tusk-movie-poster

It’s a Mish-Mash Monday, my friends. With the season tissing to be jolly, there is much to look forward to. For instance, I’ve put a Playstation 4 on my Christmas list. I haven’t had a video game system in five years since a good game can easily eat up an entire 12 hours if you’re not paying attention.  And I don’t have the time.

But with more and more kids opting to play video games over seeing movies, I have to see what all the hubbub is about. What are these games offering that movies can’t? Would love to hear gamers thoughts on this. I mean, what’s the storytelling like in video games? Is it good? Does it compete with film? Or is it just an exposition fest? Enough to get you from one level to the next?

Speaking of storytelling, I watched Kevin Smith’s latest, Tusk, this weekend. Smith has been upfront that the movie hasn’t done well, yet I’ve heard lots of people say this is Smith’s most interesting work, maybe ever. That was enough to get me on board, Justin Long or no Justin Long. For those who don’t know anything about Tusk, it’s about a podcaster who likes to interview weird people. He eventually finds a reclusive rich man and goes to visit him, only to find out that the man plans to turn him into a walrus, kookoocachoo.

The movie starts off pretty strong. The main character, Wallace, was more likable than I expected him to be. But what bugged me was that, the longer the film went on, the more apparent it became that Smith hasn’t grown as a writer AT ALL.

There’s a scene early on where Wallace is flying back from Canada (he’s just interviewed someone up there), and he has a little dust-up with the Canadian airline checker. The scene lasts somewhere between 8-10 minutes.

Let me repeat that: THE SCENE LASTS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 8-10 MINUTES!

Typically, a scene this insignificant (getting on a plane) would last 30 seconds. Some writers would probably skip it altogether and cut to Wallace back in America. However, if there’s a plot point or a story reason why the scene needs to happen, you might make the scene 2 minutes, 3 minutes tops. NOT 8 MINUTES!!!!

So what happened in that 8 minutes? Guess. Wallace and the goofy airline checker get into a goofy conversation about Canada. Wallace accidentally insults Canadians, the checker gets upset with him, and then it’s classic Kevin Smith back-and-forth dialogue for the remainder of the scene.

This shows how little Smith has evolved since Clerks. Clerks was a movie built around that kind of dialogue – two bored guys with nothing going on arguing about shit. So in that movie, the long scenes of dialogue at least made sense.

But you’re not writing Clerks anymore. This is supposed to be a horror film, a horror film with some comedic elements, but still a horror film. And you’re still putting 8 minute babble-banter scenes in it?? And again, I’d go with it if there was relevant story information in the scene. But there was none. It was literally jokey-jokey time for 8 minutes straight. This is why people aren’t trusting Smith these days. You have to evolve, but more importantly, you have to change the way you write according to the genre.

At least Smith’s problems aren’t as bad as Sony’s. For those who haven’t heard, Sony Studios was hacked and tons of their internal documents were exposed online. There’s a lot of fascinating information in them, including what their movies ultimately make after every expense is paid off.

Studios NEVER want ANYONE to know this information because if they find out, actors, visual effects companies, producers, writers, agents, everyone can use it against you in negotiations. You can no longer say, “Oh, we have to pay out all this money for distribution and advertising and backend and blah blah blah, that’s why we don’t have enough to pay you.” Because now people know EXACTLY how much you make on your movies.

But the thing that really struck me was how much all the Sony employees hate Adam Sandler movies. They all consider them to be the bottom of the barrel as far as entertainment, and each of them makes it clear that they want the studio to take more chances, to create more original material. They’re creatively miserable for having to churn out these – well, let’s put it bluntly – pieces of excrement.

The reason this is news is because everyone on the outside assumes that everyone on the inside is a stupid robot who doesn’t care about movies. In actuality, it appears that everyone hates making bad movies, probably even the studio head herself. But if these movies (like Grown-Ups 2) bring back a return, what can the studio head do? They don’t really have a choice but to keep making them.

I mean put yourself in the studio head’s position. You have a parent company beholden to their shareholders. You don’t get the choice to play fast and loose with their money. Every decision has to be calculated. And if the last Adam Sandler movie made money, you have to say yes to whatever movie he wants to make next. If you don’t, your bosses at Sony are going to be asking ‘what’s up?’

So it’s not that the people in charge of these companies don’t want to make daring movies. It’s that they don’t work in a system that will allow it. If we want more innovative films, we have to change the system, and that means somehow dissociating the parent companies from the studios. I don’t know how that happens.

But that brings me to my next question. Is the problem really as bad as we think?

The-Purge-Anarchy-Reviews-starring-Frank-Grillo

As I noted last week, my brother is a non-Hollywood family guy who lives in Portland. And over Thanksgiving, he was the one in charge of getting the movies. So he went to the store and he picked up “The Purge: Anarchy.”

Whereas in the first film a family must deal with The Purge from inside their home, in the sequel we experience the Purge outdoors in all its glory, following a group of characters as they try to make it to safety on a night when every person outside is trying to kill you.

I lost interest quickly. It just seemed aimless. The same thing was happening over and over again. No variety. No purpose. No attempt to evolve the storyline. Just straight up people in masks killing other people.

But my brother LOVED IT. He thought it was great. “What did you like about it?” I asked. He pointed out the awesome scene where some guy in the back of a semi truck propped up a Gatling gun and mowed down any person he saw. “That was awesome,” he said.

The more I thought about this reaction, the more I realized just how different myself and my brother see movies. I watch somewhere between 3-4 movies a week, along with reading a ton of screenplays. He, on the other hand, watches maybe one movie every two months.

To me, I’m looking for a movie that’s different from the same old stuff I always see, something innovative, something with a fresh take. My brother never has to worry about that. He watches movies so infrequently that finding something “different” isn’t part of the equation. For him, he just needs something entertaining to take his mind off all his responsibilities for two hours. And a movie like “The Purge: Anarchy” fits the bill perfectly.

To this end, I wondered if I was looking at it all wrong. I’m focused on finding movies and scripts that will impress the Hollywood guy. The problem is, the Hollywood guy isn’t the one who will be paying $12 to see the movie. That’s going to be a guy who sees six movies a year. And someone who’s seeing six movies a year is going to see a movie like Transformers 4 as a relaxing way to get out of the house and turn your mind off for a few hours. I mean, all of a sudden, Adam Sandler movies begin to make sense.

So how does a writer process this when writing a screenplay? Because the system has been exposed for having a major flaw. Your screenplay has to be liked by two totally opposite sets of people in order to get made.

When I used to teach tennis, I’d occasionally get someone who wanted a semi-private lesson consisting of himself and his young son (usually between 4-6 years old). I dubbed these lessons “lessons from hell” because there is no way to teach an intensely strong, coordinated adult and a barely-able-to-stand tiny child, together. Yet this is exactly what you’re being asked to do when writing a screenplay.

I think that this is why Christopher Nolan is thriving right now. He gives both audiences what they want. For the Hollywood people, he makes them think. But he still gives the average audience member the big fun set piece stuff as well. His movies offer the best of both worlds.

That might be the best insight into how to write scripts. Write something concept-driven, something that would get mass audiences excited, but don’t write the stupid version that ends up on screen. Write the slightly higher-brow version, the kind that excites a reader who reads 15-20 scripts a week. If you get past them, the development process will dumb down your script for mass audience appeal anyway. But you don’t have that luxury at the start. You have to aim higher to get it past the gatekeepers.

That’s how I see it anyway. What do you guys think??

  • Midnight Luck

    I think a lot of people think what happened at Sony is a bad thing.

    I think I just fell in love with Sony.

    When I first read the conversations last week, the discussions at Sony, I can’t even explain the excitement and jubilation.

    It was like I was redeemed. The fact that they too Hate f’ng Adam Sandler made me laugh hysterically for an hour. It was one of the most awesome things I have read in years!
    Just pure joy for me.

    Then the fact that they think a bunch of the stuff they put out is lackluster, boring, repetitive and quite honestly, junk. Well, that was like the icing on top of the cake. They were saying exactly what I have been feeling for years. The fact that they admitted it was just a thing of beauty to hear. The fact that these bigwigs at Sony ALSO want better programming, and better films, well, it was just music to my ears. ( I mean these are the people that put out SEINFELD, where have they gone?)

