B97196683Z.120130620172449000GIN37MDI.11

E.T. is a strange film to talk about from a screenwriting perspective. Throughout the first half of the film, not a whole lot “happens.” And what I mean by that is, once E.T. and Elliot meet and Elliot brings him into the house, the next 40 or so minutes have the two simply hanging out and avoiding mom. I’m not sure I’d advise a screenwriter to try that approach today. The reader would be itching to get out of the house and get the story “moving.” It begs the question, is E.T. a product of its time? Could the same film be made today? The answer is probably “no.” I think we’re too impatient and too cynical to have E.T. in this world. Then again, you could make the argument that E.T. is lightning in a bottle. There was nothing like it, there will be nothing like it, and it was just a one-off, something that inexplicably worked where any movie attempting something similar would’ve failed. Today’s theme is FAMILY FILM tips, a genre that pretty much died when Spielberg grew up. Is there another writer/filmmaker in the shadows ready to replace him? If so, I hope he reads today’s 10 tips!

1) SYMPATHY FOR THE ANGEL – You want a scene that creates sympathy for your main characters so that we’ll root for them (preferably the very scene you introduce them with). This is doubly important in a family film. I mean, how does a family film work if we’re not rooting for the main characters??? The writer, Melissa Mathison, knows this, and creates a great introduction scene for E.T. where we see him left on earth. It is the terrifying feeling of watching his ship head home without him that immediately endears us to the alien. We’re afraid for him. We want him to find a way back.

2) Don’t be afraid to change the direction of your story if it’s not working – Your first take on an idea isn’t always the best. As you write, you may discover there’s a much more interesting story to tell. The stubborn writer ignores this truth and continues on writing because it’s too much work to change. The smart writer follows the better idea, even if it means a drastic rewrite. Spielberg started E.T. as a horror film where a group of aliens terrorize a family in a remote cabin. But the script wasn’t working (it’s a mess – I’ve read it). His favorite part was a key friendship that emerges between one of the aliens and one of the children. That idea, a friendship between an alien and a boy, became the focus of his next draft.

3) Find the high concept (the hook) in your un-commercial idea – Spielberg admits that E.T. is autobiographical, outside of the alien of course. I realized that this is what sets Spielberg apart from everyone else. When he comes up with an autobiographical idea, he doesn’t film a direct translation of it. He finds a hook to get people in the door (in this case, an alien) then tells the emotional story about his life through that hook.

4) If you play with a new toy too much, you get bored – One of the great things about E.T. is the deliberate development of the alien. Sure, he could’ve started talking on page 15, but he has to learn about this world and interact with these people and make mistakes before he finds out how to speak. I find that most writers get their shiny new toys (an alien, a robot, a monster) and burn them out right away. By page 30, there’s nothing left to discover. Take your time developing your new toy. Make sure he evolves over the course of the story, not within the first 20 pages.

5) Bring your own family issues and problems into your stories – Did your parents’ divorce fuck you up? Is your mom a raging alcoholic? Are you unable to meet the lofty standards your father expects of you? Whatever shitty family circumstances have shaped you as a person, use your scripts to explore them. Family dynamics always feel authentic when the writer is drawing from his/her own experiences. You see that with Spielberg here in E.T., who was notably torn up by his parents’ divorce and his father leaving the family. That undercurrent hits the family hard and plays a big role in the story.

6) URGENCY ALERT – Remember, you always want to infuse some urgency into your story. Here, it’s the government looking for E.T. We keep cutting back to them getting closer in their search, so we know it’s only a matter of time before they find out E.T. is at Elliot’s. This script is a lot less interesting if we ONLY focus on Elliot and E.T. hanging out and becoming friends. We need to feel like their time’s running out. Urgency!

7) Wish-fulfillment – I think a big thing when you’re writing family films is wish-fulfillment. You want to integrate some sort of wish-come-true (to be a superhero, to be invisible, to have an alien as your best friend) and then make your hero (usually a child) need to keep that secret. When executed well, this approach rarely fails.

8) Family movies can be serious – I think too many writers become goofy with their family screenplays. It’s all farting and burping and poop jokes and over-the-top humor. What I loved about E.T. was that it took itself just seriously enough that you forgot you were watching a movie. It dealt with real family issues and real problems (loneliness). These days, it’s all flash and no depth (see the alien family film “Aliens in the Attic” as an example of what NOT to do).

9) Family Fun and Games – Blake Snyder was the inventor of the phrase “fun and games” and it refers to the section at the beginning of your second act, after your concept has been established. So here, it’s when Elliot moves E.T. into the house. At this point, you just want to have fun with your idea. So with E.T., Elliot has him meet the family, E.T. learns about television, he gets drunk, he goes out on Halloween. I don’t think the Fun and Games section is right for every genre (I didn’t see it in “Prisoners” for example) but the one genre it is an absolute requirement for is family films. You can also dedicate more TIME to the Fun and Games section in a family film (it’s traditionally supposed to be under 15 pages – but here it lasts over 30).

10) Alternate Goal Character – E.T. is one of the rare movies where neither the main character (Elliot) or the villain (there is no villain in E.T.) have the goal that’s driving the story. In this case, it’s actually E.T. who has the goal (he’s trying to get home). It’s a nice reminder that SOMEONE in the story has to have a goal that’s driving the story forward or else your story’s going nowhere. I mean think about it. What if E.T. didn’t want to go home? We wouldn’t have a movie!

  • Warren Hately

    Snyder’s “Fun & Games” wasn’t necessarily literal fun, but the section where the movie delivers on “the promise of the premise” and what Snyder calls the poster for the film.
    Yeah OK so I was a big STC reader when I first started getting serious about screenwriting. Don’t f&^&%ng look at me that way … ;)
    The bummer about ET and its paradox is none of my children (I feel) are old enough yet to watch it because the kick towards the end if pretty full-on emotional and a lot for young kids to deal with.

    • drifting in space

      Yeah, using both the A and B story of your screenplay. It’s an interesting concept and a lot of the time where people fail. It can be such a large chunk of your second act, you don’t want to hit that wall where nothing happens with anything.

      I think he gave it the fun and games moniker to make one of the hardest sections of writing more “fun.”

      And you nailed it at the end. It is pretty full-on emotional. But kids these days, you never know. There was just such a whimsical experience with films back in the day.

    • garrett_h

      I was just about to post this. Good thing I read the comments first lol.

      There was indeed a “Fun and Games” section in Prisoners. It’s the scenes where Hugh Jackman kidnaps Paul Dano and holds him hostage, torturing him. That was the “hook” to Prisoners – what would you do if the cops let your child’s suspected kidnapper walk? Would you take matters into your own hands? So the second act delivers on the promise of that premise.

