a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Friday, August 31, 2007

Weekend Box Office #47

This weekend brings us Rob Zombie's unnecessary remake of Halloween. I'm not sure why anyone remakes good movies; why not redo Prom Night? Or Terror Train? Or Bonfire of the Vanities?

Rob Zombie's Bonfire of the Vanities. I'd see that.

HALLOWEEN (3472 theaters). I'm also not sure why they are releasing this movie two months before the holiday. It's also the biggest ever screen opening for Labor Day weekend. Still, expect this to land in the top spot, easily. $26.2 million for the 4-day weekend.

BALLS OF FURY (3052 theaters). This opened on Wednesday, and the sliding Superbad still beat it. People like movies that are dumb fun; this might be too dumb. $13.4 million for the weekend.

DEATH SENTENCE (1822 theaters). Seem sort of similar to Death Wish? Turns out it is based on the novel that was the sequel to Death Wish. It's getting terrible reviews (it's currently at 9% on Rotten Tomatoes), though Roger Ebert liked it. Welcome back Roger. $8.3 million for the weekend.

All three of these movies seem to be made for audiences who don't want to think, which might work this weekend, when temperatures are so hot that fried brains want to get AC while resting for a while. It was 109 degrees here in Woodland Hills yesterday.

Stay cool...

Thursday, August 30, 2007


The good thing about writing every day is that it keeps my script in my head, always.

That's been a problem, since I read so much other stuff that my writing hasn't always been able to stake out its patch of land. My brain is like Woodstock, without the topless girls.

Okay, maybe there are topless girls.

The bad thing about writing every day is that it keeps my script in my head, always.

I found myself wide awake this morning at 4:30 AM, after a choppy five hours of sleep. Lying there, thinking about my script despite myself, I came to a realization about a big scene near the ending.

Damn it. Up I got, at around 5 AM.

I'm not a morning person, but I managed to sit at the table downstairs, make some notes in longhand for about 20 minutes, then I sat at the laptop and wrote for a couple of hours.

And -- at least in my half-awake state -- it feels like I nailed the sequence I wrote. So maybe this sleep thing is overrated.

18 straight days, screenwriting for at least an hour. Boo-yah.

Tomorrow I'm going to write one final sequence of this, my low-budget thriller (not the actual climax, because I wrote that last week, just for the hell of it) and then I'll have a fairly unrough rough draft done.

Which feels nice, except it looks like it's going to clock in at about 83 pages, which -- despite purposely being the lean, tight script I want it to be -- is still way too short. Anything under 90+ pages just looks odd.

I'm not going to try to force in extra pages, but it's nice to know I have the room if I come up with a good sequence that fits, and my structure is flexible enough to allow this. When I first started writing, my drafts would come in around 140 pages; this is better.

Worse comes to worse, I'll just add an extra space before all the scene headings, and open the top and bottom margins just a little more. Sneak up to 90 that way -- but only if the script clicks like it is now.

After tomorrow, I'll toss it to the side for a week or two, and let it settle, so I can read it fresh.

Otherwise, congrats to Brett, who made the Nicholl semis with his script. It's a good, good thing. But here's hoping you make the finals, and don't get stuck in the dead zone that the semis represented for me...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Yeah, I crossed the barrier yesterday. My 10,000th piece of paid coverage.

I once thought that when I hit 10,000 I'd stop, and jump off a cliff or something. Fortunately I forgot I was getting close, and by the time I realized I'd hit the magic number, I'd done two more. So I guess I'll have to keep going until 20,000.

Sadly, the 10,000th script was a bit too symptomatic of the mediocrity I too often read. An attempt at a comedy, without enough originality or humor.

Its title?

"Whale Farts".

I kid you not. Can't make this stuff up.

Man, I need to sell a script.

