Final Draft Awards: Aaron Sorkin, Radha Black, Sofia Coppola

Posted on March 3, 2021 at 6:48 pm

Aaron Sorkin receives the Zeitgeist Award for “The Trial of the Chicago 7” during the 16th annual Final Draft Awards on March 02, 2021 in UNSPECIFIED, United States. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for Final Draft)

Final Draft is the most popular word processing software used for writing movie scripts, which have to be in a particular (and peculiar) format. This week, Final Draft recognized the creative minds who use their programs to imagine great films.

In a Zoom ceremony, Aaron Sorkin was presented with the Zeitgeist Award for “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” a movie about events in 1969 that has been in the planning stages since 2006, when Steven Spielberg first approached him about writing the screenplay. But somehow, in the way of movie synchronicity, it seemed to arrive at just the right moment. As he said, “The zeitgeist crashed into us.”

Radha Blank receives the New Voice Award for “The Forty-Year-Old Version” during the 16th annual Final Draft Awards on March 02, 2021 in UNSPECIFIED, United States. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for Final Draft)

“The 40 Year Old Version’s” Radha Black, who starred in as well as writing and directing the semi-autobiographical film, got the New Voice Award.m and Ramy Youssef was presented the New Voice Award.

The full list:

  • Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – The Zeitgeist Award
    presented by Sacha Baron Cohen
  • Sofia Coppola, “On the Rocks” (A24/Apple TV Plus) – Storyteller Award: Film
    presented by Paul Schrader
  • Steve McQueen, “Small Axe” (Amazon Studios) – Storyteller Award: TV
    presented by John Boyega
  • Radha Blank, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (Netflix) – New Voice Award: Film
    presented by Mary Harron
  • Ramy Youssef, “Ramy” (Hulu) – New Voice Award: TV
    presented by Laith Nakli

 

 

 

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Awards Writers

Franklin Leonard is Disrupting Hollywood Gatekeepers with The Blacklist

Posted on September 26, 2019 at 10:07 am

Franklin Leonard had a job in Hollywood reading scripts to find suitable projects to move forward. Fifteen years ago, he sent around an anonymous email to other people with the same job asking them for the best scripts they had, promising to send anyone who contributed the consolidated list. He got some good scripts, he sent what he called “The Black List” around to the participants, and went back to work.

Copyright 2016 The Black List

It went viral. It is now an established annual list, and scripts on the list have now gone on to not just be produced but to receive over 200 Oscar nominations and make over $25 billion at the box office. The last eight best picture Oscars went to scripts featured on a previous Black List, as well as ten of the last 20 screenwriting Oscars. Scripts on the list have included “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Arrival,” “Argo,” “Spotlight,” and “Hell or High Water.” A Harvard Business School study found that scripts on the list were two times more likely to be produced and made 90% more in box office than scripts not on the list.

The Black List is now a website where aspiring screenwriters can upload their scripts, get feedback, and maybe even be discovered by a production company.

Leonard appeared this week at the beautiful new Washington DC screening room of the Motion Picture Association of America to talk about the Black List. He told one story about a script uploaded to the site that prompted a call inquiring about Arabic language rights. The film was first made in Arabic, which led to support for making it in English. And, Leonard pointed out, the screenwriter still lives, as he did when he was writing the script, in Georgia. He did not need to go to Los Angeles to get his movie made. Leonard calls it “a system that allows the industry as a whole to capture its good taste.” He described the “conventional wisdom” approach in Hollywood as “all convention and no wisdom.” This means perpetuation of the same stories and characters, generally ones that look and act like the studio executives themselves. Leonard also talked about disrupting the agents and agencies. “They overestimate the way in which they are indispensable.” The Black List is doing to the Hollywood gatekeepers what companies like eBay, Uber, and Airbnb have done to their industries.

Most important, though, Leonard made it clear that the way to get a script made into a movie is to write an excellent script. Don’t say, “Well, that terrible movie got made and my script is better than that.” Write the best script you can, understand that your first script is probably not movie-ready, get a lot of feedback, make revisions, and then upload it to The Black List and maybe you’ll get a call.

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Behind the Scenes Writers

Read 2015’s Best Screenplays — For Free

Posted on January 24, 2016 at 3:33 pm

You can read some of the best screenplays of 2015 for free on the great Go Into the Story website. Even if I have seen the movie several times, I always learn more from reading the script, and especially enjoy the writers’ directions and commentary. It’s a fabulous selection, from “The Big Short” to “Danny Collins,” “Ex Machina,” “I Smile Back,” “Inside Out,” “Room,” to “The Hateful Eight.”

These wonderful videos from the New York Times series “Anatomy of a Scene” let the directors explain what they do to tell the story.

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Behind the Scenes Understanding Media and Pop Culture Writers

Billy Ray on Hollywood’s Writer Problems

Posted on August 12, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Oscar nominated screenwriter Billy Ray (“The Hunger Games,” “Shattered Glass”) has a warning for “our next great screenwriters.” Hollywood will not help you. It will work against you. In a speech later adapted for an article on Medium, he explained:

When I started writing there were still a few mavericks out there; a few gunslingers who ran studios.

These were people who went with their guts and would make a movie just because they believed in it.

But that’s not the process anymore.

Today, before a studio chair can green-light a movie, that movie must also be blessed by the head of marketing, the head of foreign sales, and the head of home video.

It must be subjected to a process called “running the numbers,” which means that the movie’s cost — or, downside — is compared against its potential value because of its cast and what it might do in foreign markets.

This process takes into account every variable except the variable which actually matters — the one that can’t possibly be gauged by any sort of calculus — which is whether or not the movie’s going to be any good.

The good news is that technology has made it possible for singular creative visions to be realized for budgets low enough that they are within reach for passionate filmmakers. But it is called “show business,” and business comes first when corporate conglomerates are allocating tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Understanding Media and Pop Culture Writers

Meryl Streep Supports Women Screenwriters

Posted on April 28, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Meryl Streep has made a contribution to a lab program for women over 40 who write movies.

The only program of its kind, The Writers Lab evolved in recognition of the absence of the female voice in narrative film, along with the dearth of support for script development. The lab offers 8 promising films by women over 40 a springboard to production.

The Lab will take place September 18-20, 2015 at Wiawaka Center for Women on Lake George. Caroline Kaplan (Time Out of Mind, Personal Velocity), Kirsten Smith (Legally Blond, Ten Things I Hate About You), Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights) among others will be serving as mentors, pending scheduling. Mentors advise in one-on-one meetings with additional events to inspire artists to hone their creative vision. The Lab will take place September 18-20, 2015 at Wiawaka Center for Women on Lake George. Caroline Kaplan (Time Out of Mind, Personal Velocity), Kirsten Smith (Legally Blond, Ten Things I Hate About You), Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights) among others will be serving as mentors, pending scheduling. Mentors advise in one-on-one meetings with additional events to inspire artists to hone their creative vision.

For submission information or to apply, see the Writer’s Lab.

And here is Ms. Streep talking about why we need more women’s stories.

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Gender and Diversity Writers
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