Archive for July, 2015

HF Crum

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

HF Crum is currently adapting a book for Modern Man Films (THE END OF THE TOUR) and producer Sam Goldberg (THE HEART MACHINE, 3RD STREET BLACKOUT). Crum was also a 2014 FIND Screenwriting Lab Fellow.

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Kateland Brown

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Since becoming a Finalist, Kateland Brown co-wrote an upcoming episode of Pretty Little Liars that will air in January 2016.

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José Luis González

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

José Luis González took the BlueCat prize money he received and invested in equipment to produce “The History of Magic” as a short and intends to hit the festival circuit when finished.

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Dallas Buyers Club – Blue’s Beats #10

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Dallas Buyers Club – Blue’s Beats #10

Blue’s Beats is a new blog series where we break down various nominated feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.

 

Today we’ll be taking a look at the 2013 American biographical drama Dallas Buyers Club, written by Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. The film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards.  

To view a .pdf of the screenplay, click here

PLOT SUMMARY

The story takes place in Texas in the mid-1980s when the AIDS epidemic is still under-researched and highly stigmatized. We open on Ron Woodroof, diagnosed with the disease and subsequently given a painfully slim thirty days to live. Emotionally devastated but determined to live, Woodroof begins smuggling unapproved, symptom-alleviating drugs into the US from Mexico with the help of a HIV-positive trans woman and a reluctant doctor.

INCITING INCIDENT

(Pages 13-19) At the outset, the news that Woodroof is indeed infected with the AIDS virus serves as the inciting incident. Woodroof soon experiences all manner of persecution as a result of the disease including loosing both his home and his job.

PLOT POINT ONE

(Pages 25-37) When Woodroof applies for treatment, he learns that the only FDA-approved drug available is ineffective and incredibly expensive, and with his increasingly tenuous health, he concludes that an alternative method of treatment must be found. In Mexico, Woodroof encounters a doctor who advises him the the approved AIDS medication, AZT, is nothing short of poisonous, “killing every cell it comes into contact with.” Instead, the doctor proscribes him a combination of ddC and peptide T, neither of which are approved in the US. Over time, Woodroof finds his health greatly improved, and realizes that he can make a profit by smuggling the much more effective into the US.

MIDPOINT

(Pages 44-59) Woodroof begins selling the new drugs on the street, and eventually forms a reluctant partnership with an HIV-infected trans woman named Rayon who claims that she is familiar in many trans and homosexual circles—the groups with the highest proportion of afflicted people—and can thus attract vastly more business. Since it is still unlawful to actually sell the drugs, the pair establish the “Dallas Buyers Club” wherein applicants may pay a monthly membership fee and receive the life-saving drugs for free.

PLOT POINT TWO

(Pages 79-97) When the FDA learns of Woodroof’s enterprise, it changes it’s regulations so that any unapproved drug is also illegal to possess. The club’s funding gradually dries up, and Woodroof learns that Rayon has become addicted to cocaine. As her health worsens, she reveals that she has sold her life-insurance policy in order to keep the club financially afloat. Upon returning to the US from a peptide T run, Woodroof learns that Rayon has died after being taken to the hospital.

CRISIS AND CLIMAX

(Pages 100-109) As the club continues to limp along, Woodroof gradually learns compassion towards the gay, lesbian, and transsexual individuals who are the club’s main clients. The pursuit of financial gain becomes less of a driving factor for him as he becomes more concerned with supplying the necessary drugs to the people he has come to know and love. As the FDA cracks down on the supply and distribution of peptide T, Woodroof files a lawsuit against the organization. He seeks the legal right to take peptide, which has been proven to be nontoxic but is still banned by the FDA. The judge eventually sides with him, allowing him to take peptide T for personal use, but finds that the court lacks the legal tools to reverse the FDA’s behavior.

DENOUEMENT

(Pages 109-111) The film dispenses almost entirely with falling action, instead using title cars to reveal that Woodroof eventually died of AIDS in 1992, though lived seven years longer than the doctors had initially stated thanks to the drugs he was able to obtain and distribute under the pretense of the Dallas Buyers Club.