    Now I know that it doesn’t mean that we will actually get better work though. You are right Carson in that the higher ups are beholden to the shareholders, so they will still turn out a bunch of crap.
    I am still so baffled as to why so many people are ok with so many terrible movies. that all these people actually seem to seek out the worst movies possible and turn over their hard earned money to them.
    Just baffling to me.
    I vote with my dollar. I earned it, I want to put my money where it is giving a vote for good scripts and good films.
    I won’t pay for garbage.
    I hope more people decide not to as well.

    • Brainiac138

      It seems like if you were to sum up everything from the leaked Sony stuff it would be – we need to get away from Adam Sandler, and we need more “innovative” franchises. I love it that they are upset that Disney is making money from Spider-Man merch and they are not.

    • charliesb

      I’m happy that you’re happy. And a part of me is happy too. But the other part of me wonders why — if they feel this way then where exactly is the problem?

      Is great work not being written? Not getting into the right hands? Not interesting enough to the producers and directors they court? I mean they say they are not happy with making boring sequels and remakes and yet they are responsible for THE GREEN HORNET, TOTAL RECALL, ROBOCOP, RED DAWN & THE KARATE KID in the last 3 years alone, not to mention rebooting the SPIDERMAN franchise.

      Where exactly is the disconnect?

    • JakeMLB

      The comments were just anonymous concerns stored on some text file that probably hasn’t been opened since it was created. They very much read like water cooler gripings of lower level management. Their examples of original material were mostly blockbusters based on hugely popular pre-existing IP. There’s no proof that these comments are being heard, just shouted into an abyss. But I’m surprised that anyone’s surprised by this. People don’t like working on films that they know are crap. But that’s the business.

    • Eric

      The reason horrible movies do well is because the targeted demo is teenage boys with disposable income, i.e. the demo least likely to be discerning about what movies they watch and what happens to their money. They don’t make decisions based on craft or artistry. Hell, they can’t even judge an original idea because they’re too young to have been exposed to the history of ideas. Given that, is it really any wonder how the market can withstand so many comic book movies? Or is it really that surprising to read an article like this…

      http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/30/tv-bad-for-kids-self-esteem-unless-theyre-white-boys-study#disqus_thread

  • Gregory Mandarano

    Brilliant article as always Carson, and I have to whole-heartedly agree with your assessment. The ideal film is one that is the best of both worlds, and will appeal to the mass audience, thus being marketable and ideally highly profitable, but it must also be at a higher level intellectually, so that it gets producers, actors, and directors excited about creating the film. Not too many people get excited about making something that is just a cash grab, or something that seems devoid of a soul, except perhaps the business men and accountants that only care about the bottom line.

    Then again, the key word in any business isnt profit, it’s growth.

    If the same thing gets done ad infenetum, then won’t the audience get bored and want to move on? This isnt mcdonalds or coke where people need their food,and take comfort in the sameness. If people want comfort in film they could just as easily go to netflix and watch what theyve seen a hundred times,but you cant satisfy your hunger with a picture of last months turkey dinner.

    To grow, the studios need to take chances and take risks to go for bigge rewards sure, but they more than anything else have to stick with what they know already works, and change something thats profitable just enough, so that the audience sees it as comfortable,and fresh at the same time.

    With advancing technology and film techniques, the pattern has been remaking old films, and taking old familiar stories and tweaking then, giving them a new spin and a tech makeover. Thats why fairy tale specs are the hottest thing. Just look at into the woods, and cinderella coming up.

    Sequels will be around forever fitting this formula, but the amateurscreenwriter cant afford to write spec scripts based on existing material they dont have the rights to, hence all the public domain rehashes, and the savvy writers that convert books, or write their own books to convert.

    There’ a middle ground here im sure, but ultimately any amateur writers goal is to get noticed or get a film made. We as writers need to dig deep down and find truly comeplling original shit to write, but we cant go too far from the beaten trail, or we isolate ourselves from half the equation. We cant reinvent the wheel out of the starting gate. We have to upgrade the wheel one step at a time.

    • BoSoxBoy

      “Then again, the key word in any business isnt profit, it’s growth.”
      Really? Like, growth per share? I thought it was earnings per share. Growth will always be Profit’s wing man.
      As long as the sweet spot for studios is the 16-35’s dollar, nothing much will change. Studio execs have kids in college and bills to pay.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        Youre right of course. I meant it as a metaphor for growth of theatrical film as an art form, not more theaters.

    • LV426

      Sadly, I believe the theatrical moviegoing experience could die out in the next twenty years. I think we are seeing the early symptoms of it now. We have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. it’s too damn easy to just find what you want to watch at home. Next there is 4K Ultra HD that seems to be dropping in price much faster than the transition from standard definition to regular HD flatscreens in every home. It is becoming cheaper to set up a nice “big screen” movie experience in the living room.

      Videogames and TV are growing. Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Morpheus could take off over the next five to ten years and grab a big chunk of the audience.

      It probably won’t happen overnight, but ten to twenty years from now could be the end of the multiplexes and big budget summer tentpole movies everyone rushes out to see on the big screen. Perhaps it will all become less corporate, with independent operators opening up “vintage” movie theaters. These would be smaller venues. One to three screens. Probably replays of classics and popular films alongside indie flicks.

      • Nathan

        Agreed. But I don’t think this is the ‘future’ of cinema, it’s the situation we have now. “Good storytelling” has moved to television – way more hours of quality stories on television than cinema in the last couple of years, surely? And as you say, the home cinema experience is allowing people to enjoy these shows in all their increasing glory.
        But the cinema experience will always be there for the young demographic who have disposable income and want some place to go with their friends (away from their parents) – which is why we have YA, Marvel, DC, Disney, 3D etc covering this. And I’m sure there will always be a place for “independent” cinema for the small group of adults who enjoy this social experience too.
        This has happened already. The future is now!
        Time to write that mini-series.

        • filmklassik

          The day “good storytelling” comes to be the exclusive province of 6, 8, 15, even 50 hour stories — and 2-hour stories are relegated to epics and indies — is the day I eat a bullet.

  • LostAndConfused

    There’s a section in the book Wired for Story by Lisa Crone that discusses a concept called “the curse of knowledge.” It’s that the smarter people get from the rest of the flock, the less they’re able to connect with those beneath them. And the people beneath us are our audience. Ironically indulging ourselves in screenplays makes us less relatable to the people we’re trying to impress.

    The longer and further that we study something the more we lose that outside worldly perspective.

    To entertain we need to be able to connect to the market, but to do that we need to study the craft over and over again, but through that process we lose the ability to be relatable.

    I try to avoid this problem by cycling through my “interests.” There will be stretches where I’ll binge on movies, binge on TV shows, novels, screenplays, video games, comic books, manga, heck I even watch battle rap. When you’re so fixated on one medium for too long you start setting expectations for everything else in that entertainment vessel.

    You watch Star Wars and all of a sudden you’re sizing up every single movie you watch around that period to Star Wars. Eventually you start recognizing patterns in every movie and it gets harder to entertain you, but you loved the way Star Wars moved you and are yearning for another movie that can ignite the right amount of endorphins all at once like Star Wars did.

    I was reading a vague click bait article discussing ways to increase your creativity. One of them was to watch a foreign movie. It never explained why this would at all help your creativity, I just found that out all on my own.

    It’s because at their foundation they’re that much different. There’s the popular saying that we’ve read every story out there. Well every story came from somewhere. In the east a lot of stories can be traced back down to Journey To The West or Romance Of The Three Kingdoms. In America there’s Huckleberry Finn and Shakespeare. In different parts of europe there’s Greek and Norse Mythology. In general there’s the Bible.

    It’s pretty fascinating looking at The Walking Dead’s lineage. It came from the zombie movie craze, and all zombie movies came The Night of the Living Dead, which came from the novel I Am Legend, which came from the tale of Dracula, which came from the real life historical figure Vlad the Impaler. Vlad would dip his bread in the blood of his enemies, and that inspired entire genres of stories.

