Embeddable Movie Clips Coming Soon

jawsThis is a boon to those of us who write about films or teach screenwriting or just enjoy revisiting favorite movie scenes!  Check this out–

The deal with AnyClip can make memorable scenes from “E.T.,” “Jaws” and more available by search and embeddable on Facebook.
Hoping to earn money from every snippet of a film, Universal has licensed rights to a vast portion of its library to AnyClip, a company that chops up films digitally and makes every moment searchable.
The deal is the largest in the short history of AnyClip, which, until the Universal deal to be announced Monday, mostly had rights only to independent films.
AnyClip’s intentions are to sign up distribution partners like IMDb.com, Fandango, Hulu and other sites that will incorporate its abilities and movie clips into their offerings. Each clip is accompanied by an opportunity to buy or rent the entire film, and AnyClip has affiliate arrangements with iTunes, Amazon.con and Netflix.
AnyClip also intends on earning revenue through advertising, and visitors to anyclip.com can grab scenes of movies to embed on their blogs, Facebook pages or what have you.

(Universal’s) deal with AnyClip can make memorable scenes from “E.T.,” “Jaws” and more available by search and embeddable on Facebook.

Hoping to earn money from every snippet of a film, Universal has licensed rights to a vast portion of its library to AnyClip, a company that chops up films digitally and makes every moment searchable.

The deal is the largest in the short history of AnyClip, which, until the Universal deal to be announced Monday, mostly had rights only to independent films.

AnyClip’s intentions are to sign up distribution partners like IMDb.com, Fandango, Hulu and other sites that will incorporate its abilities and movie clips into their offerings. Each clip is accompanied by an opportunity to buy or rent the entire film, and AnyClip has affiliate arrangements with iTunes, Amazon.con and Netflix.

AnyClip also intends on earning revenue through advertising, and visitors to anyclip.com can grab scenes of movies to embed on their blogs, Facebook pages or what have you.

18 Poets Represented on Screen

For those of you rhyme-ically inclined– Here is a great listing of screen stories about poets or poetry.

robin-williams-in-Dead-Poets-SocietyThere were two major omission– Barfly, about Charles Bukowsk and Gothic, the Ken Russell extravaganza about poets Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley (writer of Frankenstein).

Definition from About.com: Poetry is an imaginative awareness of experience expressed through meaning, sound, and rhythmic language choices so as to evoke an emotional response. Poetry has been known to employ meter and rhyme, but this is by no means necessary. Poetry is an ancient form that has gone through numerous and drastic reinvention over time. The very nature of poetry as an authentic and individual mode of expression makes it nearly impossible to define.

Discover all the poetic movie listings here:  http://www.totalfilm.com/features/18-awesome-movie-poets

150 of Movie Great One Liners – Video

leslie-nielsen-airplaneTime Magazine has compiled a montage of some of the greatest one liners and famous catch phrases in movie history.  Watch them here and remember your favorites–

Jerry Seinfeld’s Writing Success Secret

seinfeld1A site I really enjoy is LifeHacker.com Recently, I came across an article by Brad Isaac.  He was an aspiring comic and is a lead software programmer and blogger. You can read his motivational strategies every day on his goal setting blog, Achieve-IT!

In this article, Brad talks hanging around comedy clubs and meeting Jerry Seinfeld.  He had a moment for a private chat and asked Jerry what tips he had for a comedian just starting out.  His advice is gold for any writer.

It’s also the premise on which The One Hour Screenwriter eCourse is built.  Success in anything requires incremental steady progress.  Writing one hour a day or one joke a day is how genius is created.

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.
He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
Over the years I’ve used his technique in many different areas. I’ve used it for exercise, to learn programming, to learn network administration, to build successful websites and build successful businesses.
It works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes. You may have heard “inch by inch anything’s a cinch.” Inch by inch does work if you can move an inch every day.
Daily action builds habits. It gives you practice and will make you an expert in a short time. If you don’t break the chain, you’ll start to spot opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t. Small improvements accumulate into large improvements rapidly because daily action provides “compounding interest.”
Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next.
I’ve often said I’d rather have someone who will take action—even if small—every day as opposed to someone who swings hard once or twice a week. Seinfeld understands that daily action yields greater benefits than sitting down and trying to knock out 1000 jokes in one day.
Think for a moment about what action would make the most profound impact on your life if you worked it every day. That is the action I recommend you put on your Seinfeld calendar. Start today and earn your big red X. And from here on out…
Don’t break the chain!

