IMAGINE A MOVIE: Part 9

DON’T STOP BELIEVING by Ernest Thompson ~ Now what? We’ve written a terrific script. Everybody likes it, except for all the people who don’t, but that’s typical. We went to a screening last night at the Directors Guild here in LA; I’m a member. The movie was WHITEY; guess what it’s about. It had great shots of Boston, sexy helicopter approaches to the federal courthouse and driving shots through Southie and the people, the natural-born

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IMAGINE A Movie: Part 8

THE SWEET SPOT by Ernest Thompson ~ We’re in love.  With BEAUTIFUL WOMEN.  All is well with the world.   The script is finished. Pop the champagne.  Call your mother; mine’s dead.   In my movie HEAVENLY ANGLE the filmmaker is asked (by the drunken mayor he’s trying to bilk for a budget), “So now what? Just add water and poof – Academy Awards, People magazine, Ellen?”  The filmmaker, played handsomely and winningly convincingly by

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IMAGINE A Movie: Part 7

LOVE NOTES FROM LUNATICS by Ernest Thompson ~ How to take other people’s brilliant ideas and call them your own. Also – how to prevent really crappy ones from ruining your script. Or your life.   When’s your happiest time as a writer? When you’ve got the GREATEST CONCEPT for a movie any human brain ever thought of and you can barely contain your excitement and all you’ve got to do is, you know, write

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IMAGINE A Movie: Part 6

THE PLOT OF YOUR LIFE by Ernest Thompson ~ You have one, correct? I know you have a life; you’re reading this; how exciting it is is your business; I’d be happy to hear the more salacious details. But imagine pitching the plot. It’s good practice. And can ameliorate the pressure writers feel sometimes trying to dream plots up. The greatest stories, really, are the simplest ones, leaving lots of space to embellish and elucidate.

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IMAGINE A Movie: Part 5

WAS IT SOMETHING I DIDN’T SAY? by Ernest Thompson ~ I hope so. Movies, by their nature, are studies in economy, in emotions under-expressed, in showing not explaining. The best writing in film is subtext, leaving the audience to fill in the blanks.   Audiences, even if they don’t know it, want to be part of the process. They want to figure things out; they want to be surprised; and they don’t want to be

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IMAGINE A Movie: Part 4

WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID? by Ernest Thompson ~ Yes! Every line that every character says is worth gold. You want to throw away precious minerals, you can, but if you think of all those words as priceless, perhaps it’ll help you quantify their value in your script.   Screenwriters who come from the theatre – I’m one – have an intrinsic disadvantage, balanced, fortunately, by a practiced appreciation for the essential urgency of the

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IMAGINE A Movie: Part 3

OUTLINE THIS by Ernest Thompson ~ 1. Do you always need to create an outline? No.   2. Should you always create an outline? Yes.   3. Does an Oscar-winning writer always use one? Of course not. And always regrets it when he doesn’t.   4. Let’s ask a character question: what is it in our character, I mean yours, that we, you, want to skip the outline part of screenwriting? Don’t say laziness; that’s

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IMAGINE A Movie: Part 2

BUILDING A STORY by Ernest Thompson ~ Half my life ago I was dating a woman People Magazine called the second most beautiful in the world and I was thinking two things: one, what kind of loser was I; second, really? And two, shouldn’t that have been enough? Beauty, it turns out, isn’t skin deep at all. Then what is it? We’ll get back to that.   That’s the Message part of storytelling; if we

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IMAGINE A Movie: Part 1

CREATING A SCRIPT FROM SCRATCH by Ernest Thompson ~ It starts with the story. Everybody’s got one. I sure have enough people approaching me with the greatest idea ever and wouldn’t I like to write it for them? No, is my standard answer and it’s not personal. Write it yourself, I always say, then it will be personal. Personal’s good. Not as in we can’t wait to hear the sexy secrets of your shocking biography,

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