Review: Hacksaw Ridge is Anything But Rusty

Mel Gibson returns to directing after a ten-year hiatus with Hacksaw Ridge, a fact-based story of faith and violence surrounding a US Army medic who singlehandedly saved 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa without firing a single shot.

 

Former Amazing Spider-Man Andrew Garfield, last seen in the 2014 indie drama 99 Homes, stars as Desmond T. Doss, a conscientious objector whose efforts under enemy fire during World War II earned him the Medal of Honor.

 

The film’s balance of fervent belief and bloodletting falls well within Gibson’s filmography as a director; Braveheart (1995), The Passion of the Christ (2004), and Apocalypto (2006) cover similar thematic terrain. Gibson has been under the radar since 2006’s well-documented personal problems, although he has appeared in a handful of acting roles since 2010’s Edge of Darkness. 

 

That said, his strengths as an action filmmaker are anything but rusty. The lengthy battle portion of the film is clear to follow, even in its chaos, with graphic images – soldiers burning in flames, exposed entrails – that don’t seem gratuitous as much as the harsh reality of war. Blood droplets pelt soldiers like rain. The enemy fades in and out of smoke, and bullets ping off and crack through helmets. The cinematography, editing, and sound pack a surprising amount of suspense, no small feat considering audiences know the outcome.

 

This pragmatic tone creates a fitting tribute to the real Doss, a gentle, humble soul who died in 2006 at age eighty-seven. He appears in interview footage toward the film’s end, recounting battlefield moments such as how he kept praying, “Please, Lord, help me get one more.”

 

That matter-of-fact approach contrasts with the film’s first hour, which seems preachy as it establishes how Doss’s small-town Virginia upbringing shaped his convictions, then has him repeat them in one form or another. Once the Okinawa segment begins, however, this necessary groundwork enhances Doss’s heroics, already remarkable considering 1940s medicine and technology.

 

The script by Andrew Knight (The Water Diviner) and Robert Schenkkan (The Quiet American) depicts formative moments in Doss’s life before he discovers his medical calling and meets his future wife, Dorothy (Teresa Palmer of Lights Out), a nurse handling blood donations for the war effort. Their sweet courtship unfolds after a date to the movies with newsreels of the fighting abroad.

 

Doss follows his older brother (Nathaniel Buzolic of TV’s The Originals) into the military, saying he can’t let others risk their lives while he stays behind. As an unarmed medic, he reasons he can save lives instead of taking them. His father (Hugo Weaving), a psychologically wounded World War I veteran, and the Army find this incongruous. The brass first sends him to a psychiatrist and then a court martial over his refusal to handle a firearm. Along the way, those trying to wrap their minds around Doss’s beliefs beat him and berate him as a coward.

 

Does he think he’s superior to them? Can’t he just train with a gun and never touch it again? Why doesn’t he quit? The doe-eyed Garfield answers these questions and more with sincerity but not sanctimony and even a bit of humor. “I pray to God, and I like to think He hears me, but it’s not a conversation,” he says.

 

As Doss’s sergeant, Vince Vaughn isn’t as shake-in-the-boots intimidating as Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) or R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket), but his jabs at Doss and the other soldiers land well. Also effective are Sam Worthington (Avatar, Everest), as Doss’s flinty captain, and Weaving, whose first appearance pouring out whiskey for his dead peers gives way to believable vicissitudes of anger and pain.

 

Once Doss and the others are on the ground in Okinawa, any bravado evaporates as the soldiers make their way to the front lines. Doss scrambles into and out of foxholes and behind cover, chasing cries of “Medic!” with morphine, tourniquets, and assurances—first with his unit and then alone after an air strike forces those not wounded off the ridge. The film doesn’t cast him as a saint in these moments but rather an ordinary man who became the answer to other soldiers’ prayers.

Source: Script Lab

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:38+00:00 October 30th, 2016|Categories: main|Tags: |

How to Become a Better Writer: 4 Ways to Deal With Criticism

There’s a reason many of us writers refer to our projects as our “babies.” We’ve spent days, months, or even years nurturing the idea and breathing life into every sentence.

After that intimate and solitary process, it can be nerve-wracking to ask others for feedback.

Even when we’re less invested in a project — say, a quick blog post for a client — it can still sting to receive criticism.

