55 posts tagged writing
55 posts tagged writing
Remembering the remarkable Elmore Leonard (Justified, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight) and his 10 Rules of Writing:
“Orbit emerged out my love for the alien invasion genre, a genre which I have adored my entire life. When it comes to what may happen if aliens wander into our neighborhood, the possibilities are infinite,” said Orbit writer Bruce Guido.
Amazon Studios has an open-door development process, for film as well as original series. Learn more about how to submit your script.
Details on the newly optioned project:
Writer: Bruce Guido
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Thriller
Logline: When an immense alien spacecraft threatens life on Earth, a small crew of astronauts aboard a salvage and collection ship must destroy the alien menace to save mankind.
Why we optioned it: While it’s a contained story involving only a handful of characters, the scope and stakes of the movie are enormous. This is a movie about the end of the world, but it’s played out entirely with a cast of six people.
The writer’s perspective: As I was looking at a photo of Earth, sitting lonely against a sea of black, it just hit me — what if the story was told outside of Earth? … What if we experienced worldwide destruction from the point of view of characters who are isolated, watching from the outside? What would it be like to see our home, our loved ones, everyone we’ve ever known, annihilated from a distance with us powerless to stop it?
See the full Amazon Studios film slate.
Not having any aspiration to direct, I had never storyboarded my own scripts. For me, the idea of storyboarding was akin to waterboarding – pure torture. I was perfectly content with the glorious, twisted images I had floating in my head.
But any of you who follow my Script Magazine Balls of Steel column know I’m a competitive freak who loves a challenge. I have a quest for learning new things, so when Amazon Studios asked if I’d try the free Amazon Storyteller tool, the game was on!
Remember, I’ve never done this before, and I am no artist. Correction, I do have artistic skills, but those revolve around charcoal drawings of nude women – long story. I don’t know anything about creating pictures of clothed people with a cinematographer’s eye.
I admit to being intimidated.
Turns out, it’s not tough at all. It didn’t take long for my addictive personality to latch on and churn boards out.
Overall, the feature, in beta version, is pretty intuitive. You click on any part of the script and a suggested background shows up, complete with the characters intended for that scene. You can tweak their clothing, actions and facial expressions as well as change their orientation 360 degrees. Props can be added to the boards, including background characters as well as the ability to zoom in or out or reframe the shot.
Before I knew it, I had created a 42-board structure of my 8-page script. I told you it was addictive. Or perhaps I’m O.C.D.? OK, maybe a bit of both.
Since the tool is still in beta, there’s obviously room for improvement. One thing I wish it would do is show the boards as index cards that I could easily click and drag to reorder, just like I do when I outline my stories. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer that I want that feature. You tell me.
The props are limited and can’t be manipulated except to make larger or smaller. I wanted to lay books down on the bed but couldn’t. At the moment, there’s also no way to put a character in a prone position. But these are all small details Amazon will undoubtedly update.
Above having fun pretending to be a director, I learned a few things about writing from my storyboarding experience
Writer/director Omar Naim embraces the notion that science fiction allows us to observe present-day issues and human quandaries from an outsider perspective.
His award-winning 2004 film The Final Cut explored questions of memory and reality in a near-future world where people can have their babies implanted with chips that record every moment of their life. Now he’s exploring the science fiction-thriller genre further, by rewriting the Amazon Studios Development Slate project Children of Others.
Children of Others is about a barren woman who miraculously conceives with the help of a mysterious fertility clinic, only to discover that she’s bearing an alien baby who may be the precursor to invasion – or the only hope for mankind. Veteran producer Edward Saxon (Silence of the Lambs, Adaptation) is attached to the project.
We spoke to Omar about his inspirations, his own film, and the challenges and opportunities that come from working on a project created by another writer.
How did you get involved with Children of Others?
OMAR: I pitched a couple of times and showed how passionate I was about the material as I put a lot of work into it and I think that we all sensed that we all wanted to make the same kind of movie, a smart popcorn movie. There are very few of those. We are trying not to segregate smart and popcorn as there is no reason for that to happen. They can and must co-exist which has been proven by people like James Cameron with the Terminator films and even more recently with a film like Rise of the Planet of the Apes which was well liked and was a big fun and smart science fiction adventure.
What attracted you to the material?
OMAR: I have always liked thrillers as they are always good at testing characters in a heightened way that still feels natural. I also love science fiction and I believe there are a handful of human quandaries that the genre deals with really well. The quandary of this film is pregnancy and parenthood and the responsibilities of a parent. I feel that science fiction has never quite created a definite statement of it in terms of film, and with this script I felt it was a great opportunity to explore those ideas in an enjoyable way.
Clint Clark has drawn storyboards by hand before – and it took months of hard work. “I remember spending hours trying draw a character sitting on a stool and getting the legs right,” he said. But now, with Amazon Storyteller, he has been able to create a full storyboard (more than 600 panels!) for his script, The Phoenix Project, in a matter of hours. “I got a bit addicted to it,” he said.
Your advice for others who are thinking of making storyboards?
Audience engagement is paramount! (As with anything that you do honestly.) Although this is a tool that allows you to just click on a line of your screenplay to make a frame that doesn’t mean that’s all you should do. If you take the time to make a storyboard, take the time to make it as visually engaging as it can possibly be. Zooms, eye direction, background characters, these are all things that take more time, but absolutely need to be done (within the limits of the software). If people are distracted by the sloppiness of the art, they will be taken out of your story (or even worse, judge your story!). You want to limit these distractions as best you can, and you can do that with stronger art.
How did it help you as a writer?
This is helpful for me as a writer in two main ways: