In this seminar, participants learn how to construct a pitch in a way designed to be maximally successful. The instructor Andrew Frank helps creative individuals and organizations achieve their goals by regularly facilitating workshops and seminars, as well as providing one-on-one coaching.
The director of Wedding Crashers and The Change-Uplearned The Ten Commandments of Directing Comedy through trial and error—not divine inspiration.
1. “KINDA FUNNY” MEANS IT’S NOT WORKING
Laughter is binary: It either happens or it doesn’t. As each joke arrives in the course of a film, the cavernous space of the theater is either filled with joy and laughter, or with the quiet of cringing embarrassment. Every time you step to the plate to make a joke you’re going to experience one or the other. “Kinda funny,” or in other words, chuckles and smiles, are basically comedy blue balls: a failure to launch. People pay to laugh, and laugh big.
2. IT ONLY LOOKS EASY WHEN IT WORKS
Comedy, when it works, is light on its feet and has the illusion of complete spontaneity: as if there is no film, no camera. You are standing there experiencing it all in real-time. This illusion, I believe, is why so many people think comedy is easy. (“That actor is so funny!!!”) People tend to disregard comedy as “art,” and somehow downgrade it into a sub-genre of filmmaking referred to as “entertainment.”
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Joe McNally shows how using accent lights can guide your viewer’s attention to a specific area in your photo – though this is a photography lesson, there is a lot of similar concepts in cinematography.
Thanks to social media, teens are able to directly interact with their culture — celebrities, movies, brands — in ways never before possible. But is that real empowerment? Or do marketers hold the upper hand? In “Generation Like,” Douglas Rushkoff explores how the teen quest for identity has migrated to the web — and exposes the game of cat-and-mouse that corporations are playing with them.
What IS fiction? That’s the question that popped into our minds when thinking about Orson Welles’ radio War of the Worlds performance, which set off a public panic of listeners who thought NJ was truly being attacked by aliens. Now those aliens didn’t really exist, since it was all pretend. But on the other hand, they did (and do) KIND OF exist. They can be described, referenced, and can have as much veracity to people as physical objects. And the worlds created in fiction can contain REAL things – cars, people, New Jersey. Can something both exist and not exist?
In Improvising Screenplays, improvisational actor Brett Wean shares how the concepts of improvisation can be applied to the work — and play — of writing your script.
In my last column, I introduced the concept of “game,” used by improvisational actors to provide structure to a scene. Game enables improvisers to hone in on a scene’s central comedic concept, heighten it, and explore its consequences to greatest effect. Demonstrating how the same technique can be used when writing for film, I hopefully inspired you to start looking for game in comedic, and even dramatic, movie scenes.
Game is a useful lens for screenwriters to consider when analyzing their scenes, hoping to provide a sharper focus, higher stakes, and increased sense of pace. But game isn’t just an eye-opening technique for developing and improving individual scenes; it’s also a remarkably effective method for defining your script as a whole.
First, a quick recap. Game is simply a means of establishing a consistent pattern, generally emanating from the first “unusual thing” in your scene. It could be an unexpected “high concept” or character choice — John Belushi’s classic SNL Samurai Delicatessen sketches were based around the simple idea of a deli guy…who happens to be a samurai. You can look at game as a “what if?” How would the simple task of ordering of a sandwich be affected by a samurai taking your order? The Coneheads sketches — to use another SNL example — were essentially straightforward scenes exploring family dynamic…with the one “unusual” element of the family being aliens in disguise.
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Making movies in Hollywood costs a lot of money, so film producers are often looking for investors to bankroll what they hope will be a blockbuster. CBS News has learned some Hollywood producers are using telemarketers to cold call Americans, convincing them to make risky investments.
Law enforcement tells CBS News it’s a widespread fraud worth hundreds of millions of dollars over more than a decade, and CBS News has now spoken to more than a hundred investors who never saw their money again after sending a check to a voice on the phone.
Bette Anderson remembers the day her phone rang at her house in Minnesota. She says the voice on the other end offered her a guaranteed way to make money, investing in movies. “They just prey on your hopes and dreams,” she said.
Asked if she thought she had stumbled across a pretty good deal, Anderson said, “Oh yeah. After having been laid off my job of 26 years, it provided some hope again for me. I just thought this was going to save my life, basically.”
She was sent a professionally produced documents with the names of famous writers and actors and was told she could make $1.5 million. In total, Anderson said she invested $315,000, and got nothing back.
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The Screen Junkies turn their sardonic wits on Alfonso Cauron’s Gravity for this installment of Honest Trailers.
Take a look behind the scenes of a Zero G photoshoot with Kate Upton by James Macari
In his class on Exposition, Scott Myers discusses how modern audiences have less patience for overt exposition.
Just in general, I think modern audiences need less exposition than they used to. We see this with the compression of events in what comprises a typical Act One in contemporary scripts. If you go back and watch movies from the 80s, they generally spend the entire first half-hour setting up the Protagonist’s Ordinary World before launching them into the adventure. Nowadays what used to be the end of Act One is often the middle of Act One, the end being when all the narrative dynamics have been set into motion. Obviously this is not always the case, but it happens enough, combined with cold opens which in effect throw the reader directly into the story without any setup, to confirm this trend: Audiences prefer to get into the action over a lot of setup. Give them just enough details and information to provide a foundation for the narrative and context for the characters, then go!
My own theory is that video games have something to do with this trend. They are such an immersive experience, the gamers creating elaborate and comprehensive story universes that the players trust they are going to learn what they need along the way. Again they want just enough to create a context, then let them get going and into the action.
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