Tag Archives: christopher derrick

Story Construction – Pixar’s 22 Writing Laws

pixar logo story telling at its best
Pixar logo

We’re not the first to post Pixar‘s 22 Writing Laws and we certainly won’t be the last, but bare in mind — it is always good to review story fundamentals to stay sharp.

Jazz giant John Coltrane would practice scales EVERY DAY for hours, why? To keep his craft at the utmost sharpness. In the film & TV game, the competition is entirely too fierce for one not to strive for the very best each and every time. And the Pixar Brain Trust has an unbelievably impressive track record of winners at the box office and at Oscar time. And each PIxar film’s success came down to an impressive, driving story.

As Bryan Tracy advises: find out what the best are doing and do what they do.

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Hearing Your Draft Read Aloud

One of the things that weigh on screenwriters is the number of people who actually read your material. Unless it’s getting made, perhaps 30 people TOPS will read the work you’ve spent countless hours on. Such is the vagaries and frustrating aspects of the business.

What is doubly irksome is a screenplay isn’t a work that is supposed to be “read”, it’s a document that is designed to be performed and to marshall resources and personnel so it can be filmed.

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Color’s Power and Potential

What makes color have an impact in cinema?

How it’s used.

Why it’s used.

What subtextual value the filmmaker assigns to a given color.

What specific color palette is used.

Filmmaker’s Color Tools

In cinema, color comes in two forms – light and production design (which includes costumes, hair, make-up, props, and set design); top-of-their game filmmakers utilize both to fit the characters and the themes of their stories.

There’s a fascinating and informative book called “If It’s Purple, Someone’s Going To Die” by Patti Bellantoni. She dissects how color is employed in a film’s production design to elevate, spotlight, or suggest various themes, emotions, and foreshadowing.

The Vimeo video below will give you an idea of how certain directors have implemented some form of color theory in their work.

Continue reading Color’s Power and Potential

Star Wars: Rogue One Trailer

So LucasFilm drops this today!

The official trailer for ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story. The pluses is that we’re seeing the Star Wars universe with NO hint of the Skywalker Clan as main characters in the story… which after 7 films that story element has worn extremely thin (and we have two more films to go).

The minuses… it’s a story about the Death Star, which makes the fourth film to deal with a similar type of planetary menacing weapon. And since this is obviously about the mission that leads into getting the stolen data tapes into Princess Leia’s hands, so she can upload them into R2-D2 to kick off STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE.

Another plus! Forest Whitaker. Not since LAST KING OF SCOTLAND have I been more excited to see him in a film. He adds a quality to his universe that we haven’t seen… sure, Samuel L. Jackson was in the misbegotten prequels, but he doesn’t fit into this kind of universe. Whitaker elevates every scene he’s in, and when he’s not the star he brings nuance and energy and gravitas like only a rare few can do.

Another minus… the visual “lens”; just once would I like to see a Star Wars film executed with the directorial panache of an “artiste”; yeah, that sounds pretentious as fuck, but you know what I’m getting at here. Guys like the late, great Tony Scott or Danny Boyle or Steven Soderbergh never get a shot at directing a franchise film because they parameters of the franchise are too constricting to their director’s voice, and the producers and studio have the fiduciary obligation to cherish the franchise, to deliver these exact replicas of what made the franchise a franchise in the first place. But if these guys (or girls) were given the reins, it would be like the best fan fiction imaginable…

So Christmas this year… I guess all the other movie studios are going to concede December and April to Disney for the next 5 years (consider the Star Wars Film and the Marvel films). It’s probably a good time to buy Disney stock.

Behind the Scenes – Architects of Crime, Part 2

As we prepare our press kit for the Sundance Film Festival submission, we had a chance to review the behind the scenes stills (you forget these things in the midst of post).

It’s only in the behind the scenes photos do the technicians and crafts people get a chance to be “seen”. Yet every filmmaker knows the Fitzcaraldo-esque journey that you embark on each time you walk on to the set is team effort.

Lining up the shot for Ana to scale the side of a wall!

Lining up the shot for Ana to scale the side of a wall! Copyright © 2015, ShadowBoxer Cinema, LLC.

DP Shane Daly using Artemis Camera App to review which lens we should use for Rhona's OTS
DP Shane Daly using Artemis Camera App to review which lens we should use for Rhona’s OTS. Copyright © 2015, ShadowBoxer Cinema, LLC
Rhona Bennet (as Roxanne) scolds Peter Lucas (Dr. Aktinson).
Rhona Bennet (as Roxanne) scolds Peter Lucas (Dr. Aktinson). Copyright © 2015, ShadowBoxer Cinema, LLC
Ana Zimhart practices flipping of that structure for a shot in our opening title/intro sequence
Ana Zimhart practices flipping of that structure for a shot in our opening title/intro sequence
We're 20 stories above Los Angeles designing the staging for the crime that's about to go down!
We’re 20 stories above Los Angeles designing the staging for the crime that’s about to go down!

 

Will has new ideas for the blocking.
Will has new ideas for the blocking.
Will gives Peter a math lesson
Chris explains the shot to Shane
Will and Chris watch the actors rehearse the opening scene in the lab.
Will and Chris watch the actors rehearse the opening scene in the lab.
Chris and DP Shane Daly determine which lens to use to get the shot
Chris and DP Shane Daly determine which lens to use to get the shot
Will lines up a shot in Atkinson's lab
Will lines up a shot in Atkinson’s lab
Shane and his team line up the shot
Shane and his team line up the shot

DUSTED – Evolution of a Comic Book Cover

Here’s the concept sketch and the the final verison of the comic book cover for the premier issue of DUSTED.

Dusted is going to be equal parts depravity and sexy; it’s about the sinners in a plutocratic future world. A world right before dystopia takes over society.

THE DARK ARTS – comic book cover

I love the process of making art… seeing ideas get tested, rejected, and then finalized is illuminating.

So we wanted to show the Anatomy of Cover for the for first issue of THE DARK ARTS…

As tarot cards are a key element to the first story arc, we wanted to give a nod to that…

We’re lucky to get the exceptionally gifted veteran colorist Lovern Kindzierski to add his magic to Oscar’s wonderful and haunting pencils & inks.