Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why The Success of Fifty Shades of Grey is Pretty Great for the Movie Industry.

by Levin Menekse
I recently watched Fifty Shades of Grey. What I thought about it doesn't matter, what matters for me, and for you, is that it probably made 50 times more money than your favorite movie.

"But I'm an artist/art lover" you say "I don't care how much money a crappy movie made!"

Ah, but it makes so much difference. We work in an industry that ebbs and flows on trends. If something makes money, all of a sudden other projects become viable. When Twilight made so much money, an entire generation of vampire movies popped up. When Transformers made so much money, Battleship happened. Now that Fifty Shades of Grey made so much money... What's next? What sorts of movies will its success engender?

... this also happened, apparently.
The Mid-Range, Actually Good Studio Movie

You know this if you work in the industry, but the mid-range "good" Studio movie is a rarity these days. Studios either make massive blockbusters based on IP's (Intellectual Property -- remakes, sequels, adaptations) or low budget horror movies. (Blumhouse) There are a few exceptions of course -- The Social Network, Moneyball, Captain Philips -- but, as a movie goer, you should know that there are a myriad of beautiful, intelligent, challenging movies that are just not getting made because the numbers don't add up.

Now, Fifty Shades of Grey is no Social Network or Moneyball. It's definitely not going to be nominated for any awards. It's based on an IP. But it's a small, dark, challenging drama. The majority of the movie takes place in small rooms with two leads just... talking. There are times where it felt like I was watching an experimental theater performance or something.

And this is good. Dark, challenging movies getting made with adult themes is good.

One of the good ol' industry lingo is the "The TV show/Movie I'm pitching you right now is the popular movie X meets popular TV show Y!" Now, Fifty Shades of Grey is one of those anchors. And there are talented people right now trying to get that challenging movie they've been trying to get made for the last ten years by saying the magic words: "It's Fifty Shades of Grey meets ____"

And then there is also this... apparently.

The Talent Involved

So I was a bit sneaky earlier when I mentioned Social Network, Moneyball and Captain Philips because guess who produced Fifty Shades of Grey? The same people -- Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti -- who made those movies! Between the two of them they also produced: American History X, Magnolia, Pleasantville, Dark City, Boogie Nights, Wag the Dog... and the list goes on.

These are people who have great taste. Sure, they already had clout before Fifty Shades of Grey but the success of this adaptation boosts their profile within the industry. Isn't that a good thing? Aren't these people the "good guys" of the industry?

And then there is the cast. Both Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian Grey, and Dakota Johnson, who plays Anastasia Steele, can now actually get movies made. That's a pretty great thing because they're both extremely talented actors. Dakota Johnson is surprisingly effective in the movie. She's charming, vulnerable, funny and somehow manages to make someone named Anastasia Steele, an English major with the name of a C-list pornstar, feel like a three dimensional person. Jamie Dornan has the tougher job of the two due to the ridiculous lines he has to say with a straight face -- "I don't make love. I fuck... hard", "I'd like to bite that lip" -- and he's rather... constipated through the whole movie but he's phenomenal on The Fall, holding his own across a heavy weight like Gillian Anderson.

Either of these very talented actors might be in your new favorite movie down the road. And you'll be glad they were in Fifty Shades of Grey because that was the reason why your favorite movie got made in the first place.

Don't hate us... please?
A New Demographic

I have made a lot of assumptions through this essay and even if they turn out to be complete horseshit, I hope this particular assumption is true:

"Women love Fifty Shades of Grey because there aren't many other alternatives in the same genre."

It's easy to point at Twilight and Fifty Shades and say that the type of men women seem to want is a jealous, billionaire stalker. But I sincerely hope that's because there aren't many alternatives. If I want to see giant robots fighting, I can see Neon Genesis Evangelion instead of Transformers but if Transformers was my only option? Maybe I'd see Transformers to scratch that Giant Fighting Robot itch. Maybe women who want challenging, erotic dramas are also dealing with a similar sort of drought.

Because we haven't found a good genre for the sexually empowered women yet. Women who use their sexuality to evoke a response are usually either belittled or pitied and the sexual enjoyment is shamed endlessly. So, maybe, the success of Fifty Shades of Grey will start a new trend where we will see actual good movies directed towards this particular demographic. (Shameless plug) I wrote a TV Pilot where the main character is a female pornographer trying to break into the mainstream by making a "better" Fifty Shades of Grey (Shameless Plug ends) and I hope as hell someone actually does that.

