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Story development through the characters
Sunday, October 30, 2011


It is amazing how the story develops when I work with the characters.

I thought I was going to give the character depth and adding details to the story, not contribute to the major plot. But it did. I guess it is because I just have the basic story in place but not so may whys and hows. To work with the characters in this stage is something new for me. I’ve mostly done this fairly late in the process.

But this time I began with the characters early and they began to contribute at once. And they reproduced. One son became two. It seemed too unrealistic that she should flirt with a twelve-year-old and in the next breath treat him like a kid. It was over the top in bizarre relations too. At least if the relation is no real conflict in the story. It became much better with two brothers.

Suddenly the whole first act is there.

The removed scene
Thursday, October 27, 2011



My mother considered my last version of Sunlight. She thought I should put back a scene I removed. What scene, I asked. The one where they return from the city without supplies, because they run out of it (they live in a world with limited supplies of everything), she replied.

There never been such scene.

That scene was created in her head after reading the previous version. Pretty interesting. I’ve heard of that phenomenon before. When the Danish television sent a reprise of Matador (Monopoly) they got hundreds of angry calls asking why they had cut way a scene.
It was an old maid who had got married at last, but when her husband was about to make love to her she got so scared – she had no clue about sex – she had pushed him out on the balcony in the middle of the winter only wearing pajamas. She had not let him in until dawn. This scene was no longer there.

Except that scene wasn’t even filmed. This was something told by the widow (her husband had suddenly and unexpectedly died from pneumonia). But hundreds of people could ensure that they had seen the scene with him on the balcony in pajamas in the middle of the winter.

Just as my mother was so sure I had cut a scene from the script.

The Power of Bitterness - Writing the logline
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

As promised:

My new feature script will have the title
"The Power of Bitterness".

And the logline is:
"A long lost princess, with mysterious abilities and a dark mind, desires the throne that was once her destiny, when the King's cousin takes over the crown with force; leaving her to choose if she should fight for her own ambition, or the fate of others."

This is how the process went:

I began with writing who's the main character, main character's goal and the hook. I got this:

Who: A three hundred year old assassin with mysterious powers
Goal: Desires the thrown that was once her destiny
Hook: The King's power greedy cousin takes over the crown with force and kills anyone that opposes him.

I put it together and got:

"A three hundred year old assassin, with mysterious powers, desires the throne that was once her destiny, when the King's cousin takes over the crown with force, and extinguish anyone that opposes him."

It didn't work out. If the person have had three hundred years to do something, why hasn't she before? And a three hundred year old woman doesn't make you think of a barbie doll, but rather a classic witch.

So:

Who: A long lost princess with mysterious powers.

"A long lost princess, with mysterious abilities and a dark mind, desires the throne that was once her destiny, when the King's cousin takes over the crown with force, and extinguish anyone that opposes him."

Hm, sure, but why care? She is obviously not a nice person and if she or the cousin has the power does not matter much to us.

I removed the fact about the new king, which is actually not very interesting and added a little vital addition to the end and I got the final result:

"A long lost princess, with mysterious abilities and a dark mind, desires the throne that was once her destiny, when the King's cousin takes over the crown with force; leaving her to choose if she should fight for her own ambition, or the fate of others."

What do you think?

To fly without wings - a short by Sx2 Productions
Sunday, October 23, 2011



"To fly without wings" is Sx2 Productions latest short film. It is very poetic. The narrator is speaking Swedish, but if I tell you it is about fulfilling your dreams, I think the pictures tell the rest.

Writing the logline
Friday, October 21, 2011


I must get going with creating my logline and finding the prefect title for my still untitled project.

It is something that will not happen if I don’t put my foot down and pull myself in the collar.

So, the 25th I’ll present the title and the logline.

I’ve heard other writers who do not dare to publish these things on the Internet. Am I a fool? I think not. Attention is the best thing a writer can get. If I write that I write, but do my best to hide what I am writing on, the situation will be quite comical. If I present a stunning logline and tell that the script is on the way, I have amped it all up.

Stealing? Sure you can write a script on my logline, it is a risk I take. But it will not be the same script. And if it comes down to it, it does not look good to write a script of someone else’s logline, which is so obviously published on another writer’s page. I dare say I take a greater risk, not publishing. A logline must be fretted by other people. I must tell it to others to know if it works. Please, do not prove me wrong on this one.

By the way, I’ll rewrite the logline for Sunlight when I’m on it. It sucks.

Here are some resources for writing longlines:


In short:
  1. Present the main character.
  2. Tell us what he/she strive for.
  3. Add the hook.
All in one stunning, selling sentence.

Some things you don't want to see
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oh my God, I can't stop crying. Some things you don't want to see with your own eyes. (Don't) look att this.

A superhero script
Wednesday, October 19, 2011




I was browsing through my copy of “Save the Cat”, to remind myself of the different type of movies, according to the writer Blake Snyder.

I wanted some inspiration for my new feature. What kind of story is it? I believe that a category can help me to form the story and find focus and structure.

First I thought it was a “Quest for a Golden Fleece” but the book stated that these are both a journey inwards as well as an actual, physical journey. On second thought, no, it is not a quest for a golden fleece. It is not that type of story.

“Dude with a problem” then? Yes, that must be it. She gets her world overturned, facing a monumental problem when someone jails her with the intention to cut her head off. “An ordinary guy finds himself in extraordinary circumstances.” She is a three hundred years old assassin with divine powers. An Ordinary guy? Nah. . . Think not.

Now, some may say that I should write any story I want. And that is true; to a certain degree. I must know what I write and why. I believe there is knowledge to find in human history. We have told each other stories probably since we could talk. Some told better stories than others; people listened to and learned from them, also passing on what made those stories better. Even if it may sound boring that all stories told today fit a limited amount of pattern, I think these are the types of stories that work best.

I think, if I just take my world and my characters and write away and see where I end up, I get something no one will like and I will get an enormous job to rewrite it all.

I trust that by learning the patterns I can find out what my story is. If I by any chance should find that my story does not fit anywhere I’ll have to take a stand, then, if my story will work anyway or not.

Actually, my new story turned out to be a “Superhero” story. “An extraordinary person finds himself in an ordinary world” reads the book and continues “human superheroes that are challenged by the mediocre world around them”. He gives “A Beautiful Mind” as an example.

(To my astonishment I realized that my previous story from this world “The Recreators” is a superhero story. I’ve never thought about it, but it is. My odd baby has found a place in the family.)

I have the story pretty clear, but there is still work left before I begin to write.

Title and log line. Those things mean focus. That’s next.

Then I’ll work with the characters. There are five of them right now. The main character, the best friend, the villain and two more whom I’ve not quite come to terms with yet.

In another place
Monday, October 17, 2011



Sometimes I read my own blog.

It’s not because of any huge ego. It’s because the blog is my small world where my dreams are true. I go there in a vain hope to that it represents my whole professional life.

I go there when my day-job seems endlessly boring, and I feel I’m going insane. It is like a rock in stormy waters, a safehouse in a hostile land.

Sometimes I wish I could step into the world behind the screen and live that life instead.

Sometimes I feel the world is standing still, and though I want to run ahead, my feet are stuck.

The instinct to flee is strong. But I’m hunted by nothing than myself. Where is there to run?

This blog is a part of me. By reading it, I remind myself of what I am. One day I will not need to run.

Free download movie script structure template
Sunday, October 16, 2011

This is the template I use when I work with the structure of a movie script. It is a FreeMind mind map.
http://www.4shared.com/get/m8ewo0c3/ScriptStructureTemplate.html
You may download and use it, as long as it is not sold or used in any other commercial situations.

It is based on Blake Snyder's beat sheet and some other sources in a mix. It is a base I have found useful. If you develop it or have ideas, please let me know.

Show Me the Funny! - A review
Saturday, October 15, 2011


Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis - the writers of "Show Me the Funny!" - have interviewed no less than 22 writers of sitcoms and comedies for the book. They have presented each writer with a treatment to use as a base for the discussion. That was a absolutely brilliant move. By giving every interview the same material to talk about, each writer’s way of thinking and approaching the task became clearer than any other interviews I’ve read.

In short, the story was about newly widowed Molly which moves into her daughter Sarah’s home.

This could be the base for any story, not necessarily something funny. This fact was something I missed in the book. The difference between making the situation funny, and turning into something dark and depressing, was never really discussed. One writer I felt searched into “the dark side” of the story making the mother deliberately ruin life for the daughter, but it was never expressed that she would make a Bergman out of it.

It felt overlooked what makes a situation something we laugh at versus something that makes us cry. I’ve read in another book that the reason Fawlty Towers works although Basil calls her wife names all the time, is because Cybil – the wife – just lets it slide off and not let it affect her. If we had seen her cry, it would no longer have been a comedy. I would have liked a much greater exploration about this in “Show me the funny”.

I think I would have grasped it better, if I had had any experience about the sitcoms, that were mentioned and referred to. I’ve not watched a sitcom in the past ten or fifteen years at least.

