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The Greatest Piece of Filmmaking Advice

DON’T PANIC. I am not going to be the one giving the advice. Given the fact I know fuck all about film I think its for the best. Instead, I am going to let someone with “slightly” more experience then me do it.

Akira Kurosawa.

To preface, I am just stealing this from an interview. If you don’t want to listen to me ramble, the video is just below (one day I will turn this into my own edit on youtube).

Unlike a lot of directors Kurosawa admits how much harder it is to make films now.

It costs a great deal of money to make films these days and its hard to become a director.”

Older directors seem to give the same piece of advice. Go out and shoot films every weekend and edit it and then you have a movie blah blah blah. This sounds cool right? But realistically there is a huge over saturation with how many shitty short films are being made and uploaded out there (myself included). I just think in this day and age you need at least a solid setup to make something that grabs people’s attention. But Kurosawa offers much better advice.

“If you genuinely want to make films then write screenplays”

Kurosawa emphasises that all you need is a paper and a pencil. Nothing more. More importantly, by writing scripts you learn the structure of a film. You learn more deeply what keeps people engaged and how to make a good picture.

I believe that if you are a great writer, you will at least be a good director. For example, Sorkin, Koffman, Tarantino. It just goes hand in hand. Similarly, Spielberg gives the same advice to young directors. These guys are masters in their field and know how much a good script can change the world.

WRITING IS HARD!

Once again, Kurosawa is on it. Who would expect it from one of the greatest filmmakers of all time? Most writers emphasises the importance of writing every day. But it’s very hard and he admits this – especially for young people who have no attention span.

The most essential and necessary thing is the forbearance to face writing on word at a time”

Patience. Writing is extremely hard, and you need this skill if you want to write an entire screenplay.  When you climb a mountain, you are told never look up at the mountain or you will be disheartened. Instead, you take one step at a time. Writing is the same, one word at a time. The tedious task of writing has to become second nature to you.

If you give up once, that will be it”

While this is directed towards writing, I think it applies to all of film. If you quit once it becomes a habit. Every time things get challenging you will just bail. Honestly, it is simply about routine, nothing more.

“Do a certain amount of reading”

While Kurosawa emphasises reading widely in literature and in particular Russian literature, reading at all is pivotal to becoming a writer and also a filmmaker. He explains that unless you have a rich reserve within you can’t create anything. Essentially, you need a place for the idea to come from. This can either be literature or memories. Your next film idea is not just going to appear in front of you. By reading different authors, it sets of that light in your head.

Kurosawa’s advice ultimately changed how I view writing. I accepted how challenging I found it which made it easier to do. It sounds weird but if you just built it into your daily routine, you will see a jump in what you are producing.

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An Honest Review of My First Short Film

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Why did the King’s Man did not slap?

SPOILERSSSSSSS

I think Mathew Vaughn is truly an incredible director. His pacing and style is so unique and refreshing when compared to other blockbusters. If you don’t know his other work Mathew has directed Kick Ass, X Men First Class, The Kingsman movies and most importantly, StarDust (If you haven’t seen this film do yourself a favour). Not to mention, his production achievements of Lock Stock, Eddie the Eagle and Rocketman. You could say my expectations were high going into this. Apart from the second Kingsman, I have loved all his films. But before I start, I am not just going to shit on this film – I hate reviews that do that. Plus, I have never made a film and know fuck all about it. Plus plus, I didn’t hate it at all, I just feel like there was just something missing. So therefore, I am going to do a multilayered insult sandwich.

Con

This movie takes way to long to get going. The first 30-40 minutes feel so weird and slow paced. Its like when a teacher or instructor spends 20 minutes explaining a game when all you want to do is fucking start the game. I was watching it thinking, when is this going to get moving, and honestly it didn’t really. The pacing stays in this kind of slow and drawn-out process. When the movie finished, I sat there thinking, why is the first 1/3 not just cut.

The whole film is spread out over the entirety of WW1. A very odd choice. It makes the audience feel like the movie has no direction. Instead of focusing on a specific aspect, it tries to squish 4 years into 2 hours.

PRO

The action scenes in this movie are genuinely amazing. Like with all of Vaughn’s work, they have this unique dance to them. You can feel the choreography but it’s still so enthralling to watch. There are three in particular that really stand out to me.