Yesterday did the screenwriting thing for at least an hour for the 15th consecutive day. I always thought that if I had a chance to really write fulltime, I'd be prolific as hell. But I'm learning that I don't need to write for 8 hours a day; an hour or two a day, every single day, and the pages pile up.

Beats farting whales.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Weekend Box Office #46

Slim pickings this weekend; it'sthe dog days of summer. Look for Superbad to triumph, with about $20 million or so for the weekend; maybe I'll go see it again.

New films in wide release:

THE NANNY DIARIES (2629 theaters). Scarlett Johanssen is a cutie, but this is getting pretty bad reviews. Figure it'll make about $9.1 million for the weekend.

WAR (2277 theaters). Not shown to critics. I'm sure there are fans of this kind of stuff, but how many? $6.9 million.

MR. BEAN'S HOLIDAY (1713 theaters). This is also getting bad reviews, and it's the kind of thing that needs a little buzz. $3.0 million.

RESURRECTING THE CHAMP (1605 theaters). This is getting the best reviews of any of these movies, but it's not clear what the hook of the movie is. $3.9 million.

SEPTEMBER DAWN (857 theaters). Anthony Hopkins, in a movie about Mormons massacring settlers. The reviews aren't great. $1.8 million.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

44 Interesting Movies Coming Out This Year

September is looming, which means that the time of the year in which all the quality films (read: Oscar bait) really start to come out regularly.

Though I'm sure there are some I'm going to miss (feel free to tell me), here's a list of the movies -- in no particular order -- that caught my eye as being (potentially) worth seeing:


SHOOT 'EM UP. Clive Owen tries to protect a baby (again?) from bad guy Paul Giamatti and his thugs. Looks entertaining though.

RENDITION. Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Jake Gillenhaal, in a drama about a woman who discovers that her Egyptian husband is being held by the U.S. government. Directed by Gavin Hood, who directed TSOTSI.

THE KINGDOM. FBI operatives investigate a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia. Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper.

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Evan Rachel Wood, who may become a star someday, in a trippy musical featuring lots of Beatles songs.

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD. Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell in the first of a few westerns this fall.

3:10 TO YUMA. Another Western, this one a remake with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Directed by James Mangold.

LUST, CAUTION. Director Ang Lee makes his first Chinese-language movie in 6 years. Starring Joan Chen and Tony Leung.

INTO THE WILD. Emile Hirsch stars in the based-on-a-true-story tale (and the book by Jon Krakauer) about a young man disappearing into the Alaskan wilderness. Vince Vaughn, William Hurt, Catherine Keener and Jena Malone show up along the way. Written and directed by sean Penn.

IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH. Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon and Jason Patrick, in a movie directed and co-written by Paul Haggis.

THE HUNTING PARTY. Richard Gere and Terence Howard, in what is described as a "fun film about war crimes".

EASTERN PROMISES. Just because it's directed by David Cronenberg, and stars Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen. Apparently it's a gangster tale.


ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE. Cate Blanchette reprises her role. Because art house period dramas should get sequels too.

RESERVATION ROAD. Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino, in a drama directed by Terry George.

MICHAEL CLAYTON. George Clooney in a legal thriller, written and directed by Tony Gilroy.

GRACE IS GONE. John Cusack in a serious role, that is getting good buzz.

DAN IN REAL LIFE. Peter Hedges co-wrote and directed this tale, starring Steve Carell, Dane Cook and Juliette Binoche.

THE DARJEELING LIMITED. Wes Anderson directs Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman as brothers on a train in India.

WE OWN THE NIGHT. Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duvall in another gangster movie, written and directed by James Grey.

THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE. Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro and David Dochovny, in a script by Allan Loeb that was one of those must-read scripts (though I never did).

SLEUTH. A remake of the 1972 film, with Michael Caine shifting to the older role and Jude Law taking over the younger. Directed by Kenneth Branagh.

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. Ryan Gosling stars as a guy who falls in love with a blow-up doll.

GONE BABY GONE. Yeah, Ben Affleck directs it and co-writes it, but he's got a good cast in Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Josh Hartnett stars in a horror-thriller about vampires in an isolated Alaskan outpost, during thne time of year when the sun doesn't come up.

THE HEARTBREAK KID. I can't remember the last Ben Stiller movie I actually went and saw, but at least this one is the Farrelly Brothers' return to R-rated movies.


AMERICAN GANGSTER. Danzel Washington and Russell Crowe, as well as Cuba Gooding Jr, who will hopefully reign it in for once. Written by Steve Zaillian; directed by Ridley Scott.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. Javier Bardem stars in the adaptation of the classic novel, written by Ronald Harwood and directed by Mike Newell.

CROSSING OVER. A Traffic-like multiple storyline tale about immigration, with a strong cast -- Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd.

LIONS FOR LAMBS. Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and that Tom Cruise guy. Directed by Redford.

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING. Nicole Kidman, trying to salvage her flagging career. On this list because I like the work of writer-directed Noah Baumbach.

MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM. Because I love Natalie Portman.

BEE MOVIE. Because it looks funny, and it's going to be huge.

FRED CLAUS. Santa's slacker younger brother moves back in, which could be dumb, but it has Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti in those two roles, along with Kevin Spacey, Rachel Weisz and Kathy Bates.

BEOWULF. Though the motion-capture stuff looks a little weird (like director Robert Zemeckis' previous Polar Express), this could be good. Written by Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman.

ENCHANTED. Though this looks light, the hook of a princess from a cartoon world finding herself in real-life Times Square could be fun, and I like Amy Adams.

STEPHEN KING'S THE MIST. Because writer/director Frank Darabont has done a good job with King adaptations before (SHawshank, The Green Mile). Starring Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden in Chris Owen.


I AM LEGEND. Will Smith as apparently the last man alive, roaming around Manhattan until he is attacked by stuff. I'm in.

CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR. Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Written by Aaron Sorkin; directed by Mike Nichols. What else do you need to know?

THE BUCKET LIST. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as dying guys hitting the road, trying to do a lot of stuff before they kick the bucket. Directed by Rob Reiner.

THE GREAT DEBATERS. Okay, it's a period drama about debating. But Denzel Washington directs and stars, and Forest Whitaker is in it too.

LEATHERHEADS. George Clooney, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski, in a period football comedy directed by Clooney.

SWEENEY TODD. Tim Burton directs this musical, starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Somehow, this seems like it might work.

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH. Francis Ford Coppola's first movie in a decade; he's trying to go back to low budget indie stuff. Tim Roth and Bruno Ganz star.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson moves away from his quirky stuff in favor of a harsh period drama, based on a Sinclair Lewis novel, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano.

WALK HARD. A comedy with John C. Reilly, who stars as a musician who changes as the times do from the 1950s on. I saw the trailer the other day, and it looks really funny. Judd Apatow co-wrote and produced it; Jake Kasdan directs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stalking the Perfect Sequence

Consecutive days screenwriting for at least one hour: 8 (through yesterday).

Thanks to my actually writing more last week than in any week in recent memory, I was nearing the end of my spec TV script this past weekend, when a guy in my writing group sent out a cry for help: he was supposed to be up Monday night (last night), but his computer was dead, and he wasn't going to be able to rescue his pages in time. He wanted to know if anyone wanted to switch with him.

Because I was almost done -- and I wasn't scheduled to be up for two more weeks -- I agreed, and swapped with him. Then I lowered my head, and tried to get the script finished and polished to a reasonable level.

The problem was that I didn't really have the climactic sequence yet. I know basically what was supposed to happen -- the good guys confront the bad guy, the bad guy loses, though a little more complex than that -- but I wasn't sure where it took place, or what the beats really were, or who the bad guy even was. Because of the structure of the script, he's a character we don't meet until this moment.

He could be anyone. He could do anything. He could have any power, he could have any flaw.