      Say what you want about STC, but EVERY movie has to have that. If I show up to a rom com and there’s no dating in the second act, but instead they’re running from and killing zombies, I’m going to be pretty confused. Cause that ain’t what I paid for.

      Carson just got caught up on the words “fun” and “games” methinks.

      • drifting in space

        Then it would just be a horror movie. ;)

        Though, to some, rom-coms are horror movies.

  • http://brockchandler.com/ Brock_Rox

    I was fortunate enough to be an extra in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds a few years back, which was a surreal experience to say the least. As a filmmaker, he has been for me (like millions of others) one of the biggest influences. On the night before I went to the film set, I wanted to watch one of his films, so I picked E.T. on a whim. As I sat there watching it, I kept thinking to myself, “Wow. I’m going to be in a film directed by this guy.”

    What I love about 80s Spielberg is his sense of whimsy even when dealing with serious subjects. Nothing is ever too heavy, because there is always that ray of hope at the end. I know people like to rip him for his “saccharine” endings, but there are so many pessimistic filmmakers and films out there today that his films provide welcome levity, showcasing our human flaws which are overcome by our strengths.

    I showed E.T. to my wife this past year, since she had never before seen it, and she was really moved. Now, my wife generally does not enjoy films older than the last decade as she has succumbed to the same mentality of needing action every ten seconds that most audiences today need. This film holds up so well because people are the same today at heart. We can relate to these kids, with their somewhat broken family and their connection to a strange creature. It’s just a terrific film.

    Great points here Carson, thanks for the write-up!

    • drifting in space

      What an experience that must have been for you! So cool.

      I agree on ET. It’s a film that maybe wouldn’t be made today, but it does hold its value from a time where films were a different breed.

      • http://brockchandler.com/ Brock_Rox

        It’s actually a pretty funny story which I could write a fair amount about.

        BTW, your words from the article that Carson posted the other day were most inspiring. Seeing that people in much more difficult circumstances still find the time and drive to write is certainly a kick in the pants to get more serious about it. I look forward to seeing your screenplay featured here!

        • Guest

          Someone else was asking for the story, so here it is. Haha, I suppose I was just waiting for the go-ahead.

          I live in
          upstate New York, and in the fall of 2004 a friend of mine told me that
          he had heard Spielberg was filming a new movie in the area. I thought
          it was exciting, but just kind of made a mental note to keep an eye out
          for any info if it came up. Sure enough, around Thanksgiving, most of
          the local news stations caught wind that Spielberg was filming in
          Athens, NY and they would be auditioning extras for a scene.

          Being
          a Spielberg junkie I knew it was something that I simply HAD to try
          for. So a college buddy of my and myself went down to this little town
          on a frigid Saturday morning at around 6AM and found hundreds and
          hundreds of people already standing outside in a line that wrapped
          through the entire village. We waited for a few hours and by the time we
          got into the local school gymnasium where the crew was taking people’s
          headshots, excitement had reached a peak.

          A younger guy took both
          of our headshots and asked us a few quick questions like whether we had
          any props that they could use, and so on. I was still kind of
          awe-struck by the prospect of everything, but right before they young
          man ushered us away, my buddy slipped in “Oh, we’re film school students
          too.” Now, while I’ve always known that I wanted to make films, this
          was only a half-truth at the time as we were both enrolled in the crappy
          Communications program at our local community college. Sure enough,
          the young guy raised his eyebrows, took out a red permanent marker and
          wrote “FILM STUDENTS” on the top of our headshots. I took that as a good
          sign. A couple of weeks later I got a call from one of the extras
          casting people informing me that we were selected and I was on cloud
          nine.

          If you remember the film, the scene that I was involved in
          takes place about halfway in, where throngs of people are rushing to get
          onto a ferry boat to escape the pursuing Tripods. When my friend and I
          reached the set, we were assigned to groups that all began with
          different letters ranging from Group A to Group J. Now in this scene,
          there are about a thousand people going from the ferry docks all the way
          back up this sloping street. All of the Group A people were up front on
          the dock and the Group J people were chilling in the back, hundreds of
          feet away. We were assigned Group ‘I.’

          I’m not generally a very
          daring individual, but I recognized pretty quickly that there was no
          chance I was ever going to make it on screen from way back where we
          were. I knew that I had to get closer to the cameras. Every time some
          British dude yelled “ACTION!” people just started running down toward
          the docks. I wasn’t told what we were supposed to be doing, but I
          figured it out fairly quickly. When we heard “ACTION!” it meant run
          forward, and when we heard “RESET!” we were all supposed to go back to
          our original positions.

          I knew that this was my opportunity.
          During the next few instances of hearing “ACTION!” I would sprint and
          weave among the other extras, pushing as far forward as I could each
          time. Upon hearing “RESET!” I casually hung to the side of the road,
          very slowly giving the appearance of moving back. After a few takes, I
          found myself all the way up in Group A. Those suckers back in ‘I’ had no
          idea what they were missing. From that position I got my first view of
          Steven Spielberg himself, sitting behind an actual Hollywood camera
          which was pointed in MY direction. “Surreal” does not begin to describe
          the way it felt.

          Everything was right in the world for that first hour I was rubbing elbows with the A’s. Until I heard the words “Hey you!”

          I
          acted oblivious until again I heard “Hey!” aimed at my general
          direction. I turned to see this tall, lanky dude staring at me with a
          dead-serious look on his face. Some kind of movie extra ‘SS’ member.
          “Were you here the whole time?”

          My heart was pounding. I knew I
          wouldn’t get another opportunity like this and I didn’t want to get
          kicked out over something so stupid. I licked my lips and simply
          responded by looking down at my feet, back up to him and saying “You
          know what? … I was actually right over here.” I stepped to my right a
          couple feet and hoped that that would be the end of it. It wasn’t.

          “What group are you?”

          “Uh… Group A!”

          This redheaded Sherlock Holmes wasn’t letting up. “How many
          days have you been here?”

          Fortunately
          I knew that the Group A people had been filming since the two nights
          prior and responded “Since Monday.” He shook his bulbous stupid head
          and said “I don’t remember you. I don’t wanna start trouble, I just
          wanna make sure that the continuity of the scene is kept intact.”

          Because
          I’m sure audiences will be paying close attention to where each of the
          twelve hundred extras are standing from shot to shot. Douche.

