Call for eQuinoxe Entries

SPRING  2010  — 6. Intl. Screenwriters´ Workshop & Master Class
Dear Writers and Producers,
The Call for Projects for our 6. International Screenwriters´ Workshop & Master Class is
beginning. Our new online application will be available 27. October on our website.
Deadline for applications is 12. November 2009.
The International Screenwriters´ Workshops are geared towards writers with experience with at least
one feature script produced. The workshops only deal with screenplays for the cinema. Scripts
should be at an advanced stage (recommended is at least 3. Draft) of development in order to
get the full advantage out of the one-on-one meetings with the advisors.
•    EU/EEC Writers who have had at least one script produced are eligible to apply
•    Screenplays for cinema may be submitted beginning immediately (1. Drafts are not accepted)
•    There are no fees for the selection process.
•    Scripts may be submitted in German or English in industry standard format and pagination
•    If project is pre-selected, an English translation for the international jury must be provided in 14 days.
•    If your project is invited, the workshop assumes travel, food and lodging for the writers.
•    If your project is accepted, producers should plan to attend the end of the workshop.
Travel costs are not covered for producers,however, food and lodging costs are assumed
•    The workshop is held in the English language.
New Application Process:
The application will be available on our website.
To apply:  1) please send an email to: selection@equinoxegermany.de  requesting a password for an
application with project name, 2) a password will be sent to you per email, and 3) upon receiving a
password, one can revise and save the application online before completing (printing out,
signing and submitting per post).
Timeline:
Projects pre-selected for the international jury will be informed early February 2010.
The international jury selection will be the beginning of March.
Workshop scheduled for late April 2010
Our website is helpful to browse, should you require additional information,
please don´t hesitate to contact us by email or phone.
Best wishes,
Your éQuinoxe Germany Team
NEWS:
HELEN
by Sandra Nettelbeck
received THE VOICE AWARD 2009
with
“The Soloist”, “Michael Clayton” and “Lars and the Real Girl”
FOR A MOMENT, FREEDOM
by Arash T. Riahi
Austrian candidate for Best Foreign Language Film
Recipient of 22 international awards
www.ForAMomentFreedom.com
éQuinoxe Germany e.V.
Feilitzschstrasse 1
D-80802 München
+49 89 38 47 60 27
www.equinoxegermany.de
info@equinoxegermany.de

germanyI just returned from the fabulous eQuinoxe Germany International Workshop at Schloss Elmau near Munich.  The next workshop will be held in Ireland in April.  Here is the official information

.

SPRING  2010

Sixth Intl. Screenwriters´ Workshop & Master Class

Dear Writers and Producers,

The Call for Projects for our 6th. International Screenwriters´ Workshop & Master Class is beginning. Our new online application is available now on our website.

Deadline for applications is 12. November 2009.

The International Screenwriters´ Workshops are geared towards writers with experience with at least one feature script produced. The workshops only deal with screenplays for the cinema. Scripts should be at an advanced stage (recommended is at least 3rd. Draft) of development in order to get the full advantage out of the one-on-one meetings with the advisors.

•    EU/EEC Writers who have had at least one script produced are eligible to apply

•    Screenplays for cinema may be submitted beginning immediately (1st. Drafts are not accepted)

•    There are no fees for the selection process.

•    Scripts may be submitted in German or English in industry standard format and pagination

•    If project is pre-selected, an English translation for the international jury must be provided in 14 days.

•    If your project is invited, the workshop assumes travel, food and lodging for the writers.

•    If your project is accepted, producers should plan to attend the end of the workshop.

Travel costs are not covered for producers, however, food and lodging costs are assumed

•    The workshop is held in the English language.

New Application Process:

The application will be available on our website.

To apply:  1) please send an email to: selection@equinoxegermany.de  requesting a password for an application with project name, 2) a password will be sent to you per email, and 3) upon receiving a password, one can revise and save the application online before completing (printing out, signing and submitting per post).

Timeline:

Projects pre-selected for the international jury will be informed early February 2010.

The international jury selection will be the beginning of March.

Workshop scheduled for late April 2010

Our website is helpful to browse, should you require additional information,

please don´t hesitate to contact us by email or phone.

Best wishes,

Your éQuinoxe Germany Team

NEWS:

HELEN  written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck received THE VOICE AWARD 2009 with “The Soloist”, “Michael Clayton” and “Lars and the Real Girl”

FOR A MOMENT, FREEDOM written and directed by Arash T. Riahi is the Austrian candidate for Best Foreign Language Film and is the recipient of 22 international awards

www.ForAMomentFreedom.com

éQuinoxe Germany e.V.

