Paranormal Activity 2 – the sequel

Paranormal Activity sequel promises to out-boo its predecessor – will it succeed?

Paranormal Activity 2 the sequelIf you read my exhaustive review of Paranormal Activity, you know I was a big fan of (99% of) the film.

Paranormal Activity is the movie The Blair Witch Project wanted to be and Cloverfield didn’t even try to be. Discuss amongst yourselves the relative success or failure of The Last Broadcast, REC or its American remake Quarantine.

But we all also know that more often than not, sequels tend to disappoint (unless the audience’s requirements are low – Hello, Twilight). Continue reading Paranormal Activity 2 – the sequel

Carmel The Movie – Lauren Bacall, Josh Hutcherson film gets new lease on life

Lauren Bacall / Josh Hutcherson film gets a new lease on life

Last year I was fortunate to do a little work on a film for a friend. Brian Sharp is an amazing art director (taught me everything I know – about art direction) and hired me to build him some props for Carmel By The Sea, a feature being shot in a nearby town (Carmel By The Sea film blog here).

Turns out the flick starred some of the biggest names in Hollywood, both new and seasoned… Lauren Bacall, Alfred Molina, Josh Hutcherson, and Hayden Panattiere, to name a few. The film had a terrific crew and the footage looks amazing. Continue reading Carmel The Movie – Lauren Bacall, Josh Hutcherson film gets new lease on life

I'll be a guest panelist on @scriptchat February 28

W00t! I’ve been invited to guest on a panel of writers for @ScriptChat on Twitter next Sunday, February 28th.

We are thrilled to announce our first panel of guests at scriptchat!  We’ve comprised two different panels of talented indie filmmakers/producers to guest at both our EURO chat and our American chat.  Check them out and join the party!

I will be on the American chat at 5pm PST. Who else is on the panel?

Hue Rhodes: Hue Rhodes is a writer/director.  His feature film SAINT JOHN OF LAS VEGAS stars Steve Buscemi and is in theaters now. http://huerhodes.com

Gary King: In 2009, he made his feature film debut with the ensemble drama NEW YORK LATELY which has been hailed by The Independent Critic as “a remarkable achievement” and Row Three as “a beautiful film” making its Top Ten Films of 2009 List.  It was also listed on Associated Content’s “Best Independent Movies” List — right behind SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. http://www.grking.com/blog

Phil Holbrook: Phil Holbrook has always had a love of film and the filmmaking process. He has written anddirected several short films, all shot in Minnesota. He is currently working on the featurefilm “Tilt”. www.CreativeJinx.com

King Is A Fink: Jessica King and Julie Keck have been making films as King is a Fink for 10 years. Their short films Snow Bunny and Libidoland are currently making the rounds on the film festival circuit.  In addition to making shorts, King and Keck also write feature-length screenplays.  They’re currently writing a dramatic thriller called TILT for Phil Holbrook and adapting a naughty memoir by Kevin Keck (http://www.thekeck.com/). http://kingisafink.com.

C’mon, join in and send me good juju!

11 more things to think about when negotiating your screenplay option

writing

Got an offer to option your screenplay? Here are eleven terms you should know when talking to your attorney.

[See PART I – 10 things to think about when optioning your screenplay]

Okay, so you’ve gotten an option offer, you’ve thought about the 10 things, and you still want to do it. Now it’s time to talk to your attorney, and make some decisions about the negotiation points. Your attorney is going to toss some notes back to you for consideration, and chances are these things are going to be included. (There’ll be lots more than this… from simple typos to wholesale rewrites. But these are the top contenders for “things I think you should know”.)

Ask your attorney to spend some time with you to explain what they mean in the context of your deal… but here’s my take, based on my experience.

DISCLAIMER: I shouldn’t have to say this, but: I Am Not A Lawyer, I am not offering legal advice, and none of the numbers used as examples here should be considered recommendations or as examples of my personal previous contracts (which are none of your beeswax 😉 ). They are provided as  hypothetical examples only. Talk to your own attorney about your particular deal. Continue reading 11 more things to think about when negotiating your screenplay option

10 things to think about when you option your screenplay

screenplay option contract

What does it mean to have your screenplay optioned?

A producer wants to option your script. Should you do it? What are the considerations? Here’s one guy’s opinion.

Part I of II [Click for Part II: Eleven More Things To Think About When Negotiating Your Screenplay Option]

Now that I’ve been through the option gauntlet a couple of times, I get asked about the experience and the process. It’s a little humbling, cuz I’m just a lucky guy with one indie sale and a few indie options, but I know how much I appreciate when I stumble across some good first-hand info, and figured it would be a good idea to share what I know. So I thought I’d gather my notes together here, in the hopes that it’ll prove useful to others. This is no substitute for having an attorney, mind you… more on that later. But I wish I’d had this list. Continue reading 10 things to think about when you option your screenplay

on defining “high concept”

high concept movie
Every so often I see a conversation about “high concept” films or screenplays that goes something like this:

“That was a high concept film.”