I also like how I say "this particular demographic" as if that's not, you know, 50 percent of the entire population!

So, yes, ultimately, I believe the success of Fifty Shades of Grey is pretty great for those who love movies! Or maybe I'm just full of shit. If you have thoughts please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

5 Mistakes Indie Filmmakers Make

And now, as I (Sean) am embroiled in The LA Film Festival, let's get Levin's take of the joys and frustrations of Indie Film....

I consider myself a "small movie" type of guy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spectacle as much as the next person but when I want to be challenged, well, I go for the "indie" films. My favorite movies always seem to come from this category, whether it be Dogtooth, Upstream Color or Before Sunset, because indie films are more comfortable with pushing boundaries and reach for something new. And that, something new, is what I love about movies in the first place.

But I've been burned too. There is a reason why you'll see Sean blogging about Los Angeles Film Festival and not me, because I've come to develop an allergy to Film Festivals after a few unfortunate days of sitting through one shitty movie after another. And here are five mistakes that made those movies "shitty" in my humble opinion.

1 - Bland Visuals

In Upstream Color, a thief is robbing a person of her belongings. He somehow has control over what she sees. He's to the edge of the camera. The female protagonist looks up to see the thief's face and the thief says: "I have to apologize. I was born with a disfigurement where my head is made of the same material as the Sun."

All of a sudden, the screen fills with searing brightness as she's unable to look at him anymore.

This moment was awe-inspiring to me when I saw it. It was accomplished with simple, "indie" means that required no SFX, but its effect, this particular visual flourish, was indelible.

I find that many independent movies I see are content with just four-walling the entire thing and presenting the audience with simple visuals. But visuals are why we watch movies. The visual grammar of the movie is a fundamental part of the story.

Also, just because I chose Upstream Color, a mind-bending sci-fi, to make my point shouldn't make you say "Well, I'm writing a drama". Wong Kar Wai writes dramas too and his dramas look like this:

2 - Incomprehensibility + No Emotion = Sad Audience

The audiences go to Indie Movies to be challenged, to be exposed to something new. But we still watch movies to be emotionally moved. This doesn't mean swelling music at the climax to cue us into the emotions of your protagonists, but give us something. The worst movie experiences I had at the movie festivals were movies were I had no idea what the hell was going on AND I didn't care.

Now, that last part is really important. Two of my favorite filmmakers, David Lynch and Shane Carruth, excel at making movies that are famously opaque. Especially in Lynch's movies, there is no narrative through line to logically connect one scene to the next, but there is always a central emotion that keeps the audience engaged. If not for Betty and Naomi Watts' performance, do you think Mulholland Drive would be the classic it is today? Without the palpable grief the town feels after Laura Palmer, do you think people would have responded to Twin Peaks?


Of course it's important to have a theme. If we walked away, especially from an indie movie that didn't say something, we'd all feel robbed. And yet, I feel, especially with the indie movies, there is this weird responsibility to SAY SOMETHING and overcompensating in the process. There is a difference between being thematically weighty and just being didactic. I know the following example is hardly indie as it stars Brad Pitt, but shed it of its cast and the writing itself is small. It definitely has an "indie" feel to it:

A tale about the futility of hope in Obama's America because the inconspicuous TV's in the background tell us that OVER AND OVER AGAIN!
4 - This is not a Studio movie, but it sorta is?

The audience is here to see something different, something challenging. If they wanted conformity and predictability, they would've gone to the Blockbuster-of-the-month or stayed home and watched Hallmark.

Some indie movies feel like auditions for bigger studio tentpoles with their precisely 3 act structure with the clear resolution and the abundance of thematic cliche's like "Love Conquers All!"

You know the big movie this weekend, this little thing called "Jurassic World?" The writer/director of that movie first made the small indie "Safety Not Guaranteed" which, for all its faults, was definitely a surprising as hell movie that did a lot of unconventional things. So embrace that! There is a reason you're writing an indie screenplay and not a blockbuster!

5 - Do too many things because this is the one movie you'll ever make!

A movie about... EVERYTHING!

You will write many, many screenplays throughout your life. There is this tendency for screenwriters to go "This is my one crazy, indie, weird feature! I'm going to CRAM EVERYTHING IN IT!"

As a result, you read this screenplay and it feels like there are three different movies in there. A good question to see if this is the case with your screenplay is to ask: "Is there a consistent tone?" or simply "If I take this subplot out, does anything change?"

