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‘SNL’: Jimmy Fallon Is Jared Kushner To Baldwin’s Trump; Melissa McCarthy As Easter Spicey

Update with video Melissa McCarthy paid an Easter visit to SNL, reprising her Sean Spicer, this time in an Easter Bunny costume just as the real Spicer did during the George W. Bush days. McCarthy’s belligerent Spicer once again addressed the press, trying to make amends for that “Holocaust Centers” snafu by talking about “Concentration Clubs.”
Wishing everyone a Happy Easter, McCarthy rode off in a mobile egg. “Spicey’s gotta hippity hop,” she said, “cos this is probably…
Source: DeadLine

27 Amazing Writing Residencies You Should Apply for This Year

It’s a dream of many writers: to spend time at a quiet colony or residency where you can focus on your work. But too often the only writers’ colonies we hear about are The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, prestigious residencies that only accept a tiny percentage of applicants.

The truth is, there are lots of other wonderful writer’s residencies to choose from, many of which are less competitive, so you’re more likely to get accepted.

Our founder, Alexis Grant, enjoyed three highly productive residencies at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, and she is convinced that a big reason we don’t hear about the non-MacDowell-level residencies is because the writers who frequent these places aren’t always digitally savvy; rather than participating in online communities or blogging, they spend their time writing.

Here are 27 high-quality writing residencies and retreats you may not know about yet. While some of these are quite selective, others are a little more open with their admission policies.

1. Willapa Bay AiR

From the philosophy and mission; to the facilities; to the administration; to the meals; all has been well thought out. When I add in the lovely locale and the interesting and supportive Oysterville community I don’t know how it can get any better. — Betsy Best-Spadaro, visual artist

This fairly new residency program is already making waves. It’s located in Southwestern Washington and offers month-long residencies to emerging and established artists of all types. Lodging, meals and work space are provided to six residents per month from March 1 through September 30. $30 application fee.

2. Millay Colony for the Arts

For many reasons, my residency stay at the Millay Colony for the Arts has been the most prolific, in terms of artistic production and concentrated work. I attribute that to not only the bucolic and remote country landscape, which accords one lonely hikes, clear blue skies and muddy roads, but also the sheer lack of human interaction for my 26 days while in residence. — Kate Hers Rhee, visual artist

This small artist’s colony in upstate New York offers two-week and month-long residencies to six artists between the months of April and November. Unlike many other residencies, they don’t emphasize social events or speakers,  instead preferring for you to focus on producing your art. There are no costs, and food is included. You can also apply for a virtual residency or a “group residency” with your collaborating partners. $35 application fee.

3. Ucross Foundation

At Ucross I learned that I am capable of focusing deeply for long periods of time. I love to write. I don’t think I would have said that before this trip. — Edan Lepucki, novelist

A favorite among writers, this colony is located on a 20,000-acre working cattle ranch in Wyoming. It serves 85 artists per year, with up to nine people in residence at any one time. Lunches are delivered to your door, while dinners are eaten together in a group. Residencies last two to six weeks and are free of charge. $40 application fee.

4. Jentel

The month’s end is a time I am not looking forward to because with the space itself being gorgeous and comfy, the food being good, the people being wonderful, and me being productive. I can see myself dreaming of this place once I leave. — Jennifer Baker, fiction writer

Sitting just eight miles away from UCross is Jentel, which hosts month-long residencies year-round; two writers and four visual artists are accepted for each session. Though food isn’t included, they do provide a $400 weekly stipend to help with the costs of your trip. Applicants must be over the age of 25. $23 application fee.

5. Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

There was something magical about being in such a supportive and beautiful environment, having a different place (studio) to go to every day with the deliberate purpose of writing, and being inspired by the serious work ethic of all the other artists. — Penny Harter, poet

This selective residency is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and accepts artists of all types. Residencies are offered year-round and last from two weeks to two months, with 25 artists in residence at one time. You’ll receive three meals per day and are asked to contribute what you can, up to their $180 per-day cost to host you. $40 application fee. (TWL Founder Alexis Grant attended this residency, and it is a lovely setting!)

6. Brush Creek Arts Foundation

This place is truly amazing and inspiring. I spent my mornings, early afternoons, and evenings working on a new orchestra piece (still pending), and my late afternoons hiking around the ranch… The other artists were fascinating. — Kari Besharse, composer

Wyoming ranches are popular places for writer’s residencies! This one offers two- and four-week residencies, complete with lodging, meals, workspaces and natural beauty — though the site specifies that priority is given to applicants who want to stay for the long haul. They provide communal lunches and dinners. Closed in December. $40 application fee.