Although feedback is incredibly valuable, I still find this part of the writing process to be terrifying whether I’m writing an article for a client or sharing my novel with a beta reader.

Most writers will have to deal with negative feedback about their work throughout their careers, and that’s a good thing! Hearing thoughtful criticism on your work is what helps you learn how to become a better writer — but only if you’re receptive to it.

First things first: Change your mindset

Before you receive your next round of criticism, practice thinking of feedback as a gift.

Every time someone comments on your work, good or bad, it makes your writing stronger. It’s not a negative reflection on you, it’s an opportunity to become a better writer.

Plus, thoughtful feedback isn’t easy to give. If you’ve found a thorough first reader, an insightful editor or a client who’s really able to articulate their needs and collaborate during the writing process, cherish their involvement! It really is a gift to work with people like that.

After I consciously focused on shifting my own mindset about difficult feedback, I began to look forward to honest criticism — and even to solicit it from clients, editors, and beta readers.

Once you’re prepared with a positive mindset about negative feedback, here’s how to deal with it in the moment.

Step 1: Take a deep breath

It’s okay if your first response is anger, frustration or guilt — that’s completely natural. But what you shouldn’t do is stew in that emotion, or let it direct your response.  

Take a deep breath, then spend a few moments collecting your thoughts. If you have time,  take a walk, call a friend, or do something fun to otherwise distract yourself. After you’ve cleared your head, come back and consider your response.

Step 2: Vet your source

Not all critics are created equal, and not all feedback should be taken to heart.

When you’re first starting out, you may not have developed your own internal compass. You may be overly confident in your work, or give too much weight to someone who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.

As you become a better writer, you develop a stronger personal rudder to help you self-edit and navigate feedback — but even when you know someone’s wrong it can still send you into a tizzy.

I once had a beta reader for a novella tell me only that she didn’t like it, and it didn’t make any sense. When I pressed her for more specific criticism, she said she didn’t have time to clarify.

Obviously not helpful, but just ask my husband about how I spent the next 24 hours stewing over whether or not I was a good writer!

Step 3: Categorize what you’re hearing

Once you’ve had a chance to cool down, go through the feedback again and try to understand exactly what you’re being told.

Is it a problem with how you are handling the topic? Do you need to tweak the voice? Did you not understand the assignment? If you’re writing fiction, is the problem with your story, your characters or your prose?

Taking this step will help you understand exactly how to fix the problem. At first glance it can often seem like everything is wrong — but when you start to categorize the feedback you’ll often see there are only one or two small things that need changed.

Step 4: Ask for clarification

Even if you think you completely understand the feedback, take a few minutes to make sure you’re on the same page. You may want to summarize the changes the person is asking for in an email, or hop on the phone to talk it through.

This is especially helpful if the feedback is from a client or editor — communicating with your clients can avoid future rounds of rewrites by clarifying things before diving into editing.

Do you have any favorite tips for dealing with difficult feedback? Let us know in the comments.

The post How to Become a Better Writer: 4 Ways to Deal With Criticism appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:42+00:00 October 25th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Screenwriter/Producer David Paterson On Adapting Novels Into Scripts

by Ashley Scott Meyers

In this episode of the podcast I talk with screenwriter and producer David Paterson about adapting novels and plays into screenplays. His latest film, The Great Gilly Hopkins, is an adaptation of the novel by the same name.

You can listen to the audio portion of the podcast by clicking here or through iTunes by clicking here.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:42+00:00 October 24th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

How to Sell Books: Get Offline and Meet Your Readers IRL

When I first started promoting my novel, I went in with the assumption that my promotional efforts would take place online, and only online.

After all, social media promotion is something I already know a lot about from my professional life. And where could I possibly have access to a larger audience?

In addition, like many authors, I am profoundly introverted, and I don’t love the feeling of being a sales rep for anything, particularly my own art.

But then, I made an unexpected discovery: There is a limit to what you can do, even on the internet.  

Connections over quantity

As my sales flatlined post-launch, I pulled my head out of the sand and took a look around.

To my shock, some of my peers were having great success with in-person events, which forced me to face a terrible reality: An effective platform is about making meaningful connections, not just fleeting touchpoints in front of as many eyes as possible.

Online promotion is great, and it definitely has its place, but nothing can replace the meaningful connection of talking to readers in person.

To sell my books, I was going to have to do more in-person events, too.

Getting started

I like to quantify my outreach efforts to help me measure whether I am moving forward or not– otherwise, outreach just becomes a giant black hole.

I decided to start with a goal of participating in one author event per month, or 12 over the first year. This seemed like a good balance between maintaining forward momentum and respecting how much energy events take from me.

I started in August, and have secured events to meet this goal through February along with an additional three booked for later in the year.

But the hard part isn’t the scheduling. It’s the events themselves.

I did not realize until I got started just how much strategizing and thought goes into how authors present their work for hand-to-hand sales.

But by asking some authors and other publishing pros I know, and by observing what works for other authors at events I have attended, I’ve picked up a number of methods to improve my sales.

Tips to Sell Books at Events

  • Let go of shyness. It’s common to feel intimidated when pitching your work to strangers, but you really just have to snap yourself out of it. There are no short cuts for this. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
  • Stand up. Standing behind your table instead of sitting tells people you are paying attention. It will also help you talk more easily with passers-by. Wear comfortable shoes!
  • Smile. Because we are humans.
  • Make eye contact. Again, like a human. Don’t be a creep about this by staring at each person who walks by with killer laser eyes, waiting for them to glance over so you can latch on. But do keep your head up and look around as people pass to create the opportunity to connect. (Put the phone away — no texting!)
  • Ask a question. When you do make eye contact, or if someone slows to look at your books, have a question ready to start a conversation. An open-ended question is best.



    I like to ask, “What do you like to read?” because I can use what they say in response to make a connection to why they might enjoy my book.
  • Have a hook and spiel ready to pitch your book. A hook is that five-second teaser that generates interest in your book. Once curiosity is whetted, the spiel is a longer follow-up to give the reader more information about the plot.
  • Have a display. Signs, tablecloths, tchotchkes, this really comes down to personal taste, but do something to visually reinforce your brand and make your space inviting.
  • Put your book in their hands. I noticed other authors doing this at a recent event, and it blew my mind. I started doing it myself, and guys, it works. My theory is, putting a book in someone’s hands triggers a sense of familiarity and ownership over the item. And no one likes to have something that is theirs taken away from them.
  • Give something away. If someone stops to chat, don’t let them leave your table without something in their hands. If they don’t buy immediately, you want something to remind them to do it later, with all of your website, book and social media information on it for easy reference. I use bookmarks and quote cards.
  • Have a goal. One author I talked to considers an event a success if she sells an average of one book per hour. Since I’ve decided to focus on building a platform rather than selling for now, I set a goal of about 20 new addresses for my email list per event day (depending on the event size).

The Multi-Book Difference

At one event I attended, I was stationed with three authors who were miles ahead of me in their writing careers. They each had at least six books to sell, compared to my one. Unsurprisingly, this led them to make a proportionally larger number of sales at the event.

The key was, they knew the differences between their books’ selling points. Not a horror fan? The tamer, no-violence thriller you will enjoy is over here. More into sci-fi than fantasy? Try this, not that. Knowing these differences, and how to relate them to different reader preferences, was a key aspect of their sales tactics.

This reaffirmed my penchant to write broadly within my genre, speculative fiction. Hopefully I can use this tactic to my advantage in the not-too-distant future.

Go make some connections!

Once I hit my stride, talking to readers in person at events is actually a lot of fun, even if it does steal my energy away. I always make sure to plan recovery time into my schedule after an event, and that helps make frequent events more manageable.

Getting in front of readers one on one creates a personal connection nothing else can replace. Don’t you care more about a creator you have met in person? So do other readers.

Don’t be afraid to get out there! Take a chance and try it out for yourself.

What do you do to connect with readers at events?

The post How to Sell Books: Get Offline and Meet Your Readers IRL appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:42+00:00 October 24th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Review: 'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back' Is Disappointing, Forgettable Sequel

VideoLee Child’s famous action hero was first brought to the big screen in 2012’s adaptation of the novel One Shot, the title changed to Jack Reacherin order to clearly identify the franchise and titular character. Tom Cruise’s casting was controversial among those fans who are more concerned with maintaining exactly

[…] Source: Forbes

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:42+00:00 October 21st, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Review: The Girl on the Train is Competent but Derivative

Invoking comparisons can be a tricky thing – particularly when it comes to a film’s marketing. On the one hand, selling a film by recalling similar material can be incredibly effective when it comes to attracting audiences – but when the comparison being invoked is also superlative, you risk sullying a film’s word of mouth. The Girl on the Train suffers from such comparisons in style, concept, casting and even release date to 2014’s Gone Girl – a bigger, better film in every way. And yet such comparisons don’t offer a full picture of what The Girl on the Train does well – and not so well. Taken on its own merits, this is a dark and engaging mystery film, featuring compelling performances from an A-list cast, that suffers from identity issues and a rushed, genre-confused final act.