Pick one movie and stick to it.

In Conclusion: These are just some commonalities I found among the indie movies that disappointed me. Can you think of any other elements that these movies share? Do you think I'm wrong about anything? Have you seen any movies in the Los Angeles Film Festival so far that disappointed you? Share in the comments!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Movies for Your Ears

My first treat at the LA film festival was a series of shorts that had no pictures.

At Movies For Your Ears: Making Pictureless Films, Jonathan Mitchell walked the audience through his creative process when creating the critically acclaimed podcast "The Truth."

As the festival program describes it, "The Truth...creates short films without pictures. Its crafted, colorful and diverse fictional stories don’t just compel the audience to listen, but to experience these tales as if you’re right there with the characters." Indeed, while listening to "That's Democracy" I had the uncanny feeling of actually being in a high school classroom when a class lecture takes shocking and violent turn. While listening to Sylvia's Blood, I swear that I saw the most disturbing and vivid imagery that I've seen all year while sitting in a theater with my eyes closed. Simple audio tricks evoked the identity bending and reality warping visuals of Philip K. Dick. There is a massive archive of other shorts to listen to on The Truth Website.

Here is my pitch for why screenwriters should bother to listen.

Good filmmakers pre-visualize their stories - cinema, after all, is supposed to be storytelling with pictures. Writers rarely refer to sound other than as dialogue or in the BOOM of an explosion. In film school, we learned that Eisenstein pioneered the juxtaposition and collision of images to create meaning. We talk about “seeing the movie” in our heads. Screenwriters rarely, if ever, think deeply about the layers, meanings, collisions and storytelling power of the movie sound. 

But we should.

Listening to The Truth, is a great reminder that right sounds (in actual movies, these are often played under dark, ambiguous or strobing imagery) encourages the audience to fill out the visuals in their imaginations, putting them in a deeply engaged dream-state. Well chosen sounds can evoke as much tension, deliver as much emotion, drive as much content as imagery. 

Another great storytelling podcast is Welcome to Night Vale. For those who enjoy Lovecraft and Lynch. 
I’d argue that the person best suited to pre-audio-lize the potential of story-sound is the screenwriter. In the same way that well-wrtiten characters give the actors meat to chew on, well-imagined sounds that are integral to the story give supervising sound editors an opportunity to practice their art at the highest level.

So turn out the lights, close your eyes, pop in your earbuds and give The Truth a listen. Later, ask yourself, "What does the movie or episode I'm writing SOUND like?"

For more on my love affair with cinema sound, read JUST LISTEN.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Los Angeles Film Festival

So I’ve been asking myself, in the age of on-demand video streaming, why am I here, at the Los Angeles Film Festival? I know what I like and digital technology allows me to find exactly what I’m looking for, no matter how obscure, independent, or oddball. Why fight traffic on the 101 when I can sit on my couch? 

Well...Because, I need this. Film festivals allow me to encounter movies and voices outside of my little bubble of viewing habits and storytelling ticks. I never really know what I am in for, but I’m forced to surrender to whatever appears on screen. So, my level of attention and engagement is different. I’ll see films hand-picked by cinema lovers instead of Netflix algorithms; I’ll see them in packed theaters instead of alone with an iPad and an earbud. There will be hours of heated discussion afterwards, about the bad films most of all, and at least one strange little film, one I would never have seen otherwise, will completely blow my mind.

Or not. Regardless of how well I like the films, ideas, aesthetics, inspirations and outrages will penetrate my little bubble and rattle around inside until they find their way into my own work. I need this. Otherwise, I’ll just sit at home watching Rosemary’s Baby for the 30th time and rehash the super-8 shorts I made at USC.

Oh...and also, if I never leave the backyard shed where I have my office, I'll never get to see any of my friends. So, I hope to see you around...

Monday, April 27, 2015

Zack Synder: The Great Trailer and the Underwhelming Movie

This probably happened to all of us: We see an amazing trailer, think "Holy crap, this movie is AWESOME" only to be bitterly disappointed when the movie turns out to be underwhelming. But, boy, Zack Snyder has made an entire career out of these sorts of movies. 300, Watchmen, Suckerpunch, Man of Steel, and now the new Batman vs Superman movie all have had amazing trailers -- and none of those movies have matched up to what their trailers' promised. (In the case of Batman vs Superman, I'm merely positing that will be true.)