7. Writing Between the Vines

Like wine and solitude? Then you’ll love this residency. Available at several different vineyards on the West Coast, this is different from other residencies in that there’s no community of artists. You’ll have a private cottage in which to write for up to one week, with nobody else around to distract you. No meals are offered, though your stay is free if you’re accepted. $30 application fee.

8. Omi International Arts Center

The international character of

[Omi] sharpens your perspective on what it means to be a writer outside the U.S.A. in the 21st century… As for the writing, my main reason for being here, it went sailing along, with only a few days when the anchor dragged. — Alfred Corn, writer

Writers Omi welcomes published writers of all types for residencies of one week to two months. Located on 300 acres in upstate New York, they offer full room and board and frequently host dinner guests from the New York City publishing community. There is no application fee, and no fee to attend.

9. Norton Island Residency

How did I get here? Where am I? I feel like I don’t exist, and it’s nice. — The Magic Wonder Blog

This residency is located off the coast of Maine and offers a rustic and outdoorsy experience each summer for a flat fee of $125. When we say “outdoorsy,” though, we mean it, so get ready: Wi-Fi is limited and the program reminds you to “Watch out for wildlife—most of it amazing, some of it icky, all of it harmless.” $35 application fee.

10. Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts

There was time to sleep in, time to stay up late and work, time to nap, time to eat when it was necessary. It allowed me to get wrapped up in the novel completely… The process of engagement was so much more complete at KHN. — Theodore Wheeler, fiction writer

Located in Nebraska City, Nebraska, the KHN Center offers up to 70 residencies per year, for stays of two to eight weeks. If accepted, you’ll receive free housing and a $100 stipend per week to cover food. $35 application fee.

11. Blue Mountain Center

It’s hard to describe joy. It was like I had come home, but the way home would be in heaven: yes, a community in the Adirondacks, but cleaner, fancier, peaceful and safe. More art and more cookies. — Micah Perks, novelist

Go off the grid in the heart of the Adirondacks. This artist’s community offers three different month-long sessions in the summer and early fall, including free room and board. Cell phones aren’t welcome at the center, though you’ll be able to use its phone booth and computer room with ethernet plug-ins (no Wi-Fi here!). $25 application fee.

12. Martha’s Vineyard Writer’s Residency

Perhaps the biggest advantage of doing a residency is to reminded of what I learned  in graduate school: The importance of integrating and valuing regular writing and reading every day. It is easy to get distracted, rush through life, and do only the paid work and chores during the week. — Chloe Yelena Miller, poet and freelance writer

This residency wants to give you time and space to create. They host up to 10 writers at a time in the spring and fall for residencies of two to six weeks. The cost of lodging is $400 per week in spring and fall and $800 per week in summer, and food is not included. $20 application fee.

13. Vermont Studio Center

VSC recreates the best parts of the MFA experience: living in a community of writers (artists), having time to devote to your craft, the sense that what you are working on is important, and friends to have a beer with at the end of the night. — Brendan Lynaugh, writer

Another favorite is the largest international artists’ and writers’ residency program in the United States, hosting 50 visual artists and writers each month in the heart of Northern Vermont.

While writers give it high marks, it’s not cheap; for the complete program, you’ll pay $2,050 for two weeks or $3,950 for four weeks. Some fellowships, grants and work-exchange programs are available to help reduce your cost. $25 application fee.

writing residencies

14. The Edward F. Albee Foundation

My room looked out over a rolling lawn and at night I could hear deer crossing through the streams in the surrounding woods. It was beautiful. Everything I imagined and I was lucky enough to be in residence with a great group of people who were also amazing cooks. — Nichelle Tramble, novelist

Located on a knoll on Long Island, “The Barn” is easy to get to, yet still secluded. It’s open from mid-May to mid-October and accepts artists for four- or six-week residencies. The Albee Foundation can accommodate up to five people at a time and does not provide food. But there’s no cost to apply and no fees if accepted.

15. Wildacres Retreat

If you’re looking for a short residency on the East Coast, look no further. Wildacres offers one- and two-week residencies from April through October. You’ll stay in one of three cabins on their property in the mountains of North Carolina. Meals are served in the main lodge, where you’ll interact with non-artists. There is a $20 application fee but no cost if accepted.

