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January 8, 2005 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Everything you need to know about screenwriting. From John August, writer of Go, Big Fish, Titan A.E.,the upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the Charlie's Angels movies (ok, we'll forgive him that last one). Very helpful, very down to earth advice.
posted by braun_richard (17 comments total)

 
wasn't the number of writers on the charlie's angels movies about the same size as the population of a village in eastern europe? just a thought.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:53 PM on January 8, 2005


This is personal taste - and possibly due to my not having seen Big Fish - but don't we have to forgive him for all those movies?
posted by Ryvar at 2:55 PM on January 8, 2005


This is fantastic. Even if he's written for a few empty films, his site is a big bag of awesome. Thanks!
posted by Jairus at 2:57 PM on January 8, 2005


number of writers on the charlie's angels movies about the same size as the population of a village in eastern europe?

just about it, yes. but on average eastern europe villagers write better English than the Charlie screenwriters
posted by matteo at 3:00 PM on January 8, 2005


One of the joys of life is finding a site like this, and then realizing there are pages and pages of old content to read. 50 pages, actually. Geez.
posted by smackfu at 3:33 PM on January 8, 2005


This is great. Thanks.

And for those looking for something similar, check out Wordplayer, a site by Terry Rossio. Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio are responsible for Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mask of Zorro and Shrek, among others. The meat of the site is in the columns, 45 terrific essays on screenwriting (smackfu, you'll be in heaven). This is some of the best writing on screenwriting I've read anywhere. Check out the The Off-Screen Movie, for example.
posted by zanni at 4:24 PM on January 8, 2005


Essentially, this post is a mere link to a Weblog and is not, in fact, a link to everything anybody would ever want to know about screenwriting.
As I believe people often ask here at MetaFilter, why is this a FPP?
posted by joeclark at 5:44 PM on January 8, 2005


Unlike most weblogs, this one has original content.
posted by smackfu at 6:01 PM on January 8, 2005


August finished graduate film school at USC a couple years ahead of me, and I met him when he came back to talk about Go, and the first Charlie's Angeles movie, which at the time was still in production. He's a very down-to-earth, friendly, and intelligent person.

The fact that he is one of several writers credited on the second movie shouldn't reflect too badly on him; he was the main (writing) creative force behind the first movie, and he probably wrote an draft of the second that was rewritten a great deal by others.

August did something unusual (and smart) for an aspiring screenwriter: instead of going to USC's famous screenwriting program, he went to their (equally famous, in smaller circles) producing program, known as 'the Peter Stark program.' Stark is a sort of MBA for the movie industry; many of its graduates become studio executives, agents, and managers. For their final project, starkies are required to 'put a package together,' which is to say, option a script, attach talent, and present it to people in the industry with the power to give the green light. Some starkies meet the writers of the scripts they'll option at parties, some option scripts from screenwriting students they meet in the hallway. August, who really wanted to be a writer, not a studio executive, optioned his own script (Go), attached himself as a producer, and sold it. That's why, on most (if not all) of his movies, you see him credited not just as a writer, but also as a producer. Not only does this mean he gets more money, but he may (depending on the deal) have more influence and be more likely to be kept in the loop about a project he's writing than the average screenwriter.
posted by bingo at 7:04 PM on January 8, 2005


From the blog:

On the other hand, I wrote the finale for BIG FISH by deliberately bringing myself to tears before I started typing. Call it method screenwriting.

Since (to each his or her own, but .....) the finale of "Big Fish" was execrable, I find myself wondering how he brought himself to tears. Pounding his foot repeatedly with a ball-peen hammer?
posted by blucevalo at 8:05 PM on January 8, 2005


You guys are really snarky. He's helping people for free.

Plus, he writes scripts that people want to make into movies, which, in addition to being totally awesome, is something I'm guessing you've never done, but have dreamed about.

Good on you, John August, if you're reading this. Good on you, I say.
posted by Hildago at 8:30 PM on January 8, 2005


Ha: "I did a few days work on The Rundown specifically so I could write things for Christopher Walken to say. A lot of times, you worry about going over-the-top, but with Christopher Walken, there is no top." From this post...
posted by kindall at 9:36 PM on January 8, 2005


My oh my, people are quick to trash anything, given the opportunity. Knowing how the studio system operates, it's amazing that *anything* of quality every comes out of it. In the canon of major studio releases, Johh's work tends to be on the upper end of the bell curve.

Kudos on the link. Unlike 99% of the so-you-wanna-be-a-screenwriter websites, this one regularly offers sound advice. And unlike the bulk of screenwriting gurus (Robert McKee, anyone?), August's actually making a living as a screenwriter.
posted by herc at 11:02 AM on January 9, 2005


Wow, great links, thanks braun_richards and zanni. That Wordplayer Off-Screen Movie article is mind-blowingly awesome.
posted by frenetic at 2:37 PM on January 9, 2005


What's with the nay sayin'? This is good stuff.
posted by absalom at 8:08 PM on January 9, 2005


Since (to each his or her own, but .....) the finale of "Big Fish" was execrable...

OK blucevalo, you're on my blacklist. First for making me feel inferior about having cried at that scene, and second for making me look up execrable! Meanie.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:32 AM on January 10, 2005


I'll second Popular Ethics (except for the looking up part). Blucevalo, you suck.
posted by Tlogmer at 7:44 PM on January 10, 2005


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