So, what makes an amazing trailer? In Synder's case, he mashes up visuals with music that should feel incongruous (An action movie about girls slaying dragons set to Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks", the cerebral Watchmen set to Smashing Pumpkins, an epic about Spartans set to Nine Inch Nails etc.) and somehow makes them work.

Legends of the Guardians: Guardians of Ga'hoole is the one exception, as there is no way to make Owls wearing metal helmets look non-stupid. even in a good trailer. Also, this guy's name is "Metal Beak". Take that seriously if you can.

The interesting thing though is that the visual tricks Snyder uses in his trailers (Super slow-motion, BIG MOMENTS OF PEOPLE YELLING) is what makes Zack Snyder's movies feel clunky. As a director, Snyder has a gift for awesome visuals but none for subtlety. And I know, I know, who needs subtlety when you're making BIG movies but that is exactly what separates a genuinely great BIG movie (the kind Spielberg and Nolan makes) from the LOUD, EMPTY BIG movie (the kind Michael Bay makes). However, I wouldn't put Synder into the same category as Michael Bay. Synder genuinely has taste and vision -- when he could have done anything he wanted after the mega success of 300, he chose to adapt an insanely complicated and morally bleak graphic novel (Watchmen) and his two other movies were about a group of women stuck in a mental asylum where they are under the threat of lobotomy and sexual abuse and... well, that movie about Owls. Even his Man of Steel, which doesn't quite hit what it's going for, is really going for something different than your usual Superman movie. You can't fault his ambition.

"Hey man, how do we pronounce Guardians of Ga'hoole? Gahooley? Gahoola? Gaahuul?!"
You ever heard about Ira Glass talking about how being an artist, especially in the beginning, is hard? Here's his speech, which is pretty cool if you want to listen to, but let me paraphrase for those who don't have the time: As an artist, you probably have great taste but don't have the skills to match up to to your taste. So you end up producing stuff that falls short of what you wish you could produce.

I think Zack Synder is stuck in this weird loop where he produced stuff that probably fell short of what he wanted to do (300, in particular) but people praised him and it earned him a shit ton of accolades because he could do one thing (amazing visuals) really, really well. So, now, maybe he's stuck in that feedback loop because he never has to improve. He's making the studios he works with really happy, but maybe there is a great filmmaker inside him who he's suffocating. I know this sounds insane, but maybe he should've spent more time being a cinematographer before he burgeoned into being a great director. Either way, until then, I will watch his sumptuous, glorious, visceral trailers and skip his movies until they hit Netflix.

Are there other directors who make awesome trailers but underwhelming movies? If so, why do you think that is? Do you agree with my take on Synder? Do you think the Batman vs Superman movie is going to be any good? Do you love Guardians of Ga'hoole and are offended of my knee-jerk reaction to it? Let me know in the comment section!



Monday, March 30, 2015

Interstellar Part 2: The 2008 Original Script vs The Final Movie

And now ANOTHER word from the ever passionate and perceptive Levin Menekse!

Hello everyone,

My last post on the Good and the Bad of Interstellar garnered interesting, pretty polarizing reactions. I got a lot of flack from the fans of the movie for not "getting" the movie. So as an intellectual who obsesses over "getting things", I went down a rabbit hole of research to make sure I understood everything that culminated with me reading the original 2008 draft of Interstellar.

This is pretty much what I look like in real life.

Initially set up to be directed by Spielberg, the 2008 draft is both more adventurous (cute aliens!) and darker in tone (oh boy, that ending) than the final movie. What I want to do in this post is not to simply contrast the two versions, but also try to figure out why those changes to the screenplay were made and if they were effective.

As those in the industry know, screenplays go through many, many drafts before they are shot and the differences between the original script and the final product are usually immense. (Check out Sean's great blog post about this phenomenon here.) What makes Interstellar a special case though is that this wasn't your usual "Studio Meddling", this was Christopher Nolan coming in and rewriting the entire thing. This was a visionary genius who nobody could say no to.

So, let's take a look at the differences and whether if they were good changes or not. (Honestly, most of them are in the grey area, so those of you who love the movie and Christopher Nolan -- you can put down your pitchforks.)

Just so we're clear: I love Nolan's movies. The saying goes: "It takes a hundred talented people to make one bad movie." Nolan made four legitimately great movies and the guy is only 45 years old. But, if you're especially bloodthirsty, I'm sure we can spar back and forth about which 4 of his movies are "great".