    Foreign movies are just fundamentally different and if you’re so adjusted to watching American movies, then no matter what preconceived expectations you have of a foreign movie, it’s probably going to be different.

    Now the reason why I cycle through my interests is that every entertainment vessel is forced to be different from each other due to structure. The way a comic book tells its story is going to be critically different than how a novel does. They all operate in different speeds and you can’t expect the same thing from a video game you do a movie. When a new novel gets turned into a movie and does a bad job of it, it’s because it took a book and shoehorned it into a movie format. We expect different things from a movie and a novel.

    This has really helped me ground myself to what the general people like, and on the plus side I’m always entertained. If I get bored with movies I’m moving onto manga. It’s like the more you’re focusing on one medium the more you use up all your interest of it, and then it reaches a point where your tank of interest is empty. So you move onto another tank, and let the other one fill up again.

    • carsonreeves1

      Great freaking comment!

      • LostAndConfused

        Wasn’t expecting this comment to get so much love lol, just wanted to chime in my two cents before I hit the sheets last night. Glad I could contribute to the community :)

    • Gregory Mandarano

      There hasn’t been an American film made yet that tells the story of the three kingdoms. American audiences would know it from the Dynasty Warrior series, and various other games.

      I for one think a movie that tells the tale of Liu Bei’s rise to emperor is long overdue. There’s easily enpugh material there for a trilogy, but man would that be a complicated task to undertake.

      There is definitely hope though for the genre. Journey to the west might not be covered, but there is a journey to the east with Marco Polo. If that movie does very well, we could see some more big budget films made that feature the orient, and hopefully the three kingdoms era.

    • charliesb

      “Ironically indulging ourselves in screenplays makes us less relatable to the people we’re trying to impress.”

      THIS!!

      And it’s not just with screenplays. Your point about Walking Dead is spot on. When you haven’t seen the work(s) that inspired this “new” movie/book/tv show/ game you love, it seems new and innovative to you. The Purge Anarchy (ironically I just watched it myself this weekend) may seem different and interesting if you haven’t watched films like THE WARRIORS, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK or the STAR TREK episode it was inspired by (RETURN OF THE ARCHONS).

      The problem is not with the viewer. It’s with us the makers. None of us should write in a bubble. And while the goal should always be to “tell a good story”, we still need to examine and study everything that came before. If you’re going to write a contained thriller, it’s most likely because you’ve been influenced by ones you’ve seen before. So how do you bring something to the table that people who haven’t seen those same films and people who have can still enjoy?

      How do we impress Carson’s brother and keep Carson’s interest?

    • jmscriptwriter

      Great points. A lot to think about.

    • OddScience

      “Cycling through my interests.” I’ve been doing that with my writing. One of my goals when I first started was to never write the same thing twice in a row, whether it be in a different Genre or a different Format (Feature vs TV: 1-HR Drama vs 1/2-HR Comedy).

      I’ve written 3 Features (Family/Animation, Monster movie and a Superpowers), two 1-HR Pilots (Superpowers and a Horror/Supernatural/Fantasy), and I’m getting ready/prepping to write a 3rd 1-HR pilot in Sci-Fi. Then next I’m gonna try a 1/2-HR Comedy.

      I know Hollywood wants to Categorize everyone into one specific Genre, but until I’m in and that happens I can write whatever I want. I think writing the same thing/genre over and over again leads to a “by the numbers” type of output, which equals “predictability.” Constantly mixing it up also keeps things fresh and interesting.

    • rickhester

      I guess I’m the only one who doesn’t know what the hell manga is.

  • andyjaxfl

    I do not understand the audience that cannot describe a movie they loved beyond “It was awesome!” or a movie they hated beyond “It just sucked”, and they don’t notice what a missed opportunity a movie like The Purge: Anarchy was.

    Case in point: I watched Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules while on vacation. It’s a forgettable movie with a nice mid-point turn twist, some solid performances, but nothing else. The opening scene is more or less ripped off from The Scorpion King. The dialogue is on-the-nose terrible. The plot is mostly predictable (save for above mentioned mid-point twist), and the Rock obviously stole my exercise regime.

    My work colleagues loved it. It wasn’t the best movie, they said, but it was a good movie to check the ol’ brain and have two hours of entertainment.

    I don’t understand that “check your brain mentality” but that’s fine with me. There are a lot of things I don’t understand (the MMA, or such hard-lined devotion to a college football team) in this world, but I try not to spend too much time thinking about why people do enjoy them, mostly because I have a screenplay to finish!

    • http://simplyscripts.com/ Steex

      For people that don’t want to think too much about a movie, “checking your brain” is like hearing a song you love. When it comes on, you get excited. You nod to the beat. Sing along. Air-guitar the solo. And when it ends, you say “God, I love that song!”

      You don’t stop every ten seconds to analyze lyrics. You don’t think, “Hmm, isn’t that the same chord progression that was used in that other song?” In music, you aren’t always asking to be wowed. Sometimes you want songs that tell a great story, have meaningful lyrics, etc. Other times, it’s nice just to listen to something catchy.

      It’s the same thing for the 6-movies-a-year kind of people. Who cares if it’s original? As long as it’s entertaining.

      There’s a quote from my mom that I will never forget. We were talking about the band Nickelback. I said, “Nickelback sucks.” She responded, “Why do you say that?” To which I reply, “Because they had one popular song, then came out with a dozen more songs that ripped it off. They just keep recycling the same song over and over.” Her response… “True. But I like that song.”

      • andyjaxfl

        The song analogy is a great way of looking at it.

        • Midnight Luck

          sadly, I disagree with the analysis.
          I have a different take.
          see above^^^

      • LV426

        Filmmakers do this. Tim Burton seems to be stuck playing slight variations of the same song that made him and his style popular.

        From what Carson says of Tusk, it sounds like Kevin Smith is stuck on the same song.

        Look at the general reactions to the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Tons of fans and nerds seem to hate it because it doesn’t look different enough from the originals, yet they hated the prequel trilogy because it was different. Bear in mind, this is just a teaser trailer. People haven’t even begun to truly lose their shit over the new Star Wars sequels. I wouldn’t be shocked if there are riots.

        • Bifferspice

          dunno. big eyes looks pretty different!

          • gonzorama

            Saw it – it was very slow for a Burton film. It looked beautiful, but was very predictable. Still, check it out for yourself if you’re a fan.

          • LV426

            Yes, Burton might be changing things up a bit with Big Eyes.

            I like Tim Burton. I don’t want him to fail.

            Robert Zemeckis is another one. For like a decade he seemed to be trapped in this strange performance capture trance. It is nice to see him going back to making live action films again.

            Maybe getting stuck in a rut is necessary? It forces artists to reevaluate and search for the next step on their creative journey.

      • filmklassik

        Right, except truly talented people (and relax, I am not including myself in this group) have no way of switching off their critical faculties each time they sit down to create something.

        In other words, even if their intended audience is far less discriminating than they are, a truly gifted writer/musician/sculptor/what-have-you is going to turn out something — or at least TRY to turn out something — that is intended to please both the audience AND themselves.

        What choice do they have?

        • Fiona Fire

          I can half turn off my brain if I watch stuff in a different genre than what I write. A few drinks also helps…

      • Midnight Luck

        I think your analysis has a fundamental flaw though.

        When a song I love is playing, and it is really really great, it takes me away to another place. No i don’t analyze it. No I am not thinking about how it is put together in order to let me have those feelings. Instead I just flow with it.

        Same thing happens with movies.
        An incredibly well made movie takes me away to another place. I get so caught up in it, it allows me to get lost in where it takes me. It is flawless in how it takes me where it wants me to go.
        That is what a movie should do.
        A bad movie, a movie that doesn’t want me to think, or is made to superficially entertain me, ends up Boring Me.
        I watch THOR and I am incredibly BORED.
        AVENGERS, I am BORED.
        SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and I am along for the ride with every part of my brain, body, and soul. It takes me with it, and guess what, I am THINKING while I go. My brain is activated.
        THOR? My brain is dead, and I am bored.

        You shouldn’t SHUT DOWN while you are watching a movie.
        You should TURN ON.
        Your Brain should be ACTIVATED.
        Not turned OFF.

