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#21 LoneTomato

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 12:37 AM

How do you treat sex, violence and swearing in your work.



For a long time, I wondered how to write meaningful (truthful) stories without running the risk of offending Christians. A few years ago, I finally came to the conclusion that I really don't care what Christians think. I care about reaching those who do not know (or misunderstand) Christ and I care about pleasing my heavenly Father with my work. If some Christians complain about how I reconcile the way I carry out the former to accomplish the latter, then that is between them and God.

In other words, I have the freedom to write whatever I want. That may sound irresponsible but I know that I will have to give an account for every word (pure, vulgar or otherwise) that I write. It's that healthy fear of the Living God that gives me the freedom to write in a way that is natural and real without straying into the gratuitous.

(Warning, wondering out loud...)
On the other hand, I suppose those who cater to the narrow Christian aesthetic at the expense of writing successfully for a savvy and cynical audience will have to give their own account for what they did with their gifts.

I'm not saying that one HAS to include swearing, violence, and/or sex to write good stories. I'm just suggesting that God gives creative Christians far more freedom than other Christians do and that's a shame.

I wonder how many brilliant storytellers are stuck writing sappy Christmas musicals and heavy-handed Easter dramas because that's the only outlet the church provides for them. Frankly, that thought pisses me off because we're not here to entertain ourselves but to grow the Kingdom of God.

Well, I'll stop now before I use some words that I might regret. (In my screenplays, I fear God; on this board I fear the administrators :ignore: )

Hey, I just noticed they added a ton of new emoticons.
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#22 chansen

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Posted 23 July 2003 - 08:13 AM

LoneTomato,

You've pretty much echoed my own thinking on the subject, as far as how I write and make films. I've stuggled with it for a long time -- and the reality is that I will continue to struggle with it because Christians will continue to be frustrating to me in this area, and because I have a family and it's harder to deal with this stuff when you have kids...

But I wouldn't be doing what I'm supposed to be doing if I wrote only nice and pleasant material.

Chris

#23 Spoon

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 03:59 AM

[quote][quote="tara filma"]Any scriptwriters out there who are working on a current project?[/quote]


Here is my current project(s). I'm thinking of merging the 2.
First one: Dude comes to faith in Christ after his own philosophy, god turning his tragedies into dreams, leads him there. then, real tragedy happens and his nonchristian girlfriend is killed in a car crash while he is driving. he prays, as he has before, for god to turn it into a dream, as god has before, but it never happens. a close friend gently tells him that without jesus, his girlfriend is in hell. he then leads a life trying to deny christ and his christianity, not because of his hate for god, he still loves god, but because of his love for his girlfriend.

Second One:
Dude believes his tragic dreams were actually realities that god, because of his mercy, turned into dreams. one day one of his tragedy doesnt become a dream. girlfriend dies. he starts dreaming about her. he then starts sleeping for 16 hours a day, to be with her, but he loses everything else in his real life. turns out in the end things get switched around again and the 16 hours that he thought he was sleeping during the day was actually him awake.
this is a twist but its not meant to fool or surprise people. there will be simple narration in the beginning of the story spelling out the supposed 'twist'. the twist will somehow be revealed before the story actually starts. the emphasis is on the story and characters, not the twist. twist is just part of the story.

i'm going to have richard hatem direct it and barry pepper star smile.gif

#24 SZPT

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 02:07 AM

Spoon wrote:
QUOTE
i'm going to have richard hatem direct it and barry pepper star


Gee, I do wish it was that easy. I believe that I shall choose Ron Howard to direct my next movie idea... But I shall be the star!

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#25 holyhillfilms

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 04:18 PM

Any scriptwriters out there who are working on a current project?

I'm working on two short dramas (one with rough draft complete, one just in the beginning stages) and one feature length romantic comedy (nearly complete rough draft, but "shelved" at the moment).

I always find discussion encourages my own creativity....


Hello Tara,
Yes, I am also working on two screenplays at the moment. I completed the first draft on one of them. On the other I am finished with the first act.

I have a question: I'd like to hear/see comments about introducing new characters during the second act. They are secondary characters with storylines...

