Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When do we learn what “stupid” looks like?

I used a program at work and needed support and called the support service. I talked with the same guy several times over a period of time. He was a real guru and bright and intelligent in every way.

When we once needed help in person on the scene he drove to our company to help us.

I was amazed when I saw him because he looked stupid.

How can anybody look stupid? What kind of feature in the face represents a stupid look? It is nothing I am proud of in any way, but if I had seen him before I spoke to him I would definitely made the wrong conclusion about his intelligence.

The fact that I know that the colleagues with me at the time reacted in the same way does only make things worse.

How can a person get that label by the looks?

Some handicaps like Down Syndrome often result in a “characteristic look”, but alternative intelligence does not mean stupid in the first place. And now I’m not talking about a labelled handicap.

How and when in our lives do we learn what “stupid” looks like? Is it the same as ugly? So if you look good you are intelligent and if you are ugly you are stupid?

I think it is scary.

I think it is scary that I label persons only after a second by the look of the face.

I know I’m not alone doing this, but that does not give me comfort.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A rebellious beat sheet

On my current script project I am working with the part that Blake Snyder calls ”Bad Guy Closes In”. Now my hero is getting into trouble. She is newlywed. Her husband knows part of her criminal background but he does not know that he is married to a former assassin. Now her background is catching up with her. Police is closing in. So is the bad guy.

As I have said before, this is the first time that I have done my homework properly and filled out a beat sheet before I started writing. This time I feel that the tension builds up. It feels great.

It is interesting that some things that felt perfect when I made my beat sheet feels less perfect now. I think it is normal thing during the writing process that things turn up thatare not a part of the beat sheet. But still it creates a pause in the writing. A pause of amazement and a little irritation. And the joy of writing.

Read more about my beat sheet here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Inspiration - Music, part II

I loved the movie Never-ending Story based on the book by Michael Ende. I know he didn’t like the movie. I on the other hand became very disappointed on the book when I read it.

Limahl had made the title music and I bought the EP right away.

It didn’t take me long to flip it over and listen to side B. I expected that somebody should start to sing any minute, and suddenly the pickup lifted and the music had come to an end.

What I didn’t realize was that I had made my first encounter with movie score, film music. I just knew I loved it and I listened to side B more and more.

Here it is: Neverending Story - The Ivory Tower, by Giorgio Moroder

Inspiration - Music, part I

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Orange President September

"Orange", "President" and "September", those were the keywords for the short scene competition.

You can read and vote for the text you like best here: The Rouge Wave, top right corner.

Mine is not among these. A spelling error disqualified me for a position as a finalist, I was told.

Although I perfectly understand that one spelling error in such a short text can be deadly, it annoys me just the same.

It annoys me that I didn’t see it (I proof-read three times). It annoys me that there was no time for somebody else to proof-read. And mostly – it annoys me that this will give me the freaks every time I will send something somewhere, because it is not likely that I will ever write something without spelling errors.

I don’t like being annoyed.

I’ve caused the error myself and there is no way to correct it. Leave it behind.

Here is my contribution:


THREE OLD LADIES sit under large maple trees PLAYING cello.

It is autumn and the leaves are brightly colored from yellow to red. Dry, orange leaves cover the ground as a mat.

The three cellos are equally orange.

A BOY approaches.

What is it you do?

A deed without a name.




We will answer.

You’re weird.

So we are. So are you.

Your name is September.

The third lady waves her bow and a crown of orange maple leaves lowers itself onto the boy’s head.

You shall be King.

It’s “President” in this country, you silly goat.

Am I going to be President?!

Seek to know no more.

The three ladies and their cellos vanish into thin air.

The boy is left alone with his crown.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My brain couldn't fool me this time

I have entered a contest.

This contest is a little special.

One page, one scene and three keywords.

And my brain that screams “I CAN’T”. Then it is a challenge I just have to take.

I’m tired of listen to my brain telling me that things cannot be done.

So I wrote one scene on one page with the three specified keywords in mind and entered the contest. Of course it can be done. Silly brain. You can’t fool me any longer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rub two sticks hard to get fire

A mess at work.

Server problem and a whole department of programmers can’t do their job. Annoying, fascinating and not at all relaxing, because the job still has to be done.

The database where the tasks are saved is down.
The server were the code is saved is down.
The internet connection is down.

Hello world.

Photo by Jef Poskanser
used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Sunday, September 21, 2008

To write long dialogs

When I write dialog each character has a goal, I’ve written about this earlier. For me that is the main key.

