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Baby Writers To Script Doctors

Due to the very nature of this job, writers work on their own. In the early days of the studio system, writers were herded into office buildings where they would work at rows of desks, waiting for directions from the studio's head moguls, writing script after script for a musical or a feature being shot coincidentally on the lot. This mass gathering of writers broke up when the studio system broke up, and writers were then given their own offices on studio property. Many of them were allowed to work there year round. This arrangement changed when space became sparse, and writers were then allotted an office only when working on a specific project and for a limited amount of time. With the birth of independent films and their production, writers became stay-at-home workers, and to this day, many work off the studio lots in the comfort of their own homes or personal offices. Writers occasionally work with writing partners. That is the extent of their collaboration with others during the...

Working with Other Writers

Writers in television take different approaches to their work. Some work best alone, while others like to write with one or more partners. Many writers are part of larger writing teams, and thrive on the ongoing stimulation and pressure. Finding the writing style that fits your personality is integral to your creativity and to your own brand of discipline. As you'll see throughout this book, virtually every aspect of television involves other people. Television is a highly collaborative medium, so by talking to other writers and producers, joining a writers' group or starting one, taking a class, and reading books about writing for television, you can expand your creative horizons.

Two Young Scribes J Ryan Writer

Ryan eats, drinks, lives, and sleeps the writer's life. He has the look of the early Beat Writers, a quintessential squint of questioning remains ever on his face as if he is in constant thought thought about how he can make his everyday life and all that appears in front of him work in a scene in one of his latest screenplays. He is twenty-five years old and has written numerous screenplays and stage plays to date. He is dedicated to being a full-fledged screenwriter and is in search of being discovered.

Writers Guild of America Registration

Although it doesn't take the place of a copyright, writers can protect their work by registering it with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), the primary union for television and film writers that legally registers thousands of literary works each year. This registration establishes the completion date of a literary property, which includes written treatments, outlines, synopses, and scripts that have been written for radio, theatrical and television motion picture, video cassettes disks, and interactive media. The registration provides a dated record of the writer's claim to authorship of the registered literary material. WGA, similar to copyrights, cannot protect a title. This registration is valid for up to five years, and it can be renewed for another five years. A non-WGA member can register a script for a small fee. Check their Web site,, for more details.

Structuring the Real The Writer Director Team

An example of how present-tense talk-show worlds are shaped invisibly by writer-director teams behind the scenes can be found on a David Letterman show broadcast October 15,1986. It was the night of the New York Mets and Houston Astros baseball playoff game for the National League baseball title, and the baseball game being broadcast on another network became the focus of one of the major comedy routines of the evening. But were these interruptions as spontaneous as they seemed In fact, all of the interruptions that evening were planned. They were directed by writer Jeff Martin and director Hal Gurnee from the control room.

Never Wanted to Be a Writer

O I never wanted to be a writer I only wanted to act. But there was no theater, film, or TV that reflected my generation or responded to my community. So why be an actor if you're going to act about nothing that has to do with your community I developed my work, orally, in front of an audience. I've forced myself to become a writer, but that's certainly not how it started out.

Hiring A Screenwriter

Often a writer will pitch an idea to a production company in the hopes that the production company will hire her to write the screenplay. (See Idea Rights, p. 51.) Or a filmmaker will have an idea or own the rights to literary property and need to hire a writer to turn that idea or property into a screenplay. (See Literary Adaptations, p. 65.) At the outset it is critical that the production company that hires the writer complies with all of the state and federal labor and employment laws. (See Labor and Employment Law, p. 307 Hiring Cast and Crew, p. 117.)

The Move to Rome and Fellinis Precinematic Career as a Writer

Federico Rossellini

Soon, the friends Fellini met would play a determinative role in the choice of his eventual career as cartoonist, journalist, gagman, and scriptwriter. Fellini began to work on Marc'Aurelio, a widely distributed and highly influential biweekly humor magazine filled with gags, cartoons, and brief comic sketches. Between 1939 and the end of November 1942 (the date of Fellini's last contribution to the magazine), Fellini's work included more than two thousand pages of text - cartoons, gags, comic columns.11 The Marc'Aurelio experience also inspired Fellini's first book, a small pamphlet probably published in 1942 (there is no publication date on the title page) under the title Il mio amico Pasqualino My Friend Pasqualino . It contains numerous drawings that attest to the influence of the comic-strip style of Op-per Pasqualino bears a clear physical resemblance to Happy Hooligan. Perhaps even more intriguing is the possibility that the content of this book may well...

Postmodern And Postfilm School Writers

For the first half of the twentieth century, writers in Hollywood generally came from other fields, such as writing novels or stage plays, and found themselves writing for the screen unexpectedly and without any previous screenwriting experience. In the second half of the filmmaking century, the films feature modern-day screenwriters, who are generally graduates of film schools, unaware of any form of writing other than for the screen. Finally, Benson admits that a writer's life is a terribly lonely one. Gabrielle replies coyly with Have you any idea what happens next And, of course, they fall in love, sixties-movie-kind-of-love where everything is Technicolor-perfect and they live happily ever after. End of story. Amen. That new breed of filmmaker is portrayed as Nick Chapman (Kevin Bacon), a writer-director fresh out of film school, wins the NFI (National Film Institute, an American Film Institute lookalike) trophy for his student film First Date. Everyone who is anyone in Hollywood...

Collaborating With The Writer

Since all of our work as directors is collaborative, I feel strongly that the collaboration with the writer should be the starting point. But in order to have a fruitful dialogue with the writer, the director must have his own sense of what he she sees in the material and what he she would want it to communicate to the audience in its final form. In order to be able to succinctly express this vision of the material, it is essential to be able to articulate specifically that which begins for the director as a subconscious awareness or a series of pictures in ones' head. However, I believe that the responsibility of the director also must include the realization of the writer's intent. It therefore becomes necessary to find common ground, making sure that ones' vision is compatible with what the writer intended, or getting the agreement of the writer to a somewhat different vision. Thus meeting with the writer to ask questions and have discussions about story line, character, and the...

Working with Union Writers

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is the union for professional screenplay and television writers. If you want to hire a writer or buy a script from a writer who is a member of the WGA, you may need to become a signatory with that union.A signatory is a company that has signed, and therefore agreed to abide by the collective bargaining agreement of the WGA, known as the WGA Theatrical and Television Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA). If anything in your contract with the writer you hire conflicts with the MBA, your conflicting terms disappear and the MBA's terms govern in their place. Example Even though the signatory producer wants to give three people story by credit, the MBA limits the amount of writers able to receive that credit to two. Since the film is done under the WGA contract, only two writers may be given story by credits in the final film. Minimum payment for WGA writers

Step by Step Hiring Writers

If your production company is considering working with a WGA writer, that company must become a WGA signatory. (See The Writers Guild of America, p. 69.) 3. The production company must comply with the labor and employment laws when hiring any writer, regardless of whether they are in the WGA. (See Appendix D A Filmmaker's Guide to Labor and Employment Law, p. 307.) 9. Exercise the option at each stage by having a written notice sent to the writer and the writer's representatives (i.e., agents, lawyers, etc.).

Working Internally as an Actor and Writer

Many actors in America are trained in internal or psychological acting techniques. The Actors Studio, using the famous method technique, bases a great deal of the work on the actor's personal life and his inner responses to the character he is working on. Prior to having a character, writers can use some of these exercises to trigger their imagination to create one. This is, once again, like going to the other side of the mirror. Writers can use some of the method techniques and exercises, and then combine what they discover with some improvisation work and imagination. By working senso-rially, using their own memories, and then adding their imagination to the stew, writers can create all sorts of characters from a very personal place. Writers working this way aren't working from their head, but from their inner experiences and memories. Continuing to work internally like this, the writer can imagine how the character he's developed would respond in different situations. The...

