Oscar nominations 2012

They’re out!  Get your bets in!  Personally, as a writer, I think ‘The Artist’ is undeserving of any nomination other than that of  the non-existing “BEST ANIMAL TRAINER” and “BEST ANIMAL ACTOR” category.  I mean, come on, it’s a SILENT film for Pete’s sake!


War Horse



The Help

The Artist

The Descendants

Midnight in Paris

The Tree of Life

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close




Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis – The Help

Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams – My Week with Marylin




George Clooney – The Descendants

Brad Pitt – Moneyball

Jean Dujardin – The Artist

Damian Bichir – A Better Life

Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy




Kenneth Brannagh – My Week with Marylin

Jonah Hill – Moneyball

Nick Nolte – Warrior

Christopher Plummer – Beginners

Max von Sidow – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close



Octavia Spencer – The Help

Berenice Bejo – The Artist

Jessica Chastain – The Help

Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs



Animated Feature Film

A Cat in Paris

Chico & Rita

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots




Art Direction

The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2


Midnight in Paris

War Horse




The Artist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


The Tree of Life

War Horse




Costume Design


The Artist


Jane Eyre




Documentary Feature

Hell and Back Again

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Parad ise Lost 3: Purgatory





Documentary Short Subject

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement

God Is the Bigger Elvis

Incident in New Baghdad

Saving Face

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom



Film Editing

The Artist

The Descendants

Kevin Tent

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo





Foreign Language Film



In Darkness

Monsieur La zhar

A Separat ion




Albert Nobbs

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin

The Iron Lady

Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland



Music (Original Score)

The Adventures of Tintin

The Artist


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

War Horse



Music (Original Song)

Man or Muppet – The Muppets

Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie

Real in Rio – Rio

Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett



Short Film (Animated)


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

La Luna

A Morning Stroll

Wild Life



Short Film (Live Action)



The Shore

Time Freak

Tuba Atlantic



Sound Editing


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse



Sound Mixing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo



Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse



Visual Effects

Harry Pott er and the Deathly Hallows Part 2


Real Steel

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Transformers: Dark of the Moon



Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants


The Ides of March


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



Writing (Original Screenplay )

The Artist


Margin Call

Midnight in Paris

A Separation


The 84th Academy Awards take place on Sunday 26 February at the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood.

They will be presented by actor and comedian Billy Crystal.


A killer story


Why does ‘The Killing’ work?  Well if you take away the major contributing factor of the perfectly cast acting talent and the haunting musical score, you’re left with… the story.

Every episode leaves you wanting more, twisting your expectations, makes you guess and second guess yourself.  What viewer wouldn’t be hooked?!

A simple premise of an unsolved murder, which such rich subplots involving the Richmond party and Darren’s past, Stan Larson’s violent history, Bennet’s unfortunate involvement with helping another young girl with the same pink shirt.  Such interesting supporting characters that offer an abundance of ideas for where the story could go.

If you’re thinking of writing a pilot, you’ve gotta have all these things planned out, so you at least know you can carry on the story over a couple of seasons without compromising on quality and your audience’s attention.

Develop your characters, make them complex and constantly changing.  When they have experienced one arc, give them another.  That is the beauty with writing for a TV show versus writing for a feature film, you have the TIME to do all this.  So explore your characters deeply, don’t hold back, humans are capable of anything, remember that.

Twists.  Easier said than done, but you want to find that invaluable combination of a cliff-hanger episode, while still providing enough information to keep your viewers content.  Make things realistic but unexpected.  You want your viewers to think “How did I not see that coming?!”  not “That SO wouldn’t happen!”.

And don’t forget, the same goes for writing for feature films, you’ve gotta find that premise, that hook, that hasn’t already been done before or if it has, at least do it differently and brilliantly.  If you all remember ‘Twin Peaks’, I’m sure you can safely say that ‘The Killing’ is definitely superior.


FILM I WANNA SEE… ‘Chronicle’


Maybe it’s my love for the documentary style of story telling, or my love for super powers (I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t wish they had a super power?!), but this film looks awesome!  Watch the Chronicle Trailer

Teenagers who stumble upon their powers and then misusing those powers, sounds like a straight forward enough story, but it’s got that hook doesn’t it?  That thing that every screenwriter wants, a concept that hasn’t been done before.