I also try to keep the dialog short. If a character’s line starts to run of for more than three rows I watch out and rethink the situation.

Sometimes there is not enough substance in the dialogue and then it is easy to cut, but lets say that the character really needs to deliver a lot of information, how do I still keep the dialog interesting and moving the story forward?

First of all, I make sure it is a dialog and not a monologue. The others in the scene can make comments or questions, at least.

Then I keep in mind that it is a movie, not a radio-show. There is an image to take care of as well. The characters must do something while they are talking.

What they can do is always limited to the situation, but there is always something that can be added. Sometimes something funny.

In my script The Recreators, Simmiolas and Mannestam have a serious talk (page 48), sitting down, inside in a room. They drink tea, and which I took advantage of. Mannestam gulps cup after cup with steaming hot tea, while Simmiolas wants it cooler. But every time that he has the cup half full Mannestam serves him a new brimful cup, again hot. It is not much, but serves as a little amusement to lighten up a scene that easily gets cluttered with talk.

In Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the extended version there is a scene with Eowyn and Aragorn on their way to Helm’s Deep. Eowyn serves Aragorn a stew that is - by Aragorn’s reaction - not tasting very well. The food is not the issue, but it serves as movement and amusement in the scene. It gives Eowyn opportunity to ask a question that will reveal information about Aragron.

Ending a scene is sometimes difficult, but in general I cut as soon as a goal is fulfilled.

Here is another blog entry about writing scenes:
The Unknown Screenwriter: Scenes from next week

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Inspiration - Music, part I

I have been thinking about music that has affected me and inspired me over the years.

The song I present here is by Nordman and is called “Laglöst land”, roughly translated as “Country with no law”.

This song became a hit when I was writing on “Sparrow” that later became my first movie script. I remembered listening to the text and thinking that they where singing about my story. It was almost spot on. The song went right into my heart.

What affected me most was “Har du inte levt mitt liv, vet du ingenting” – “If you haven't lived my life, you know nothing.” If you haven’t lived my life, than you haven’t the knowledge or right to judge my actions. It is so important to remember that when we judge somebody’s actions we only know a little piece of that person and his/hers life.

Nordman sings folksong-like pop. I was so stunned when I saw the video, because I had completely different images in mind. I was more thinking middle ages or fairytale, and most images in this video are from a modern city. Well, it will have to do.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A solid and bold statue of wood

A new batch of images.

I glued the images in my notebook and immediately found connections.

I also picked one image at a time and tried to find a word describing it that did not fit the others. Translation made some become two words though.

BoldThe others do not want to stand out.

The others have no clear identity.

Subtile distinctions
The others are uniform, homogeneous.

The others stand put.

Photos by: Ronny Ilvemo

Those of you interested in previous entries can find them here: Thinking-Out-Of-The-Box

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Life and Times in Hollyweird: Pitching your screenplay

Here is yet another great article on Life and Times in Hollyweird. This time it is about pitching your screenplay.

Beside the very interesting blog entry I like the guy with a typewriter that he uses as image. Seems like a long time ago a typewriter was commonly used. Let’s see, last time I saw a typewriter in use must have been on my mother’s job. There were forms with carbon paper that should be filled out and it was not proper to do this by hand as it would today. When was this? Humm… 1990? 1995? Something like that. No, I’m not old, why do you say that?

This blog is a DoFollow

The comments in my blog do no longer become nofollow but DoFollow.

How to Make Your Blog DoFollow

If you don't have a blog or website this does not matter to you. If you have a blog or website you want to promote a comment in my blog makes that link count as a backlink.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Inspiration in two different ways

Take a look at Borderline Inappropriate: Gold Rush
I know that this blog entry is old, but I find some inspiration in it anyway. It seams like this writer actually been at the Oscars. I can’t say that I found much interest in the latest blog entries here, but reading about a visit to the Kodak Theater and the Oscars from someone invited is inspiring. I can't help it.

Here is blog entry from Lifestyle – Scraps of Life: Simply Amazing Man. It is hard to believe that it is true, but it probably is. I want to know more, more, more about this guy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Selling the Soul to the Devil

I risk making my readers angry now. At least if you are writing blogs yourself.

Two blogs I liked to visit I don’t find any interest in any longer. Why? One of them stopped writing about the interesting reflections of life that I liked and started writing sponsored blog posts about all sorts of products. The other one had good jokes but is now so cluttered with commercial that it is hard to find anything fun any longer.

