Monday, December 6, 2010

Equal Wrongs

My submission to the Kid In The Front Row's second annual Screenwriting competition (which I won last year). My new submission was a finalist this year!

Here are the rules, followed by my submission.

- You must have these THREE characters: Margaret, Abdul and Regina. These are the ONLY characters you can have.
- Your story takes place at the Headquarters of: 'The Equal Rights Committee.' The only locations (within the headquarters) are: Meeting Room, Kitchen, Secret Shelter.
- You must include this line of dialogue somewhere in the script: "Who the hell is Mark Flamstein?"


MARGARET, 27, dressed business casual and angry in a sexy way, bursts into the break room kitchen.

Close behind her, ABDUL, 31, overweight with a loose tie and untucked shirt, strolls in with a smirk.


I cannot believe this is happening! At the Equal Rights Committee of all places!


(feigning ignorance)

What’s the matter, Maggie? You seem upset.


You’re just loving this, aren’t you? Another perfectly capable, qualified woman is overlooked so a man can be promoted instead.


I’m confused. Do you want Equal Rights or to be treated better than everyone else?


Oh, come on, Abdul! I’m more than qualified for that position and you know it.


I am every bit as qualified as you are and I’ve been here twice as long as you. How DOESN'T that make me the ideal candidate?


You have NOT been here twice as long as me.


When I started here, Mark Flamstein was the committee head. He left, what, seven years ago? When did YOU start?


Whatever. That’s not even my point!


What is your point, Maggie?

REGINA, 25 and cute if she would ever smile, meanders into the kitchen.


What are you two screaming about this time?


Surprise, surprise. Abdul got the promotion after all.


Maggie’s just a little jealous is all.


This has nothing to do with jealousy... and STOP CALLING ME MAGGIE! This is about yet another woman being swept aside for the perpetual gratification of the American male!


Ooh, this is getting juicy!


You don’t even take the job seriously!


I mean look at the way he dresses!

(back to ABDUL)

How do you go into a meeting looking like that and come out with a better job?!


I thought untucked shirts were all the rage... No?


(back to REGINA)

And remember when they caught him stealing people’s lunches?

(to ABDUL)

They could’ve fired you for that.


Oh, come on! Everybody’s stolen food from this fridge at one point or another! It’s a madhouse down here!


I haven’t!

Regina looks down in embarrassment.


I have.


See!? Regina knows what I’m talking about!


Don’t you DARE try to guilt Regina over to your side of the argument.


Well it doesn’t matter anyway because after this week I shouldn’t even find myself on the same floor with you two anyway.

Abdul snatches a sack lunch from the top shelf of the fridge. He peeks inside and slides out a small bottle of milk.


Why keep your lunch in the break room kitchen where we commoners can steal it now that you have a fridge in your new office?


Who said this was MY lunch?

Abdul takes a long sip of the milk as Regina reads the name scribbled across the sack lunch on the counter.


Who the hell is Mark Flamstein?

Abdul chokes on the milk and spits it up all over himself.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Land Before Your Time


PATRICK ages in an elevator with JUSTIN BIEBER. They talk about movies.


...and the racing scenes are awesome.


Yeah! The thing with the jeep almost reminded me of Jurassic Park.


Of what?


The scene in Jurassic Park where the T-Rex is after the jeep.


I don't know if I've seen that one.

Patrick is confused.


If you've seen Jurassic Park? With the dinosaurs and the Goldblum and everything?


Must've been before I was born.


What? No, this is recent. This was like '93.


I was born in 94.


You're shitting me.

Bieber shrugs. The elevator stops.


This is my stop.


I have a ways to go.

Patrick exits.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sequels, Remakes, and Reboots

In response to a task assigned by The Kid in the Front Row, today I will be discussing my thoughts on the recent proliferation of Sequels, Remakes, and Reboots. As no two of these are precisely the same beast, I will be breaking them down one at a time.


Sequels have an undeserved negative stigma. From a producorial standpoint, the reason a sequel is even considered for production is because an original film proves successful. So from the start, a sequel has name recognition and characters that have worked before. Most original films are at an automatic disadvantage in this case as most films do not have worthwhile characters and have to spend a considerable amount of screen time defining people that the audience might not even connect with. Not the case with sequels. You know these guys, they are tried and true.

I think where sequels often fail is when they are compared to the earlier films of the franchise instead of being judged independently. Is Godfather 3 a true failure? Maybe compared to Godfather 2 it is. But what isn't a failure compared to Godfather 2... other than Ghostbusters of course. I can't think of anything. Judged independently of the franchise, I would call Godfather 3 deserving of its Best Picture nomination at the very least.

In some cases, as with the aforementioned Godfather Part II, a sequel outdoes its original. The Toy Story franchise appears to have done this twice now. Spiderman 2 was better than the first according to most people, and I've always preferred the second installments of the Gremlins, Short Circuit, Terminator, and Alien series. As well as, I'm sure, countless many more. But as an audience we gloss over those. We focus on the Transformers 2's and the Spiderman 3's and point to them as the true indicators.

