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Movie Monday: Tony Gilroy’s Top Ten Writing Tips

Movie Monday: Tony Gilroy’s Top Ten Writing Tips

From the pages of the BBC comes the top ten writing tips from Tony Gilroy (Devil’s Advocate, Michael Clayton, Armageddon, Bourne)

1. Go to the movies
I don’t think there is anything you can learn from courses or books. You have been watching movies since you were born. You have filled your life with narrative… and food. It’s already way down deep inside you.
Going to the movies, having something to say, having an imagination and the ambition to do it is really all that is required. You can learn how to do anything.

2. Make stuff up but keep it real
This is imaginative work – screenwriters make things up. Everything I have in my life is a result of making things up. There is one thing that you have to know that is a deal-breaker – human behaviour.
The quality of your writing will be directly related to your understanding of human behaviour. You need to become a journalist for the movie that is in your head. You need to report on it; every scene has to be real.

3. Start small
Big ideas don’t work. Start with a very small idea that you can build on.
With Bourne I never read any of the books; we started again. The very smallest thing with [Jason] Bourne was, “If I don’t know who I am and I don’t know where I’m from, perhaps I can identify who I am by what I know how to do.” We built a whole new world around that small idea.
You just start small, you build out and you move one step after the next and that’s how you write a Hollywood movie.
Gilroy directed as well as wrote The Bourne Legacy, the fourth Bourne film

4. Learn to live by your wits
My father was a screenwriter but it’s not some pixie dust creative family thing. I learned from watching how hard he worked and learned about the tempo of a writer’s life – you have to live by your wits.
If you are living with someone who lives by their wits, it seems normal to you, it doesn’t scare you as much and you understand the rhythms of it.

5. Write for TV
It’s getting harder and harder to make good movies. TV is where the ambiguity and shades of reality live, it’s where stories can be interesting.
A lot of writers are very excited about TV right now and it’s a writer-controlled business. When writers are in control, good things happen. They are more rational, they are hardworking, they are more benevolent.
Every time writers have been put in charge of entertainment, things have worked out, so with TV maybe we will see a writer-driven utopia.
House of Cards is seen as part of a new era in quality television

6. Learn to write anywhere, anytime
I have an office at home, I’ve written in a million hotel rooms, I can write anywhere now. My whole goal is to want to be at my desk.
If the writing is going well, I don’t want to quit. I’m older and wise enough now that if something is going well, I don’t stop. I call and say I’m not coming home for dinner and just keep going.
More than anything else, I want to want to go to my desk and to not be afraid of going to work.

7. Get a job
I spent six years tending bar while I figured out how to write screenplays.
If you want to write, if you are a young writer and nobody knows you, find a job that pays you the most amount of money for the least amount of hours, so that you have the most amount of time left over to write.
You want to live some place where you have some sort of cultural connection and can see as many films and be around as many people as possible. You want to be some place where you can just write and write and write.

8. Get a life
If you don’t have anything to say and if you haven’t done anything except see a bunch of movies, then what’s the point? You can only write what you know about and that will either limit you or open the possibilities to everything.
Be interested in lots of things and stay interested. My knowledge is very wide and incredibly thin. It’s much more interesting when journalists and cops and doctors and bankers become screenwriters than 20-year-old film students.
There are some exceptions, of course, but if you don’t have anything to say, then why are you here?

9. Don’t live in Los Angeles
I don’t think there is any reason to live there, I think LA is probably very bad for you. It’s a bad place to feed your head.
In LA you are driving around all the time, surrounded by people who are making you depressed. I don’t think Hollywood really helps a young writer feel any sense of romance about their life.
Even if it’s a delusion, you want to feel special when you go to work in the morning.

10. Develop a thick skin and just keep going
I have assumed both positions of the Hollywood Kama Sutra – top and bottom.
It’s very important to be able to handle rejection. I think one of the reasons writers are shy is because we are all very suspicious of our own process because it fails so often.
It’s no different from being a novelist or a composer or a painter. When you get rejection from the outside world, you either move on or you don’t.
But I think the hardest times are all the days when nothing happens and everybody who has ever written anything knows what I’m talking about. A great day of writing tops everything.