Many things surrounding blogging are about making money and gaining ranking. And with ranking I’m talking about attemting to impress Google and Alexa not you and me.

The advertisers have found us bloggers a powerful source and a new, great area to use for commercials. And they attack us with all they got to win us and use our blogs.

Honestly, I’m getting tired of it.

I don’t mind linking to a blog or website that I like. But I don’t want to use my blog to promote shampoo. I don’t think anybody is interested in reading about my comments about this and that shampoo and I am not interested in selling myself and my little space.

We risk our independence, our soul, the reason for blogging. In the end I think it will kill blogging.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A small spaceship landed by the sink

A colleague of mine at work pointed at a mysterious device beside the sink in the common room and asked if I knew what it was.

I pointed at the coffee machine and said that it was probably belonging somewhere inside it, since a lady was doing service on it as we spoke.

“That or it is a very small spaceship” I added. My intention was to tell her that the device looked strange and weird, but she got a little annoyed thinking that it was so obvious to me that it belonged inside a coffee machine that I teased her for not knowing that.

It is interesting that spaceships in movies are always big. Does size matters? Do we only find danger in individuals bigger than us?

I have seen a movie with killer ants – or it might have been bugs, I don’t even remember the title of the movie – but otherwise aliens and monsters have been big.

One small bug can easily be crushed; a mega-big bug crushes you. It’s easy logic.

In Alien the first encounter is the batoidea-like animal. It is small, but bleeds acid and wins on a surprise attack. And the monster gets bigger as the story progress. And in the second movie they are both big, bigger and many.

In Close Encounters of the Third Kind the spaceship was big, but the aliens rather small. They on the other hand were friendly. So was E.T.

What would it be like if small spaceships arrived with mini hostile aliens?

A David-and-Goliat situation. But we humans represent Goliat this time.

What would a mini alien do to become a threat? Eat us? Well, it is possible but they will have to work hard to be a threat to the whole population. They will probably feed on and destroy our ecosystem, like Spanish slugs but so much more.

And they have to work fast to be considered as main villains in a movie. Otherwise the politicians will do nothing but sit down and talk about the problem and leave it to a committee.

Painting by: Piolinfax
Image used under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License.
The author of this blog converted it to pgn-format

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


We have an expression in our family for a phenomenon that sometimes appears in a movie. It is “Krull-alert”.

Krull is a fantasy movie from 1983. “A prince and a fellowship of companions set out to rescue his bride from a fortress of alien invaders who have arrived on their home planet” says the plotline on Internet Movie Database and it pretty much says it all. It’s a mix of traditional Fairytale and Sci-Fi.

We rented this movie because of the score by James Horner. We had it on CD and really liked it.

Now, if you haven’t seen Krull (which you probably haven’t) I must warn you that there will be spoilers from here on.

One of the problems the Prince faced to get to the fortress with the aliens was that the fortress (their spaceship) moved every night. So their only chance to be able to get there in time before they moved again was to know where they would land next time.

So the Prince and his companions go to a seer who uses an emerald for his foresight. The emerald is destroyed by the enemy. They go with the seer to the emerald cave instead and on the way there the seer gets killed. The Prince gives up all hope but his faithful friend Ynyr says that there is still hope, there is one more person that might help them.

Then he goes to see a lady that turns out to be his former wife who now lives in a room in a giant spiderweb. The spider in the web is halted when she turns the hourglass, but obviously she can turn the hourglass only once because when Ynyr is about to go back she breaks the hourglass and gives him the sand and says that when he has dropped the last grain of sand his life has ended.

There were three places they could go to find out where the spaceship would appear next – the seer, the emerald cave and the spiderlady. None was set up in advanced but appears when needed.

There is no obvious connection between the hourglass and the spider. Neither is there established any connection between the broken hourglass and Ynyr’s life.

The rules of the world are not set. They are built up as we go along.

This is what we have come to call Krull-alert.

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Journey of the Coffee Cup

I got four images from my mother as usual for my thinking-out-of-the-box exercise.

Four cups this time. Four of those decorated and extremely unpractical coffee cups that I would never, ever buy.

A dialog between these cups appeared in my head. They were two couples.

First the two married. He is an athlete and often late, hence the lid to keep the coffee warm. She is a practical and sweet housewife.

Then the two deeply in love and hard to keep apart. Two teenagers that eager to please each other and like the same stuff.

Great I thought. Let’s write the dialog.

But somehow it felt better in my head than on paper. I tried to illustrate with the images. I made different montages, I added the dialog in clouds like a comic, but I was never pleased.

