#ThinkpieceThursday – Whistleblowers

Thinkpiece Thursday

Chelsea ManningThis month is Power of Conscience month, where most of the website’s content is dedicated to those who are justice seekers. They believe they know best what is right or wrong, and will go as far as they have to do ensure that wrong is punished or set right.

Today we’re looking at Whistleblowers. These are the men and women who call out injustice and conspiracy for the good of the people. In the real world, we have recent examples like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, who were forced into exile for exposing Government wrongdoing.

Whilst it may have broken the law, sometimes laws are outdated and no longer work to protect the people. When this is the case, sometimes, you need to go outside the law in order to do what it right. This is exactly what any Power of Conscience character would do.

Edward Snowden

There are also Whistleblowers who don’t break the law but are suppressed and finally risk everything to do what is right. Most recently we saw Rose McGowan, among others, who drove the momentum after the accusations came out against Harvey Weinstein.

The movement became bigger than one predator because of Whistleblowers like Rose McGowan who were bullied into silence but spoke out because it was the right thing to do. Whistleblowers are always Power of Conscience characters.

An excellent example of a fictional Whistleblower is Captain America (Chris Evans), in the 2014 movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Captain America is frozen in time after WW2 and defrosted in the present day. A soldier with a boy scout mentality has his morality severely tested when he discovers that SHIELD, the espionage organization he works for, has been infiltrated by HYDRA, the villains he thought he defeated back in the 1940s, since the beginning. He has been working for the bad guys and decides to reveal this information to the public.

Rose McGowan

This action destabilizes national security and leaves the espionage community, and government, in chaos.

He may not have been a Whistleblower if he wasn’t a Power of Conscience character. He always does the right thing, even if it may have catastrophic results in the long term.

In this case, he was right to do so, but in the 2016 sequel he goes the other way and keeps information from his friends, and violates international law because he believes it is the right thing to do. Captain America is every bit as much as Power of Conscience character as Manning, Snowden, and McGowan.

This key speech from the film perfectly sums up Captain America’s motivations:

“The Price of Freedom is high, and it’s a price I’m willing to pay.”

 

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#MondayMusings – 2017 Review

Monday Musings

It’s that time of the new year where everyone is doing their round-up of the best and worst of the previous year. Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! I’ve been able to consume a lot of media this year, so I thought now would be a good time to start an annual tradition where I let you know what movies, TV shows, plays, musical, books and people made an impression on me, for better or worse. So, without further ado, it’s time to announce the winners of the 1st Annual Lauries!

Best Film of 2017
Paddington 2

What a wonderful antidote this was to a year full of nastiness in the news. We could all use a reminder that essentially, everyone is decent. Paddington brings out the best in us, and this sequel was even more funny, inventive and touching than the first. I’ll be going into more detail about the character Of Paddington himself further down.

It was so refreshing to see a simple, stripped-down film that was gentle-humoured and charming. It wasn’t trying to be a spectacle, and the stakes were low. The whole film revolves around a pop-up book that Paddington wants to buy for his Aunt Lucy.

This gives us time to just enjoy the wonderful characters, especially Hugh Grant as a washed-up flamboyant actor, and the ludicrous scenarios, like Paddington being falsely imprisoned only to turn the jail into a victorian-style tearoom. No matter your age, it’s hard to think of someone who wouldn’t love Paddington 2, both as an exercise in good writing and just an all-round enjoyable film.

Worst Film of 2017
Detroit

I have real issues with Katheryn Bigelow’s Detroit, especially after her brilliant work on films like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Whilst Bigelow focused more on atmosphere than story, which is not necessarily a bad thing but one I’m not personally keen on doing, everything about the film is exaggerated. Every character is a caricature.

The antagonists are violent and racist but we never really understand their point of view. The protagonists are seen as helpless victims and nothing more. It never earns its shocks, its violence or its tension because we never care about what is going on or who it is happening to.

Detroit could have been something special. Instead, its troubling for all the wrong reasons.

TV show of 2017
Mindhunter

The latest Netflix drama directed by David Fincher is a real slow-burner, and has tested the patience of many a viewer. I, however, loved it. It features a winning combination of Power of Truth and Power of Reason characters, as the series depicts the formation of the FBI’s behavioral science unit.

Whizzkid Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) interviews some of America’ most notorious serial killers under the weary gaze of gruff older agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and academic Wendy Carr (Anna Torv). These are truth-seekers and mystery-solvers attempted to unravel the twisted logic of those who believe that their victims deserved to die, and that the world should bend to their set of rules. As a tale of Power of Truth vs Power of Reason, it made for the most engrossing TV of the year.