Movie Monday: Maze Runner pushed to September 2014

Movie Monday: Maze Runner pushed to September 2014

Some bad news for fans of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner …

The planned feature adaptation won’t hit until September next (instead of February as planned) Wes Ball (Maze Runner director) hit twitter on Friday to announce it:

Good news and bad news y’all. Bad news, you have to wait a bit longer. Good news, the movie and marketing can be the best it can be now. These things aren’t my choice, but I 100% agree with fox’s decision. Just imagine the cool stuff we can do with a little extra time.

MOVIE MONDAY: Nemesis feature gets a script that Mark Millar LOVES

MOVIE MONDAY: Nemesis feature gets a script that Mark Millar LOVES

The notoriously cranky Mark Millar (Kickass, Wanted) is… er, happy.

Check out what have after he read the latest adaptation of his Nemesis series (have you read Nemesis yet?!):

How can I put this?

Nemesis is one of the most relentless and powerful screenplays I’ve ever read. I was actually SHELL-SHOCKED after reading it, thinking about it for hours afterwards and discussing it with the family. As a movie, the Carnahans have crafted something we’ve never actually seen before and I feel like someone in Julia Phillips’ office must have felt when Schrader’s TAXI DRIVER script first landed on their desk. This is going to be one of the best movies of the decade. The fact that it’s a SUPERHERO movie is incredibly exciting to me. This is the next step for where a comic-book adaptation can go and, simply as a viewer, I’m now counting down the days until I can sit in a screening room and see the first cut.

This is going to be MASSIVE.

And I’m not being hyperbolic here. Joe and Matthew Carnahan are two of the most respected people in the business and Joe’s most recent movie, The Grey, ranks as my favourite in a year that had a lot of my favourite movies. He upped his game again with the Death Wish screenplay, which was one of the most compelling scripts I’ve ever read, but he’s blown his other work out of the water with Nemesis. I had no idea where he was going with this (I wrote the book back in 2010, co-created with the brilliant artist Steve McNiven), but Joe had been tight-lipped on what he had planned and wanted me to experience the entire package for maximum impact when I sat myself down with a nice bottle of whisky and soaked this up over a two hour period.

There’s nothing else I can really say. I’ve been blessed with the people adapting these Millarworld books so far, some of the best writers and directors currently working in film, but NOTHING prepared me for this. This is huge, operatic, tragic, monumental. This is about America right now and the world the audience is walking back into the second they leave the cinema. Nemesis is about America’s worst nightmare in the form of a costumed billionaire attacking a city and doing everything he can to tear it down. The high concept, it’s been said, is if Batman was The Joker and that’s quite a fun way of looking at it. The cop who goes up against him, the Blake Morrow character in the book, is going to be a movie icon after this picture. I don’t know who’s going to be playing him at this stage, but I know that after reading the script everyone is going to WANT to.

It seemed odd to me in the economic downturn that we’d all be rooting for a costumed billionaire out there fighting poor people in Gotham City every night. That’s what was in the back of my mind when I first sat down to write the book, this notion that richest guys on the planet could actually be the most terrifying. But what Joe and Matthew have done with this is practically alchemical. I joked to Joe on the phone last night that he’s basically a brilliant plastic surgeon who has taken a decent-looking individual and turned them into a sex-bomb.
This is my new favourite movie and it’s still a year or two away from anyone even seeing it. It’s going to be the biggest and smartest action movie we’ve all seen in a very, very long time.

Get excited.

You heard the man. GET EXCITED!

2014 box-office investment predictions are …

2014 box-office investment predictions are …

… slow.

Of course the investment world is already looking at next years blockbusters… and their advisors are saying hold-off.

Looking at the upcoming slate of mega-movies not one but TWO Hollywood analysts have advised not to invest yet - as fans may not be overly excited about what is coming.

Frankenstein, RoboCop, 300: Rise Of An Empire, Godzilla, Edge Of Tomorrow and Transformers: Age Of Extinction are all up for 3D IMAX release… and there is hesitation on how much of a drive the blockbusters will be for those heading to see them on the big screen.

Of course there are more… with The Hobbit, Hunger Games and Marvel releases as well as Divergent, The Fault In Our Stars, Seventh Son (Spook’s Apprentice), Vampire Academy and The Chaos Walking Trilogy all to come too.