  1. The fight against Rasputin
  2. Silent War Battle
  3. Final Battle

But the problem is, there is not enough. In a 2 hour an 10 minute action film there is barely any action. When its there, its amazing but…

Bruh

CON

I think my biggest issue with this film is what its going for. I have a theory that Vaughn wanted to make this a serious war drama. To me, that’s just stupid. What works about the first two Kingsman is how over the top and bat shit crazy they are. The gore, the action, the writing. All of it shows this exaggerated version of James Bond. It essentially works because audiences are sick of the same old James Bond. I get that he wants to try something new but don’t do it with a franchise people already have expectations for.

PRO

The performances in this film are very good. Ralph (Rafe) Fiennes is exceptional, as usual. In particular, the moments of real drama when he loses loved ones shows how good of an actor he really is. He always does this really unique and weird yelling with his voice that I really love. (Think of Avadacadabra in Harry Potter).

I think the George Mckay look alike (known as Harris Dickinson) is good as well. It felt believable when he was showing the pure fear of being in battle. Also, the young ignorance and naivety of a teenage boy was spot on.

Rhys Ifans as Rasputin stole the show. I know it was over the top but I like when actors just go for it. Its engaging when they don’t hold back and give their interpretation and perspective of the character. He had this perfect mix of both menace and stupidity – a precise summary of Rasputin.

Rhys Ifans as Rasputin in 20th Century Studios’ THE KING’S MAN. Photo credit: Peter Mountain. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Everyone else was good. #moredjimonhounsou 

Con

On the other side of this, is SOME of the writing. There is a huge focus on the dynamic between the father and son. Desperately wanting to go to the war, the Duke repeatedly denies Conrad in fear of him dying. Its smart and interesting but it happens like 5 times. It felt I was watching the same scene on repeat. Conrad says he is joining the war, the duke says no and gives him a lecture then Conrad comes to an understanding. It’s just repetitive and becomes monotonous.

Pro

BIG SPOILER

When Conrad was shot, I was sitting there like what the fuck. It completely got off me off guard – something that is getting harder to do in films. A shocking death in a movies is very hard to do as audiences constantly see it coming. However, this one was out of nowhere and completely heartbreaking. He wasn’t even killed by enemy which adds this sense of regret of wasted life to the audience.

It also served a purpose. Without the death of his son, it would not make sense why the Duke would start up the Kingsmen. Good writing.

The Final Con

There is something included at the end of this film that blew my mind – in the worst possible way. When the Duke meets the big villain at the end, there is a very interesting and extremely obvious plot twist. The villain is the creepy evil dude in the background. SURPRISE SURPRISE. I don’t understand why Vaugh did this. It doesn’t add anything, it is not surprising, it literally has no effect whatsoever on the film. It feels exactly like a Scooby Doo reveal at the end of an episode. Glaringly obvious and equally pointless.

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The Going Solo Film Pitch

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An underappreciated masterpiece

There are a lot of movies out there that I would recommend for people to watch. Hundreds. But there’s a movie that I could recommend to everyone, no matter what their taste is, I know they will at least enjoy it. Up in the Air.

Up in the air has this perfect balance of drama and comedy. It hits you with these truly depressing scenes but then contrasts it with hilarious performances by Zach Galifianakis, Jason Batemen, J.K. Simmons, Danny McBridge. I mean the cast is insane. But Jason Reitman uses everyone perfectly. He seems to just know the right balance with everything in this film.

I feel like this movie doesn’t have enough hype around it. I honestly believe it is an almost perfect dramedy and here is 4 reasons why:

4. The Music

There is one song in this film called “Help Yourself” by Sad Brad Smith that is truly incredible. Go listen to it. It has this weird sense of happiness and sadness, kind of like Hey Jude. When Jason Reitman uses it, it just adds this weird bitter sweet feeling to Ryan’s life. As if even he knows how depressing his world is and just doesn’t want to admit it.

3. George Clooners

George Clooney has this very specific niche in his acting. Something that very few actors have and is extremely hard to master. Charisma. George and Brad Pitt always come to mind when I think about this. George has this ability to make you like him no matter what. Even if he is a complete arsehole, he still makes you care for him. I think it has something to do with his eyes. Every time I look at him, he just looks like a sad puppy dog.

