my poor neglected forum

January 6, 2016

 

The AFW Online Writers' Forum

 

The forum is not, technically, all that neglected. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in private workshop and classroom forums. But the public forum is terribly neglected.

I blame this on the great forum explosion of 2010. There was so much mad scrambling to do damage control and retrieval for the workshop and classes during that melt down, the public forum just got completely left in the scrambled tatters and never picked up again.

But there is a public forum.

It is a bit tragic is is so under utilized.

It exists pretty much entirely in one forum:

You can check out some of the topics if you’re inclined:

CLASSES || ONLINE & IN PERSON

BOOKS | PERIODICALS | WHAT’S IN PRINT

FILM TALK

CONFERENCES | COMPETITIONS | EVENTS | FESTIVALS

TV TALK [MIT SPOILERS]

LINKS | BLOGS | ARTICLES | ONLINE RESOURCES | A COLLECTION

THE 2016 50 SCREENPLAYS CHALLENGE

 

 

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hot sexy short hair

February 2, 2014

 

So this discussion is heating up over on FB about the Rapunzel hair and female law enforcement characters on TV thing and some people are saying, Oh well long hair is more attractive to men and whatnot.

I don’t think that is  true but I could be deranged.

[It has been suggested from time to time I am deranged.  Shut up.]

I think most men don’t care half as much about women’s hair as women care about women’s hair though.

I also think plenty of women are hot and sexy with short hair  — and that’s not even taking into account you can go into combat WITH LONG HAIR, if, you know, you just do something to stash it out of the way so it’s not a combat hazard to you and others when you pull a gun out.

Let’s take a look at hot women with short hair just to be sure:

 

hair_annette_beninghair_audrey_tatou

hair_charlizehair_halle

hair_keirahair_michelle_pfeiffer_2

 

I’m female and don’t even do girls and I know they are totally hot you fools.

Maybe the whole Rapunzel cop chicks thing is Charlie’s Angel Syndrome.

 

go mamet go!

January 9, 2011

 

I love this —

It is a letter from David Mamet to the writers of a television show THE UNIT. THE UNIT didn’t make it — probably they did not listen to Mamet.

Every time I read a Mamet memo I grow fonder of Mamet. The only other people I know of who have ever been this brilliantly disdainful of suits are Bette Davis and Jonathan Hensleigh. Oh and maybe Patton Oswalt. But Mamet manages to top them all.

Also, those caps and asterisks are Mamet’s.


TO THE WRITERS OF THE UNIT

GREETINGS.

AS WE LEARN HOW TO WRITE THIS SHOW, A RECURRING PROBLEM BECOMES CLEAR.

THE PROBLEM IS THIS: TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN *DRAMA* AND NON-DRAMA. LET ME BREAK-IT-DOWN-NOW.

EVERYONE IN CREATION IS SCREAMING AT US TO MAKE THE SHOW CLEAR. WE ARE TASKED WITH, IT SEEMS, CRAMMING A SHITLOAD OF *INFORMATION* INTO A LITTLE BIT OF TIME.

OUR FRIENDS. THE PENGUINS, THINK THAT WE, THEREFORE, ARE EMPLOYED TO COMMUNICATE *INFORMATION* — AND, SO, AT TIMES, IT SEEMS TO US.

BUT NOTE:THE AUDIENCE WILL NOT TUNE IN TO WATCH INFORMATION. YOU WOULDN’T, I WOULDN’T. NO ONE WOULD OR WILL. THE AUDIENCE WILL ONLY TUNE IN AND STAY TUNED TO WATCH DRAMA.

QUESTION:WHAT IS DRAMA? DRAMA, AGAIN, IS THE QUEST OF THE HERO TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT HIM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC, *ACUTE* GOAL.

SO: WE, THE WRITERS, MUST ASK OURSELVES *OF EVERY SCENE* THESE THREE QUESTIONS.

1) WHO WANTS WHAT?
2) WHAT HAPPENS IF HER DON’T GET IT?
3) WHY NOW?

THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE LITMUS PAPER. APPLY THEM, AND THEIR ANSWER WILL TELL YOU IF THE SCENE IS DRAMATIC OR NOT.

IF THE SCENE IS NOT DRAMATICALLY WRITTEN, IT WILL NOT BE DRAMATICALLY ACTED.

THERE IS NO MAGIC FAIRY DUST WHICH WILL MAKE A BORING, USELESS, REDUNDANT, OR MERELY INFORMATIVE SCENE AFTER IT LEAVES YOUR TYPEWRITER. *YOU* THE WRITERS, ARE IN CHARGE OF MAKING SURE *EVERY* SCENE IS DRAMATIC.