        Just like with a great song.

        • http://simplyscripts.com/ Steex

          I do agree with you, but my analysis is more about the casual moviegoer, than writers. People that don’t know the ins and outs of writing don’t see set-ups, midpoints, or character development. Just like the average song-listener (is that a word?) doesn’t hear chord progressions, backing tracks, or the majority of basslines.

          For those casual viewers, movies, even if they are boring to us, are exciting to them. We’re in the same boat; Avengers bored me to death, as do a lot of films. But those films make tons of money. And that’s because the average person still watches movies they way we watched them when we were kids. Everything seemed bigger and more exciting. We couldn’t differentiate between Blockbusters and B-Movies. We just liked to be entertained. Just like the Sony employees’ opinions of Adam Sandler. They know it’s garbage. We know it’s garbage. But unfortunately to Paul Blart fans, Adam Sandler is a god.

    • Midnight Luck

      I just pretty much don’t understand people, or why they do or do not do things.

      That is pretty much what I know.
      Or don’t know.

      I agree with you, I have no idea how people can get so behind their football team that they will start bar fights, or so behind their soccer team they will start riots in the stands and burn them down, or, well, you get the point.

      I don’t get why people, as you say “check their brain” out when they go see a movie. My dad always says he wants to “go blotto” when he goes to see a movie. Basically the same idea. He wants to just unplug his brain and not think about anything.
      This is the most ridiculous idea.
      Are people so stressed by life (trust me I know better than anyone what that means) that they would rather pay $11 to go check their brain, than to pay the same $11 to see something interesting and that lasts longer than 6 seconds inside their brain, after the credits roll?

      Again, I will never understand people.
      Then again, I don’t understand drug or alcohol addicts.
      I don’t understand beating your kids, or dog or girlfriend.
      I don’t understand religious wars, gun violence, race killings, drug wars, on and on and on.

      People are so bored. And confused. And they have no idea how to do something about it. Instead they check out by any means necessary.

      I like your idea of not spending too much time thinking about why people do what they do (I spend too much time thinking about it, so I need to follow your lead) and instead go write a script.
      Good words to emulate.

      • andyjaxfl

        The song analogy helps me understand the “check your brain” mentality a bit more, though I’ll never figure it out in this lifetime. People want to hear the song, air guitar, then forget about said tune by the next song’s hook. That’s not what I want, especially in movies. My response is more akin to Alabama’s in True Romance — after I see a movie, I want to talk about it regardless of whether I enjoyed it on any level or not. And thank the gods for Scriptshadow because this is my only outlet to have that discussion.

        • Midnight Luck

          …and get some pie….do you like to get some pie after seeing a movie?

          True Romance ; One of the greatest movies of all time.
          great dialogue, perfect cast, awesome setup, brilliant, well, everything.

          but, as you say, I don’t understand the “check your brain” mentality that was described.
          Who would want to “air guitar” and then forget all about the song the moment after that was over and the next hook begins? what is the point?

          I also love to go out and talk about ANY movie after I have seen it. Without doing that, it’s like it never happened. And I don’t want that from a movie. I like to have it carry on, I like to talk and bounce ideas off others, see what they thought, roll it around more in my head as well. (except JOHN WICK, that would’ve given me an aneurism if I thought about it after seeing it.:o’)

          • andyjaxfl

            Have you watched True Romance with Tarantino’s commentary? It just may be the most entertaining DVD commentary out there. His energy and enthusiasm while talking about his script and the movie puts all others to shame. If someone told me he did the commentary for free I’d believe them.

          • Midnight Luck

            i haven’t actually. i have it on dvd and definitely will. thanks for the heads up.

          • Midnight Luck

            I haven’t seen it. Though I do own the dvd. So I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Illimani Ferreira

    I’m all for staying in touch with Joe-Next-Door (or in Carson’s case, the brother in Portland) in order to know if your ideas can have mass appeal, but when I reach out my Joes I never take what they say literally. My Joes were excited about the exchanges of Guardians of the Galaxy the same way Carson’s brother was about the carnage in The Purge: Anarchy, but my take of that isn’t like “okay, I should bloat my scripts with quirky dialogue and pay little attention to the rest, since that’s the only thing Joe-Next-Door had to say about Guardians”. Instead, I’d rather understand that that there’s a whole set of structural choices, character-building, theme development and, yes, dialogue crafting, elements that, when combined, are behind Joe’s excitement for the dialogue in Guardians. Similarly, although I haven’t watched The Purge: Anarchy I assume it brought the same brilliant theme of the first Purge: the growing violence in America fueled by class tension, hence, a social commentary that is appealing to a mainstream audience. That audience may express that they liked the carnage and the explosions, but unconsciously they were connecting with something deeper. It’s up to us to use our empathy skills and decipher that.

    There’s such a thing like audience fatigue and even Adam Sandler isn’t doing well in the box office (and Blended’s box office hints at that), but that Sony leak shows that the big cats don’t seem to have gotten the memo.

  • https://thebarkbitesback.wordpress.com/ Jim

    I know a talented musician who, twenty plus years ago, was in a rock band on the brink of big success – today considered to have a very loyal cult following. One of their songs of their second album was a ballad and became a big hit (top 10, I think). He’ll be the first one to shrug his shoulders and say “I have no idea why, I wrote it in maybe a half hour.” In fact, it wasn’t even released as a single initially – a local radio station got hold of their album, loved the song and played it and it took off nationally. He had no control over it what happened to it from there, yet he’s faced with the same predicament with PR guys telling him “I just don’t hear a hit single on this album,” so for some it may mean going back into the studio until they do – ultimately losing a bit of their identity along the way and becoming sell-outs in the process (Even Nirvana felt the pressure, penning the song Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.)

    A Nicholl finalist a few years ago happens to be a member of Zoetrope and noted that when he entered his winning script, he did so, warts and all, along with another he thought was much stronger that didn’t even make it past the first round. He confessed he had no idea why, believing the writing wasn’t strong enough and confiding the issues he personally had with it.

    The Babadook is getting a ton of critical acclaim (98% and 8.5 overall on RT) and William Friedkin recently took to Twitter calling it the scariest movie of all time (I believe he just introduced a midnight showing of it, too.) While I don’t know anything about Jennifer Kent, the film’s writer and director, I wouldn’t doubt it if she were just as surprised as anyone – this being her first feature. She had to crowdsource just to finish the film and probably felt she did it to the best of her ability. Has it connected with audiences though? Some. Some not, most likely because it didn’t meet their expectations which may have been inflated due to the reviews and that evil deity known as “hype.”

    In each case, these people had no idea what would happen with their work. Once they’re done with their part, it now belongs – for better or worse – to an audience and the biggest hurdle there is, is finding one. In each case, someone took a chance and championed it in their own little (or big) way.

    I think that in each instance, what helped the work was a level of authenticity: the artists created their work for themselves, first and foremost. Like many others, they probably hoped it would connect with someone else, but they don’t control the how or why – that’s up to the listener/reader/watcher or in some cases, head-scratcher. They didn’t write for a market, for money, or to be heard by a lot of people – and yet when they force themselves to write for those things first – at least in terms of the musician, I can tell you they haven’t had anywhere near the success. So I think being authentic and true to oneself is key – and as Carson noted, I think that’s something Nolan is having success with.

    Now, all that being said – how would I balance that with writing? Personally, it’s a tale of two journeys: when I write, I think of the concept and plot as being for the audience. The theme – the human condition – is for me. If I can come up with a compelling plot (narrative aka events of the story) that an audience may find entertaining, that’s half the battle. For me to feel personally connected to it, it has to come from within. It has to be authentic. There has to be something of me I want to explore thematically from that premise. For the musician I know, it’s not that different: music comes first, a chord that may be catchy while strumming a guitar or a beat from a drum – but the lyrics… the lyrics come from within.

    There’s only one me (well, I’m a twin but still…), so whatever my perspective of that I’m writing from – the things I may have to say and more importantly, how I choose to say them via the story – is what will make it unique… but that doesn’t mean nobody else isn’t dealing with those issues at all. In fact, that’s the level I hope people would connect with the stories on; the plot, for all its importance, is merely the context, the window frame so to speak, that we view the soul through.

    But once I put it out there, I no longer have control. It’s not mine anymore. If the story resonates and people get what I was going for, then it’s a satisfying feeling. Sometimes they may come up with something entirely different that means something to them which, in a way, is even better because it means it resonated in a way I wouldn’t have expected.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

    I find writing outside my comfort zone helps keep me connected to the world.
    Writing about things/events/people you must research to pull off on the page.

    Hardcore researching a bunch of subjects for a script immediately humbles me.
    My Writer’s Ego disappears when I’m forced to absorb new facts to tell a story.
    For me, I can’t get enough of that kind of schooling, keeps my head out of my own ass.

    I’ll never write a script again that doesn’t require me to learn new things about the world.

  • Randy Williams

    I vote to retire the phrase, “dumb down for the mass audience”

    This is a phrase audiences reserve for the “elite” who often end up using it to enslave them.
    They’re wise to it.

    O.T. Writers brought their “A” game to AOW this weekend. Check em out.

  • jmscriptwriter

    Great breakout and illustration of the idea Carson. I always have this notion that there are seven perfect movies and yours isn’t one of them. What you have to be is, good enough. And the “gatling gun” illustraiton is what I nebulously have in mind when I say that. It’s about a recognition of what it is and why. The story needs to a “story shape,” and from the shape propogate all imperfections. Okay, maybe that’s the caffeine talking. I get what you’re saying. You can’t please everyone, but you have to please enough of them to make the venture worthwhile. If not, the movie business will finish dying.

  • Eddie Panta

    Fantastic Article!

    I didn’t think BIRDMAN was that innovative at all, still I thought it was a great film. But a pair of young film students who walked out of the theater with me, were completely overwhelmed, they thought it was a ground-breaking masterpiece.

    Awhile back, SS reviewed a 2013 Blacklist script SEED, he gave it a good review but commented heavily about how to him it was very formulaic, and that he could see where it was going. On the forum here, a lot of commenters criticized the script for being too similar to Rosemary’s Baby.

    Meanwhile, my friend who doesn’t watch horror movies, never saw Rosemary’s Baby, or read a screenplay ever, noticed SEED on my ipad, she started reading it out of just sheer boredom. She never but it back down. She insisted on being emailed the script and finished it that night. The first scene had her hooked. She thought it was an incredible lucid and emotional, story.

  • Craig Mack

    Completely RANDOM request. Anyone have the screenplay for CLOWNHOUSE (Salva 89)?

    • Eddie Panta

      This would be hard to find. Especially considering the writer/director, Salva was sent to prison for molesting the lead in this movie, a teenage boy.

      • Craig Mack

        Thanks Eddie — I was aware of that. Creepy. I was always shocked he got to helm POWDER and the Jeepers Creepers movies after.

  • drifting in space

    I think writing for anyone other than yourself will lead to uninspired, forced screenplays. The more you try to please a groups of people, the less you will please each one.

    When you write for others, it may as well be called work. Since we are not working writers and are doing this for free, why not write for yourself something YOU would pay to see? You can then tackle a question in your life while entertaining yourself. Stories are universal and personal at the same time. The balance is created by you.

    Then, when you send it out, you cross your fingers and hope for the best. There is no rule for what works as a new writer. People break in with huge, audience catering screenplays (The Disciple Program, Snow White and the Huntsman); while others break in with small character pieces (Little Miss Sunshine, Cake).

    • gonzorama

      I agree – the more personal you make your story the more universal it gets…

      • drifting in space

        Yesyesyesyes. I want to upvote this 100,000 times.

  • Magga

    Every generation is defined to some degree by the pop culture it leaves behind. The blame or credit always lies with the audience. As a collective unit we always get what we want and deserve. The same goes for things like the news. I think the defining trait of our time is a lack of curiosity, and a desire to fit in. We look to the least knowledgable in every field and try to speak their (or our, depending on the field) language. This is how people can say things like “scientists disagree about this” when they don’t. Because we don’t know about science, and we have contempt for knowledge. Expecting our story to be dumbed down by the development process and being OK with it makes me ask why we’re doing this. Surely there are easier ways to make money, and a movie that isn’t really good has no value. This is all a slightly depressing way of saying we need to fight for our ideas instead of accepting that the industry is temporarily thriving by using the methods that audiences were too sophisticated for in the late fifties. Otherwise we are the problem, if there is a problem

  • cbatower

    The Sony leaks make me pretty optimistic about the future of movies. It, at least, shows that executives are open to change to a more quality driven system.

    I really hope the franchise system falls out of favor. Hopefully these new Divergent and Ender’s Game movies are a sign of that.

    (Really surprised they are continuing the Divergent movies after the initial response. Sure the first one made money, but not that much — seems like a series ripe to flop.)

  • jw

    I’ll say it again like I’ve said it before, because for whatever reason, it’s like it’s not getting through or people just refuse to pay attention… but there’s a reason why you can have a comedy that has a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, but makes $80 million at the box office. I’m not sure why the disconnect between those writing IN the industry versus the audience is somehow a newly developed concept that has just been discovered? I mean, honestly, hasn’t “reality” television shown us this? When at one point one of the most watched shows in the nation is Honey Boo Boo? Is there really any wonder that this gap exists? I don’t know how many times I’ve said this to those who are here because it feels like to me the focus is on “high-brow” 24/7 when every once in a while you need to get down in the mud and slosh around a bit. You want to write your Oscar script? Great. But, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing a Bromedy that garners 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, but pulls in $50 mill at the box office. I’m really sort of surprised that Carson wrote this today because it’s as though this is the first time he’s realized this gap exists, and I’m not even sure how that’s possible…

    • drifting in space

      I would take my 1% RT along with my million dollar check for writing said 1% RT movie and retire from my job. Then I would have all the free time in the world to write that Oscar winner.

      • LV426

        Or write that script for Bad Boys 4 where they pay you 5 million, but the movie only garners 0.5% RT.

        • jw

          AHAHAHAH! 0.5%! Fucking love it!

        • drifting in space

          Brilliant. I’ll make an paper-mache Oscar statue out of hundred dollar bills.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Not sure readers are as open minded.
      Watching a bad movie may be entertaining.
      Reading a bad script — not so much.

      (Readers judge a read.
      Perhaps more so than the movie.)

      • drifting in space

        So true.

      • jw

        The problem with that assumption is that you’re basically saying the difference between what internal Hollywood wants to make and what an audience wishes to see is “bad” and that’s not necessarily the case, it could just be very different. What has to be remembered here is that because a reader would say, “I’ve read that a million times and it’s re-hash” isn’t what an audience member would say because they HAVEN’T seen it a million times. And, thus lies the inequality in terms of looking at scripts (or films) from the outside versus IN. And, this is where the discrepancy equals poorly rated films that have HUGE box office success. What was surprising to me about this was that Carson was mentioning this like it was the first time he’d ever realized there’s actually a gap. And, I thought that to be a bit strange.

        • Malibo Jackk

          “The problem with that assumption is that you’re basically saying the
          difference between what internal Hollywood wants to make and what an audience wishes to see is “bad” and that’s not necessarily the case…”

          Not really saying that. And not trying to defend bad scripts. But did find it interesting when the head of a major studio actually came out and admitted that bad, big budget movies can make them millions.

          (There’s a show on CNBC about the success of Costco. Costco sells crap. But you can buy it in quantity.)

          “‘I’ve read that a million times and it’s re-hash’ isn’t what an audience
          member would say because they HAVEN’T seen it a million times. And, thus lies the inequality in terms of looking at scripts…”

          That’s one of the basic difference between a reader and the average movie audience. But when you read over 600+ scripts a year…

          • jw

            Well, I think again that’s where the inference is wrong… Costco is large and sells a boat load of product (and I’d probably agree that most is crap), but Whole Foods sells a shit load of stuff too… does that mean they “sell crap”? I mean, one of the issues here is the idea of the black and white argument that Midnight was trying to make (either you’re on one extreme or the other) and the real truth is that you can’t make it in that distinction. There are HUGE, HUGE areas of GREY. And, all I’m saying is that when we read scripts, we’re probably passing up and looking beyond stories that could really be on the big screen because we do not have the perspective of an “average” moviegoer. In my opinion that CAN be limiting.