Anyway… His performance in this is so subtly brilliant you may just miss it. At the beginning of the film, we see this shell of a man. No attachment to anyone, no fucks given, no compassion. He is focused on one thing and that is his job. However, throughout the movie we see his shell crack – if ever so slightly. Looks with his eyes, smiles, these little reflections of a man who is beginning to learn what it means to be human. It is not a Daniel Day Lewis transformation but something much simpler and potentially more challenging. A slow and progressive change into someone who cares.

2. The themes.

This may sound weird, but no movie has scared me as much as Up in the Air. Ryan’s life genuinely makes me feel uncomfortable. And that’s exactly how this movie wants you to feel. It presents you with this man who is completely focused on working and nothing else. He doesn’t care about his family or friends. All he wants is some capitalistic and empty goal of 10,000 miles. Jason Reitman shows the audience what’s important in life by presenting them with this sad and depressing life of Ryan. He doesn’t hammer you over the head with the message, but subtly reminds you what’s important by showing you what you are not missing out on.

  1. SAD SAD SAD

I don’t know about other people, but I find this film very depressing. There are these 3 scenes in Up in the Air that show this almost nihilistic attitude toward life. That things just don’t matter and there is no point caring about anything. But what makes this worse is that Ryan changes. He transforms to become a proper human and is still beaten down by the people and world around him. Truly heartbreaking… especially when its George Clooney’s puppy dog eyes.

Not to mention that one scene… BRUTAL.

Could I write more about this film? Absolutely, but I need to keep editing my short film so this where I leave you.

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5 shows to watch instead of rewatching friends again

I don’t think there is anything wrong with rewatching shows. In fact, I am almost permanently doing it. Whenever I am doing something, the Office is somehow on in the background. It seems to just be permanently playing. However, I do think (myself included) people get stuck watching the same shit because they just simply don’t know. Well here I am to save the day, offering 5 critically acclaimed and very well-known shows…

5. Normal People

I recently heard in a Russell Brand interview why he believes this show is so popular and addicting, and I couldn’t agree more. It comes down to one key reason. The shows portrayal of young love. It is so honest and relatable because realistically, everyone has been there. Everyone puts themselves in these characters shoes and links it back to their own life.  Everyone has felt what these characters feel and has been through the same ups and downs.

NORMAL PEOPLE

I also love how this show is directed. It has this slow, dream like feel to it. In particular, episode 8. It is one of the best episodes of a TV show I have ever seen. The awkward tension of this episode is done so accurately to real life. Plus, it paints Italy in this perfect and gorgeous light, just making you want to hop on a plane and travel there.

4. True Detective Season 1

No show has hooked me in like True Detective. The ending of that first episode just sucks you into these characters and the mystery at hand. It makes you question everything you thought was going to happen and flips the structure of a normal Crime show on its head.

Lately, there has been a lot of hype around Mare of East Town. I do think this is a good show, but it is just not on the same level as True Detective. This is due to the rich and layered characters of Rustie and Martin. They are so flawed, opinionated, and different in such a refreshing way to other crime shows. For example, Mindhunter. I love this show and almost put it on this list. But the protagonists just aren’t there for me. They seem almost two dimensional compared to True Detective.

3. Bojack Horseman

Whenever I recommend this show to people, I think they dismiss it because it’s a cartoon. So, for just one minute I want you to completely forget that this is a cartoon. JUST TRY.

Bojack Horseman is the saddest show I have ever watched. And perhaps, the saddest piece of art I have seen.  It is truly depressing. So why would you wanna watch it? Well I guess it comes down to personal preference, but I love shows like this. Shows that perfectly balance drama and comedy and sometimes they just delve straight into the dramatic side of life. It doesn’t hold back. It just presents a very flawed man (Horse) and lets you make your own opinion of him.

2. Fleabag

Recommending Fleabag just feels weird at this point (same as the majority of stuff on this list.) Its so famous and popular now that it just feels kind of pointless. But it truly deserves the hype. Before I watched BARRY, it was my favourite show ever written. And I thinks it’s for just that. The writing.

Pheobe Waller Bridge has this method of writing called making something “Pheobe proof.” Essentially, every show or movie she watches she can guess what’s going to happen straight away. So when writing this script, she prevents it from being predictable in a truthful way. This is so effective and will definitely be something I steal. The whole show I never guessed the big reveal (something I wont spoil) even thought it gives you 1000 clues. It is such a good plot twist because it is so true to what the protagonist would do. It is not a plot twist just for the sake of surprising the audience. Perfect writing.