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Random Acts of Violence: BlueCat Alum’s Latest Feature Optioned by NZFC

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Random Acts of Violence: BlueCat Alum’s Latest Feature Optioned by NZFC

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Screenwriter Guy McDouall, winner of BlueCat’s Joplin Award during our 2012 competition, has been making waves in the world of New Zealand cinema. His award-winning feature, Random Acts of Violence, has been optioned and is currently in development with the help of the New Zealand Film Commission. 

Random Acts of Violence, McDouall’s first feature, follows a quarantined pacifist as he fights to find a cure for the fits of murderous rage he and other test subjects have become afflicted with. 

Christian Rivers, visual-effects maestro on nearly all of Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson’s projects, from Braindead (that’s Dead Alive in America) to the Hobbit franchise, is set to make his directorial debut, accompanied by much of the core crew from the 2015 short film Feeder, also penned by McDouall, and currently enjoying massive success in the New Zealand festival circuit. 

Darkly atmospheric and tempered with morbid tension, Feeder is a modest, 17 minute short about a struggling musician who finds “a diabolical source of inspiration” when he moves into a new recording space. Esteemed New Zealand-born filmmaker Christine Jeffs has praised the film, stating it’s “a dark narrative with a twist. Surprises keep coming till the end.” 

Fresh from the critical success of his first short, Guy McDouall is in a prime position to unleash his first, highly-anticipated feature onto the world, and BlueCat is grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such a promising and enthusiastic young talent. 

To read our 2012 interview with Guy, click here

To learn more about Guy’s short film, Feeder, click here

Feeder is currently playing at the film festivals listed below. Click on the links to view showtimes. 

 

Fantasia International Film Festival

Melbourne International Film Festival 

New Zealand International Film Festival

 

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How to Format Your Screenplay Title Page

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

How to Format Your Screenplay Title Page

In the treacherous world of screenwriting, many authors concern themselves with the occasionally obscure, often arcane practice of formatting and presenting their scripts. Industry professionals agree that the body of the work should be written in 12-point Courier font—a comfortable industry standard—but the correct formatting of the title, however, remains furiously contested. 

Of the various factions perpetually at war in the battle-scarred, no-man’s-land of correct title formatting, some combatants maintain that the title MUST be written in ALL CAPITALS, while others identify the exact line number (twenty-five) on which the title should be written. Another guide (which can be read here) states that on all subsequent pages, the title should be written at the top of the page, -centered-, underscored, and in ALL CAPS.

There’s something to be said for standardization, but in a psychotically commercial industry where a new idea has, at most, about fifteen seconds to capture one’s attention, authors feel the need to do whatever it takes to draw attention to their script, even at the most superficial level.  

But enough theory and speculation. How have the real industry insiders—screenwriters responsible for award-winning scripts—chosen to format their projects in the past?

Take the Coen Brothers’ script for No Country for Old Men, for instance. 

no country 2

Look at that beautiful type. Simple and elegant, this particular title falls within the parameters of guide.

How about Academy Award-winning writer/director Spike Jonze’s Her?

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That doesn’t look like Courier to me, Jonze. And forget about size 12. That kind of shoddy work will never pass muster with the guide. 

Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Seems this title isn’t guide-approved either. Leave a comment if you think we ought to take back those two Oscars and three BAFTAs for this. 

es 2

William Monahan’s The Departed? Bolded and underlined and size 18? There’s just too much innovation here for me to wrap my head around. 

depart 2

Finally, fatally, there’s Tarantino. What else need be said? Yes, I am taking pot-shots at one of the most beloved filmmakers of our age. No, I would not say that to his face.

django unchained script

The moral here is that screenplay style guides are well and good, but notice that they’re called “screenplay guides” and not “screenplay laws.” Armed with this knowledge, a writer may choose to play fast and loose with the formatting of a film’s title, so long as it doesn’t assault the eyes and prove difficult to read. Accordingly, your correspondent does not necessarily recommend formatting a title in Comic Sans and, to that effect, would like to remind his readers that discretion is often the better part of valor. 