Power of Ambition Character of 2017

Boris Johnson

Power of Ambition characters will do whatever they have to in order to gain power and influence. They will change face at a moment’s notice, and stab others in the back in order to command respect and admiration.

This year, no one has undermined his own leader, and his own cabinet, like Boris Johnson. Rumour has it that his own colleagues are sick of him attempting to usurp Prime Minister Theresa May and take over as Prime Minister himself, an ambition he has held for years but will likely never achieve. What could once have been seen as strategic and calculating has now become embarrassing.

The one thing he has been consistent in is behaving like a Power of Ambition character should.

Power of Conscience Character of 2017
Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) in The Punisher

I will be publishing a much more in-depth article about Netflix’s Power of Conscience show The Punisher soon, but its titular character is a brilliant demonstration of how far a Power of Conscience character can fall to the dark side. Driven to extreme vengeance following the brutal murder of his family, “The Punisher” doles out his own brutal judgment upon everyone he believes has done wrong. Few are left alive or without lasting injuries.

Frank Castle is a tragic character, bolstered by Bernthal’s heartbreaking performance, and it’s refreshing to see the darkest side of Power of Conscience. This Character Type can be more dangerous than even Power of Will when they are pushed too far, and truly believe their law is above everyone else’s. He is surrounded by other Power of Conscience characters, but he is at the furthest end of a spectrum. He is a great anti-hero, and a good way to judge how far you think a Power of Conscience character could go when you’re writing them.

Power of excitement character
Dev (Aziz Ansari) in Master of None

Dev is not a hero or a swashbuckler, but he displays his rakish charm like the great Power of Excitement characters. The lead of Netflix’s Master of None is a womanizer and a charmer, living it up in Italy before returning to New York and maintaining his fun-loving, carefree ways.

Dev is not necessarily a reckless agent of chaos, but he is always thinking about how he can enjoy himself the most, whether by himself or with his friends and lovers.

It is the way his Power of Excitement ways are challenged that make him this year’s best Power of Excitement character. He is forced to be more caring and more considerate- less selfish- when he truly falls in love after experiencing a broken heart in the last season. He experiences something that makes him want to be distinctly selfless. He veers towards his worst fun-loving traits when faced with rejection, and he attempts to return to his former self. If you want to see a Power of Excitement’s personality tested when faced with change, Master of None is the show for you.

Power of Idealism Character
Alexander Hamilton (Jamael Westman) in Hamilton

The hit American musical Hamilton, a hip-hop retelling of the life of Founding Father and Secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton,  recently arrived in London, with Jamael Westman playing the titular lead character.

Hamilton is all about the creation of a nation, and the sacrifices one must make for legacy and achieving a destiny, often at the cost of family, friends and morals. Alexander Hamilton, as he is depicted in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, is a brilliant example of a Power of Idealism character as their best and their worst. His striving for the best helping shape The United States of America as we know it, but also brough him unspeakable tragedy and eventually led to his own death.

Hamilton is Power of Idealism in its extreme. Even listening to the soundtrack by itself will demonstrate how far this Character Type will go for that next high, or to embrace that exaggerated drama that they crave in their life, or to acheive their grand destiny. Nobody believes in grand destiny like Alexander Hamilton, who constantly reminds us that he is “not throwing away [his] shot”.

Power of Imagination character
Paddington Brown (Ben Whishaw) in Paddington 2

Power of Imagination are commonly young naïfs who have adventure unwittingly thrust upon them and have to rise to the occasion. Paddington, star of my favourite film of the year, is a great example of this Character Type.

Another trait of Power of Imagination characters is that they often bring people together for a common good. Paddington 2 goes to great lengths to show us how much his neighbours rely on Paddington to help their street to run smoothly. When he is falsely imprisoned, his charm and good manners win over an entire jail full of hardened criminals. His adoptive family, The Browns, aren’t quite the same without him. He is the glue that holds everyone together, and they will do anything for him in the same way that The Fellowship of the Ring would do anything for Frodo Baggins, or The Rebellion would do for Luke Skywalker.

Paddington works as a character because he takes the extraordinary situations he gets involved in, and tackles them head on in the only way he knows how, no matter how out of his deapth that he feels. We could all learn something for Paddington, perhaps more than any other Power of Imagination character.

Power of Love Character of 2017
Mija (Seo hyun-Ahn) in Okja

Okja is another Netflix production, but this time a feature film. It is a great Power of Love story that may at times seem like a Power of Truth story, once it veers into a group of environmental activists trying to uncover the wicked acts of a global corporation, but at its heart, it is a love story between Mija and her bizarre giant friend, Okja.