1. BARRY

Barry is a car crash. And I mean that in the best possible way. Every episode worse shit happens and you just can’t pull your eyes away from the screen. What’s so fucking crazy about this show is the writing of the protagonist. Bill Hader and Alec Berger give you this cold-blooded murderer who kills for his self-interest. And (spoilers) he keeps killing. Yet, as the show progresses you seem to care for him more and are almost rooting for him. Despite LITERALLY KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE IN FRONT OF YOU.

I also believe Bill Hader’s performance deserves an Oscar (I know its not possible). He constantly shits on how bad of an actor he is in interviews, and it blows my mind. The unsettling rage of BARRY and deep loneliness is expertly shown through Hader. There are these few very dramatic scenes throughout the show that you will know when you see. With a lesser actor, it just couldn’t be done.

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The Saddest Scene in Sitcom History

Don’t @ me

I recently saw the trailer for a reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The show was made because Will Smith saw a fan made trailer for a dramatic version of the sitcom. Something that is fucking amazing. And plus, the show looks pretty solid.

Get out the tissues

But that’s not why I am here.

As soon I saw the trailer, flashes of the Fresh Prince came back to me. In particular, one scene. A scene that I truly consider the saddest moment in Sitcom history. Season 4 Episode 24 “Papa’s got a brand-new excuse” – Will’s Father Leaving. I know you might be sitting there punching your fist into the screen yelling “what about Michael leaving the office” or the many moments of How I met Your Mother and scrubs, or even Hawkeye’s story in M.A.S.H. Yes, worthy but let me give my justification:

Before I start I need to clarify the backstory behind this scene. A lot of people believe this was improvised and based on Will Smith’s own life. This is bullshit. The writer literally said, “every word was written by Bill and I.”

Anyway, back to the sad shit.

The first reason this scene hits so hard is that the whole show is strictly a sitcom. There is basically no dramatic moments throughout. It’s like that 70s show or friends where it completely focuses on comedy. Thereby, this scene hits you like a fucking stream train. It quite literally comes out of nowhere and catches the audience of guard. Unlike the rest of the shows light-hearted nature, it deals with such a serious and depressing part of Will Smith’s (the character) life. Something the show hides from you, waiting for just the right moment to punch you in the stomach.

A good example is the crowd reaction. Throughout this show, the crowd sounds like a circus. Raucous, over the top laughter. But in this scene, it is reported by the Washington Post that crowd was dead silent, like a church. Except for one person. In the background, you can even hear someone crying. If that doesn’t show how powerful this scene is, I don’t know what does.

Will Smith’s Performance

Will Smith’s performance in this is some of the best acting I have ever seen him do. Its so fascinating because Will was unable to hit this range yet. But from this moment on, the calibre of Will Smith changed. Director Shelly Jensen said, in a Washington Post article, that “it was that specific episode for me as a director [that] I saw him connect and make it work.” (2020). The light just went off.

In this scene Will’s range of emotions is mind blowing. In the space of roughly 3 minutes, he transforms between 3 deep and challenging emotions. Will starts off trying to act strong and tough, with slight hints of anger peeking through.  Following this, he gives a perfect line delivery – “you too, Lou.” The way he says his father’s name shows this resentment that has been boiling there for years. And anger he is trying to keep down in front of his father and Uncle.  

A 1990 Promotional Image of Will Smith as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Photo by Mario Casilli/NBC/MPTV Images)

After his father leaves, he goes back to the Will we know. How he thinks he has to act. Cocky, upbeat, funny. Exactly like a teenager would, trying to act like they don’t care. Then, once again, comes the rage.

Sidebar – anger in film and TV is something I believe, is constantly overdone. A good example is 12 Angry Men. Everyone just yelling and slamming their fists. But in real life anger slowly builds up. Rising, cracking through the surface until then, you explode. And holy fuck does Will Smith explode.

‘TO HELL WITH HIM!”

The crack in the voice. The turnaround. The fists by his sides. Its all so subtle but expertly shows a teenager finally letting out emotions he has bottled up for years.

After this, we see another change. Listing of what he has to do to be better then his father, it shows a sense of drive and hope. A deep ambition to be a better man this his father ever was. Just something in the way he says these lines is so convincing. Its like you just know he is going to do it.

Finally, the end.

“How come he don’t want me man?”

Everything about this delivery is spot on. He is beaten down and shows that in his performance. The sunken shoulders, lip quivering and downwards gaze. Will is tired. Tired of not having a father figure; someone there to love him and care for him. And after so many years of acting tough, he finally lets it all out and goes back to this childlike state. 

The Writing

I think what is so special about this scene is how it almost works on its own. Even if you never have seen this show, this scene could be a 4-minute short. This is all through the character writing. Subtly crafted into the dialogue, the writers give you Will and his fathers entire histories, ambitions and personalities. Without realising, you learn Will’s whole life story and then exactly what he wants from this world. And his motivations? Simply being a better man than his wife. All in the space of 2 minutes, we see an entire character arc. A teenager coming to terms with his history, discovering the man his father really is. It honestly feels like something Noah Baumbach would write. Just Perfect writing.

THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR — Season 4 —
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“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying”

 The Shawshank Redemption Rant

I feel like it has become fairly common lately to shit on Shawshank Redemption. You say it is the best movie ever made and people scoff, laugh and proceed to throw stones at you. The worst is when you say it around other people who consider themselves “film lovers”. This is a death sentence.  People just don’t respect Shawshank Redemption as one of the greatest movies ever made and I have never understood why. If you say you love Citizen Kane or the Godfather, (one of which I have seen) someone will probably wet themselves. Especially if there a film student. But Shawshank Redemption deserves to be equally respected, and here’s why;

  1. It is the most rewatchable movie ever made

Oooo controversial I know. But hear me out.

When someone says rewatchable, a couple of movies come to mind. Back to the future, Jaws, Star Wars, Love Actually, and at the top, is Shawshank.  And I think there is a clear reason for this.

The ending.

The whole film builds up to the ending perfectly. Throughout the film, some of the worst possible shit happens to Andy Dufrene. He is falsely imprisoned, beaten, raped, locked away, lied to. But the audience knows what’s coming. They are sitting there, waiting for his moment of freedom and redemption. Waiting to see the look on the Warden’s face. Waiting for his reunion with Red. No other film has that same sense of satisfaction as Shawshank’s ending. It draws the viewers in, forcing them to wait to finish it and see his escape. Saying to their parents at 11:00 at night when its on Channel 7 “just one more bit.”

Just me? Fair enough.

2. The Writing

Every list I ever write will have a point about writing, mainly because it is very broad, makes you sound smart and to me, is the most important part of a film.

But Shawshank Redemption has some of the best one liners in movie history. Instead of ranting about how much I love them, I will simply drop my favourites below.

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really: Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

(I mean come on)

“Andy Furesne – Who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side”

“I’ve decided not to stay. I doubt they’ll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me”

“They send you here for life and that’s exactly what they take.”

“I like to think the last thing that went through his head, other then that bullet…”

Its like every second line in this movie is quotable. Something I don’t think I have ever seen in another film.

3. The structure

I honestly can’t remember where I heard this but it has always been stuck in the back of my mind ever since. (I am also probably butchering this) Basically, Frank Darabont structured the film as 6 short stories.

  1. Andy’s trial
  2. Andy’s first few years in Shawshank
  3. Andy and the library
  4. Andy and Tommy
  5. Andy’s Escape
  6. Red’s Redemption

Having such a unique and bold structure has always felt like I was watching someone’s entire life, rather then just a few parts of it. It makes the audience engaged in such a long film because they are only waiting for the conclusion of this story, not the whole film.

It’s always reminded me of a parent, uncle or teacher telling interesting anecdotes from their lives. Stories that hook you in and show you what type of person they are. Stories that have multiple characters that you only understand if you know that person well.

Ultimately, this film comes down to just pure excellent storytelling.

4. The casting

I just don’t think I have ever seen two roles cast so perfectly.

It sounds like a cliché, but Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are born to play these roles. Ever since this movie, both actors got stuck playing a similar role – a shy man, and an old narrator. And that’s for one very specific reason.  They are so good at it.

