Spitball! has a new home

March 17, 2009 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: About

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If Wishes Were Horses...

February 01, 2009 by Burley Grymz · Permalink
“The proverb may be used to mock a wishful attitude by pointing out the uselessness of wishing. It may be also be used with a more serious tone as an admonishment, for the same purpose.”

From the Wikipedia page of the proverb whose sentiments I couldn’t agree with more.

Movie Marketing

January 31, 2009 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

090119_r18129_p233.jpg The New Yorker ran a great article by Tad Friend profiling Tim Palen, Lionsgate’s co-president of theatrical marketing.

While most artists find the idea of marketing reprehensible, there would be no films to market if they couldn’t occasionally sell them to the audience. Film marketing is no less sophisticated than the marketing of any other product. Starting, of course, with identifying who they are going to sell to.

Marketers segment the audience in a variety of ways, but the most common form of partition is the four quadrants: men under twenty-five; older men; women under twenty-five; older women. A studio rarely makes a film that it doesn’t expect will succeed with at least two quadrants, and a film’s budget is usually directly related to the number of quadrants it is anticipated to reach.

The list of qualities that each segment responds to looks for was really interesting as well.

The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, ‘you’re so gay’ banter, and sex — but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance — but not sex.

What’s the segment of death? You might expect older women. You’d be wrong.

Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most “review-sensitive”: a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars.

Nope. It’s the lazy older guys.

“Guys only get off their couches twice a year, to go to ‘Wild Hogs’ or ‘3:10 to Yuma,’” the marketing consultant Terry Press says. “If all you have is older males, it’s time to take a pill.”

Since I’m in that demographic, but obviously see more films than two a year, we know that these things are generalizations. But, cliché’s come from somewhere. I now know I’m more likely to respond to marketing of a film if it has Clint Eastwood in it.

Charlie Kaufman on avoiding movie tropes

January 30, 2009 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

When Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind came out, Charlie Kaufman sat down with Charlie Rose for a rare interview. The interview is great, and his honesty and straightforwardness are admirable, and very possibly why he doesn’t give more interviews.

The money quote in this is when he’s talking about his approach to writing a romance (at 5:21 in the video):

I have this adverse reaction to Hollywood romances. They’ve been very damaging to me growing up, I feel. And I had these expectations in the world of what my life was going to be like and what my romantic life was going to be like. And as I got older and I realized my life wasn’t like that that, you know, it became depressing, and then I thought that real life was more interesting and maybe I should try to explore that and not put more damaging stuff into the world.

I’m always sort of trying to think “What is true?” — I mean, true to me, which is all I know — and try to reject ideas which come from other movies. Which is a very hard to do — because you often don’t know that your ideas of a scene or relationship come from movies not from your real life. You have to sit down and go “Wait a minute. Why are these two people people acting like this? It doesn’t have to do anything with what I understand.” And so I try to sort of find those things, take them out, and put in things I understand.

Here’s Part 1:

Part 2, which doesn’t allow embedding, is available here.

Re: What Now?

January 30, 2009 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

What now indeed. Mr. Beeson brought up a number of thoughts in his last post, which I will attempt to address here:

If it’s okay with Martin, I feel comfortable with talking about the projects we’re working on, or at least certain parts or aspects of them.

Sure, that’s fine. I trust you, sir, to judge what info should be public and what shouldn’t be. I’ll do the same.

And the link to execution-as-multiplier post on Spitball! is here.

To the next story writing competition, The Big Game, I say yes. I loved that process, and it worked well online. As the kids say, bring it.

Now then, how often will I post to the site? Remains to be seen. I’m not going to set goals for myself, since my schedule is unpredictable and inevitably something will get in the way, but my goal is fairly often. Subscribe to our feed and let it tell you when something new is on Spitball!

What Now?

January 29, 2009 by Urban Shockah · Permalink

So yeah, what now? What does Spitball! mean in 2009?

17 Months Off

January 29, 2009 by Urban Shockah · Permalink

Wow -- we're really doing this, huh? I really have to learn how to use Ecto again?

Actually, I'm very excited to restart Spitball!, or as I think of it, Spitball! 2.0. The original Spitball! had a great premise, but one that simply wasn't going to live up to its potential, at least not with me. Or more accurately, not that me at that time. As Martin said earlier, in 2006 and 2007 we were still learning how to work together, and one thing we learned definitively is that I (and maybe Martin, but definitely I) need to work face-to-face. The written word is a great form of communication, but there's still too much ambiguity and too much time delay this way, causing problems that are easily solved (or wouldn't exist) when talking directly to my writing partner. So fuck this wack experiment in my opinion. (Apologies to the Cinemasters crew.)

So here's what's been happening lately.

The Collection at the Beginning of Creative Process

January 29, 2009 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

I’m always fascinated with the process of creative types. Because, of course, it might teach me something about my own process which has been doggedly formed from ignorant persistence. I long for some sort of validation that I’m doing it “right” (make of that what you will, psychology buffs).

Merlin Mann has been digging into process, and I think his Macworld presentation Towards Patterns for Creativity was interesting beyond his charismatic manitude.

He talks about Twyla Tharp and her book The Creative Habit (haven’t read it yet. Definitely on my list). Tharp starts each project with a box that she collects loose items associated with the choreography she’s creating. The box gets filled in a loose association and inspiration gathering, and then when it’s time to work it serves as muse and inspiration.

The Resurrection

January 28, 2009 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

What does it take to kill an idea? Lack of momentum, for one. Mr. Shockah and I stopped writing on this blog about a year-and-a-half ago. Why?

The answer is long and in depth, but one of us has a kid, the other has a demanding job, and we both felt that we’d rather put our time into actually writing screenplays rather than writing about writing screenplays.

Also, I think we can safely say, the experiment was a failure. By which I mean in the best sense — the Beckett sense of “No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

The truth is, we work better in person when we’re bouncing ideas off one another. We’re still experimenting with our process, but I can safely say it will not be by writing to each other about the act of writing. See a pattern here?

Roger Ebert Mindfuck

July 02, 2007 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

The Teen Movie Pitch Generator might give us some ideas while we slog through the finer points of pitching.

I want to re-do mine, but would like some feedback first, sir, when you have time. Until then, my Teen Movie Pitch is “Tomcats” meets “Ghandi” meets “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” with a little bit of “Erin Brockovich.”

Re[6]: Shockah's Time to Die Pitch: 1.0

June 28, 2007 by Urban Shockah · Permalink

Just a few quick responses while the baby's waking up -- more later.

If we define back as “back to life” you did. If we define back as “back to Earth”, which is what I was getting at, then I don’t think it’s there. But then, I don’t think Earth figured at all into your concept, so that’s splitting hairs.

Right right right. Gotcha. This is indeed the crux of the whole issue. If you need to go back to Earth for the revivication to work, then it ends on Earth. If you don't, then it ends on the prison planet. We just need to decide which.


I've never seen Silkwood, so the allusion was completely lost on me. I mean, I know what it's about, but not having an experience of it, it didn't mean anything to me.

I'm still not sure what my two movie references are, but I'm leaning toward The Fugitive for one of them -- that kind of energy and excitement and tension, but with that kind of cool smarts about the whole thing. Also, Speed didn't make me think of "road trip" at all, and I think it's kin to The Fugitive -- keep it on the table. Also also, completely new pitch coming up. And finally, a critique of yours!

Re[5]: Shockah's Time to Die Pitch: 1.0

June 28, 2007 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

One note I just thought of. I’ll bet I threw you off by my blank meets blank statement, so I should describe it a bit. Of course, the need to do so totally negates the spirit of the statement, and shows probably how poor my choices were. But, as a first stab, I picked those two movies because each had elements I thought important to Time To Die.

Re[4]: Shockah's Time to Die Pitch: 1.0

June 27, 2007 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

I always pictured her getting a call on Earth that her husband won’t be coming home. I find the story compelling because she needs to find a way to the prison and that seems like a huge hurdle to me. But, believe it or not, I don’t think we’re really speaking that different of a language here.

Are you saying the second act is mostly her journey there?

Not at all — this isn’t a road-trip movie in my mind either. The journey could be instantaneous, but it is a huge hurdle she needs to overcome to prove how fucking absolutely impossible-to-get-rid-of she’s going to be in getting her husband back in time for the regeneration (But we could make the trip back to Earth a balls-out, chased by the law and bad guys, running on fumes sort of thing. Or it could be the final break into the prison and pulling a big show to get the body out).

I mean, think about the Warden sitting on his lily white ass (figuratively, at least) up on a rock wondering how the hell he’s going to contain the massive prison riot he’s got, when suddenly the soon-to-be grieving widow that he thought he had contained with patronizing words over the space-phone shows up and taps him on the shoulder?

Re[3]: Shockah's Time to Die Pitch: 1.0

June 27, 2007 by Urban Shockah · Permalink

Waitaminnit. When you say the struggle is getting there, you actually mean that the ship is just there in orbit, and the trouble is getting into the facility, not what I said below -- is that right?

(I'm not totally taken with that, but that's 100X better than what I thought you meant.)

Re[2]: Shockah's Time to Die Pitch: 1.0

June 27, 2007 by Urban Shockah · Permalink
you have September Rose going to the Prison Planet to meet her husband. So, the struggle all takes place there.

Um, I always thought that was the whole idea. Remember when we were talking about it offline last year, and the idea of the power struggle between the three factions (September, Inmates, Warden)?

I picture her on Earth, and a large part of the struggle is getting there. And then getting back.

Re: Shockah's Time to Die Pitch: 1.0

June 27, 2007 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

First things first: iPhone.

Okay, that satisfies our Union of Bloggers and Hipsters June 2007 requirement. Now back to your regularly scheduled Spitball!

Not a bad first pitch. One very interesting thing that I just noticed: you have September Rose going to the Prison Planet to meet her husband. So, the struggle all takes place there. I picture her on Earth, and a large part of the struggle is getting there. And then getting back.

Overall, I do like your pitch, but as you mentioned it’s too long, and doesn’t really snap yet in my opinion.

Burley's Time to Die Pitch: 1.0

June 26, 2007 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

I have some things to say about yours, but I’ll post mine first and then we can cross-post about stuff. What worked, what didn’t, how to refine.

Oh, and for me? Think of this as Silkwood meets Speed. Doesn’t that jangle the WTF bone?

Here we go:

Shockah's Time to Die Pitch: 1.0

June 26, 2007 by Urban Shockah · Permalink

Here's my first try, and I've already failed, by the standards of the challenge: I'm pretty sure it's too long, and there's no blank meets blank statement. That's what iterations are fer.

It also may seem strange, at first glance, that there's no new information about the story. But again, that's not what a pitch is. A pitch is an attempt to sell the idea of the story to someone who knows nothing about it. Or put it more bluntly, a pitch is an attempt to sell the sizzle, not the steak. It is not the place to tell the story -- it's simply the means to get your hook into someone so that they'll want to read the story themselves (i.e., the screenplay).

Here's my pitch:

Re [2]: Pitch by Example

June 26, 2007 by Urban Shockah · Permalink
One thing he did well is make the reader / viewer complicit in the story. He says:

We’re gonna send him down to South America…

I think it could be a tricky strategy to do that, but it seems to have worked for him.

I don't think that's exactly what he's doing here -- it's more like he's speaking in the voice of Charlie's church. It's very difficult to translate into text -- the use of quotations would make it more confusing -- but I think it's clear when you hear it.

Re: Pitch by Example

June 25, 2007 by Burley Grymz · Permalink

I think that pitch is excellent. I think it totally carries through to reading, but I’m curious how his voice and energy made it better in person. And if Carrie Fisher didn’t snark at him, it must have been amazing.

One thing he did well is make the reader / viewer complicit in the story. He says:

We’re gonna send him down to South America…

I think it could be a tricky strategy to do that, but it seems to have worked for him.

As Shockah knows, I’ve been working on pitches lately, trying to hone the craft of them. I’ll have one for Time To Die up soon.