I tremendously enjoyed the interviews and all the different aspects of creative writing and ways to look upon a rough idea. It was fascinating to see how different the stories developed in the writers’ hands. Comedy or not didn’t really matter. This was the great gain of reading the book and something I’ll probably go back to and read again.

Mind map templates for movie scripts
Friday, October 14, 2011




I work very much with mind maps in the beginning of the process.

I have a mind map for the structure, which I feel I should develop a little bit more to help me better. I think I should do one for characters at well.

Would you be interested in downloading these templates if they were available?

Plot Control - as my brain works?
Thursday, October 13, 2011



I got an offer to buy “Plot Control” through InkTip.

I looked at the commercial video and I admit I was tempted. The only problem was that there was no demo to download. Even if there was a guarantee I would get my money back within 60 days if I wasn’t satisfied, I still want a free demo to test. The demo could have had the save function eliminated and you would have a functional demo that no one could work with for real, but do all the testing needed.

Why do I want a demo instead of simply returning the product? There are two reasons for this. One is that a buy demands that I test right away and have to remember to make a decision within the limited time; otherwise I have to keep the product. The other reason is that I figure that the company rely on this forgetfulness; a sort of use I contemn.

So, even if Plot Control seemed like an interesting program, I will not test it on those terms.

No, I don’t trust that it will be what I want. If I thought that there would be a fair chance that it would fulfil all it said to do in the commercial, I would probably buy and try it, even if I don’t like the demo-free idea. You see, when someone claims that a software works just as my brain does, it is just as waving a red cloth in front of a bull. I’ve so far only seen software that are structured and organised. The note board software and Internet services I have tried have had demands on organising my notes. My brain is not interested in an organised pattern of things.

When I – as I am now – working on the first sketches of a feature, I write an rtf-document. What I really want, but have not found, is a program that let me write in the same way – with flow – but spitting out notes pinning them to a virtual board – and keeping them in a fairly unorganised manner. At least they should be a little tilted and partly cover each other.

Then I want to be able to take a note and pin it to a skeleton of a structure instead. And then in turn pin it to the script. It is much easier to follow the thoughts and remember whats and whys if you can link back. Maybe things get invalid in time, but that is beside the point. I don’t want to check three or four different documents to find an answer to what I was thinking when I planned things in a certain way.

And they claim that Plot Control works as my brain does. I think not. I’ll be the first to cheer if they can prove me wrong.

Finances
Wednesday, October 12, 2011



Why can I write a screenplay, have a decent result at an IQ-test and have studied math on a high level, but can’t understand the bookkeeping of my own company? It’s not rocket science.

I have it all on paper, the traditional way, in a faint hope to grasp what I am doing. The first year I struggled with the numbers, to get it right at the end of the year. After that, I figured I understood how it worked.

Yesterday when I was catching up with the journals I suddenly realised that I had switched the numbers on every journal entry since February. What’s my goddamn problem?! I’m not that stupid in other areas. What is so problematic with bookkeeping?

I buy something it cost me a sum of money. This money is the price and then VAT. The total sum goes into one column, the VAT in one and the price without in another. Why do I mix up where the total sum and the price without VAT go? It should not be that difficult. The total sum is what it actually costs me; it reduces my capital.

No, it is not rocket science, but it is abstract.

Finances have always been some form of abstract magic in my eyes, making situation change because you put money on another account. A CEO can claim it is advantageous for the company to outsource because that cost – a higher one, than for the own staff – doesn’t end up on the account for employees, which in turn result in a better key ratio. It costs more but in an area where no one cares. Still it is the same company.

Do I try to find an excuse for mixing up the prices with and without VAT? I guess so. Just as I flunked the probability theory test at University because I had decided that it was all humbug.

Old Tommy is among the 50
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

YES! "The Death of Old Tommy" is among the top 50! The plot thickens. The 2011 Movie Script Short Contest: The Golden Brad Awards will announce the top 25 the 17th.

 There are some wonderful titles on the list that I would like to read just based on their titles:
  • "Death Doesn't Like Me" (by Steve Daniels)
  • "Diary of a Short, Fat Hitman" (by Scott Miskelly)
  • "A Temporary Truth" (by Jonathan Draxton)
Aren't those titles just unresitable? I have - of course - no idea if they are better than top 50, and even less information about those who wrote them, but I hope that I some day will get the chance to read those scripts.