Feilitzschstrasse 1

D-80802 München

+49 89 38 47 60 27

www.equinoxegermany.de

info@equinoxegermany.de

Map Yourself

virginia-woolf-etbscreenwritingIf you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.  Virginia Woolf

A good writer thoroughly understands his or her characters’ emotions, inner conflicts and the whole process of internal transformation. Great writers dig deep to find this emotional truth within themselves.  A Character Map charts internal conflicts and emotional transformation. In planning your story, each major character should be mapped. This process will help you get inside your character’s emotions. But first you have to start with yourself.

Why start with yourself? Answer:  You are a complex, interesting, fully-formed three-dimensional human being. You constantly wrestle with a variety of strong emotions and struggle continually with a whole range of internal conflicts. These are the kinds of characters you should write about.

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 and challenge you every day. Both offer opportunities and threats.

Now more than ever you live in an unsettling and constantly changing world– economic, cultural, political and social norms are shifting all around us. The world is in turmoil, full of 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 from personal experience exactly 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 and pain shouldn’t be hilarious. Great comedians know– If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t funny.)

So how do you create fictional characters out of all of this? How do you create stories filled with the kinds of emotions and changes you’ve experienced? It helps to have a process to turn your own raw material into fiction. Mapping your own character will help you create more authentic fictional characters. By understanding how change and transformation works in your life, you will gain insight into how to use this powerful process to create complex, interesting fully-formed three-dimensional fictional human beings-characters who are emotionally true and who have a life and integrity all their own.

I believe the creative process always starts with your own emotional truth. The only thing that makes your story unique is your personal point of view. Human beings have been telling stories since we were able to speak. There are no new stories. The only thing new is you and the way you see and experience the world. Who are you? What do you believe? What insights do you have to share with the world? What is the truth as you see it?  All great writing moves from the personal to the universal.  The Character Map eBook will help you dig deep and find the personal truth that resonate as universally compelling stories.

Bill Mechanic’s Speech on Indie Film

Bill-Mechanic-etbscreenwritingThis is a really interesting speech about the business of the business.  I found it on Nikki Finke‘s excellent blog Deadline Hollywood.  Bill Mechanic was the chairman/CEO of Fox Films from 1994 to 2000 and is now an indie producer and owner of Pandemonium who recently produced CORALINE.  The speech was made at the end of September at the Independent Film & Television Production Conference.

“I was asked to address you this morning with my observations on the present as well as the future state of Independent Production.

But before I begin, I have to relate the story of a close friend of mine, who’s a leading heart surgeon.

He said he’d recently been involved in a very trying and emotional six hour piece of open heart surgery where he and a team of people fought valiantly but unsuccessfully to save a patient.

Afterwards, my friend entered the Doctor’s locker room where one of his colleagues was staring absently into the void, clearly spent from the ordeal. He tried to cheer him up but the colleague turned to him and asked why he was not more distraught.

My friend answered with a smile:

At least we weren’t asked to save Independent Production.

Well, the truth be told, we may not be heart patients but we aren’t that far away. We have too many insignificant movies clogging our distribution channels. Tightening economic conditions are sending sharp pains through our systems. Our blood supply from heretofore vibrant markets such as DVD and TV seemingly have evaporated in front of our eyes.

The question we must ask is if the condition is fatal. Read the full story »

Battle Speeches – Power of Idealism

mel-gibson-braveheart-etbscreenwritingThis is an excerpt from a wonderful blog:  Fencing With The Fog written by MaryAn Batchellor:

…What is the purpose of the pre-battle speech in film? Does it have a purpose other than exposition or is it just a standard prerequisite of any war story?

BRAVEHEART – In Braveheart, William Wallace gives a pre-battle speech that became a defining moment in the film. What differs it from the same narcoleptic moments in Alexander? Wallace’s speech tells us as much about his character as it does the justification for the battle. It gives us another piece of Wallace’s motive for being there instead of serving solely as exposition.

Yes. Fight and you may die. Run and you will live, at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that, for one chance to come back here as young men, and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but the will never take our freedom?

GLADIATOR – Maximus gives his troops a similar speech in Gladiator — similar because it, too, is a look inside the motives of the leader. But because it tells us what the men believe about life and death, Maximus’ speech also serves as exposition.

Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be and it will be so. Along the line, stay with me. If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled for you are in Allysium and you are already dead. What we do in life echoes in eternity.

TROY – This film has two pre-battle speeches — Achilles’ speech to his Myrmidons and Hector’s speech to battalions of Troy. Achilles’ speech is about his character. He wants his name to live forever.

Myrmidons, my brothers of the sword. I’d rather fight alongside you than any army of thousands. Let no man forget how menacing we are. We are lions. You know what’s there waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it. It’s yours!

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN – This pre-battle speach is not a speech. As Balian prepares Jerusalem to defend itself, he gives no pep talk. But he believes that no man is a servant to another and makes each man a knight by administering the same oath to them that he took at his father’s deathbed. This serves no expository purpose that I can see but solely demonstrates the character of the leader.

Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless. This is your oath (he slaps a young teen as his father slapped him) and that is so you remember it. Rise, a knight!

I think all of these examples work, but why do they work? The one thing I see in each one is that the battle speech, like other dialogue in the film, also serves to reveal character.

ALEXANDER – So why does the speech in Alexander not work for me? Aside from being entirely too long and boring, it has several long pauses of silence as we watch an eagle or inaudible shots while the opposing army looks at each other. Even if we wanted to care at the beginning of the speech, by the time it’s over we’re too exhausted to give a rip how the battle turns out.

You’ve all honored your country and your ancestors and now we come to this most distant place in Asia where across from us Darius has at last gathered an army– (cut from speech to no audible dialogue and follow long descent of an eagle and then go back to Alexander mid sentence) — but look again at this war and ask yourselves, who is this great king who pays assasins in gold coins to murder my father, our king in a most despicable and cowardly manner? Who is this great king Darius who enslaves his own men to fight? Who is this king but a king of air? These men do not fight for their homes. They fight because this king tells them they must. When they fight, they will melt away like the air. We are not here today as slaves. We are here as Macedonian free men! Some of you, perhaps myself, will not live to see the sun set over these mountains today but I say to you what every warrior has known since the beginning of time, conquer your fear and I promise you, you will conquer death! When they ask you where you fought so bravely, you will answer, I was here this day at Gaugamela for the freedom and glory of Greece! Zeus be with us!

Conclusion? Well, first of all, I think pre-battle speeches have to serve some purpose other than pure exposition but what I don’t know is if it’s critical that the speech also reveal character.

Laurie’s Notes: I believe it is critical that a battle speech reveal character.  Each kind of leader sees the world differently and fights for different reasons.  Each kind of leader inspires followers differently.

All of the examples in MaryAn’s post above are Power of Idealism leaders.  Power of Idealism leaders believe that life and war should involve a grand passion or great ideal. They see the world in terms of sweeping epic poetry or as a struggle for individuality and freedom of operatic proportions against impossible odds.

Power of Idealism leaders are inspiring and challenge their followers to give their all to a glorious cause.  They create a sense of special destiny and often link their mission to the grand heroism  or glories of the past.
Often these characters lead their followers into a lost cause or an impossible battle.  They know the odds are grim and victory is improbable but they charge in anyway.
What they are after is valor, honor and a grand and glorious legacy—the kind of immortality to inspire others in story, song or legend.
One of the best examples of this kind of leadership is that of King Leonidas and his Spartans at the Pass of Thermopylae.
Leonidas tells his men in 300:  “This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die! Remember this day, men, for it will be yours for all time… Spartans, prepare for glory!”

Power of Idealism leaders inspire and challenge their followers to give their all to a glorious cause. They create a sense of special destiny and often link their mission to a grand heroic tradition (knighthood) or the glory of the immortality (Elysian Fields).  What they are after is valor, honor and the kind of immortality to inspire others in story, song or legend.

Another example of this kind of leadership is demonstrated in King Leonidas’ battle speech to his Spartans at the Pass of Thermopylae in the film 300.

KING LEONIDAS  “This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die! Remember this day, men, for it will be yours for all time… Spartans, prepare for glory!

In contrast, a Power of Will character fights for more territory, revenge or total domination and uses any means (fair or foul) he deems necessary.  This kind of leader and his followers are characterized by the burning desire for MORE!  Gordon Gekko, a Power of Will leader in Wall Street, gives a kind of battle speech to inspire the stockholders to throw out the old management of a company he is trying to take over.

GORDON GEKKO  “I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

#BeFabFriday – Joyce Carol Oates: Why We Write

Joyce-carol-oates-etbscreenwritingThe excerpt below, from the Preface: The Nature of Short Fiction; or, The Nature of My Short Fiction by Joyce Carol Oates, sums up why we tell stories. There is no “reality” without a coherent story.

Life has no meaning without the narrative we construct around it. How we experience reality, politics, country, ourselves and others has to do with the STORIES we tell ourselves (and others). Different Character Types have very different narratives, world views, and ascribe very different meaning to the same events.

Here is how the very prolific Ms. Oates (whom I once had the pleasure of meeting at Princeton University) puts it:

“We write for the same reason we dream- because we cannot not dream, because it is in the nature of the human imagination to dream. Those of us who “write,” who consciously arrange and re-arrange reality for the purpose of exploring its hidden meanings, are more serious dreamers, perhaps we are addicted to dreaming, but never because we fear or despise reality.

As Flannery O’Connor said (in the excellent book of her posthumously-collected essays Mystery and Manners) writing is not an escape from reality, ‘it is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.’ She insists that the writer is a person who has hope in the world; people without hope do not write.

We write in order to give a more coherent, abbreviated form to the world, which is often confusing and terrifying and stupid as it unfolds about us. How to manage this blizzard of days, of moments, of years? The world has no meaning; I am sadly resigned to this fact.

But the world has meanings, many individual and alarming and graspable meanings, and the adventure of being human consists in seeking out these meanings. We want to figure out as much of life as we can. We are not very different from scientists, our notorious enemies, who want also to figure things out, to make life more coherent, to set something in order to single out meanings from the great confusion of the time, or of our lives: we write because we are convinced that meaning exists and we want to fix it in place.”

The Cynic’s Guide to Film and Literary Criticism

critic-cynic-etbscreenwritingHere is a cynic’s guide to film and literary criticism.  It’s actually quite funny and often true:

Enchanting : there’s a dog in it.

Heartwarming : a dog and a child.

Heartrending : they die.

Coming-of-age story : child lives. Dog dies.

Thoughtful : tedious.

Thought-provoking : tedious and hectoring.

Haunting : set in the past.

Exotic : set abroad.

Prize-winning : set in India.

Perceptive : set in NW3.

Epic : editor cowed by writer’s reputation.

From the pen of a master : same old same old.

His/her masterpiece : Eye-watering advance

In the tradition of : shamelessly derivative.

Provocative : irritating.

Spare and taut : under-researched.

Richly detailed : over-researched.

Gripping: No characters

Fast-paced: No story

Shocking: Awful

Lyrical: Keep a dictionary handy.

Lyrical and poetic: Keep a bucket handy.

Expertly crafted: We have no idea what it’s about.

Laughing Until It Hurts

PeopleLaughingIn going through my files I found an interesting article as a companion piece to the article on play I posted yesterday. It is a meditation on the seriousness of comedy. This reflection originally appeared in the 2005 City of Angels Film Festival materials. I have added my comments and asides in parenthesis.

“Comedy is never the gaiety of things, it is the groan made gay,” wrote drama critic Walter Kerr. This is the great irony implicit in comedy. It feels good to walk out of a theater laughing. But we often go into the theater not feeling so good. Many times, what makes us laugh is seeing that other people are not feeling so good either.

(I agree and would further add that human vulnerability is the essence of comedy. In fact, I defy anyone to think of a comedic situation where someone was NOT being made incredibly vulnerable– being humiliated, rejected, embarrassed, abused, kicked around, ridiculed, getting a comeuppance or being punished. If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t funny!)

…Comedy at its best stares the (weakness and vulnerability of the) human condition straight in the face but comes out smiling. It comes out smiling and, sometimes, laughing at the most gravely serious situations….

Groucho Marx made a distinction between amateur and professional comedians: An amateur thinks it is funny if you dress a young man as an old lady, put him in a wheel chair and push the wheel chair down a hill toward a stone wall. For a pro, said Groucho, it’s got to be a real old lady.

…Both tragedy and comedy take human imperfection into consideration. Tragedy is about the human striving to achieve the divine, but falling just short. It is an upward reach for the divine. (And the inability to grasp it.)

Comedy is about the downward pull – the very things that make us (weak and) fallen creatures. The more serious the subject, the more comic potential exists. Mel Brooks said getting a hangnail is tragedy. Walking down a street, falling in an open man-hole and (going splat) is comedy.

As such, comedy inherently transgresses. It focuses on the (tender) underbelly of humanity and opens it to ridicule. Tragedy is the substance of drama, but comedy is the further reflection (and the smile of recognition at our shared stupidity, weakness and frailty).