Then I came to think of a film my father made once with a Super-8 camera. It was called The Journey of the Coffee Cup. I’ve not seen it since I was a kid but I loved it. It was simple trick filming. You take a frame, move the cup a little and take another frame. And the result is my mother chasing the runaway cup all over the kitchen table. Hilarious.

My father was not pleased with the result. He sighed when I pleaded that we should watch it every time the projector was brought out. He had made films that were so much better, and I had fallen for that silly thing.

Once we had a guest who had made a film in Poland and we watched it (Super-8, still – no VHSs, no DVDs). It was supposed to be good and artistic and all and I thought it was boring. It was just brown and a conversation in Polish as a soundtrack. Afterwards she asked if she could see one of my father’s works. My father got flattered. I popped up and said “Yes! The Journey of the Coffee Cup”. Let’s show the lady something fun, I thought.

I was hushed down.

What am I trying to say here?

Well, the dialog between my cups where good in my head and so is my memory of my fathers film The Journey of the Coffee Cup. But neither are really good enough to show to anybody else.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Life and Times in Hollyweird: How to Sell a Spec Script

I can't figure this blog out completely. It is a little bit no-theme-every-theme-mess. But the latest post contains nice images.

And this entry is really interesting (and quite depressing):
How to Sell a Spec Script: A Marketplace on Fire! ~ Life and Times in Hollyweird (a blog by: John Darko)

I'm writing the best spec script ever (that is what I hope at least). While writing I still want to think that people will just scream to have at least a peek of this little wonder of mine.

But never the less, the article is interesting and there are plenty of things in it that are good to know for you that written your first script and have no idea how to sell it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bamboo Killers: Some tips for the noobs

I found this blog recently. I have not taken a closer look yet, but this blog post was the first I met and I think it is really good. And it amused me too.

You can read it here: Some tips for the noobs

The article mentions three tips for screenwriters working on their first script. These are in short: Correct format, write as you observe the events and don’t bore me.

The first is necessary to find a reader that will take you seriously. Without correct format on the script you will appear like an amateur.

The second is the difference between a screenplay and a novel.

The third – “don’t bore me” – was what made me amused. It was such perfect sentence. It says it all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Review: The movie ”Beat the Drum”

Like so many DVDs we rent in our family we rented this because of the composer of the score. It is a criteria that brings movies to our screen that would not have been rented otherwise. “Beat the Drum” would have been left on the shelf and that would have been a shame. This movie was a pleasant surprise.

I have a habit of assuming that most movies winning awards at film festivals are odd and weird in some way. It felt good to find out that I was wrong.

The movie takes place in South Africa and is about the Zulu-boy Musa living in a village on the countryside. His mother and little brother have died in a mysterious illness and when his father also gets sick the rumor goes that his family is cursed. Their cow is sacrificed to please the ancestors, but his father dies and leaves him as an orphan. His grandmother has many small children to take care of and without a cow they don’t even have milk.

Musa leaves the village to get to Johannesburg to find his uncle and earn money to a new cow. Neither he nor his grandmother has any idea what Johannesburg is like.

Living on the streets in the big city he learns about the disease called AIDS and he understands that it killed his family. He also sees the myths and the fears that hide the truth about how to handle AIDS. And the shame surrounding the ones affected.

This is a movie with splendid images and well-written dialog. There is not a thing on the nose here. David McBrayer (writer of the script) and David Hickson (director) have understood the concept of “show, don’t tell”. The movie doesn't throw an opinion or a message in your face either, though it's very easily done.

As for myself I finally got some understanding for the situation in South Africa and why AIDS is so widely spread.

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blogs with inspiration

Where do I find inspiration? I’m not sure, really.

Most of my stories have their origins in a scene or image, like a short moment taken out of a movie, which appears in my head. These scenes are in general very strong and carry a theme.

But where do these scenes come from?

I don't know.

Photos, other movies, dreams and real life I guess. In a blender.

Here are a few blogs with images and photos that I like to visit. Some images linger longer in my memory, maybe to be stored and used someday.

This Makes My Day
Urban Postcards: Stephen Crawford
My Black & White Photography
Yorb's photo folder
My painting diaries
Amazing pictures from all over the world


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Animated headline

Do you like my blog? Thank you. That makes me happy. Feel free to make a comment or two now and then.

If you have a blog or another html-based place in the world where you would like to tell others about my blog here is something you can use:

Me, a writer of movie scripts

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Friday, September 5, 2008

Avoiding clichés

I think my previous entry address a very important issue. As a screenwriter I have a certain responsibility to not cling to clichés as if they were the truth.

