Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Soon to be an Angeleno

Yep, FINALLY. I've been working, saving, writing, networking, blogging and partying but now, finances have finally fallen right to allow me to quit my job and move - NO unemployment in such a case.

Still, the stars - no pun intended perhaps - have aligned and I won't be spending 1000s of dollars to attend pitch fests and push for meetings. I plan on getting another software job but these means a lot.
The short I have in pre should be done by then and hopefully it's as good as the director and I think. Festivals here I come. Plus, I can think more about shorts and find more people who are hungry to see themselves in quality celluloid.

As an aside we're working on several new posts, including follow-ups to the Sex in Cinema and Active vs. Reactive posts. Pus, a bunch of framing, blocking and movement stuff. Unfortunately, the day job requires most of my "working-day hours" so it works how it works.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Now Using Movie Outline Software

Yes, that's right. After getting a special sale price, I decided to go for it now. For the 5 of you who may be interested, the code for the special discount is


You save 50% off the regular price and $20 off the upgrade from FD price.

That's right, the most full-featured program for creating everything from Character bios to Step outlines to Scripts for only

Click the title for the site. You can even get the download and start sequencing right away.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More RED Specs

Yes, that's right, the next info about Scarlet and Epic have been released over at Red - and it is looking too good. They're basically improving every facet of the Red One for very little more money with the modularity of Scarlet. Epic will be in another league with Monstro-X "Super-Incredible-Sensor" referenced a few posts ago. I guess we can expect some more info on Epic a month or so but the big news was RedRay. They hadn't talked about it for a awhile but the pics are creamy.

The specs are drool-worthy and it's due before Scarlet. Exciting.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Movie Outline Software

Howdy writers,

As the title says this post is about software. Screenwriting software to be exact. In my travels, I came across this new package called Movie Outline. It's actually recommended by UNK.

I grabbed a demo of it and I really think I'm going to switch. I can get an upgrade version for a few bucks more than FD8. I'm only upgrading because I use Vista X64 and the FD7 PDF printer doesn't work.

I definitely suggest that anyone give it a try. It has a lot more features than FD and Movie Magic. It lets you add character bios, outlines, story notes and lots more. It exports and imports from FD.

I like it because I have stacks of 5x8s that are flowing all over my desk and shelves. This would let me put all of my notes and stuff in the file for the screenplay. I just need to find out if they have a working 64-bit PDF driver. They do, I'll be getting it in a few weeks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Here comes EPIC

Yes, that's right. THose of you who drool over the thought of an EVF sitting next to a Red ONE or better. THe pics of EPIC are comign out over at RED.com and they've begun the process of getting beta testers and trade-in programs.

No shots taken by it yet but it's great to see it ready for field testing. For those who don't know, the new versions of the Mysterium-X sensor go from still image 2/3" all the way up to the SuperWide Monstro at a massive 6.6" x 2.1". These cameras should change the game and put all other digital cameras on notice.

RED is reporting even surpassing their expectations for improved picture and processing. They say there will be an announcement at the end of the month and I hope it'll have some actuals screen shots from the new "brains."

Until then here's some images to whet the appetite.

Blogger hates the width of these shots. Does that mean the web isn't ready for EPIC?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Modern Cinema and the Paranormal Activity Effect

Howdy folks,

It's time again for a look at modern cinema and the breakout successes that frame the zeitgeist. As the title says we're looking at the sensation that is Paranormal Activity. It's the third breakout hit this year that was indie made and released smaller than wide.

It has managed a $25K per theater average, much higher than even Gran Torino of last year. It has yet to reach 1,000 theaters but should end this weekend with $60M gross. It's said that Paramount only spent $11M for the pic and is providing their greatest return in HISTORY. (Paramount's pretty old)

So the question is why are people flocking in droves for this movie? It's I guess because of the quality of it. Rather than going for the gore (which people have seen enough of for it to be old) they went for the tension and knowledge of danger. The handheld self-documenting feel of it definitely helped with the claustrophobic environment.

