Friday, November 05, 2010

Interview with me, part the only

I REALLY enjoy this picture.

So earlier this week, "JC," who may or may not be Jesus, asked some questions in the comments. These questions were meant for Bill Martell, but this is my blog so I'm gonna field JC's questions myself whether he likes it or not. So here you go, JC, just for you:

Q.1 What does it mean when a Reader tells me that the movie THE MATRIX is not a realistic or a respectful sci-fi movie?

It means your reader is jealous of the Wachowski brothers and probably sits in his basement and watches Primer on an endless loop.

Q.2 How come it's not a good idea to call myself 'action screenwriter' on my business card. When all I write is action scripts on the spec level.

You’re going to hear differing opinions on this. I know people - Julie Gray specifically has talked about this - who believe you should not put “writer” on your cards because it marks you as a novice.  I get that thinking. She’s certainly not alone in this perspective.

Personally I put “writer” on my cards because long ago when I’d go to a party I’d come home with thirty thousand cards and have no idea why I’d collected them. Which ones were writers? Which ones producers? Which ones were trying to get into my pants? That’s why I have it on my card - so at least everybody knows what the card is for. But I also have awesome cards. It’s your call, really. I wouldn’t put “action” on there, though. Just sounds a little too specific.

Q3. When an aspiring screenwriter turns 70+ years old and hasn't sold a script, what should that person do next? Are most ready to face this question?

Clearly that person should hunt mummies with Bruce Campbell. It's really all that's left at that point.

Q4. A Reader from a forum recently called himself an expert on screenplay grammar, what does that mean? And he will charge $4000.00 to re-format a script so it reads like "Alien". Is this something an aspiring screenwriter should consider?

If you want someone to edit your script - which you should only do if you feel like your English grammar is total crap - you should look at Roland Stroud. He IS an expert and charges a reasonable fee. Anyone charging $4,000 for anything other than a car or a Coach purse should be punched in the face.

Q5. Why do most Readers hate strange script hybrids? Then why did SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN sell for big bucks? And why is it that most top selling graphic novels are hybrids and being optioned daily?

Is this all one reader or are these different readers you’re talking about here? I don’t think most readers hate script hybrids, but I do think readers don’t like scripts that don’t know what they are. The danger with an odd hybrid is that often you’ll have so many different elements slapped together in a screenplay the tone lacks consistency. I read a script a few months ago that started out as a drama about a little girl’s sad childhood, then suddenly became a horror story, then a love story. I got tired from constantly changing the rules of the story in my head. That kind of thing is very difficult to pull off and a new writer should definitely be cautious. Try something a little easier first.

Q5. Lately I noticed most screenplay bloggers are repeating themselves. Are you noticing this? Do you read at least 10 blogs per day? Or maybe you read 20 per day to stay on top of the game?

I once asked Bill Martell how he manages to constantly write new stuff and he said he was kind of surprised himself at how much more he always had to say. And here you are asking questions, after all, so clearly there are still unexplored topics out there. But for most bloggers, they lose interest after a while. A blog takes some effort to maintain and some days coming up with new material is really tough. Try it some time. As for reading, I read all the ones on my sidebar before I start writing so I get some influence to jumpstart my work. I also read them every morning so I can procrastinate on having to talk to teenagers.

Q6.Could you provide me with some examples of complicated and complex screenplays?

Like what?  Give me an example.

Q7. Would you say the chase scene in "Seven" is well written?

I’d say the everything scene in Seven is well written. Andrew Kevin Walker wrote one hell of a script. Know what else is a great chase scene? The one in We Own the Night. I think it's my favorite of all time.

Q8. Do you know where I can find a copy of the script 'ENTER THE DRAGON' or 'THE OCTAGON(CHUCK NORRIS) or GOOD GUYS WEAR BLACK(CHUCK NORRIS) No one so far can locate them?

That’s because that first one’s in Chinese, and those last two were written on the clean side of a used napkin.*

Q9. Have you ever played the video game MAFIA 1 and MAFIA 2? Do you think in the year 2100+ or so, there will more video game writers than screenwriters?

In the year 2100, we will be living inside the video games.

Q10. Can someone learn to write dialogues like Woody Allen or Tarantino or Guy Ritchie. What I'm asking is this - if you read the lyrics of top rappers and songwriters, they tend to have ton of energy and fire - can this be taught?

All you have to do is be quirky. If you want to sound like Woody Allen, use a lot of words. If you want to sound like Tarantino, use a lot of words, but half of them have to be n____ or motherfucker. If you want to sound like Guy Ritchie, be British and cool and shoot at people who are shooting at other people who meant to be shooting at you but end up shooting themselves by accident.

Q11. How come UNK is not posting lately?

Unknown Screenwriter finally snapped, killed a man in Reno for pissing all over screenplay structure, and went on the lamb.**

*I made this up. Enter The Dragon is available at Script Shack.
** I also made this up. I would guess that Unk no longer has the emotional energy to deal with us, but I have no idea what’s really going on. He won’t answer his door when I bang on it.


  1. Q12. Can I hunt mummies with Bruce Campbell even if I'm not 70+?

  2. Cool answers!

    - Bill

  3. Anonymous6:55 PM

    I was under the impression Chuck Norris didn't need a script. (har har, Chuck joke.)

    Q4 is a scam artist. There are plenty of writers out there that could probably "re-format" your script for change. Perhaps even some willing to do it for coffee.

  4. I totally stole your questions and answered them on my blog...that way, I can pretend that YOU are interviewing ME. Or something like that.

    (I didn't actually steal them. It was an 'homage'.)

  5. "when I’d go to a party I’d come home with thirty thousand cards and have no idea why I’d collected them. Which ones were writers? Which ones producers? Which ones were trying to get into my pants? That’s why I have it on my card - so at least everybody knows what the card is for."

    Ha. For a brief second I thought you had: "Trying to get into your pants." on your card. That'd be an awesome card.

    ps. Now you HAVE to show us your card. Or: please.

  6. Heh. Our Man, my card looks a lot like the top of the blog. She same friend designed them both.

    Vanilla, I'll post responses on Monday. Those were good questions.

  7. Phyllis Carlyle? Wasn't she the producer? Didn't Andrew Kevin Walker write Seven?

  8. Oops! Good catch. I copied and pasted the wrong name without looking.


  9. Anonymous8:55 AM

    Just an FYI/nitpick - it's 'lam', and not 'lamb', although 'on the lamb' might be a good name for a fictitious restaurant. Cheers.

  10. Well I have learned something today. And you're right, that should be a restaurant.

    Now I have to go look up some etymology. For some reason I guess I just assumed it referred to someone running away on a lamb, which is an entertaining image.


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