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The Social Network – Blue’s Beats #9

Monday, July 20th, 2015

The Social Network – Blue’s Beats #9

Blue’s Beats is a new blog series where we break down various nominated feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.

 

Today we’ll be taking a look at the 2010 American drama The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher. The film won numerous Academy Awards, including the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

To view a .pdf of the screenplay, click here

PLOT SUMMARY

We all know it by now, right? It’s the story of the founding of Facebook. It’s a story that’s a mired in pop culture as you can get. It’s the story of how the world’s youngest billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, developed the fledgling corporation and, despite numerous lawsuits and claims of intellectual theft, managed to turn it into an international powerhouse. Though the story of Facebook is a thoroughly modern tale, it incorporates age-old themes like betrayal, class, sex, revenge, and pettiness.

INCITING INCIDENT

(Pages 1-15) When 19-year-old Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg is dumped by his girlfriend, he spitefully posts about her audaciousness on his LiveJournal, then takes it one step further by creating the joke-website Facemash, which allows users to rate the attractiveness of Harvard’s female students. The site garners inexplicable popularity and attracts the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who invite Zuckerberg to work on their own social network, Harvard Connection.

PLOT POINT ONE

(Pages 55-65) Zuckerberg agrees to the Winklevoss’s proposal, but goes behind their back, with the held of his friend turned financier, Eduardo Saverin, to create his own, similar social network which he tentatively names Thefacebook. Outraged by Zuckerberg’s underhanded dealings, the Winklevoss twins voice their grievances to Harvard President Larry Summers, who proves to be unwilling to mediate.

MIDPOINT

(Pages 120-130) Prompted by the growing popularity of Thefacebook, Zuckerberg extends operations to other Ivy League schools, including Yale, Colombia, and Stanford. Eventually, the site attracts the attention of Napster founder Sean Parker, who shares his vision for Thefacebook with Zuckerberg. Impressed with Parker’s proposition, Zuckerberg ultimately moves his base of operations to Palo Alto, and also drops changes the site’s name to the more streamlined and recognizable Facebook.

PLOT POINT TWO

(Pages 145-155) When the Winklevoss twins discover that Facebook has spread to Oxford, the file a lawsuit against Zuckerberg for theft of intellectual property. At the same time, Zuckerberg’s relationship with Saverin becomes increasingly strained, as Saverin freezes the company’s account after voicing his displeasure with Parker’s continuance in making business decisions for Facebook. Eventually, Saverin relinquishes his hold on the accounts when Zuckerberg reveals that and Angel Investor has offered the company $500,000 to expand its operations. What Zuckerberg fails to mention, however, is that the new business deal stipulates that the worth of Saverin’s shares in the company will be diluted from 38% to 0.03%—a development which will not effect any of the other shareholders.

CRISIS AND CLIMAX

(Pages 155-160) Scenes from the final deposition sequence are intercut throughout the film in order to build a sense of tension as Zuckerberg is beset on all sides by lawsuits and betrayal. On one hand, the Winklevoss twins claim that Zuckerberg stole the initial idea for Facebook while, on the other, Saverin claims that his shares in the company were unfairly and punitively diluted. Finally, Zuckerberg’s attorney advises that they settle with both parties out of court, as Zuckerberg’s callous, aloof, and perhaps contemptuous attitude will be received poorly by a jury.

DENOUEMENT

(Page 161) A short sequence of title cards provide all the exposition the film needs, effectively tying up the dangling plot threads. In this epilogue, we learn that the Winklevoss twins received $65 million while Saverin received an undisclosed sum, and has subsequently returned to the site’s masthead as co-founder. It goes on to say that Facebook has since attracted the patronage of upwards of 500 million users in 207 countries, and is likewise worth upwards of $25 million.

 

 

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BEST MOVIE TITLE CONTEST- DEADLINE: AUGUST 1ST

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

BEST MOVIE TITLE  CONTEST- DEADLINE: AUGUST 1ST

Best Movie Title

 

Every year, we choose to highlight a small, but significant, part of your screenplays: the title.  A lot of thought goes into the perfect few words and we choose to honor that creativity and effort through our annual Movie Title Contest.  All short and feature-length screenplay submissions to our 2016 BlueCat Screenplay Competition that are submitted by August 1st are eligible.  We’ll select three winners and each will receive a $250 cash prize!

Our winners last year:

Love You, Miss You, Bye by Thomas Brown

The Moustache Rides Again by Andrew Robbins

Twains, Trains and Riverboats: The Absolutely True Story of How Mark Twain Saved America by Patti Vasquez & Kevin Cleary

If you’re having trouble finding a title for your screenplay, check out our article: Naming Your Baby: How to Find a Great Title to your Screenplay

 

SUBMIT BY AUGUST 1ST TO BE CONSIDERED!

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The Hurt Locker – Blue’s Beats #8

Monday, July 13th, 2015

The Hurt Locker – Blue’s Beats #8

Blue’s Beats is a new blog series where we break down various nominated feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.

 

Today we’ll be taking a look at the 2008 American war drama The Hurt Locker, written by Mark Boal and directed by Katherine Bigelow. The film won multiple Academy Awards, including those for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. 

To view a .pdf of the screenplay, click here

PLOT SUMMARY

The film opens with a title card which reads, “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” The Hurt Locker centers mostly on a single character’s slow, inevitable submission to the savage, all-consuming rush of warfare. As such, the plot points don’t really culminate in a traditional, event-driven story; rather, it’s all about creating an atmosphere of oppressive anxiety to which the characters are subjected. Some solders crack under the pressure while others seem to thrive in the high-tension environment, but the transition back to civilian life may prove to be even more psychologically taxing than the war.

INCITING INCIDENT

(Pages 5-15) After the former leader of an American EOD unit stationed in Iraq is killed by an IED, Sergeant First Class William James arrives on the scene as the new team leader. Tensions instantly mount when James’s callous, reckless, and irresponsible attitude conflicts with the more cautious sensibilities of his squad mates.

PLOT POINT ONE

(Pages 55-65) While en route to their base, the EOD squad runs upon a group of British mercenaries in possession of two Iraqi prisoners, both of whom have prices on their heads. Suddenly, the entire group is ambushed by hidden insurgents and a number of the mercenaries are killed. After an intense and psychologically draining firefight, the EOD squad manages to fight off the attackers.

MIDPOINT

(Pages 80-85) When the team raid a warehouse which they suspect to be a base of operations for a terrorist group, James discovers the virtually unidentifiable body of a young boy which has be surgically implanted with an explosive device. After another explosion during an evacuation of the base, James, seeking revenge, breaks into the house of an Iraqi professor, but quickly leaves when the search reveals nothing.

PLOT POINT TWO

(Pages 95-101) The squad is called out to investigate the detonation of an oil taker, and James believes that the perpetrators are still in the immediate area. James, despite the reluctance of his squad mates, decides to search for the insurgents. When the team splits up, one of the members is captured, necessitating a quick and daring rescue by the others. James and co. manage to pull it off, but the soldier in question is accidentally shot in the leg in the process. Before being airlifted to a hospital, the soldier blames James for his injury.

CRISES AND CLIMAX

(Pages 105-112) In a climactic encounter that can only be described as “harrowing,” the squad is called out on a mission during the final two days of their tour. An innocent man has been locked in an explosive harness and abandoned in the middle of a town square. James attempts to break the locks with a bolt-cutting device, but there are too many to undo before the explosives detonate. Forced to retreat for the sake of his own safety, James watches as the man is killed in the explosion. A soldier in the EOD squad is scarred by the spectacle, confessing to James that he can no longer cope with the pressure.

DENOUEMENT

(Pages 112-119) The squad’s rotation ends shortly afterwards, and James returns home in the States to his wife and infant son. All is not well, however, as the dull, comparatively unfulfilling life of a civilian proves to be disagreeable to James, who seems to have become literally addicted to the adrenaline rush that accompanies warfare—the thrill of the hunt, as it were. The film ends as we fade in on James beginning another 365-day tour with another EOD team.