Understanding Writers Block

One solution to the problem of writer's block is to realize that to get there (wherever it is you're hoping to go, creatively) you have to start with here. And here is the room that you're in, with nothing on that paper, nothing on that tape, and no energy. You have to allow and accept the present moment. You have to live with the frustration that, indeed, nothing is happening. Just acknowledge it, try to live with it, and, when you're ready, move on.

The Similarities Differences between Being an Actor and Working as a Writer

The most obvious similarities between the actor and the writer are that both are creative artists and both use their imagination in their work. That ability to use your imagination as an actor will be very helpful in the work we'll be doing here. Generally, the actor interprets and performs what the writer playwright has written. The interdependence of both professions should be obvious. However, the actor's creative life involves constant collaboration with other artists (the director, other actors, etc.) early on in a play's production. The writer generally does his initial creating alone. After he's written the play, he collaborates with the production team (producer, director, actors, etc.). Since this book offers guidance for actors in creating their own material, we'll be looking at techniques and approaches that merge both of these professions. As you will note in Part II, not all actors creators work as the traditional writer does, although some do adhere to a more writerly...

Developing Your Monologue as a Writer

Similarly, as a writer, this also is a time when you should allow impulses and ideas to lead you. Let yourself be both the leader and the follower. If what you're writing makes you smile or laugh, assume that it's funny, and that an audience will also laugh. If it makes you cry, trust that it will have the same effect on an audience.

Comparing the Actors and the Writers Processes of Starting

At the beginning of a new monologue or monologue play, you, the writer, are opening a door for yourself. From the very first lines you write, you are taking yourself somewhere, although you may not be quite sure where yet. The more spontaneous you can allow yourself to be, the more personal and original your work will be. Both actors and writers begin at a similar point a place of vulnerability, openness, potential. Anything can happen the sky's the limit

Baby Writers

Baby writers are usually young writers, or first or second-time writers who are brought in to rewrite a script when the production cannot afford a script doctor. These are serious writers, who take a stab at rewriting a script that is seemingly in trouble. This is a nice opportunity for young or not-so-mature writers to establish themselves as writers in their own right or upcoming script doctors. Baby writers are, of course, individuals of legal age anywhere from eighteen to fifty-five don't let the name mislead you. Overall, writers are writers, and they can work independently or exclusively with a producer or studio. The level of burnout is high. Writers need time and space between projects in order to be fresh and productive. However, once they sell their first major script, it is to their advantage to stay in the limelight as long as possible, producing screenplay after screenplay, for it is often that a career crashes and burns once the writer has peaked with one or two major...

Sign Writer Painter

Picture this The main character is walking around a back lot set up to look like a downtown area. In her hand is a crumpled-up piece of paper with the name of a business. She sees it, written in fancy letters, arched in a semicircle in the front window of the shop. She goes inside, and the scene continues. But if that shop doesn't already exist, someone has to design and letter the shop window. That's the job of the sign writer, or sign painter. While the pay is better than that for the average painter, the job difficulty is also greater. A sign writer should know how to letter in a number of fonts (type styles) as well as how to create effects such as drop shadows or italics or, like in the example, writing in a semicircle. The sign painter is responsible for all the signs in the film, whether they are signs painted on glass on the front window ofa shop, street signs, or even placards announcing the end ofthe world. A good design sense is a definite asset, as is a sense of the...

Writers Services

This section details the specific services the production company is hiring the writer to perform. The steps and product forms are specified (e.g., writing a treatment and the first draft of screenplay) along with the delivery periods within which the writer must deliver the product form. Option Periods. During the reading period, the production company usually has an option on the writer's services. If this option is exercised, the writer is obligated to write and deliver the next product form. Options usually run concurrently with reading periods. Postponement of Services. The production company typically has the right to postpone the writer's services on any particular step for a period of up to 2 years. If such postponement occurs, the production company may ask the writer to resume writing upon the condition that it does not conflict with any contractual obligations the writer may be under at that time.

Advice to Writers

For writers everywhere, there is a constant choice to be made regarding those in power and your work. Whether it's a producer or editor or film studio people, you have to decide on what it is you want to say. You must decide how much you're willing to let them influence your choices. I don't mean that there is a constant danger, that these people are out to hurt you. But it is a constant choice to be made. You must decide if what they suggest is helping you to say what you're trying to say. Or is this something that that person wishes this piece was You must decide, To what extent am I willing to compromise myself There is a balance to be struck between saying what you have to say and allowing in genuinely good suggestions.

Barbara Walters The Tender Trap

In 1961, Walters became a freelance writer on the Today show.32 Through persistent effort she advanced from freelance writer to regular staff writer, to reporter, and in 1964, the third time she had asked producer Al Morgan for the job, she became the sixteenth Today girl,'' a job which consisted of sitting decoratively at the desk and assisting the main anchor with lively talk and light features. Walters took over the position from actress Maureen O'Sullivan and built it into a permanent spot for herself as reporter and cohost of the show. By the mid-1960s Walters had succeeded her friend Arlene Francis as the best-known female news talk host in an industry dominated by men.

Pollack and Redford Liberals sound the conspiracy alarm

Pollack's film was based on James Grady's novel Six Days of the Condor, published by W W. Norton in April 1974. Grady was a precocious freelance writer in his early twenties, whose imagination was fuelled by a recent stint as a Congressional journalist intern. His book told the story of CIA bookworm Ronald Malcolm, who uncovers a renegade cell operating within the CIA that is killing agency colleagues to cover up a Vietnam-related heroin-smuggling racket. In late 1973, even before Six Days of the Condor had appeared on the shelves, independent producers Dino De Laurentiis and Stanley Schneider Two writers adapted James Grady's book for the screen Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who had co-scripted The Parallax View, and David Rayfiel, who had scripted The Way We Were. Their work took several twists and turns. Semple's first draft, submitted in early October 1974, followed the main contours of the novel. This depicted the CIA having secretly set up an anti-communist army in Laos at the behest of...

Development And Planning

Once the range of projects was decided in terms of budget and genre, work commenced on planning the individual films. Projects normally originated with the script department, a unit all major producers had instituted by 1911. Normally, potential scripts were selected by readers from existing sources such as novels, plays, radio shows, or even existing movies. The Wizard of Oz (1939), for instance, had previously existed in all these forms by the time it was put into production. Other films began life as original screenplays, normally by writers under contract to the studio, since producers rarely purchased original screenplays from freelance writers for fear of copyright infringement. Scripts conformed to a standardized format, with brief camera and set instructions in the left-hand column and dialogue to the right. Each step of the process was subjected to detailed critical evaluation and numerous revisions before it was allowed to progress to the next stage of writing. As the...

The Influence Of Bazin And Auteurism

Following World War II, a new generation of critics challenged the definition of film artistry posited by early theorists and historians, embracing cinematic realism and expanding the orthodox canon. Such writers as Andre Bazin (1918-1958) and Roger Leenhardt (1903-1985) located the essence of cinema in its capacity to record, preferring an aesthetic that respected the specificity, continuity, and ambiguity of the world in front of the camera rather than one that transformed it. Where earlier critics attempted to define cinema as a unique art form, Bazin described it as an impure art, acknowledging its links with theater and literature. Bazin celebrated the cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, elevated the reputation The missionary zeal of many auteur devotees invariably led to new canon formation. The young writers at Cahiers du cinema formed the vanguard of auteur criticism, elevating Max Ophuls (1902-1957), Jacques Tati (1909-1982), Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980), and Howard Hawks...

Honorable Mentions

Best Friends (Warner Bros., 1982) The Lonely Lady (Universal, 1983) The Muse (October Films, 1999) Look to the eighties for two very mediocre films about writers, Best Friends, starring Goldie Hawn and Burt Reynolds as married screenwriters, and The Lonely Lady, which stars Pia Zadora as a struggling screenwriter. Both of these films expose the usual ups and downs of the screenwriting life, making it seem very ordinary, actually. And finally, the last entry of writers' movies of the twentieth century is Albert Brooks's The Muse, which is mostly a culmination of every Hollywood clich seen in every other movie about Hollywood writers. Nothing new here, and certainly nothing that illuminates or helps one to understand the profession.

Working with an Agent

Yet finding an agent can be a frustrating catch-22 for new writers. Typically, an agent only wants to represent established writers, but how can you establish yourself without an agent If you've already sold your script or have the promise of a sale, agents will pay more attention. You can research agents for writers through the WGA. You can find actors' agents through the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and directors through the Directors Guild of America (DGA). If you strongly believe in your project, try using polite persistence to make contact with an agent you think is right for your project. It can be challenging to get an agent to read your script but it isn't impossible.

Working with a Writing Team

A writer can be hired as a staff writer on a specific TV show, or can be a member of a group of independent writers. In both cases, a successful writing team creates the script from the many details contributed by each writer. On most established shows, the writing team is closely supervised by the showrunner who acts as the head writer and team leader throughout the life of the series. As a staff writer on a show or series, you are likely to enter into a contract situation that spells out the parameters of your pay, credits, time frame, responsibilities, length and genre of the show, and so on. The WGA Web site ( can give you specific pay scales for various writing situations. If you're working with an independent team on speculation, clarify everyone's specific responsibilities within the group and put together a deal memo between all the contributing writers. You can find further information about deal memos and other contracts in Chapter 5.

Scribes Of The Screen

In order to understand the job of a writer, let's look at some of the famous writers of the big screen. From Humphrey Bogart's Dix Steele in In a Lonely Place to Kevin Bacon's just-graduated filmmaker-writer Nick Chapman in The Big Picture, these characters will show us what the life of a working Hollywood writer is like. Boy Meets Girl pokes fun at two screenwriters who repeatedly use the theme of boy meets girl boy loses girl boy gets girl in their pictures. James Cagney and Pat O'Brien are teamed as writers Robert Law (Cagney) and J. C. Benson (O'Brien). Boy Meets Girl was a box-office success in 1938. Only people who had worked in Hollywood would have been able to write this biting satire. It is rumored that the movie was based on the lives of Chapter 10 Writer 177 Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, although these famous writers have never acknowledged the fact. The movie exposes the manic lifestyle of screenwriters working hard in the thirties. They display a sign DANGER HIGH...

Vice President Director or Manager of Development

People in these three positions work with writers to improve a script. They oversee the production of the project with the vice president of creative affairs or the vice president of production, depending on the size of the company. These creative jobs are all in-house and all about town. Creative execs and vice presidents may be referred to as d-girls, but only in a belittling or perhaps affectionate way, for these two positions are certainly priming for higher responsibilities. For the purposes of this chapter, however, let's look at and praise those lowly d-girls the story analysts, readers, story editors, and acquisitions managers. These are the individuals who hate development hell as much as the writers and producers who must join them there. The creative executives and vice presidents will be featured at length in chapter 9.

Roger in Front of the Camera

I enjoy my secondary career as a supporting actor. It may be that I used to give some of these directors' orders and now they can give them to me. It began with Francis Coppola who cast me as one of the senators on the Senate crime-investigating committee in Godfather II. In fact, all of the senators were writers, producers, or directors who were Francis's friends. The first day we shot, we went to lunch with him, and I think it was Bill Bowers who asked Francis how he chose us, since we were not actors. He said he'd been listening to the crime committee on television and he said that the senators all looked distinguished, intelligent, and spoke well, and they were all awkward on camera. He felt if he could get writers, producers, and directors, he'd get the quality he was looking for and they would all be a little awkward on camera.

Preproduction The Script Casting And Locations

The first draft of a script is produced by a screenwriter, who may create original material or adapt existing material, such as a novel or a play. A script invariably goes through many drafts before its final version, and other writers are often brought in to assist with this process. Additional writers are sometimes known as script editors, or script doctors, and may specialize in polishing a

Famous Dgirls in History

One of America's greatest writers and philosophers, Ayn Rand, was also a freelance reader. While writing short scripts and making suggestions whenever Cecil B. DeMille asked her opinion, Ayn was employed as a reader first at RKO and later at MGM. The time was the mid-thirties. Her work consisted of reading books and manuscripts submitted to the studios, synopsizing them, and evaluating their screen potentiality. Solid d-girl work. RKO paid two dollars for a brief synopsis, and five dollars for a long one. She lived on that money, albeit modestly, while plotting and outlining The Fountainhead. She most certainly fulfilled Betty Schaefer's declaration of not wanting to be a reader all of her life. In addition, Vicki Baum, author of Grand Hotel, worked as a scenarist and sometime script reader while in exile in L.A. from Germany in the thirties and forties. And famous diarist Anais Nin was also employed by numerous independent producers and directors to give her...

Televisions Golden Age the s

TV producers and writers freely took their programming ideas from radio and traditional theater. TV news, for example, consisted of the anchor simply reading the newspaper and wire reports into camera, with none of the visuals we expect in today's news broadcasts. CBS and NBC created legendary television with innovative anthology programming such as Kraft Television Theater, Studio One, Playhouse 90, Philco TV Playhouse, General Electric Theater (hosted by Ronald Reagan for eight years), and The U.S. Steel Hour. By the mid-1950s, there were 14 live-drama series from which to choose. Early television was transmitted live broadcast from the studio to the viewer with all its visible glitches and mistakes. TV bore witness to another kind of politics called McCarthyism. The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) had begun their investigation of the film industry in 1947 in their sweep for Communist infiltrators and their witch hunt soon spilled over into broadcasting. Dozens of...

The Need for People Skills

Although a producer's creative and business skills are essential to the success of a project, it doesn't stop there. People skills are an equally important facet of a strong producer. It can't be stated often enough A producer can do nothing without a team. The producer builds her team on the talents of writers, directors, crew, actors, editors, composers, etc. Without them to actualize the project, a producer is useless. The producer uses her people skills to not only attract qualified people to the project, but to keep them engaged and collaborative. A strong producer

Writing with a Partner

Having another source of ideas in the writing process can be stimulating as you bounce ideas off one another, experiment with dialogue, and discover plot counterpoints and narrative beats. Often one person can originate the dialogue while another acts as the wordsmith. Writers have different skills and when they're combined collaboratively, the results are tangible.

The Politics Of Screenwriting

Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began hearings that brought in friendly Hollywood individuals who began testifying about Communist influences being introduced into films by certain filmmakers and writers. The result of the hearings in Washington, D.C., was the creation of an informal Hollywood blacklist of writers and directors who were not to be hired. Particularly prominent on this list were the Hollywood Ten, which included Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976), Ring Lardner Jr. (1885-1933), and Michael Wilson (1914-1978), but it affected many more, including Jules Dassin (b. 1911), Bernard Gordon (b. 1918), Maurice Rapf (1914-2003), and Walter Bernstein (b. 1919), who later managed something of a comic revenge with a splendid script for Martin Ritt's The Front (1976), which treats the story of the way many producers used front writers to cover for actual blacklisted writers who were secretly still writing. For many, it was a long battle to gain their rightful credits on scripts...

Your Obligation and Commitment

If you are serious about pursuing a career, then you must accept the enormous obligation that is in front of you. It is a great burden that you are taking on. It is my opinion that when you decide you want to pursue an acting career, you have an obligation to hold up your end of the bargain. Your end is the commitment. You must promise yourself that you will work hard and study hard, while remaining humble and eager. You must promise to make every effort to strive for the level of success and commitment that every successful actor before you has strived for, and at the same time raise the bar of your own standards for yourself and for every other actor who follows you. You must make a commitment to keep studying and learning and observing. You must promise to read the great plays by the great writers (Chekhov, Williams, and O'Neill, to name a few), and you promise to read as much about the craft by the great teachers (Stanislavski, Hagen, Adler, and Meisner, to name a few). You must...