So I pondered, and I brainstormed, and I jotted some things down, and I came up with something, a spark of an idea, and I typed it up, and I poked at it, and I typed some more.

And it works, except for a glaring logic hole pointed out at the reading last night that I'm going to have to patch, though I think I know how.

The sequence I came up with is interesting, and it's different. It's definitely original. Is it the perfect sequence, the best possible way to climax my story?

I'm not sure. I don't think it's totally perfect. It has a few mental bumpy patches.

But then the question becomes this -- how far do you go to chase the perfect sequence?

I'm sure there are literally 1000 different ways to put together this sequence, mostly depending on what is going on with the bad guy. But if you have a way that works pretty well, is it worth spending lots of extra time to try to chase something that might be perfect -- something that might not even exist?

I think it's a conundrum that writers often face. This was one of my flaws when I was younger; because I have a way-too-logical brain, I would often accept the answer that fits as the only answer -- it worked on the Math SATs. Screenwriting, though, doesn't have absolute "right" or "wrong"; there are a million degrees of declination in whether a scene works or not, and just because you write something that works, doesn;t mean you should accept it as the be-all, end-all answer and go onto the next scene.

You need to poke, to prod, to consider, to say what-if, to massage every sequence to make sure it is the best it can be.

But at the same time, you need to know when to pull the plug. You can only chase the perfect scene for too long, before it's counterproductive; you're wasting time better spent on starting something else, you're polishing scripts so much that they are losing the edges that make them interesting.

So I don't know; in this case, I think I might let my climax stand for now. It's good enough, and this TV spec is really just intended as a writing sample, something to stick in my portfolio, and not to sell.

Insanely enough, what I did was spec an episode of Heroes: Origins, a TV series that isn't even on TV yet. So there's no real structural template for it; I'm just guessing.

I wanted to do something different. Sue me. Wait, don't.

But I had a story, that didn't seem strong enough for a feature or a TV pilot (particularly now, since upcoming series "Journeyman" and "Pushing Daisies" both share nagging elements with my idea), but which wound up fitting perfectly with the idea of an hourlong Heroes: Origins episode.

So today I'm going to make the few fixes that came out of the reading last night (where the response was largely good), correct all the nagging typos that jumped out along the way (damn it) and then call it ready, for now.

If I smoked, I'd light a cigar. Another baby born, to be turned loose on the streets, diaper wiggling around his ankles.

Tomorrow, it's back to the low-budget thriller. Hoo-ah.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Weekend Box Office #45

August used to be a dumping ground for movies, but now each week something interesting seems to be coming out.

SUPERBAD (2948 theaters). This is getting very good reviews -- it's currently at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes -- and hopefully it'll help usher in a new era of R-rated comedies about teens, to save us from the cookie-cutter movies we too often get. You have to love a world in which Jonah Hill and Michael Cera can topline what is likely to be the number one movie of the weekend. Prediction: $25.6 million for the weekend.

THE INVASION (2776 theaters). I'm not sure why we need another remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or why Nicole Kidman is starring in this. The movie has a troubled past -- the Wachowski Brothers were reportedly brought in for extensive rewrites and reshoots -- and though the LA Times gave it a good review today, reviews have largely been negative. Figure it'll only do about $13.3 million for the weekend.

THE LAST LEGION (2002 theaters). Not screened for critics, and the commercials don't really establish what it's about, other than it has something to do with King Arthur. And Romans. It's hard to imagine anyone caring that much. $3.8 million.

Look for RUSH HOUR 3 to drop like a stone, but still do about $20 million for the weekend. Still, SUPERBAD should beat it; the prerelease buzz seems to be the kind of thing that studios dream of.

Predictions? Plans to see anything this weekend?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New Year's In August

Consecutive days writing at least one hour: 4, counting today.

The whole writing-every-day thing works. I know that it's an obvious thing, something that everyone always talks about, but how many people have actually tried to string together a lot of days?