A Sense of Adventure (2008) vs A Desperate Journey Against Extinction (2014)

The 2008 script is a fun movie, no wonder Spielberg was interested in directing it. There is still a sense of desperation as the Earth is dying and Cooper still feels guilty about leaving Murphy behind, but there's no agonizing goodbye scene. There is no Michael Caine reciting epic poems or Matt Damon being super, super sad. The scene where Cooper watches the old messages of his kids is still there but Murphy actually makes peace with Cooper's absence, so Cooper feels more sad than guilty.

In the script, instead of the Water Planet and the Ice Planet -- there is only one planet that has ALIENS IN IT. And while they are initially terrifying, they end up being E.T. level cute and playful. They are these fractal beings that constantly break down their matter and fuse it back up and they can be as big as a forest or as little as a cat. At some point, Brand takes one of them with her and the creature basically hangs around until the end, doing cute stuff.

Plus, instead of our foes being broken human beings and crazy environments-- our foes are... wait for it... Chinese robot soldiers! No, seriously. They're basically Chinese versions of Tars and Case who arrived to this planet first and now want our American expedition group out. So Case gets into a robot-brawl with them in order to rescue a machine that can manipulate gravity... and so on.

You get the idea. This fits in with the Spielberg version of this movie, but when Nolan got on board, I bet he wanted to make something more unique and weighty. There is definitely a sense of existential desperation in Nolan's version, a great weight to the journey. In terms of antagonism, it's mostly Man vs Nature -- or Man vs The Universe, in this case -- which really makes the movie feel like this is the Human Kind doing their best to survive against all odds. The two human antagonistic forces -- Tom to Murphy, Mann to Our Team -- are motivated by sadness and hopelessness, which paints them as a flip side to the "hope-against-all-odds" Cooper and Brand.

The best way I can describe the tonal difference is that I can see a theme ride being made from the 2008 version -- you go through the alien planet, fight with robots, cute aliens do crazy shit... But you really can't make a theme ride from the final movie.

This is a real "Interstellar Amusement Park Ride" which could be yours for only 12k!

Central Emotion Spine -- Brand (2008) vs Murphy (2014)

The Brand - Cooper relationship is the central relationship of the 2008 version. Their chemistry is rather typical: The buttoned up, rational Brand doesn't initially like the rebellious Cooper but, as the time goes on, the two warm up to each other and have sex. The big "choice" of Cooper at the end of the movie is between staying with Brand and possibly going back in time to join with his family. Which isn't strong at all because of course Cooper is going to choose to go back to his family.

What's interesting is that we barely see Murphy in the 2008 version. Once we're with Cooper in space, we stay there. There are no scenes with him (in the 2008 version she's a boy) and he only becomes a bigger part of the story in the third act -- and that's independent of Cooper. There is no "ghost" stuff in this version and Murphy never even gets to meet Cooper again!

I think Nolan made the right call here. Rearranging the emotional axis to Murphy and Cooper gives a poignant undertone to the movie because she's the sacrifice Cooper had to make. Plus, their relationship is different than the predictable Cooper - Brand romance, which feels organic but non-consequential.

That being said, in my humble opinion, Nolan also went about doing this in a way that wasn't completely successful.

"Not completely successful, you say? You're an amusing chap, aren't you?" 

Makes Sense (2008) Vs Unbounded Ambition That... Doesn't? (2014)

Focusing on the Cooper - Murphy relationship allows Interstellar to be an epic but intimate movie. The climax, after all, is set in both a massive, 5 dimensional tesseract but also in a little girl's bedroom. However, Nolan uses this story device of the "ghost" in order to make this happen and while this addition is smart, I believe it needed another pass to be completely embedded into the fabric of the movie. As it is, the delicate balance of the script has been tampered with by these modifications and these changes are at the root of Interstellar's larger logical/story problems. Let me explain:

The 2008 version is much more straightforward. Instead of the "Ghost" directing them to the NASA base, Cooper finds a drone with those coordinates. When he takes the drone to the NASA base, he fixes something for them that they hadn't realized was fixable. So they ask him on board because he's a crazy good engineer who is really good at fixing things. Pretty straightforward.

This drone also functions in a similar way to the tesseract in the final movie as it's revealed that the future-Cooper was the one who sent this drone the past. After Cooper leaves on his mission, Murphy tinkers with this drone to find that it actually contains the instructions on how to build the "gravity machine" and saves everyone, similar to how Cooper gives the "gravity equation" to Murphy in the final movie.

