Monday, May 31, 2010




That means writing your first spec, making a million mistakes, writing another one, making half a million more, writing your third one, then entering it in contests, then sending query letters to managers who never get back to you, and even though you really don't want to because you know it's going to be awkward, calling that friend of a friend of a gaffer because he's the only person you know in LA and begging him to read your script, and doing all that shit for two years until a manager finally calls you back and wants to hip-pocket you.

It includes taking any meeting (in person or on the phone) and selling the shit out of yourself and finally getting a lousy $1500 re-rewrite on an awful independent horror film even after your manager disappears with the money and you're forced to do it for free.

Then taking more meetings and landing a few more small gigs and through the connections you've made, finding an agent. Then getting some even bigger jobs, and maybe becoming a jr. writer on a TV show that ends up becoming a cult hit, and using that buzz to rewrite some direct-to-DVD sequel for a movie you actually watched in the theater, and then, through this vast network of connections you've created during all this time, going to your top 5 contacts when you're finally convinced that your action-adventure masterpiece in the vein of Indiana Jones is ready, and pitching it to them.

And having them all say no to you, and then seriously considering giving up this crazy business because all it is is a bunch of heartache and then getting a call from someone you don't remember and having them explain that you sent them a script seven years ago when they were a gaffer, and now they're a producer at Warner Brothers and they just read your script and thought it was amazing, but it's not quite what they're looking for, but oh by the way, do you happen to have anything in the action adventure genre? Maybe something like Indiana Jones?............And somehow, one week later, you did it. You sold a fucking screenplay.

And if that sounds like the most miserable experience ever to you, then I'm going to be honest here. You probably aren't cut out for screenwriting. Because this is how people usually find success in this business. And for those who stick around, it's wonderful, because you realize at some point that it was never about the spec sale in the first place. It was about your love of writing.

So I'll say it again. The one thing that you have 100% control over in this crazy industry, is writing the best script you're capable of writing. That's it. Don't get caught up in whether some shitty script sells and what that means for your writing. That doesn't have any bearing on you whatsoever. You just need to write the BEST SCRIPT you're capable of writing. That's it. And if you keep doing that, over and over again, at a certain point, you just may write something amazing…that sells…to a gaffer.


Sunday, May 30, 2010


It was an interesting experience - watching a film that goes so much in flash-back and other images that you are lost about its linearity.

The film starts with a girl asking her guy: so how will you kill me again tonight? And the guy...actually kills her!

The guy, the protagonist is a top-cop who is in charge of the administration. For most of the film he ensures that the suspicion for the murder is cast on someone else and yet...he feeds the police clues to get to him.

Interspersed are flash-back of this strange act. Story of his affair with the girl, who is shown as extremely playful and seductive and their interactions border on fantasy at times. She is the vulnerable girl who wants a man, and he is the power that loves to control. She encourages him to test her statement - he could get away with any thing.

As the film doesn't reveal much, and has cuts that seem to place you in situations of which you don't have much idea, it's only when you patiently go ahead you get the idea on what's happening.'s clear that that's what Petri is trying to do - keep you going at a fast pace, not giving you much scope to devour stuff and yet....slowly unfolding the story. All the while making a comment on the government, society and perhaps a message - all power corrupts.

The film seems jittery. The dialogue, the dubbing seems too loud. And maybe it all works for a story that has a plot which doesn't flow straight. But the telling also induces a good deal of humor.

The lead, Gian Maria Volontè is very much on the mark. Though he may feel weird, but then everyone may appear that way and yet...everyone is on the mark too! Petri plays with extreme close-ups for most of the part. Volontè is the one who is almost in every frame and the technique of being right in the face is something you rarely watch.

There is good amount of heavy camerawork - from hand-held to crane shots that change angles in drastic manner. Considering the suspense angle, it plays a lot in the night.

The 3rd Act turns things around since the man in power gets caught up in his own web, as if the ghosts have come to haunt him and he is forced to acknowledge his sin and crime. Yet the irony plays out - the system doesn't believe him, it's too important for them to be in their own league - where they can't make a mistake, as such their subordinate is clean too.

The music is powerful, which ensures that this film of murder carries suspense not in terms of finding the killer, which is revealed in the first scene but in terms of where the story is headed.

I heard someone commenting that you can't make such a film in India. True. People will not get it. And it is perhaps too intellectual, though it doesn't dig too much into the unknown. As a story it would be pretty interesting, but the non-linear, too much of flashback, would unnerve the majority.

However the question should be - would anyone be able to make such a film - have the skills to tell such a story?