Tim Robbins can play that quiet, awkward man so accurately. That soft whisper he does is so effective. It draws you in, waiting for every word he perfectly delivers. Even his walk is scarily accurate to people I have met. His hands hanging limply by his sides, almost uncomfortable in his own body. But throughout the film, he drops the moments of anger. (at the warden, at life, at the sisters.) Its not overbearing yelling like you would see in 12 Angry Men, but a more subtle, realistic anger. Showing a man whose rage is slowly rising throughout the film, until his boiling point, where he is forced to escape.

Morgan Freeman. For me, his performance is special for two reasons. His voice and his face. Both combine to show you this man that is aged and worn down. The deep wrinkles and voice display this wise man who has been beaten down by the world around him. Its almost this purposeful contrast to how he acts, so young and full of life.

5. The antagonists     

There is undoubtedly another 10 points I could make as to why Shawshank Redemption slaps.  But I will finish on this one.  

For me there are roughly two types of villains in films. One is outright evil, doesn’t hide it and         basically knows it. This is like your Darth Vader, Jason, Freddy Kruger. But there is also one much harder to perfect. A villain that truly believes they are doing good work. For me, Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter comes to mind. And for Shawshank Redemption, it has both. Two villains you love to hate and are desperately waiting for their comeuppance. Two antagonists that are so evil you would watch the entire film just to see them crumble at the end.

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How to be a Screenwriter w/ Stephen King

Stephen King’s 8 Rules for Screenwriting

I read this book in about 4 days. It is one of the most interesting and engaging pieces of nonfiction I have ever read. But that’s not why we are here. We are here to apply what Stephen King says about novel writing to screenwriting. And fuck me is there a lot.

The book to me, is split into two halves. An autobiographical section, about Stephen’s early life, and a second section diving into the nitty gritty of writing. In this article, I am simply going to make a list about my favourite pieces of advice he gives.

I still highly recommend reading Stephen’s book.

  1. How to edit

“When you write a story, you are telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” John Gould

Stephen King’s first editor told him this and he says it is one of the best pieces of editing information he has ever heard. It basically means that your first draft should simply be whatever is honest to you. It doesn’t matter if its boring, over the top or silly. As long as its truthful to the story you want to write. However, when you are rewriting you need to remove all the elements that don’t add layers to this story, no matter how much you love them.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with door open. “

 When you are writing your first draft it has to be just you, the page and your thoughts. Otherwise, the story is tainted by other people’s opinions. But when you write the second draft, you should listen to your editor, wife, sister, dog, basically whoever you trust to read your shit.

2nd draft = the first draft minus 10%

Pretty self-explanatory no?

2. The Motherfucking Toolbox

Stephen’s toolbox analogy is something he learned from his Uncle’s toolbox. When you get stuck or things are hard, you use your toolbox. It prevents you from getting discouraged and helps you get straight to work. While the King is talking about novel writing, what he says still applies to screenwriting.

The First Level = Vocabulary. (It doesn’t matter how smart or fancy your vocab is, as long you use it correctly.)

The Second Level = Grammar. (I wont lecture you about grammar since Mine isss shocing)

The Third Level = Paragraphing (Using it correctly – its just instinct)

Dogs not necessary.

3. Writing Good dialogue.

For screenwriters, this is definitely one of the most important points. Writing good dialogue is essential for a good script. And what Stephen says is even more useful. To write good dialogue, it just has to be honest and authentic. Dialogue is a skill best learned by people who enjoy talking and listening to others.

King uses H.P Lovecraft’s as an example. While his tales of horrific monsters were genius, his dialogue was truly terrible. This is simply because he was a loner who didn’t interact with others. As a result, what he wrote well… it goes like this

“nothin… nothin… the colour…. It burns… cold an’ wet…. But it burns…. It lived in the well…” Etc Etc. You get the idea.

4. READ AND WRITE EVERDAY.

Every single day. No excuses

Find a place. Anywhere. Just read a script.

5. Fuck plot. Use your characters.

This is something Stephen consistently brings up throughout his book. He stresses that you should write these deep and multi layered characters and let them take the story. Wherever it goes is completely up to how these people would actually act in that situation. It sounds weird but he claims it is definitely the best way to right and engaging story.

Do not try and bend your characters actions to the plot!

6. “Use what you know to enrich the story, not lecture about it”

No one wants to read a 130 page script about your life, relationships, and goals. People don’t give a shit. However, what you can do is embed these stories from your own life into the characters. Give them life by blending them with your own relationships, family and friendships. It will make your characters so much more engaging because they will seem like real people.