Mija, in theory, ruins a lot of lives and breaks a lot of hearts in her pursuit of her kidnapped animal companion. She is relentless in her mission to regain Okja, whether or not Okja’s return to the city is the best thing for her or not. For a selfish journey that is ultimately selfless, Mija is this year’s best example of a Power of Love character because of her unwavering belief that Okja belongs to her, and her love is the best thing no matter who gets in her way.

Power of Reason character of 2017
Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller is a classic “G-Man” for the FBI, a conservative with traditional values who is loyal to the Bureau and has always upheld its core beliefs. He is not Power of Truth, despite his detective-like behavior uncovering inciting documents and damning evidence during the Russia investigation.

Mueller is meticulous, as he was trained to be, and his approach to the investigation has been typically Power of Reason. He is only interested in the facts, as well as cold, hard statistics. He is cool, calm and collected. This year he has proved to be someone totally neutral and only interested in finding out the truth. He is not paranoid, or unsure of himself- he has more conviction than any Power of Truth character could.

Power of Truth Character of 2017
Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) in American Vandal

My favorite Power of Truth story this year was the Netflix spoof American Vandal, who parodied true-crime documentaries like Making A Murderer and Serial so perfectly that it became every bit as good as them. At the heart of the story was its narrator, student filmmaker Peter Maldonado, who is making this “documentary” to uncover the truth behind “Who Drew The Dicks?”.

Peter displays all the flaws of a classic Power of Truth character. He doesn’t trust anyone and loses friends because of how far he is willing to go to uncover a conspiracy and solve a mystery that may not even be there. It’s surprising how a show that makes fun of the tropes from detective stories and crime investigations would provide such a great example of a typical Power of Truth character.

Power of Will Character of 2017
Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) in Peaky Blinders

Gangsters are typically Power of Will characters, and Tommy Shelby is no exception. He might just be the greatest Small Screen Gangster since Tony Soprano. For non-British viewers, Peaky Blinders is essentially The Godfather set in early 20th-century Birmingham, UK. War veteran Tommy is the patriarch of his crime family, keeping everyone in check, from his reckless brothers to the Prime Minister and King of England themselves.

Tommy is ruthless and violent but in an intelligent way. Gangsters all have different styles of management, and Tommy uses violence only sparingly, preferring to use intimidation, and controlling people through legitimate business and official channels. His methods work, and as the show has progressed Tommy has become increasingly powerful. He is an incredible success Power of Will character, and for that, he is my favorite example of this Character type from last year.

Moment of the year

#MeToo

It’s hard to choose one specific moment, because there’s been so many notable events this year. What has been happening in the real world in 2017 has been so volatile that it’s far more dramatic than something any TV Show or Film could have mustered up.

So this year, which has been so relentlessly bleak, I’m awarding Moment of the Year to something hopeful. The #MeToo movement, which was also Time’s Person of the Year. Brave women (and men) came forward and exposed an abusive culture that is long overdue to be eradicated. It’s only the start, but it’s a start nonetheless.

So to those of us who have been harassed or assaulted, the rise of #MeToo was a Moment that will define this year more than any Film, TV show or politician.

I’ll be continuing Power of Conscience month with an examination of Whistle Blowers this Thursday, much like the instigators of #MeToo who spoke out because it was the right thing to do. A great example of Power of Conscience behavior working for the better.

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#ThinkpieceThursday – Power vs Influence

Thinkpiece Thursday

I’ve just discovered a wonderful website Difference Between. Here is their take on Influence vs Power. Lawrence of Arabia is a classic example of a character who had absolutely no power but had tremendous influence. He basicly remade the Middle EastGandhi is another example of a character who also had no power but remade India.  Both where the subject of Oscar-winning motion pictures.

Here is the article from the Difference Between website.

Power and Influence are two terms between which a number of differences can be identified. Both Power and influence are attributes that we come across very early in our lives. You must have heard interviews of celebrities where they talk about the person who held the greatest influence on their lives. Surprisingly, for a vast majority, the person having the greatest influence turns out to be either father or mother. But fathers or mothers are certainly not very powerful, are they? This means that power and influence are separate entities contrary to common perception. Though many a times it looks like the person with authority is influential because of his power, but often it is vice versa. There are differences between power and influence though their ultimate purpose or objective is the same, and that is to control others or to get them to do things you want them to do. This article attempts to highlight the differences between the two terms while elucidating each term.

What is Influence?

Influence can be defined as the ability to create an impact on the beliefs and actions of an individual. Influence evokes respect. Unlike Power, influence contains such a magic that those under the influence keep working in the desired manner even in the absence of the influential person. Influence is a desirable trait in any leader. No secretary of state has been more powerful than Dick Cheney in US. This was because of the influence he had over the then President George Bush. Mahatma Gandhi was the most influential personality ever to have breathed in India. All the power, he had, was derived from his influence. He had no post, no power from the top. He had hundreds of thousands of followers who were ready to die for his cause or obeyed him blindly. This highlights that Influence is a very powerful quality.