Jerry Seinfeld said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

Over the years I’ve used his technique in many different areas. I’ve used it for exercise, to learn programming, to learn network administration, to build successful websites and build successful businesses. (Or it could be used for screenwriting)

It works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes. You may have heard “inch by inch anything’s a cinch.” Inch by inch does work if you can move an inch every day.

Daily action builds habits. It gives you practice and will make you an expert in a short time. If you don’t break the chain, you’ll start to spot opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t. Small improvements accumulate into large improvements rapidly because daily action provides “compounding interest.”

Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next.

I’ve often said I’d rather have someone who will take action—even if small—every day as opposed to someone who swings hard once or twice a week. Seinfeld understands that daily action yields greater benefits than sitting down and trying to knock out 1000 jokes in one day.

Think for a moment about what action would make the most profound impact on your life if you worked it every day. That is the action I recommend you put on your Seinfeld calendar. Start today and earn your big red X. And from here on out…

Don’t break the chain!

The One Hour Screenwriter eCourse gives you specific daily writing tasks you can knock off in an hour a day.  It guides you day-by-day and hour-by-hour from idea to finished first draft.  You’ll never be stuck or stymied again because you will have an action plan broken down in easy-to-follow steps.  Finally finish that screenplay in a motivated manageable way.

What is an American Film? – Does such a thing still exist?

“How many of you want to make an American film?”
Were we to have an extended dialogue about this question, I’d try to lead you to a recognition that such a thing no longer exists. The MPAA recently released data on domestic and world box office figures for 2010. Worldwide box office totally $31.8 billion. Domestic box office was $10.6 billion. International (which used to be called “foreign”) was $21.2 billion.
Thus, 2/3rds of box office revenues now come from outside the United States.
Domestic box office has increased about 15% since 2006, but that’s in dollars, not attendance. In fact, attendance dropped 5% this year, but income managed to equal that of 2009 because of higher ticket prices, especially for 3D.
In contrast to the declining American box office, since 2006, international box office has increased 30%.
For much of the past 15-20 years, I and most others have been saying that box office revenues for American studio films were roughly split between foreign and domestic.
The fact that box office revenues are now 2/3rds foreign and 1/3 domestic explains a lot about what the industry is – and is not – interested in. One of the things it’s not interested in is something that’s simply an American film.
The MPAA data is at http://www.mpaa.org/Resources/653b11ee-ee84-4b56-8ef1-3c17de30df1e.pdf

Howard Suber recently asked, in his invitation only “blogette” email list:  “How many of you want to make an American film?” His response is excerpted with permission here:

Were we to have an extended dialogue about this question, I’d try to lead you to a recognition that such a thing no longer exists.
.
The MPAA recently released data on domestic and world box office figures for 2010. Worldwide box office totally $31.8 billion. Domestic box office was $10.6 billion. International (which used to be called “foreign”) was $21.2 billion.
.
Thus, 2/3rds of box office revenues now come from outside the United States.
.
Domestic box office has increased about 15% since 2006, but that’s in dollars, not attendance. In fact, attendance dropped 5% this year, but income managed to equal that of 2009 because of higher ticket prices, especially for 3D.
.
In contrast to the declining American box office, since 2006, international box office has increased 30%.
.
For much of the past 15-20 years, I and most others have been saying that box office revenues for American studio films were roughly split between foreign and domestic.
.
The fact that box office revenues are now 2/3rds foreign and 1/3 domestic explains a lot about what the industry is – and is not – interested in.
.
One of the things it’s not interested in is something that’s simply an American film.
.
Those of you who have been following this website for any length of time know my indebtedness to Howard Suber on every professional and intellectual level.  He continues to be my mentor and guru on all things story, character and film. His wonderful book is here:  http://thepoweroffilm.com/