16. The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow

It was a game changer. I learned a great deal about me and my life as a teacher-writer. It is no small thing to come face to face with one’s work with no distractions. And while it is not something I could do on constant basis… it is something I plan to incorporate into my writing year from now on. — Stephanie Vanderslice, creative writer and teacher

Open year-round, this colony in Arkansas hosts 50 writers each year for residencies ranging from one week to three months. If accepted, you’ll receive either a subsidized general residency or a fully-funded fellowship. Actual costs of the residencies are $175 per night, and non-fellowship residents contribute a flat $75 per night. You can also expect to pay small fees for cleaning, Internet access, as well as an application fee.

17. Writers in the Heartland

I’m back from my writing residency, which I can only describe as a wonderful and strange week full of so much hard work, good company in the other writers, and warm hospitality from the spa staff and guests. — Laura Maylene Walter, fiction writer

This small program in Illinois offers no-cost residences in September and October to up to five writers at a time. They provide three meals a day and 32 acres of woods and farmland for hiking, running and meditation. $20 application fee.

18. Artcroft

My writing for these first couple of weeks has been going well. The structure I set up for myself is working as I had hoped. I am getting to know the characters and find them interesting. I’m enjoying the story that is unfolding. — Jason F. McDaniel, writer

Ever wanted to work on a cattle ranch? Here’s your shot. Artcroft offers four-week residencies on a working farm in Kentucky between May and October. They provide lodging, but you’ll be expected to contribute $50 per week toward food. You’ll also help with cooking and other chores around the ranch — but don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to indicate your work preferences in the application. $30 application fee, and a refundable $200 security deposit if you’re accepted.

19. Hedgebrook

I had no book when I was accepted to Hedgebrook in 1995. I’d published poems in a few journals but that was all… Fast forward 18 years. The stay at Hedgebrook changed my life in several important ways. — Susan Rich, poet

While this residency is pretty well-known, we wanted to include it on this list because it’s only for women, and only for writers. In their words, “We provide the time, space, and nourishment. All you do is write.” Featuring six cottages located on Whidbey Island, outside of Seattle, 40 women attend each year free residencies of two to six weeks from February through October. $30 application fee.

20. The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences

You know that saying, “I can hear myself think?” At this writer’s colony, I can. I can hear the words and phrases bouncing around in my head, begging me to put them down on paper… I can get to the heart of what I’m here to do: Create. — The Write Life founder Alexis Grant

Located on 600 acres in the mountains of north Georgia, residencies last from two to eight weeks. For food and lodging, you’ll pay $235 per week — a fraction of the total $1300 cost to the program. Limited scholarships are available primarily for first-time residents. $30 application fee.

21. Kerouac Project

This residency allows writers to spend three months typing away in the Orlando cottage where literary legend Jack Kerouac wrote his acclaimed Dharma Bums. The Kerouac Project offers four residencies a year, and residents are expected to spend their time on their project, participate in a Welcome Potluck Dinner at the start of their residency, and read from their work at the end. (Other events and workshops are available if a resident is interested.) Participants also receive a $1000 food stipend. $30 application fee.

22. New Orleans Writers’ Residency

There’s little more inspiring than jazz, strong cocktails and beignets. If you want to do some hard work in the Big Easy, consider applying for the New Orleans Writers’ Residency. Starting in mid-July, you’ll spend four weeks in a historic house with up to seven other writers, including one or two same-sex roommates. Better yet, the program offers continental breakfasts as well as a $200 weekly stipend for food and living expenses, and up to $500 for airfare. $25 application fee.

International Residencies

23. Gullkistan (Iceland)

As much as I love New York, I wanted to spend a month in a setting that couldn’t be more different — I wanted sublime natural beauty, peace and quiet, relaxation and simplicity — a reset button for myself. Gullkistan was an ideal answer. – Ben Valentine, writer

Located in Iceland’s Laugarvatn Valley, this quiet getaway has mountains, woods, creeks, and a peaceful setting. They welcome all sorts of artists and writers and have space for eight people at a time. The minimum stay is one month, but they may be able to work out a shorter stay for people who are interested. Fees vary based on accommodation preference, starting at 850 Euros. No application fee.