“High concept? It was a bunch of explosions and giant robots! What’s so high concept about that?

“That’s poster-child high concept. By definition.”

“No, high concept means a concept with high aspirations… concepts with a higher calling.”

“High concept” does sound like it’d be more applicable to The Seventh Seal than to 2012. And those who lament Hollywood’s penchant for 90 minute action-figure commercials based on video games from the ’70’s might resent the apparent hijacking of the term to mean its exact opposite, somehow projecting value on the valueless by virtue of its semantic favoritism. But it is what it is… the term is firmly embedded in the lexicon of the industry, and now means precisely the opposite of what it sounds like it means.

So I dug up some old notes I’d written a few years ago, and thought I ‘d repost it here, to sort of bubble it back up to the top of the conversation. A few of the links are no longer any good, but you’ll get the point. Continue reading on defining “high concept”

Grampa Was A Superhero script has been optioned

grampa was a superhero movie poster[Become a fan of Grampa Was A Superhero on FACEBOOK]

Writing duo’s family friendly spec script lands option deal with Epiphany Productions.

Santa Cruz, CA – January 31, 2010

Chip Street and Sean Meehan have had unlikely good fortune in their short spec-screenplay writing careers. In an industry where newcomers are told that it’ll take 10 years of writing 20 lousy screenplays to finally get it right and earn any recognition, they’ve beaten the odds three for three.

Their most recent success? The family friendly screenplay Grampa Was A Superhero has been optioned by Mitchell Galin at Epiphany Productions. The story centers on 12-year-old Jesse and his Grampa, who thinks he’s a TV super hero. The elder drags his grandson on a cross-country road trip to confront his imaginary arch enemy… accidentally thwarting crimes along the way and fast becoming a folk hero. Continue reading Grampa Was A Superhero script has been optioned

pocahauntus

A few years ago I ended up talking with Veronica Craven about her upcoming slate of horror films. We chatted about me writing a zombie flick for her but that project didn’t come together (at least not with me).

pocahauntus-facepocahauntus-wardrobefullShe did, however, have a project going into production called “Pocahauntus” — a cheezy B horror flick shot on a dime. It aimed for fun straight-to-DVD fare and as far as I know it hit it. And come on, “Pocahauntus“? Somebody had to make a film called “Pocahauntus“.

I ended up doing a few character dev sketches for the film. Never saw it. But it’s on NetFlix. And here’s a few clips from YouTube.

ucla film video interview series on youtube

Very cool series of vids on YouTube from UCLA’s film school. Interviews with producers, directors, agents on how to pitch, what you get out of film school, and more… all good stuff, and always great to get it form the horse’s mouth.

Here’s their YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

"Away We Go" gains instant indie cred via hand drawn title font

Away We Go is just the latest in a long line of “indie” films to leverage the oh-so-cool “hand drawn title” font, lending it serious street cred and instant indie validation before anyone even sees the film.

juno

Recently popularized by 2007’s JUNO, the quirky hand-made title font brought visions of diary entries and emo-teen angst-filled journal poems, setting appropriate audience expectations by screaming “We’re an honest unassuming micro-brew movie!”

nickandnorah

Leveraged again in 2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, the wacky font inferred the hand written liner notes of a home-made mix tape. Plus, it promises that the movie is probably intimate, personal and low-fidelity-artsy, reminding us of the days of cassette mix tapes and Bic-penned song lists rather than CD’s and laser printered liners.

awaywegoSo then does 2009’s Away We Go not only give us a title font designed in the margins of a high-school English quiz, but an entire poster cartooned/rotoscoped like a modern-day Yellow Submarine (1968) or 1971’s The Point… or more contemporarily, hearkening right back to 2007 and JUNO’s opening title sequence — or the JUNO Soundtrack cover (See below). How quirkily indie-filmishly self-referential and hip. (Do the kids say “hip” any more? Or am I just fixated on “hip” because mine hurts?)

juno2

Yes, the same design firm (Shadowplay Studio) did the titles for both JUNO and Nick and Norah (not sure yet about Away We Go, but I’m guessin’). Anyway, sure they do fine work and all. But how long will it be before looking just like JUNO has people saying “What, again?” instead of “Ooh! Again!”.

Got more examples? Please share.

NOTE: In all fairness and in the interest of full-disclosure, I really enjoyed JUNO, plan to see Nick and Norah (love me some Michael Cera – Superbad rocks) and think Away We Go has two of my favorite funny people in it. But come on. This Title design trend is going to become as stereotypically “indie” as the wacky Grampa character addicted to porn.