What is Power?

Power can be defined as the authority to get something done through an individual. This usually evokes fear. Both power and influence can be used to achieve a particular goal such as the completion of a task. However, since power is often associated with fear, there is a tendency for the task to be completed poorly. Especially, when the person, who uses the power, is absent, the quality of work decreases. Power is imposed from the top as when your boss asks you to do a job. You do it in time and the manner that your boss has asked you to do, but you do it more out of fear than any love or respect for him. You do the job because it is your duty, and you are fearful that you might get reported if you do not complete the job. Some people are powerful because of their influence. However, most derive their power from the post they have got. In the modern society, we see people abuse their power merely to get things done. This abuse of power is not only immoral, but also harms the entire society. What leaders need to cultivate is to accumulate both power and influence, and learn to use both judiciously and appropriately. They must realize that misapplication of either can result in the loss of both.

#ThinkpieceThursday – Deep Dread of Uncertainty

Thinkpiece Thursday

At the heart of any character’s inner conflict is change or transformation. The rage and divide in US politics is all about the perception that the country is changing. “It’s not the country I know anymore.”

Demographics are changing. Social mores are changing. Moral taboos are changing, Resistance to these changes is summed in the theme song of the television hit All in the Family.

In a story, someone or something provokes some kind of shift or change in the character or the character’s world. Change is disturbing because what comes next is uncertain. “You are no longer who I expect you to be. You are not predictable.”

Studies have shown that people would rather get a predictable electric shock (pain) now than maybe be (unpredictably) shocked (or not) later.  People show greater anxiety when waiting for an unpredictable shock (or pain) than an expected one. The Joker says: “Because it’s all part of the plan.”

Writers are always advised to write what they know. What writers (and all other human beings) know the most about is change.

Living, by definition, is to change. Nothing in life is static. Change and transformation are all around you. Both impact you every day. You live in an unsettling and constantly changing world. That is especially true today, with the backtracking, outright lying, and whiplash-inducing policy and personnel shifts in the White House.

The world is (and always has been) full of political uncertainty, evolving relationships, personal and professional ups and downs, and, conflicting responsibilities, loyalties, commitments, and desires. Your characters should experience their world in exactly the same way.

You know how painful change and transformation can be. You have experienced extreme, dramatic and, sometimes excruciating change. Your life has been full of unexpected reversals, complex dilemmas, and difficult growth experiences- and so should the lives of your characters. (And there’s no reason why all this turmoil, chaos, and pain shouldn’t be hilarious. Great comedians know: “If it doesn’t hurt. It isn’t funny”.

One of the downsides of the awesomeness of human consciousness is the ability to worry about the future. We know the future exists, but we don’t know what’s going to happen in it. In animals, unpredictability and uncertainty can lead to heightened awareness.

What’s unique about humans is the ability to reflect on the fact that these future events are unknown or unpredictable,  This uncertainty itself can lead to a lot of distress, anxiety, and pain. And that is scary.

 

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Children’s Media Conference 2014

MALORIE BLACKMAN TO DELIVER CREATIVE KEYNOTE AT
THE CHILDREN’S MEDIA CONFERENCE 2014
 

Leading children’s media event to host Waterstones Children’s Laureate

Waterstones Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman will deliver the creative keynote at this year’s Children’s Media Conference (CMC) which takes place from 2-4 July 2014 in Sheffield.  The keynote is on Thursday 3 July.

Currently in its 11th year, the CMC is the premier event in the UK for supporting children’s media and hosts a global delegation of creatives, producers and distributors of kids’ content across all media.

This year’s CMC has a theme of Child@Heart and will include an impressive array of 50 conference sessions and masterclasses featuring leading children’s media executives from around the world.

Malorie Blackman was appointed the coveted role of Children’s Laureate in 2013 and will hold the post until next year. She has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the Noughts and Crosses series of novels (Noughts and Crosses won the Red House FCBG Children’s Book Award as well as being included in the top 100 of the BBC Big Read), Cloud Busting (winner of the Smarties Silver Award), Thief (winner of the Young Telegraph/Fully Booked Award) and Hacker (winner of the WH Smiths Children’s Book Award and the Young Telegraph/Gimme 5 Award for best children’s book of the year).  Her latest book is Noble Conflict, a story of love, violence, trust and betrayal.

Malorie is a scriptwriting graduate of the National Film and Television School.  Her work has appeared on TV, with Pig-Heart Boy, which was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, being adapted into a BAFTA winning 6-part TV serial.  As well as writing original and adapted drama scripts for TV, Malorie also regularly wrote for CBBC’s Byker Grove.

