E.T. Screenwriter Melissa Mathison Passed Away Last Week

November 10th, 2015

in News

Sadly last week Melissa Mathison, the screenwriter who helped to give us E.T. and such classic lines as "ET phone home," passed away at the age of 65 due to complications from cancer. Mathison's writing credits include The Black Stallion (1979), The Escape Artist (1982), Indian in the Cupboard (1995), and Kundun (1997). 

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The Satisfying Scene

May 30th, 2015

in Articles

Scenes must have a reason to exist in your screenplay. Each scene must advance the plot forward through dialogue and/or visual storytelling.  Characters’ journeys drive the script’s narrative, and each scene must steer their journey forward.  Although some scenes might not even contain any characters, these scenes must still provide information about your plot, as well as your characters’ lives and actions. There is no set rule as to how many lines, paragraphs, or pages constitute a scene. 

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Should you Enter Screenwriting Contests?

April 28th, 2015

in Articles

The following has nothing to do with wet t-shirts. This entry is actually about screenwriting contests - a subject with little marquee value. One of the most popular category of questions that I find in my e-mail box is about screenwriting contests. As I say over and over, I believe that most are a waste of energy and entry fee. Some - like the Nicholl and Disney Fellowships - are very reputable and have launched a few Hollywood careers. Regardless of how reputable any contest might be, the screening process for most seems tenuous. Low fees for contest readers and a bulk of scripts guarantees a sloppy vetting system.

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Screenwriting - Third Act Tips - The Final Payoff

January 28th, 2015

in Articles

Remember, your Third Act is buried in your First Act. You’ve already raised a question about your Protagonist, placed a significant obstacle (the first of many) in his or her way, and you’ve setup something that has to be resolved. Additionally, this final act resolution by the Protagonist often comes to signify their transformation.

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Interview with Screenwriter Mark Bomback

Screenwriter's Monthly April 2004

January 4th, 2015

in Interviews

Godsend stars Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as grieving parents who get the chance to have their son back thanks to a doctor doing secret fertility research (Robert De Niro). He clones their dead son into a new fetus that she can carry to term. Eight years later, the boy grows up to be the same as he was before, only now he’s having murderous visions, speaking in weird voices and generally disrespecting grown-ups. It is Mark Bomback’s first produced script since 1998’s The Night Caller, though he hasn’t had any shortage of work. He worked on Constantine and is writing a draft of Die Hard 4, as well as plenty of paying, though less visible, rewrite and development work.

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Interview Archive: Jeff Nathanson talks CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

This interview appeared in our March, 2003 issue of Screenwriter's Monthly Magazine

December 22nd, 2014

in Interviews

Jeff Nathanson is shy. When he comes into an interview, he leans all the way back to put as much distance as possible between himself and the interview. He also prefaces each response with a deep breath. Perhaps the critical lashing he took from Speed 2 made him cautious. Even the successful Rush Hour 2 was no critics’ darling. However, Nathanson has reason to be proud now as Catch Me If You Can lingered at the top of the holiday box office and earned various award nominations. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, a real life con artist who traveled the world, forged checks and impersonated pilots, doctors and lawyers.

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This interview originally appeared in Screenwriter's Monthly Magazine in April 2003

December 14th, 2014

in Interviews

David Ayer looks more like the guy his characters would arrest than the guy who wrote about the characters. With a shaved head and goatee, he fits the gangster stereotype. Talking to him, though, reveals a man of ambition and intellect. After a successful script doctoring career and after writing the script that gave Denzel Washington his Oscar for Training Day, Ayer took on another sort of corrupt cop story, Dark Blue.

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Confessions of a "Sometimes" Procrastinating Screenwriter

November 20th, 2014

in Op/Ed

First let me stop writing the script I am currently working on so I can pound out this short editorial. Though I should say allow me to stop bleeding at the keyboard as I struggle with the current scene I am writing. I have to admit that I am my own worst enemy as a writer.  I procrastinate, often, and it can sometimes be so debilitating that I never finish some screenplays. Why?

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Seven Lessons from Bob Nelson's NEBRASKA Screenplay

March 16th, 2014

in Script Reviews

The Oscar nominated movie NEBRASKA, with an award winning screenplay by Bob Nelson, is in my opinion one of the better scripts recently produced for screenwriters to learn a little something about the craft. Why? It’s the epitome of efficient and dramatic storytelling. The script is pithy, direct, yet it has depth and emotion (theme) that is so subtle in its presentation. 

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