Looking at the Active\Reactive paradigm, we see that it is established as inhibiting vs prohibitive. Katie plays the Inhibiting role in her attempts to convince Micah's Prohibitive archetype of her psychic perception. This serves to build the greatest amount of tension between the characters which transfers to the audience.

I may go and see the movie if I can find it even though scary movies are usually for me an experiment in determining how everything was done - OK that's every movie - but it kind of kills the "scary." Or maybe my years as a Paratrooper thickened my skin too much.

Anyway, I'll definitely update this post to fully examine the way it builds tension and how it's complimented by the dialog and interaction where interaction is defined as the reason for existing dialog patterns.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Big Changes Coming Soon

Yes, folks, we're going to refine our focus here at The Revealing. Instead of concentrating on screenwriting were going to expand to more directorial\cinematographic info.

Things are still to incredibly hectic as I'm learning a new Web Programming paradigm right now, plus finishing our last requirements for our Master's thesis script.

We're well on our way to that truthfully psychotic PhD. That'll require decomposing and recomposing our Master's into an even more complex yet tenable weave of events and emotions.

Stay Tuned.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dedicated to Blake Snyder

Howdy writing fiends, all three of you :-)

We're back with a new installment of blogging for edification. Today we're going to be talking about Blake Snyder. He passed away on Aug 6, 2009 and we need to talk about his works and perhaps his effect on writing and writers. I have only read his TOCs - bless you Amazon - but his theories seem to "not be what they are portrayed as." Reading through the TOC and beginning of the insightful Save the Cat Goes to the Movies I can see that the meat is definitely there and it's more like Trottier than any "gurus."
I tend to shy away from those types of books because screenwriters are competing as BFA and MFAs - Shane Black wasn't sitting in his garage - so it's a REQUIREMENT that I only read material that would be in the Tisch or USC curriculum - hey you can find the books they use, I recommend David Bordwell. Though that's not to say that the Trubys and Snyders, etc don't have something to offer any level screenwriter - it always helps to look at things through the eyes of others. We will also take the movies we have written or are in the process of writing and add them to the list - hey we need to make sure that we actually wrote a movie.

But at any rate in his theory he espouses the concept of abstracting - that should be familiar - stories into ten distinct categories. We will list and analyze them and hopefully convince people to buy it. The theory and the book. Note that I won't be reproducing the book or any parts but will look at each type theoretically from our point of view.

Monster in the House - movies where the behavior or actions of the heroes "allow the evil" in. He gives Alien and Fatal Attraction as examples - two totally disparate but amazingly similar movies. They do emphasize the life-threatening nature of "the Monster." You can even use the same cinematic progression (structure) to locate "plot points."

Inciting incident

Alien - the beacon hits the Nostromo, they land on the planet

Fatal Attraction - Alex spots Dan, they flirt and have sex


Alien - Cain explodes at dinner

Fatal Attraction - Alex begins stalking

And so forth. The key is that these movie require graphic violence and even death. Threats to the supporting characters is a prerequisite (Alien had the whole crew except Ripley - you also have to establish the "thinker" who usually survives). In the case of Fatal Attraction, Beth is actually representing the thinker as Ash and Dan are paralleled as the "conduit of the monster." The separation then becomes the ferocity of the monster and the accidental nature of Dan's indiscretion. They are also paralleled by the small confines of home and work and the communication with "the higher power." For Alien it was Mother\The Company and Fatal Attraction touted the "hands tied" police. Fatal Attraction can even call itself a thriller while Alien is pure horror but the "Monster still gets in." Next up is:

Golden Fleece
- These involve perilous journeys to receive important artifacts. Movies such Jason and the Argonauts, Saving
Private Ryan and many others fit this mold. This is the clearest path to the true "Hero's Journey" as it is usually forced on an anti-hero. War films are well-suited to this as are police actions. Even movies like Witness are ultimately Golden Fleece films though it's a "soul-finding" exercise more so than a quest for the physical. We refer you to our Flexible four act structure.

Though this structure works for all films, it's most prevalent in Golden Fleece stories as they always involve "life-threats" to the protag and his allies. As you can see this abstraction doesn't mold to exact points of time but instead uses the linearity of progression to allow for fluctuations in "page numbers." This allows for more spontaneous sequence placement while maintaining structural consistency.