          “I’ve
          been here the whole time, man.” There was a brief pause before the
          white knight behind me exclaimed “Yeah, this guy’s been here. I remember
          him.” I turned and with my eyes I thanked the chubby Italian man in
          the dirty Yankees jacket.

          Finally, turning back to Detective
          Numnuts I bobbed my head with certainty. Now I had someone on my side.
          The guy stared at me for a moment, squinting, before ultimately popping
          out his hand for me to shake and simply stating “Name’s Brian.”

          I
          breathed a heavy sigh of relief and the rest of the night went
          swimmingly. I got to watch one of the greatest directors of all time do
          his thing. I was able to witness 5-foot Tom Cruise throw back giant
          chunks of watermelon in a tent nearby while his 6-foot stunt double
          jumped onto the back of a ferry boat. I stood right next to Dakota
          fanning, completely creeped out by her 50-year-old personality embedded
          in a 7-year old body.

          One thing that blew me away was just the
          amount of money that I knew had been spent. There was an entire Red
          Cross camp built out that you never even see in the movie. Giant lights,
          snow machines, Tanks… I even got to stand next to Dennis Muren for a
          few minutes!

          It was an unforgettable experience made even more so
          by the fact that I made it into the finished film. I got to see myself
          on a movie screen in a Spielberg film. Even if I never make it in
          Hollywood (and that’s not even an option for me), I’m glad that I’ll
          always have that.

          Sorry this turned into such a long story, but I’ve never actually put it down in words. I hope I didn’t bore you to death!

          • http://brockchandler.com/ Brock_Rox

            ^^^This is my story. Not sure why Disqus made it a guest post. :)

          • http://brockchandler.com/ Brock_Rox

            Here’s the photo for reference. I was the chubby dude.

          • drifting in space

            NICE!

          • Kay Bryen

            I could immediately sense something wasn’t quite right with that scene’s continuity. It completely took me out of the story and distracted me for the remainder of the movie, totally ruining the experience… Seriously though, I LOVE your story. Rock on, Brock!

          • http://brockchandler.com/ Brock_Rox

            LOL, thanks! Sorry the formatting’s all effed. Disqus hates me today or something.

        • Guest

          Haha, I suppose I was just waiting for the go-ahead.

          I live in upstate New York, and in the fall of 2004 a friend
          of mine told me that he had heard Spielberg was filming a new movie in the
          area. I thought it was exciting, but just kind of made a mental note to keep an
          eye out for any info if it came up. Sure enough, around Thanksgiving, most of
          the local news stations caught wind that Spielberg was filming in Athens, NY
          and they would be auditioning extras for a scene.

          Being a Spielberg junkie I knew it was something that I
          simply HAD to try for. So a college buddy of my and myself went down to this
          little town on a frigid Saturday morning at around 6AM and found hundreds and
          hundreds of people already standing outside in a line that wrapped through the
          entire village. We waited for a few hours and by the time we got into the local
          school gymnasium where the crew was taking people’s headshots, excitement had
          reached a peak.

          A younger guy took both of our headshots and asked us a few
          quick questions like whether we had any props that they could use, and so on. I
          was still kind of awe-struck by the prospect of everything, but right before
          they young man ushered us away, my buddy slipped in “Oh, we’re film school
          students too.” Now, while I’ve always known that I wanted to make films, this
          was only a half-truth at the time as we were both enrolled in the crappy
          Communications program at our local community college. Sure enough, the young
          guy raised his eyebrows, took out a red permanent marker and wrote “FILM
          STUDENTS” on the top of our headshots. I took that as a good sign. A couple of
          weeks later I got a call from one of the extras casting people informing me
          that we were selected and I was on cloud nine.

          If you remember the film, the scene that I was involved in
          takes place about halfway in, where throngs of people are rushing to get onto a
          ferry boat to escape the pursuing Tripods. When my friend and I reached the
          set, we were assigned to groups that all began with different letters ranging
          from Group A to Group J. Now in this scene, there are about a thousand people
          going from the ferry docks all the way back up this sloping street. All of the
          Group A people were up front on the dock and the Group J people were chilling
          in the back, hundreds of feet away. We were assigned Group ‘I.’

          I’m not generally a very daring individual, but I recognized
          pretty quickly that there was no chance I was ever going to make it on screen
          from way back where we were. I knew that I had to get closer to the cameras. Every
          time some British dude yelled “ACTION!” people just started running down toward
          the docks. I wasn’t told what we were supposed to be doing, but I figured it
          out fairly quickly. When we heard “ACTION!” it meant run forward, and when we
          heard “RESET!” we were all supposed to go back to our original positions.

          I knew that this was my opportunity. During the next few
          instances of hearing “ACTION!” I would sprint and weave among the other extras,
          pushing as far forward as I could each time. Upon hearing “RESET!” I casually
          hung to the side of the road, very slowly giving the appearance of moving back.
          After a few takes, I found myself all the way up in Group A. Those suckers back
          in ‘I’ had no idea what they were missing. From that position I got my first
          view of Steven Spielberg himself, sitting behind an actual Hollywood camera
          which was pointed in MY direction. “Surreal” does not begin to describe the way
          it felt.

          Everything was right in the world for that first hour I was
          rubbing elbows with the A’s. Until I
          heard the words “Hey you!”

          I acted oblivious until again I heard “Hey!” aimed at my
          general direction. I turned to see this tall, lanky dude staring at me with a
          dead-serious look on his face. Some kind of movie extra ‘SS’ member. “Were you
          here the whole time?”

          My heart was pounding. I knew I wouldn’t get another
          opportunity like this and I didn’t want to get kicked out over something so stupid.
          I licked my lips and simply responded by looking down at my feet, back up to
          him and saying “You know what? … I was actually right over here.” I stepped
          to my right a couple feet and hoped that that would be the end of it. It wasn’t.
          “What group are you?”

          “Uh… Group A!”

          This redheaded Sherlock Holmes wasn’t letting up. “How many
          days have you been here?”

          Fortunately I knew that the Group A people had been filming
          since the two nights prior and responded “Since Monday.” He shook his bulbous
          stupid head and said “I don’t remember you. I don’t wanna start trouble, I just
          wanna make sure that the continuity of the scene is kept intact.”

          Because I’m sure audiences will be paying close attention to
          where each of the twelve hundred extras are standing from shot to shot. Douche.

          “I’ve been here the whole time, man.” There was a brief
          pause before the white knight behind me exclaimed “Yeah, this guy’s been here.
          I remember him.” I turned and with my eyes I thanked the chubby Italian man in
          the dirty Yankees jacket.