24. 360 Xochi Quetzal (Mexico)

This residency in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico offers four live/work spaces in a small town with horses trotting on cobblestones and cowboys riding by. Writers over the age of 23 are welcome to apply for free one-month residency programs that include accommodations and a food stipend of 1,000 pesos. You can even bring your significant other, if bed space allows, for an additional $200 charge. Apply for a summer or winter program or rent a live/work space other times of the year. $39 application fee

25. Arteles Creative Center (Finland)

Located in the Finnish countryside, these one to two-month themed residencies are held at various intervals year-round and house around 10 artists at any given time. Food is not provided, but participants enjoy a traditional Finnish wood-burning sauna and have access to a car and bicycle. Financial support is available, which reduces the cost to 970 Euros per month for one person in a single room with studio space; the full cost is 1,940 Euros per month.

26. La Napoule Art Foundation (France)

Apply for this interdisciplinary group residency and France for a five-week residency. Up to 10 artists at once live and work in Chateau de La Napoule, where they enjoy single rooms with a private baths. Breakfast and dinner are provided on weekdays. $30 application fee.

27. Red Gate Residency (China)

Live and work in Beijing, China with this program which provides one to six-month residencies. Up to 20 residents can be in the program at any one time. However, participants are expected to pay their own living expenses during the program or seek funding and grants from artist organizations in their home country. Participants stay in downtown apartments.

This post originally ran in October 2015. We updated it in April 2017.

The post 27 Amazing Writing Residencies You Should Apply for This Year appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:22+00:00 April 14th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

'Fate of the Furious' Revs Engines, Looking at $100+ Million Opening Weekend

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: After bringing in $10.4 million in late night shows on Thursday night, Universals The Fate of the Furious brought in an estimated $46.5 million on Friday, heading toward a three-day weekend around $103.8 million.

Additionally, the film began its international run on Wednesday and has since seen the largest opening day of all-time in Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Peru, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, the…
Source: Box Office Mojo

By | 2017-04-20T11:45:24+00:00 April 13th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

'Fate of the Furious' Targets International and Worldwide Opening Weekend Records

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: After bringing in $10.4 million in late night shows on Thursday night, Universals The Fate of the Furious brought in an estimated $46.5 million on Friday, heading toward a three-day weekend around $103.8 million.

Additionally, the film began its international run on Wednesday and has since seen the largest opening day of all-time in Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Peru, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, the…
Source: Box Office Mojo

By | 2017-04-16T01:48:30+00:00 April 13th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

How to Work With a Beta Reader: 5 Tips for Success

For fiction authors, beta readers are an important part of your team.

Beta readers are non-professional readers who “test” your book before it’s ready to hit the market. They might point out plot holes, confusing character motives and issues with believability in your story.

Usually beta reading takes place after you self-edit but before a professional edit. That way you can iron out the kinks before putting the finishing touches on your book.

Preparing to work with beta readers? Consider these five tips.

1. Work in batches

One strategy to help strengthen your stories is to work with beta readers in batches.

You might send your first beta reader draft to two or three people. Then you’ll implement their feedback and send the next draft out to the following group two or three people. Do this a few times depending on how much work the book needs.

The reason I don’t recommend sending out your manuscript to all your beta readers at once is because even after the first batch of feedback comes through, there might still be kinks to catch.

Also, let’s say you rearrange scenes, add an epilogue or rewrite some parts of the book. You’ll want to get feedback on the new version, too.

2. Send your beta readers a list of questions

Since beta readers aren’t professionals, they don’t always know what to look for in your manuscript. Ask them questions to help guide their experience.

Those who have beta read before — either for you or another author — will have a good idea, but if they’re new to beta reading, asking smart questions helps to give them some guidance.

Some generic questions you might ask include:

  • Did the opening scene capture your attention? Why or why not?
  • Did you notice any inconsistencies in setting, timeline or characters? If so, where?
  • Did you ever feel confused or frustrated with the story? If so, at which parts?
  • Was the ending satisfying and believable?

If you have specific concerns about your story, be sure to ask about that, too.

I suggest keeping your list of questions short (about 15 or less). Too many questions might turn some people off.

3. Ask your beta readers to take notes

Another way to maximize the impact of feedback is to ask beta readers to take notes while reading.

It helps you pinpoint where changes need to be made and gives you a feel for how they reacted while reading.

Remember, your readers are doing this for free. I never require anyone to answer my questions or take notes, but making the suggestion helps guide them and improves the type of feedback you receive.

4. Send a thank-you gift

It’s not customary to pay your beta readers. They are non-professional volunteers, so it’s different than paying for a professional editor.

However, a thank-you gift is a nice gesture.

I’ve found that all the beta readers I’ve worked with have been more than happy to simply receive a book for free, even if that means they have to leave feedback on it. Most are surprised and excited when I tell them they’ll also be receiving a print copy of the book when it’s finalized.

I send gifts because it’s really the least I can do in exchange for them helping me out.

You don’t have to send out print books, but do make sure your beta readers feel appreciated for the time they put into helping you.

5. Work with new people

Avoid working with the same people for every book.

As beta readers become more familiar and comfortable with your writing, it can be difficult for them to see the flaws.

Try to add a few new people to your team each time, preferably one or two who have never read your work before so you get fresh eyes on your work. You can connect with new people by asking your current beta readers for suggestions. They probably know a friend or two who’s willing to help out.

For people you stop working with in the beta reader stage, consider moving them to your Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) team. They’ll still get a free copy of your book, but it will be closer to finished, and won’t need the same in-depth feedback. Instead, your ARC readers will help you gather reviews for release day.

The beta reading stage can be long and sometimes difficult if you don’t already have a team in place. That said, it’s definitely worth it, and your beta readers can do wonders for your story.

What’s your beta reader process like? Share with us in the comments!

The post How to Work With a Beta Reader: 5 Tips for Success appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:22+00:00 April 13th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Screenwriting 101: How to Create Likeable Unlikeable Characters

It’s a note I’ve received many times, “this character is unlikeable. How are we supposed to follow an entire TV Series/Feature for him/her and root for them?” And as far as I’m aware it’s a common note I’ve seen given to many other writers. The truth is we love to write unlikeable characters and that makes complete sense. As writers, we are drawn to characters whose minds delve into the darkest regions of our psyche. Let’s face it, no one’s all that curious about what goes on in the mind of a happy-go-lucky soccer Mom. Not that there’s nothing interesting there, but it is in the unlikeable that we see part of ourselves we either may not have the courage to access or wouldn’t want to. Characters who delve into our darkest fantasies or curiosities as Carl Jung may describe it their shadow has become a prominent part of their primary personality.

The tricky part is making these characters likable. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to pull out a little Blake Snyder for you right now. To create an unlikeable character you essentially have to “save the cat.” I’m not a big fan of this phrase. I mean, come on, can we imagine Cersei or Joffrey Lannister from Game of Thrones saving a helpless cat just to make us warm up to them? I can’t. At least not without some suspicion as to what other more gruesome fate would await that poor feline. “Save the cat,” feels like an all too wholesome deed for a predominantly unlikeable character. So here’s the question. Why are we so enthralled by characters like Cersei Lannister, Walter White, Don Draper, Travis Bickel (Taxi), Mark Zuckerberg (The Social Network) and Henry Hill (Goodfellas). We love these characters, but why? And to skip over another cat analogy, we love these characters because they have flaws and wounds that are relatable. We see ourselves in their vulnerability, and yes, at times revel in their retribution, or hell, even admire some of their characteristics.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we? Now, a fair warning, there are plenty of spoilers ahead so I’ll try to break the characters down in a way where you can skip over anything that you don’t want to be ruined.

Game of Thrones has been one of my great TV obsessions, as I’m sure it’s been for many of you. I’ve had some friends comment that they dislike the show for its lack of “likable” characters and that they just can’t get into how terrible they are to one another, but this is the reason I love it. Cersei is by far one of my favorites. Yes, the Lannisters do unspeakable things to people, but between herself and her brother Tyrian, these two characters have managed to outlast so many of their family members. The moment I grew to love Cersei was during her second season monologue, during the battle of Blackwater in which she was forced to sit idly by, trapped with the other “lesser women” while the men went out to fight. Here, while explaining to Sansa Stark what will happen when the keep is taken, she reveals her first real sign of fear and vulnerability. This is particularly notable for a character who, on all other occasions, stands head-to-head with any male adversary that comes her way. Now she has been whittled down to her gender, forced to hide in fear while the men did the work. Another great example is more recently in seasons 5 and 6, after having been humiliated by the High Sparrow and his lot, forced to walk naked through the streets while being taunted and abused in every manner of fashion. Here we may have reveled in her comeuppance, but I know for myself as the scene drove on I pitied her, and when she got her revenge at the end of the following season by (SPOILER ALERT) blowing up the temple with all her enemies gathered within, I couldn’t help but revel in her victory as I know many of my friends who watch the show had.

Let’s take a look at another favorite, Walter White. Why has Walter White captivated such audiences in Breaking Bad? Why do we root for him as he is ruthlessly kills and destroys any rival that may threaten his empire? Simple, he comes from humble beginnings. Think of it for a minute. Why did Walter White suddenly decide to cook meth to begin with? It was a means to an end. An incredibly intelligent man, somehow forced into a mediocre life, now diagnosed with cancer is trying his best to see that his wife and disabled son are well supported when he passes on. The only problem is, that doesn’t happen, and yet, by the time he’s crossed the point of no return we are already invested in this loveable character who has unfortunately become corrupted by his own devices.

Here’s one that takes a different path, Don Draper of Mad Men. I dare say it, but it’s hard to find a loveable or redemptive quality about this man. So why do we admire him so? Granted a large part has to do with many of the characters with more admirable qualities, like Peggy, that surround him, but ultimately we seem to love Don Draper. He represents that greatest of American qualities — he pulled up his bootstraps and by any means necessary made it to the top. We admire his success, it’s the life some part of us wishes we could have. Of course, not all of us want to be womanizers or neglect our family, but to watch him in the room at work, we all aspire to be the Don Draper of our respective craft –ruthless, intelligent, with a dash of class and wealth.

Now, many of these characters reside in the realm of TV, so for one more example, yes one more, just “drink your juice, Shelby.” Let us look into Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Travis Bickel. A man seemingly on the edge. We can’t take our eyes away as he spirals down the rabbit hole of repressed rage and desire. Yet why do we follow this man? He’s clearly a loner and a psychopath. But perhaps that’s why we love him. Bickel represents are darkest repressed feelings. The anger at the unfairness of life we’ve all felt. The hurt and sexual desire we’ve felt for a person yet find our feelings unreciprocated. His angst is our familiarity. The only difference is he’s willing to go down the path to explore those emotions while we stay safely at home, cringing at his actions. Until he finds hope in Iris, Jodi Foster’s character, a chance to save someone from the darkness that rage within him, and he steer the course to redemption.

So why choose an unlikeable character? In some regards, they are difficult to write, but at their core, the conflict both within and around them makes them ripe for storytelling. The tricky thing here is to set your character along his or her dark path without making a story that makes your audience turn away in disgust. These characters all have a humanity about them. They are ruthless, but we understand and feel empathy for their flaws, their fears, and their pain. They all have some form of an admirable trait and a goal the audience can relate to. Whether it’s taking care of one’s family through any means necessary, wanting to exact revenge, rising to the top of our career, or simply fulfilling our deepest and most carnal desires, we write them to explore the unexplored part of ourselves.

With such characters, it is important to be self-aware with your work. A script with a theme of “people are terrible and should all be destroyed,” would be a much less compelling or attractive story than a story that can justify an unlikeable character’s actions through a theme such as “crime doesn’t pay.” The character must learn his lesson through his bad behavior and in your writing you must make the audience aware that you are aware that your character’s behavior is repellent; however, in your character’s mind, their ends justify their means.  And if you’re going to redeem them by the end of your story, you better put them through hell and make them suffer for the damage they have caused just like Travis Bickel.

The easiest example I can describe as a path to redemption is the “Kingslayer” Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones. A once proud and skilled warrior who felt near invincible in his position is literally cut down by his captors when they slice off his right hand. Now Jamie must not only relearn the skills that came to him easily when he had the use of his sword hand, but is now humbled by the realization that if he is going to make it out alive he will have to rely on the help of others, many of whom are ones who he once viewed as his lesser.

Likable characters are all well and good, but at the end of the day who doesn’t love a bad boy…or girl for that matter. 

Source: Script Lab

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:22+00:00 April 12th, 2017|Categories: main|Tags: |

First Ten Pages: The Sound of Music (1965)

Screenplay by: Ernest Lehman

Julie Andrews and Christopher Lee star in this classic musical about a nun named Maria who is sent to care for the Von Trapp children in Salzburg, Austria. Screenwriter Ernest Lehman seamlessly weaves the 5 major rules for a screenplay into the first 10 pages. Let’s break them down. 

CHARACTER INTRODUCTION

A good screenplay will introduce the main character with flair, which helps to augment the importance that character holds over supporting ones in the reader’s mind. It gives us a reference point, a human context to discern the world the screenplay describes. Consider Lehman’s style as he introduces us to a girl named Maria.
___________________________________________________________

PAGE 1 

FADE IN

EXT. THE AUSTRIAN ALPS – DAY – HELICOPTER SHOTS

The screen glows an eerie blue, then fills with swirling white mists. We fly through the misty cloud and emerge over a craggy, snow-draped mountain range.

The massive, forbidding peaks stretch to the horizon, then disappear behind more dense mist. The white fog gives way to silky sheets of snow covering a mountainside.We fly over a sheer rock face. Hundreds of feet below a river runs through a grassy valley like a glistening white ribbon. The snow-covered Alps give way to gently rolling hills and lush forests. Birds whistle. We fly out from behind a hillside and over a broad lake, glittering in the brightening sunshine. MUSIC sneaks in. 

We fly over a clear glassy lake that mirrors a huge mountain beside it and the blue sky above. Then over a magnificent green valley nestled among the hills. In the valley below, the roofs of a small town lie clustered together around a church and its steeple. Now, we glide over elegant, lakeside castles and mansions with acres of emerald green farmland. 

We fly toward a sunny alpine meadow where a young woman with short blonde hair strolls through the grass, swinging her arms in a carefree stride. She wears black shoes and stockings and a gray smocked apron over a black dress. 

Her name is Maria. As we close in on her rapidly, she spreads her arms and twirls in a joyful spin. 

MARIA
The hills are alive with the sound of music. With songs they have sung for a thousand years. The hills fill my heart with the sound of music. My heart wants to sing every song it hears. My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds that rise from the lake to the trees. My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies from a church on a breeze. She runs to a brook and skips stones in it.

___________________________________________________________ 

This is a tracking shot on steroids. We start in the clouds, immersed in “swirling white mists”, a sign that this will be a whimsical, light, and airy film. Since the mountains play a pivotal role in the conclusion of the film (on the last page of the screenplay, the Von Trapp family escapes through the mountains to elude capture from the Nazis), Lehman describes them to us on the first page as we swoop down on the central character.

Her name is Maria and the first words out of her mouth are words of song. She is blissfully happy and free as a bird. As she stretches her arms and fills the air with her music, we understand this is a woman who is independent and carefree. In the pages that follow this wonderful opening, we discover she is a nun, something that completely contradicts our first impression.

Contrast in film is critical. It helps sharpen a reader’s interest and accentuate a character’s disposition. A woman like Maria wouldn’t necessarily thrive in a convent, an observation that hasn’t escaped the watchful eyes of Maria’s fellow nuns. Consider the following exchange the Reverend Mother Abbess has with Sisters Berthe, Bernice, Sophia, Catherine and Margaretta on page 3.

___________________________________________________________

PAGE 3

SISTER BERNICE
Reverend Mother?

MOTHER ABBESS
Sister Bernice? 

SISTER BERNICE
I simply cannot find her. 

MOTHER ABBESS
Maria? 

SISTER BERNICE
She’s missing from the Abbey again. 

SISTER BERTHE
Perhaps we should have put a cowbell around her neck.

SISTER MARGARETTA
Have you tried the barn? You know how much she adores the animals. 

SISTER BERNICE
I have looked everywhere, in all of the usual places. 

MOTHER ABBESS
Sister Bernice, considering that it’s Maria, I suggest you look in someplace unusual.

Sister Bernice nods and walks away. The three nuns cross the courtyard.

SISTER BERTHE
Well, Reverend Mother, I hope this new infraction ends whatever doubts you may still have about Maria’s future here. 

MOTHER ABBESS
I always try to keep faith in my doubts, Sister Berthe. 

SISTER MARGARETTA
After all, the wool of a black sheep is just as warm.

SISTER BERTHE
We are not talking about sheep, black or white, Sister Margaretta. Of all the candidates for the novitiate I would say that Maria is the least likely–

MOTHER ABBESS
(chides them)
Children, children.

Mother Abbess sees several nuns gathered, staring at them, puzzled.

MOTHER ABBESS
(to the other nuns)
… er, we were speculating about the qualifications of some of our postulants. The Mistress of Novices and the Mistress of Postulants were trying to help me by expressing opposite points of view. Tell me, Sister Catherine, what do you think of … Maria?

SISTER CATHERINE
She’s a wonderful girl … some of the time. 

MOTHER ABBESS
Sister Agatha? 

SISTER AGATHA
It’s very easy to like Maria … except when it’s, uh, difficult. 

MOTHER ABBESS
And you, Sister Sophia? 

SISTER SOPHIA
Oh, I love her very dearly. But she always seems to be in trouble, doesn’t she?

