Monday, May 23, 2011

Filmmakers Notebook interview

I wanted to share with you my current two-part interview in Filmmakers Notebook.  It covers more of my production company's producing work--especially our first feature The Sensation of Sight and what we're working on now.  But it's all part of the same game.  And Filmmakers Notebook is a great site.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The negative and positive premise

     If you've been following this series of posts on premise, I hope you're starting to get a sense of why it's important to add this tool to your toolbox.  Here's yet another consideration.

     There are basically two kinds of workable dramatic premises. The first conveys a lesson by showing the negative consequences of a certain mode of behavior or action.  It leaves the audience wiser about what not to do if they want to avoid the central character's fate:  ruthless ambition leads to destruction, jealousy leads to ruin, suspicion leads to disaster, chasing after worldly success leads to disillusionment.  A good number of classic plays and films contain this type of premise.  The best of them are enormously powerful and have the potential to affect audiences profoundly.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Scriptwriting retreat in New Hampshire...?

           I wanted to put a bug in your ear about an interesting possibility.  Recently I’ve been approached by a couple of potential scriptwriting clients about the idea of coming up to my farm in New Hampshire for an intensive script consultation with me on a project of theirs.  We’re talking about a period of time ranging from a weekend to a couple of weeks.

I love the idea (obviously on a limited basis) because this in-person work is a very productive way to really dig into a script and make enormous progress in a relatively short period.  I’ve done this numerous times with writers at playwright/screenwriter conferences around the country, but never at my own place in the hills of southwest NH.  At least not with scriptwriting clients.  I’ve held many script pow wows here with my own producing teams on our film company’s projects, but this will be the first time I’m actually opening up this possibility to my writer clients.

My rambling spread is in the hills of Stoddard, NH in the heart of northern New England.  We’re on a high ridge overlooking the famous Mt. Monadnock to the south.  From our big front porch (where we’ve conducted countless script and production meetings) we overlook the Green Mountains in Vermont 60-70 miles away to the west.

 We have a private beach on Granite Lake just down the road and our property borders on 15,000 acres of forest preserve.  Suffice it to say, it’s conducive to the creative spirit and to harnessing that special energy that comes with it.  An added bonus is that I might be able to pull in my producing partner, writer/director Aaron J. Wiederspahn, to join us on the porch for a session or two, especially if we’re discussing a pertinent film we’ve just screened together. 

I’ve investigated several possible housing arrangements and there are ample opportunities to rent a place nearby for a short-term stay.  This is a major laid-back summer vacation region, so finding a B&B or other accommodations is very doable.  Prices run the gamut.  

Just thought I’d throw this out there, seeing I have clients already suggesting it.  Let me know if you’d be interested in discussing the possibility further.  Best way to reach me directly is at or contact me through my website at  Could be a fun way to get a lot of good work done on your project in a very short period of time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More thoughts on premise...

            In all my years working with playwrights and screenwriters, the one thing that’s helped the most in getting to the heart of a script’s problems is focusing in on what the writer really wants to say.  Without a clear sense of where you want to land with your story it’s almost impossible to proceed in figuring out how to put it together or rearrange it so it will arrive there.  Successful invention happens because the inventor has a passion for creating a specific thing that, once made, functions in a specific way.  It’s no different with a successful script.  This is why giving some serious thought to your dramatic premise early in your writing process is worth the effort.  

            Here are some further tips to keep in mind as you work at formulating your premise.