Most of the film, though, is engaging enough to warrant a viewing if only for the outstanding level of immersion Emily Blunt achieves in her role as the alcoholic, emotionally-unstable Rachel Watson. She is a distraught woman reeling from her divorce from Tom Watson (Justin Theroux) who is now re-married and has a baby with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). This has her living like a zombie, commuting on a train in the same exact seat every day that passes by the home she once shared with Tom, and it’s through her performance that the film attempts to meaningfully comment on the tragic consequences of addiction and emotional abuse.

Then again, the real reason she’s glued to the seat is because of Megan (Haley Bennett) – their neighbor two houses down – who, to Rachel, seems perfectly happy: married, beautiful, and alluring in her mystique. This reminds Rachel of the joy of her former life, before her descent into her own personal demons, which soon leads to several invasions of privacy involving Tom and Anna’s new life.

Megan, meanwhile, has obvious shades of “Amazing Amy” from Gone Girl that are difficult to ignore. Like Amy, she’s written in the vain of an overused cliché: broken but beautiful. She’s blonde, bored by her suburban life, yet kept in place by the dependance of those around her. The perfect life Rachel thinks she sees is far from the truth. Fortunately, Haley Bennett plays her convincingly and director Tate Taylor doesn’t overstay her welcome due to the other thankfully nuanced characters that demand screen time. Megan becomes more and more believable as the film progresses, so much so that when she goes missing, the momentum of the film picks up naturally.

One of Girl on the Train’s strengths is in its balance between reality and the tidbits of memories Rachel tries to piece together. With her heavy drinking and a covered-up mystery, everyone, including Detective Riley (West Wing’s Allison Janney), finds her difficult to believe when she offers information regarding Megan – glimpsed from the train. The fast-paced editing, dark, grey tones, and the consistently heavy, melancholic pace add to the the film’s suspense by compelling us to learn more about Rachel’s character through our sympathy for her.

But while it does offer an intriguing mystery, that same melancholic pace never really amplifies or declines, leaving the film feeling fairly stagnant – especially when the plot tries to move along the rhythms of a thriller. It’s best to see it as a dark mystery drama anchored well by its ensemble cast – and yet, even then, it runs out of ideas by the final act when shocking revelations are made in a rushed, misconceived climactic showdown. 

After a final, emotional twist that sells the tragic consequences of Rachel’s demons, the film reduces itself to a melodramatic soap opera in which characters don’t act believably nor contribute to the film’s suspense. While the twists, acting and cinematography are alluring enough to make you care deeply for all involved, the final 15 minutes may change how you feel about the film as a whole.  

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Neither this year’s Gone Girl nor this year’s best thriller, The Girl on the Train is still a competently-made dark mystery clearly influenced by David Fincher’s unique stylings. However, it’s this influence in and of itself that threatens to undo the strength of its own story – especially after the climactic showdown proves underwhelming.

Source: Script Lab[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:42+00:00 October 20th, 2016|Categories: main|Tags: |

Why Fans And Press Should Relax About Batman Movie Rumors

We are just a little more than seven months away from the release of Warner Bros.’ DC superhero film Wonder Woman, and a little over a year away from the release of the studio’s long awaited superhero team-up extravaganza Justice League. The slate of DC Cinematic Universe (DCU) films is […]
Source: Forbes

By | 2016-10-20T16:47:06+00:00 October 20th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

How Plot Can Kill Your Character

by Tim Long (@ScreenplayStory)

Every story begins at your Initial Stimulus – that spark of an idea that captured your imagination. The thing that got you excited and revved up. That initial flash of creativity you just knew would make for a great movie idea.

Initial Stimulus is also something much deeper, though. Simply put, it’s your inspired connection to that basic story idea.

Having an inspired connection to your story idea is significant because inspiration is significant. It’s important to recognize that inspiration comes from passion, whereas motivation does not. When you’re motivated to do something, you want to accomplish that objective and then move on.