          • Eric

            Part of what’s happening is that the studios have figured out a way to make money, even off their crap. In that sense, questions about a movie’s quality are often besides the point when figuring out why a movie did or didn’t do well. Although any studio that gets a reputation for putting out crap is going to see that effect their opportunities with directors, actors and writers who actually do care about quality.

            So in the end, movie quality does matter, just indirectly.

            I saw a ‘Making of Alien’ documentary recently where the studio guys said they pretty much bought O’Bannon’s script for the chestburster scene and general premise, but they thought most of it was awful (one guy actually called up another guy asking for permission to stop reading it). They also intended to rewrite using their own people and take O’Bannon’s name off it. Luckily for O’Bannon they couldn’t quite nail it and he got to keep his credit. Point is, studios are often willing to buy up a concept or idea on the faith that they can make it better by release. Audiences act in a similar way, often willing to shell out the price of a ticket based on a trailer that looks promising. If the studio can get enough people to do that through marketing alone, it won’t matter if most people walk out of the theater thinking it was, “just OK.”

    • rickhester

      “.. but there’s a reason why you can have a comedy that has a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, but makes $80 million at the box office.”

      I’m not sure I see where you explain this in your comment. You’re describing a reality that exists, not why it exists. I’ve only had one cup of coffee though, so it might just be me.

      • jw

        Ahahahah! Rick, you’re hilarious. The reason it exists is because of why this thread was started — the gap between what critics or let’s say “internal” Hollywood sees as a finished product and that which an audience does. This was Carson’s original “epiphany” if you will…

        • rickhester

          Got it.

    • Midnight Luck

      so are you honestly, I mean seriously saying, you are not only off writing low brow work right now (like Honey Boo Boo) but also enjoying doing it?

      Maybe some people love writing stuff like that, I just have difficult imagining that.

      • filmklassik

        Relax. This isn’t a new phenomena. Screenwriters have always been savvier about motion pictures than the audience (because it’s their job to be; doesn’t your doctor know more about the human body than you do?), yet somehow we have always wound up with smart, entertaining movies that have also pleased the masses. Movies like JAWS, THE GODFATHER, TOOTSIE, BACK TO THE FUTURE, THE STING, CASABLANCA, etc.

        It’s true such movies aren’t getting made as often these days. But they still get made just enough to embolden me.

        • Midnight Luck

          I am very relaxed.
          It wasn’t meant to come off as heated or something.

          I just wondered if jw really meant it or was just being half serious. though did really did seem serious.

          I can’t imagine much of anyone who does write higher focused stuff, deciding to say, “ok, time now to write my Honey Boo Boo stuff I’ve been waiting to do”.

          but maybe jw really does do one and then goes off and writes the other. In a way, that would be incredibly impressive as well.

          • filmklassik

            You weren’t heated at all. Cool as can be. And I completely agree with you.

          • Midnight Luck

            ahh, gotcha.

      • jw

        Why is the natural inference to go from one extreme to the other? I often wonder why society is so polarized and I think I know… it’s as though the entire world is black and white. As though my identification of what works from a commercial aspect precludes me from what it means to understand works of art? What if the answer is both? What if I can write an Oscar winning screenplay, but have the frame of mind to understand that every time I type FADE IN I don’t need to have the statue in mind?

        • Midnight Luck

          I have been described as being very black-and-white many a time. So it is probably just me.

          If you are able to do it, I would be very very impressed.
          Just didn’t know if you, specifically, or if others, as well, would actually want to write the Honey BB type stuff or not. Of if it was that easy for people to dash off higher brow stuff, then turn and dash off the Honey Bb stuff.

          I do understand that everything a writer wants to write, doesn’t have to be Oscar winning type stuff, but, if they are writing that type of stuff, then turning and doing Honey BB type of stuff, is just so incredibly opposite and different and low brow, that actually enjoying it seems very unlikely. Not impossible I guess, but unlikely.

          Again, who knows, it could just be my way of thinking though.

          • jw

            Maybe it’s all in the approach or thought process? I guess I just never boxed myself up like that. I’ve had people say, “you really have a knack for thrillers” and then I’ve had people say, “I so love your comedy writing,” so maybe I can do both? Who knows really? I think I’m probably better at one versus another, but that’s genre distinction and not “quality” distinction. I think that simply comes down to understanding structure. Understanding the structure of high-brow versus low and then ping-ponging back and forth. Could I write a shitty procedural like NCIS and then go and write Homeland? Yep. I understand what both serve and why, but I don’t think that’s really all that special because I think most writers should understand that. You should come over to the Grey sometime and mingle. We aren’t that bad! ;)

          • Midnight Luck

            I am working very hard to get my brain to see and work more in the grey (50 shades of it if possible , though not really, I’m so kidding), but will definitely do my best to write comments more in the grey when I can. BnW writing causes riots I have found….

  • Poe_Serling

    Mish-mash Monday…

    I haven’t had the chance to check out Tusk or The Purge: Anarchy yet. But I do have a recommendation for a horror film that I just recently watched on DVD:

    Willow Creek

    “A man and his girlfriend camp in the woods to capture firsthand evidence of Bigfoot.”

    Directed and written by Bobcat Goldthwait.

    Even though it’s a super low-budget/found footage effort, it has its share of scary moments. I liked how the filmmakers used the famous Patterson-Gimlin encounter in 1967 as the springboard for this project.

    • https://thebarkbitesback.wordpress.com/ Jim

      I actually liked this quite a bit, particularly the long take (which anyone should know by now gives it a “real” feeling). A lot of people didn’t care for it, probably because it was too similar to The Blair Witch Project – but it was the equivalent of sitting around a campfire and hearing noises in the dark and having your imagination run with it.

      • Poe_Serling

        “…. it was the equivalent of sitting around a campfire and hearing noises in the dark and having your imagination run with it.”

        Exactly.

        Plus, it’s worth checking out for a buck and some change when it hits the Redbox or shows up in the near future on Chiller/SyFy/etc.

  • Pooh Bear

    Carson, I don’t believe you’re giving enough credit to Purge 2 which I thought was far superior to Purge 1. It did a lot of stuff right. The main character had an inner struggle. Going off memory, he lost his kid and was using the annual Purge to get back at the man who killed the boy. He’s also the reluctant hero and takes that call to action to save the innocent people caught out on purge night, a save the cat moment. At that point I was all in. I think movies about survival are particularly engaging, especially when the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against you. Purge 2 is akin to the Running Man, Hard Target, Surviving the Game and Judgment Night… all movies I really enjoyed. The audience either got a little wish fulfillment or an abhorrence fascination from watching the movie… maybe both. In addition, it had a mystery at its core– this coordinated kill squad with a cool reveal that (SPOILER) America’s Purge participation is down and the government has to pick up the slack. The bad guys were cool and unique and all had their own agendas– government kill squad, the filthy rich and the hooligan gang of kidnappers. So that’s why it worked. I believe the Purge 3 got the greenlight.

  • bruckey

    On the subject of Adam Sandler, his movies always do very well on the redbox charts.
    I remember seeing a breakdown of some redbox figures in relation to where the redbox was located (ie) Malibu vs Ferguson. Sandler movies did fantastic among the less well off and in the flyover states.

  • Fiona Fire

    First of all, I will not hear anyone speak ill of the masterpiece that is Chasing Amy. Say what you want of any of Kevin Smith’s earlier or later films, but do not dare suggest that Chasing Amy is not an amazing fucking screenplay.

    The logic of impressing the six movie a year guy doesn’t hold up. He only goes to six movies a year. As a filmmaker, your target audience is people who go to the movies. You’ll have better luck attracting the movie a week guy. I don’t know how this would play out, per se, but this movie a week guy is going to see more movies, so he’s a better customer.

    • drifting in space

      The movie a week guy is a dying breed. Who can afford that anymore.

      • klmn

        Teenagers, supported by their parents. That’s who the superhero movies are made for.

