How to write a screenplay

Before I started /Film, I was an aspiring screenwriter (and later an aspiring filmmaker). Screenwriting has always been a love of mine, and I have tremendous respect for writers in this world. I think most people who go to the movies think films are written like novels — How to write a screenplay? A writer types away behind a glowing computer screen, and when he’s done they make that movie. Many of you know the process is much more collaborative than that, but some of you might not know the obsessive organization that goes into designing a story.

The creative process of a screenwriter is not magical, it usually involves a ton of hard work and long hours (as is with most great art). We often see behind the scenes videos showing how movies are filmed, but rarely do we get a look into the creative process behind the writing which sets the stage for the entire production. Its arguably the most important step of the moviemaking process. If you have never read a book about screenwriting or don’t listen to John August’s scriptnotes podcast, than this video is something you need to see.

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As Carlton Cuse gets to work rewriting San Andreas 3D, he’s about to get some stiff competition from his former Lost colleague J.J. Abrams. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Universal are getting things moving again on their long-gestating disaster movie Earthquake, and have just set Milk scribe Dustin Lance Black to write the script. Bad Robot’s Bryan Burk is also on board as a producer. More details after the jump.

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When Dustin Lance Black won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2009 for Milk, his career exploded. He’d already written on HBO’s Big Love but now Clint Eastwood wanted him for J. Edgar, he lined up a bunch of upcoming projects and even got to direct a screenplay of his own. That film, originally called What’s Wrong With Virginia?, played the Toronto Film Festival in 2010. It was not received well.

The film tells the story of Virginia, a confused, sick mother (Jennifer Connelly), whose questionable actions have an adverse effect on her son (Harrison Gilbertson), the town Sheriff turned Senatorial candidate (Ed Harris) and others too, played by Emma Roberts, Toby Jones, Yeardley Smith, Amy Madigan and others.

Lance Black went back to the drawing board with the film, re-writing and re-editing and finally on May 18, the newly titled Virginia will be released. Watch the trailer after the jump. Read More »

Every year during awards season, The Hollywood Reporter somehow organizes the schedules of basically every single actor, actress, writer and director of the year’s best films to sit down and discuss them. This, in itself, is pretty spectacular. What’s even better is they release the videos of the full conversations so we can watch. For the 2011 Writers’ Roundtable, they’ve brought together Moneyball‘s Steve Zaillan and Aaron Sorkin, The Skin I Live In‘s Pedro Almodovar, J. Edgar‘s Dustin Lance Black, Rampart‘s Oren Moverman and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close‘s Eric Roth to discuss their own, and each others’, scripts, all of which have a good shot at multiple award nominations. Check out the video after the jump. Read More »

Clint Eastwood and Warner Bros. decided to skip this fall’s festival circuit with the biopic J. Edgar. While a good many of the other major fall studio releases have been seen and reviewed in the past three weeks via Telluride, Venice and TIFF, we’ve seen nothing from this biography of America’s most powerful lawman, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover.

Now the shroud is off the film as Warner Bros. released the first trailer for Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort, in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays the FBI chief and Armie Hammer (The Social Network) appears as his second-in-command and rumored love, Clyde Tolson. See the trailer below. Read More »

Now that The Dark Tower has fallen at Universal, Ron Howard is free to explore some of the other projects that he has in various stages of development. As a start, he’ll shoot the true-life Formula One racing movie Rush later this year, with Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl in the starring roles.

Now we can add another project to his development pile: Warner Bros is packaging an adaptation of Jon Krakauer‘s book Under the Banner of Heaven, with Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar) writing for Ron Howard to direct. Read More »

Just as the original Broadway run of American Idiot is about to close, a movie based on Green Day‘s 2004 album — something that has been a topic of discussion since the record first hit stands — may have a screenwriter and a home at Universal. Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar) is in talks to write a film based on the Broadway musical based on Green Day’s album. Michael Mayer, director of the Broadway run, is set to direct. Read More »

Damon Herriman Joins Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’

Formerly titled Hoover, Clint Eastwood‘s next film J. Edgar is slowly but surely putting its cast together and the latest piece of casting might provide a peak into the story. We already know that Leonardo DiCaprio is locked and loaded to play the original FBI director and that both Charlize Theron and Armie Hammer are in talks to play two of his close confidants. The next confirmed piece of casting is that Australian actor Damon Herriman will play Bruno Hauptmann, the man who was convicted of kidnapping and killing the Lindbergh baby. In the States, Herriman is best know for a recent stint on FX’s Justified, a role in The Square and a bit part in the Paris Hilton horror remake House of Wax.

Read more about Herriman’s role and how it might fit into the Dustin Lance Black penned flick after the break. Read More »

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