Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reversal Rollercoaster Ride!

Ever seen a movie and thought: This is SOOOOOOOOOOO mundane? You can tell where every scene heads and you can predict the outcome? Can we say BORING?!?!? I hate movies like that! UGH!

The screenwriter probably is very good at what he does. The problem is REVERSAL.

A reversal is that part of the scene where you go, “Oh my GOD! I never saw that coming!”

A great reversal is in THE DEPARTED. Leonardo Di Caprio’s character has worked and worked on nailing the bad guy, Matt Damon. He finally has him in his control and they’re on an elevator. When the elevator door opens, BAM! Leo’s shot in the head! I don’t know about you, but I NEVER could have predicted that! And I love the movie for that. It completely changed the tone of the movie! And, if that wasn’t enough…here comes another reversal…Matt Damon’s friend is the one that saved him. Matt thanks him and BAM! He shoots his friend! If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s highly recommended. By little ol’ me.

Reversals add a depth to your script. It shows you aren’t contained in a pretty little box and you actually think outside it. You have innovative, new, and unique ideas.

Have you ever seen Shutter Island? Another FANTASTIC example of reversal…all the way to the very last scene. Amazing! And one of my favorite movies of all time, now.

Look at it this way: the more twists on a rollercoaster, the better the ride, right? Same thing here. Your audience, your reader, has committed to spend time on your “ride”. Give them the twists, turns, and drops that make a ride so great! Make it worth their while! Because…

…if the reader loves the ride, your chances are much better for your script to find its way into the hands who can hook up with your vision, see the movie posters, the taglines, the merchandise, and hot dog! You’re off and running!

Reversals. Your script needs them. It’s what separates a good script from a great one.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Got A Pat On The Back!

As you all should know, Will Akers, author of Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways To Make It Great, is my mentor. I continue to help him on projects, and he in turn, helps me on mine.

Recently, I outlined a new screenplay I'm working on. I believe it's a fresh idea, but I needed some help on opening it. I had a lot of fade ins and outs at the beginning and consulted him on how to write it.

"Email me your pages," he said.

I did. 

The next day, this showed up on his blog:
(Reprinted with permission from Will)

a little research is good…

June 19, 2010

Be specific, but be specific in the right way.

A student of mine, who is a very good writer… probably because she is a very good writer, not because she’s a student of mine, wrote this…


Meg completes her run ticket.

Do you know what a “run ticket” is? I do not. Do you think Meg knows what it is? I bet she does. This is a marvelous example of knowing what you’re writing about… but not letting the research get in the way. We read that sentence, have no idea what “run ticket” is, but we also get the sense, mostly via osmosis, that it is the CORRECT thing, and that it fits and is meet and right and good and just and all that stuff.

Good on ya, Marti!

Conversely, I recently critiqued a screenplay… and I have no idea who wrote it, or what it was about… One of the marvelous services I provide as screenplay critic is a leaky brain, one from which knowledge and memory of your story trickles with the setting sun. I read. I crit. I forget. So, if you want me to crit again, it’s like I am reading for the first time. I’m like a bee. I have a three day memory.

Anyway, this writer was writing some sort of WALL STREET type business script. The writer obviously was not a Wall Street business type, because the scene description, instead of some perfectly perfect description of a Wall Street woman hard at work, would say “Alice works on some papers.” That shouted for Lassie like little Timmy in the well, “Get me outta here!”

Every time the writer would take us to the office, there would be bland references to the work being done. “They work hard.” “Everyone is busy.” Stuff like that.

Not: “Meg completes her run ticket.”

THAT is a fantastic sentence, and it TOTALLY makes me buy that the writer knows what she’s writing about, and it calmed me down and urged me forward, secure in the knowledge that I was in the hands of Someone Who Knows, instead of Someone Who Hopes I Won’t Notice.

**Wow! Thanks for the pat on the back, Will! Considering it comes from one of the most objective voices in screenplay critquing, and from a seasoned actual screenwriter with movies that have been made, I'm truly honored.  ~Marti AKA ScreenwriterChic**
You can order Will's book (HIGHLY recommended and such an easy read) at http://www.yourscreenplaysucks.com/html/order_my_useful_book.html
And I'm sure it's on Amazon as well.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Hello Readers!

I'm not to the breaking point of exhaustion yet, but I fear I'm headed in that direction. FIRST DATE is clipping along at a nice speed, even though I had to reshoot over an hours worth of film yesterday.

"Why would you reshoot, Screenwriter Chic?" I hear you ask.

Well, because we set up so fast no one caught that the bedspread in a shot was turned over. And yes, it was quite noticeable? How could I have missed that? Lack of sleep? Because the actor had the giggles and I was just trying to pull a performance out of him that didn't include bursting into laughter? Perhaps...

Could I have left it? Yeah, but if I slack on the little stuff, I'll want to slack on the big stuff.

We had a great time, however, and the Lunns were ever so gracious to allow us to film in their home. They were wonderful. Their two dogs, Diesel and Romeo were superb. Diesel was shy but Romeo is in a few shots. He's a big sweetie.

My children have taken it upon themselves to take along OUR camcorder to make themselves a documentary about the filming of FIRST DATE. Hilarious. I can say right now that I do NOT appreciate the paparazzi. Especially when I'm on the toilet!

And since this blog is about getting my work into Hollywood, I will give you an update. My action script, RUNNING WILDE is in Tinsel Town, hopefully getting read. It's been there for a week now. I am forcing myself to 1. not go crazy with anticipation and 2. call, email, tweet, or write him. I'll keep you updated! 

