begins by exploring the power of subtext in dialogue through a range of examples from classic as well as modern movies but she is interested in the whole range of human and cinematic expression.
To this end she considers the storytelling power of gestures, body language, behavior patterns and decision making, but also at the use of metaphor and what we film studenty types would call mise en scene. She ends with a short chapter on subtext in different genres which is intriguing but could have used further development. Otherwise this is a smart, clear, concise and generally helpful little book. The whole thing will take half a day to read. Perfect for one of those foggy San Francisco summer mornings. Worth a look for any screenwriting student.
Just a little something for all of you struggling to make the adjustment.
As I’m sure most of you already know, The Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley runs imaginative screening programs all year round. Next month they will be featuring the work of Bertolucci and Skolimowski amongst others, but what caught my eye was a short series, Going South: American Noir in Mexico. There will be a few obvious choices like the great Touch of Evil and Out of the Past, but also a rare opportunity to see lesser known films such as Ride the Pink Horse directed by and starring Robert Montgomery from a Ben Hecht script and Anthony Mann’s The Great Flamarion with Erich von Stroheim.
Do yourselves a favor and take a look:
Good news for the film society and for the future of indie exhibition in San Francisco today as SFFS announces it has signed a lease on a new cinema space:
“The San Francisco Film Society and New People today announced a historic signing that will enable the Film Society to offer its acclaimed exhibition, education and filmmaker services programs and events on a daily year-round basis for the first time in the organization’s storied 54-year history. Beginning in September, San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema will open its doors in the supremely stylish state-of-the art 143-seat theater located in the ultra-contemporary New People building at 1746 Post (near Webster) in Japantown.”
For more, follow the link below.