I'm going to try to do at least 100 straight. That'll take me up until the day before Thanksgiving, when we may be going on vacation anyway. Kismet.

Maybe I'll even write on Thanksgiving, before the tryptophan kicks in.

The great thing about writing every day is that not only to the pages pile up, but that a script is like a camel -- it's easier to keep it moving once it is moving, than to constantly be trying to rouse it from a nap.

One for the Bedouin writers out there.

The first three days were hour-on-the-laptop days, and much progress was made. Today I just curled up with a pad of paper in Starbucks for over an hour, and just brainstormed where the rest is going.

The Starbucks district manager came in to have a meeting, and set up camp near me. I moved over one table to give them some space/chairs, and they rewarded me with a free pound of expensive coffee.

You may call it hooking me on the good stuff. I call it kismet.

So I'm determined to keep this writing-an-hour-every-day resolution going, and it occurred to me that resolutions shouldn't just be limited to New Year's, that any day is a good day to rededicate yourself to what you need to do to get where you want to be.

So I made a second resolution. My blood sugar has been creeping up with my weight, and it's time to get them both down.

So I spent 30 minutes on the treadmill today, and then swam for a while. I live in a complex with a gym and a pool -- sort of a tradeoff for living in the exact hottest spot in LA County.

(Woodland Hills. Next time they put up a weather map, look for it. I guarantee that's where the triple digits are).

I'm going to try to eat better -- not that I've been eating terribly, but there's room to eat less crap and less in general. So no fair plying me with cookies if you see me. Okay. Maybe one.

Resolutions. They're not just for January any more.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Taking Stock

So despite being in a screenwriting group, which is keeping me semi-honest writing-wise, I've been slacking off the screenwriting thing the last few months.

Yesterday, I decided to re-dedicate myself. At least an hour a day, every day.

It's something I'm hoping to stick to as long as possible. Maybe I'll even keep a running tally here, to keep myself honest.

Consecutive days writing at least one hour: 1.

I'm in an odd situation right now, because I have a bunch of things that I've worked on semi-substantially, only to abandon somewhere along the way. This never used to be a problem for me -- I would almost always take an idea, and see it through to a completed draft (or 20).

Before this year, I have only two scripts that I ever stopped in the middle, and didn't go back to.

Right now, I have a lot, and it's time to think about what priority they are going to get.

THE TV SERIES SPEC. This is what I have been sort-of working on the last few months, which basically means that I keep rewriting the first 27 pages and bringing it back into group. The good news is, those 27 pages are getting pretty solid. But now it's time to write the second half. I did a little work on it yesterday. I want to get this done and off my desk, because even though it'll be nice to have a TV spec, it's derailing my other stuff.

THE QUIRKY LOW-BUDGET THRILLER. This has gotten the most exposure in group, and the first 50 pages are done and fairly solid, while the second half is pretty much plotted out. The one problem with group is that because of deadlines to bring pages in, rather than slogging through a words-on-paper draft, it has put me into the habit of writing scripts in 25-page chunks, then reworking those same pages. Not sure if that's a good thing or not. It would probably work better if I wrote more often.

THE HIGH-CONCEPT COMEDY. I need to write this, because it may be the most commercial thing in my arsenal. I plotted it out late last year, and knocked out 14 pages, and then I abandoned it, though I'm not sure why. I reread the 14 pages the other day, and there's some good stuff there.

THE FANTASY THRILLER. This was the first thing I brought into group, the first 25 pages, early this year, and they tore it apart, justifiably so. I had plotted out a lot of it, and there are some interesting ideas in it, but it needs some major brainstorming and reworking, and I'm not excited enough about it to put it at the top of the pile at this point.

THE HORROR SCRIPT. Last year - or maybe the year before, time is starting to bleed into itself -- I plotted this out, and started writing it in odd fashion, basically just hammering out all the scenes containing sex and violence (which there were a disturbing amount of). But I was starting to creep myself out, so it went on the back-burner, with probably 40-50 random pages written.