In particular, King emphasises the importance of embedding your “work” into your stories. Quite literally, use the shitty jobs you have had to enrich the story. For example, John Grisham, he uses his past as a lawyer not to lecture but simply to add a sense of realism to the story.

7. Write about anything, as long as you tell the truth.

When you start writing, you may be sitting there thinking now what the fuck do I write about? The truth is, anything. Absolutely anything. As long as it is honest and genuine. An audience will quickly be able to spot someone trying to imitate another screenwriter or sell movie tickets. Audiences are attracted to a good story and relatability, not a plot twist, or the wanky techniques you use to seem indie or like you watch French new wave.

Sorry, rant over.

8. The ideal reader

I will finish on this final point.

When writing you need an ideal reader. For Stephen King, this is his wife. For you, it can be anyone. Mum, Dad, girlfriend, wife, dog, mirror. You just need to pick one person in your life and write for them. As you write the first draft, every emotional beat, scary moment or funny line, you should have them in the back of your head. What will make them react positively? What will make them laugh, cry or jump in fright. And when you finish your first draft, and only then, you show them first. You listen to what they have to say and make the changes you agree with. But this is very important. They have to be able to tell you the truth. No bias bullshit. Straight to the facts, what works and what doesn’t. And finally, you should respect their opinion. They have to know a decent amount about film and writing to make the cut.

“honesty’s the best policy” – Miguel de Cervantes

        “Liars prosper” – Anonymous

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6 Amazing Coming of Age Movies

For this list I am completely ignoring anything older then 20 years. That’s another whole list. Also, there will definitely be another one for all the ones I missed (Ferris Bueller, I am looking at you.)

6. Me and earl and the dying girl

  • Available on Disney

This movie could be on this list for one reason alone. The hospital scene. Very rarely do coming of age movies have such brutal scenes in them. It has always give me that hard to swallow feeling watching it and I think its for one key reason. Brian Eno’s Big Ship. This song is fucking insane.

5. Eighth grade

Available on Netflix

I’m going to take a wild gamble and say you have never seen or potentially heard of this movie. If you have, send me your credit card details and I will send you a fiver. 😉

But who you have heard of is Bo Burnham and his comedy. Surprisingly, that is the least interesting aspect of this film. The most you ask? The cringe. Eighth grade captures the cringiness of modern high school so well. Especially for someone who just finished it, I was sitting there thinking, “Jesus christ I have done exactly that.” Maybe its because it was made in 2018, but this movie just feels so scarily accurate compared to all the others. Bo knows exactly what it was like going to high school with social media and dumps it all into this film.

4. Rushmore

  • Available on Disney

Rushmore is by far the most unique coming of age movie on this list. The pacing, the story, the characters. I mean fuck it is Wes Anderson. And that’s exactly why it is here. It is so different to every other teenage story. In particular, the main character, Max Fischer. He completely contrasts the stereotypical teenage protagonist. Max is neither a nerd or a rebel but this weird mix of both. Something that is far more accurate now, as most teenagers don’t simply fit into one category.

3. Superbad

  • Available on Amazon

What more can be said about Superbad. I honestly spent 30 minutes simply thinking about what I would write about this film. There is one thing that has always amazed me about this movie. The rewatch ability. I would argue that there is not a more rewatchable coming of age story over this one. Every time it is on I have to sit down and finish it.

Making a good movie is a skill. Making a movie that can be watched 30 times is genius.

2. It’s kind of a funny story

-you gotta buy this one :/

It’s kind of a funny story has never gotten the praise it deserves. It is truly one of the best depictions I have seen about mental health in a coming of age movie. Also, it perfectly depicts the pressures teenagers face and almost offers a solution to these.

  1. The Way Way Back
  • Available on Stan

The Way Way Back is one of my favourite movies ever made. I watched it when I was around 15 and have probably seen it 15 times since. I fucking love this movie. And it comes down to two key reasons.

The writing and the performance of Sam Rockwell. Throughout this movie, Sam has some of my favourite lines in any movie ever. But what is so pivotal is his character. I have this feeling that when you are a teenager you pick someone in your life and replicate their mannerisms, whether you realise it or not. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash capture this so well with Sam’s character. All Duncan needs in his life is a male role model and Sam perfectly capture that, because at one stage or another, everyone needed theirs.