        • drifting in space

          So, as writers, aim for teenagers? Without the access to IP? Against said superhero movies?

          Cast a large net… fuck, that means writing an Adam Sandler movie.

          God dammit.

          • klmn

            I don’t know what it means for writers. If I did, I would have broken through already.

            And I wouldn’t be reading this site for answers.

          • drifting in space

            Yeah, I was just being snarky. This business is hard enough without trying to write for a specific audience. Makes me sad.

            The only thing to get over that hump, to me at least, is to write for yourself and/or passion.

          • Illimani Ferreira

            Remember when Adam Sandler movies weren’t trash? I’d love to write an Adam Sandler movie that isn’t trash.

          • drifting in space

            I wish he would raise his own standards and not do trash like Blended. I think he could really pull something off great if the material was there.

          • Illimani Ferreira

            I debated about Adam Sandler with a producer who worked with him a while ago. I compared Sandler’s decline of quality with Eddie Murphy’s in the 90s, pondering about why Sandler would commit such a huge mistake. The producer accurately pointed out that comparing Sandler and Murphy was inaccurate. Murphy was going down the box office slope in the early 90s, so when he came up with the terrible Nutty Professor he was trying to reinvent himself in order to appeal the audience. We all the know what happened: the success was temporary and he never managed to land a role in a comedy that was both good AND had good box office return again. Sandler, on the other hand, at least until this year, never faced a decadence period. He just went straight from good to bad. He just assumed that his brand was strong enough to keep the loyalty of the audience, so why work hard or bet in screenwriter he doesn’t know if he could just ask someone incompetent yet close to him to pen down some shit set somewhere sunny?

          • drifting in space

            Amen to that.

          • Midnight Luck

            I have to say though, Murphy was awesome during that time in BOWFINGER.
            Wish he had stuck with more like that and less of the Nutty Professor and Doctor Doolittle, Pluto Nash garbage.

          • filmklassik

            “Sandler’s decline of quality”…

            Just wanted to pull that quote and stare at it for a moment.

          • Illimani Ferreira

            You obviously disagree but I really liked some of his films before he started to go downhill with 50 first dates.

          • filmklassik

            You’re not alone. He pleased a lot of people, for a lot of years. And he’s still at it.

          • klmn

            Sandler is the new Jerry Lewis. When the audience tires of him, he can move to France and be considered a genius.

          • Illimani Ferreira

            That’s mean…

            …to the French. :)

          • Midnight Luck

            I am writing an Adam Sandler movie where he plays a giant 9′ Asian basketball player and his twin sister (separated at birth) who’s a Little Person. He will play both roles.
            Calling it “Big and Small: Got Game”
            hilarity ensues.

          • Illimani Ferreira

            Don’t forget to include a few scenes featuring monkeys copulating.

          • Midnight Luck

            check.
            got it.
            that is how they will have their “meet cute” years later.
            walking down the New York streets they’ll both see each other, and both will have a monkey on their shoulder, and they will “just know” they are brother and sister twins in an instant!

          • Illimani Ferreira

            I love that, although I’d make that scene take place in Cancun instead. Those days Sandler only accepts to star films that take place in a sunny location where he can urge the director to stop shooting after extenuating 5 hours of hard work, so he and the crew can have their deserved tequila time at the beach. Also, very important: funny hats for the monkeys.

          • Midnight Luck

            you are right.
            though, probably closer to 1 hour of hard work than 5.
            I did see Just Go With It at some point (I hate to admit), and it was him and sandy beaches.

            -so move what I said to Cancun, or somewhere, and the “meet cute” is when they spot each other walking on the beach- and their funny hatted monkeys both go after the same frisbee someone throws, and then the monkeys get mixed up and run back to the opposite person, the wrong monkey goes to the small person, and the other to the giant.
            -hilarity ensues.

          • Illimani Ferreira

            Perfect. Now let’s discuss the cast. So far we have Adam Sandler playing both the giant and the small person. I’d suggest a tiny Drew Barrymore as the giant’s love interest, a giant Drew Barrymore as the small person’s love interest and Ikea Monkey as the two monkeys.

          • Midnight Luck

            so Sandler and Sandler and Drew.
            Then we have Jennifer Aniston playing a horrible boss kind of character, as a Dentist, and as one the Sandler’s boss’, forcing him to take a vacation to Cancun-y, but at the last minute he convinces her to go with him (might be a love interest thing there as well).
            But when they get there, Aniston actually falls for the other Sandler, and the Drew falls for THIS Sandler, and they all buy Mai-Tai’s and start dancing on tables and doing Limbo dancing and what not, and the Mean Aniston shows her soft side finally and ends up being a drunken ditzy sweetheart.
            The final scene is of all of them boating off to some other sunny destination, and not going back to work, with porpoise’s (porposi?) jumping over the boat with the monkeys water skiing behind them (behind the porpoise’s, not the boat).
            gold.
            Ari gold.
            gold.

        • susanrichards

          yes. this is true. and we parents are too exhausted to leave the house to go to a movie so we wait for it to be on dvd or worse yet, netflix. by the time that happens, we’ve forgotten what we want to see. :/

          so, you have young people, who will ALWAYS go to the movies, because there will ALWAYS be a new crop of young people.

          and then you have those people who will always go to the movies because they enjoy to see good films. this second group of people, however, will diminish if the quality of movies diminish.

          theres some math there.

      • Midnight Luck

        I see 3-4 movies a week, or more if there is enough interesting stuff out there. I am not a teenager, not supported by my parents, and oh yeah, don’t have a job. But I am a minimalist and choose very specifically where and what I spend my money on. Movies, organic food, and my dog. Little money goes a long way if you don’t spend aimlessly and you aren’t a “good” consumer.
        So seeing that many movies a week is possible for anyone, they just have to choose what is important to them. (Seeing 1 movie a week is possible for just about everyone)
        movies are VERY important to me. They deserve my time and money.

        • drifting in space

          My affordability comment was in jest, as it is what many people cite as the reason they don’t see more movies.

          • rickhester

            I think it’s a valid point. Particularly if you’re talking about a family.

          • Midnight Luck

            ahh, sorry.
            I just can’t seem to get people’s inflections on here.
            That is exactly what gets me about people’s response to not seeing more movies. That they “can’t afford it”.
            and I think “really? seriously? why not? You can afford your two Venti Carmel Macchiato frappacino’s every day for $11, but you can’t afford a movie? Crazy. Also, don’t you know you can go to the movie and NOT buy $15 worth of popcorn and soda? It is allowed that you just watch a movie without also stuffing the face?”
            But usually people who argue they can’t afford it, don’t understand my logic, so it is an empty argument which goes nowhere.
            Glad you are in agreement with my logic.
            Seems we see very eye to eye, my friend.

        • gonzorama

          And if you do it right you can write off the cost of going to the movies on your taxes. At least here in the States…

          • Midnight Luck

            tell me more, I didn’t know you can write off what the IRS considers “entertainment”. I would love to be able to do that.

          • gonzorama

            If you make part of your income by writing then you can write off movie tickets and books as research material. If you itemize everything it’s easy, just keep the receipts. It’s tougher to do on the short form, but it’s possible. I work freelance so I keep track of mileage and meals too.

          • Midnight Luck

            Thanks, appreciate the heads up. I spend so much on movies, I would love to write them off.
            What do you write and make money from, if you don’t mind my asking?

            But Damn, for me, I need to start making money writing then.
            better start writing Foodie books and blogs.
            I’ll have to outdo Paula Deen.
            We have a place here that is known for it’s Alligator Mac and cheese, as well as their most famous dish “Spam and Mac”, which is exactly what it sounds like.
            Time to write a book.
            Might be quicker to make money that way than via Screenwriting.

          • gonzorama

            You’re welcome. Well, right now I don’t generate income from writing so I don’t write off my movie viewings. But I do work (loosely) in the Entertainment Biz so I’m told I could write it off. I’m hoping things will change for me next year though! As for writing food-related books & blogs – I highly recommend it! I have a few friends who do this and they write off all their visits to new restaurants. It’s a sweet – pun intended – deal. (I really want to try Alligator Mac now!) Good luck!