#26 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 07:10 PM

For me, screenwriting functions more as a hobby than a career dream. True, I would love to be paid for my work, but the field is fraught with difficulties, not the least of which being that screenwriters have very little control over their own projects once the script has been purchased by a studio. As such, I explore screenwriting to indulge my inner armchair filmmaker and to play around with the literary form of the screenplay, a form I find highly gratifying (for a study in its unique pleasures, I recommend studying Valdimir Nabokov's landmark novel, LOLITA, and comparing it with his own screenplay adaptation of the novel, which he also published).

As for my own projects, I have more than I should on my plate, but my present priority is a loose trilogy of screenplays which are connected to one another by a mutual concern for spirituality/religion. The first of these screenplays relates the story of the heretic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, who abolished the traditional religious cults of Ancient Egyptian religious culture in favor of a fairly abstract religion involving sun worship. The second of these is a "Jesus film," which distinguishes itself by focusing on the eschatological nature of Jesus Christ's teachings and work. The third takes place in a distant future, detailing the surreal and tragic misadventures of a Medieval scholar who finds himself out of step with the technologically advanced society in which he lives.


What are you writing in, Ryan? A Jesus film, huh? How far along are you?

#27 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 11:51 AM

I'm not sure what you mean. I use Final Draft for my writing software. Screenplay format is exceedingly irritating, even if it is nicer on the eyes than the format for a stage play, and it's not worth tinkering. That said, I'm increasingly writing my screenplays by hand.


That's what I meant--interesting to write by hand. I'd never be able to read what I just wrote if I wrote anything by hand. Since I'm poking around with trying my hand at a script for the Glen, I trialed FD but didn't find it worth spending $200 on for what could be a short term interest. Copying 15 pages of FD into Celtx was a bear, but for $0 it more than meets my needs.

I should have known that the Jesus film would be the first one I'd be asked about here at A&F. :P


Hmmm. I wonder why... It sounds like a natural "next" Jesus film, though? With all the hoopla of the last twenty or thirty years of Historical Jesus stuff, I'm surprised that "The Miracle Maker" is the only Jesus film in recent memory that engages with that.

It's closer to completion than any of my other screenwriting projects. I have a firmer sense of story structure for the Jesus film than I have for either of the other two films in the trilogy, though I've been developing the other two for much longer (the Akhenaten biopic has been an obsession of mine for many years). The Jesus film is completely outlined, with most of the dialogue sketched out for the key scenes. It's just a matter of sitting down and actually cranking it out. In many ways, it's had the quickest and easiest development of any screenplay I've worked on to date. There exists so much art and tradition to draw upon, to say nothing of the Biblical accounts themselves. True, with the Pharaoh Akhenaten, I have source material; I'm drawing upon the hard work of historians. Nevertheless, there are so many gaps, ambiguities, and question marks that to tell the story of Akhenaten is ultimately to produce of a work of fiction. With my Jesus film, I often feel less like a creator and more like an editor. I may have shaped the story, and added surprising and new flourishes here and there, but I cannot genuinely claim ownership. In addition to the Gospel authors, I owe a great debt to Milton, Moreau, and Rembrandt, among others.


In prepping for the Glen, I kicked around two or three ideas in story form (5-10 pages) then picked the one I liked the most. Excel, actually, was the most useful program I used. I knew I wanted 60 or so scenes, so I broke down the story into 60 elements. I suppose, in the spec script format that since each master scene heading creates a separate "scene" I'll double the 60 to 120 or so "scene headings", but for a lot of those its movement of characters from one room to another in the same overall scene.

Its been lot of fun, and hopefully it will be worth the telling, but we'll see in August if its got any potential or if its total crap. I really like it though, its about this farm boy who ends up fighting a giant black robot on a space ship to save a princess. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it, so its got that uniqueness going for it.

#28 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 08:58 PM

Buckeye Jones wrote:
: With all the hoopla of the last twenty or thirty years of Historical Jesus stuff, I'm surprised that "The Miracle Maker" is the only Jesus film in recent memory that engages with that.

Pardon the brief tangent, but: What is it within the film itself that sets it apart from the others in that regard? The fact that N.T. Wright's name comes up in the end credits? :) (Perhaps we should discuss this in the thread devoted to that film...)