Keep me in your thoughts, prayers, mantras, chants, whatever!
Sean reviews a shot of his mad acting skills.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


You know what reeks of amateurs? Work riddled with type-o's.
I've been cleaning out old emails and I found one that I had written to my staff. (Yes, I have a staff, no it's not that kind).

I wanted to share it with you, since I had to eat humble pie and admit I actually sent an email with an error in it. Horrible. And, before you ask, yes, I DID have to send out the email. Why? To squelch rumors. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Read on, dear fan! And see how important it is to proofread! And yes, this IS an actual email I sent out.

Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 9:44 AM
To: All Staff

Subject: amendment

Okay Girls,

This is an amendment to my email I sent out earlier.

I want to make it very clear that I did have a type-o and that Patti had mice rice on her SHELF. NOT her SELF.

I hope this corrects any problems that could have been misconstrued.

So, to make it clear: Patti is NOT infested with MICE on her person. It's her shelf that they apparently like to hang out on. NOT Patti.

Patti is not a friend to rodents, as my hedgehog can attest. Patti does not have mice on her or anywhere in her clothing. Patti, as a person, is completely 100% mice free.

Therefore, Patti will NOT be exterminated, nor will we call an exterminator to check her out. I hope this clears everything up.

Should you have any questions about the matter, feel free to ask me.


Your Loving Boss

See what I mean? How embarassing! PROOFREAD!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Update On FIRST DATE & life in general. It's Good.

Swinging by to let you, my faithful followers, that I am doing well!

As you know, I’m shooting another short film that I’ve written, this time NOT in a twenty four hour period on severe lack of sleep. I think I’ve determined that I’m a time Nazi. I finished three days of shooting in ONE day, which gives me TONS of room for reshoots if I don’t like what I see in the editing suite.

Yes, once again, my kiddos are my guinea pigs, but they are doing quite nicely and giving authentic performances. Plus, they are having fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about? They enjoy helping me on my projects. I enjoy the family time. For me, it’s a win win situation. I’ll keep you updated!

On another note, during my one day of shooting, I took a four hour break to attend the Nashville Screenwriter’s Conference (thanks to my friend Jill and her phone call reminding me)! I am SO glad that I did!

I heard some great words of wisdom from Jeff Lowell (Hotel for Dogs, show runner for Spin City): “In television, you should write so you can be doing the dishes and HEAR everything and know EXACTLY what’s going on. In movies, you should be able to be on a plane, not purchase the earphones and SEE it and know exactly what’s going on.”

That is SO true! I’ve never thought of it that way, but now, I’ll never forget.

The highlight for me, however, was getting to finally meet Derek Haas. Remember him? He wrote WANTED, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 2, 3:10 TO YUMA, to name a few. (He also wrote CATCH THAT KID which my youngest loves). For those of you who don’t know the story, my screenwriting class had a conference call with him last fall. From there, I found him on Facebook and we became friends. We banter back and forth and I teased him about coming to Nashville and told him that I’d bring him a cupcake. His response was that it had to be cinnamon, his favorite spice. That was six months ago.

So there I am, sitting with Jill, watching the end of a panel. Everyone leaves and there is Derek in the back of the room chatting with someone. He heads to the main chair and I call to him, introduce myself which receives a hearty reaction and I offer him the cupcakes. He gleefully takes them and is floored to discover that they’re cinnamon. I beam with pride at my accomplishment. I’ve made his day. Everyone around me (other than Jill) scoffs, believing this to be a putrid attempt at bribery.

I don’t care.

I’ve met someone whose writing I esteem highly, whom I consider a "real" friend now. We’ll continue to banter on Facebook.

And, when all is said and done, whose name do YOU think he remembered from the conference?
Marti, Derek, & Jill

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Be Prepared For Anything!

This Friday I begin shooting another short film. A real one, not shot and edited within 24 hours for a competition.

What have I gotten myself into????

Every weekend in June I will be consumed in this new project. So if you don't hear from me for a while, I have not abandoned you, precious fans... I'm merely exhausted and probably collapsed in a puddle of my own drool as my body tries to recover from stress and lack of sleep.

Ah, stress. That brings me to my the point of this blog... be prepared for anything!

This project has been rolling around in my pea brain for a good many months and thanks to the graciousness of the powers that be, all equipment is on loan without a penny paid. Yeah! I have a shooting schedule prepared and a list of things for my Production Assistant. Who bailed.

It wasn't her fault, there were a lot of factors involved and family goings ons that caused her to cease her service to me. It was her family also, who was graciously allowing me to film in their wonderful home. It was her mom who was going to a role in the film. In fact, I had rewritten the script so her little sister could be in it too! So my PA bails and guess what?

No house, no actress, no little sister actress,  no Production Assistant. 


In a screenplay, this would be known as the "All Is Lost Moment".


And then, the hero finds the strength to go and gives an award winning speech:

Shall I be discouraged at this HUGE GINORMOUS mountain in my way? Heck NO! Mountains are made to be climbed!

I shall press on... the shooting will go as scheduled. I have a Production Coordinator, Michael. He is chomping at the bit to show his worth. My advice to him? Snag a Production Assistant and get ready! I have never micro managed, so I'm leaving it to him to find the actress and site.

I'm revising the script as I go. Welcome to filming. If you think you're done when you type Fade Out, or when your agent says he'll shop it, or when the producer says he loves it, or when the studio buys it, you're wrong. There's always a rewrite dangling just a breath away!

Be prepared and don't melt. You're being watched at all times.

If I freak out over a short film, what will I do if I'm directing something huge in Hollywood? (Which I WILL do one day, mark my words).

Every day is an adventure. Be prepared! Roll with it. Put out fires. Solve problems. LIVE!!!

Later sweet fans! One more pic for ya...