Script Formats and Styles

Most writers prefer to begin writing their scripts by first outlining their idea into acts or segments. Then, they expand that into a treatment form before they finally flesh out the story in a full script format. Though outlines and treatments are shorter than full scripts, they act as a clear map for the writer and can highlight problems early on. An outline is usually 1 to 3 pages, almost a sequential laundry list of the show's beats that is used by the writer as a basic guideline. A treatment is traditionally written in paragraph form rather than script format, and can run from 3 to 10 pages, sometimes longer. In most cases, development executives only read the treatment for the program idea. If they are interested in what they read, they'll ask for a full script. You can find more information about treatments in Chapter 6.

Working with an Entertainment Lawyer

Lawyers who specialize in entertainment are aware ofthe current trends in the television industry. Because they have strong connections with producers, directors, actors, and other writers whom they also represent, they're in the position to connect them with one another. As you will see in Chapter 5, lawyers can charge by the hour or by the project, and these fees can vary significantly, depending on the lawyer and the project's demands. Some lawyers may stay with a project from start to finish, and are a permanent line in the project's budget. For a low-budget project, producers can obtain reasonable or free legal advice from organizations of volunteer lawyers, university law departments that offer programs in entertainment law, on the Internet, and from several texts listed in the attached CD.

My Casting Director Perspective

It is making it through the entire process, from first audition all the way through the screen test, and landing a coveted contract role. I love the moment when I get to inform the actor or the agent of this exciting news. What is even more exciting for me, in my job, is when I am handed a role to cast, and I know which actor I think is perfect for the role, and he actually gets the role and flourishes in it. There is no better feeling for me as a casting director. It confirms for me that I know what I am doing and looking for. This has happened several times to me. Many times, I do not know the actor when I start the process, but I meet him through the process. Still others I have known for years. Sometimes, an actor walks into the audition room for the first time and I get a sense that he could be the person many times, if he shows that potential, he is on his way. Actors who I thought should have booked roles have done so, and sometimes actors who I think shouldn't actually do,...

The Hollywood Food Chain

Represent only feature film (mostly studio) directors and would not think of getting involved in a deal other than a potential feature film project for his client. Another agent only reps television sitcom writers and would not be heard negotiating anything other than sitcom possibilities for clients. Hence, if one is planning to work as an actor, writer, director, or sometimes a producer, one needs to find the corresponding agent who works in the right arena. Additionally, a first-time writer, producer, or director will often be pigeonholed into one level of the HFC due to the success he found in the arena he was first discovered in within the industry. Career mobility will increase when that initial success spreads across the various levels of the

The Dgirl Dotcom Escapade

Ryan, twenty-seven, a writer-comedian, was referred to the new Web site via a very reputable Hollywood production company. Ryan had been its 1 reader for the last six months. Ryan was hired as a reader for the Web site that would post coverage on the 'Net for all of the Hollywood community to see. He was told to use a pseudonym when writing coverage, due to the fact that the information would be available via the Internet. In the past, when coverage had been written, the information found within the report would be kept private, only to be read by in-house employees. With the new technology, a script could get coverage and receive a yay or nay for the entire Hollywood community to see. Ryan refused the anonymity and went with his real name. He ran the risk of ruining his career as a reader, if he passed on a particular project and offended a portion of agents, writers, or producers in the community. The act of doing coverage privately had never before been challenged in this...

Manchester University Press

Inside Popular Film is a forum for writers who are working to develop new ways of analysing popular film. Each book offers a critical introduction to existing debates while also exploring new approaches. In general, the books give historically informed accounts of popular film, which present this area as altogether more complex than is commonly suggested by established film theories.

Some Preliminary Remarks

In Reality Transformed I sketched a critique of formalist as well as realist theories of film. In the last hundred years they have had many followers among sophisticated writers about cinematic art. The contrasting emphases in these different perspectives have often nourished fruitful controversy. Throughout my book I sought to adjudicate among the varied versions of the two positions while looking for a way of harmonizing them that might preserve the reasonable claims in both. My concluding chapter outlined an alternative theory of film in an attempt to show how realists and formalists can benefit from each other's point of view. What follows here augments that effort without presupposing that the reader has much familiarity with its earlier formulation. The auteur question will recur as we proceed, but I confess in advance that I may have prejudiced my case by choosing filmmakers whose achievements are obviously unique and plausibly judged as uniform in their totality. Given the...

Ill Manage Your Career Chris

Yes, I have been fortunate to take some exciting young clients out of the clinches of the larger management companies. Make no mistake, when the writers get hotter, the vultures will wine and dine my impressionable clients. I think the advantages of being small are as follows. . . . I don't answer to anyone other than my clients. I don't have a boss forcing me to service clients I think are hacks. I may join a large agency but I would rather just own one.

Shared Classroom Wisdom Equals Gainful Employment

Sharing my knowledge of the entertainment industry is as important as working within the entertainment industry. In the mid-nineties, I was given the opportunity to teach at a number of fine universities in the Midwest. I didn't use textbooks, only real-world examples of experiences, documents, and projects that I had been involved with as a d-girl, writer, producer, and executive. My classes ranged from basic screenplay writing to an intense film-as-business course that attracted over fifty students per semester. I found that many students had no clue what went on during the day-to-day operations of a studio or production company. Most of the time I would end up bringing in clips from the movies that have been discussed in this book to explain how pitch meetings went for writers, or how development discussions got underway, or how producers made their deals. All of the duties of different professionals in the industry and more can be found within these scenes. And so, the idea for...

Magazines [Print and Online

Exploitation, and international film from a wide range of vantage points from the aesthetic to the political. Cineaste. Quarterly magazine published since 1967 that features contributions from many of America's most articulate and outspoken writers, critics, and scholars on the art and politics of cinema. Film Comment. Published bi-monthly by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, this magazine offers reviews and commentary on international films, American movies, the avant-garde, and more. fcm fcm.htm Film Journal. Includes reviews, news, and interviews for Hollywood,

The Evolution of Film History

Writers, social critics, historians, and filmmakers had been conscious of Hollywood's rapid growth and remarkable past for a long time, but the publication of three major studies of the industry's artistic and financial achievements in one year indicates a growing acceptance of Hollywood as a historical entity. Terry Ramsaye's and Benjamin Hampton's film histories claimed to be thorough chronological accounts of the development of film in the West, but they focused overwhelmingly on Hollywood, particularly after the studios' consolidation following the Great War. Ramsaye's study was published shortly before the advent of sound, and Hampton's 1931 industrial history gave only marginal financial attention to the new developments of 1927-1930. The cinematic achievements in sound and the industry's slow conquest of the Depression had created another major historical period that had yet to be formally incorporated into Hollywood's grand narrative. The struggles since 1927 had been real,...

Samuel Z Arkoff b Fort Dodge Iowa June d September

Fornication (sex appeal, to both men and women). Though best known today for the Beach Party films (1963-1965) and his adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories (all directed by Roger Corman between 19601965), Arkoff should be remembered more for the opportunities he provided over the years to talented writers, directors and actors struggling to make it in Hollywood, including Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Peter Yates, Woody Allen, Robert Towne, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, and Jack Nicholson. AIP films inevitably bore the Arkoff stamp, no matter who wrote, directed, or starred in the feature. Though he never directed a film, Samuel Z. Arkoff was one of the most prolific and influential independent filmmakers of the twentieth century.