Oh, and Ryan: VERY interested to hear about your Akhenaten project. Are you going to get into any of the theories that link him to Moses in some way? (Which reminds me: Have you heard about this, or this?)

#29 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 09:18 PM

Buckeye Jones wrote:
: With all the hoopla of the last twenty or thirty years of Historical Jesus stuff, I'm surprised that "The Miracle Maker" is the only Jesus film in recent memory that engages with that.

Pardon the brief tangent, but: What is it within the film itself that sets it apart from the others in that regard? The fact that N.T. Wright's name comes up in the end credits? :) (Perhaps we should discuss this in the thread devoted to that film...)


I didn't realize Wright was connected in any way--but I found the Jewishness of Jesus to be emphasized in the film over the many other similar life of Christ films, and the social/political subtexts throughout seemed very E. P. Sandersish.

I really like it though, its about this farm boy who ends up fighting a giant black robot on a space ship to save a princess.

Sounds like it could be charming. Does it have a title?


I was leaning towards something like "Space Battles" but that lacks a certain ring to it, don't you think? ;)

#30 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 08:46 AM

Ryan H. wrote:
: Not only do the time periods fail to match up, but of Akhenaten's Atenism and Moses' Yahwism differ substantially.

Well, I wouldn't take anyone seriously who said, e.g., that Akhenaten and Moses were the same person (as apparently one of those projects mentioned in one of those links suggests). But I have heard it argued that, if you date the Exodus to the reign of Rameses or his son Merneptah, then the Hebrews may have gotten the idea for monotheism from Akhenaten; or, alternatively, if you date the Exodus to the reign of Thutmose III or his son Amenhotep II, then perhaps Akhenaten (real name: Amenhotep IV) got the idea for monotheism from those Hebrews who trounced his predecessors. Admittedly, I don't think anyone seriously posits the latter option any more, but it was an idea that I rather liked back when I was studying my Halley's Bible Handbook in junior high school. (Side note: When I helped film a Regent College lecture series in the summer of 1987, I was startled to hear Gordon Fee, I think it was, declare that Halley's Bible Handbook wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. He was no doubt right, of course, but I must say I still have fond memories of that book, for the way it stirred my interest in ancient things.)

Anyway. Assuming that you would date the Exodus to the time of Rameses/Merneptah, and thus to a time AFTER Akhenaten, it occurs to me that you could still sneak in a reference to the Hebrews living in Egypt, if you wanted to. :)

#31 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 09:42 AM

I'm not sure. It certainly offers a different perspective on Jesus than the cinematic representations we've had to date. I've jokingly nicknamed my screenplay "The Scary Jesus Film." :P

...
Interesting method. I never even thought about using Excel.


A Jesus film that's scary, or a scary Jesus?

As to Excel, I'm so used to building summary charts and timelines for my job that its a natural fit. I like the rows and columns format, especially for keeping track of dates, locations, etc.

And I'm not sure what I'll end up calling the thing, actually. While not wanting to disappoint anyone hoping for the next Star Wars, I've got a story of an Albanian immigrant who returns home to find her brother embroiled in a blood feud as the country disintegrates in the 1997 anarchy.

#32 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 10:04 AM

Ryan H. wrote:
: There are those who suggest that the Exodus occurred around the time of Amenhotep III, Akhenaten's father (and the chronology suggested by the scriptural texts, with the date of Solomon's temple and all that, would support such timing).

Hmmm, I don't believe I've heard that theory before. (The chronology around these things is a bit complicated, given the Hebrew tendency to speak in "generations" or multiples of 40, instead of painstakingly and precisely counted years.) I'd certainly be interested to hear more about this, though.

: In further support of the notion that Exodus occurred around that time are the Amarna letters, which indicate that Canaan was being invaded by the "Habiru" (which may or may not refer to the nomadic Hebrews of that time).

Oh, man, this is bringing back memories of the days when I used to subscribe to Biblical Archaeology Review etc. Good times, good times.

#33 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 12:29 PM

A Jesus film that's scary, or a scary Jesus?