          Finally, turning back to Detective Numnuts I bobbed my head
          with certainty. Now I had someone on my side. The guy stared at me for a moment,
          squinting, before ultimately popping out his hand for me to shake and simply
          stating “Name’s Brian.”

          I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and the rest of the night
          went swimmingly. I got to watch one of the greatest directors of all time do
          his thing. I was able to witness 5-foot Tom Cruise throw back giant chunks of
          watermelon in a tent nearby while his 6-foot stunt double jumped onto the back
          of a ferry boat. I stood right next to Dakota fanning, completely creeped out
          by her 50-year-old personality embedded in a 7-year old body.

          One thing that blew me away was just the amount of money
          that I knew had been spent. There was an entire Red Cross camp built out that
          you never even see in the movie. Giant lights, snow machines, Tanks… I even got
          to stand next to Dennis Muren for a few minutes!

          It was an unforgettable experience made even more so by the
          fact that I made it into the finished film. I got to see myself on a movie
          screen in a Spielberg film. Even if I never make it in Hollywood (and that’s
          not even an option for me), I’m glad that I’ll always have that.

          Sorry this turned into such a long story, but I’ve never actually
          put it down in words. I hope I didn’t bore you to death!

    • klmn

      Did you get paid for this? Or did they get the extras to work for free?

      • http://brockchandler.com/ Brock_Rox

        They paid us like 90 bucks for a day’s work. Joke’s on them, I would have done it for free, haha.

    • John Bradley

      When I sell my first screenplay, I will negotiate a role as an extra be included! Way cool man=)

      • blueiis0112

        Peter Jackson was a wandering drunk in the village of the Prancing Pony; Jo Rowling was a dirty-looking witch in Notckturn Alley; Hitchcock had a cameo walk on in many of his movies.

  • Jack O’Connell

    To what extent do you think you can play with mystery in a family film? Or do the audiences have the patience for a mystery in a family film?

    • http://brockchandler.com/ Brock_Rox

      Personally, I think mystery is appropriate for any type of film. It doesn’t have to be some giant conspiracy that needs to be unraveled, but something as simple as “who is this guy with the keys who seems to be after E.T.?”

      Mysteries help keep you engaged as an audience member, pushing you to WANT to figure out where the trail of Reese’s Pieces go. :)

  • Poe_Serling

    Thanks, Carson, for the blast from the past. I’m suddenly feeling all warm and fuzzy
    inside. ;-)

    Another tip I might add from E.T.: It’s okay to add some sentimentality to your storyline.

    There are quite a few ‘break out the hanky’ scenes in this film… E.T. dying, coming back to life, the final goodbye with Elliot, etc.

    I think a lot of the audience members want to be emotionally caught up in the story. And as a good friend of mine often tells me, “I like a good cry at the movies sometimes.”

    • klmn

      Wait till they remake The Wild Bunch. You’ll be crying through the whole movie.

      • Poe_Serling

        lol. Perhaps it will be one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ Westerns… much like White Comanche starring William Shatner – playing dual roles no less.

    • andyjaxfl

      Always gets really dust in my house when ET comes back to life. So weird…

  • Andrew Orillion

    Good article Carson. I’ve never though much about E.T. mostly because I don’t care for the movie. I’m sorry, but the design of E.T. really freaked me out with his long skinny fingers and weird head. In fact, E.T. gave me nightmares. To this day, I have trouble watching the film.

    You raise an interesting point about E.T. having no villain. I never thought about that before. You have the government and the cops, but they’re not out to hurt E.T. so it’s hard to label them villains. I think that this creates the only real problem with E.T., a lack of urgency. It isn’t until E.T. gets sick that the story kicks into high gear. Prior to that, the movie kind of meanders.

    For your next article, you should stick with Spielberg and do an analysis of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I would be interested to get your take on way why this movie is so good when it doesn’t have much in the way of goals, stakes or urgency and the lead character has no real impact on any of the events.

  • fragglewriter

    #2 is where I’m at now with my heist movie. I felt that the first act was strong, but the second act took me into another story and drive for the character, so I changed it.

    #5 is the reason why I loved reading novels/stories in college that has a roman a clef (a novel about real overlaid with a facade of fiction). You want to create a story that is not preachy but subtle.

  • davejc

    Melissa Mathesson (sic) also penned Kundun which for my money is one of the most beautiful scripts ever written. Every line of dialogue is pure poetry.

    • andyjaxfl

      I’ve never seen it but will check it out.

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    “Could the same film be made today? The answer is probably “no.” I think
    we’re too impatient and too cynical to have E.T. in this world.”

    I agree. Particularly on the impatient part.

    One of the closest modern comparisons we have to E.T. would probably be JJ Abrams’s “Super 8,” which while entertaining enough I guess (aside from a massive overuse of lens flares) was wholly forgettable and lacked all of the emotion that E.T. has. And, of course, in accordance with that lack of patience idea, it’s full of ‘splosions and all that good stuff that’s apparently required to keep people’s attention these days. Contrast that to E.T. – no explosions, and the only real ‘action’ in the film is the pre-climax chase scene. Instead it’s a carefully layered drama. And that’s why it’s so emotional at the end.

    I used to watch E.T. all the time as a kid (I had only a few films that I watched a lot – E.T., Milo & Otis, Die Hard, Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, and Gremlins… I had all those on VHS and that’s all I watched until I was about 10 years old and discovered The X-Files). Then for many years in my teens I didn’t watch many films (I was a science and math kid). Then when I started screenwriting and watching movies in a serious way at age 17, I eventually revisited E.T. and was amazed at how carefully and tightly plotted it was. I now understood it in a different way than I did as a child, and I understood why I liked it so much as a child. It has those universal themes that everyone can relate to, whether they’re six years old, 17 years old, or 95. Friendship. Family. Home. Alienation – (both E.T. and Elliott are alienated, obviously in different ways, which is one reason their bond works so well). Maybe your father never left you (mine didn’t), but everyone can, in some way, relate to that alienation that Elliott feels from his family. And of course it’s also a story about growing up. These themes and characterizations are what makes the film so powerful on an emotional level (and why that bond is so strong and believable), and these universal themes why it has such a mass appeal, whether a child, teenager, adult, man, woman, black, or white, etc. Sometimes simple is the best.

    On another note, does the full title annoy anyone else? It’s been a pet peeve of mine since I was a kid. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”….. that literally means “Extra-Terrestrial the Extra-Terrestrial”…..