THIS MEANS ALL THE “LITTLE” EXPOSITIONAL SCENES OF TWO PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD. THIS BUSHWAH (AND WE ALL TEND TO WRITE IT ON THE FIRST DRAFT) IS LESS THAN USELESS, SHOULD IT FINALLY, GOD FORBID, GET FILMED.

IF THE SCENE BORES YOU WHEN YOU READ IT, REST ASSURED IT *WILL* BORE THE ACTORS, AND WILL, THEN, BORE THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BREADLINE.

SOMEONE HAS TO MAKE THE SCENE DRAMATIC. IT IS NOT THE ACTORS JOB (THE ACTORS JOB IS TO BE TRUTHFUL). IT IS NOT THE DIRECTORS JOB. HIS OR HER JOB IS TO FILM IT STRAIGHTFORWARDLY AND REMIND THE ACTORS TO TALK FAST. IT IS *YOUR* JOB.

EVERY SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. THAT MEANS: THE MAIN CHARACTER MUST HAVE A SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, PRESSING NEED WHICH IMPELS HIM OR HER TO SHOW UP IN THE SCENE.

THIS NEED IS WHY THEY *CAME*. IT IS WHAT THE SCENE IS ABOUT. THEIR ATTEMPT TO GET THIS NEED MET *WILL* LEAD, AT THE END OF THE SCENE,TO *FAILURE* – THIS IS HOW THE SCENE IS *OVER*. IT, THIS FAILURE, WILL, THEN, OF NECESSITY, PROPEL US INTO THE *NEXT* SCENE.

ALL THESE ATTEMPTS, TAKEN TOGETHER, WILL, OVER THE COURSE OF THE EPISODE, CONSTITUTE THE *PLOT*.

ANY SCENE, THUS, WHICH DOES NOT BOTH ADVANCE THE PLOT, AND STANDALONE (THAT IS, DRAMATICALLY, BY ITSELF, ON ITS OWN MERITS) IS EITHER SUPERFLUOUS, OR INCORRECTLY WRITTEN.

YES BUT YES BUT YES BUT, YOU SAY: WHAT ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF WRITING IN ALL THAT “INFORMATION?”

AND I RESPOND “*FIGURE IT OUT*” ANY DICKHEAD WITH A BLUESUIT CAN BE (AND IS) TAUGHT TO SAY “MAKE IT CLEARER”, AND “I WANT TO KNOW MORE *ABOUT* HIM”.

WHEN YOU’VE MADE IT SO CLEAR THAT EVEN THIS BLUESUITED PENGUIN IS HAPPY, BOTH YOU AND HE OR SHE *WILL* BE OUT OF A JOB.

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, AS ABOVE, CAN WRITE, “BUT, JIM, IF WE DON’T ASSASSINATE THE PRIME MINISTER IN THE NEXT SCENE, ALL EUROPE WILL BE ENGULFED IN FLAME”

WE ARE NOT GETTING PAID TO *REALIZE* THAT THE AUDIENCE NEEDS THIS INFORMATION TO UNDERSTAND THE NEXT SCENE, BUT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WRITE THE SCENE BEFORE US SUCH THAT THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INTERESTED IN WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

YES BUT, YES BUT YES *BUT* YOU REITERATE.

AND I RESPOND *FIGURE IT OUT*.

*HOW* DOES ONE STRIKE THE BALANCE BETWEEN WITHHOLDING AND VOUCHSAFING INFORMATION? *THAT* IS THE ESSENTIAL TASK OF THE DRAMATIST. AND THE ABILITY TO *DO* THAT IS WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE LESSER SPECIES IN THEIR BLUE SUITS.

FIGURE IT OUT.

START, EVERY TIME, WITH THIS INVIOLABLE RULE: THE *SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC*. it must start because the hero HAS A PROBLEM, AND IT MUST CULMINATE WITH THE HERO FINDING HIM OR HERSELF EITHER THWARTED OR EDUCATED THAT ANOTHER WAY EXISTS.

LOOK AT YOUR LOG LINES. ANY LOGLINE READING “BOB AND SUE DISCUSS…” IS NOT DESCRIBING A DRAMATIC SCENE.

PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR OUTLINES ARE, GENERALLY, SPECTACULAR. THE DRAMA FLOWS OUT BETWEEN THE OUTLINE AND THE FIRST DRAFT.

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.