Third installments have an even harder time. They are victim to a "trilogy curse" which is something akin to the "Poltergeist curse" in that it is relatively unsubstantiated, except that Poltergeist three is pretty bad. What I mean is most third installments are good. Make a list of every one you can think of and cross off the bad ones. I'm sure you will have crossed off fewer than half. Now make a list of movies in general and cross off the bad ones. Interesting. Look at your Back to the Future Part IIIs, your Last Crusades, your With A Vengeances, and don't compare them to BTTF or Raiders or Die Hard. Just watch them. Enjoy them. They're good movies.

Some franchises take until their fourth installment to fall completely flat but often this is the fault of the time spent between numbers 3 and 4. Complain all you want about The Phantom Menace, Live Free or Die Hard, and Crystal Skull, but some franchises are just hitting their stride with the fourth or fifth movie. For example, Leprechaun in Space (the fourth of the series) is the jewel of my Pot of Gore DVD boxed set. Hands down.

What's important to remember is that, with the obvious exception of the occasional Lucas or Spielberg film, simply adding a film to a franchise doesn't actually affect the original. You can always go back and watch what you loved in the first place and not have to worry about all the guns being replaced with walkie talkies.


In keeping with the pattern I've laid out. Remakes can go either way. You have your A-Team's where people flip out over the casting a UFC fighter, ignoring the fact that the acting shoes he's meant to fill belong to Mr. T. That movie went through a lot of writers, a lot of producers had their hands in it, and as any film geek will tell you, it's awful. Unless he didn't read that somewhere and actually sat down intending to enjoy the movie, in which case, I'll bet he did.

The reason for this is simple, remakes are not automatically bad. Just occasionally.

Where I usually find myself most disappointed is when a foreign film is adapted and watered down for American audiences. This is not to say that all adaptations of foreign films fail their predecessors, I much prefer Vanilla Sky to Abre Los Ojos, but when I hear things like the now defunct remake of Old Boy coming from Steven Spielberg and Will Smith, I have to assume they are changing the punch-line. Of course, this is an unfair judgment as the film never came to be, perhaps specifically because of a futile attempt to preserve the ending in the face of producer intervention. Much in the same way, I have lately found myself unfairly biased against Matt Reeves' Let Me In. Judging from the trailer alone, it doesn't stand out enough from the original for me to want to see it, and at best the ending can only resemble the original's. To tone it down would be a shame and to outdo it would be unnecessary. This unfortunately leaves Matt Reeves in the remake territory of Gus Van Sant. And yet, I would be thrilled to see any country take on remaking Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale, watered down or not. My first real disappointment of this nature was with the American version of the Vanishing. I remember wondering why someone would adapt something and then change only the most appealing part of the original. At least Vanilla Sky had the common sense to recast Penelope Cruz.

I hesitate to refer to films like the Social Network or Monopoly here because I don't know if they are remakes in the strictest sense. More likely these examples are considered adaptations. But hesitation implies I must go on. People get incensed when they find out something like the Country Bears or a Geico advertising campaign is actually getting produced and there garbage script isn't because they assume that any possible film would have as little substance as the original incarnation itself. And so I bring up a point John August recently made on his own blog which is, the vaguer a license you are adapting into a film, the better the film can possibly be. August uses Pirates of the Caribbean in his example. The ride doesn't have an implicit story, so the writer gets to make one up. If I was forced to adapt a doll to the screen, I would absolutely choose Stretch Armstrong over G.I. Joe because Joe has a background. He has a specific profession. He has an entire history in the form of an animated series. What the hell is Stretch? What's the mythology there? Be creative! Make it up!


George Lazenby got laughed out of a job when the more astute audience members of Her Majesty's Secret Service noticed he wasn't Sean Connery. So they brought Connery back for a bit (because after leaving the Bond films he was so desperate for work he took reduced pay for films like Zardoz) and by the time Roger Moore showed up, audiences had accepted that now, since more than one person had already played Mr. Bond, they could accept a new face. Also, blasphemy: Roger Moore is my favorite. And here's why; he is in the better movies. He's not the best Bond. But I'd rather watch Man With the Golden Gun or Moonraker than any of Connery's lot. As far as I'm concerned, Roger Moore was the first successful franchise reboot.

Since then it's relatively slim pickins. Star Trek was a popular one, stemming largely from the fact that people will like whatever J.J. Abrams does, especially if it also happens to be really good, and the original Star Trek film was something of a flop. I think where people are turned off is when a film is rebooted within a decade of an original. It throws people off. So when the last decade saw the casting of not one, not two, but three Hulks in the span of three films, there is something of a fatigue to it. Although strangely, despite my point, I am excited to see Ruffalo in the role. Spiderman less so, as I fear the worst, in the form of a Twilight/Spiderman mash-up. Also, the announcement that Fox is looking to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise simply because failing to do so would cause rights to the characters to revert back to Marvel aka Disney, does not instill confidence in even the most avid of fans. But as often as people want to make Batman movies people will be lining up around the block, occasionally with good reason.

In summary, sequels, remakes, and reboots are not inherently bad... at least, no more than original films are inherently bad. In fact, I would argue, on a purely percentage basis, they are more successful, critically and financially, than original works.

And then, flying in the face of my own logic, I pray nightly that Ghostbusters 3 never comes to fruition.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

So I Won All Five Contests Already!

Oh wait, nope. Didn't even make the quarterfinals on any of them. Oh well. Must be a lot of great scripts rolling around. I particularly enjoyed this nugget of wisdom with the announcement of the Silver Screenwriting Quarterfinalists...

