Sunday, May 31, 2009

It didn't rain today, but once...

I was standing soaking wet from the rain in the hall.
“That’s so much you. You know it’s going to rain and you bring nothing but a fleece jacket.”
“It was sunny and blue sky when I left” I replied.
“How come you remember a movie frame by frame that you’ve seen once twenty years ago, but can’t remember a weather forecast you seen less than twelve hours ago?”
“They all look the same.”
“No, I think you can’t handle a moving target." (No use putting a weather forecast in the same memory as the movies, since it’s only valid a limited time.)
“Perhaps. But I rather be wet than hardly remember if I even seen a movie in the first place, like you.”
“That’s okay. You remember for both of us.”
“Then would you be so kind and tell me if it’s gonna rain before I leave next time?”

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Under construction: A word

I’ve been thinking about my ”A word” theme. It didn’t really become what I wanted. And this probably because I had too little own feelings involved with the words.

The first words, absolutely, but then I picked more or less a word from the list in random.

I’ll be back with my “A word” but in some other form. It will be based on words that I come across that I need to look up to understand, together with the situation where I found it, if possible.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pitching my screenplay

Pitching my screenplay

What is my script Sunlight about?

The story is about a man fighting for a more tolerant society. Yeah, very thrilling… not.

I hate pitching! I simply hate to describe what the story is about. I can’t get it right.

This is something I definitely need to work on. I must be able to tell what my story is about and make people thrilled.

Now, I am a writer, not a person that stands up and makes spontaneous speeches at birthday parties.

I’m not a salesman. I wouldn’t even succeed to sell water in Sahara.

And it is this narrow thinking of mine that makes me feel lousy at pitching my own screenplay.

It isn’t easy to write a log line, but it is not impossible. There are ways to do this; I’ve read about them.

So, what am I waiting for?

To be honest, a way to slip through.

This Makes My Day: Animations

If you are interested in animated movies you must visit This Makes My Day's blog and take a look under Animations.

This blogger has succeeded in finding those little odd short movies that are never picked up by the main stream. Every time I visit the blog I get inspired to do my own animations.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Punctuation in dialog – a way to put emphasis

Punctuation in dialog – a way to put emphasis

Since italic is a big no-no, you have to use other measures to get the emphasis through. More subtle and less “reliable”, but you give the readers just enough hints to get their movie-minds going.

This little "magic" is called punctuation.

Let me take an example from Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman:

"So he really said that, did he?"
This indicate surprise or interest

"So he really said that, did he."
This hint about an uninterested or maybe mused reaction.

"So he really said that, did he!"
This suggests an excited or angry response.

We could also use a combination of a question mark and an exclamation point like this: “What?!”

There are grammatical rules about where and how to use commas, periods, question marks and so on. I think it is a good idea to become familiar with them.

But when writing dialog I also believe in a certain amount of freedom. One reason is that we don’t always speak grammatically correct and we need some space to reveal character and get a natural feeling over the lines.

Another reason is to put emphasis where you want it.

Now, take it easy and be moderate. We. Don’t. Want. It. Allovertheplace.

Painting by Remedios Varo
Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License
Image edited by the writer

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The use of italics in dialog

The use of italics in dialog

The rule is very simple: Don’t use italics. This counts for underline, bold or what ever markings used to emphasis a single word.

It is tempting, I know.

You hear the line in your head and it is so important that the reader does too so he/she understand the line properly.

But the fact is that using italics is the same as directing and telling the actor how to say the lines. And that is beyond our jurisdiction.

If you feel that the line cannot be conveyed correctly if the emphasis is removed then rephrase yourself, in dialog and/or action, or simply put faith in the reader and the actor.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Catching fish

I have had a four days holiday with the family. It is pretty common over Ascension Day (or Christ Flying / Christ’s Airline as Swedes usually very delicately express themselves).

We’ve bought plants for the garden, being to playgrounds with the children, you know, having a good time.

I’ve not written a single line on my script.

Basically because I’m in one of those periods where I have to force myself to write, but when the writing part of me actually won that struggle my two-year-old climbed up into my lap and said “fish” (which his name for a computer game).

And since I am an enthusiastic computer gamer he sat in my lap playing “fish” instead of me writing.

But what I did do was reading my script Kim for the first time since I sent to contests.

Although I think my writing is better in my current project, I was surprisingly pleased with what I read. Usually I see all the errors and mistakes after being away from it for a while, especially if I sent it to a contest, but not this time.

I don’t know if this means that I am less apt to criticize my own writing or if I’m a better writer. Time will tell.

Image by Robert W. Hines for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Image edited by the writer

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Like fine chocolate

Act one is done.

The first half of act two is waiting. That is as far as I have planned my scenes.

It feels great. Characters, story, my writing, everything works.

I love to float around in this illusion of grandeur believing my script is really as amazing and splendid as I think it is at moments like this. I enjoy every moment. It gives me a well earned confidence.

Yes, sure, as always I need the face the harsh reality when the script is ready, but I don't want that to spoil what I have now. Today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow.

And today I'm the next star on the sparkling sky over Hollywood.

Image by Gilles Tran and Jaime Vives Piqueres
Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License
Image edited by the writer

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ingmar Bergman's hidden secrets

Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman’s housekeeper has decided not to publish her book about her life with the movie icon.

I’m happy there are still normal and decent people in this world.

Of course she has the right to tell about her life. But nobody is interested in her life but Ingmar Bergman’s, and as his housekeeper she ought to know a great deal of details that we can guzzle.

The guy is dead.

If she should write something sensational, he can’t defend himself. True or not, he can no longer give us his version of the story.

Now, honestly, he is dead and doesn’t care, but his relatives do.

Ingmar Bergman and Victor Sjöström 1957
Photo by Åke Blomquist SvD
Image edited by the writer

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oh no, they agree!

Although I have been planning my current project a great deal more than I have in the past, I still meet things I have not thought about.

No, it’s not like having the result too short, as my previous situation (that was solved without any problem).

This is simply “I didn’t think about that”.

I know, I can’t think of everything. I can live with that. But the problem now is that I cannot decide which route to take.

I have a man and a woman escaping together (no, it’s not love yet, there are other reasons). He has arranged the escape; she is a prisoner at the facility.

Do they have supplies? That is the question.

If yes, they jump inside the vehicle and leave, end of act one. In act two it can became obvious that he has not a slightest idea what is needed and that he has packed the wrong stuff.

If no, they have to go back and fetch what is needed, but if they do they ought to be discovered, or else there is no point that they need to go back. But where would that lead? It must give us something that we don’t already know.

If no, and only he returns to avoid her from being discovered, she obviously takes the vehicle and goes on her own. Which of course would be an interesting situation, but I don’t think he is that stupid.

Why not a yes?

Because then the escape lacks tension. They both have the same goal, and that is usually not a good idea in a movie script.

I need some conflict between them. Any ideas?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A word: Halcyon

Halcyon - Idyllically calm and peaceful, marked by peace and prosperity

It is also a type of bird, a star, a role-playing game, a video-game console, a novel based on the TV-series Stargate Atlantis, a fictional capital city of the Thran civilization, names of songs and albums, names of ships, houses and a film studio.

Like Niveous this word sounds a bit mysterious, is little used in daily speech and writing and has a meaning that is useful. And it is then used as a name of all kinds of products and items that need a name with depth and meaning.

Halcyon comes direct from Latin and this in turn comes from Ancient Greek alcyon or alcyone.

Alcyone was in Greek mythology married to Ceyx, the son of the Morning Star. They were very happy, but succeeded in making Zeus angry with them and he threw a thunderbolt at Ceyx's ship, killing him. Alcyone then in great grief throws herself into the ocean.

By doing this Alcyone becomes a bird with the ability to calm a stormy sea.

And grief and despair turn to peace and harmony.


In The Recreators I've named an island Alsyone

Friday, May 15, 2009

In a movie everything is natural

They don’t just give him a notch; they smack him to the ground.

He is not only beaten; he is castrated as well.

As I’m closing on the ending of act one I realize what kind of world I have created.

I get dumbfounded when I’m confronting how extreme a story in a movie really is to bring out the strong emotions in the audience.

Everything needs to be so much bigger, more cruel, hard, and passionate than expected from a real-life situation, to make a viewer of the movie aware and take part in the story. It’s like we need to make absolutely sure with all guaranties possible that the audience gets the picture.

I remember “The General” with Buster Keaton where Annabelle with great drama twists her handkerchief and throws herself upon the bed in despair. We laugh at this way to act today. Today, acting should be natural.

Like anything in a movie is natural.

I think that when my grandkids look at a movie from today they will laugh and wonder why we needed to have everything four times bigger, more cruel, hard, and passionate than needed.

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why I write in English

Why I write in English

Why don’t you write in Swedish?

That is a common question I get. It is natural. English is my second language and I should be able to express myself much better in Swedish.

A Swedish scriptwriter gave me these comforting words: “If you had written lyrics no one would have questioned your choice of English and an International market.” That is true.

I have written scripts in Swedish, but the Swedish movie industry does not work like e g the American. Here directors write their own scripts. The market for my scripts is limited.

While an American screenwriting contest aim to find great scripts from unknown talents, you need to deliver a budget for filming with your script in a Swedish contest.

There is also a matter of attitude. In this country you stay in your box.

I have not had a single meeting with possible producers where my lack of proper screenwriting education has not been an issue. I'm not interested in giving up everything, getting an education for at least two years, but if I don't I'm not considered serious in what I’m doing. Period.

And I don’t get it. If my script isn’t good enough, fine, then tell me so, but if I have the right education or not, is my own business. I write. If I’m qualified or not should be judged from the result of my writing, not my background, in my opinion.

The final reason is quite simple: my characters speak English. They did that already when I started writing movie scripts.

Photo by: Christian Bickel
Image used under Creative Commons
Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Germany License
Image edited by the writer

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A little luck helped a careless writer

Since I had a little mismatch in my planning I needed a few more scenes. No real problem, because I knew right away what was missing.

But I didn’t write these ideas down.

During a writing session I had to leave in the middle of a scene - a parent of two little kids, you know - and when I returned the next day I hadn’t a slightest memory of where the scene was going and why.

The half-finished scene was there on the screen with all this splendid dialog, but what was they talking about and where was this supposed to end? I didn't even remember writing this in the first place.

I had to scoot back and try to recall where I was.

I succeeded.

This time.

Next time I might not be that lucky.

Write - It - Down!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The elephant of my life


”I had a vision yesterday” a colleague said. “Are you still drawing and painting and such?”

It was a very long time ago. But I never said that. I simply said “Sure, it happens”.

He told me an idea he had of a rebus that would become one of the company’s values. Could I draw that image?

It included an elephant.

An elephant… Big gray animal with a trunk. Never drawn an elephant in my whole life.

“Yes, sure. When do you need it?”

My brain screamed “NOOOO!”. And I love to prove it wrong. Big gray mass of fat should not control my life.

So I drew him an elephant.

If just everything in life were that simple to overcome.

See also:
My brain couldn't fool me this time
January 1980

Image by the writer

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A word: Laughter

A word: Laughter

Laughter – An expression of joy.

It’s from Old English “hleahtor” and this in turn from Proto-Germanic “hlahtroz”.

Proto-Germanic I am told is something as fascinating as a hypothetical prehistoric ancestor of all Germanic languages, including English.

What I find so interesting with this word is its spelling.

It took me quite long time before I was sure I had spelled it correctly. The advice I got once to pronounce the words as if they where Swedish to remember the spelling didn’t work on this word. It was simply impossible to pronounce.

And if this word has its origin in a hypothetical prehistoric language, I can understand why it is difficult to spell.

No, honestly, it is generally accepted that the Latin alphabet is not suited for English.

Laughter itself is no problem to pronounce. It’s more like the way is used to be spoken has changed, but the spelling remained.

To laugh is so fundamental in our human behavior that we love to give this feature to animals when possible, even though it is an ongoing debate whether they actually do that or not.

Have you also noticed that you feel better if you smile or laugh? There doesn’t need to be anything to laugh at in the first place, really. Use the backdoor and fool the brain you are having a good time, and the brain starts to produce all those happy feelings that makes you laugh.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Success as a screenwriter

Success as a screenwriter

Both The Rouge Wave and have two interesting blog posts. Both expresses things needed to succeed as a screenwriter in different ways.

The Rouge Wave’s blog entry is about the need to write all the time and not get stuck on one script and rewrite it over and over. She suggests writing two or three scripts a year and send them to contests. Then depending on feedback rewrite those projects that seem to have best changes. Leave the rest. expresses the need to be able to write on demand and be focused and fast when doing so. He tells us about several situations where he had been supposed to deliver almost at once and during awkward circumstances.

Personally I am writing on the first script where I’ve actually had discipline enough to do the homework properly from the start and not dived right into writing.

No, my project Kim started like all the other previous three – a vision and then right into writing. It was when I had finished the first act and was completely stuck in concrete that I realized something was wrong with the way I approached my ideas. About the same time I started this blog.

So it is with great interest I read this kind of articles, because they tell me that I am on the right way.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

23 ribs

23 ribs

We had biology test. I was fourteen, and the test was about the human skeleton. There was a question how many ribs we had. I didn’t remember if it was 22 or 24. Like so many others in that classroom I tried to count my ribs with my finger sliding down my ribcage. 22 or 24? 22 or 24?

When I got my test back I stared in disbelief at the answer I had written. I hadn’t been able to make up my mind and somehow settled for 23.

To make things worse, our biology teacher had told us that during her long career she had met pupils with the misconception that men was one rib short, since God according to one of the Creation stories in the Bible made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs.

I probably became one of these in her eyes. How else could I have come to the conclusion that there where an odd number of ribs in a ribcage?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Catalyst

The Catalyst is the thing that starts the reaction that makes the turning point into act two possible.

It is supposed to appear on page twelve in a 110 page script.

Mine appeared on page eight.

Yes, I have made my beat sheet and planned all my scenes, but my catalyst appeared on page eight anyway.


When I plan my scenes I decide what will happen, characters' goal, the point with the whole scene. But I don’t plan their length.

Simply because I think this has to come naturally.

If I know that a scene is supposed to be two minutes, it will be two minutes, but its dialog will probably become slow and quite bad.

If I on the other hand only concentrate on writing the best dialog there is, I think I get my scenes much better.

But, hello, I got my catalyst on page eight instead of twelve.

I decided to let it be for now and write the whole first act to get a better picture where things were going. I put great trust in my feeling for beat. Maybe the solution would reveal itself.

When I got to page twelve I looked amazed at what I had written. There was my catalyst. And a much better catalyst as well.

The arrival of the brother became part of the first ten minutes set-up which actually is where it should belong.

The brother’s meeting with the second main character became the catalyst instead; one with so much more tension and action.

See also:
Once again an Oscar-winning blockbuster is on its way
Planning scenes and confronting problems

Monday, May 4, 2009

A worn rag meets Monday

A worn rag meets Monday

A two-year-old in the middle of obstinate age who succeeds in two furious hour-long outbursts during Sunday and on top of all that falls bad in the garden cutting his chin so we at first think it needs stitching (too small though and it stopped bleeding quite quickly) and rips off any adhesive bandage that we try to apply.

Monday, at last.

See also:
Creative flow among nappies

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A word: Peccadillo

A word

A word: Peccadillo

Peccadillo - A petty misdeed, a small sin.

From Spanish "pecadillo" from "pecado", which means "sin". This in turn comes from Latin "peccare", "to sin".

I've never heard this word, but it struck me as kind of a cute word.

It's something very sweet about a word that's say "yes, I've sinned, but only a little." Like pilfering apples form the neighbor. It's no "so what"-attitude over this word. It's more like an embarrassing smile when caught with one's pockets full of fruit.