I Blame Ninjas

A Screenwriting Blog

  • Aug 30

    I wrote about reading The Hunger Games trilogy the other day – finished the third book over the weekend, by the way – and mentioned the upcoming movie of the first book. The first trailer debuted Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards. Take a look:

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  • Aug 26

    I seem to be working on a third draft before I’m technically finished with the second. I still have Act III to go on the second draft, but I’ve been having a hard time getting going on it so this morning I started doodling with the prologue again and before I knew it I was well into a revised Act I. I think I might keep going and try to use that momentum to carry me through to the end.

  • Aug 25

    The first two episodes of Invocation, a series of super-short horror films I co-wrote, are on the program for the Late Night Horror Film Festival Sept. 27-30 in Downey, Calif., along with Number 19, a short horror film by Tommy Merry, co-writer and producer of Invocation. I met Tommy when he was looking for a finished short script to film for a DVX camera forum contest. He liked my scripts but they didn’t quite fit the contest parameters, so I suggested we work together on a new script tailored to the rules. The post-production FX turned out to be more complex than expected, so we didn’t make the contest deadline, but the finished short has nearly 250,000 views on YouTube. Later, Tommy found a cable horror show looking for a series of 3-minute horror shorts, so he cut the original film in two parts, and then we worked with Curt Pennington on scripts for more episodes. We also took advantage of the re-cut to chop out some of the clunkier dialogue and reshoot one scene that didn’t work very well. Links to the first three Invocation episodes on YouTube are in the links widget to the right.

  • Aug 24

    Well, it’s sure not having your blockbuster movie flop. Sean Hood, brought in as a script doctor to rewrite the screenplay during production, shares what it’s like to discover you’ve written a bomb.

  • Aug 24

    Literally. I finished off Act II in my current screenplay project Tuesday, but I’m running on fumes creatively. So I’m going to clean up, eat something healthy, maybe catch a matinee. Hopefully a day off from writing will recharge me a bit so I can dive into Act III and wrap this draft up – I think I’ve got one more draft ahead to clean up a few scenes, then several passes to polish & tighten.

  • Aug 23

    A note on the title: A few years back, I wrote Terra Primate, a roleplaying game about intelligent apes adapting rules from the zombie game All Flesh Must Be Eaten for Eden Studios. I joked that if we had a Conquest of the Planet of the Apes-style chapter, we ought to title it All Apes Must Be Beaten. But we didn’t, so we didn’t. The neat thing about writing is that no idea’s ever really wasted; you almost always find a way to work them into something else. But I don’t endorse the beating of apes. Even ape ninjas.

    Anyway, the Save the Cat site has posted a beat sheet for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, breaking down the structure, that’s worth a look.

  • Aug 22

    I’ve been reading The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Yes, technically they’re aimed at teen readers, but I’d heard a lot of good things, plus I know the first book’s being produced as a major movie with Jennifer Lawrence in the lead. And I can see why. The story and characters are great, there’s a solid B Story underlying the plot, and it’s all very cinematic. Not surprisingly, I suppose, since Collins started out writing for television. I’m most impressed by the clarity of the concept: In a dystopian future, a teenage girl fights to survive in the annual Hunger Games pitting young people against each other in a battle to the death. Talk about your high-concept movies! If you’re a screenwriter, The Hunger Games books are definitely worth a look.

  • Aug 19

    Following up on my post earlier this week about The Lone Ranger, Paul Zeidman over at Maximum Z points out there’s apparently (or maybe that should be supposedly) a new draft of the screenplay featuring three major setpieces involving trains. No doubt you can guess where most of my own action-western, Ghost Train, takes place. I certainly don’t harbor any silly thoughts about idea theft; trains and the Old West are hardly an obscure pairing. Heck, the first motion picture with an actual story was The Great Train Robbery, after all. As Paul says, if thisĀ  purported new version of The Lone Ranger gets re-greenlit, I’m not certain whether that makes things easier or harder for Ghost Train, but I’m inclined to think harder.

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  • Slow Day

    Filed under Screenwriting
    Aug 18

    Not a lot of screenwriting progress Wednesday – took my cat to the vet for a scheduled surgery to remove a thyroid tumor, so I guess I was kind of distracted. (She’s recovering well and will probably come home Thursday night.) Stress has always interfered with my writing. Sometimes I’m able to use writing as an escape, but that doesn’t always work. I did, however, dig out an old game publishing project and do a little work on it, which was a nice change of pace.

  • Land of Noirdor

    Filed under Films
    Aug 17

    A noir Lord of the Rings. Now there’s an odd thought. I started catching up on classic movies I’ve missed earlier this year with Sunset Boulevard and Gone with the Wind, then got sidetracked onto monster and contained horror flicks as research for various scripts. Now I’m back to the classics. I recently saw Casablanca, Chinatown, and The Maltese Falcon (which I had seen but not for something like 25 years). After the last two, I decided to continue focusing on classic film noir, which meant finally signing up for Netflix as the Blockbuster selection of classics is pretty abysmal (for however much longer they’re even in business). My copy of The Big Sleep (Bogart version) arrived the other day. Also in the queue are Double Indemnity, High Sierra, Vertigo, Laura, The Big Heat, and The Killing. I’m open to other suggestions, too.

    I actually have seen most of the AFI Top 100 Films list, so it’s not like I’m entirely uneducated in my chosen field — I just have some odd gaps to fill. (I blame ninjas.) After I finish off the noir films, I might work on the other missing Hitchcock films in my portfolio.

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