THE TEEN COMEDY. This is 85% plotted out on index cards somewhere, and sometime I'll write it, maybe. Of course, if Superbad hits big (and it'll probably do pretty well), this is a completed script I'll probably wish I had ready now.

At least an hour a day, every day. Hopefully I'll start finishing drafts.

Join me. I'm throwing down the gauntlet.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Superbad penis drawings clip!

Call it arrested development -- mine, not the TV series -- but I can't wait to see this.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Weekend Box Office #44

A somewhat-underwhelming weekend at the box office, aside maybe for Stardust. It might be time to catch up on some older releases that you have missed.

New films:

RUSH HOUR 3 (3778 theaters). The first two movies were solid enough that this will likely have a good opening weekend; people like to laugh. But the reviews have been pretty poor, and look for it to drop big on weekend two. Prediction: $51.1 million in its first 3 days.

STARDUST (2540 theaters). I don't know why, but the commercials seem a little cheesy to me, and Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer seem like they are overacting. Still, it's getting generally-good reviews, so it might work. $17.8 million.

DADDY DAY CARE (2332 theaters). This is currently at an abysmal 2% on Rotten Tomatoes -- that's 1 good review out of 47. It opened on Monday in 9th place, which is awful considering it was the only movie opening that day. Remember when Cuba Gooding Jr. had a respectable career? $5.3 million.

SKINWALKERS (737 theaters). They didn't screen it for critics, and haven't been advertising it much. $1.7 million.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Performance Enhancers

So Barry Bonds broke the all-time home run record last night, beating me to my milestone.

I'm not really sure what the ambiguity here is. I have friends who will say a variation of "Well, there's no proof that he used steroids, and even if he did, they weren't specifically banned by baseball".

Come on. It's pretty clear that:

-- He used steroids, whether he knew he was or not. Personally, I believe that he knew fully well what he was putting into his body; he seems like exactly the kind of guy who would always be sure what he was putting into his body.

-- It doesn't matter if baseball banned them. They were illegal.

It does raise some interesting ethical questions though. What if they were legal? Would the record be as tainted?

Or, spinning it toward screenwriting, what if there was a pill that could make you a better writer? That could open up the pathways of your mind, and enable you to write richer dialogue, as well as write longer every day without getting tired or burned out?

You'd still have to be a good writer. The pill doesn't give you that. Just like the steroids didn't make Bonds the great hitter that he is -- they just made his hits fly harder and further.

Would you take the writer pill, if it was legal?

What if it had side effects? What if it made your testicles smaller or your vagina bigger, or threatened to take years off your life?

What if so many other writers were taking it, that the only way to succeed in the business was to take it yourself?

Would a screenwriter's Oscar be tainted if it was revealed that he'd been taking a pill like this?

What if it wasn't legal? What if you had to score some on a street corner, or go to Mexico?

And who's to say that a pill like this doesn't already exist, that we are just out of the loop?

Would you take the pill?

Saturday, August 04, 2007


So the Bluecat Screenwriting Competition announced the winner of their 2007 competition yesterday. "The Stones", by Ana Lily Amirpour. Congrats, Ana.

My experience wasn't as happy.

I'm not sure why I entered Bluecat this year, because I'm not really a contest guy. Last year's Nicholl Fellowship was the first script contest I ever entered, and I guess being a semifinalist spoiled me a little. I'd come close to the glory, and I wanted to taste more.

Never mind that being a Nicholl semifinalist ranks somewhere on the Hollywood totem pole below being Corey Feldman's pool boy.

Bluecat seemed like an interesting contest. It's run by Gordy Hoffman, Philip Seymour Hoffman's brother, and from all accounts he's a nice guy. The contest offers an analysis of every screenplay submitted, which always seemed like a nice homespun thing; they weren't just going to read 30 pages of your script and toss it on a pile, they were going to actually give you some advice about it.