          • Midnight Luck

            Nice.
            They also serve Crawdads and Frog legs.
            I’ve had the Frog legs (long ago, back when I ate animals), and not to be cliche, but they do taste like greasy chicken, for real.
            Out here everyone seems to make money writing foodie blogs and books and has food carts, and are peg leg black levi pants wearing – in a band (or 3) hip. so it was slightly a funny sly comment.
            however…..i think it would be easier, and less expensive, to be a foodie blogger than a travel blogger. people always say to travel write and make money, but in the beginning you have to cover your own expenses and hope that someone picks it up. if they don’t, well, you are stuck with the bill.
            I have a 1976 Shasta trailer, and a 1940-50’s Canned Ham trailer, that if fixed up right, I could take on the road (one or the other) and do a video blog (vlog) and a blog.
            making money writing IS my goal (as a freelancer, on my own terms, never again will i work in a cubicle, or for someone else, but anyway, that is a story for another time), though making money for Screenwriting is the ULTIMATE goal.
            Here’s hoping!
            Again, thanks for the thoughts and info, and I definitely am going to be writing off my movie-life-watching money, as soon as humanly possible.

          • gonzorama

            I’m surprised it took you this long. Your trailers sound awesome – I used to travel with my grandparents in theirs… If you need a driver let me know! :) Post a link to your food blog when it gets started. Best of luck!

          • Midnight Luck

            will do!
            thanks.

      • Fiona Fire

        My dad has been going to the movies about once a week since I can remember. I blame him entirely for my choice to write screenplays.

    • https://thebarkbitesback.wordpress.com/ Jim

      I’ve never seen anyone mention this gaffe in Chasing Amy.

      Did you see it?

      Watch again at 1:37.

      Someone should have told Kevin to watch those reflections or film from another angle.

      • drifting in space

        Sorry, comment was dumb.

    • Midnight Luck

      Chasing Amy – *F, ng brilliant

      • gonzorama

        OT: Joey Lauren Adams live across the street from a friend of mine in the valley. She still looks fantastic!

    • Eddie Panta

      Wow! I must really be missing something about Chasing Amy.
      All I remember is the Inking vs. tracing routine.
      Never really got much out of it.

      • Fiona Fire

        It’s so damn good. But like most great relationship movies, it requires the viewer have some history of relationships to appreciate it.

        Don’t get me wrong, the staging and photography are not amazing by any means. And Kevin Smith haters will still hate since it’s still got all the nerds talking about sex and Star Wars stuff he does so well. But, man, that scene where Holden tells Alyssa (so embarrassing that I forget her name when I named my latest protagonist after her) how he feels… so good. And the scene where he literally gets bitch slapped.

        It’s so rare that a movie actually recognizes its protagonist (especially a male protagonist) is being a dick and needs to get slapped and lose everything he cares about.

        There’s such a realness and a rawness to it.

        I could go on, but I’ll stop.

  • rickhester

    The shareholder demands angle in this piece is something I had never really thought about. Particularly in Sony’s case, where Sony Studios has been one of the few reliable sources of profit in an otherwise struggling behemoth, the parent company’s shareholders are most likely demanding the highest level of steady profit from the least amount of risk possible. And the answer has obviously been comics, remakes, etc.

    I was asking a friend recently if they knew whether anyone in the industry had every tried to quantify the total capital investment made in these movies over the last 15 years. It must be many, many billions, particularly if you include marketing.

    Imagine how may great original stories have been missed along the way.

  • ripleyy

    They hardly know Sundance or Kubrick exist, and they only know the Academy Awards exists because actors and actresses embarrass themselves every year at it which spawns countless of viral videos, the source of entrainment.

  • gonzorama

    This goes along with the Max Landis talk from last week. He says some interesting things about screen writing – he believes scripts are meant to be READ. Sure, the story should be good too, but you want to reader to enjoy reading the script as much as possible.
    He also writes both intellectually as well as “common”, for the masses. I think this is why he’s so popular with the studios.
    As for Kevin Smith, not only is he a long-winded writer, but he also edits his films. The two places where you want other eyes looking at the product and he controls it all. He’s sure not going to cut something he thinks is golden. I jumped off his bandwagon after Clerks 2.

    • filmklassik

      William Goldman’s been saying the same thing for years. Namely —

      THE SELLING DRAFT IS WRITTEN TO BE READ.

  • Cfrancis1

    Man, I thought The Purge: Anarchy was waaaaaay better than the first. Reminded me of The Warriors. I thought the concept was explored better than the first. While still silly, at least there was some attempt to justify it. And I liked the characters as well. I didn’t like anyone in the first movie. I don’t know, it had a kind of 80s gritty feel to it that appealed to me. The script wasn’t brilliant but it was good. It was more the atmosphere that hooked me, I suppose.

  • klmn

    “But my brother LOVED IT. He thought it was great. “What did you like
    about it?” I asked. He pointed out the awesome scene where some guy in
    the back of a semi truck propped up a Gatling gun and mowed down any
    person he saw. “That was awesome,” he said.

    Carson, it sounds like your brother is deeply disturbed. I can only hope that he isn’t a policeman.

    • Midnight Luck

      I agree.
      Disturbed.

      Then again, my brother is very different from me as well.
      Though not that different.

      I don’t think he gets excited by Gatling guns and mowing down any person he sees, so, well….hmm…. Carson might need to ask his brother if an intervention is necessary:)

  • scriptfeels

    I actually kind of want to use this haha

  • maxi1981

    I am surprised that Carson didnt think the storyline in the Purge Anarchy evolved because to me its a much better movie than the first. First there is a meta narative that runs throughout the movie which the first one doesnt have referring here to the reason why the purge is happening. Then there is the more personal story that we follow with the main character. The movie has what Carson always wants, GSU Goals, Stakes, Urgency.

    The goals with both the A story and B story are pretty clear: Survive the Purge, Stakes: “What does my character gain if he achieves his goal?” And “What does my character lose if he fails to achieve his goal: The movie makes it pretty clear what the main character’s stakes are and the consequences when he achieves the goal, and then Urgency: The Purge lasts one night so that would qualify as urgency to the movie plot moving along, the Ticking clock in the movie.

    In terms of what the viewer wants compared to what you the screenwriter wants to write it goes back to the old idea of finding a common ground between both as an artist you want to write what you feel passionate about but at the same knowing that you are a part of a bigger machine with a lot of cogs and people are in this machine which runs thanks top the power of money.

    This is why I feel that what Carson says is spot one when he says: “Write something that would get mass audiences excited, but don’t write the stupid version that ends up on screen. Write the slightly higher-brow version, the kind that excites a reader who reads 15-20 scripts a week.”

    Examples of this Carson’s point are everywhere today, Nolan, Fincher, Cameron, Early M Night Shyamalan, Soderbergh, JJ Abrams, Burton.

    If you dont want to be in this group you can then belong to another group of directors that will always be on another wavelength, Malick, Von Trier, Herzog, Winding Refn, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kaufman, Jarmusch,

  • peisley

    For your consideration, what if your brother is not the target audience. After all, he only sees six movies a year and even those are rentals.

  • rickhester

    The vast majority of readers I’ve know were assistants to producers or executives at studios. And very few of them wanted to be writers. I always heard it was a bad idea for a screenwriter to be a reader, mostly because it’s just such an energy drain.

  • susanrichards

    this is what i think. i think that people go to the movies for different reasons. personally, i dont get much time for myself. so if i go to the movies, its with my family of ALL BOYS (9-28) and a husband. what do you think we are going to see? it wouldnt be something like BOYHOOD thats for sure.
    we have a need to be entertained, to be distracted and to escape from the harshness that is reality. while i crave a seriously decent film that might make me FEEL and THINK, ill still enjoy a film with my family of males and have a good time if its full of explosions or super heroes IF ITS A GOOD STORY AND PRESENTED WELL. just like i CRAVE healthy meals that are well balanced and nourishing…ill enjoy a bag of chips and some really good dip. having said that, i dont want stale chips or any old chips. i want really good decent chips.
    so, yes…write for the market. PEOPLE WHO WILL SPEND MONEY. but, write well. thats that, basically.