The Bachelor and The Power of Love

Ratings for Brad Womack’s comeback season on The Bachelor are down, and he’s been scorned as a featureless, psychobabbling Ken doll. But beneath his boring exterior lies a highly skilled Romeo…
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According to Robert Greene, author of The Art of Seduction, Womack is the modern equivalent of Benjamin Disraeli, one of the greatest seducers of all time. It was Disraeli, after all, who as prime minister of England in the late 1800s seduced the socks off Queen Victoria by appealing to the stodgy royal’s femininity and deeply buried sexuality.
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Disraeli affectionately (and with irreverence that shocked everyone but la reine) referred to Victoria as the “Faery Queen.” He sent her political reports that were essentially love notes, filled with juicy gossip about her enemies (one of whom was wittily described as having “the sagacity of the elephant, as well as its form”). But the essence of Disraeli’s genius as a courtier was his ability to make it all about her.
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Enter Womack, who constantly deflects attention from himself to focus on the needs and whimsies of his potential brides. On his first date with Jackie, a 27-year-old artist who lives in New York, he brings her to a luxurious day spa. “Can I help you with this?” he says as he gallantly helps her into a robe. He then tells the camera how excited he is that the date “solely centers on pampering Jackie.”
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Later on, when he whisks Jackie off to a private dinner and concert at the Hollywood Bowl, he toasts his by now totally smitten date by saying: “Here is to what I hope is as close to a perfect day as possible for you. I’m glad it’s you.” And throughout the night, which concludes with a private Train concert, he frequently murmurs, “I hope you’re happy.”…
Greene pointed out that on The Bachelor, Womack is not in the traditional position of seduction artist—technically, it should be the women who are seducing him. But as someone who is trying to “seduce America,” as Greene described Womack’s “motive,” and convince audiences that he’s no longer an insensitive cad, his wooing energies are in high gear.
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The only time Womack ever seems flustered is when a woman disrupts his flood of attention and turns the focus back to him. Womack clams up and is visibly thrown off his game.
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This is the description of a Power of Love character.

Brad-Womack-BachelorI am not particularly a fan of The Bachelor but I was struck by this article on the current season.  It’s such an apt description of the Power of Love character.

These Character Types are the ultimate seducers.  They believe if they make themselves indispensable and/or irresistible, the other person will need them and will be obliged to love them.

On a paper valentine it says simply, firmly and powerfully “Be Mine.” Possessiveness and passive/aggressive domination are the hallmarks of these characters.

They manipulate by focusing the attention on the other person or love interest.  Power of Love characters lavish their attention and affection on others in order to exercise control, prevail or gain dominance.

That’s what it sounds like Brad Womack’s seduction strategy is as discussed in the article below:

Ratings for Brad Womack’s comeback season on The Bachelor are down, and he’s been scorned as a featureless, psychobabbling Ken doll. But beneath his boring exterior lies a highly skilled (even brilliant) Romeo…

…According to Robert Greene, author of The Art of Seduction, Womack is the modern equivalent of Benjamin Disraeli, one of the greatest seducers of all time. It was Disraeli, after all, who as prime minister of England in the late 1800s seduced the socks off Queen Victoria by appealing to the stodgy royal’s femininity and deeply buried sexuality.

Disraeli affectionately (and with irreverence that shocked everyone but la reine) referred to Victoria as the “Faery Queen.” He sent her political reports that were essentially love notes, filled with juicy gossip about her enemies (one of whom was wittily described as having “the sagacity of the elephant, as well as its form”). But the essence of Disraeli’s genius as a courtier was his ability to make it all about her.  (And thus gain control of the relationship.)

Enter Womack, who constantly deflects attention from himself to focus on the needs and whimsies of his potential brides. On his first date with Jackie, a 27-year-old artist who lives in New York, he brings her to a luxurious day spa. “Can I help you with this?” he says as he gallantly helps her into a robe. He then tells the camera how excited he is that the date “solely centers on pampering Jackie.”

Later on, when he whisks Jackie off to a private dinner and concert at the Hollywood Bowl, he toasts his by now totally smitten date by saying: “Here is to what I hope is as close to a perfect day as possible for you. I’m glad it’s you.” And throughout the night, which concludes with a private Train concert, he frequently murmurs, “I hope you’re happy.”…

…The only time Womack ever seems flustered is when a woman disrupts his flood of attention and turns the focus back to him. Womack clams up and is visibly thrown off his game.  (When the attention is on him he loses the advantage and can’t control and manipulate the person or the situation.)

The rest of the article is here:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-02-20/bachelor-brad-womacks-hidden-brilliance/?cid=hp:mainpromo6

#WritingAdviceWednesday – Oscar Nominated PDF Screenplays Here

oscar-nominations-2010-list-and-scheduleRaindance, a wonderful screenwriting resource, has posted the 2011 Oscar nominated screenplays for both original screenplay and adapted screenplay.  You can download them in PDF form from their website here: http://www.raindance.org/site/index.php?aid=7122

So, what is the difference between the two categories ‘Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen’ and ‘Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published’? Simply put, the former is a script that was written purely from the screenwriter’s or screenwriters’ imagination, and is original source material that has not be taken from any other previously written materials and mediums, while the latter tends to be an adaptation of another published work, such as a novel (i.e. ‘Winter’s Bone’) or comic book, or is based on a true story (such as ‘The Social Network’ or ‘127 Hours’).