Out of the Bottle - Snyder describes this as the movie with magical\fantastic occurrences. Ones such as Cocoon which even mixed the alien interaction vein with the magical healing vein. This type leaves no stone unturned in possibilities for cinematic drama. Referring back to the chart we can see that it actually changes the "names" of the sections:

I. At home or work becomes "Introduce the magic or mysterious visitor"

II. Start of decision becomes "Sucked in by necessity"

III. Meeting with allies becomes "Searching for mentor"

IV. In the thick of things actually stays the same as it is the beginning of the third act (in four act structure) and is always where the protagonist should be in the start of the last half of the film.

Semantically, the rest of the sections do remain the same though dramatic license is nearly required. My take: Future Glory.

Dude With a Problem - The "Cat Design" here revolves around the "innocent in trouble." Since we're talking movies here the innocent usually knows how to use a gun - and may have three or four on his person at any given time. Movies like Die Hard fit this mold. James Bond may be a stretch but how long will it take for the workings of Dr. No to actually trickle up to MI5 agents? My particular cinematic homage to this type would have to be Ties that Bind. I'm already a contradiction so conventional wisdom be damned. These movies are best done with 80% physical conflict as they are the "urban action movie," usually replete with exploding buildings and flipped police cars.

Off-duty law enforcement officials are fodder for this type, mainly because they, ummm, probably have more than one gun... though a resourceful UPS guy may be a match for a bad guy with flaws - wait the bad guy can have flaws? This self-edification stuff is enlightening. No wonder people sell this kind of stuff. I do accept beer and cigarettes. :-)

Rites of Passage - Halfway there in the TOC and already a wealth of good information. Oops, maybe I shouldn't say that. :-) Anyway, next up is the transition movie that may also be called the negative character arc - for most of the movie. You know the person whose life is in danger due to drugs and stuff. Sandra Bullock did a great job at being a pathetic user in 28 Days. These movies are usually "Oscar-fodder" (wow we finally found a phrase where even the word fodder can't make it sound bad) like Rachel Getting Married or worst case Leaving Las Vegas. These are usually character or perhaps even case studies about the fragility of the human condition and echoes the theory "most people are a bad day away from ruin." Maybe I just came up with it but it's rooted in the paycheck thing.
It enables fare as varied as Falling Down and The Bucket List or my modicum of effort (read:fricking humility) Spiral. People do fall down and have a strong reaction to their own mortality. It makes for great cinema but not so great a life. I guess it's a case of "art shouldn't imitate life shouldn't imitate art."

This definitely requires a "massage" of the hero's journey but the triumph of the human spirit is always a hero's journey, whether it's the story of a recovering addict, manic, bulimic, workaholic. Hmm, why do all of those end in "ICK?" A consequence of the language perhaps.

Well, that's it. I'd suggest you get the book and

Keep Writing as Writing is the Revealing of the Soul

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Blake Snyder post coming

Be patient, the four of you. Or go out and get Snyder's book Save the Cat goes to the Movies.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Art Of Dialog: Active vs. Reactive

Dialog. The final frontier...wait that's not right. Dialog; the bane of many writers, the reason for script supervisors, the basis of every story, every character and every moment. Even silent films included subtextual dialog. It had to be to fit on the intertitle.
But what is dialog? Is it the expression of feelings, the suppression of feelings? Or perhaps it's both and neither. Well-written dialog works in any movie whether the dialog is funny and the story is serious or vice-versa. The key abstraction to be gained from dialog in general is that it's all either ACTIVE or REACTIVE, meaning that it comes from the initiation of a idea or the reaction to it.
These two ideas can then be abstracted to include all types of dialog as noted:

1. Probing - an attempt to gain information
2. Sarcastic - an attempt to reverse the momentum
3. Abrupt - an attempt to end an interaction bluntly
4. Angry - an attempt to release tension
5. Despondent - an attempt to express negative emotions
6. Inhibiting - an attempt to disallow undermine
7. Supportive - an attempt to relate acceptance
8. Uncaring - an attempt to relate lack of concern
9. Demanding - an attempt to overwhelm opinion
10. Prohibitive - an attempt to change direction

As you can see, all of these types are defined here as an attempt as that what all dialog is: an attempt to emote to the viewer through the receiver of the active dialog and responder to the active dialog using a reactive statement.
One thing that should be noted is that this dialog can increase in intensity without changing it's "form."
There are countless permutation of the preceding but in effect all dialog CAN BE abstracted in this way. If you carefully study each of these types you will notice that they are all based in emotion. This is because cinema is emotion. We are attracted to it because it enables us to experience emotional states we normally don't.
These types of dialog are not limited to the protag or the antag, but everyone in the narrative will use these as they do elicit emotion and thereby drama. As time permits we will update this post to show successful movies that have these and unsuccessful movies that don't.
When you look at dialog using these ten types you can go back and forth with the juxtaposed types.

For every PROBING line there should be a REVEALING line.
For every SARCASTIC line there should be a SERIOUS line.
For every ABRUPT line there should be a CALM line.
For every ANGRY line there should be a NICE line.
For every DESPONDENT line there should be a HAPPY line.
For every INHIBITING line there should be an ENCOURAGING line.
For every SUPPORTIVE line there should be an UNCOOPERATIVE line.
For every UNCARING line there should be a CARING one.
For every DEMANDING line there should be a TRIVIAL line.
For every PROHIBITIVE line there should be an UNRESTRICTIVE line.

You may wonder how this works but it's the same as everything in cinema. There has to be a juxtaposed position for everything. Two people who agree make no conflict. Two people who have the same opinion make no drama.
Of course this is an abstract concept but what isn't?
The key is that dialog is the most important thing in the movie. You can have a great story but if the "personalities" don't come through the story will fall flat. I feel that this is the level beneath "SUBTEXT."
All subtext has a basis in one of these 10 types as these are a good basis for underlying meaning.

As examples we can use nearly any movie ever made to show this form.

The Dark Knight:
Begins with a PROBING question: Who is the Joker; the response: Some nut in a purple suit.

Later we get a somewhat SARCASTIC line: No I'm supposed to kill the bus driver.

This could also be considered ABRUPT in that the receiver is then hit by a bus.

Next up is the ANGRY dialog spouted by the mob banker when he runs out of bullets.

The DESPONDENT dialog starts with the MOB members who are becoming overwhelmed by the BAT on one side and the Joker on the other.

The INHIBITING dialog is indicative of the relationship between Harvey and Rachel and Bruce where Bruce states that Harvey is the better to support than Batman.

Rachel is the definition of SUPPORTIVE dialog throughout the movie where she desires Harvey's strength and helps him to maintain it.

The UNCARING dialog is the province of the Joker who speaks only in terms of hate. It would seem that the Joker would be ANGER but he's not angry, just uncaring about others.

The DEMANDING dialog definitely goes to Batman as is evidenced by all of his interactions with criminals.

The PROHIBITIVE dialog is probably most realized by HARVEY who tries to convince Gordon of the corruption in his department.

We won't map the opposite dialog responses but we live it to the THREE readers we have to do the same with other films. It will work with any film and though there will be times when characters seem to use more than one type, that is not consistent with the fact that very few people change, even in cinema. You can usually determine these types by the first lines uttered by the character and will be matched with their Personality and actions.

Well, that's all for now, but there will be more to come. In the meantime,


Monday, June 29, 2009

Modern Blockbusters and the Transformers Effect

YEs, after reading some of the funniest thoughts ever written about a "summer movie," I thought I would add my $.02 to the spiraling madness. First, I should start by saying that I haven't seen it and probably won't. The first was a little too camp and not enough "super-hero" for me. Though I guess the caricature that Megan Fox became didn't help. I can say that she had a "kick ass" scene or two in the first but couldn't we have given her some FRICKIN PANTS for her intro!!! Sorry, "tension-breaker had to be done."

Anyway, I was pretty much expecting a BOFFO opening though I'm not convinced it'll have Star Trek legs as "word of mouth" doesn't work for this type of movie. Bay obviously wanted to strike fast and hard and go down just as fast and hard because 4200 theaters can have a slightly "not-Gran Torino" per theater average. I think Bush proved that appealing effectively to even the lowest common denominator has the desired "short-term" effect. Box office is definitely "short-term" so I think we can count on at least $700M worldwide. The big problem is going to be that the perfect demo needs accompaniment and adults are turning their noses up in droves.

It's actually rather amazing and telling that the same team that wrote Star Trek wrote this. Though it seems like a third writer was brought in after Orci and Kurtzman - Ian Bryce who has produced a lot but not written - it's obvious what a different director will do. Abrams did a bang up job on a very fun script, while it seems that Bay has gone for the glitter of glitter. According to sources a big factor was the writer's strike in 07 which put the skids on the entire production, writing-wise. That could be an "excuse" if not for the fact that IT'S A MOVIE ABOUT GIANT ROBOTS - give them a McGuffin and go. What was the "plot" of Iron Man? The Dark Knight? POTC? No one needs to know what happens after a Transformer dies.

At any rate, the reviews are fast and furious - though none of them can convince me to or dissuade me from seeing it. Some of the elements in the trailers and snippets were just awful. Maybe Bay should stop telling Megan Fox to "just act hot." Who would think she wasn't hot - except a guy who hates tattoos - but even then she'd have a hard time being thrown out of bed.

Anyway, I think people should just remember that 6 months from now this will be a distant memory and there will probably be little permanent damage to anyone's psyche - unless of course they don't take Ebert's advice and sit in the front row. Of course the racial furor won't help the next weeks' BO tally, but hey I have to live around MudFlap and Skids as a Brooklynite so I'm glad others have to deal with it. (I guess it's what happens when you don't stand for something)

I can say that this film - one review called it T:ROTFL - has brought out the cinema purists in America. Some of the posts at Ebert's blog were seriously thought out and gave me hope that real movies about real people still have an audience - not that I don't write mindless fluff - fart jokes and all - but hey the saying is you can't know joy until you know pain(I always thought that was BS in life) so all well-crafted movies should have an equal foothold in the release schedules of studios. Rather than the experimental searching for a star power ( how many of those flops have there been lately) or the countless remakes it would be great if proven content and technique for other demos (there's more than one route to 4 quadrant success) became more important.


The saying is that "no one knows what will be successful" but I don't believe that. Analyses have shown that the most successful movies have the same basic elements. Of course, blending these elements into a "unique" story is hard work, it's not impossible. Perhaps more writers should hang out in popular bars with viewers. Then they will understand that viewers want entertainment, not "proven quantities" besides we just established that "no one knows what will be successful" which should include "faces" or "names."

Transformers had no huge names - the original made Shia and Megan - and no human "heroes" but still dragged the kiddies in by the droves. I highly doubt that any of them are having water cooler discussions about plot problems and socio-political messages inherent in what is being called sexist and racist. Sure, Bay is probably insensitive to anyone but his "group" but it's making him money though it is destroying the integrity of the blockbuster. A true blockbuster has legs and will at the very least, please the "escapist" nature of the film critic. After all, whether or not you agree, think they are full of it or anything else, they actually watch the movies. Being impartial when your head is spinning is difficult and truthfully unnecessary.

Opinion is opinion, even with proven factors supporting same.


Maybe I'll update this if I decide to "get my glitter on." I just don't like movies like that. I need a feeling super hero that flies and survives explosions, not ones who are there just to be blown up or ripped to pieces - I'd rather they didn't kill Jazz and pointed him to dictionary.com. It could have been an intervention side story.

Also, remember that theaters don't give money back usually so once you pay, you've paid.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nicholl and Me: Finally did it

Yes, that's right. I entered Nicholl this year with a coming of age drama about college, peer pressure and the plight of the beautiful woman. It always gets good grades but it's hard to make a movie about college with no smoking, drinking, drugs or sex.

I did think that college was about higher learning, not "higher" learning. Pardon the pun. I really believe in the demographic potential of the film so my fingers aren't crossed. I just hope that someone judges the thing on what it is, not what it isn't.