I think Nolan realized that he can use this idea of a "ghost" to have the father-daughter communicate directly. However, this approach engenders logical problems. For example, this "ghost" brings them to the NASA base and Cooper is recruited in because "you're our best pilot!"... which makes no sense because if he was their best pilot, then why didn't they try to recruit him beforehand? "Oh, because we thought you were dead", Michael Caine states and that's that. Changing Cooper into a pilot also makes the scenes of him tinkering with stuff feel unnecessary. In the 2008 version, that's his "superpower", so to speak, so of course it makes sense that we would see him fix stuff in the 1st act. But in the 2014 movie, Cooper's superpower is his piloting skills -- which renders the scenes of him fixing stuff rather redundant.

Similarly, the "gravity machine" is replaced by this equation Murphy solves at the end of the movie. In the 2008 script, this machine is built by the Chinese Robots who, due to a time anomaly, had 4000 years to work and advanced technology as we know it to unimaginable heights. I really love that concept -- the "treasure" Chinese Robots keep talking about turn out to be, simply, 4000 years worth of time -- and I think it works with the themes and the iconography of the piece.

I was mighty underwhelmed by the way the "gravity equation" worked in the movie. It was vague, felt like a shortcut and it wasn't visual at all. As a result, I couldn't get behind the climactic sequence of the movie and it's one of the reasons why I don't think the climax of the movie works that well.


The Ending That Destroys (2008) vs The Ending That is... at least somewhat Hopeful (2014)

The 2008 version sails along with that playful Spielberg tone until the very end when shit turns DARK. Cooper arrives to a dead, cold Earth and accepts his death. He's rescued at the last minute and brought to the space station... where he's told Murphy is long, long dead. He meets one of Murphy's descendants and the descendant gives Cooper the watch he gave to Murphy at the beginning of the movie. Then Cooper, emotionally destroyed, says he wants to be useful but the people venerate him to such a point that he's not allowed to do anything. He's stuck tending to a farm, his worst nightmare. And then he steals the ship and goes after Brand... but it's desperate and soul crushingly sad.

The ending to the movie is much, much better. For all its faults, the movie absolutely nails its last ten minutes once Cooper is rescued. Having Cooper meet Murphy is infinitely more satisfying than the alternative.

That being said, the changes Christopher Nolan made to justify the ending, again, tamper the balance of the script. These little changes he made almost creates a domino effect that engenders the parts of the movie I couldn't connect with. For example, in order to make the Cooper-Murphy reunion feel as climactic as possible, Nolan makes Murphy into someone who couldn't, for 15+ years, get over the fact that her father went on a desperate mission to save Mankind. You would think that after some time she would grow to appreciate her father and his sense of duty. This doesn't happen so that the reunion scene at the end could have the largest impact, and, as a result Murphy as a character is rather one note and hard to relate with.

Weirdly, this also effects Brand's character. Because now Cooper's primary relationship is with Murphy, Brand is relegated to having a lover in one of the three planets. This results in her giving the goofiest speech in the movie about how they should travel to that particular planet despite it being the worst choice because... "love is awesome". This domino piece hits the next one and all of a sudden you have two hysterical women who are supposed to be scientists but acting irrationally because... emotions?

Ultimately: The lesson to take away from all this is that you can't change little things without affecting the larger structure of your story.

Writers, producers, directors, actors:
When you give notes or modify something in the script, it affects the entire project. You rewrite a scene, it affects the sequence. You rewrite a sequence, it might affect the entire story. And you might need to go through your script a few times to make sure everything lands properly and makes sense. No shortcuts. You're asking people to give their time to you, extend the same courtesy to them by working on your project a bit more until it's truly great.

Well, hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. See you next time,


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Agency Packaging Fees: Are They Justified?

What is your opinion on "agency packaging fees?" Producer Gavin Polone thinks they go against the interest of the writer, and work against the quality of the show, where every dollar should be put on screen. (see his article in the Hollywood Reporter, link below...)

For writers, the issue of agents and packaging fees is similar to managers and producer's fees.  The question is always what "extra" is the representation bringing to the project such that they deserve a fee? What do you think? Are packaging fees a scam, or are there some good arguments FOR agency packaging fees?

Is Your Agent Getting Something For Nothing?