In theory, that's a good thing.

They were also pimping the hell out of it this year, Gordy doing internet or phone interviews with a lot of bloggers shilling his contest.

And, in retrospect, that should have sent up a red flag. But it didn't, and on the last day of the deadline, I impulsively entered my script.

So did everyone else. They got slammed. Over 2300 entries.

And (I'm guessing) they really weren't ready for it. They (or a contest with similar analysis offered to entries, which sounds remarkably like them) had ads on Craigslist, looking for readers for a while this spring. Paying $10 per script, including analysis.

Which, you know, isn't a lot of money to lure really top readers.

So I pretty much forgot about the contest for a while, and went back to life. Cue calendar pages flying off the wall.

The day of the first cut was July 1, which was also the day that all the analysis were supposed to go out. The day before that, the day I was packing to go to Mexico, I got an e-mail from Bluecat, asking me to send them a .pdf of my script.

I figured I was in like Flynn; they must want it to give to the next round of readers. Boo-ya. I sent in the .pdf, and went down to Guadalajara to let Montezuma have his way with me.

I came back 5 days later, and checked my e-mail. A list of the the top 100 scripts. I went through it, waiting for my name to jump out, and it wasn't there.

Which, you know, is fine. Contests are subjective things. That's not what's provoking this rant.

What's provoking this rant is this: yesterday, 5 weeks late, I finally got my analysis.

Included was a form e-mail from Gordy, in which he dropped the 2300 script number, and also proudly said that that meant "over a million and a half words of feedback".

If you do the math on that, that's 650 words of analysis on every script. Not bad.

I got 188 words. Including "Good luck with this and all your future scripts".

The rest of the "analysis"? It was almost entirely praise. 150+ words of mentioning things in my script that work really well.

Which, you know, isn't all that helpful.

Then, under the section "WHAT I THINK NEEDS WORK", there was just the following three lines:

"I really think you have a great script here. Just be mindful of the occasional typo's and you'll do just fine. Good luck with this and all your future scripts".

And yes, they spelled "typos" wrong. Which just made me laugh.

In retrospect, it's pretty clear what happened. They had this massive pile of scripts, and they had to wade through them to make the deadline, and clearly during that first cut, they didn't have any time to knock out analysis on every script.

So why that first reader didn't think my script was good enough to make the cut is lost in the ether.

Then, after they requested the .pdf, they sent it to some other guy, to bang out a couple hundred words of analysis, probably in some MadLibs type template.

At least he liked my script. Too bad he wasn't the first reader.

Bluecat makes sense on many levels, because either your script is solid, and makes the next round, or if it doesn't, you get a sense why. That's how it SHOULD work.

Here, not so much.

Lesson learned. Buyer beware.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Weekend Box Office #43

So this weekend it's all about THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, which is getting great reviews. Otherwise, the new releases are all fairly forgettable.

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (3660 theaters). Supposedly it's a quick-paced thrill ride, even if it turns out to not be about all that much. Sounds good to me; look for it to do about $64 million this weekend.

UNDERDOG (3013 theaters). This really looks dreadful from the commercials, and they didn't screen it for critics. Little kids will probably drag a parent to see it, but it's hard to imagine anyone over the age of 10 getting too excited at the prospect. It'll make about $9.3 million.

HOT ROD (2607 theaters). Apparently it's minor-league dumb fun. If the theater is air conditioned, it might be worth it. $9.0 million.

BRATZ (1509 theaters). Currently has 8% good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I suppose there a tween girl audience out there for this, but I don't think it's a big one. $4.0 million.

EL CANTANTE (542 theaters). You'd think Jennifer Lopez would have learned her lesson about doing movies with her significant other, but maybe she gets lonely on the set. $1.8 million.

What are you all going to see this weekend? I'm going to try and catch Simpsons and Bourne.