REMEMBER YOU ARE WRITING FOR A VISUAL MEDIUM. *MOST* TELEVISION WRITING, OURS INCLUDED, SOUNDS LIKE *RADIO*. THE *CAMERA* CAN DO THE EXPLAINING FOR YOU. *LET* IT. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERS *DOING* -*LITERALLY*. WHAT ARE THEY HANDLING, WHAT ARE THEY READING. WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING ON TELEVISION, WHAT ARE THEY *SEEING*.

IF YOU PRETEND THE CHARACTERS CANT SPEAK, AND WRITE A SILENT MOVIE, YOU WILL BE WRITING GREAT DRAMA.

IF YOU DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF THE CRUTCH OF NARRATION, EXPOSITION, INDEED, OF *SPEECH*. YOU WILL BE FORCED TO WORK IN A NEW MEDIUM – TELLING THE STORY IN PICTURES (ALSO KNOWN AS SCREENWRITING)

THIS IS A NEW SKILL. NO ONE DOES IT NATURALLY. YOU CAN TRAIN YOURSELVES TO DO IT, BUT YOU NEED TO *START*.

I CLOSE WITH THE ONE THOUGHT: LOOK AT THE *SCENE* AND ASK YOURSELF “IS IT DRAMATIC? IS IT *ESSENTIAL*? DOES IT ADVANCE THE PLOT?

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY.

IF THE ANSWER IS “NO” WRITE IT AGAIN OR THROW IT OUT. IF YOU’VE GOT ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME UP.

LOVE, DAVE MAMET
SANTA MONICA 19 OCTO 05

(IT IS *NOT* YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW THE ANSWERS, BUT IT IS YOUR, AND MY, RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW AND TO *ASK THE RIGHT Questions* OVER AND OVER. UNTIL IT BECOMES SECOND NATURE. I BELIEVE THEY ARE LISTED ABOVE.)

max adams at neon venus art theatre july 2010

max adams, photo by deborah chesher

I am filling seats in the next two ONLINE classes:

Visual Writing which is next up and begins 11.16.10
The Art of the Pitch which begins 01.11.11
_________________________________________________ _____
Visual writing is about setting scenes in ways that will make readers “see” a film or scene. This is especially important for film writers — without visual impact, scripts do not feel like “movies” to readers. Using light, space and texture as scene setting elements as well as making characters visually vivid to a reader and making action visual are a few of the elements covered in Visual Writing.

The Art of the Pitch is about pitching stories in ways that allow executives and producers to “get” and buy scripts and script concepts — and sell them to the studio head upstairs who cuts the checks. There are elements a pitch must contain to make it a viable project for a studio executive. And there are ways to create premise statements that make stories more appealing to people queried which is pretty important — if you don’t get read, you can’t get sold. These are some of the elements covered in The Art of the Pitch.

More info about upcoming classes: :::classes:::
To register for a class drop me a note via the contact form: :::register:::

 

_________________________________________________ _____
*note, the art of the pitch is new, very popular, and already more than half full,
visual writing is not far behind, please do register early if you wish to attend either class, seating is limited to 12 students per class and once rosters hit the limit, well that is it no class for you.

 

where the art work comes from :
that is a shot of max taken by
deborah chesher

babies kill tv

October 2, 2010

 

babyMaybe it is just me —

But I have never watched a series television show that did not tank after a baby showed up. Except for maybe the exception of the Helen Hunt romance show which somehow escaped that to survive a little longer after it turned into “we have a baby.” Hmm. But overall? Once a baby shows up, a TV show’s days are totally numbered. This dates all the way back to Murphy Brown. [And probably before but that is how long I have been paying attention.] Murphy Brown was barreling along, a real hot show. Then Murphy turned out to be an alcoholic who had to quit drinking [bummer, Murphy] and then — she had a baby.

Boom. Dead man walking.

I have a theory about how this all goes down. You have a bunch of struggling writers. They work and work, they are edgy, they are hungry, they work too hard, they drink too hard, they can’t get married OR have babies, they are broke struggling writer types. And then they pull off the big gold ring: They are a team on a hit show. Yay!

Flash forward a few years.

What do people who are fat and happy do the second they have a secure future they were never sure they would have? They marry the girl, they buy the house, they have —

The. Baby.

[I am talking about guys here too, not girls. The majority of TV show writers are guys and this is just how it goes down with them.]

Writers write what they know. A few years into the show they all have babies. Now that is what is on their minds. They are not thinking fun show stuff any more. They are thinking —

The wife stuff. The house stuff. The marriage stuff. The baby stuff. And, for a few of them? The quit drinking and partying stuff.

That is when the show dies. When the show team loses its edge. When the show writers are all fat, happy, married, not drinking, having babies — and writing about those damn babies.

That is my theory anyway.

 


Note to the Supernatural team: WTF? Marriage and Babies? Seriously? Is Bobby going to join AA next?

I give you one more season.

 

where the art work comes from :
that is salad bowl a by tennborn

visual writing ahoy

September 23, 2010

 

The Visual Writing class begins November 16th and I am currently building the course roster for this class.

This is an online class.

Class size is limited to 12 people, please register early once that cut off is reached, no more seats will be available. This course also requires a writing sample so be prepared to send one in if you apply to be accepted to the class.

For more info on classes visit :::classes:::

 

pictured above:
max adams pitch seminar
neon venus art theatre july 2010
photo by deborah chesher

genre writing

June 26, 2010

 

brokenI read —

A lot of scripts.

Not as many scripts as industry suits read.

Those poor bastards read scripts year in, year out, 24/7.

I just read a lot of scripts over the summer.

Reading scripts over the summer though, I see mistakes continually in genre writing. It kind of makes me crazy. I wonder, reading a script that obviously falls into a definite genre, what someone was thinking abandoning the genre mid-game or, worse, pre-game?

This doesn’t just apply to scripts either. Sometimes I see it in actually produced films. The mind boggles. What were these people thinking? I try to mental block those out though. There are not that many of them and usually group frat boy stupid doesn’t get as far as the million dollar mark. Anyway —

 


 

Max’s Top Five “You Just Blew Genre” Faves —

Comedies are supposed to be funny. Opening them with a funeral and five consecutive scenes containing people sobbing inconsolably by coffins and gravestones might not be the way to go.

Action Adventure kind of depends on action. Stalling a Raiders wannabe flick in the second act with 20 pages in which characters sit in a hotel room while it rains might not play so well for the genre.

The keyword in Romantic Comedy is “romantic.” It might be wise to reconsider that plethora of fart jokes. Also, this is a date film, people. Do you really think a half hour watching a guy on screen fucking different women is going to work out on date night?

Children/Family Films are supposed to be fun for kids. Generally speaking, that means the kid should get the fun action, not the mid-life crisis dad. Another thing to think about with kid films: Little kids are going to watch these films. Are people playing with severed body parts really the way to go there?

Serial Killers have been fascinating audiences for years. What is supposed to be fascinating and freaky about serial killers however is the serial killer – not the script writer who refers to decomposed bodies and evisceration as “sexy” in scene description. Rule to the wise: What characters say? Is the character talking. What scene description says? Is the writer talking. And every reader knows the difference.

 

where the art work comes from :
that is broken from arab queen

free meetup yay!

May 23, 2010

 

I have been —

Looking at spaces to teach in in person again.

Then I met Lissette Salazar Napoleoni and Peter Valentino. They own the Neon Venus Art Theatre. They are very cool. The space is very cool. I liked them right off. They liked me right off. We are going for it. And we are starting off with a free event just to kick things off :

Pitching a Movie Script — Meetup with Max Adams
Sunday, July 11th, 6 pm to 7 pm
Neon Venus Art Theatre
7023 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038
310-428-4236

It is a condensed pitching seminar. It should be fun. And after there is much mingling and socializing. Yay!

For more info and/or to RSVP go here: :::RSVP:::

 


If you are in L.A. you should come by. Do :::rsvp::: though. It is not a huge place, if you wait too long you might not get in.

 

 

New Class Yay!

•NEW : High Concept Screenwriting | Begins Tuesday May 11, 2010

This is an online 6 week advanced course on high concept screenwriting taught by yours truly Max Adams.

This should be a real fun class. With high concept, the sky is not even a limit.

For more info visit :::in person:::

 


 

About your lovely instructor: Max Adams is the author of The Screenwriter’s Survival Guide: Or, Guerrilla Meeting Tactics and Other Acts of War [Warner Books], has worked with Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Universal, Tri-Star and Columbia Pictures, is the founder of two international online screenwriting workshops, Left Door and 5150, is a former AFI Alumni reader and WGA online mentor as well as a current Nicholl reader and judge, and is a 2010 recipient of the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award from University of Utah.

 


*class size is limited.
*a writing sample may be requested prior to acceptance to this class
*a course deposit is required at sign up to hold your chair
*there is a may chair open in 5150 visit :::workshop::: for info

 

where the art work comes from :
that is from cesc!

 

chairThere is a chair —

Opening in the 5150 online screenwriting workshop in April. Anyone interested should check info at :::workshop::: read the entirety of the information and if interested, email yours truly.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 


*ps: no more workshoppers are allowed to have babies and that is final sheesh

 


UPDATE 04.10.10 : There is a new chair opening in the workshop for info visit :::workshop:::

 

where the art work comes from :
that is from the scattered image

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