"this year, the scripts that didn’t make the cut were far worse than the scripts that didn’t make the cut last year."

So that's encouraging.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Hey folks! I've been lacking here but chugging along script-wise. After the script frenzy in April, my writing partner Andy and I did a quick redraft of our comedy/thriller Pocket Dialer. I have submitted that and my solo effort, superhero comedy Henchmen to Julie Gray's Silver Screenwriting Competition. In addition to that, Offramps has been entered into Gordy Hoffman's BlueCat Screenplay Competition. As far as non-feature competition, I submitted a spec 30 Rock to the Warner Brothers Writer's Workshop. The quarterfinals for BlueCat go up a week from today so wish me luck. The competition responds to every submission with coverage and the coverage I received was positive overall. I plan to submit all three features to next year's Nicholl's Fellowship and am toying around with submitting at least one to the Final Draft Big Break screenplay contest, although at this point in the deadlines I'm looking at an application price of 65 bucks a pop. Maybe I should hold off and polish for next year's early bird deadline. If all goes well, I should have some sort of announcement every couple weeks until October when I win all five contests. Fingers crossed!

Monday, May 10, 2010

If you please...


PATRICK audio Skypes with his writing partner ANDY when JESSE enters with treats.

She holds out a piece of fruit.


Have one of these.


Wow, that's yummy.


(over audio Skype)

What is it?


It's baby scalp and its surprisingly sweet.


It's an Asian pear.


Yeah, they're siamese twins.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Lights out...


MIKEY enters his room to get some sleep for the night.

He flips the light switch hoping to illuminate the room, to no avail.

He tries again, and again he is refused.

A third and final attempt is equally ineffective.


Mikey's bewildered roommate JOHN is forced to endure the remainder of his shower in darkness.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

First Drafts

Just a quick tip for all my fellow ScriptFrenzyers...

The first draft is supposed to be sprawling. It should be way too long. It should have irrelevant scenes. It should have shaky dialogue. Do not keep reworking a scene over and over until it's perfect before moving on. You need to ride the wave of momentum.

Trying to get it all right on the first draft is like editing a feature film in-camera. You need to shoot it first, then go back through the footage and find your script in it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


David Fincher to direct The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo... Jesse James to date her.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nether mind


The O'Riley family endulges in some delicious Mexican cuisine.


So how's Jesse doin' in Jamaica?


Actually she's in the Netherlands Antilles. Near Jamaica though. I guess she's having fun.


I thought Jamaica was a part of the Netherlands.


Jamaica's a country! That's why it has a bobsled team.


I just thought everything below the equator was the Netherlands.


But it's not below the equator.


I thought it was second star to the right and straight on til morning.


I think you're confusing it with something else.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Forever Yum


After 71 years of silence, CAPT. DANIEL MCCORMICK's cryo-stasis chamber suddenly cranks open. Capt. McCormick emerges from the resulting cloud of freezing fog, intensely hungry.


The CASHIER gives Daniel's uniform a quick once over before asking what he'd like.


So what'll it be?


I guess a burger and fries.


What kinda burger? We got lots a burgers.

The cashier gestures to the menu over her head. Daniel shifts his gaze.


A six dollar burger?! Are you kidding me?


They're actually pretty good.


For six dollars they better be. Alright, I guess I'll have one of those.


That'll be 8.40.



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Juvie Boal


A portly PROFESSOR addresses a class of prospective screenwriters.


Now, a popular way to keep the audience engaged is to employ a ticking clock.

A hand goes up.


Yes, Mark.


What's so scary about a clock?


Well, it doesn't necessarily mean a clock exactly. Think of it more like a time bomb.


So if I write a movie about a time bomb, people will be in suspense, and suspense is good, right?


Well, sure, but a movie shouldn't be about things, it should be about people, and an audience can't spend an entire movie in suspense so you'll need to find places to break the tension.


So, like, a bunch of time bombs then.


Mark, the time bomb was just an example. Ordinarily you would use your creativity as a writer to come up with a more relevant and looming danger to the story's characters.


But death is dangerous.


I agree, but you don't need to be so literal with the concept. I'm trying to give you the freedom to explore...


But time bombs are still allowed, right?


Sure, Mark.


TINA FEY and ROBERT DOWNEY JR. make standard award show chit-chat until the part people want to hear.


And the award goes to...

He hands the envelope to Tina.


Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker!

I see you... are wide awake now.

I'm gonna start a coffee shop called Javatar. It'll be in 3D... like every coffee shop, only here you will need to wear glasses.

Friday, March 5, 2010

News Corner

I am in the process of moving and won't have internet at home until a week from tomorrow. In the mean time, I will post sparingly from work.

Speaking of which, everyone following this blog with a genuine interest in screenwriting should sign up for this year's Script Frenzy at! Starting April 1st, all participants are expected to compose 3.333... pages every day to reach a total of 100 pages by April's end. It's a fun way to push yourself, knowing there are others in the same boat (often on the same page). If anyone is interested in buddying up with me through the site, simply search for username "patrickoriley".

27 days til the Frenzy!

Edit: ...Oh and it's free.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gerbil Warming


RICHARD drags PATRICK into the break room by the arm excitedly.