Inspiration is much more profound than motivation because it stems from passion. As such, it causes you to personally invest in what you’re working on, to connect to it emotionally. In short, motivation can be fleeting, while passion always endures.

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TYPES OF INITIAL STIMULUS

The Initial Stimulus can come to us in many different forms. It can be an intriguing character, like the dark side of Tyler Durden in Fight Club. It can be fascinating subject matter or an event that interests you, such as the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the film, Selma, or one woman’s inspiring activism portrayed in Erin Brockovich.

Or the Initial Stimulus can just be a simple “what if” that comes from the ether of your own imagination. What if a serial killer used the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi? That’s the “what if” behind the film Seven with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.

No matter how it comes to you, though, it’s important to understand the psychological impact that the Initial Stimulus has on the overall creative process. Having an inspired connection to your story idea is crucial to story development.

Why? Because it’s the driving force behind why you want to tell a particular story. It’s the momentum that will sustain you throughout the lengthy process of developing and writing a feature length screenplay.

And it’s also the thing that can cause your story to crash and burn, killing your character in the process.

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THE PITFALL OF INITIAL STIMULUS

Having taught Screenwriting at the MFA level for almost two decades, as well as having professionally consulted on north of five-hundred screenplays and films, I can say that a pervasive mistake I see all too often is that the writer gets so excited about their Initial Stimulus, that they instantly jump in and start plotting, never stopping to first define the single most important building block of story – character.

Character is the narrative cornerstone in building a screenplay with emotional resonance that an audience can connect with. Jumping right in and plotting your story is the equivalent of eagerly hopping into your car to go somewhere cool and exciting… Only to have no idea where you’re going or how to get there. It doesn’t make any sense.

So why do screenwriters do this then? Two reasons.

First, because plotting a movie is one of the more creatively exciting parts of the entire story development process. It’s one of the things that gets the artistic adrenaline pumping. It’s enjoyable to do.

Second, as people we tend to be vertical thinkers, so sequencing and creating order (or plotting) is something that is intuitive. It comes naturally to us.

Think about it: if a person looks up at the stars at night, the first thing their mind will do is to form shapes and patterns out of the stars. The reason being is, they’re intuitively trying to make order out of chaos. It’s called, Pareidolia, which is where the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none actually exists. This is actually hardwired in us as humans.

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THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF PLOTTING FIRST

This natural instinct of wanting to jump in and instantly create order by plotting our screenplay, well it ends up causing all sorts of narrative repercussions.

Most notably, of course, we end up with un-compelling characters that are afterthoughts – ones that lack authenticity. Instead, they become broad characterizations that are devices solely needed to serve our plot. Human chess pieces being moved around in a story in order to oblige a plot’s end result. Which is hands-down the quickest way to cut the life of your screenplay short.

Not to mention, by putting the cart (plot) before the horse (character), we often end up losing track of that inspired connection (Initial Stimulus) we originally had with the basic story idea to begin with!

All of this is why there are more unfinished screenplays than finished ones. More first drafts that never see the light of day than do. And more just plain bad spec scripts out there than good ones.

So as you begin to develop your story idea, always remember that once you have your Initial Stimulus in place… Stop! Resist that urge to jump in and start plotting the story. Fight that feeling of wanting to instantly work on plot. Instead, first develop and define the key building block of all successful stories – character.

In doing so, you’ll be able to better craft a plot that has emotional resonance that an audience can connect with.

~

tlTim Long is a screenwriter who has sold, optioned, and pitched projects at the studio level and has had original screenplays in development with Academy Award winning and nominated producers. Mr. Long is also a nationally recognized screenplay consultant and was Head of the MFA Screenwriting Program at FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts. He’s currently Founder of PARABLE, an online, interactive screenwriting course. Follow him on Twitter @screenplaystory

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:43+00:00 October 20th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Pamela Brill: Viva La Vulva! — The Pussy Revolution

When women are objectified, they can’t possibly be represented fairly so laws that benefit them become irrelevant. Equal pay for women is far from a priority if what you really are focused on is how they walk down a runway in stilettos.

Read more: Women, Womens Issues, Donald Trump, Misogyny, Raising Children, Women News

Source: Huffington Post Women’s News

By | 2016-11-11T12:49:48+00:00 October 20th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |