Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog: No Jerks

I’ve been quoted at the Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog.

A comment of mine at the blog made the writer annoyed. And a whole blog entry was dedicated to it.

The story was about a guy on a set that started yelling at another one, behaving very badly. The writer of the blog wanted the guy fired.

I disagreed.

Please read the whole story here.

I think that because I live in a country with rules that protect an employee, to give comfort and stability, it would not cross my mind to run out and fire a guy because he was yelling.

Not because I favor yelling in any way, but simply because I’m used to (and likes) the comfort and stability that a job is supposed to give. It does not only count for sweet minded little angles like me, but also for jerks.

A person would never get his head on a plate because of bad temper in this country. And since that is not an option, we try to solve conflicts (or ignore them). In the long run I think this is a better solution.

Yes, sure, the guy should apologize.

I’ve been yelled at at work. It’s nothing I like, but it’s just to let them run their race and speak their minds. It’s nothing to take personal. The reason they yell and behave like five-year-olds is probably something else than the question at the moment.

Conflicts in themselves are nothing to be afraid of.

And after all, that kind of behavior makes a fool of nobody else but the one yelling.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Life is unfair. Or simply just is.

Sometimes I wonder what I could have done differently.

I mean, I almost got a story of mine into a movie when I was fourteen (well, not really, but it was a start). I should be famous by now. Life is unfair!

Hum... Let's scoot back a little...

First of all, I never considered writing to be something I could make a living of. Yes, sure, once I was famous I could, but until then it was something you did a little once in a while when the writer’s muse visited you.

Then I was mostly considered as a weirdo when I said I was writing. During some parts of my life that bothered me. And since I then couldn’t bring up my notebook when anybody was present, or talk about it, I limited my options.

I even had a period of surprisingly many years when I didn’t write at all.

And the most fundamental mistake I made was to think that a natural born writer as me had nothing to learn.

What I could have done differently?

Lots of stuff.

But first of all, I’m happy. Even if I had had the option of changing the past, I wouldn’t dare.

And secondly, I can’t change the past. I can only learn from it.

I’ve learned that there are always things to learn and it is fun to do so. By learning I develop, I keep moving in life and soul.

I’ve learned not keep my writing as a secret. Yes, sure, some may think I’m a weirdo. That’s okay. I can live with that. Secret writing will likely remain secret, to what use?

I’ve learned that fame is not my goal, nor money. Yes, I want to see my scripts as movies, but if that was the only goal, I would stop the minute the movie was released. And I know I won’t.

Writing is my journey.

See also:
Natural born writer

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A contact with a production company

I could claim that I started in the business of screenwriting when I was fourteen.

But honestly, that is almost an embarrassing story.

I had written this masterpiece of mine. A novel. Thirty-six pages. And I had everybody’s admiration.

A famous Swedish actress read it and sent it further to a director, I think she was. She in turn gave me a name and an address to someone at a movie production company.

If that had happened to me today – gee, I would cry out loud – but then, sure I was nervous and very shy, but somehow as the kid I was, I took for granted that it was the kind of help one could expect.

I sent my novel to the production company and when I didn’t hear from my contact, I called.

She hadn’t read it, but as she had me on the line she asked me about the story and I heard on her voice that she became more and more skeptical. I felt that I gave one wrong answer following another. She was looking for something in my story, that I felt wasn’t there.

Finally she said: “We are a Christian production company, in case you weren’t aware of it.”

I wasn’t.

In my limited world a production company was a production company. That some would only do special kind of movies had not occurred to me, and I hadn’t asked or checked up on this.

I don’t remember if I tried to make a lame comeback or not with the lady in the other end of the line.

Me and my not very Christian story was dead anyway.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A scene description including a noisy door

Scen description including a noisy door

I sat down to write the next scene.

I could hear the squeak and smell the oil, but what was that kind of door called? I needed a particular word.

There are two books that I used frequently at the time I had a stationary computer and a desk dedicated to the task. One was a huge English dictionary where I could find out more about a particular word, if it was relevant for the situation where I wanted to use it.

The other was a visual dictionary.

To find words for details or particular items without needing to know what they where called in Swedish could be a blessing. Like a type of collar, a part of a tank or like in this case a particular door.

I stared at the empty space under the scene heading.

I listened to the door with its loud, painful squeak. I saw the thick oil filled with dirt in the tracks.

Maybe a simple “garage door” will do?

If I should find the exact word for that type of door, what kind of scene description would it become? Is it really relevant that it is that type of door, or is the important subject in this scene to show that it is badly maintained?

I should create an atmosphere, paint an image, and generate emotions; not give detailed instructions that are useful only for the props department.

In case the whole script isn’t dependent on the detailed construction of this particular door, a simple “garage door” is best for everybody.

Car and buildings in Oradour-sur-Glane
Photo by TwoWings
Used under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License
Image edited by the writer

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A word: Glamour


Glamour - Alluring beauty or charm; cast a spell over someone or something; a kind of haze in the air, causing things to appear different from what they really are.

From Scots “gramarye” (magic, enchantment, spell). This word in turn comes from Old French.

I find it interesting that the word Glamour has its origin in magic.

For me glamour is something you watch at distance. Maybe I’ve never been in a glamorous situation, but I believe it is like fog: you see it as some distance, but you don’t stand in the middle of it.

So glamour is something you watch, something that happens to somebody else, something that you can stand in the middle of but don’t be a part of because you know you are real.

Oscar 2007, Actress Portia De Rossi smiling on the red carpet
Photo by: Pulicciano
This file is licensed under Creative CommonsAttribution ShareAlike 2.0 License


Friday, April 24, 2009

The First Commandment

The First Commandment

I believe that things just are.
I believe good and evil are only labels put by man to don’t need to explain why one should act/not act in a certain way.

I believe in an immortal soul that is part of a Earth-wide soul. I believe that “God” is this grand soul and therefore we can find the divine within ourselves.

I believe that the meaning of life is that we should develop and explore ourselves and our souls. Then when we join the Mother Earth after we die, we have helped the whole world to become a better place.

I wrote this on The Rouge Wave’s challenge to write what you believe in with no more than hundred words.

No, I don’t consider myself Christian for many years. But I am very interested in religion. Right now I’m reading Jonas Gardell’s book “About God” in which he explores the God described in the Old Testament. A book that gave him an honorary degree.

He asks how the God who sits down under a tree with Abraham eating bread and drinking milk could be the same God that slaughters thousands of people when invading Canaan.

His answer is that it isn’t.

At this time the World was full of different Gods, demons and other creatures. The God Abraham served bread and milk was not the same that took the Hebrews out of Egypt.

I remember a script I read not long ago to give feedback. It was about this invasion of Canaan and it was a gory and tasteless story. I’m sure it was well written, but the cruelty and the mercilessness of innocent made me sick.

Somehow the writer tried to find a good God in this story, an explanation to this cruelty, but didn’t succeed in my opinion.

Now I understand why.

The God that most Christians identify today wasn’t there.

There was nothing good and kind about the God invading Canaan. It was a God that justifies killing of innocent people, slaughters objectors and is too jealous of other gods to allow his people to worship any other than himself.

Am I provocative? Good.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Me, the unknown voice

I was quite stunned when I realized that my blog’s strength had surpassed Julie Gray’s blog The Rouge Wave.

How is that possible?

My blog can’t be that good, can it?

The blog’s strength is calculated based on links, mention of brand and visitors.

Should my little corner of the World as an unheard-of screenwriter have more visitors and be mentioned more often than The Rouge Wave?

I'm honored.

But yet I wonder... How?

See also:
Me, the great one?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rewritten scenes - a look at the script 3:10 to Yuma

Rewritten scenes - a look at the script 3:10 to Yuma

Today I’m about to look at two scenes in their earlier version and as they where finally shot.

As a screenwriter, I am also a reader of movie scripts. If I see a scene with good tension or other qualities I am interested in, I try to locate the script on one of the numerous sites dedicated to that content.

3:10 to Yuma though I received thanks to Scott Myers at Go Into the Story.

In the movie we have a scene where the bad guy Ben Wade makes an escape attempt by fighting down McElroy in his escort and grabbing his shotgun.

In the script I got, the scene is a little different than in the movie. Here they cross a canyon with the aid of a miner’s gondola hanging onto a steel cable. Ben Wade and McElroy go first and Ben Wade takes the opportunity to choke his guard with the chain of his handcuffs.

In the movie McElroy meets his fate directly after he said that Wade’s mother was a whore. Ben Wade throws him off a cliff, grabs his shotgun and tells the others to drop their guns and go home.

The later is better in my opinion. It shows more of Ben Wade’s character. He kills McElroy because of the lie about his mother and has no interest in killing the others.

I think the scene was rewritten because of budget. Why spent money on a hazardous crossing?

The other scene I wanted to bring up was prior this and is the arrest of Ben Wade.

In the script Ben Wade has left the town of Bisbee, but returns when he realizes that his girl will be in trouble. Dan Evans arrives to the scene first where Hollander and others has started to beat the woman. Then Ben Wade appears, there is some shooting and then Wade demands Hollander to leave his girl alone. Not very surprisingly he gets himself surrounded in the meantime.

This scene draws focus to the woman in question. They have made love, yes, but she is not important for the story. She is the reason he stays behind, but the scene described above makes us wonder what happened to her later.

As the scene was finally done Dan Evans bursts into the empty saloon calling for Hollander and meets Ben Wade who just left his (temporarily) love interest. Others see the brave Dan Evans enters the saloon and backs up by surrounding the building. Dan Evans stalls Ben Wade and gets him arrested.

This brings much better focus to the scene. It is Dan Evans and Ben Wade we should be interested in. Characters, things and situations that do not bring the story forwards and do not return later should be removed.

See also:
Review: 3:10 to Yuma
A key to the secret garden is found

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Once again an Oscar-winning blockbuster is on its way

Once again an Oscar-winning blockbuster is on its way

Two pages. That is how much I have written so far.

I’ve planned the scenes half-way. Now I will write half the script. Or as rather as far as I have planned the scenes. It is supposed to be half-way, but this is not that certain.

How do I know how long a scene will take?

I fill my beat-sheet and plan my scenes, and somehow the script matches the beat-sheet.

That is good.

But how do I know?

All this pre-script-work serves the purpose of getting my brain going. I need to write things down, to plan and construct, but in the end it is my brain and my soul in a symbiotic agreement that do the real work.

And somehow the rhythm and tempo seem to match the framework.

Two pages. Maybe it does not tell much. But it is two pages that give me confidence. Confidence that I once again am writing an Oscar-winning blockbuster.

And of course it is far better than my previous project.

(Which by all means also started as an Oscar-winning blockbuster.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A word: Elixir

A word: Elixir

Elixir - A hypothetical substance that was believed to change metals into gold; a substance believed to cure all illness and give eternal life; a flavored liquid used to be taken by mouth in order to mask an unpleasant taste.

The last one I find particularly interesting. Mouth water to prevent bad breath is obviously just as important eternal life and creating gold.

From Mediaeval Latin "elixir", from Arabic الإكسير (al-’iksīr), from Ancient Greek ξήριον (“medicinal powder”).

I wonder how this word traveled from Greek to Arabic and then to Latin. It is Mediaeval Latin, so when Rome blossomed the word was unknown in Latin. Rome obviously had no need for elixir. Still, the trip to the Arabic language fascinates me.

I can’t help thinking that it was pure business. Trading and merchandising have always also been a trade of words. Maybe elixir was something sellable already in the Ancient Greece. Or maybe the Arabic traders saw its possibilities and later sold elixir to the Mediaeval Europe, and also added the word to Latin.


Ses also:
My Etymology

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Rouge Wave: Action Lines: Opportunities Waiting to Happen

Julie Gray has written an interesting article about how to write action lines. You can read it here.

She starts with an example with a description of a lake, how to paint an image in the reader’s head and an example that falls flat.

She also expresses the need for the action lines to read well, since they are likely to be read aloud at some point.

Then she comes to the part where I felt my cheeks turning slightly red: Don’t clutter the dialog with action.

Oh… Dear… Am I guilty or am I guilty?

I’ve been drilled that a movie is a moving image and that you don’t want to look at two people that are just talking. Make something happen or write a radio-show.

So I’ve been adding “she takes a sip from her glass” or “kicks up some dirt with his shoe” pretty frequently between the lines.

Julie says I should leave this to the actor. Get the picture through prior to the dialog and then let the characters talk uninterrupted.


I considered if this was just a matter of taste, but I came to the conclusion that she probably is right.

Yes, I should describe what I “see” on the movie, but not to the price of readability. I should create an atmosphere, write the dialog and leave the rest to the director and the actors.

“Truthful tale”, 2007
Painted by Виктория Ковальчук
Used under Creative CommonsAttribution 3.0 Unported License
Image edited by the writer

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Take me to the sea - about planning scenes

Take me to the sea - about planning scenes

Up to recently I considered planning a necessary but boring stage in the writing process.

Now I have learned to appreciate this time. Not only because planning gives me a better result, but because as I work the whole story becomes complete and alive in my mind and makes me ready to write it down.

It starts with the beat sheet. When I have that ready I continue to plan every scene in the story.

I write down what will happen, every character’s goal, what must be revealed and what shouldn’t and questions I still can’t answer, if any.

I know there are voices who say that this diminish the creative flow. That I should just ride on the stream and see where it takes me.