    • Poe_Serling

      Right after the movie hit the theaters, Spielberg and co. flirted with the idea of making a sequel. It was entitled: E.T.: Nocturnal Fears. I can’t say that I’m too keen on that title… sorta reminds me of nocturnal emiss– I’ll stop there since this is a family film post. lol.

      The proposed sequel was a bit darker in tone. It featured an alien invasion slant to it.

      For those interested, you can find the sequel pitch written by Spielberg and writer Melissa Mathison online under the above title.

      • Alex Palmer

        I have it if anyone’s interested. I began to read it a while ago, but lost interest. Lightning did not strike twice.

      • klmn

        There should be a sequel where ET returns to earth to vivisect the kids, cause that’s what aliens do in real life.

        Say, you’re driving across New Mexico and WHAM- they hit you with a hypno-beam and you wake up on an operating table.

        • Citizen M

          D.P. the Digital Probe

  • blue439

    For some reason, the E.T. genre — i.e. live action family films — has pretty much disappeared. Even Spielberg doesn’t go there any more. Perhaps it’s the hardest genre to come up with ideas for, since you have to please adults and children. Or maybe it’s been supplanted by CGI animation.

    • drifting in space

      Didn’t even think of this. So true. The animated movie genre has really taken over this space. Wall-E comes to mind in reference to ET.

    • klmn

      I think Spielberg grew out of the genre and wants to leave serious films as his legacy. I mean, he’s running on one kidney now. He must feel his mortality.

      As for pleasing adults and children, I don’t think that’s true. If you hook the children the adults will try to appease them. It’s just like breakfast cereal. How many adults want their children to eat Sugar Frosted Crap, yet it sells like hotcakes sugar Cap’n Crunch.

      Family films are what built Disney. Sure, they had the high-end animation projects, but they also produced a shitload of cheap live action films.

      • blue439

        Adults control the purse strings, though. Especially if they’re going to see the movie with their children. So they’ll pick something they also want to see — Pirates of the Caribbean, for example. How many adults would buy Cap’n Crunch for their kids if they also had to eat it?

  • SandbaggerOne

    Sorry to go off topic for a moment, but I just read this on Deadline. It is a quote from Sony high ups:

    “The film greenlighting process is “more onerous from end to end,” Lynton says. “The times demand that we set a higher bar and we have done just that.” When it comes to dealing with talent, the studio warns that it will now be “saying ‘no’ when in the past we might have said ‘yes’.””

    So it looks like things are going to be getting even harder for even professional screenwriters, let alone amateur screenwriters trying to break in.

    It also means one less major player to try and sell big budget / high concept scripts to.

    • ChadStuart

      Well, greenlighting and buying are two different things. Studios have always bought far more than they have made – usually by a pretty stiff margin. Buying a script is a negligible cost compared to actually producing a movie. This quote mostly refers to the fact that current thought is to greenlight (agree to actually make the movie) bigger movies with bigger budgets because they sell easier to international audiences.

      • SandbaggerOne

        But it will start a trickle down effect. If they start green lighting fewer movies, then someone will say there is no need to buy and develop as many scripts and projects.

        And if they are being more selective about what they do green light, then they will also be more selective about what they buy.

        For example if they decide to mainly focus on big budget sci-fi movies and comic book movies based off existing properties, then spec script that don’t meet those criteria will now be passed on, when before they might be purchased and put into the development cycle.

        Basically, anytime a large company comes out and says they will be producing fewer movies and being stricter on the ones they do make, it is bad news for any screenwriters trying to break into the business.

        Especially since there are already few enough large studios making original big budget films as it is.

        • drifting in space

          Maybe studios should follow suit with TV and hire teams of writers to work on movies, rather than the ever changing carousel of each one rewriting the other. Would be cheaper and may produce better quality.

          Seems to work for the animation studios and they fire those things out like crazy now.

          • Linkthis83

            There are probably some WGA issues regarding that. Animation writers aren’t part of the WGA. Although, there is fault in my logic since TV writers are represented by the WGA. Maybe it’s different between film and TV.

          • drifting in space

            You’re probably right. I actually have no idea and probably sound stupid, haha.

            But imagine if a team of writers from a certain show (wink wink) were hired to write a movie, instead of one person.

            Mmmmmm.

          • Linkthis83

            I wrote a fairly long and disjointed post earlier today that Disqus decided to delete instead of posting, but in it I mentioned how I thought writers should maybe create writing firms for the studios to approach.

            I have no idea how naive that is or if it would create problems with the WGA, but I do know that with limited studios to make films and limited films actually getting made, it allows the studios to treat writers however they want now.

            I was basically trying to figure out ways to increase the worth of the writer in the industry. Which I don’t feel we are that far away from.

          • Malibo Jackk

            I’ve seen this work in other industries
            And here’s how it always works –
            People rush in to set up these shops, they approach the buyers (studios) and tell them how much money they can save them, what
            great service they can offer, ect. Then they go out and find people

            to do the ACTUAL WORK. And they take their cut — which is usually 50%.

            You’re shooting yourself (and the writing profession) in the foot.

            Writers give 15% to agents, 10% to managers and now you want to give up another 50%?

          • Linkthis83

            This reaction is a bit over-the-top based on what I said in my post. I even used the phrase “I have no idea” in order to make sure that it’s not my suggestion that is highlighted but rather that maybe some other approaches should be attempted.

            Besides, I also said I just want to figure out a way to increase the worth of the writer in the industry.

            But you got to make your points so that is good :)

            If you’re okay with the current situation as is then that is fine. But since you seem to be passionate about the concept of the writer not being taken advantage of, I would think you’d want to be more proactive at this current time. This is a bad time for writers. I’d rather try and figure out ways to make it better than just sit back, accept this for how it is and be negative to those who suggest possibilities for change.

            Oh, my apologies to the profession for shooting it in the foot and my ignorant willingness to give 50% more of our earnings away. That was careless of me.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Sorry.
            Wasn’t kidding when I said I saw this happen before.
            And I got a similar reaction.
            Everyone, of course, had good intentions. They always do.(The road to hell is paved with good intentions — as they say.)

            They just didn’t see, listen, or
            – talk about the downside.

          • Linkthis83

            I had no doubt that your personal experience was sincere. I just felt that I had qualified my suggestion enough to not get the type of reply I did.

            Plus, I feel there have been many things in this world that have existed for a long time the led to something better when the masses figured out an appropriate way to challenge them.

            Again, this is a bad time for writers. I think it’s okay to brainstorm ways to challenge the existing paradigm (thinking of the pros’s and con’s along the way).

            Sorry for my somewhat snarky reply.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Then each writer would earn less money.
            (And if anything like TV, work longer hours.)

  • DD

    great tips!

  • DrMatt

    I always thought this movie had such an interesting dynamic between the good guys and the bad guys. The bad guys are presented as ominous and threatening up until ET starts to die, and then they might just as well be the same people that were wowed by the aliens in Close Encounters. Keys turns out to be just like Elliot, except he’s a lonely man instead of a lonely boy. Instead the real threat seems to be the people Keys works for, and that shift near the end of the film is a really nice one, when he shows up at the take off site and it’s obvious he never told anyone about the letter Gerty gave her mom. He wanted ET to go home too.

  • CRAYONSEED

    Great article.

    I love me some ET NOW, but I was 3 or 4 when it was released in theaters and my mother took me to see it.

    Big mistake.

    ET, not looking like a cute cuddly alien and looking so realistic, was a bit too much for my 4 year old brain to handle. You see, to me, ET was found footage confirmation of that goddamn monster that was hiding out in my room and was plotting to kill me and had somehow eluded capture. My mother had to leave the theater carrying her terrified, sobbing kid. No, I’m not proud of myself.

    Ironically when Jurassic Park was released (I was 15 or so), we went to see it and she didn’t know it was a scary thrill ride. I have no idea what the hell she thought the movie was going to be about. The majesty of dinosaurs? Anywho when the Lawyer gets eaten off the toilet, she bails and does some shopping. Who’s the pussy now, Mom?

    • drifting in space

      I had an equally traumatic experience when I saw Child’s Play on accident shortly after receiving a My Buddy doll for Christmas.

      My dad was watching it and figured I was old enough (I was not) to sit with him and enjoy in that fine masterpiece.

      Fuck dolls, yo.

      • CRAYONSEED

        Damn, dude, I didn’t even get to when the V miniseries aired. When they ripped off a dude’s skin AND IT WAS A GODDAMN ALIEN LIZARD MONSTER!?!

        I was 5.

        http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3831011328/tt0085106?ref_=tt_pv_md_2

        • drifting in space

          That is some freaky shit.

          • CRAYONSEED

            It’s funny. Now, looking back on those things as genuine grown folk, V and Child’s Play are downright camp and E.T. is endearing. Children are stupid.

          • drifting in space

            Yeah, man.

            The Child’s Play series evolved over time to be more as a gimmicky, cheeseball movie. But back in the day…

            Kids these days.

        • fragglewriter

          I remember when that scene aired on TV. I was like WTF. And also the scene when the lady had her baby. The writers obviously thought the first twin with the lizard tongue was not creepy enough but when the other one walked out, I was floored.

      • fragglewriter

        I watched Childs’s Play and V when I was younger, and those thoughts are still implanted in my mind along with Cujo, Pet Cemetery, It and Nightmare on Elm Street (which was replaced by Scream LOL).

        • drifting in space

          UGH CUJO! And Pet Cemetary. Both classics that I saw too young.

          When the kid slices that dude’s slices Achilles tendon, terrifies me to this day that it’s gunna happen to me.

          • fragglewriter

            Thank you for jogging my memory. I was thinking of a scene for my other script, in which a man’s achilles tendon was sliced, but I wasn’t going to show it, just show the aftermath. But after thinking about it, I knew that I saw this scene from some movie, but couldn’t remember what movie.

            I guess everything has been done before LOL

          • klmn

            I think there was a sliced Achilles tendon scene in Hostel, too.

          • fragglewriter

            Really? I tried to watch Hostel about 2 weeks ago, but it was so awful. I turned it off after their friend went missing.

            But Eli Roth did motivate me to just keep on writing and writing contained movies.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Had some hot naked chicks in the first half though.

          • fragglewriter

            I saw them and that was so boring.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            I’M JUST TRYING TO HELP

          • fragglewriter

            I know LOL.

            It’s not you, it’s me. I have the attention span of a 2-year old on crack LOL

    • Citizen M

      I burst into tears when my mom took me to see Disney’s Fantasia. Something the family has never let me forget.

      I saw it on TV years later as an adult. It was the crocodiles. Even as an adult they upset me. They have a sneaky, mean, and evil look. My theory is I was hurt by someone with that same look when I was so young I can’t remember it.

  • jlugozjr

    I miss the days when creatures were hand crafted puppets rather than CG.

    Never while watching ET did I think “that’s a puppet”.

    Now we have CG Jar Jar Binks, CG yoga, etc.

    Wouldn’t that be cool if J.J. Abrahm went old school with Star Wars and took it easy on the CG.

    • drifting in space

      And the lens flares.

      • Alex Palmer

        This.

        But I guess “Star Trek Into Blinding Light” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

        • drifting in space

          I never put the irony of the title and amount of lens flares together until just now. LOL

  • ripleyy

    “Family Films” are horrendous nowadays. I don’t get it, there is a quality the films in the 70s, 80s and even apart of the 90s had that we don’t get anymore and as I was watching “The Shining” a while back, I couldn’t for the life of me pinpoint how exactly that is.

    E.T has a quality that should be so easy to replicate but nothing nowadays – like many others here have said – can’t really seem to be able to be like that film or “The Goonies” or any other family film during those years.

    I think it has to do with the fact technology has grown so vast the past few years, and equipment has improved as well as the fact everything is digital but I still think storywise the quality should be there and it isn’t.

    Family isn’t what it used to be either I don’t think, family is a very fractured sense of the word it used to mean, so I don’t think it’s less about family and rather getting a way for people to come together for an hour.

  • carsonreeves1

    I shall check out that e-mail, James! :)

  • klmn

    Talkin’ about ET, the script I submitted for Scene Week centers around a man named Ed Tewksbury. Yeah, that’s right.

  • Bfied

    Hey all!

    I was wondering if anyone would be willing to give me their thoughts (tear apart) the first 30 pages of my script… please, grendl the fuck out of this thing. Definitely aware it’s not anywhere where it needs to be at the moment as far as a final draft, but I’m interested to see what notes you guys bring to the table compared to that of my classmates and professors. I’m interested in finding what notes are recurring, what you guys like (if anything), what you guys hate, what could be improved, plot, character, story, anything.

    I’d really, really appreciate it…

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B97kofWSWurMcFkzZWUtRmtvRTA/edit?usp=sharing

    Bfiedler21@gmail.com works, or here (if Carson doesn’t mind a tiny bit of amateur discussion)…

    Thank you!