Check it out! I found a time machine! I was able to send this gerbil through time!


Richard, this isn't a time machine, it's a microwave.

Richard cradles the smoldering corpse of a gerbil.



I think it's hot in the future.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Apple Spec...


STEVE JOBS, 55 bearded and awesome, sips his early morning coffee. He addresses the camera.


The other day I was out shopping for clothes when I thought...



A more attractive Steve Jobs holds a black turtleneck against his muscular form and switches it for another identical turtleneck. Suddenly he looks up in epiphany.


A computer should turn on instantly, and I should be able to locate files just by just typing the filename, and computers should be virus-free!



Jobs takes another sip.


Then I realized, Macs have done that for ten years.


INSERT: Apple Logo



Jobs smiles big for the camera.


I'm Steve Jobs, and apparently Windows 7 was my idea.

Props to Andrea for inspiring this one...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010



As MR. MYERS, 31 unshaven and bespectacled, scribbles with a stylus across his iChalkboard, the words are automatically replaced with the appropriate, government-approved font.


The commutative property of multiplication states that regardless of their values, x times y is equal to y times x.

The students observe complacently from their hoverdesks.



Everyone following so far?

The class laughs suddenly.

Mr. Myers looks back to the wall to see that the "=(" part of the equation has morphed into a sad face.



Does anybody know how to turn off emoticons on this thing?

Nobody offers assistance.



Fine, whatever, moving on... the transitive property tells us that if x is less than y, and y is less than three...

The "<3" rotates into a glowing red heart on the board.


(under his breath)

God dammit.

Err Plane


LIONEL BILLINGS II, 58 and lanky, adjusts his monocle and calls to his portly manservant WESLEY, 35 and fidgety.


Wesley! Please retrieve my things and procure the fastest plane ever built. To fly the plane I require the pilot with the most successful landing record ever achieved.


Very well sir, but statistically speaking, wouldn't that make him the most likely to crash?


Right you are! Very well. Get me the pilot who has crashed most recently.


Right away, sir!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dodgson! We have Dodgson here!


JOSH and PATRICK reflect on childhood aspirations.


I remember for two years I wanted to be a paleontologist.


Oh totally! Me too. Especially after Jurassic Park came out. I mean, that was like little kid porn for me. (beat) I mean... Wow, that came out wrong.


No, I get it.


Ok good.


You mean it was as addictive for you then, as child porn is for you now.


Exactly! Thanks for translating.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hollywood and Hijinks


PATRICK retrieves his keys to start the car but hesitates, distracted.


So, are we going straight to the Rock Band Party? (beat) What are you looking at?

Patrick's eyes follow a small group of people across the street.


Oh, nothing. The guy in the front there looked like J.K. Simmons.


I think that's J.K. Rowling.





Saturday, February 13, 2010

Second City Update

I mentioned recently that I would be signing up for the next available entry level writing course at the Hollywood Second City. It has since become available for registration and starts March 13th for $325. Three and a half hours every Saturday for seven weeks. I think that's a decent price, but I may not have it to spare when March rolls around. Only time will tell.

Friday, February 12, 2010



ANDREW, late-30's, unshaven and apparently sleep-deprived, stabs at his dinner plate angrily. His daughters, SUSANNA, 8, and POLLY, 5, eye their food reluctantly.



I miss mom's cooking.


Shut up and eat it!

The girls are unfazed by dad's outburst.


Aren't you supposed to microwave these?

On each of their plates sits a slim brick of popcorn kernels and butter-flavored chemicals.


If that's still on your plate when I finish this, I'm eating it.

Susanna tries to fork her unpopped envelope of dinner, but can't penetrate the surface and instead sends her food gliding off the plate onto the kitchen floor.

Polly starts crying.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Silver Screenwriting Competition Returns!

It's that time of year again! Time to put the final polish on whatever I got and send it over to Julie Gray for the third annual Silver Screenwriting Competition. The doors open for entries on March 1st and close tightly on May 1st, so that's my window.

Interesting development: In years past, part of the grand prize has always been to meet and have lunch with a working screenwriter. Last year, this meant lunch at the Ivy with Josh Zetumer, two time Black List nominee and writer of the then-upcoming Dune remake, which Peter Berg has since abandoned. This year they have really upped the ante via a lunch with Shane Black! Last year I made it a couple rounds into the contest, but as a result of this announcement, I have decided I will win this year, because he's neat.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Annies and Flapjack

On Saturday, the 37th Annual Annie Awards were given out to the Best Animated Features and Television Series of 2009. Pixar's Up took home big prize of Best Animated Feature, nominated against all of its Oscar co-nominees plus the sadly overlooked Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. I think we can expect a repeat of this decision when the Oscars come around, despite my aforementioned preference for The Princess and the Frog.

Further down the list, I had high hopes for Thurop Van Orman's The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, easily my pick for funniest animated series of the decade. Luckily for you, most of the series is available to watch on Cartoon Network's website. Unluckily for you, the aspect ratio has been fiddled with and the episodes are a bit funky to watch in places. Equally unfortunate is the fact that the Madagascar spinoff, Penguins of Madagascar took home the prize over Flapjack in both the Best Animated Television Production for Children category and the Best Direction in a Television Production category. Sadly Thurop's voicework as the lead in Flapjack went un-nominated (as did Brian Doyle Murray's Captain K'nuckels) and the award went to Tom Kenny's SpongeBob Squarepants voice.