Parody In The Age Of Television

Wind,'' ''Sunnyset Boulevard,'' and ''Mildred Fierce.'' These were followed by Saturday Night Live (1975-), Second City Television (1976-1981), and In Living Color (1990-1994), among others. A training ground for comic writers and actors, sketch shows continue to employ parody as a staple element of their formats, often using guest stars to mock their own well-known work. This trend has helped speed up the process by which popular forms are broken down and ridiculed through imitation, and it has contributed to the increasingly widespread use of parody in recent film comedies, which nearly always cannibalize one or more other texts in creating their comic effects. Former stand-up comic and television writer Mel Brooks (b. 1926) reinvented parody for a new era when Blazing Saddles (cowritten with Richard Pryor, among others) and Young Frankenstein were released, both in 1974. Brooks and his contemporaries abandoned the previous generation's tactic of dropping a comic figure into a...

Authorship attribution

At first it may seem odd to distinguish writing style by analysing an author's consistent use of frequent function words, which he or she is not conscious of using. But as A.Q. Morton argues, these words offer the stylometrist a common point of comparison between authors 'A test of authorship is some habit which is shared by all writers and is used by each at a personal rate, enabling his work to be distinguished from the works of other writers' (Farringdon 1996 274). So it is the quantity, or personal rate, of common words that is important, rather than their absence or presence in an author's writing. Furthermore, we can argue that a stylometric analysis is analogous to fingerprinting or to DNA testing. Humans share an enormous amount of DNA with other animals. It is only the minute details that distinguish humans from animals. Furthermore, human beings can be distinguished from each other on the basis of DNA testing or, more conventionally, on the basis of other small details -...

Filmwriting Definitions Reviewed

The main character should have the energy or drive to carry us through the story and should also appeal to us in some way. Some writers use a charismatic main character others will place a goal-directed character in a situation that creates an identification or empathy with that character in the minds of the audience. In both cases, the main character should be visually and behaviorally defined in such a way as to help the story. For example, the more visual consideration given to who the character is and what he or she looks like, the more likely the character's look can help the story. A word about goals. Whether the main character is heroic or tragic, the writer should be very clear about the goals of the character. In a sense, a character should have an objective in every scene. That goal may be simple. What the writer also needs to keep in mind is the character's overriding action, sometimes called the through line or super goal. The supergoal forms the larger issue that drives...

Showing Potential is the

Striving for anything more is too much. You cannot display what the character will become because, in truth, the development of the character happens when the actual actor is cast. His persona and interpretation, in combination with the writers' and producers' vision, will determine what the character will become. Concentrate on the sides given to you.

Making the Trains Run on Time

The bus stops on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, and you step out into the sunny Southern California weather. You've just arrived in Hollywood, and you're ready to start making movies. All around you are actors and writers and directors waiting to be discovered. One last thing to remember these positions are also available for people who want to assist movie stars and even some of the better-paid and more well-known writers. These people are known as personal assistants, but the job is the same, and the possibilities for advancement are just as good. The stories are common about an actor's assistant who then went on to produce that actor's Academy Award-winning film. You never know what could happen. Your job is one of knowing things. If you're good at Trivial Pursuit and you like reading the encyclopedia for fun, you have definitely found your niche. That's what happened to Ambrose Ren. He knew something someone else wanted to know, and suddenly he was doing research for a writer....

Affairs of Annabel RKO

Beloved Infidel (Twentieth Century Fox, 1959) Beloved Infidel features actress Deborah Kerr as British-born gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. This movie is a glossed-over version of her autobiographical book. She is seen arriving in New York from her homeland, Britain, and then eventually moving to and working in Hollywood. She is the perfect paradigm of the female writer of the time. Like her contemporaries Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, Sheilah has a confidence about her. She is a brazen image of strong femininity. One of her first assignments Kerr portrays Sheilah brilliantly. When she and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gregory Peck) meet at a dinner party of a mutual friend, she is coy, coquettish even, yet radiating a strong aura of intelligence. No wonder Fitzgerald found her attractive. Their love affair grows as he teaches her about famous fiction writers and writing and she jet-sets around town to screenings and events. Hers is a glamorous life that is shattered when Fitzgerald's...

Text Interpretation

To encourage the audience to identify with the main characters, the micro strategies must be character focused and the macro strategies structural. The micro strategies have to do with the nature of the characters. Whether they are charismatic or flawed, there is an energy that emanates from the characters that engages the audience. Another strategy writers use is a private moment that reveals the true character. This strategy is appealing because the audience 225 feels privileged when characters reveal themselves to them. The macro strategies essentially use plot and antagonists to victimize the main character. None of us likes to be victimized, and we hope that the character can avoid victimization. The strategy of victimizing the main character is the strategy Polanski uses. His characters do not manage to avoid victimization instead, they are victimized by both the antagonist and the plot. Let's see how this works.

Indian Cinema After Independence

Yash Chopra (b. 1932) created their own B. R. Chopra and Yashraj production companies. Previously unknown artists dislocated by Partition arrived from the newly created state of Pakistan and rose to stardom as actors, directors, or producers, becoming urban legends. The rich body of films produced in the 1950s, the decade following independence, frequently balanced entertainment and social commentary, the latter often supplied by an infusion of talent affiliated with the leftist Progressive Writers Association and the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association, a talent pool that marshaled cinema for covert political messages before independence and continued to project Nehru's optimism about nationbuilding for about a decade after independence. Driven by stars and songs, the popular cinema firmly established itself in the daily lives and cultural imaginations of millions of Indians as well as audiences in the Soviet Union, China, and elsewhere. This ''golden age'' of Hindi cinema was ending...

Hollywood And The Left

World War II caused Hollywood to take complex political turns. Because the Soviet Union was allied with the United States in fighting Nazism, the film industry, working with the Office of War Information, made films that burnished Stalin's image and even helped justify his purges of many of the original supporters of the October Revolution. The most famous and rather bizarre example is Mission to Moscow (Michael Curtiz, 1943), about the globetrotting of Ambassador Joseph Davies that becomes a paean to Stalin as ally. After World War II, the Hollywood studios would renounce such films while helping the government condemn various directors, screenwriters, and producers as part of an international communist plot. In the climate of the Cold War, members of the film community were called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which aimed to root out suspected communists but also to roll back the pro-union, pro-socialist activity of the Great Depression as well as delegitimate...

The Dream of Hollywood History

Each other.21 This is unfortunate, since their ambitious bodies of work and their impacts on the industry were so widespread and similar. Both men worked their way up from story editors to head production at major studios and then went on to create their own studios. Both had an obsession with overseeing each script and production detail of every film released by their companies. Both were tireless workers, perfectionists who blurred the border between producer and dictator. Yet here their similarities ceased. Zanuck was the only non-Jewish studio head in Hollywood. He was no one's son-in-law, whereas Selznick had cannily married his boss's daughter, Irene Mayer, in 1930. Zanuck had no family in motion pictures. When he started as a freelance screenwriter in the mid-1920s, he started alone, with no help or encouragement. Unlike Selznick, who grew up with Hollywood, Zanuck had few memories of the glamour of old Hollywood. Working at the thrifty Warner Brothers studio was tough, and for...

The Question of American History in

Hiring Stephen Vincent Benet, author of John Brown's Body, was a public-relations coup for United Artists, but Benet was not all that different from a slew of other New York writers who came to Hollywood in the early sound era. He thirsted for Hollywood money but had an equal contempt for filmmaking and its artistic values. Also, as Benet freely admitted, he knew nothing about screenwriting and left Griffith and his secretary to handle the mechanics.5 Though he claimed that his script, an edited version of Griffith's original, was detailed, accurate, and playable, executives, perhaps relishing the chance to chasten the

Prozines And Populist Film Magazines

With the wider availability of new technologies for production, modern fanzines have moved beyond the earlier mimeographed and photocopied publications. Shock Xpress, Flesh and Blood, and Necronomicon continued as edited books Samhain edged closer to the style and content of prozines such as the British-published Starburst (begun in 1978), Fear (1988-1991), The Dark Side (begun in 1990), and Shivers (begun in 1992). Prozines, commercially produced publications with a fan focus, exist between fanzines and populist film magazines (those that offer a general cinema coverage). They often feature the work of paid journalists or regular writers and present news coverage, interviews, and images from current film productions supported by publicists. The prozine developed in the 1970s, beginning with the US-based Cinefantastique (begun in 1970), with its commitment to scrutinizing the technical and professional aspects of current fantasy film productions, and Starlog (begun in 1976), which led...

Material Culture and Design History

As Daniel Miller has noted 'It is argued that these global approaches almost always move from an attack on contemporary material culture as trivial or inauthentic to an implied (though rarely explicit) denigration of the mass of the population whose culture this is' (Miller 1987 16). Some post-modern writers have been similarly dismissive of contemporary, popular experiences. The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard bemoaned the end of the society of the spectacle in 1983 and its replacement with the age of simulacrum, where nothing is real and everything a copy. As Nicholas Mirzoeff observed in Visual Culture '. . . Baudrillard's nostalgia for a past in which a basic reality could actually be experienced is analogous to the American critic Frederick Jameson's Marxist critique of what he sees as the image culture of late capitalism ' (1999 28). However, the situation is more complex than this. The post-modern project has also enabled a reconsideration of the popular and a rediscovery...

RKO and the Perils of Success

But his days as the sole author of a film script were limited. Working on Cimarron, Estabrook had experienced what few screenwriters had ever attained extensive and unusual power in creating a prestigious and influential film. With Cimarron's release, the press concentrated almost exclusively on Estabrook as the film's author. London's Graphic did an in-depth interview with him entitled Writer's Gold in Hollywood. Estabrook wrote articles for the Hollywood Reporter crediting the film with generating a renewed interest in American history. In almost every city where Cimarron has been exhibited, he wrote, the interest aroused in its historical theme has been reflected in a demand for volumes dealing with this page of American history. He was suddenly the most prominent screenwriter in Hollywood, and an influential American historian with the widest public imaginable. He had become Mr. Everyman's historian. But Cimarron was also his nemesis. Having adapted and subtly transformed other...

Independent Historical Production

They were confronted by conflicting loyalties. Before the advent of sound, few writers or studio producers worried about these discrepancies and the construction of history, but now, screenwriters often devoted as much time to preparation and research as they did to writing. Studio libraries and research departments began to grow, and by the latter half of the 1930s, studios were advertising their research libraries in periodicals such as the Library Journal and the Wilson Bulletin for Librarians.45 Critical attention focused on a film's accurate look, but it was equally sensitive to a film's projected attitude toward history and its use of historical events. Although Small's researcher may have questioned the need for and advisability of historical accuracy, his misgivings were not necessarily shared by the principal filmmakers. The fact remains that Small wanted to make a successful American historical epic. To do so, his screenwriters focused on the documented historical events in...

Research Your Pitch

Writer Dashiell Hammett once advised another writer, Raymond Chandler, to make it sound fresh. As a producer, your job is to make your sure that your project is unique and has a hook a newness that appeals to viewers. Even if it bears some similarities to an existing show, you want your idea to have its own voice and to offer a solid business opportunity.

Connecting To Process

There's another half to the self-knowledge story You need to know your own writing process. I'm not talking about the specific steps in the process of screenwriting I'll talk about that in Part II. I'm talking about understanding how you work as a writer your own creative process and how to create optimum conditions for that to occur. No one can tell you your process. Every writer's is different. Individual. Idiosyncratic. That's the point. But you need to understand yours.

The Films of Barry Levinson

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Levinson would eventually attend American University in Washington, D.C., before heading West to begin his career as a writer. Upon his arrival in Los Angeles, he worked for the Oxford Company. He studied acting, improvisation, and production and worked comedy clubs before landing a job as a writer-performer on the Loman and Barkley Show, a weekly ninety-minute local program. After working on the Marty Feldman Show in England, he returned to Los Angeles to work on the Carol Burnett Show and the Tim Conway Show, which eventually brought him in contact with actor-writer-director-producer Mel Brooks.

Writing versus Directing

I'm not sure if I really think of myself as a writer or a director first. I've never tried to put myself in categories or think of myself any one way. Maybe that's why the movies I've done have been all over the place. My interests are varied. I'm not that concerned with any specific kind of image or a certain type of a film. I never even think of myself as a writer. I always feel that when I'm writing, the characters are actually talking in my head, and I'm just trying to keep up with what they have to say. It's as if it's not coming from me but from all these voices I hear and I'm just trying to keep up with it. And then, somewhere around 5 00 in the evening, everybody's finished talking, and I'll start again the next day. So, I've never thought of myself as a writer as I've seen them portrayed in movies, where they're kind of pensive and walking on the beach and thinking and doing all that stuff. I don't work that way. I've never even thought of myself as a director, much less a...

Find the Best Market for Your Idea

The markets for good ideas are opening up to newer and edgier program material. In major markets cable and subscription channels are available, and in smaller markets nonbroadcast, educational, advertising, and industrials are seen. But you've got to sell the idea first. Breaking into the business can be a real challenge. Every successful writer and producer did it somehow and so can you.

Dont Forget To Have

About what goes on behind the scenes. Joseph Campbell, the great lecturer and writer who deconstructed so many of our myths, coined the phrase Follow your bliss. If your journey is to follow the paths of the individuals discussed within these pages and seen on the silver screen, then so be it. Follow that bliss. Always and forever . . . and have fun while you're doing it. If you stop having fun, then stop doing it.

Preparing and Writing a Grant

The grant-writing process can truly challenge the patience of a first-time grant writer. It can be time-consuming, it requires you to maintain an uncomfortable objectivity toward your own work, and it involves copious paperwork. Each grant has its own specific guidelines and objectives that require intensive research. But when you find the rhythm of the process and explore the many grants for which you qualify, it could be worth your efforts.

The Shawshank Redemption

I'm an enormous fan of Stephen King's work as a writer. I've read everything the man has ever written, just as a fan. I am an appreciative reader. Steve had been known by the public for a certain kind of story. The movies that were being made only reinforced this perception of him as the horror guy. And that's about the extent of it, right I knew better, because I had been reading a lot of his stuff, these little gems of his, and Shawshank was one of I kind of sat on that project for about five years before actually writing the script. I think that on a very real level I did that because I was waiting for my skills as a writer to match my ambitions for that screenplay. I'm not sure I realized that at the time, but I certainly realized it looking back on it. These were years where I was working as a writer constantly. I had blundered happily into this career where I just kept working and working. And every script you write, you get better. It's like playing the violin. Every time you...

B Vladimir Ivan Leventon Yalta Ukraine Russia May d March

Val Lewton was a significant figure in 1940s Hollywood, known primarily for producing a wartime cycle of innovative B-grade horror films for RKO. Lewton's production unit and his role as hyphenate writer-producer indicated other important industry trends, as did RKO's effort to upgrade B-picture production to exploit the overheated first-run market during the war boom.

More On Screenplay Language

In an essay called The Language of Screenwriting, the playwright and scriptwriter Ronald Harwood writes, A screenplay cannot be judged by form and technique, or by the abandonment of either. In his attempt to realize in its initial form a story that is, in the end, to be told in pictures, the writer must discover or invent a language that is both personal and effective, and that, above all, stimulates the mind's eye. 5

Working Between The Revolving Doors

1) Read and evaluate any given script. The process of waiting to get read will be swifter if the script is repped by a big-time agency, such as CAA, Endeavor, or William Morris, or if it was just written by the writer of the blockbuster spec script of the summer. 4) Get the entire department to read the script again, share notes, give the notes to the writer, and decide which direction the script should go. a phrase and place it into my coverage cutting and pasting phrases together over and over until the coverage is complete, says Eric, a veteran reader. D-girls churn out coverage like machines.They are under the professional gun to find projects that will please the production company's budget, the proposed actor's taste, and, last but not least, entertain the masses. D-girls are always in search of the next big movie even if that's a small love story. They need to concern themselves with story, characters, and dialogue, and their quest for a story with a hook the vague twist on a...

Man of Marble Poland Director Andrzej Wajda

(Chauffeur Lighting man) Magda Teresa Wojcik (Editor) Boguslaw Sobczyk (TV Writer) Zdzislaw Kozien (Agnieszka's father) Irena Laskowska (Museum employee) Jerzy Moniak (Moniak) Wieslaw Drzewicz (Manager of the restaurant) Kazmierz Kaczor (Security man) Eva Zietek (Secretary) B. Fronczkowiak (Official from the Ministry of the Interior).

Warner Brothers and the Winning of the West

To head it.55 Warner Brothers was preparing to compete with Zanuck, and though it would soon possess one of the most impressive research libraries in California, it still lacked the historical screenwriters with whom Zanuck worked so closely. By 1938, Robert Buckner emerged as Warner Brothers' most prominent writer of American historical films. His first collaboration on such a script for Warner Brothers was the rather stodgy Gold Is Where You Find It (1938), a history of the clash between California's emerging hydraulic power industry and the agricultural economy. A few months after the release of Gold Is Where You Find It, the studio library collected Thornton Delehanty's article Westerns The Last Word in Safety. 56 The noted critic said that westerns were cheap and satisfying to the nation and predicted that 1939 would be dominated by Americana. The studio had already made its own prediction several months before. Under the supervision of Hal Wallis, Warner Brothers took as few...

Rehearsing the Audition Monologue

One word of caution Don't get too married to your own words. What I mean is, when I used to use some of my own monologues for auditions, there was always a part of me (the writer part) that wanted to make sure that the auditors heard every one of my terrific words. By keeping this as your intention, you can lose the focus of what you're really trying to say in your monologue. They'll hear all your fabulous words, but they won't be getting the deeper meaning, the character's intention. In rehearsal, try working more with images, thoughts, and intentions, rather than just on memorizing the words themselves.

Different Incarnations

I got together with a friend of mine, Seth Allen, and I would just go over stuff with him. The material was mostly anecdotal, autobiographical. I had a very funny mother. When in doubt, I'd slip into my imitation of her. o So all the ideas were mine and then I'd bring in writer friends and actor Another friend of mine, Ken Friedman, was a wonderful comic writer he'd write some punch lines for me. I'd come up with the character and some basic material, and he'd help me to punch it up with punch lines.

So You Want to Be in Pictures

Not knowing doesn't stop all of us, however. Every day, thousands of people arrive in Los Angeles wanting to be part of the magic, part of the film industry. Ask any ten people walking down a street in Hollywood about their screenplay, and at least nine will tell you it's coming along nicely, but what they really want to do is direct. Or act. Or produce. And while that's all well and good, not everybody can be an actor or a writer or a director or a producer. Some of us have to be the ones who make the magic in less visible ways. That's where this book comes in. In the film industry there is a mythical budgetary line that divides the creative talent from the rest of the crew. Your job and salary on a film are defined by whether you are above or below the line. The above-the-line people are the fearsome four actor, writer, director, producer. Below the line is where you find the masses ofpeople who actually bring a film together, the ones who put in the long hours, the sweat, and, yes,...

Who Tells Documentary Stories

A common element at all levels of production is story. In 1992, for example, musician Peter Gabriel cofounded a group called Witness, which provides video equipment and training to people worldwide who want to document injustice as part of a struggle for human rights. The first chapter of the group's Practical Guide for Activists, available on the web (, is titled How to Tell a Story. Filmmaker and writer Onyekachi Wambu, interviewed in Chapter 25, describes the important role of media storytelling in raising awareness of African involvement in that continent's development. At the other end of the production spectrum, some of the longest running and most influential documentary series on American public television today, including the science series Nova (modeled after the BBC's Horizon), are founded on the notion that complex ideas can best be conveyed through powerful storytelling.

The Political and Social Legacies of the Lone Ranger

Besides his place in the culture of entertainment, the Ranger lives on in the expression of popular ideals or hopes. Jim Lichtman, a management consultant, has incorporated his book The Lone Ranger's Code of the West An Action-Packed Adventure in Values and Ethics with the Legendary Champion of Justice into his practice.7 The book recounts eight episodes from the Ranger, each followed by an imaginary interview in which Lichtman and the Ranger explore the underlying moral principles. The business writer Jeffrey Gitomer has built a sales strategy around the idea of working quietly like the Lone Ranger He just went about his business. Silently, doing his thing, giving value, asking for nothing, not even saying his name. That Lone Ranger was a heck of a salesperson (24). In the field of foreign policy, Robert M. Perito paid tribute with his book Where Is the Lone Ranger When We Need Him America's Search for a Postconflict Stability Force, which speaks somewhat wistfully about the theme of...

The Films of Cameron Crowe

In 1989, Crowe made his feature film directorial debut with another of his original screenplays, Say Anything. He subsequently wrote and directed the widely praised romantic comedy Singles. But it was the 1996 release of Jerry Maguire that brought him the recognition as one of Hollywood's brightest young writer-directors to come along that year. He quickly followed that film with his semi-autobiographical Almost Famous in 2000, and the complicated and visually challenging Vanilla Sky in 2001.

The Films of Paul Schrder

N native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, writer-director Paul Schrader grew up in a strict Calvinistic environment, which restricted his access to motion pictures and other forms of entertainment. As a child, working in the film industry was the furthest thing from his mind. Eventually, of course, that all changed.

Woody Allen b Allen Stewart Konigsberg Brooklyn New York December

After Charlie Chaplin, Woody Allen is the most significant comedy auteur in American film history. For more than thirty years Allen, like Chaplin, has written, directed, and starred in groundbreaking comedies at the rate of nearly a film a year since his first movie, What's New, Pussycat (1965). Allen also has demonstrated a gift for literary humor, and his writing for The New Yorker magazine resulted in three well-received books Getting Even (1971), Without Feathers (1975), and Side Effects (1980). He started his career as a gag writer for Sid Caesar and in 1961 began to perform his own material as a stand-up comic in clubs, on records, and on college campuses.

The Films of Alan Parker

Director, writer, producer Alan Parker was born in London, England, in 1944. He wrote and directed his first film, Bugsy Malone, in 1975. The film was a musical pastiche of 1920s gangster films, with an entire cast of children. The highly original film received eight British Academy Award nominations and five awards. With the release of Bugsy Malone, Alan Parker was off and running as a director who would continue to challenge audiences with each new movie he directed. I left school when I was eighteen years old. I didn't go to university, and I really wanted to write, more than anything. I used to write essays and bits and pieces and sorts of things. But I never really was focused in on what to do. I also didn't really have any advice on what area I might go into. I remember on television a documentary about an advertising agency, which looked rather good, actually, and I ended up getting a job in advertising. I really wanted to be a writer, but I had to start in the mailroom. But I...

Entertainment lawyerpartner Cowan DeBaets Abraham and Sheppard

A I always wanted to be in the entertainment business and I didn't have any talent to do anything else. Seriously, I'm not a writer, I'm not a director, and I'm certainly not an actor. Publishing, television, movies, and theater always interested me. Law was the thing that I could do well to be in that world. A You're never protecting ideas. You can't protect an idea you can only protect the expression of an idea. So, the business of mailing something to yourself is of really limited use. The Writers Guild Registration has certain value within the Writers Guild, but mostly it's from the perspective of identifying a date. If you are sending a treatment or script to the Writers Guild, you are going to put a copyright notice on it anyway. It's the copyright notice that really gets you what you want.