The nominated 2010 screenplays can be found on the Raindance site here:  http://www.raindance.org/site/index.php?id=474,5334,0,0,1,0

A Bug’s Life & Revolution in the Middle East

A Bugs LifeI watched Pixar’s A Bug’s Life last night and was struck by the similarities in the story to what is happening in Egypt and all around the Middle East.  The film is a powerful statement of “there are more of us than there are of them.”

Whenever a ruthless dictator and a few brutal henchmen seize power and squander the resources of the community, they rely on fear, intimidation and violence to keep and maintain the repressive status quo.  Once the community wakes up and realizes its own inherent power, it can’t be stopped in its demands for freedom and autonomy.  It is usually the young who lead the way.

In the real world, the community may have to take several runs at the oppressive regime over an extended period of time but “you cannot stop an idea whose time has come.”  In the Middle East we see a surging hunger for democracy and a desire to end the repressive exploitation that has kept so many people poor, overworked and paralyzed by fear.

Here is my commentary on this wonderful Pixar film released in 1998 and well worth another look today.

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In A Bug’s Life, an island colony of hard-working ants is exploited by a dictatorial grasshopper thug, Hopper (voiced by Kevin Spacey).  Hopper and his vicious henchmen extort most of the colony’s food each summer. The ants are left with very little time to gather what meager provisions that are left.

Flik (voiced by Dave Foley), is young ant who rebels against the traditional conformity of ant society.  He is an individual thinker and an odd-ball eccentric.  Flik is a Power of Idealism character.  These characters want to find their special place in the world, be extraordinary in what they do and are often called to some great destiny (usually as a freedom-fighting warrior/leader).  They are misfits, mavericks and rebels. These characters reject popular opinion or the demands of authority to maintain and assert their own unique individuality and break through the accepted conventions of society.

All the other ants in the film march in lock-step following exactly the ant that went before.  They panic when the “line” is broken by a randomly fallen leaf.  Flik wants to do things differently.  He’s invented a threshing machine to make grain collection faster and easier.  He goes off on his own to do his own thing. None of the other ants want anything to do with him.  Because he’s young and still learning, Flik’s inventions tend to end in disaster.

When Flik adds his pile of food to the offering for the grasshoppers, he accidentally dumps everything into the stream. The grasshoppers arrive and are furious to find that their tribute booty is gone.  They double the extortion price and the colony will most likely have to work themselves to death and starve when their last food reserves are taken.

flik

Flik offers a radical idea.  He will leave the colony, find a band of warrior insects and lead a rebellion against the evil grasshopper regime.  Everyone thinks he is crazy but they send him off on what they see as a suicide mission, mostly to get rid of him.  They don’t want any problems or delays in their desperate attempts to gather more food for the grasshoppers.  The only ant who believes in Flik is Dot, a youngster who is the littlest member of the ant royal family.

Dot (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) is a Power of Imagination character.  Like all of these kinds of characters, she is innocent and naive.  Power of Imagination characters are childlike in their beliefs.  They are often overlooked small and gentle souls who believe against all odds, trust against all conventional wisdom and have faith against all experience or reason.  Dot has absolute unwavering conviction in Flik’s abilities.  She watches for him and when he returns she says:  “Flik you came back. I knew you could do it!”

Any rebellion against the status quo requires true believers in the impossible.  In the recent rebellions, it has been the women (the mothers, grandmothers and daughters) who have quietly been providing food, water and medical attention to the protesters, believing with simple unwavering conviction in what here-to-fore has seemed impossible to achieve.  I am sure some women probably fought but the pictures mostly have demonstrated the quiet resistance of the women who believe in the fight their sons, brothers and fathers are waging.

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Princess Atta (voiced by Julia Louis-Drefuss) is a Power of Truth character.  She is nervous and slightly neurotic, always doubting and second-guessing herself.  She hems and haws until Flik is beaten badly by the grasshopper overlord, Hopper.  When Flik refuses to back down, even in the face of certain death, she finally finds her courage and helps rally the ants.  The community’s powerfully linked arms, realization of their own inherent power and superior numbers overwhelms the grasshoppers.

As we are seeing in the rebellions unfolding in the Middle East, you can’t stop the power of a united community.  When people link arms and keep coming, eventually, and often at great cost, a repressive regime topples.  The simple truth is always: “There are more of us than there are of them.”   The following clips expresses the philosophy of despotic thug regimes everywhere and how the community, when powerfully called to action, eventually triumphs.

Enjoy and watch some simple entertainment that contains a potent message and lesson we all need to learn over and over again.  Find the clips here:

New International MA Program in Screenwriting

ifslogo_all_doublesizedI taught at the IFS film school in Cologne in November 2010 and had a wonderful time.  Terrific students and engaged faculty.  It was a great experience. The school is expanding its program to include an MA in cooperation with other international film schools.  This would be a fantastic opportunity to have a broadly-based education.  With international co-productions so important in Hollywood, its a way to make the overseas contacts that lead to success.  Here is the information:

MA Program in Screenwriting

A collaboration between the ifs internationale filmschule köln in Cologne, Germany, the School of Media, Music and Performance at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK, and the Tampere Art and Media School at the University of Applied Sciences in Tampere, Finland.

Program Information:  This program offers writers an environment in which to develop scripts for an international market that are not only innovative, but also commercially viable. The program’s key objective is to strengthen the economic and creative viability of European writers, and offers access to an exclusive European network while encouraging intensive dialogue between students.

Students will complete two feature film scripts during the course of the program. At the end of the program the affiliated institutions will be able to assist with acquiring development and production agreements for suitable scripts for venues such as the Berlin Film Festival, Cannes and, if appropriate, the American Film Market in Los Angeles.

Small groups of a maximum of 8 students work closely with scholars and professionals on their projects. Faculty consists of eminent professionals in the field. In addition to working with their advisors, students will have the opportunity to participate in the events of the ifs Film Studies BA Program, which involves working closely with renowned professionals from around the world including Tom Abrams, Nancy Bishop, David Bordwell, Nick Broomfield, Keith Cunningham, Laurie Hutzler, Phil Parker, and Thomas Schlesinger.

The program will be taught entirely in English. Schedule May 31, 2011 Application deadline June 2011 Selection WS 2011/12 Start of program July 2013 Graduation Application details and more information: http://www.filmschule.de/seiten/sgscreenwriting-prg.aspx

#ThinkpieceThursday – THE OTHER WOMAN and Video on Demand

otherwoman_MAINThe means of distribution are changing and will continue to change.  I believe we will soon see the rise of films made for “straight to streaming.”  Straight-to-video always had a stigma attached which I don’t think will be the case of movies that go straight to Netflix or Video on Demand.

Most movies don’t require a big screen– small character dramas and films without explosions, elaborate action sequences or lots of effects.  Many, if not most, “home theaters” have surround sound as good or better than older theaters. The view ratio of a large flat screen TV is about the same as the reduced screens in most multi-plexes.  By view ratio, I mean that a person’s field of vision is only as wide as most large flat screen TV’s.  It’s what they can view without having to turn their heads.

True, you miss the social experience of watching a movie in a crowd but for parents of young kids a movie date can cost upwards of $100 after you factor in the babysitter, parking, ticket prices and concession treats.  If the movie isn’t amazing why bother with the hassle of traffic and the cost involved.  Most parents I know would rather watch at home with a glass of wine after the kids are in bed.

In the excerpted article below, Eric Kohn gives an interesting take on VOD and the fates of Natalie Portman’s “triple-assault” releases BLACK SWAN, NO STRINGS ATTACHED and THE OTHER WOMAN:

A few years into the proliferation of video-on-demand distribution, the strengths and weaknesses of the format are apparent. VOD excels at creating instant, heretofore unavailable audiences for odd little features that would otherwise dwindle in obscurity.  For example, Michael Tully’s eccentric brotherly drama “Septien,” which became available in households around the country concurrent with its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last month (alongside four other movies released by IFC Films). A single passing notice for “Septien” in the New York Times may have led dozens of audiences to switch it on and discover a distinctly weird experience they may never find at a local theater. This process of discovery allows all kinds of unconventional cinema to catapult its way to the attention of larger audiences.

VOD also enables the popularity of lackluster product driven solely by its intrinsic commercial appeal, a phenomenon epitomized by “The Other Woman.” Prior to its theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles, the movie has already become a sizable on-demand blockbuster, landing upwards of $1 million in ticket sales from home rentals, according to a report by Mark Olsen in the Los Angeles Times. Shot nearly two years ago (it premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival under its original title, “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits”), “The Other Woman” is mainly useful now because it illuminates an earlier era in the current Oscar nominee’s career, when she was more susceptible to bad choices. Ironically, the VOD numbers inadvertently validate those choices long after she has moved beyond them.

Factor in the curiosity quotient here and it’s clear people will take a chance on an odd little movie or a movie featuring a early performance, which wouldn’t be worth risking a high ticket price and all the other ancillary costs involved.  If you’re an artist who wants his/her content seen by an audience this is an amazing distribution boon.