The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack is one of the most beautifully produced shows I have ever scene. It follows the adventures of a young boy named Flapjack and his best friend the grizzled Captain K'nuckles, both of whom live in an enormous whale named Bubbie who acts as a surrogate mother to the pair. They both dream of someday escaping from their everyday lives in Stormalong to the legendary coasts of Candied Island. If you haven't seen it, you are missing out.

Hopefully Thurop will garner more nominations next year, but I predict some competition from one of Flapjack's own writers, Pendleton Ward, whose new series Adventure Time was thankfully picked up by Cartoon Network after Nickelodeon passed on the pilot. Ward, by the way, authored my personal favorite episode of Flapjack entitled Gone Wishin' (unavailable from Cartoon Network's episode list). I implore you to check it out. And for those who haven't seen the Adventure Time pilot, check it out on Youtube now. Executive produced by Flapjack's Thurop Van Orman and created by Ward, the Adventure Time series will feature the voicework of Futurama's John DiMaggio, SpongeBob's Tom Kenny, Star Wars's Mark Hammil, and Pendleton Ward himself. If I could write for any kids show, it would be one of these two for sure.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

AMC's Best Picture Showcase

For those who haven't already heard, AMC's annual Best Picture marathon is continuing this year as a 2-day program. Every year, AMC offers one ticket price to get into all Best Picture nominees. Because there are twice as many films this year, the Showcase will take place over two days (Sat. Feb. 27th & Sat. Mar. 6th). As for what's playing each day? It hasn't been announced yet, except that Avatar will play in 3D on the 27th. AMC is letting the audience vote for what will play alongside it. Ticket prices are as follows:

Program Information
Double the films also means more ways to enjoy the showcase! We’ll take care of you with a free large popcorn and unlimited refills.

Standard Ticketing Options:
- Two-Day Pass - Online: $60
- Two-Day Pass - Box Office: $50
- One-Day Pass (February 27 or March 6) - Online and Box Office: $30
MovieWatcher Ticketing Options:
- Two-Day Pass - Box Office: $40
- One-Day Pass (February 27 or March 6) - Box Office: $25

Signing up for the MovieWatcher program is free and easy. The list of participating theaters is available here and depending on the eventual line-up, I may see you there!

Friday, February 5, 2010

SXSW Headliners

The South by Southwest Feature Film headliners have been announced and I am already excited to see six of the seven. Here's the breakdown in the order SXSW listed them.


I already consider myself a fan of the mumblecore movement. For two years in college, I set and met the goal of watching a movie I had not already seen every day. As a result of the system, I was introduced to a lot of movies I might not have found otherwise. One that piqued my interest was called Funny Ha Ha directed by Andrew Bujalski. It's a low-budget, no name movie with actors that look like everyday people. It isn't artificially plot-driven or over-stylized. It's just a simple drama, with good writing and good actors.

What does this have to do with Cyrus? Technically nothing. But in researching Funny Ha Ha, I came across the term mumblecore and sought out films of the genre. This lead me to the Duplass brother's The Puffy Chair. Again, a simple story, with relatable characters who feel very well-rounded even at their extremes. Since then, I haven't been disappointed by a Duplass brothers' film and I recommend checking out The Puffy Chair, Baghead, and Lynn Shelton's Hump Day starring Mark Duplass. This collection of Duplass films leads us to an interesting evolution in the series called Cyrus. From what I can tell from the trailer, Cyrus follows the same formula as the rest of the mumblecore collection, but this time around the names are more familiar. John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, and Jonah Hill lead the way as our lonely protagonist, a new love in his life, and her grown son respectively. I promise it will be worth seeing, but seriously check the others out too.

Get Low

I know next to nothing about Get Low other than the plot summary provided on imdb.

A film spun out of equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about a mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who plans his own rollicking funeral party... while still alive.

That said, I already know I will enjoy it because it has Bill Murray in it and as the record shows, no Bill Murray movie has ever failed to capture my interest unless that movie also has Garfield in the title. Anyone who comes back with Charlie's Angels or The Razor's Edge should maybe give those movies another look. Or maybe even a first look.


Watch the trailer for this movie. Then tell me you don't want to see it and I will explain that you accidentally watched the trailer for Valentine's Day or something because this one looks amazing. I've heard it described as "High School Tarantino" and I almost had the chance to describe it that way myself, but I couldn't get from Culver City to Northridge fast enough after work for the screening I had tickets to a year ago. Either way, I can't afford SXSW so I am forced to miss another screening.


This is the one I am most excited about. I plan to see this several times in theaters... in IMAX if possible. If you didn't follow The Lonely Island with Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg, I suggest you look into it. Then I recommend checking out every episode of the 'Bu. All of this is necessary to fully appreciate the magic of this team. After you are done with the 'Bu, find the Pilot for the sadly abandoned Awesometown. Then, right when you think you must be completely prepared, watch every SNL Digital Short from the last five years. The people behind MacGruber are the people who have almost single-handedly kept SNL afloat in the wake of Tina Fey's departure. Then watch Hot Rod. Now you are ready for MacGruber. But if you need more I recommend some of Will Forte's other lead roles like Clone High and The Brothers Solomon. That should do the trick. Oh, and the entire McGyver series, which is available streaming now from CBS's website. MacGruber hasn't even come out yet and it's already almost my favorite SNL movie. If you think a 30 second sketch can't fill an entire film, I invite you to rewatch A Night at the Roxbury with fresh eyes. The trailer already looks promising and it's about time someone gave Kristen Wiig a significant part in something hilarious. I've been a fan of hers since the first season of The Joe Schmo Show and she delivers some of the trailers most quotable lines. I'm also curious to see if they maintain a detail that came up in one of the more recent MacGruber sketches, that his full name is MacGruber McGyver and Richard Dean Anderson played his father. Fingers crossed.

Micmacs à tire-larigot

Another filmmaker who has yet to let me down is Jean-Pierre Jeunet. If you aren't familiar, he has directed some of the most beautiful films to come out of France in the last decade, and that's saying a lot. I recommend netflicking Delicatessen, City of Lost Children, Amelie, and A Very Long Engagement. Even Alien: Resurrection is worth a watch. His latest is called Micmacs and deals with a romance against the backdrop of arms dealers. How can that go wrong?

Mr. Nice

This is the one of the seven with which I am not familiar. Sounds neat though. Here's the official SXSW summary...

The true story of Howard Marks. He was Britain's most wanted man. He spent seven years in America's toughest penitentiary. You'll like him.

The Runaways

Even though I haven't particularly enjoyed Dakota Fanning's recent work, or for that matter, any of Kristen Stewart's work. I am still interested in seeing them take on the roles of Cherie Currie and Joan Jett.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bad News/Good News

Hey folks! Sorry I haven't posted more this week. I'm in the process of moving and my computer is in a box somewhere so today's update is made via work computer.

The nominations for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning and I am both excited and upset. In the interest of ending on a good note, I will begin with my problems.


1. Best Picture - There should not have been ten nominees. I enjoyed District 9, but if you have no intention of giving Best Picture to a movie, why nominate it? I understand it's an "honor just to be nominated" but really what we're doing is adding five losers to the Awards show. Five more faces in split screen, awkwardly applauding someone they aren't. Inglourious Basterds is my pick this year, but if Pulp Fiction didn't win, I'd be surprised if the Academy gives it to Tarantino this time around. I'm surprised and pleased with Up's nomination for Best Picture, marking the first animated Best Picture nominee since the introduction of the Best Animated Feature category, but I think I can see the Academy's exit strategy here. When Up wins Best Animated, is that supposed to make up for the Best Picture loss? Unless they give it both, which I guess they would have to if it gets Best Picture. Of course, it could also take neither since I actually preferred The Princess and The Frog.

Also, Avatar deserves only technical nominations.

2. Best Visual Effects - I can accept that because the names might be unfamiliar to the general public that only three visual effects teams get nominated each year. I also accept that Avatar was nominated here out of obligation and will probably win. Also, District 9 (which for the record should win) is an amazing technical triumph that didn't cost several hundreds of millions of dollars or an entire decade to produce. But really? Star Trek? You think Star Trek looked better than Transformers 2? I know it's hip to hate on Michael Bay (frankly I love the guy) but even if you take issue with the story and the acting, you have to admit that Transformers looked incredible. Other than forever revolutionizing the way we use lens flares, I don't see the motivation for Star Trek's nomination. (Note: all this applies to the Best Sound Editing category as well.) Ok, on to the good stuff.


1. Best Supporting Actor - While I have heard nothing but good things about Matt Damon in Invictus, I am happy to see Christoph Waltz getting the Heath Ledger treatment of not being nominated against anyone who might win. Waltz was amazing in the film, and he will be amazing in a great deal many more films, and I'd hate for the Academy to switch it up and give it to the second best guy at the last second. It's looking like they won't, but then again, Crash won Best Picture.

2. Best Original/Adapted Screenplay - I am ecstatic to see that Avatar was not nominated for Best Original Screenplay or Best Adapted Screenplay.


As a side note, I am pleased to see The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus get a nod with Best Art Direction. I understand that the visual effects team didn't get a mention because producers don't trust Terry Gilliam with their money anymore, but it's nice to see the creative vision acknowledged.

In summary, I will probably watch the Oscars this year, but it's up to the Academy whether or not I will watch them ever again.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010



STEVE JOBS wraps up his presentation of the iPad.


And lastly, aren't you tired of carrying around an iPhone...



...AND a time machine...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Future Plans


JOSH explains his plans for the future to PATRICK.


Do you have a name for your biker gang picked out?


We're gonna be the Skull Crackers.


That sounds more like a Halloween snack than a biker gang.

Josh and Patrick engage in a grueling staring contest.

Josh cracks Patrick's skull.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Movie Deal Update

A while back I mentioned that the Movie Deal screenplay contest would be announcing winners in December, then it was pushed to the 15th of January, then the 20th. So I was less than surprised to find the results posted promptly on the evening of January 23rd.

I didn't win, but that's not the issue.

It really wouldn't have bothered me if they had at least updated their website to reflect the delay. In fact, I would have been less upset if they hadn't updated one line of text on the afternoon of the 21st to imply that the announcement of the winners was "moments away" only to leave the site stagnant for 48 hours before any further update.