    • Kirk Diggler

      I read it. Don’t know where you are going with it. What is your theme? Redemption for Benjamin? Is it a family drama where he and Lana fight over their son? We know that Benjamin has no scruples when it comes to business. He fabricates financials and then takes a 5 million dollar bribe to go to jail in order to keep the real white collar criminal safe from prosecution. But he seems to love his wife. But she has some issue with him that is unclear. Right now we know nothing about Lana other than she is petulant.

      Things happen super quick. One second Ben is top of the world, the next second he is in jail and then the next scene he is out. Where is his character development? Doesn’t seem like he has struggled much or paid any penance. But really, what is this about? Because you are in the 2nd act and there is no clear goal for your protagonist. What was the scene with Meredith about? Was she there for comic relief? Who is Sammy, should we care about him? He seems pretty happy about Ben going to jail but why? We know nothing about him.

      So far your main character is a bit of a jerk. Easy to root against him. The supporting characters are all unknowns. If they are there for a reason then give us something. Why was Ben’s Dad mentioned? What’s the connective tissue?

      I have to say one year of jail time is awfully light for Enron type shenanigans. If he was taking the fall for an entire company he’d be going away for a lot longer.

      After 30 pages I should have a clear idea what KIND of story this is but I don’t.

    • Magga

      Well written, flows well, interesting concept, not sure what the story is about by page 30, but as long as it’s interesting I don’t care. Will he not get the five million? Is it a redemption story or a revenge story etc. Really cool to not know, for once. I’d actually really like to see more of him in jail. What’s prison like for a man like that? I’d cut the speech at the table down a little, no need to mention all the names unless they matter later. The big problem I had was the wife. She is angry at the beginning, she is angry when he answers the phone and she doesn’t get her sex or whatever, she’s just an unpleasant person and he’s unpleasant to her. It would make more impact if she loved him but was horrified at what he had done, the lives he’s ruined, maybe she learned more about it while he was inside, maybe she doesn’t want their son to have that kind of influence in his life. It should feel like a loss when she leaves him, now I felt he was better off without her. For all I know that could be the point, but I’m guessing not. Also, why is he naked at first? Why is he “accusing” his wife of masturbating while he’s gone? Why is she pretending that the sitter cancelled? There’s probably more to this relationship, but she is a bit of a Skyler here, so unresponsive that you dislike her rather than her husband no matter what he does. What if she enjoyed the money and ignored the corners he cut to get it, making her culpable? What if she’s an innocent and is shocked that her lifestyle is a result of these heinous actions? Maybe she can be angry that he only got a year, or maybe when he says he’s not like the others in prison she can say “you’re worse” or something. Perhaps he can see it as a crime of passion because this lifestyle was how he was able to keep such a woman? Bottom line, give her a point of view

    • Ansar M. Smith

      I’d kinda have to agree with Kirt over here. Where is the story really going? Your characters are extremely shallow and depthless(if that’s a word). Everyone is clean cut, short edge, and nothing past that. Some shit even happens with Martin’s daughter that probably wouldn’t happen in real life, people don’t do that, no.(I get you were trying to prove that she was a nut, but you gotta be a bit more creative with it). It just seems like everyone is talking and things are just happening and it just all seems really generic. This is story wise. Now with your writing style/formatting. Do you seriously have to give some type of background for every single intro to a character? Do you really have to express every single grin, nod, frown, and pause in all the dialogue? It literally took 5 pages for Ben to wake up, walk down stares, say good morn to his bitch wife and trophy son, then get to that dinner with his other rich friends.

      The dialogue is literally just words. People aren’t this generic.
      These are your characters from my POV:

      Ben: Hey Jim, how are you?
      Jim: Oh I am well good Ben. And you?
      Ben: I’m dandy!

      What the fuck. These aren’t real people at all.

      Closing: You really don’t need to describe everything, it drags scenes along and makes the page flow so much choppier. Make sure your story is something different. Even though I personally haven’t seen a film like this script so far, everything her just seems generic enough for me to feel that I’ve read it before. Give your story meaning, metaphors, analogies, symbolism, anecdotes, something. Let it be more that just paper.

      • Bfied

        This isn’t me being defensive, but just answering your questions…

        “Your characters are extremely shallow and depthless(if that’s a word).”

        - I think that’s what Act II is for – character development.

        “Do you seriously have to give some type of background for every single intro to a character?”

        - In my opinion, I like to think so. I don’t think it’s overly excessive by any means. The longest description is what, like 3 lines and only for the protagonist? And the less important characters have less of a description, so I don’t really think it’s a huge concern.

        “Do you really have to express every single grin, nod, frown, and pause in all the dialogue?”

        - Maybe not… but I’d definitely prefer to over-describe than under-describe, personally.

        “It literally took 5 pages for Ben to wake up, walk down stares, say good morn to his bitch wife and trophy son, then get to that dinner with his other rich friends.”

        - Why isn’t this OK?

        • Ansar M. Smith

          Sorry for forgetting to say what was good about the script so far.

          I read through it in one read without stopping. I don’t know what it is but there was something that kept me in. I think that’s good. Even though your descriptions are excessive, they are detailed, I could visualize the setting.

          So I didn’t think it was sufficient in the those first 5 pages because nothing really happened besides Ben finishing taking a shower, walking downstairs, introducing his son and his wife, and showing that his wife isn’t going to this dinner thing because she just has a problem we don’t know about. The introduction to the script just wasn’t eye candy for me. Plus it just all seem generic. To be honest I thought this was going the American Psycho route for a moment. I was thinking everything is too good for this guy for him not to be a fucked up person in the inside.

          “This man is BENJAMIN BLACK (35, clean shaven, oozes
          confidence, devilishly handsome good looks – the type of
          looks that make women swoon and men reconsider).”

          In my opinion it seems like too much. I get it, he’s good looking. It could be shorter and take up less space on your page.

          The thing with the parenthesis in my opinion is that you are honestly burning them out in almost every section of dialogue. I think a reader or actor would get that Lana is (recalling) that she forgot that the baby sitter wasn’t coming. I could seriously find an article where Carson refers to this.

          I think if you get more creative you could do something with this setting.

          Act I is definitely for character development and story building up too – Act II as the rest of your story with characters already settled to – Act III being your conclusion.

          • Bfied

            from a criticism/notes stand point, this was much more helpful… thank you.

          • Ansar M. Smith

            Yeah np. I’m not trying to mean or anything. It was just how I felt about the script and a opinion. Good luck to you.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Some people seem to be wondering where the story is going.
      Can you share a logline?
      Doesn’t help that you have no title.

      (Loglines, titles and the first few pages are the front door to your script.)

