Virland Stan Harris passed away this past Friday May 4 in a motorcycle accident near Rose Valley, California.
I worked with Stan on Fat Rose and Squeaky, a small indie film he wrote and produced in San Jose. The film is a touching portrait of two elderly women and their struggle for dignity and independence.
That was the kind of story Stan loved to tell: small human tales of hope and decency, family fare with cross-generational appeal.
He went on to focus on writing and producing more positively valued family films over the past few years:
Inspired by the success of shaky hand-held cinematography like that in the recent Lion’s Gate release The Hunger Games, tripod accessory manufacturer Lenbrook LLC of Havordshire, North Carolina has announced the pending release of the “Shudderstik” fluid head tripod attachment.
“From Blair Witch to Cloverfield, Project X to The Hunger Games, shaky-cam technique has become fundamental to the vocabulary of the modern cinematographer,” says Brent Staunam, CEO of Lenbrook. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer these artists the tools to effectively and consistently find their kinetic voice in this new style of visual storytelling.”
There’s an exciting new trailer out for Josh Hutcherson’s next film: Carmel By The Sea … and one of my props is featured in it.
CARMEL BY THE SEA – Trailer from Crystal Sky Entertainment on Vimeo.
Watch it FULL SCREEN…. it’s purty.
** Related post: Shaky camera technique inspires Lenbrook’s new ShudderStik tripod head
The Hunger Games movie review: Shaky cameras and low budget blues are saved by a strong premise and stronger performances.
The Shaky Camera
Yes, it’s true, the Hunger Games Shaky Camera Effect does suck. But it kind of doesn’t entirely ruin the film.
It’s not just “hand held”. It’s like some palsied old man with tremors (like me) was holding the camera and then hired a guy to grab him by the elbows and shake him mercilessly.
And come on, if you’re one of those people saying it was just in the action sequences, shut up and be honest. The shaky camera isn’t exclusive to the action scenes. It’s used right in the opening sequences, in the most quiet and intimate of scenes, as Katniss soothes her little sister after a nightmare and helps her fall back to sleep… camera jittering and shaking like security cam footage of an earthquake.
Sad but true. Faeries, quite possibly the best unsold or unproduced creature feature horror screenplay on the market today, did not make the finals in the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. Boo. But the readers over at BlueCat did have great things…
My screenwriting partner and I can’t always be in the same room at the same time… so we’ve been searching for the best collaborative screenwriting software solution since 2009.
In a perfect world, collaboration would be real-time, it’d work on a Mac or a PC, and it would be compatible with Final Draft, Movie Magic, or any other screenwriting software.
Asking too much?
We had lots of great feedback from the judges at 2012’s BlueCat competition, and got lots of great guidance at the same time. “awesome, intense, unusual and original … sickly satisfying … the only way to do horror movies” Now…
Getting feedback from a screenplay consultant or reader can be humbling, and confusing. Maybe even a little demoralizing.
Knowing what to do with screenplay feedback can be crippling.
Partly because it’s just words on a page. Just like an email or a text message, written feedback doesn’t provide an opportunity to discuss and clarify, so if the screenplay consultant misunderstood something, or isn’t clear in their recommendations, you’ve got no recourse. You’re left to interpret (or misinterpret) to the best of your meager ability… or simply discard what could be valuable feedback.
What can you do about it?
* This post was recommended and redistributed by the fine folks at BlueCat Screenplay Competition.
We hear it all the time. If you want to write a better screenplay, get feedback and listen to it.
But I promise you this: the feedback you get from contest readers, other writers, and even friends and family will not be consistent. Readers will contradict one another, you’ll get mixed messages even from single readers, and figuring out how to use any of it to build a better screenplay will be overwhelming.
A few years ago I attended a talk with Sony’s Sam Dickerman. My favorite observation of his was that when producers say “That’s great, but can we add aliens somewhere?” they don’t literally mean “add aliens”. They mean they’re looking for something spectacular and unexpected, and it’s your job to understand what result they’re looking for, and find ways to deliver on that while remaining true to your story (and yourself).
So what do you do?
In my original article “10 Things To Think About When You Option Your Screenplay” I included the passage:
“…negotiate the rights to any changes or alternative versions created by the producer or on behalf of the producer during the option period. In other words, if the script reverts back to you, so should the rights to any changes made to the script while the producer had it. Otherwise, you’ve got your script back, but the producer potentially still has rights to their version… and now you’re in competition with another version of your script that you don’t control. That’s not a place you want to be.”
But was I right?
I recently received some guidance on that point from Adam Levenberg of HireAHollywoodExec.com.
“Technically what you wrote is not correct. In the case of rights reversion, you are not competing with the ‘producer’s draft’ because the producer does not have the rights to shop, sell, or produce their version. But you are correct that without proper language in the contract, the producer does hold on to the rights to those ‘producer drafts’.”
I thought you should hear more from Adam, so I’m turning the blog over to him. Here’s what he’s got to say.