Making a trailer for nothing

It’s a very popular practice for independent filmmakers to shoot a trailer, just the trailer, in hopes of using it to raise money for the full film. The idea is to show what the movie will look like once completed. You know, once you give them money to make it.

Nice idea. Except for two problems. I’ve never actually seen this work and it still takes a huge amount of work to shoot a trailer. A trailer is a great marketing tool. But it doesn’t show you can properly and compelling tell a story. I think we’ve all experienced a promising trailer, only to be disappointed by the actual film.

Before committing one minute or one dime to making your trailer I have a couple of ideas that might help.

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Final Draft 9

Final Draft 9

I write in Final Draft 9. I love it. This is not a full review. I simply wanted to endorse it. And I’m not pretending I had no involvement with it. I absolutely did. That’s why I’m pimping it. I’m proud of the work that’s been done. And the road it’s going to lead to in the future.

My favorite new features are the improved ScriptNotes, the evolution of the Navigator, Replace Character, and full screen mode on my Macbook Pro. All of this helps make writing easier. Which is really what it’s all about.

One of these things is not like the other

Subtle difference from the French and the U.S. World War Z poster.



Kickstarter: there goes the neighborhood


There’s been a lot of flack over Veronica Mars and Zach Braff using Kickstarter to fund their movies. But they’re not the first. Last year Charlie Kaufman raised over $400,000 for his animated film Anomalisa. Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi raised nearly $137,000. David Fincher raised $442,000 to start production on an animated project, The Goon. Colin Hanks raised over $50,000 for a documentary about Tower Records. The internet is a buzz with condemnation, and yet they reached their goals. Is our rage misplaced? Read More

Adaptations are movies too

Hollywood loves source material. Novel, comic book, television show, stageplay; if there’s a pre-built audience they’re bound to take a peek.

After seeing “insert name of most recent novel adapted into a movie” I had a conversation with a friend that went something like this.

“What’d you think of the movie?”

“Meh. Not great. It dragged on after it the resolution. It just wouldn’t end.”

“Yeah, but you gotta understand, that’s how the book was.”

Wait, what? I have to judge the movie based on the book? I don’t think so. Movies and books are different animals. When I watch a movie I have certain expectations based on the ten million movies I’ve seen before. If I didn’t read the book I have no expectations for the story.

Adaptation means making adjustments. Adjustments that allow you to pour the source material’s story into the format of a movie. Let’s face it, you can’t cram a whole book into a movie. It’s not possible. Choices must be made. The job of the screenwriter is to make smart choices that convey the spirit of the book into movie form. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not giving carte blanche to the screenwriter to add dinosaurs and cyborgs to a Jane Austin novel. But so much importance is placed on the source material that many times people forget it’s a movie. What I’m saying is: respect the medium.

Movies are magic. They thrill and inspire. They make us laugh and cry. They bring people together. Movies have a specific format; American movies at least. The audience knows when a movie is bad and they aren’t forgiving just because, “that’s how the book was.” The movie should retain the feel of the book (to satisfy the existing fan-base) while conforming to movie form (to satisfy those who didn’t read the book). Because at the end of the day that’s how the movie will be remembered.

I want a great movie first and foremost. Then maybe I can have a conversation like this.

“What’d you think of the movie?”

“It was awesome!”

“You think that was good you should read the book.”


America needs heroes

Just an observation of the current cast of movie Superheroes:

Superman – Henry Cavill (English)

Wolverine – Hugh Jackman (Australian)

Jean Gray – Famke Janssen (Dutch)

Professor X – Patrick Stewart (English)

Rogue – Anna Paquin (Canadian)

Batman – Christian Bale (Welsh)

  • Commissioner Gordon – Gary Oldman (English)
  • Alfred – Michael Caine (English)

Green Lantern – Seth Rogen (Canadian)

Thor – Chris Hemsworth (Australian)

Reed Richards – Ioan Gruffudd (Welsh)

Green Lantern & Deadpool – Ryan Reynolds (Canadian)

Will the outsourcing never end?

I’m still waiting for a Mexican to play the Hulk.