In 2005, Malorie was honoured with the Eleanor Farjeon Award in recognition of her distinguished contribution to the world of children’s books.  In 2008, she was then honoured with an OBE for her services to Children’s Literature.

Malorie Blackman says: “All children have a right to be seen, heard and represented in the arts. The stories we tell as well as the stories we are told – in whatever form – define us as individuals and as a society.  They show us who we are and what we can be.  But are the needs of our children being met?  Are all of our children being represented?  What can we do to improve the situation?”

Greg Childs, Editorial Director at CMC adds: “Year on year, the CMC continues to explore issues that are relevant to the rapidly changing children’s media landscape. We are genuinely thrilled to have someone of Malorie Blackman’s standing to deliver this year’s creative keynote. With the theme of Child@Heart at the core of this year’s conference, we are excited to hear her thoughts on what appeals to today’s child.”

For more information visit: www.thechildrensmediaconference.com.

 

Nigella Lawson and her Recent Troubles

Nigella Lawson’s admission she used cocaine in a fraud trial of two sisters who were her personal assistants has caused a sensation in the British press.  The intimate details about her relationship with her husband, multi-millionaire Charles Saachi, was further fuel for scandalous gossip.

The story reminded me to look back on an article I wrote about celebrity chefs and their Character Types.  (The full article is here http://www.etbscreenwriting.com/celebrity-chefs-character-types/)

Below is my analysis of Nigella at the time:

POWER OF LOVE

Nigella Lawson is a Power of Love character.  She is a food seducer.  Cooking is a sensual pleasure and the opportunity to nurture.  She is  often described as being “sexy and flirty” while working with or presenting food.  She celebrates her own voluptuous curves and says she takes her greatest joy in “feeding others”.  Here is how she describes her philosophy in one of her books:

The trouble with much modern cooking is not that the food it produces is not good, but that the mood it induces in the cook is one of skin-of-the-teeth efficiency, all briskness and little pleasure. Sometimes that’s the best we can manage, but to others we want to feel not like a postmodern, post feminist, overstretched modern woman but, rather, a domestic goddess, trailing nutmeggy fumes of baking pie in our languorous wake. So what I’m talking about is not being a domestic goddess, exactly, but feeling like one. – Domestic Goddess

Lawson’s culinary efforts have been described as decadent, succulent, passionate, luscious, and lavish.

Lawson’s sexy roundness mixed with her speed-demon technique makes cooking dinner with Nigella look like a prelude to an orgy.  – The New York TImes

Her appeal is further described here:

Women like her, she says, “because I’m not thin”, while men who lack the domestic skills to unwrap a chip supper can watch her licking a fingerful of her signature Slut Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly and wonder what they have been missing.  – The Telegraph

Power of Love characters, regardless of what they look like are innately sensual and sexy.  They are Earth Mothers or Nurturers regardless of their gender.  In her many television shows like Nigella Bites and Forever Summer with Nigella, Lawson presents food as a comfort, a pleasure and the abiding warmth of true sustenance.  Cooking is her way of giving pleasure to others.  When she is criticized it is for creating a kind of “Food Porn” that is a too voluptuous or too much the over-stuffed sensory feast.

POWER OF LOVE AND POWER OF WILL

Earlier in the year, her husband, Charles Saachi, famously grabbed Nigella by the throat in the outdoor patio of a London restaurant.  She testified she saw a young woman with a “sweet looking” baby and said she “was so looking forward to having grandchildren”.

She says her husband then grabbed her by the throat and told her he was the only person she should be concerned with and that he should be the only person giving her pleasure.  Saachi contended in the press that he grabbed his wife by the throat with one and then two hands in order to make her focus on the conversation they were having (and presumably on him).

After photos of the incident were published Saachi was cautioned by the police for assault.  A police caution is a serious formal warning but stops short of actual prosecution.  Very soon after publication of the photos Nigella filed for divorce.

She says her husband has been continually emotionally abusive.  Why didn’t she leave him before then?  Power of Love characters tend to be very forgiving in their relationship with Power of Will men.  It’s typical of a Power of Love character to believe if she just loves her man enough, or in exactly the right way, he will have to love her back.

Power of Will men are controlling, often have anger and temper issues, are extremely jealous, and are very physical. They see their partner as belonging to them and them alone.  In a strange way, this possessiveness and aggressive behavior can “feel” a bit like love to Power of Love characters.  He may not be treating her kindly but he has a powerful connection to her and she had a big emotional impact on him.

Saachi insists he still deeply loves Nigella and is “devastated” by the divorce. He said in court, “I adore Nigella, and I’m absolutely brokenhearted to have lost her”.