    • Bfied

      Thank you to all who replied! Really appreciate you taking your own time to give my stuff a read and some feedback…

      The story here in the second and third acts is, Benjamin’s released from jail for his role as the fall guy in the financial scandal, and because of that he faces massive rejection from his family, colleagues, friends, etc. He’s viewed as a white-collar monster…

      Lana’s seeing another man, named Ron, and Benjamin thinks he’s being replaced by Ron and fighting for a relationship with his son, Mikey, who appears to have taken a strong liking for Ron and is distancing himself emotionally from Benjamin. So Benjamin’s trying really hard throughout the second and third acts to salvage his relationship with Mikey and Lana, although it appears Lana may have moved on for good, but still desperately wants to be a part of Mikey’s life.

      As a result of this mass rejection and loneliness, Ben befriends the only person who doesn’t reject him outright – Sammy. But Benjamin doesn’t remember him from the days he used to work for the company, and Sammy doesn’t mention they’ve previously known each other. So, Benjamin’s under the presumption he and Sammy are befriending each other for the first time, but Sammy knows different… (revisited)

      So, Benjamin’s trying to balance his want of getting his reward money from Mr. Martin, the CEO, who is avoiding Benjamin and doesn’t want to pay him, and his want of salvaging his relationship with his son, Mikey.

      Along the way, Benjamin realizes Sammy is exactly who he needs to get his money from Mr. Martin, when it becomes apparent that Meredith Martin (Mr. Martin’s daughter) is very interested in Sammy romantically. Benjamin figures by giving Sammy a cut of his reward, that Sammy could convince Meredith to steal from her father, whom she has a great deal of contempt for…

      So, the script is mainly balanced between Benjamin struggling to try and get what he deems to be rightfully his (both the reward money and a relationship with his son), however, the two of his desires are working against each other…

      Furthermore (extremely important), what Benjamin doesn’t know is that Sammy – whom lost his job and entire life savings he had invested in Black Inc due to the company’s near collapse and massive lay-offs after the scandal – has secretly been scheming against Benjamin since the day Benjamin went to jail, in order to exact his revenge…

      But another problem with that is, along the way, Benjamin and Sammy actually start to become friends, and now the problem is, Sammy’s second-guessing himself on whether or not he should “pull the trigger” so to speak (not literally shooting him), and ruin Benjamin’s life as Benjamin had ruined his…

      That’s the plot, but the story here (to me), is about a man who must come face-to-face with his previous wrongdoings and the personalized consequences of his actions (Sammy and pretty much ruining his life)…

      I could explain more if needed…. thoughts?

      • Malibo Jackk

        Who is your audience?

        When I first started reading your summary, my first thought was that it was a rambling soap opera type plot which works well on those shows.

        Then I thought of a type of Soporanos type drama (without the guns) — but you have labeled this a comedy. You summary doesn’t suggest a comedy.

        The summary seems to suggest a drama of a man struggling with his guilt, but the question arises if the audience will care or sympathize. Audiences tend to like stories about money capers where the person is clever — not guilt ridden, If he’s a con-man, they want to see him con people. That’s usually your movie. And if, in the end, he redeems himself, they want a clever or heartfelt ending.

        There is a Bernie Madoff movie in the works. And people will watch him con people out of millions of dollars. They’ll love to hate him. And he won’t show any remorse.

        (Full Disclosure: It’s only an opinion.)

        • Bfied

          For me, the spectacle of the script is the the financial scandal, the reward money and subsequent “heist” (although I hate calling it that), along with the comedic aspects of the script…

          But to me, that’s not really what the story is about… The story (which I hope will take priority over the comedy) will be about a man dealing with rejection, guilt, shame, regret, etc, and the consequences of those previous actions (Sammy’s life being ruined and the distance between Benjamin and his son, Mikey)…

          As far as tonally speaking, I’d like the drama/story to be present first and foremost, with hopefully the comedy supporting the dramatic aspects…

    • maxi1981

      What’s the logline for your story?

  • John Bradley

    Scientology ruined the movie!

  • John Bradley

    It’s funny that I read this site nearly every day, yet only comment on days when I know I should be writing but really don’t want to and need to find an excuse to justify it! With that said, great article. Number 2 is the most relevant to me now, as I am in the middle of doing just that.

  • blueiis0112

    Everywhere I’ve read, everyone seems to refer to E.T. in the male gender, interesting. I loved Steven’s concept that E.T. was friendly. Steven made him a curious sort as well. He seemed really to love that Elliot was trying to be a good ambassador for humans. I think that the little movements the FX people got him to do with his head angles and eye movements help me feel his happiness at seeing the space ship come back. This film belongs in the “can’t be rebooted” category along with “The Wizard of Oz”.

    • klmn

      You mean ET is a female? Then that picture posted above with Drew Barrymore and ET kissing is a lesbian scene.

      Never thought of it that way before.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Cruise ship movies are due for a comeback.
    What was the last one — Speed 2: Cruise Control?

  • Bobby Dazzler

    Eight years-old when ET came out. Bought an ET t-shirt and wore it going in.

    Most vivid memory is everyone in the cinema bawling when ET died.

    Teenage girls sitting behind me were a collective blubbering mess…

  • Warren Hately

    Even a simple monster-in-the-house flick like Predator doesn’t actually do more than hint at his existence for the first half of the film because it’s exactly what Carson refers to in the article above: your monster has to develop and grow instead of coming out of its cage with fangs bared and then hitting that same one note over and over again.

  • maxi1981

    Surprised hollywood never jumped all over ET and mad a sequel, like ET: the return or havent attempted a remake of it with ET acted out by the dude who played gollum in LOTR. That guy should win an Oscar!

  • Ambrose*

    This movie included probably the first mention of the phrase “penis breath” in a family film.
    And from Steven Spielberg, no less.

    And as for your tip #5, Carson, I couldn’t agree more.
    My new script draws heavily from my dysfunctional family experiences.
    The head of our household has been villified for many years. Most people refer to him merely by his last name: Manson.
    We just call him, “Charlie”.

    • klmn

      Just saw where Charlie’s getting married. Never expected a happy ending to Helter Skelter.

  • Zapotage

    I’m very happy you chose E.T. for this screenwriting tips article. The script I’ve been working on for what seems like forever now is heavily influenced by this classic. I grew up with this film and recently watched it with my nieces (6 and 3), who were absolutely mesmerized from start to finish. This movie really has it all, which makes it timeless.

Archives
  • 2014 (285)
  • 2013 (287)
  • 2012 (276)
  • 2011 (290)
  • 2010 (323)
  • 2009 (350)