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The King’s Speech – Blue’s Beats #7

Monday, July 6th, 2015

The King’s Speech – Blue’s Beats #7

Blue’s Beats is a new blog series where we break down various nominated feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.

 

Today we’ll be taking a look at the 2010 British historical drama The King’s Speech, written by David Seidler and directed by Tom Hooper. The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

To view a .pdf of the screenplay, click here

 

PLOT SUMMARY

On the brink of World War II, the British monarch, Edward VIII abdicates the English throne in order to be wed to American socialite Wallis Simpson. As the shadow of world-wide conflict draws ever closer, his Edward’s brother Albert assumes the throne, necessitating cooperation with an Australian speech therapist in an attempt to redress his persistent stammer.

INCITING INCIDENT

(Pages 1-10) The film opens with our protagonist, Prince Albert, as he embarrassingly stammers through the closing address at the British Empire Exhibition of 1925. In light of his public humiliation, Albert’s wife Elizabeth convinces him to begin working with a speech therapist whose abrasive personality clashes with the Prince’s refined and regal sensibilities.

PLOT POINT ONE

(Pages 26-30) The first major plot point arises with Edward’s abdication of the throne of England. With the Nazis gaining power in Germany, King George demands that Albert prepare to assume the throne, starting with the recitation of his father’s speech, the Royal Christmas Message.

MIDPOINT

(Pages 50-55) As the Albert and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, begin to strengthen their bonds of friendship, King George finally kicks it, prompting a crisis of sorts when Edward insists on marrying. However, when Albert points out that Edward—as the head of the Church of England—couldn’t legally marry Wallis Simpson, Edward flies into a rage, insulting and bullying Albert in a stark and hard-to-watch reflection of his traumatizing childhood.

 

PLOT POINT TWO

(Pages 72-76) As Albert prepares for his coronation, he’s seemingly overcome with inadequacy, frustration, and despair. Believing himself unworthy and unfit for the throne, he claims, in a fit of panic, that Logue had willfully led him astray and deceived him, on account of his lack of qualifications. Undeterred, Logue tries to shift Albert’s perspective by trivializing the trappings of royalty, exposing them as hollow superficiality and stripping them of the somber gravitas that is paralyzing Albert with fear.

CRISIS AND CLIMAX

(Pages 82-87) The crises mounts after Albert’s coronation, when the Hitler and the Nazis make clear their intentions for war. As Winston Churchill assumes the position of Prime Minister, Albert must address the nation as the new king and deliver the grim news to his subjects. In the moments lending up to the now-famous address, Logue gives Alber some last-minute advice and council. The speech, as history can tell us, was a great success and marks the culmination of audience’s emotional investment.

DENOUEMENT

(Pages 87-90) As far as falling action is concerned, there really isn’t any. Albert—King George VI as he is formally known—receives congratulations from his royal entourage, then steps out onto a balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the public. A short sequence of title cards follows, summarizing the strong bonds of friendship between King George and Lionel Logue.

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Best Movie Title Deadline: August 1st

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Best Movie Title Deadline: August 1st

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Every year, we choose to highlight a small, but significant, part of your screenplays: the title.  A lot of thought goes into the perfect few words and we choose to honor that creativity and effort through our annual Movie Title Contest.  All short and feature-length screenplay submissions to our 2016 BlueCat Screenplay Competition that are submitted by August 1st are eligible.  We’ll select three winners and each will receive a $250 cash prize!

Our winners last year:

Love You, Miss You, Bye by Thomas Brown

The Moustache Rides Again by Andrew Robbins

Twains, Trains and Riverboats: The Absolutely True Story of How Mark Twain Saved America by Patti Vasquez & Kevin Cleary

If you’re having trouble finding a title for your screenplay, check out our article: Naming Your Baby: How to Find a Great Title to your Screenplay

Submit your Screenplay

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