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Akiko Izumitani & James “Doc” Mason Talk The Making Of Their Short Film Yae: Blind Samurai Woman:In the beginning, there was the short film. Then it grew into something bigger. That’s exactly what filmmakers Akiko Izumitani and James Mason did when they entered their short film Yae: Blind Samurai Woman in the Hollyshorts Film Fe...
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Play Fair with the Audience

  • James Vanderbilt
  • .November 7, 2022
“Play Fair with the Audience” James Vanderbilt on ‘Scream’ and ‘Zodiac’:“I’m always writing something,” said James Vanderbilt. “I’m always working on a spec. I always want to have something that is just for me, not something I’ve promised someone or something from someone else’s IP or sandbox. I think that keeps me sane.”“There’...
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Villains And Their Functions In Stories

  • James Napoli
  • .July 11, 2022
“…But when the tragic incident occurs between those who are near or dear to one another—if, for example, a brother kills, or intends to kill, a brother… or any other deed of this kind is done—these are the situations to be looked for by the poet.”- Aristotle, PoeticsWhen Aristotle wrote his seminal text on the elements of drama,...
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This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Climb Into Screenplay:The French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard famously said, “A film should have a beginning, middle and end, but not necessarily in that order.”That’s perfectly fine for the director of Breathless and dozens of other films that openly defy storytelling traditions, bu...
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This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Climb Into Screenplay:You’ve put your script through its try-everything development stage, getting clear on your characters, locations, themes, and intent. That was fun, wasn’t it? Now it’s time to connect-the-dots and build your story scene-by-scene.  On the way into this, decide on a few...
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This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Climb Into Screenplay:Okay, so you’ve gone through the various permutations of the initial inspiration for your idea and started to get a handle on how it might sustain a full story. You’ve worked out a good, story-driven logline to narrow down the basic progression of your narrative, and ...
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This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Climb Into Screenplay:“Before you can write anything,  you have to notice something.” – John IrvingOnce a film script is written, once it is shot and becomes a movie, that is when critics and bloggers get to dig into the material and come up with the story’s overarching themes, what the ch...
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Writing Effective Plot Twists

  • James Napoli
  • .January 3, 2022
Creative Screenwriting Magazine contributor, James Napoli details the different types of plot twists screenwriters can use in their screenplays. There are several different types of plot twists you can use in your screenwriting. Let’s take a look at some of them.  Miguel Rivera, the pre-adolescent hero of Disney/Pixar’s Coco get...
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I am a flashback apologist. As readers of one of my previous Creative Screenwriting columns know, I believe it is narrow-minded for screenwriters to reject flashbacks out of hand as a storytelling device. Provided they give the reader/viewer the proper emotional underpinning and do their jobs of advancing the story, screenplay f...
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Surprise or Suspense?

  • James Napoli
  • .September 17, 2021
I had an interesting experience while binge-watching the first two seasons of the beautifully acted and tonally flawless British television series Broadchurch. In an attempt to keep this article spoiler-free, I will simply say that the program, which concerns itself with the murder of a child in a small town, is exceedingly good...
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Honor Your Premise

  • James Napoli
  • .September 1, 2021
Save the Cat practitioners will be familiar with the phrase “the promise of the premise.” Blake Snyder used it to describe the screenplay beat he called “Fun and Games,” in which the crux of the action offered within the screenwriters premise really comes into bloom.But, the premise, of course, has to keep paying off until the e...
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At some point early in the creation of their screenplays, students I work with need to share their loglines with their fellow screenwriters, and very often the air of unease about this process is palpable. Not so much because these authors are nervous about having written a poor logline, but because once the idea is out there, e...
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Dissecting The Lobster

  • James Napoli
  • .July 27, 2021
Note that this article about The Lobster contains major plot spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film yet, we recommend that you watch it first, then return to this article!What makes a screenplay non-traditional?The parameters for such a distinction can be as simple as putting more effort into character development than your aver...
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“Write With Honesty, Economy & Bravery.” ‘Foursome’ Actor James Morosini On What Attracts Him To Screenplays:We sat down with actor-writer James Morosini to discuss his thoughts on filmmaking. You probably recognize him in popular TV shows like Foursome, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, American Horror Story and Criminal Minds. Traditionall...
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Plants and Payoffs in Screenwriting

  • James Napoli
  • .June 4, 2021
“Bad for glass,” mutters private eye Jake Gittes in Robert Towne’s Chinatown. When the statement is first heard in the story, it is merely Jake’s culturally insensitive remark about the inability of Evelyn Mulwray’s gardener to pronounce the letter “r.” It has no meaning to Gittes, who is–by virtue of his being an investigator u...
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Flashbacks and Monologues

  • James Napoli
  • .April 26, 2021
FlashbacksNothing provokes a more knee-jerk “don’t do it” reaction from screenwriters than the decision to include one or more flashbacks in one’s screenplay. We can, of course, understand this compulsion to remain linear, and the gut instinct that to tell the story from beginning to end is the only pure way to make narrative ci...
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Groundhog Day: Streamlining the Story

  • James Napoli
  • .April 12, 2021
There are many screenplays available online, but one in particular has some terrific lessons in it regarding the streamlining of a story, and what decisions are made between the page and the screen that can be particularly instructive to writers.That screenplay is Groundhog Day, the second revision by the late (and hugely lament...
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We Need to (Not) Talk

  • James Napoli
  • .March 26, 2021
James Napoli discusses the use – and over-use – of dialogue:A funny thing happened when I decided to revisit the car chase from Bullitt. I found myself on edge in a way I could not quite define. I seemed to be experiencing more of a sense of tension and worry than I normally do in an action scene. Then, about three minutes into ...
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Writers: Know Your Place

  • James Napoli
  • .February 25, 2021
James Napoli discusses what to do – and what not do to – when setting scenes in your screenplay.EXT. STREET – DAYA car is parked at the curb. Inside, a group of screenwriters wait at the corner of nothing and nowhere, failing to set the scene with any specificity and therefore failing to engage the reader into something resembli...
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This is the second part of our series on the evolution of James Bond and his immense cultural impact. It all began in the imagination of Ian Lancaster Fleming, a prolific British writer, and Naval Intelligence Officer.The sophisticated spy has been walking the earth since 1953, first splashed on the pages of Ian Fleming’s twelve...
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