Director: Elio Petri
Writer: Elio Petri, Ugo Pirro

[Won Best Foreign Film Oscar, 1970]

Rating ***

[Max Rating ****]

[Watched it on 29th May, 2010; 4.00 pm at Bangalore, Langford Gardens; Naresh's 3rd floor in the training room on top of his office; the Film Club that meets every Saturday]

Blog: Why do some great movies fail at box office while others succeed?

The choice of release dates and exhibition strategy, along with marketing plans are a couple of major reasons why good movies don't succeed at the box office. But really the issue almost always derives from the story itself.

If it is a cross-genre movie, one that doesn't have one clearly targeted demographic group, a story that is nuanced and has multiple layers of meaning, that all spells trouble from a marketing and distribution standpoint.

Why do some great movies fail at box office while others succeed?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Carlos - Looks Like a Masterpiece

A 5-hr-plus film about the terrorist, Carlos that covers a massive terrain. Todd McCarthy reviews. And opines:

The film's scope, range and ambition are incredible; it's set in at least 16 countries over a 21-year period, and at all times features the characters speaking the languages they would have spoken in the relevant situations—Carlos himself shifts effortlessly among Spanish, English, French, German, Russian and Arabic.

"Carlos" is everything "Che" wanted to be and much, much more—a dynamic, convincing and revelatory account of a notorious revolutionary terrorist's career that rivets the attention during every one of its 321 minutes. In what is certainly his best work, French director Olivier Assayas adopts a fleet, ever-propulsive style that creates an extraordinary you-are-there sense of verisimilitude, while Edgar Ramirez inhabits the title role with arrogant charisma of Brando in his prime. It's an astonishing film.

The long review of Todd McCarthy

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So you’re moving to Hollywood

George Sloan is a writers' assistant on "How I Met Your Mother." He graciously agreed to write up a primer for recent college grads considering making the move to Hollywood.

So you're moving to Hollywood

Monday, May 10, 2010

Audio (Films Discussion) + Blogs

What a nice way to discuss films...calm and cool talk. Anne Thompson is a 'big' one on the film circuit.

Anne Thompson does more than just break news; she provides an insider's clear-eyed analysis of a business that defines culture at home and abroad.

Here's another guy who would be interesting to read, if you are not aware about him - Todd McCarthy. A legendary film critic (who also made a famous documentary on cinematographers - Visions of Light; the film was a strong recommendation at CFS.) 

He was the center of news some time back since he was asked to leave Variety, where he had served for years. He was famous for, what Mr. Taran Adarsh and that other genius, Komal Nahata do in Bollywood - predict BO performance, what kind of an audience the film was likely to reach, besides his own evaluation; Todd would typically be the 1st guy to review a film in USA and he is a very respected film journalist. (Ebert was so angry that he commented - I shall never read Variety again.)

His sacking and of some others in the past shows the reality of our times - print is dying, and Web doesn't pay.

Great to know though that Todd is back with a blog:

Ebert is terrific as ever (his journal is some thing:)

Check out his latest one, which can overwhelm:

And just for the record, here's the mother of all blogs when it comes to film study / analysis. As per Ebert, he is the finest film writer in the country:

When you read such blogs you realize how deep is the passion of these buggers for films and how much effort they put to express themselves and share their dope on cinema. 

If ever you want to delve into deeper levels of film, keep checking these out and...more!

All the best...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ebert's Blog: The golden age of movie critics

Thoughts of  Roger Ebert on the dying and thriving field of film criticism:

Ebert's Blog: The golden age of movie critics


Never before have more critics written more or better words for more readers about more films.

Film criticism is still a profession, but it's no longer an occupation. You can't make any money at it. This provides an opportunity for those who care about movies and enjoy expressing themselves.

I love movies, and I love writing about them and reading about them. I feel like part of a truly World Wide Web (and what a magical term that is--worthy of science fiction). I know good movies are valued everywhere, and good writing. Michael Caine loves to say "Not everybody knows that." I know secrets not everybody knows, one of which is that large part of the future of literary English centers on the Indian subcontinent.

Another thing not everybody knows is that some of the best critical writing on the web can found in seemingly specialist sites, devoted to science fiction, film noir, animation, horror, silent films, anime and so on.

I tell young students: Take film courses, certainly. But cover the liberal arts. Take English literature, drama, art, music, and the areas Bordwell lists. Don't train for a career--train for a life. The career will take care of itself, and give you more satisfaction than a surrender to corporate or professional bureaucracy.

Then Homer said words of the greatest significance: "I'm trying to figure out what I can do with that." That's what an education is for. That's what life is for. That's the discovery made by these extraordinary writers I've found on the World Wide Web. Find out all you can, and see what you can do with it.