Posted on March 25, 2010 - by writerman
Some refreshingly direct wisdom on drama, the job of the writer and how not to be a dickhead, courtesy of Hollywood’s favorite literary pugilist, David Mamet.1
Highlights cut & pasted below, but if I were you I’d click through and read the whole thing at Movieline. For the record, I have no idea why it’s in ALL CAPS.
“THE JOB OF THE DRAMATIST IS TO MAKE THE AUDIENCE WONDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. NOT TO EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT JUST HAPPENED, OR TO*SUGGEST* TO THEM WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
ANY DICKHEAD CAN WRITE, “BUT, JIM, IF WE DON’T ASSASSINATE THE PRIME MINISTER IN THE NEXT SCENE, ALL EUROPE WILL BE ENGULFED IN FLAME”
THINK LIKE A FILMMAKER RATHER THAN A FUNCTIONARY, BECAUSE, IN TRUTH, YOU ARE MAKING THE FILM. WHAT YOU WRITE, THEY WILL SHOOT.
HERE ARE THE DANGER SIGNALS. ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.
ANY TIME ANY CHARACTER IS SAYING TO ANOTHER “AS YOU KNOW”, THAT IS, TELLING ANOTHER CHARACTER WHAT YOU, THE WRITER, NEED THE AUDIENCE TO KNOW, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.
DO NOT WRITE A CROCK OF SHIT. WRITE A RIPPING THREE, FOUR, SEVEN MINUTE SCENE WHICH MOVES THE STORY ALONG, AND YOU CAN, VERY SOON, BUY A HOUSE IN BEL AIR AND HIRE SOMEONE TO LIVE THERE FOR YOU.”
LOVE, DAVE MAMET
SANTA MONICA 19 OCTO 05
- Rumor has it this is from a memo Mamet wrote to the staff of The Unit. Of course, it’s probably only a matter of days before we find out the whole thing is a hoax, and the actual author is Kurt Vonnegut or Mamet’s dog walker or some guy who writes for The Onion. But does any of that really matter on the Internet? It’s still a fun read and pretty good advice. [↩]
Posted on August 5, 2009 - by writerman
Finally picked up my new business cards from the printer. Check it out:
Now, you too can get your very own limited-edition WM business card. And all you have to do is call the Writerman Hotline here in Los Angeles and make an appointment to take a meeting, do lunch, or hit the taco truck with your friendly neighborhood Writerman. What are you waiting for?
Also – mad props and undying gratitude to the fabulous Sara Bailey for making me look so good (on paper at least). thanks Bailey!
Posted on July 4, 2009 - by writerman
In the tangled jungle that is Los Angeles, people love to ask this one:
“So, what are your favorite movies?”
In the real world, this is a perfectly legitimate question that perfectly legitimate people ask one another all the time. But in the Hollywood World, this is a very loaded question. Depending on the location, time of day, and which one of you is expected to pay for that 15-dollar salad you’re picking at, the subtext of that question could be…
Do I want to work with you? Do you have taste? Do I really want to read the script you just handed me? Should I trust your opinion on the script I just handed you? Should I give you my cell number? Will 10% of your salary cover the payments on my new Lexus? Should I invite you to join my writer’s group? Should I sleep with you?
Whenever I am confronted with that question, I find myself ill prepared and I end up stumbling and rambling and naming at least one picture that I haven’t even seen. But no more! Today, I start the official Writerman “Top 10 Project” – where I put down my favorite movies right here on the Internet for all to see. Of course, I reserve the right to flip-flop1, change my mind, edit or revise this and any other Top 10 lists anytime I please. That’s what makes it a “project.”
So, without further preamble, here it is: the inaugural list of the Writerman Top 10 Project.
My Top 10 Favorite Movies of All Time
In alphabetical order2
- Bull Durham
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- Finding Nemo
- Pulp Fiction
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Stand by Me
- Star Wars3
- The Princess Bride
- In fact, after reading the list over, I’ll probably change it tomorrow. I mean, not a single Coen brothers, Hitchcock or Bogart movie? What jackass made this list? [↩]
- Picking 10 was hard enough, surely I can’t be expected to rank them. [↩]
- If you have to ask which one, we can never be friends. [↩]
Posted on April 2, 2009 - by writerman
Started working on a new script the other day. It’s set in a high school, and since I’m definitely not in high school anymore, I’ve been using it as an excuse to watch old episodes of Freaks & Geeks, turn Sunday into a John Hughes movie marathon, and hit the midnight screening of the Breakfast Club at the Regency Fairfax. Good times!
Now I know some people worship at the altar of the Geeks and the Freaks, and I can respect that. It was a great show. But I bet if you ask Judd Apatow, he’d agree that John Hughes is clearly the master.
There’s just no denying that every teen movie and tv show made after 1984 is heavily influenced by Mr. Hughes precarious balance of realism, comedy, and melodrama. In fact, I’d argue that the influence of Hughes’ movies extends beyond the screen. If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, there’s a good chance Sixteen Candles or Weird Science or Ferris Bueller had a direct impact on your young life.
- How many preteen geeks enrolled in computer classes in the desperate hope that someday they could make their very own supermodel, just like Anthony Michael Hall?
- On a personal note, it was Ferris Bueller himself who inspired me to start cutting class. Of course, I got busted a lot more than Ferris and I sure as hell never got to drive a convertible Ferrari.
- I even have a friend who, to this day, dances (un-ironically) just like Molly Ringwald in Breakfast Club.
To be fair, Hughes isn’t perfect. Maybe Andie should have ended up with Duckie, and maybe it was kind of anti-feminist when the basket case got a makeover so she could make out with Charlie Sheen’s brother. But for my money, John Hughes was one of the best and most influential writer/directors of the late 20th century.
Thanks John. We won’t forget about you.
Posted on April 1, 2009 - by writerman
Sometimes, when I’m not busy typing, I play the trumpet in a rock band.
This clip is from an interview 40% of the Amateurs did with LoudVine the week before we put out our new record. Which, technically, makes this post a shameless promotion for a shameless promotion.
Still: rock in the park!
Posted on November 25, 2008 - by writerman
One minute and fifty two seconds of the purest joy music can buy. I dare you not to smile.
Thank you Mr. Paul Simon and Sesame Street.
Posted on October 6, 2008 - by writerman
Back in 1978, a young guy named George called up his friends Steven and Larry to discuss an idea for a new movie. The three of them sat down and George told them all about a swashbuckling archeologist with a bad attitude and a great hat who went by the name of “Indiana Smith.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because the I’m talking about George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan, and the story that came out of this meeting would become one of my favorite action movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I haven’t seen it in a while, but when I was in college in Vancouver, there was an old second-run theater downtown that used to play Indiana Jones marathons on slow nights. Three movies for the price of one! We used to go early to catch all of Raiders and the opening sequence of Temple of Doom. Then, we’d head out to grab something eat and get back in time to watch the end of the second movie and settle in for Last Crusade. Good times. I know the truly hardcore nerd would have sat through all three, but I’m just not a big fan of Temple of Doom. Sorry, Steven, I know your wife is in it, but even the Babe couldn’t hit a home run every time he stepped up to the plate, right?
As it turns out, these early discussions were recorded, and recently some hard-working nerd has transcribed every single word. So now we can all read about how the story came together, how Spielberg hated the name “Indiana Smith” and pushed Lucas to come up with something better (I think you know what I’m talking about), and how they had so many ideas for the first movie that they needed to make two sequels just to squeeze it all in.
Plus, someone even took the time to assemble a bunch of the original concept sketches for the character, from back before he looked like Han Solo:
I can take no credit whatsoever for this discovery. I just read about it on the Mystery Man’s blog. But I strongly recommend. If you’re an Indiana Jones fan, an action movie geek, or just a writer looking for a new way to procrastinate, check it out:
Posted on October 5, 2008 - by writerman
I finally wrapped up a spec for this fun, inventive new show just in time for ABC to cancel it. Bummer, dude. You were totally right, Bill. I should have listened when you warned me that the future of the show was uncertain. Oh well – at least it was fun to write while it lasted. Goodbye Chuck & Ned!
On the positive tip, now I can share some of my other episode ideas for Daisies, since there’s no need to worry about someone stealing them and getting a glamorous and exciting career as a TV writer using the fruits of my labors. Enjoy:
A Renaissance Affair
When Sir Percival the Merciful (a Renaissance Faire performer) turns up dead, Ned and Emerson take the case. During his 60 seconds, the recently-deceased Knight tells them he was murdered by none other than the Black Knight. Unfortunately for our investigators, there is no Black Knight at the Faire, only a whole court full of suspects, many of whom seem to have lost track of the line between their job as Lords, Ladies and Knights and the real world the rest of us live in.
As they dig deeper, a second body is found and Emerson and the Pie-Maker must hurry to unravel the truth behind the dark secret of the Red Knight, an ill-fated love affair, a recently spray-painted suit of armor and a plot to overthrow the King.
A legendary tap dancer (and childhood hero of Olive’s) is murdered. The dead body thinks it was a member of the chorus line, which leaves Ned & Emerson with a pretty long list of suspects.
The only clue left behind is a single tap shoe. And so, in the strangest adaptation of Cinderella ever filmed, our heroes must find the one foot that fits into the fateful tap shoe. As they get closer to finding the truth, conflict arises between Ned (who thinks the shoe will reveal the killer) and Chuck (who believes the shoe belongs to the dead tap dancer’s one true love).
The Big Pie-Off
Behind Ned’s back, Olive and Chuck enter Ned and the Pie-Hole in the Big Pie-Off – the most prestigious pie-baking contest in the world. Ned is reluctant to participate, but when one of the judges turns up dead (face-down in a strawberry-rhubarb), he enters the competition as a way to go “undercover” and figure out who the killer is.
The only problem is that the dead pie-judge didn’t see who killed her, so the guys will have to use more conventional methods to solve the crime. Actually, there’s another problem: the remarkable freshness and longevity of Ned’s pies raises the suspicions of the organizers of the Pie-Off. This, of course, leads to a third problem when they hire a PPI (Private Pie Investigator), who trails Ned, finds evidence linking Ned to the murder of the judge and gets dangerously close to uncovering Ned’s real secret (the whole – touching dead people and bringing them back to life thing).
Posted on October 1, 2008 - by writerman
This morning, I ate the most delicious donut in the universe, courtesy of my man Bob:
Bob also supplies the hottest coffee in Los Angeles. Seriously. I stopped by Bob’s on my way back from an early morning surf. The next 30 minutes transpired as follows…
9:15 am: Purchase one small coffee & one raised glazed.
9:16 am: Eat donut.
9:17 am: Joy.
9:18 am: Pull out of the Farmer’s Market parking lot. Drive East.
9:24 am: Park Falcon at home.
9:32 am: Drag board and wetsuit up stairs into apartment.
9:36 am: Return to car and grab coffee.
9:38 am: Sit at desk.
9:39 am: Burn the shit out of tongue on first sip of coffee.
Will I never learn?
How do you do it, Bob, you deliciously evil genius?
Posted on September 25, 2008 - by writerman
OK, I’m not actually on MTV yet, but once those bitches get a look at this, it’ll happen. Wait, do they even play music on MTV anymore?
The Amateurs finally finished our new video! I had second thoughts about posting it here, but then I remembered:
If you’re not using the Internet for porn, gambling or shameless self-promotion, then you really aren’t using it at all.
Plus, the video looks great.
- Kevin the director really knows his shit.
- I’m in it for, like, almost 10 seconds.
- And, most importantly: my car is the star!
Sorry Keith, you might be the front man of this band, but I think we both know our little video is all about the Falcon.