I would recommend people not enter this contest in the future.

But then, I guess I deserve it for not taking Google's hint.

When you type "The Movie Deal" into Google search bar, the first suggestion is "The Movie Deal Scam."

Go figure.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Second City - Hollywood

I've been told that a good way to perfect comedy writing is to take improv classes. While I'm sure this is true, I've never had the disposable income to take said classes.

If you've never heard of groupons, go here. If you have, Jesse got me one for a two hour improv basics class with the Hollywood Second City Training Center. Yesterday I cashed it in for a class that ended up a lot of fun. I'm also fairly certain I saw our instructor, Ithamar Enriquez, in a FedEx commercial during the Vikings/Saints game today. I may go back for future improv classes, but what caught my eye while I was there, other than posters of Bill Murray and Tina Fey all over the place, was a comedy writing class they offer.

For $325-375 they offer a 3.5-hour class once a week for seven weeks. There are six levels to the writing program totaling 42 weeks of instruction. More information on the Second City writing program can be found on their website. I'll probably be signing up for the next available level 1 Saturday course, assuming I mug enough people between now and then to pay for it. I'll probably mention it again when they post new classes so you guys can take it with me if you want!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Conan has been cast!

A rare bit of entertainment news for the (beat). But the hard-fought war for the part of Conan has finally officially been cast and the winner is Jay Leno! Congrats Jay...

...just kidding I hate you.

Oh wait, no... it's some guy with dreadlocks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Screenwriting Tips... You Hack

A favorite website of mine, Screenwriting Tips... You Hack has posted another of my guest tips in his biannual Guest Post Week. Check out today's Guest Post #5.


(losing his patients)

I know what I'm doing!

Spell check doesn't correct homophones.

I also snuck into Guest Post Week 2 a couple months back with Tip #11.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pears and Batteries

Julie's new contest is a simple one-page scene of any genre including the words: Pear, Slay, and Thickening. Feel free to enter the contest any time before midnight Saturday (Jan. 23)!

Here's my submission based on something my brother thought up a while back...


TRAVIS, 24 and lanky, closes the refrigerator door and exhales audibly in frustration.


Are you kidding me, Todd? You drank my beer again?

TODD, 26 and pot-bellied, pauses his videogame.


What beer?


The beer I hid in the vegetable crisper. All that's left are pears and batteries.


I didn't drink 'em.


Todd, we're the only ones here.

Todd is struck with an epiphany. He snaps his fingers.


Dude! Must've been the beer troll!


The beer troll?


Yeah, he steals beer at night.


(playing along)

Alright... I thought... you slayed the beer troll.

Todd, embarrassed, searches his head for another excuse.


Must've laid some eggs.


Eggs, huh? The mythology's thickening.


Tell you what, I'll start setting up the trap. You go buy more beer for bait.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Team Cleaners


LEONARD, mid-twenties and pajama'd, collects dirty clothes scattered about his home, laundry basket in hand.

There is a knock at the door.


Leonard opens the door to find MILO, mid-thirties with a cigarette dangling from the edge of his mouth and streaks of gray flanking his hair.


Good evening, sir!

Leonard hesitates to respond, expecting an explanation.


Good evening. Can I help you?


I believe you made an appointment? My name is Milo? I'm here on behalf of Team Cleaners?

Milo gestures to the Team Cleaners van at the curb.


Oh... right... but I was expecting you hours ago.

Milo retrieves a notepad from his pocket.


I believe our appointment was for seven.


That sounds late to me, but the place still needs cleaning. Would you like to come in, Milo?


Sure, but can I get a quick room count first?


Well, the two bedrooms... the kitchen... the living room... bathroom's fine actually. So I guess just the four.


Alright, just a moment.

Milo retreats to the van.


Are there more people in the van or is it just you?

Milo begins digging around in the back of the van. Metal CRASHING and CLANGING is heard from inside.


(yelling over the noise)

It's a one man operation.


Do you need help with your equipment?

Milo reappears carrying a large cardboard box.


I think I got it.


It's all in the box?


It's all in the box.


You know it's such odd luck that I even found your company. I'm leaving tomorrow morning and I just found your business card in my pocket but I have no idea where it came from.


Happens all the time.



Leonard holds open the door while Milo carries the box inside.


Milo carries the box to the kitchen counter and sets it down, while Leonard takes a seat on the couch.


So, am I in your way here?


No, please make yourself at home.



I am home.


I shouldn't take more than an hour of your time.

Leonard flicks on the television and leaves Milo to his work.


(eyes on the TV)

The bedrooms are the first and third doors in the hall and you can skip the bathroom in between.


Sounds good.

Milo opens the box and lifts out a stack of four Roombas. He switches one on and sets it down in the kitchen, then disappears down the hall. Milo returns with the final Roomba which he carries to the couch by Leonard. Milo switches it on, sets it down, and takes a seat next to Leonard on the couch. Milo lights a new cigarette.



So what're we watchin'?



Uh... House Hunters International... I'm sorry, is that a Roomba?


Oh, you've heard of them?




Yeah, they're terrific. Make my life a thousand times easier. Can you turn this up?


Is that all your going to do?


What do you mean?


I mean, did you just frisbee four Roomba's into my house instead of cleaning it.