As this sordid saga plays out in court and in the press, I’m sure we’ll see other testimony that supports and further defines this battling couples’ Character Types.

 

Summer Workshop in Italy

Friend and colleague from UCLA, Paul Chitlik, now a clinical assistant professor at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television, holds a residential writing seminar in Europe every summer. This year, the seminar is in Cairo Montenotte, Italy. Here are the details as provided by Paul, who is also the author of Rewrite: A Step-by-Step Guide to Strengthen Structure, Characters, and Drama in Your Screenplay.

Are you thinking about how you can get to the next level with a script you’ve been meaning to write or rewrite? Probably you are. You can deal with both at the same time by signing up for a screenwriting retreat coming up June 16-June 29 in Cairo, Italy. Yes. Cairo Montenotte in the Liguria region of Northern Italy.

We’ll be staying in a sumptuous villa with ten bedrooms, a huge kitchen and 2 living rooms as well as a large swimming pool, a tennis court, a separate pizza house and nineteen acres of land with breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. It is a mere 3 minutes drive from the city center of Cairo Montenotte and 25 minutes drive from the beach. Cairo Montenotte lies in the region of Liguria in the North Western part of Italy and borders on the Piedmonte region to the North. Combined, the two regions boast a long shore-line on the Mediterranean, seaside resorts, ancient ports and towns, hills, plains and many places of historic interest. This part of Italy is known for its delicate food and famous wine.

But you don’t go to a screenwriting retreat for lodging or the food, although we will be having our own local chef prepare lunch and dinner. You go for the concentrated writing experience. This year there will again be two seminars at the same time! I will lead one that will focus on rewriting an existing script. If you prefer to write a new script from scratch, Nanou Matteson, UCLA MFA grad, who has been expertly teaching and coaching writers for 20 years, will lead our second annual first draft seminar.

Nanou has worked with hundreds of writers in addition to attending many of my retreats. She knows my method and has always been a leader in my classes. Her students last year were wowed by her passion, wit, and knowledge.

I’ll be focusing on the usual – story, character, dialogue, then more story, then more story (not a typo), then pages until we get your existing script up to the next level. Nanou will take those who face the blank page through the whole process as if you were in a UCLA 434 graduate seminar, only better since she’ll have only 5 in her section.

Talk to a former participant – it’s intense. There are three hours of seminar every afternoon, office hours in the morning, group meals, long walks after – all focused on script work. Mornings, early afternoons, and, if you’re a night writer, nights will be for writing.

If you were not able to get into one of my 434s or Professional Program advanced classes at UCLA, this may be your only opportunity to see why more than one MFA grad has said, “I learned more in ten weeks with Paul than I learned in two years at bleep University.” By the way, I will not be teaching at UCLA again as I am exclusive to Loyola Marymount University now.

The level is always high – last year we had several MFAs, MFA candidates, and alumni of UCLA’s Professional Program in screenwriting, not to mention professionals from Australia, England, and Germany. Oh, and me, the not-tooting-my-horn former UCLA Prof Program instructor and sometime Visiting Assistant Professor in the MFA program, currently Clinical Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University, and author of Rewrite, A Step by Step Guide to Strengthen Structure, Character, and Drama in Your Screenplay, now in its second printing. BTW, you’ll get a copy of the book on your arrival.

The villa is about an hour from Turin, about 45 minutes to Genoa, less than 25 minutes to Savona on the Med. Lots of small villages to explore if you rent a car (you can share – we’ll put you in touch with others in the program). And if you’re feeling frisky, Nice, France is 90 minutes up the coast.

You’re wondering about cost. For Paul’s program, if you have a single room, it will be $3745 by check ($3858 if by PayPal). A shared room will be $3245 ($3343 via PayPal). If you go for Nanou’s startup workshop, a single will be $3495 ($3599 via PayPal) and a double will be the incredibly affordable $2950 ($3039 via PayPal). If there is demand, there will be three triples available at $2745 ($2828 via Paypal). There’s a 10% discount for you if you’ve taken one of our private workshops before.

Think about it – 13 days and nights in an Italian villa, room and board plus instruction for a lot less than, say, tuition only for an equivalent course at a private university. My section will be limited to seven, and Nanou’s section will be limited to five, so you’ll get lots of personal attention.

Deadline has been extended to March 1 for Laurie’s readers for the initial deposit of $200 to hold your place. Contact Nanou immediately, though, if you want to make sure you have a spot. We have only one place left in each seminar. First come, first served. Nanou.matteson@gmail.com.

THIS IS NOT A UCLA or LMU COURSE. THERE IS NO COLLEGE CREDIT FOR THIS SEMINAR. THERE’S JUST THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOUR SCREENPLAY WILL BE BETTER ONCE YOU’VE FINISHED THE COURSE OR THAT YOU WILL BE WELL ON THE ROAD TO WRITING A NEW SCREENPLAY.

#ThinkpieceThursday – The Role of Impulse in Creating Three Dimensional Characters

41i3GmuVS1L._SL500_AA300_Here is an interesting study from Chris Mooney, Author of The Republican War on Science and The Republican Brain.  The quote doesn’t just speak to politics but how three dimensional characters are created.

Here’s the bottom line: An increasing body of science suggests that we disagree about politics not for intellectual or philosophical reasons, but because we have fundamentally different ways of responding to the basic information presented to us by the world. These are often ways of which we are not even aware–automatic, subconscious–but that color all of our perceptions, and that effectively drive us apart politically.
What’s more, what is true for how we come to our opinions about politics is also, assuredly, true for how we approach “facts” that are perceived to have some bearing on the validity of our political opinions–whether those fac

Here’s the bottom line: An increasing body of science suggests that we disagree about politics not for intellectual or philosophical reasons, but because we have fundamentally different ways of responding to the basic information presented to us by the world. These are often ways of which we are not even aware– automatic, subconscious– but that color all of our perceptions, and that effectively drive us apart politically.

What’s more, what is true for how we come to our opinions about politics is also, assuredly, true for how we approach “facts” that are perceived to have some bearing on (or threaten) the validity of our political opinions–whether those facts are scientific, economic, historical, or even theological in nature.

In the Emotional Toolbox approach to character, a three-dimensional character actually has three dimensions

1) Immediate Response- where the character goes first emotionally

2) Long-Term Orientation- the character’s general philosophy on life and love

3) Strategic Approach- how the character plans and works to achieve a goal

In this post I will consider a character’s Immediate Response.  This is how a character viscerally reacts to an unexpected challenge, opportunity, or threat. (For example aggressive questions at a Press Conference.)

A character’s Immediate Response is where the character goes first emotionally. This response is a character’s automatic reaction when caught off-guard, questioned, or challenged unexpectedly.

110223_rick_santorum_ap_328For example, Power of Conscience characters instantly decide if someone or something is good and true— or bad, unjust, unfair or inhumane. Their first response is to attack any challenge, opportunity, or threat which they believe involves impropriety, immorality or wrong-doing.

These characters are instinctively propelled forward by outrage and moral indignation. Their judgment and action is swift and immutable. They refuse to compromise or back down. They are relentless in confronting what they perceive as evil, corrupt, bad, or ethically unacceptable.

Rick Santorum, a Power of Conscience character, is known for his impulsive comments and passing swift judgement when presented with anything that might violate his standards of decency, ethics, or principles.

mitt_romney_ap110211128027_244x183Alternatively, Power of Truth characters instinctively step back or withdraw to observe, consider, or analyze an unexpected challenge, opportunity, or threat.  When presented with a situation, good or bad, their first response is to step back and consider what the situation really means.

These characters want to be certain that they know what is actually going on as opposed to what appears to be happening. They suspect and try to detect what the real motives are or what is hidden from the superficial assessment. It’s the measured MBA mindset as an Initial Response.

Mitt Romney, a Power of Truth character, is measured, cool, and distant in his response to anything.  He has been roundly criticized for his stiff off-the-cuff remarks and lack of passion when responding to challenges, questions, or difficulty. He is a cautious man who constantly hedges his bets, backtracks, and equivocates.

barack-obama-picture-2On the other hand, Power of Imagination characters instinctively lead from their heart in any unexpected situation. These character feel they can and will connect with something bigger or more extraordinary than themselves. They don’t have to ponder, think or decide. They are compelled to embrace others, bring them along to share their vision, and join their quest.

Barack Obama, a Power of Imagination character, has been criticized for instinctively seeking compromise and collaboration with even those unalterably opposed to him personally, all his policies, and everything he believes in.  Obama, in a crisis, believes in creating “teaching moments” in an attempt to establish common ground and bring people together. His first instinct is to promote a larger vision and inspire others to follow him as a unified whole out any emergency.

These Immediate Reactions are powerful automatic responses to any situation. These responses clearly distinguish characters in the political area and in every other aspects of their lives.

SOPA

Although this website is not dark in protest of SOPA I stand with those who are!  Here is why–

http://mashable.com/2012/01/17/sopa-dangerous-opinion/

Tom Stoppard’s TV Project

Best known for his film and theatre credits, Oscar-winning writer Sir Tom Stoppard tells Michael Pickard how he came to adapt four novels set before and during the First World War into an upcoming BBC/HBO television drama.
“I’m simply not in the television world,” admits Sir Tom Stoppard (left), the renowned British playwright and screenwriter. Although he has been a celebrated writer for the theatre and cinema – he won an Oscar in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love – the small screen has escaped his attention for more than 30 years.
Next year, however, UK pubcaster BBC2 and HBO will air Parade’s End (6×44′), Stoppard’s adaptation of four related novels written by Ford Madox Ford during the 1920s.
The story, played out between 1912 and the end of the First World War, centres on a love triangle between an English aristocrat, his beautiful but cruel wife and a young suffragette with whom he falls in love.
“I wasn’t thinking about coming back to TV or not coming back to TV,” says Stoppard. In fact, he says, he was preparing to write a new play for the stage when Damien Timmer, joint MD of UK production house Mammoth Screen, asked him to look at Ford’s novels.
That was three years ago. This September, a cast guided by Bleak House director Susanna White went on location in England and Belgium as they began committing his scripts to film. Mammoth is producing the show for the BBC in association with HBO Miniseries, Trademark Films, BBC Worldwide and Lookout Point. “Damien had an idea that the novels would make good TV,” says Stoppard. “I read it and thought it was absolutely wonderful. I was really bowled over by it.”
The first three episodes of Parade’s End are based on Ford’s first novel in the series, entitled Some Do Not, while the other three – No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up and Last Post – will make up the second half of the drama.
“The book has got a very interesting, non-linear structure,” Stoppard says. “It feels like a Russian doll and is quite complicated so I unravelled it and told the story chronologically. I could not do a Russian doll structure. The audience would have had a hard time working out where they were.”
Stoppard is no stranger to working for the big screen, having co-written Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and adapted Robert Harris’s novel Enigma for the 2001 film, as well as co-writing Shakespeare in Love. However, Parade’s End was never considered as a film because “you couldn’t boil it down to a couple of hours. I wouldn’t like to,” he said.
One aspect of the Parade’s End pre-production process that the writer particularly enjoyed were the rehearsals, which gave him an opportunity to run through his scripts with the cast – which includes Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch and Vicky Christina Barcelona actress Rebecca Hall. The series is due on air in 2012 although a transmission date has yet to be confirmed.
stoppard_2_printAs reported in C21 Drama Weekly
Best known for his film and theatre credits, Oscar-winning writer Sir Tom Stoppard tells Michael Pickard how he came to adapt four novels set before and during the First World War into an upcoming BBC/HBO television drama.
“I’m simply not in the television world,” admits Sir Tom Stoppard (left), the renowned British playwright and screenwriter. Although he has been a celebrated writer for the theatre and cinema – he won an Oscar in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love – the small screen has escaped his attention for more than 30 years.
Next year, however, UK pubcaster BBC2 and HBO will air Parade’s End (6×44′), Stoppard’s adaptation of four related novels written by Ford Madox Ford during the 1920s.
The story, played out between 1912 and the end of the First World War, centres on a love triangle between an English aristocrat, his beautiful but cruel wife and a young suffragette with whom he falls in love.
“I wasn’t thinking about coming back to TV or not coming back to TV,” says Stoppard. In fact, he says, he was preparing to write a new play for the stage when Damien Timmer, joint MD of UK production house Mammoth Screen, asked him to look at Ford’s novels.
That was three years ago. This September, a cast guided by Bleak House director Susanna White went on location in England and Belgium as they began committing his scripts to film. Mammoth is producing the show for the BBC in association with HBO Miniseries, Trademark Films, BBC Worldwide and Lookout Point.
“Damien had an idea that the novels would make good TV,” says Stoppard. “I read it and thought it was absolutely wonderful. I was really bowled over by it.”
The first three episodes of Parade’s End are based on Ford’s first novel in the series, entitled Some Do Not, while the other three – No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up and Last Post – will make up the second half of the drama.
“The book has got a very interesting, non-linear structure,” Stoppard says. “It feels like a Russian doll and is quite complicated so I unravelled it and told the story chronologically. I could not do a Russian doll structure. The audience would have had a hard time working out where they were.”
Stoppard is no stranger to working for the big screen, having co-written Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and adapted Robert Harris’s novel Enigma for the 2001 film, as well as co-writing Shakespeare in Love. However, Parade’s End was never considered as a film because “you couldn’t boil it down to a couple of hours. I wouldn’t like to,” he said.
One aspect of the Parade’s End pre-production process that the writer particularly enjoyed were the rehearsals, which gave him an opportunity to run through his scripts with the cast – which includes Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch and Vicky Christina Barcelona actress Rebecca Hall. The series is due on air in 2012 although a transmission date has yet to be confirmed.