Making Indiana Jones a Film Reality

After Star Wars was released, I was sitting on a beach in Hawaii with Steven Spielberg, and he was telling me how he really wanted to do a James Bond film. I said, I've got a great idea, and this is much better than a James Bond, and I told him the story of Indiana Jones. Well, he immediately wanted to do it. That was really where it started, and we agreed to go back and hire a writer and get going on the project.

John Sayles b Schenectady New York September

Like his fellow cineastes Francis Coppola and Martin Scorsese, John Sayles got his first big break from exploitation impresario Roger Corman, for whom he wrote a screenplay for the tongue-in-cheek gore-fest Piranha (1978). A year later, Sayles earned legitimate success, winning a Los Angeles Film Critics Award for his more personal screenplay, The Return of the Secaucas Seven (1980), his debut as a writer-director. The Return of the Secaucas Seven, the story of a handful of twentysomethings trying to make sense of contemporary America, established something of a template for Sayles with its emphasis on dialogue and multiple intersecting narratives.

Germaine Dulac b Amiens France November d July

A director, writer, and film theorist, Germaine Dulac was the first female avant-garde filmmaker in France. She was never an official member of the surrealist movement, but her theory of pure cinema'' shared similar goals and ideals to those of surrealism. Though many of Dulac's films were highly successful commercial narratives (serials and melodramas), her best moments evoked emotion without resorting to dramatic devices. Her skill of tapping into the unconscious processes of her characters and her viewers' perceptions linked her thematically to the surrealists.

Departing from Trauma Dreaming in Motion

Shit Skin (writer director Nicholas Boseley) deals directly with the trau- z matic experience of the Stolen Generations. It is a return home film which g takes the form of an interrupted road trip to Central Australia, undertaken by r a grandmother, Nina, with her grandson, Luke, in the driver's seat. Alternat- f ing between Nina and Luke, Shit Skin deftly evokes the long-term impact of historical trauma on a family over four generations. The repetitive nature of traumatic experience becomes evident in flashbacks, delayed in time only to be unleashed by sensory experience in the present. Nina's involuntary memories of a ruptured childhood are provoked not only by photographs and household objects but also by the scent and touch and taste of place. Deliberately understating the melodramatic potential of Nina's belated return home (sixty-two years after being taken away) the film enables a laconic revisiting of the past, at the same time drawing Nina and Luke forward into a more...

Improvisational Way of Working

Another exercise that I did was every day I would just lie down on the couch and let my mind just drift. Whatever came into my mind was fine. No censoring. In the early 1980s, I went through a very difficult period in my life. After working a lot of things out, I came out of that period with a stronger sense of self-confidence about my work. I no longer felt the need to have my writer friends come into my rehearsals for their feedback.

Honorable Mention Irving Thalberg

The Bad and the Beautiful is definitely one of the best films about moviemaking. Director Vincente Minnelli, producer John Houseman, and writer Charles Schnee worked meticulously to create a film that would mirror real life. Jonathan Shields is not a popular man. He actually hires mourners to attend his father's funeral to make it look like someone cared. Shields admits his father was despicable, but he turns his father's film business around and begins to experience great success. He gives those thinking of working in Hollywood some of the best advice If you dream, dream big. (See A Star Is Born discussion in chapter 1.) He also reminds us of the following The best movies are made by people working together who hate their guts. Shields is not kind. Each of the three recalls their escapades with him through flashbacks. Georgia abandons drink and despair after falling in love with him. Bartlow gets the encouragement from Shields to write commercially (although, at the same time, he...

What Makes a Successful Performance

Ever since Henry Hathaway and Dennis Hopper had that famous encounter on an MGM stage during the early years of the so-called method acting style, directors all over the world have feared the inevitable moment when their actor or actress says, But my character wouldn't do it like that. Feared, because it means that maybe the actor is afraid. Feared, because it means that maybe the actor is trying to assert him- or herself. But I've always viewed that statement with mixed feelings. And one of them is maybe that it's the eureka moment. It's the moment to be cheered, because maybe it's the moment when finally the actor is possessed. Finally, they've become that person. Finally, they're not acting it's just seeping out of them. They don't need to think about it anymore. And so, in some ways I expect that the actor will always say to me, But my character wouldn't do it like that. Because that's also the beginning of the process between actor and director, where you are really discussing...

National Cinema And Regional Cinemas

In addition to the Bengali art cinema associated internationally with Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak (1925-1976), and Mrinal Sen (b. 1923), the regular production of popular Bengali cinema has challenged Hindi cinema in a major urban market like Calcutta. Films produced in the southwestern state of Kerala in the Malayalam language also reflect that state's distinct leftist political history, with the work of directors G. Aravindan (1935-1991) and Adoor Gopalakrishnan (b. 1941) receiving international acclaim. Although relatively small in number, films produced in languages such as Kannada (from Karnataka), Marathi (from Maharastra, which includes Mumbai), Assamese (from Assam), or Oryia (from Orissa) round out an unusually diverse linguistic map, rendering the typical association of a national cinema with a single national language entirely untenable for India. In a few cases, prominent figures such as the actor-director-writer Kamal Hassan (b. 1954) have traversed regional cinemas and...

Alex in Wonderland MGM

Annie Hall (United Artists, 1977) Annie Hall is included in this chapter because it is a film that depicts the feeling of show business in the seventies and accurately reflects both New York City and Los Angeles at that time. Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is a writer-director-actor who unravels and reveals his love story with his girlfriend Annie Hall through a series of flashbacks and vignettes. Alvy says I thought of that old joke, this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says 'Doc, my brother's crazy. He thinks he's a chicken.' And the doctor says 'Well, why don't you turn him in ' and the guy says 'I would, but I need the eggs.'Well, I guess that pretty much how I feel about relationships. They're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and I guess we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.

Crime Wave stCentury Cops

Entering the new century, crime films continue to diversify. They keep surprising audiences with further twists and turns, proving how flexible, adaptable and recyclable the genre is. To take some disparate examples Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) featured Nicholas Cage stealing cars, but like the high-octane remake of The Italian Job (2003), the film was running on empty. There was the easygoing charm of Steven Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can (2002), with a con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) chased by Tom Hanks's resolute FBI man. Shane Black, the writer of Lethal Weapon, directed the neo-noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), starring Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jnr, while the same year saw the release of Sin City (2005), a monochrome, violent comic strip noir starring Bruce Willis, Clive Owen and Mickey Rourke, and based on Frank Miller's urban gothic work. Sexy Beast (2000) features a Ronnie Biggs-style British crook hiding out in Southern Spain. Here, Ray Winston's sunbathing is...

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I had been trying to make Close Encounters of the Third Kind even before Jaws, and nobody would give me a meeting. They wouldn't read my treatment they wouldn't hear my ideas about a UFO project. I couldn't get anybody to listen to me except my producers. I had two wonderful producers, Michael and Julia Phillips, who risked everything and who came on board to help me launch that film. But I really couldn't get a deal on it until Jaws was this big hit. I discovered what a hit can do for a filmmaker, as it can for a writer, a producer, an actor, or an actress. A hit gives you kind of a carte blanche. And I, fortunately, had something I was passionate about making after Jaws.

From Auteurs To Amateurs

In the late twentieth century, traditional concepts and practices in the collaborative nature of filmmaking began to be challenged. On the one hand, the proliferation of camcorder and digital technologies has taken filmmaking out of the studio and away from its cadres of artists and craftspeople, placing the whole endeavor in the hands of amateurs. As if to fulfill the prophecy of Alexandre Astruc's 1946 theoretical formulation of the camera-stylo, or ''camera pen,'' even the most unpracticed among them can now capture image and sound with mobility and ease, working in relative solitude, relieved of the need for sound engineers, camera operators, focus pullers, editors, special effects technicians, and most of the rest of the elaborate apparatus of the film studio (Astruc in Graham). First-time filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (b. 1968), for example, made El Mariachi (1992) for a comparative pittance and with minimal dependence on a technical crew. At first glance, such a film and such...