With the awesome science-fiction and horror genres, you can usually go wild with your ideas, so there should be no excuse for you writers to not come up with something unique, but when you do, make sure it’s interesting too!  (For instance, there probably is a reason why someone hasn’t already made a movie about an evil ghost who has possessed a jar of peanut butter and kills humans by oozing out of sandwiches.

There’s a fine line between originality and downright stupid.

The trick is to make sure your script idea explores a part of the human condition that is universal, for example, love, revenge, greed, regret etc.  That helps build the connection between the words in your script and the person reading it.  You want your reader to be able to relate to your characters.  So if you’re writing a horror, think of something that will scare the pants off MOST people, not just the weird cult types.  Your mission is to try get your story made into a film, it’s a business so make it marketable!

What target market is your script aimed at?  -Teens?  Girls?  Action-loving men?  Ensure you know your market well, if not research them and find out what they are into.  Just because YOU’RE into something, doesn’t mean the rest of the world would be into it too.

P.S.  Just in case you’re wondering… if I could choose a super power, I’d be INVISIBLE!  -Imagine the things you could get away with!




Halos and Horns


No it’s not the title of a B-grade film, it’s the topic of this next post:

Heroes and Villains.  Or in other words, Protagonists and Antagonists.

To avoid being cliche, don’t make your protagonist (hero) perfect.  Give him or her flaws, weaknesses and vices that people can relate to and sympathize about.

Good people do bad things, remember that.  Include that into your screenplay and you will have a story that rings much more authentically.

On the same regard, don’t make your antagonists (villains) one-dimensional either.  Give them legitimate reasons for doing the bad things that they do, in such a way that makes people feel for them, maybe even root for them (a little). Monsters are overrated.  Disturbed humans with a haunted history and complexity that makes us wonder if we ourselves could be capable of such things, makes for a much better villain.

Not only will this type of characterization automatically boost the opportunities of your storyline and plot, but it will also entice good acting talent.  Actors LOVE playing complex characters filled with conflicting emotions!

Examples of great heroes:

  • AILEEN from ‘Monster’ (played by Charlize Theron)
  • JASON BOURNE from the ‘Bourne’ Trilogy (played by Matt Damon)
  • SHOSANNA DREYFUS from ‘Inglourious Basterds’  (played by Melanie Laurent)

Examples of great villains:

  • LISA ROWE from ‘Girl, Interrupted’ (played by Angelina Jolie)
  • ALONZO from ‘Training Day’ (played by Denzel Washington)
  • MIRANDA PRIESTLY from ‘The Devil wears Prada’ (played by Meryl Streep)

Of course it doesn’t hurt having A-list actors with their superstar presence, contributing to the complexity of the characters and blurring the lines of good and bad.  But ultimately, it comes down to the writing, it always does.

So don’t underestimate your power for creating inspirational characters, characters that will be talked about for years to come in many more blogs to come.

The Opening Scene


The opening scenes of a film or television script is vital for prevailing in screenplay contests and the film industry as a whole.

Finding fresh and unique ways to start your script is the key to make your reader sit up and pay attention!  (Keeping their attention is whole other ball game, but we’ll talk about that another day).

AIM:  Make your first 10 pages your absolute best and then try to maintain that quality THROUGHOUT the rest of the script.

Your introduction needs to be original, punchy and if possible, unexpected, all rolled into one.  You want to introduce your characters in a way that makes the reader NEED to read on.

Make it true to your genre, if it’s a comedy, make us laugh straight away, if it’s a horror, scare us!  The opening scene is there for you to set the tone, it is like the first impression if you will.  If your first impression fails, you will have to spend the rest of your script trying to redeem yourselves… that is if your reader hasn’t given up on you already.

We want to love your characters immediately, we want to relate to them and feel engrossed in their journey, their world.

Take us somewhere in those first 10 pages where we haven’t already been taken to before.  Originality is difficult, but worth the effort and industry professionals are more likely to discuss your script at the water cooler if it’s got something new and fresh.  New and fresh = EXCITING!  If it’s new and fresh and RELATABLE, that’s even better!

A screenwriter’s recipe for first scene success:

1 short, yet poetic description to set the scene.

Mix a handful of intriguing characters into a bowl filled with  funny, sad, scary or thrilling situations.

Stir in an unexpected twist or change in circumstance and voila`!  Your reader will be hooked!

Easier said than done?  Maybe so.  But there’s only one way to find out!