Businesscards delivered
Sunday, October 9, 2011

 

Gothenburg Film Studios is 10 000 m², and I dare say it is the second largest in Sweden. They have studios, offices, catering and equipment – all you need, except for the actual crew. But I would not be surprised if they could help you with that too.


And in the middle of the area lies this building. It is an old gas factory, now out of use and totally locked down. Felt rather strange to have this rough and tattered house as a center.  I just had to take these pictures. Hopefully it will turn into a studio one day.



As you might have guessed, the speed-dating for movie makers on Friday was at Gothenburg Film Studios. What struck me when I was there, was how kind and open the atmosphere was. People I never met smiled and said hi just because I happened to be close by. I met several fascinating people, which I hope I will be able to stay in touch with.

Saturday was filled with seminars and a guided tour around the area. There was also an option to sign up for a personal meeting with some of those people that have some influence in the bigger picture.

I wanted one of those meetings. In my world, they are fantastic opportunities and something to line up for. In my world, if something starts at ten, you are there at ten. Since I wanted to make sure that one of those five meeting opportunities with SVT became mine, I was there early. To be first in line. I was the only one in line for thirty minutes. About ten to ten, we were two in line. That is something I have so hard to grasp with these cultural people – a group to which I don’t yet feel I fully belong – why you are expected to turn up twenty minutes after the set time.  I got the meeting I desired, but I wouldn’t have had to bother freezing for so long.

The meeting with representatives from SVT (which is the Swedish Television) went well. Not as I had hoped, but still well. I got splendid feedback on the idea I pitched. They were not interested in that particular idea, but I was told why and got some advice on where to take it further. What more could I ask for?

Then I listened to a seminar with four makers of documentaries passing over many years in time. One of them Linda Västrik who lived over a year in the jungles of Kongo. I’ve met her briefly one time before, not knowing what fascinating stories she had to tell. I hope I one day will get the opportunity to hear more about this adventure.

I also listened to a guy from a new company called Pocketfilm which have a very interesting perspective on media and its distribution.  And they expressed interest in reading scripts.

Cold and tired I got home like a worn rag and almost fell into bed.

Photos belong to the writer

Finding new ideas
Friday, October 7, 2011



I want to get to work on a new feature project.

I just don’t know what.

Of course I have some images floating around in my head. That is something I’ve always have. It is however not obvious that these images can be transformed into a story.

I need to find something to tell. That logline, the very core of the story.

Originally the story of The Recreators was about to be one of several stories from this world. I still have the map I draw long ago. The Recreators is still the script I like best among the three I think is worthy showing to people.

Should I return to that world? If I do, will I be able to write an independent story? I don’t want to tell the same thing over again.

Oh my, how the images begin to bubble as I write this very blog entry.

Only to fade again when the logical part of my brain dismiss the fragments. Damn it. I don’t need a quality check at this very moment. Give the images some room, give them a chance.

Breath.

Relax.

And write down the characters that come to you and see what you get.

Mingle and networking
Thursday, October 6, 2011



Tomorrow I’ll be on speed-dating with other movie making people. I’ll stuff my pockets with business cards, put on my screenwriter’s public face and tell myself I enjoy mingling.

Mentally I would prefer to stay at home. Practically, I need to show myself and meet with people that make movies; especially when screenwriting is such neglected area in Sweden.

I have a box of two hundred and fifty business cards with my company’s name and the bold line “Movie scripts as you want them”. Not only do I mean it – cocksure as it may be – but it is also a little bit of humour in it: how many products and services have not been sold under this slogan? But never movie scripts, as far as I know.

I’m pretty tired of being humble about my writing. Do you get a job by saying words as “a little” and “maybe” and “some”? No. And I have confidence in my writing. Why then is it so easy to say “I’m pretty sure that I can write you a script” instead of “I’m sure I can write you a script”?

I am sure I can write you a script. Any script.

Yes, I suppose that attitude may cause irritation. But if you were about to invest money, would you prefer someone with confidence or someone with a lot of “maybe” and “some”? What I care about is whether or not my writing is to satisfaction, not if I’m liked as a person.

This does not mean that I cannot take criticism and feedback. In this area, I’m very humble. As a person, I think I am easy to work with. Just tell me what you like and don’t like and what you want and I rewrite it.

Still, I’m not much for saying this in public. Writing is one thing. As well as I have confidence in my writing, I have the confidence to write that I have confidence. That confidence tends to fly away like a balloon when I meet people face to face. I have to hold the string to the balloon tight and not begin babbling like a buffoon – in the worst case with a high-pitched voice.

With a little luck, the lasting impression of me is my persuading and glossy business card.

Characters and conflicts in Sunlight
Wednesday, October 5, 2011




I thought that I would just add a few pages in the beginning of Sunlight. The setup was lousy and too short. All I needed was about five to ten pages to present the environment and the daily life.


And sure, I added some pages in the beginning, but any ten of them was out of the question. I couldn’t find anything to tell that would fit. I presented the world on less pages and that was that.


As I continued to read I found conflicts to expand. In my urge to enter scenes late and leave early, I sometimes don’t stay long enough to show the true potential of a conflict.


Most writers I’ve heard about end up with too long scripts. Mine are too short. I’m an expert on the minimalistic, always afraid to end up with mindless chatter and pointless scenes. Beside the fact that it is no fun to end up with ninety pages instead of a hundred and ten, it is far easier to expand and develop than cut and kill.


In this story, we have soldiers and "desert rats", two groups of people looking on each other as enemies. Yet one of the "desert rats" takes the risk of entering the fort. Why? To find medicine to someone dying. Why did she take that risk – a lethal risk? People must get sick from time to time and sometimes die in her community. Why would she take this risk for this person? The reason was suddenly so obvious I was almost embarrassed I hadn’t thought about it before: she was in love.


Love is one of the themes in the story. The soldiers think in terms of breeding and responsibility for the survival of mankind. The "desert rats" talks about love, but the supporting character – the one doing the break-in in the fort – is alone and single, without a partner. As I rewrote it, she has lost her loved one. So when the soldier talkes about her responsibility to become a mother, the bare lecture gave more depth and conflict to the scene. And I also explored the fact that my main character is sterile – but still preaches about reproducing.


My supporting character is somewhat of a bitch, but she is from a peaceful community. She was a bit like a black sheep in the group, being angry and upset, instead of being Yoda. No matter how harmonic the rest of the group might be, this character is still representing them in this story. This supporting character and the main character are supposed to be each others opposites. But both of them get upset and call each others names and other quite similar behaviour in many ways. I needed to show her different point of view more clearly. I pushed my main character to be more violent and showed the supporting character drawing a line she never crosses.


I’ve also done a setup for a far more interesting second half of the story. Lets hope this grand flow of writing spirit stays for yet a while.

Image by the writer

A magical moment with a wolf
Tuesday, October 4, 2011




I met a wolf this morning.

I left home early. It was still dark. I saw it standing in silhouette on the sidewalk with the street light behind it.

"A wolf? Here?" I thought. It watched me, standing there, on the sidewalk, in the suburbs, far from any large forest.

The moment was magical. I was alone with a wolf!

I walked closer.

The wolf moved into the shadows of a few trees.

Something else moved in those shadows: the owner of the dog, holding its leash.

Image by Désirée Nordlund

The beauty of remakes
Monday, October 3, 2011



George Lucas, please remake Star Wars part IV to VI

I can’t understand people who object to remakes of old movies. It’s not like the original movie disappears. If you prefer the original, please continue to do so. Personally, I think a compelling story is something to treasure. And then it is worthy a remake to let new generations enjoy it.

We bought the Blue-Ray Star Wars box and began from part one. When we started with part four, we stared in disbelief. This is the first Star Wars movie made. It was made in 1977. That means it is almost as old as me. It was made with a low budget, and although the three movies preceding this were planned, they were not yet made. The jump from the magnificent part three with Hayden Christensen’s brilliant change from good to evil, making the dark side flooding the screen and sending vibes all the way down to my toes, to the next movie with two stiff men waving their light sables a little at each other was devastating. No tension at all.

Not only did part four lack to follow up part three in many aspects, but we also realized that our kids will never enjoy these movies. They will surely like the chronologically first three, but the rest? No. My oldest son looks forward to see Star Wars. He has decided that when he is eight he is old enough. But I think he will be so disappointed. What his parents thought was cool when they grow up he will find rather flat. Few movies survive more than thirty years, especially ones with special effects.

It is a classic movie, and it deserves every place it has in the movie history. But you can’t expect a classic movie to be more than nostalgia and a child of its time.

I watched the whole movie, seeing all the things that could have been done so much more intriguing today. And ground my teeth in sadness that my son will see nothing more than a cheap, plastic movie with a flat and harmless Darth Vader.

George Lucas
Photo by Nicolas Genin
Edited by the writer

Thanks to

Update on "The Death of Old Tommy"

I am happy to announce that my short script "The Death of Old Tommy" is still going strong. It is on the The 2011 Movie Script Short Contest: The Golden Brad Awards top 75 short scripts. The top 50 will be announced the 10th.