Leonard wanders over to the kitchen to confirm his suspicions.


That's the beauty. They clean it for you.


Well, technically they're cleaning it for you... but I think cleaning may be the wrong word.


You don't understand. These are top of the line.


Yes, but you realize you have to charge Roombas. Even top of the line ones.

Leonard gives the dead kitchen Roomba a tap with his foot.



And even the charged ones aren't helping.

Leonard points to the living room Roomba.



That one's leaving a thick black trail through my house.

Sure enough, it is.


Well that's odd.

Milo lifts the leaky Roomba to inspect its underside.



I think I see the problem here.

Milo brings it to Leonard to explain.



This one's not even a Roomba. It's a horseshoe crab.

Milo turns the bottom of the horseshoe crab to Leonard revealing a hissing mess of legs and antennae gurgling thick black tar all over Leonard's home.


Get out.


Oh, c'mon. Your bound to have a horseshoe crab in the bunch.


Get out.


The horseshoe crab gurgles upside down in the passenger seat as Milo drives.


(gurgling hiss)


You're absolutely right, Henrietta. Very, very rude.

Monday, January 11, 2010



PATRICK rattles away at a spec episode of 30 Rock while JESSE reads over his shoulder.


Why doesn't spellcheck tell you "campfire" is spelled wrong?


Because "campire" is a word.


What's a campire?


Part of a boat.


No it's not.


How do you know?


Because you couldn't name a boat part if you tried.


Oh yeah? Sternum!

Jesse stares blankly at Patrick.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

BlueCat Goodness

I got an e-mail from the BlueCat Screenplay Contest earlier this week, which I'd forgot I entered, but I'm glad I did.

Part of their deal is that every entry to their contest gets coverage. After you get your coverage, you are invited to resubmit your script at a discounted rate, taking the notes into consideration, before April 1st.

Participants looking to submit, and eventually resubmit have until March 1st to send something their way.

The coverage is surprisingly helpful, although I only have my own coverage, so results may vary. It's broken into three paragraphs of "What did I like?" and three paragraphs of "What needs work?"

Rather than just tell me what needs work, the reader has advice about ways to solve my scripts problems. The advice is so specific as to include page numbers, which is immensely helpful. All too often people will say, "I didn't like that Jake character. You should fix him up... oh, and change the middle part. That was just weird."

I was gonna post the reader's response in full, but I don't want to spoil the movie for you guys before you see it in theaters. But if you'd like me to send it to you, shoot me an e-mail at

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another contest!

Julie Gray from JustEffing is at it again, this time with a Genre Action Line Writing contest. This is a fun one. Basically, we rewrite a mini-scene three ways and apply it to three different genre's; sci-fi, horror, and romantic comedy.


I want you to work with the slugline itself and then rewrite the action line the generic words as placeholders. For example where I say “vehicle”, you replace that with the type of vehicle that would BE in the genre you are describing. I say “the sun shines” – well, HOW does it shine in romcom? In horror? Is the vehicle close or far? Is there a radio on? Is there dust on the road? What KIND of desert? Is there cactus? What kind of tall man? What type of coat? What type of gun?

Just how cinematic can you make this little tidbit and keep it evocative of the genre?

And the funnest part – give the tall man ONE line of dialogue and again, making it keeping with the genre and with the scene you are setting.


Rewrite the mini-scene three times: sci-fi, horror and romcom. Using the generic action and sluglines below. Give the man one line of dialogue. You may rewrite the line and a half below UP TO 3 lines of action and no more.


Ext. The Desert – Day

The sun shines. A vehicle comes down the road and stops in front of a restaurant. A tall man wearing a coat gets out. He draws a gun.

I thought it might be fun to use the same line of dialogue and try to apply it to all three genres. Here are the results.

(Keep in mind, with industry standard margins there are only three lines of action in each of these examples, but scrippets code is slightly narrower.)



Twin suns flank the desert sky. A narrow black cyclone drifts to a stop in front of the abandoned Mirage restaurant and unfurls to reveal a TALL DARK MAN shouldering an RPG.



What year is this?



The sun quickly sets on Texan desertscape. A tired Mustang rattles up to the Stuck Pig BBQ. Eyeing the confederate flag fluttering above, the DRIVER stashes a gun his jeans.



What year is this?



In the summer sun, a MAN with a water gun races a 10-speed into an Arby’s parking lot, soaked. He sees a cute girl leaning on a Jag, hides the gun, and slicks back his hair.


(gesturing to the car)

What year is this?

If this looks as fun as it is, you might want to enter too! Just leave your three scripts as a comment on Julie's post before midnight Friday!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Offramps is a Finalist!

The long-awaited 2nd Round of The Movie Deal screenplay contest was released today and Offramps has just made the transition from Semi-Finalist to Finalist in their Comedy category!

I'd update that graphic in the right column, but the Photoshop file is on my computer at home, so that should change tonight.

According to an e-mail they sent out today, the Grand Prize winner will be announced on the 20th! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

EDIT: I don't recommend entering this contest.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Come On Brailleen


JESSE brushes crumbs out of PATRICK's facial hair.


Why do you always have crumbs in your mustache?


Because it's not a mustache, it's brailleen.


You mean baleen?


No, brailleen. Like for deaf whales.


You mean blind whales.


(beat) Yes.