…Perhaps laughter is a form of grace. A gift which enables us to cope with lacking that which seems both so close and so far away simultaneously – the divine. (Perhaps it is also the way we cope with the fallibility and disappointments of simply being human.)

Quoted from Michael C. Smith Producer of the 2005 City of the Angels Film Festival

Mobile Micro-Blog Novel Writing

texting-mobile-novel-etbscreenwritingThe potential new genres for writers on the Internet are seemingly boundless. The “cell phone novel,” or keitai shosetsu, is a new micro-blog novel form. It’s typically written by young women entirely on their mobile phones.

These text message based formats have become a best-selling genre in Japan. The authors publish under one-word pen names and usually remain anonymous. The stories are about love and loss, tragedy and recovery, betrayal and resolution.

Below is an excerpt from a Time Magazine article about the phenomena of moble-novel writing.

Today, there are a million titles in Maho i-Rando’s online library — one for every six members, who are mostly women in their teens and 20s. That represents a lot of phone time. “Young Japanese access the Internet more from their cell phones than their PCs,” says Misa Matsuda, a professor of literature and sociology at Tokyo’s Chuo University. “Cell phones occupy pockets of spare time in people’s daily lives — especially for exchanging nonurgent e-mails, playing games, visiting fortune-telling sites. Keitai shosetsu fit in that tradition.”

It was a male writer known as Yoshi who had the idea of bringing out the first keitai shosetsu in book form. In doing so, became one of the first to break away from the pack. His self-published Deep Love (2002) was a collection of racy tales about a teenage prostitute in Tokyo that had previously appeared online. As a book, it sold 2.5 million copies and became a manga, a TV series and a film. It was also greeted as a one-off — the product of a quick-thinking writer-entrepreneur. But Maho i-Rando members soon began pleading with the site’s owners to see their favorite stories in hard copy, too, and its first books debuted in 2005. “Mobile novels are created and consumed by a generation of young people in Japan that demands to be heard,” says John Possman, former head of Tokyo entertainment consultancy Dragonfly Revolution. “It is truly pop culture.”

It has also become big business. In major book wholesaler Tohan’s 2007 best-seller list, five out of the top 10 books in the fiction category are keitai shosetsu, including the top three. The new genre is provoking fierce indignation among Japan’s literati, many of whom think that keitai shosetsu should stay on cell-phone screens. But it is undeniably shaking up a publishing industry whose sales have been declining for a decade. A professional author of fiction is lucky to sell more than a few thousand copies of a title. A popular cell-phone novelist sells several hundred thousand, and recruitment for new talent is intense. “Find the novelist in you!” online ads cry. “Make your debut!”

They are written with the participation of the audience. A girl will start posting her “diary” on a site called “Magic Land.” Readers begin to comment, add their own experiences and advice and urge the writer on. U.S. sites devoted to mobile novels are in beta launch here.

How The Emmy Got Its Name

Emmy-statue-etbscreenwritingEmmy® Fun Fact: The image orthicon tube which was often found in early television cameras was nicknamed Immy. The word Emmy® was the feminine derivative from Immy. Complimenting the femininity surrounding this prestigious award, a statuette of the winged female figure holding an atom has become the longtime symbol of the TV Academy. The wings represent the muse of art, the atom the electron of science. Prior to Emmy®, originally “Ike” was going to be the official name of the award, however because of the name being so closely associated with Dwight D. Eisenhower the group decided on “Emmy®.”

This is from Cynopsis a great newsletter on the Television business.

Top Ten Political Movies

Politcal-Movies-etbscreenwritingI am still abuzz about the Presidential Inauguration. So here is a list of some of the best American political films compiled by Entertainment Weekly. Enjoy!

In 2008, Entertainment Weekly set out to identify some of the best-loved political films of all time. The publication combined staff choices with readers’ votes to come up with a list of 16.

Here are the top 10, with each film’s primary star:

Election (1999): Reese Witherspoon

The Man (1972): James Earl Jones

The American President (1995): Michael Douglas

The Candidate (1972): Robert Redford

Primary Colors (1998): John Travolta

Bulworth (1998): Warren Beatty

Dave (1993): Kevin Kline

The Distinguished Gentleman (1992): Eddie Murphy

The Manchurian Candidate (1962): Laurence Harvey

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939): James Stewart

To see the full list, and a slideshow summary of each film check out Entertainment Weekly Political Film List.  Let me know what your picks are!