Friday, September 12, 2014

A Blur of Movies and Television

Time is passing so quickly, and we're watching movies as fast as they arrive. Here's a brief list of our viewing since my last post.

Lee Daniels' The Butler
Director: Lee Daniels
Writers: Danny Strong (screenplay), Wil Haygood (article)
Starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Mariah Carey,  Cuba Gooding, Jr.

The Butler was our assigned critical essay of the week. Research revealed many intriguing details about the making of this movie. My paper touched on the cinematography, makeup, producers (41 are credited!), the star-studded cast, budget, and costumes. One of my favorite quotes from all the research was in Harry Haun's article "Witness to History." He interviewed Lee Daniels who discussed the difficulty of lining up all the cast. "When you’ve just got two dollars to pay these actors—plus a bag of M&Ms—and they have to leave their day job—their real working jobs—to come into our playing ground, you have to understand you’re going to lose some of these actors. The schedules don’t necessarily work out all the time."

Rear Window
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: John Michael Hayes (screenplay) and Cornell Woolrich (short story)
Starring Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendall Corey

12 Years a Slave
Directed by Steve McQueen
Written by John Ridley and Solomon Northup
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender

First Blood
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Writers: David Morrell (novel), Michael Kozoll (screenplay), William Sackheim (screenplay) and Sylvester Stallone (screenplay)
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, William Crenna

2009 - present
Starring Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas

A couple of years ago, we watched one episode of Castle, but didn't follow it. This time, we got a dvd from Netflix and watched the first four episodes and really liked it. We'll be watching more - Nathan Fillion might become addictive.

Director and Writer: Jeff Nichols
Starring  Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland

This one wasn't on our list, but I like Matthew McConaughey, so we watched. Language is bad, but the characters are interesting. In one of our class lectures this week, the professor stressed that our characters must be likeable/interesting enough that viewers want to invest time, money, emotion into them. Jeff Nichols created characters like this - we may not agree with their actions, their words, their morality, but there's something about each one that draws us in.

Tye Sheridan is a young actor to watch. His performance was stunning.

This weekend, we'll be viewing North by Northwest, Amadeus, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Veronica Mars the Movie (yes, I'm addicted to these characters!)

Our school assignments are now including writing. We submitted our first short film script last week. I made a 96 and the professor is sending it to a pitching session for possible production by my school.

We also submitted five loglines for episodes of a current TV series. I pitched five episodes of Blue Bloods. (Really looking forward to the season premiere September 26th!) The professor will pick several loglines and post them to our groups for discussion and brainstorming, then we'll be assigned to write one episode that we pitched.

Next week, in another class, we begin writing 30 loglines for movie scripts. Fifteen are due the first week, fifteen more the second week. We're given categories to fit them in, like two log lines from childhood experiences, one based on a Bible story or biblical event, one based on a short story in the public domain, etc. I'm very excited about doing these - maybe I'll strike gold!

Other recent movie lists:

Bridal Shower, Papers, and Movies
Confusion of Week One
My MFA Textbooks
Writing and Viewing the TV Drama
Rethinking Use of Color and Plot in Screenwriting
The Journey to an MFA in Screenwriting Begins

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