I don’t know about Die Hard 3 and what kind of images that were established about the hero John McClane's kids there, but I think the real reason that the daughter wasn’t the hacker simply is beacuse she is a girl and Die Hard is a very macho movie.

Personally I don’t care much for feminism and the extremism it leads to now and then. The basic reason that I’m not interested is that I don't consider myself a victim being a woman.

When women play characters in action movies where they are not in need of rescue they tend to be very macho and this is pointed out and it is more or less something wrong with them. Miss Congeniality is an extreme example of this.

Sigourney Weaver’s character Riply in Alien was written for a man (if Internet Movie Database is to be trusted). And that female character is really good, because there is no real issue about the fact that she is a woman. She is a woman, so what?

Once I wrote a few scenes with a princess and her faithful knight/bodyguard and then switched sexes, without changing anything else. The result was interesting. I had a cliché and got a situation that was not cliché, but it wasn’t pointed out as strange either, because the character’s sexes weren’t an issue.

And that is as it’s supposed to be, I think.

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sons become hackers, daughters get rescued

Bruce Willis at a Live Free or Die Hard (Die Hard 4.0) premiere in London
Photo by: Caroline Bonarde Ucci
under the
GNU Free Documentation License

I have just watched the movie Live Free or Die Hard or Die Hard 4.0 as it is called in Europe.

I liked the first, don’t remember much from the second and missed that there was a number three. But Bruce Willis is cool.

I had a great time watching Die Hard #4. Lots and lots of action, bullets, broken windows and smashed cars. But from a screenwriters point of view I don’t give much for the story.

There is a hacker that our hero Detective John McClane is supposed to pick up and deliver to the FBI for questioning when someone has hacked into their system. The hacker is not the guy they are looking for. He has only been used by the bad guy and the bad guy wants him dead to eliminate witnesses. With bullets, broken windows and smashed cars as a result.

I read at Internet Movie Database that the hacker was the hero’s son from the beginning, but the guy supposed to play him backed out. So they added the hero’s daughter instead to give the hero something personal to fight for.

But the daughter didn't become the hacker. She is just a girl stuck in an elevator and she was introduced with a clumsy setup that has nothing to do with the rest of the story.

The hacker is now no more than a guy that is John McClane’s contrast in everything. A guy that is supposed to be a perfect partner for the hero according to the book, but when the story lacks in many aspects there is not even a relationship to work with.

If they had allowed the hacker to be the hero's daughter it would have been much more interesting.

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A romantic quarrel?

I am working on a complicated scene right now.

It surprised me that it turned out to be complicated.

There is a man and a woman about to get married and they discuss the arrangements with a party arranger.

It was supposed to be a fun, light hearted scene before the wedding and the approaching storm.

The man and the woman have different ideas what kind of wedding they would like. But although there is conflict I don’t want it to be a quarrel. I want it to be funny and maybe a little cute.

Now it sounds far from romantic. And the party person is almost invisible.

Maybe the problem is that I am not clear about why the scene is needed. Maybe I should just let it go.

Comic Book Cover used under the GNU Free Documentation License

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Progress bar

For anyone interested in the progress bar to the left you can find it here:
120-page monster: Making Progress

Including of course my brilliant question in the comments and the explanation further down. Enjoy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The happy ending

When I started to write movie scripts I was afraid of change.

I knew my characters were supposed to change and I thought they did, but it was only the conflicts that were solved. The characters stayed the same.

My characters were perfect from the start. They were bright and brilliant, good and kind in every way. In the real world it is nice to be surrounded by kind people, but in a movie a little rudeness does not hurt. And why stay at a little? Why not be very rude? That makes it even more provocative and obvious that the person has an attitude problem.

We need characters to relate to in a movie. But it is interesting that these characters are more extreme than most people.

Why is that?

Do we need to relate to them, but don’t want them to be ourselves? So we make the clumsy guy very, very, very clumsy to make sure he is obviously clumsy, funny and too far from real world for anybody to feel hurt?

Or is it simply because contrasts work best and the contrasts are not big enough in a group of ordinary people?

Then the character must change, because we must feel that this story means something more than a passing train.

The main character must find his or hers peace of mind.

So in the end the character is more or less a normal person that finds a normal, happy life. Then we too are content. Then we have found our peace of mind for a while. And for a moment we feel that this movie really meant something and changed us too.