That's not to say I want to emphasize this aspect to the exclusion of everything else about Jesus, who abounds in forgiveness and willingly submitted himself to intense suffering (and not just in his crucifixion, but in his temptation in the wilderness, with which I open my screenplay), but I do want to give it some stress. Christ was often kind, gracious, and deeply sorrowful about the state of humanity. But he's also very frank, thanks to his assured authority (notice how he says to Judas, just before Judas leaves to betray him to Caiaphas, that it would be better for Judas if he had never been born!), and is unafraid of proclaiming judgment, and often goes out of his way to make it difficult for those around him to follow him. Jesus is unabashedly confrontational and challenging.


Certainly locates it within the "critique from within" realm of 2nd Temple Judaism in a meta-sense, and nicely tied to the strangeness of the text, as you mention.

Oh, very fascinating. Now what inspired you to pursue that?


Write what you know, right? There's three things that fascinate me about it: 1) the missionary church's response in 1997 Albania and how the local Albanian converts dealt with the missionaries' exit at the moment of crisis, 2) the sibling relationship and the dynamic of their respective easy and hard ethics, and 3) immigration. The blood feud serves as a crisis that forces the sister to face her own responsibilities and values.

The Albanian blood feuds are fascinating. I'll try and post some links.

Plus I got chills when I wrote the short story.

Edited by Buckeye Jones, 24 April 2010 - 12:30 PM.


#34 Ryan H.

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 12:47 PM

Write what you know, right?

Absolutely. And if you don't, make sure you learn. :)

There's three things that fascinate me about it: 1) the missionary church's response in 1997 Albania and how the local Albanian converts dealt with the missionaries' exit at the moment of crisis, 2) the sibling relationship and the dynamic of their respective easy and hard ethics, and 3) immigration. The blood feud serves as a crisis that forces the sister to face her own responsibilities and values.

I know very little about any of those things, but I'm intrigued, particularly in regards to notion #1.

#35 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 05:54 PM

Oh, just remembered: Ryan, have you heard about Pharaoh, the new Thutmose-and-Hatshepsut series that John Milius is producing?

#36 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 09:24 AM

Ryan, you submitting any of these to Final Draft's contest? Or Sundance? Both have deadlines coming up. But from reading your notes, sounds like you are more interested in the literary exercise of completing the screenplay than the business aspect?

#37 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 11:46 AM

Make no mistake, I am interested in the business aspect of screenwriting, and one of my goals is to develop a diverse portfolio before I try to enter the business, rather than attempting to make it in on the basis of one or two screenplays. Industry wisdom suggests that it's a good thing to have a variety of projects on hand. That way, if one of your screenplays isn't quite what somebody wants, but they still appreciate your writing style, you may have something else to offer them.


Sure--it only makes sense to have as diverse a portfolio as possible. Coming from a consumer products mindset (sorry, but I am what I am), you become the brand, with the equity, and various scripts/treatments/ideas become the products. What you may end up with, of course, is that someone likes your overall brand, but not so much your products--and then asks for a new and different product.

For me, let's call it a pre-test market--does my initial product have anything to it with the potential to generate some brand equity? That's what I want to learn.

#38 John Drew

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 03:37 PM

Ryan, you submitting any of these to Final Draft's contest? Or Sundance? Both have deadlines coming up. But from reading your notes, sounds like you are more interested in the literary exercise of completing the screenplay than the business aspect?


FWIW Francis Ford Coppola and American Zoetrope also have a screenwriting contest with deadlines for early submissions coming up in June.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 28 April 2010 - 03:37 PM.


#39 Ryan H.

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 07:32 PM

FWIW Francis Ford Coppola and American Zoetrope also have a screenwriting contest with deadlines for early submissions coming up in June.

Ooh. I like that one. I just might have to submit something. :)

#40 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 09:44 PM

At 10:26 or so, I lifted my hands from my keyboard, as if to not break this fragile thing before me. 117 pages, 102 scenes, and one very new draft in front of me, I finished it. Rough draft, first draft, whatever it actually is. I am a little afraid to read it. Not right now. I'll let it stew for a few days. Have a few friends take a look at it. Tell me if it sucks.

Then I'll start rewriting it for June 30, where it heads off to the Glen for workshopping.

I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight.