How Moving Shots Reveal Story, Create Tension (and so much more)

From The Bold Type to I May Destroy You to Supergirl, a recent trend in television is to keep the camera moving. Network procedurals, prestige cable dramas, limited run series, even talk shows (hello, Patriot Act) often ply this technique, sometimes as a cheap way to up production value. . Advantages and Drawbacks When used … Continue reading

GLOW’s pilot mechanics

I’m writing STAY AT HOME HITMAN, a sometimes-raunchy half-hour comedy-drama involving suburban politics and scholastic espionage, mental health and struggles of new parenthood, relationships and drugs of all sorts, with a smattering of class struggles, internalised and external homophobia, infertility, familial expectations, meddling lollipop ladies, and body disposal. I revisited GLOW because despite its much … Continue reading

a PITCH PERFECT movie for all times

When my godson was born, I got a 20 second phone call. “We’re on our way to the hospital. The agency said there’s a baby. We had to clear out your room just in case. Will let you know more soon. Bye!” A month before, I’d rented my best mates’s spare room for the winter … Continue reading

Experiencing Film

“The last X I experienced was X” posts circle social media like buzzards as we all adjust to our Quarantine of Indefinite Time [QoIT]. Zines and shortreads examine what certain events were like as the world’s corners started shutting down. Just as anyone with an internet connect can’t avoid seeing these musings, I can’t avoid … Continue reading

Character Introduction: Johnny Guitar

Introducing characters is an art form. I’ve been working on a TV pilot and while we’ve had the plot arcs nailed for months, making sure we get the characters across economically while being interesting and not too expository and using action while fitting them seamlessly into the plot and explaining how they relate to other … Continue reading

Stumptown Finale: or, I Heard You Paint-By-Numbers

When Stumptown premiered, I wrote about how its pilot uses what amounts to paint-by-numbers writing to great effect. I want to bookend the season by talking about how the finale still paints-by-numbers while incorporating much of the show’s growth, true surprises, long- and short- running arcs, and character development. Stumptown Season 1 turned into a … Continue reading

Character Development in The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian

I recently guested on Draft Zero to talk about about how the writing of The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian use fanservice differently in shaping story. You should listen to that, and all the great work Stu and Chas do. This post about fanservice in character development notes a few of those key things, … Continue reading

The Dude With A Thousand Faces: A Screenplay Template

I recently broke down the Stumptown pilot to examine hyperfunctional formulaic writing. Yes, times have changed and templates can be outdated, but I argue a formula isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s how you execute – story, characters, themes, acting, direction, dialogue, every fleshy detail – which matters. So when some mates released this short, … Continue reading

Blocking, Orientation, and Editing in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and WATCHMEN

Technology has enabled several trends in this Golden Age of Television: more helicopter shots! (IE cheaper because drones), longer tracking shots! special effects and stunts once strictly seen in movies! etc. Different genres lean into certain trends harder than others. A big thing in action/adventure/superhero movies is to keep the camera in perpetual motion; establishing … Continue reading

CARRIE and the Split Diopter

While I most recently saw discussion around split diopters after Jordan Peele’s Us, Brian De Palma famously uses these shots often. Like all his cinematic language, it’s not just to look pretty, but has a distinctive effect or feeling to convey. Let’s talk first about focus in general. If you’re sitting in a room, you … Continue reading