SISTER BERTHE
Exactly what I say! She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee. Her dress has got a tear. 

SISTER SOPHIA (sings)
She waltzes on her way to Mass. And whistles on the stair. 

SISTER BERTHE (sings)
And underneath her wimple. She has curlers in her hair.

___________________________________________________________

Lehman masterfully accomplishes two things in this scene. By contrasting Maria’s joyful singing on the hills with a serious discussion by Maria’s superiors about her absence, Lehman helps us to understand the dramatic situation that will soon follow. Sister Bernice’s line, “She’s missing from the Abbey again”, clearly informs us that this has happened before. Maria is a caged bird. Something must give.

Secondly, as the nuns express their frustration with Maria by singing, Lehman reinforces that we are reading a musical. Maria will not be the only one in this screenplay who will sing. Music will be the language all characters in this screenplay will share. 

TONE/GENRE

From the very first word spoken, rather sung, we know this is a musical. It will be a film where the characters will express their feelings, their problems, their thoughts in songs. This is a screenplay dripping with nostalgia as it fondly describes the golden age of the thirties in a light, airy style. 

WORLD OF THE STORY

After the first page describes the majestic green valleys of the Alps in breezy fashion, the second page clarifies the world we have descended upon. ___________________________________________________________

 PAGE 2

MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE – VIEWS OF SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

A title reads: “Salzburg, Austria in the last Golden Days of the Thirties”

INT. THE ABBEY – DAY

Nuns in black habits and novices wearing smocked gray aprons walk calmly across a cobblestone courtyard. Carrying Bibles, they file into a chapel decorated with richly colored stained glass windows and stone sculptures. The women chant in Latin: “Dixit dominus” — followed by a “Morning Hymn” and “Alleluia.”

___________________________________________________________ 

This will be a period piece in a world defined by authority and strictness. This is a world that has imprisoned our heroine. The story will be about her escape from this world. Music will be her saving grace. 

DRAMATIC SITUATION 

On page 9 and 10, we see Mother Abbess and Maria talk about her “problem”. The simmering discussion comes to a boil…

___________________________________________________________ 

PAGE 10

MOTHER ABBESS
Maria … when you saw us over the Abbey wall and longed to be one of us, that didn’t necessarily mean that you were prepared for the way we live here, did it? 

MARIA
No, Mother, but I, I pray and I try. And I am learning. I really am.

MOTHER ABBESS
And what is the most important lesson you have learned here, my child?

MARIA
To find out what is the will of God and … to do it wholeheartedly.

The Reverend Mother stands up decisively.

MOTHER ABBESS
Maria, it seems to be the will of God that you leave us.

MARIA
Leave?! 

___________________________________________________________ 

Here we see Maria’s call to adventure, given to her by none other than her superior, Mother Abbess. In the pages that follow, we learn that Maria is tasked with the job of governess to the Von Trapp children, who are trapped in a prison of their own. They are a perfect challenge for Maria, and she uses her musical talents to first survive, and later thrive, in her new home.

THEME 

The theme of this screenplay is music and the roles it plays as it spins an unconventional tale about a girl named Maria. We learn that music serves several functions in this story. In the first Act, music will liberate, first Maria from the convent and later, the Von Trapp children from their domineering father. 

In the second Act, music will bond, first, Captain Von Trapp with his children, and then, the Captain with Maria. Finally, in the third Act, music will save the Von Trapp family as they win top honors at the Salzburg Festival, buying them enough time to slip away and avoid capture.

In conclusion, the screenplay for The Sound of Music expertly delivers the 5 major rules for a screenplay into the first 10 pages. The character introduction of Maria is one of the best in Hollywood history.

Written by Anthony Faust

Source: Script Lab

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:22+00:00 April 11th, 2017|Categories: main|Tags: |

'Boss Baby' Repeats at #1 While 'Beauty and the Beast' Closes in on $1 Billion Worldwide

Fox and DreamWorks Animation’s The Boss Baby topped the weekend box office for a second week in a row, once again leading Disney’s Beauty and the Beast over the course of what felt like a placeholder weekend as far as new releases are concerned. While Sony’s Smurfs: The Lost Village performed mostly as expected and New Line’s Going in Style over performed based on expectations, it seems most moviegoers are merely waiting for the next weekend’s release of The Fate of the Furious as it looks…
Source: Box Office Mojo

By | 2017-04-16T01:48:30+00:00 April 9th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |