Update: Veronica Mars and the Future of Lean Film Development

Earlier I posted about the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign that show creator Rob Thomas launched this morning to fund a movie continuation of the TV heroine’s story. Well, that post’s already dreadfully outdated. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2013/03/13/update-veronica-mars-and-the-future-of-lean-film-development/

Will Veronica Mars Kickstarter Campaign Change Film Financing Forever?

As I type this, the numbers are skyrocketing. Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas launched a $2,000,000 Kickstarter campaign hours ago, and more than 10,000 rabid fans have already sent him well past the 1/3rd mark.

We all know that Kickstarter has changed the way independent filmmakers raise production funds. What’s revolutionary here is that Thomas is raising money for a studio-owned property. Warner Brothers, which owns the rights to Mars, is reluctant to waste resources on a project that might not have the necessary consumer demand, so they’ve struck a deal with Thomas: if he validates his audience using Kickstarter (raising $2,000,000 in the process), they’ll greenlight the project and agree to distribute.

We might be looking at film history here. What could this mean for properties like Firefly and Arrested Development? This is the studio system acting like a lean startup. Are we looking at a future where low-budget studio pictures are greenlit on the basis of crowdfunded validation?

As Slate‘s Miriam Krule observes:

If this campaign is successful, then, it could help change the nature of what Kickstarter does—not just providing funding, but perhaps increasingly serving as a promotional platform. “If it works,” Alan Sepinwall argues, “this could change the game for fans of canceled shows with a similar profile, where the overall audience wasn’t big enough to keep it on the air, but passionate enough to fund some kind of follow-up project like this.” But why wait until the show is canceled? Couldn’t a TV series launch a campaign like this in order to keep a show on the air? Maybe if Kickstarter was around in 2007, we’d already know whether Veronica ended up with Logan or not.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2013/03/13/will-veronica-mars-kickstarter-campaign-change-film-financing-forever/

John August links to us, so we return the favor!

Not as good as getting an actual mention in the Scriptnotes podcast ( … someday … ), but on his blog this morning, John August linked to examples of early script formats found in our history section. Thanks, John!

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2013/02/19/john-august-links-to-us-so-we-return-the-favor/

Harrison Ford’s “Raiders” Script

Cinephilia & Beyond has some excellent page scans of Harrison Ford’s shooting script of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ford’s handwritten script analysis notes are evidence of an actor seriously engaged in dissection of the screenwriter’s work — a great window into his process.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2013/02/16/harrison-fords-raiders-script/

Vanity Fair: “Will the Spec Script Rise Again?”

Vanity Fair is out with this insightful history of the spec market boom that lasted in Hollywood from 1990 to 2008. A must read for aspiring screenwriters and screenwriting scholars alike.

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2013/02/16/vanity-fair-will-the-spec-script-rise-again/

Could Validation Board Lead to Better Screen Stories?


Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2013/02/05/could-validation-board-lead-to-better-screen-stories/

Should We Build Movies Like We Build Houses?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the screenplay as a kind of software and have turned to certain software development processes in search of models for alternative methods of screenplay development (particularly for microbudget features). I see many commonalities between programming and screenwriting (“A computer script is a list of commands that are executed by a certain program or scripting engine” [TechTerms.com], while a movie script is a set of instructions that must be executed by a cast and crew), and I believe screenwriting quality and efficiency can both be improved by incorporating innovative strategies from the world of software design.

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2013/02/03/should-we-build-movies-like-we-build-houses/

John August’s Courier Prime

This week saw the release John August’s new (free) typeface, Courier Prime:

By standardizing around one typeface set at a specific size, we can take advantage of some rules-of-thumb.

For example, one page of screenplay (roughly, sometimes) equals one minute of screen time. More importantly, producers can be assured that a 119-page draft really is shorter than a 140-page draft. Unlike college freshmen, screenwriters can’t fiddle with the font to change the page count.

The biggest problem with Courier is that it often reveals its low-res heritage. Designed for an era of steel hitting ribbon, Courier can look blobby, particularly at higher resolutions.

But it doesn’t have to.

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2013/02/02/john-augusts-courier-prime/

NYTimes: Writing Documentaries

The New York Times has posted this piece today that tackles the question of writing credits in documentary filmmaking.

“While a documentarian taking a writing credit for narration rarely raises eyebrows, nonfiction filmmakers are also beginning to consider the behind-the-scenes structuring of their films to be a type of writing. The trend, which is being shepherded by the Writers Guild, a union representing television and film writers, has some documentary film editors and directors worried that it threatens to redefine their job descriptions and confuse viewers, who may believe that a documentary that has been written is a less credible depiction of reality.”

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2012/08/24/nytimes-writing-documentaries/

Vertigo ousts Kane, but which is the better screenplay?

After 50 years at the top of Sight & Sound‘s list of all-time greatest films, Citizen Kane has dropped to #2 behind Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Just for fun I ask, which is the better screenplay? Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.screenplayology.com/2012/08/01/vertigo-ousts-kane-but-which-is-the-better-screenplay/