Anyway good luck to me. My next several have been dragging because of my day job, but I'm starting to get back into the groove. I was "blocked" on one BIG scene in my thriller and I left it alone for a month or so while I sharpened some new projects and actually broke the 100 outline start milestone.

If only I could sell that. :-)

Anyway, I think I am doing more complex plot structures now. My first few were meant to be simple plots with good characters. I've been told I accomplished that. I've had a lot of good help along the way and I appreciate them and all the discourse hopefully to come. They're all in my link list for those who manage to venture this way.

I've actually been modeling my progress along the lines of Tisch and USC Fine Arts schools. It's been paying off. My concepts are more aligned with Godard, Deleuze, Welles, Hitchcock than the "guru crowd:" no offense meant. There's nothing wrong with writing "Screenwriting for Dummies." It does though provide a real glut of "not well-thought out" material, where anyone with a couple of bucks for a program thinks this is easy because they're special.

Rather than writers starting out with something that happened down the street they go to exotic, hard-to-film locations and think act breaks make a movie. Of course, you want to stand out but look at Juno. Simple story, unique dialog. Even superhero movies are "location-accessible" for large audiences.

Anyway, rant over. The day job is getting on my nerves right now.

But being a Mechanical Engineer means a need for complex learning methods.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Circular Arc - The only character arc?

Howdy writers,
It's that time again and this time we're talking about Character Arcs. Ah yes, the ubiquitous character arc, known for producing such hits as What Women Want, As Good As It Gets, Disney's The Kid, and a distinguished list of others.

Oh you may mean where the character learns valuable lessons and undergoes a transformation. Well, that sucks. You can't reduce cinema to the minimalist view of character change. People rarely change: the virgin who gets raped is still that "virgin" including what makes her a virgin; whether it be a stern family, a devout choice, s spiritual challenge, etc.

The Circular Arc defies these premises, It is truly the scope of the cinematic experience and enables film makers to experiment with the depth and breadth of the human experience under stress. It enables gritty characters who have to respond to the whims of the most depraved antagonist. It enables reality because of the strength of the human spirit; best personified by the archetypal protagonist. The hero who can bend her moral base without breaking. She can withstand even the most withering barrage of loss vs. defeat. This is what's necessary for the true cinematic experience. It enables the film maker to view life from various different eyes.

Rather than try to experiment with some tyoe of growth based on Conflict, writers need to concentrate on the human experience, realizing that the survival instinct can overcome odds and allow a battered, literally destroyed protagonist to return tot their normal life, thus fulfilling the Hero's Journey. Campbell's representations do much for cinema while not forcing a mold. I believe this is because even archetypal figures have human grounding; it's like how even the same type of person reacts differently to heights or barking dogs or dense woods.

When crafting story vs. character it's important to think about the worst situations for the character and the story then becomes a matter of crafting situations(elements) which force the protagonist into action. These actions then of course push the antagonist to greater evil which should force the protag to become even more dangerous and violent. It's a circular motion that continues until someone is defeated.

It is of course possible to show a difference in the character in their reaction to certain situations. In "The Long Kiss Good Night" Geena Davis' character realizes that her abilities aren't the worse thing as her and her husband laugh about her knife trick at the end. Or in the John Ritter film "Real Men" where after his adventure he returns to the garage of the guys who stole his son's bike and gives them what for. That itself is not as much the "dramatic character arc" but more the increase in ability to defend himself.

I'm not even sure how a protagonist can be as strong as possible if they are "wishy washy" enough to "change" which really means "transform." People rarely change their stripes which I guess is why we need a three strikes law. In real life the weak don't survive but the strong of heart and steady will always grow with the situation but not "transform." The most popular characters are always the same after the adventure is over, though they may be bruised and more aware of the "ways of the world." This is really evident in the direction of "Quantum of Solace" which saw Bond become "unhinged," but he was still Bond.

Even a comedy such as "Tootsie" shows the Circular Arc. Michael learned a valuable lesson but in the end returned to his former self as an actor. Fro these reasons and more, the Character Arc only works for making an asshole into a normal person.

Don't transform this.