For me, planning and “constructing” are far from destructive.

When I have my scenes planned, when I know what will happen and why, and am ready to do some “real” writing, I am much less likely to get stuck. The practical things are solved. All I have to do is open the hatch and let the creative flow take me for a ride.

And I am quite certain it will take me to the sea.

Because by planning I am less apt to slide into sidetracks, flip over or getting stuck onto hazards.

This does not make the creative flow less vibrant and powerful. I would rather say that it makes it even stronger.

At least for me.

See also:
Use of a beat sheet

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The use of a beat sheet

My version of Blake Snyder Beat Sheet

For me planning before writing the actual script is essential for doing quality work.

I can’t construct the whole story within my head. It’s like I need to write things down to be able to move on in my thinking.

I used to just start writing the script at this stage. By this method I have ruined several ideas and wasted a lot of effort, passion and energy. I have learned that I need to hold my horses and stay with making notes so far.

A beat sheet helps me to develop my story. It is a great tool.

Often I have a few key scenes ready in my head that are the base of the story, the reason for me to develop the idea. But this is far from a finished story (although I tend to believe this). Sometimes I don’t even know where it will end.

I place these key scenes on my beat sheet.

Then I decide what my first image will be, the intro of the movie.

The final image should be the opposite of this, the proof that change has taken place. So from that point of view, the ending is quite easy. I know what my characters are in the beginning. To what and where do I want to transform them? That will be the ending.

There are still plenty of empty spaces in the beat sheet.

This could be great moments of creativity for me. Usually I just make a note or two for a few days and then suddenly I boost away like a rocket finding the thread and just follow it through to the end. It is a great feeling when I suddenly know that I have the story.

Then it is time to start planning the scenes. That I'll get back to later.

See also:
My beat sheet
A rebellious beat sheet

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A word: Diffuse

A word: Diffuse

Diffuse - Spread out; not concentrated in one place; lacking conciseness

But it’s not only an adjective; it is also a verb! To diffuse something, to spread something. I didn’t know that.

It is based on Latin “diffusus” meaning “scattered” or “spread”.

This is a widely used word. Molecular diffusion, diffusion equation, collective diffusion and thermodiffusion are only a few examples. Wikipedia has no less than thirty-five-something articles on the word Diffuse.

As it sounds the same as “defuse” I used to mix them up when I learned English. Have they something to do with each other? No. De-Fuse, of/from fuse, and fuse comes from Latin “fusus” which means “spindle”.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Easter

I don't know what time I will have to blog during the Easter Days. A word will appear on Saturday as usual, because that one is prepared. But the following days may be a little tight. We will just have to see.

Happy Easter everyone!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A beat sheet for an eternity

A beat sheet for an eternity

Every time I work with my beat sheet I wonder how my story can possibly fill 110 minutes.

It’s not that I think it is more suitable for a short story. It's rather that I underestimate its potential. Or my potential.

It was the same with Kim. At the beginning of act two I wondered what I was suppose to do the half hour before midpoint.

I have all these key scenes for turning points and other important situations and I tend to forget that there is more than that. Everything needs a proper setup. The story has to run smoothly without sudden jumps as by impulse. We have to understand why a character behave in a certain way.

There is so much story in my head right now. It would be strange if it became too short.

See also:
Blake Snyder's beat sheet: Fun and games
Fun and games and pink weddings

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I know more than you. Am I a threat?

In what situations does knowledge become a threat?

When Galileo Galilei presented his studies that placed Earth as a mere planet orbiting the sun, instead of beeing the center of the whole Universe, the Christian church felt that they where threatened.

The Bible said that Earth was the midpoint of the Universe, and the Bible was the Truth. It must be the Truth. It had always been the Truth.

And so knowledge became a threat.

The knowledge about the climate changes is the same thing. Some powerful groups feel threatened.

What makes people react that way if no money is involved? Power and status? Absolutely. For the Christian church it was all about the power and the monopoly of what was truth.

So if I have a group of homogeneous people, what kind of knowledge would become a threat?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Don't be so polite, damn bitch

Don't be so polite, damn bitch

Conflicts should be grand.

Why, oh why, do I have such problem to grasp that?

It is some natural reaction to avoid conflicts I guess. (Although some say I have a habit of causing them.)

I have the rough outlines as far as midpoint. Now the conflicts should escalate.

Hum… Conflicts?

Oh, you mean that little thing in that was used as a catalyst? And that small problem that she is not interested in a love affair?


Alright, let’s see. Instead of a message about the hero’s brother with Cerebral palsy (CP) the brother arrives in person to this place that does not accept odd behavior.

And the rejection of the hero could easily expand too.

In general we try to be kind or at least polite. The barrier to let a character – especially the hero - go beyond what is social acceptable is quite high. And to make this look like normal… Ouch.

See also: All that is needed is the right word Writing better scene description

John August has made a great video that shows how to write better scene description. Check it out here.

He starts with an avarage mediocre scene and transforms it into something much more thrilling. For every thing he changes he tells us why. I found this very interesting and I recommend a visit.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A word: Rhapsody

A word: Rhapsody

Rhapsody - An epic poem adapted for recitation; an exalted or exaggeratedly enthusiastic expression of feeling in speech or writing; an instrumental composition of irregular form often incorporating improvisation.

From Latin “rhapsodia” that in turn is based on the Ancient Greek word ῥαψῳδία – rhapsodia.

I’ve always connected the word Rhapsody with music. I guess that is because of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. That a Rhapsody is in fact a long narrative poem written with the purpose to be easy to recite from memory and telling a story of a hero's deeds was news to me.

Iliad and Odyssey are rhapsodies.

Since the Greeks built the foundation of our modern drama, and therefore also the base of our movie industry, I am happy to find a word that actually has its origin in this cradle.

I find the modern use of the word versus the original use interesting.

A poem written for recitation is very rhythmic, it has a very precise structure, to make it easier to memorize. The Iliad for example is written in heroic hexameter.

An enthusiastic written expression of feeling and a composition of irregular form including improvisation are opposites of hexameter.

Why is Rhapsody used for these unpredictable things?

Has it to do with the contents of a rhapsody more than its presentation? A long, heroic story filled with grand emotions?

A colleague from Greece

Friday, April 3, 2009

A fool's story

A fool's story

I browsed through my copy of “Save the Cat!” by Blake Snyder to get some inspiration.

According to Blake Snyder there are ten genres of movies. These are:

  • Monster in the House – Jaws, Alien

  • Golden Fleece – Star Wars, Far and Away

  • Out of the Bottle – Love Potion #9, Bruce Almighty

  • Dude with a Problem – Breakdown, Titanic, Schindler’s List

  • Rites of Passage – Ordinary People, Risky Business

  • Buddy Love – Rain Man, Two Weeks Notice

  • Whydunit – China Syndrome, JFK

  • The Fool Triumphant – Forrest Gump, Amadeus

  • Institutionalized – Animal House, The Godfather

  • Superhero – Batman, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind

Where to place my story?

Dude with a Problem? Nope. This is not an ordinary guy placed in extraordinary circumstances.

Rites of Passage? That must be it. Noooo. “The moral of the story is always the same: That’s Life”. That does not fit my story at all.

Golden Fleece? A hero’s quest for a “golden fleece”, “the mission often becomes secondary to personal discoveries”… Yes, it could be that. On second thought, probably not. I don’t have a golden fleece to offer my hero.

The Fool Triumphant then? Yes, that’s it. That is really it! “An underdog […] and an institution for that underdog to attack.” Nothing could describe it better.

And you know what?

When I started to sketch on my hero’s arc as I wrote about yesterday five to ten boring minutes in the beginning of the story disappeared. I realized they where there to describe the environment, not the character. >Poof< and they where gone.

Gee, I love to be a screenwriter.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A character's arc on a new, empty page

A character's arc on a new, empty page

So, project Sunlight has encountered heavy problems.

The project as it is will go down the bin as you read this.

Next, I’ll draw a line across an empty page and make this my main character’s arc. I’ll mark out his progresses and events needed to accomplish what I want.

I’ll try to forget everything I have written so far and only look to my main character’s development from Alpha to Omega.

When this is done I’ll take this project in consideration if I’m about to continue or not.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Me, a humble dumb-assed screenwriter

I guess I simply could not see my story with new eyes.

Since I started to write on Sunlight before, I thought the story was ready. It just needed a little structure.

Now I understand how wrong I was.

What do I do now? Will I be able to let go of the old story and start from scratch for real?

I don’t know.

I’m longing for doing some “real writing”. That’s why I was blind.

As it is now I have doubts about the story. To continue I must feel confident that this will be a blockbuster. Like aiming for the stars to reach the treetops.

When doubt settles in it easily infects more than the original issue. I start to wonder if the story is original enough, if it will cost too much money to produce etcetera etcetera.

Right now I feel small, humble and quite a dumb-ass. And all too cocky to have written two blog entries about how to start writing a movie script.