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 Yes, times have changed and templates can be outdated, but I argue a formula isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s how you execute – story, characters, themes, acting, direction, dialogue, every fleshy detail –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

Stumptown pilot and the Economy of Storytelling

I’ve written before about the myriad of things which would go into Perfect TV Pilot Bingo, including shows like Glitch and The Night Of which set up mysteries, shows such as Doctor Who which have mini-pilots every few seasons, even TV shows which shoot a mid-season episode first to sell the show but still need to make … Continue reading

On Long Goodbyes and Loyalty

My upbringing was starkly black and white, everything strictly categorised as sin and acceptable, allowed and not. The massive ‘sin: not allowed’ category swallowed everything in legalism and immutable consequences. I fell in love with noir partly because it has no such hangups. I savoured noir’s evocative language and sexual undercurrent. I learned to believe … Continue reading

How Editing Mimics Memory in Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell”

The Farewell is absolutely one of my favourite films of the year, and one of the few which made me cry (twice, if we’re counting) yet want to rewatch immediately. Awkwafina is a star. I look forward to her career of interesting choices and varied projects. I hope she ends up getting offered all the … Continue reading

Shooting, Editing, and Crossing the Line on HBO’s “Succession”

Succession has all the hallmarks of HBO Prestige Television: big names, stunning production design, Shakespeare out the wazoo. It crosses the line as much in its shooting as its characters cross it morally, and just as often for kicks; see Episode 1.04 “Sad Sack Wasp Trap” (video for educational purposes): I did a more detailed … Continue reading

Better Call Saul: Art of the Montage

Like Breaking Bad before it (but better in almost every way – fight me), Better Call Saul loves an out-of-context cold open, a seemingly inconsequential detail or character beat which will come around in a few episodes or seasons, and a long montage. In fact, like this groundbreaker before it, Better Call Saul brings us … Continue reading