Thursday, December 24, 2015

It's almost never easy to 'kill your darlings'.

Last week when I wrote about Modern Family's episode 'White Christmas', I had this one special thingy that I wanted to share in my post. I thought that I had to write it in and that I pretty much had no choice.

It was about how I was able to make an educated guess - before I checked the credits - that the episode in question was written by a former 'Community' writer. I thought it was a great 'read' by me so it made a lot of sense to include it in my post.

Yet, when it came to actually writing in this supposedly wonderful observation, I just couldn't make it work. No matter how I hard I tried, the post as a whole didn't work - and I couldn't figure out where the problems were.

It wasn't easy to admit that the biggest problem was with my specific 'darling'. Even though my post and my observations were both about pop culture references, that still didn't mean that they would fit in together.

This whole thing got me puzzled, because usually when it comes to letting go of your stuff, it's not that difficult to edit out parts that don't work. As long as you have written enough to fill up the page, it shouldn't be that difficult to remove at least some of the content.

However, deleting valuable stuff becomes too easily too difficult when you're that invested in your darlings. Many of those supposedly great things that you initially had in mind are genuinely that difficult to get rid of.

After all, those wonderful darlings are usually those things that made you start writing in the first place. It's not that hard to think that without them you feel like you left out something important and that you failed at least yourself.

But that's not how it's really supposed to go when it comes to writing. If your precious things don't work well enough, you should remove them, no matter how difficult it might be and no matter how much it might hurt at first.

In the end, getting rid of your precious darlings will always make your scripts better. It's something that's almost never easy to do, but as long as you're willing to get rid of them, you'll become a better writer as a result.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Enough with the pop culture references already!

As I've written on this blog before, whenever you're making a pop culture reference, there's a good chance that it won't work as well as you intended. In too many cases it will not fit in well enough and will feel out of place.

One of the best examples of this can be found in Modern Family's episode S7E09 'White Christmas', that aired last week. It's rather safe to say that its references didn't work and that they pretty much bombed instead.

In this case we're talking about pop culture references that had to do with a rather well known - if not really that scary - horror movie called 'The Shining'. That film is supposed to be some sort of a classic when it comes to its genre.

The writers of the episode had decided to write in scenes that were meant to be some kind of homages to the film in question. They thought that we as an audience would think that they were really clever.

However, that's not how it turned out to be with the references. Instead of making us appreciate these supposedly memorable moments in film history, all I was able to think was that these writers were just clueless.

The biggest reason that these references didn't work well is that this episode should have had its priorities somewhere else. The writers should have paid way more attention to its storylines that actually mattered.

After all, this was the episode in which the whole family found out that their babysitter Andy was having an affair with Haley. This relationship was going on, even though Andy was already being engaged to another person.

The writers should have concentrated on this aspect - and this aspect only - but that's not what happened at all. Instead of handling the storyline like responsible human beings, the writers took the easiest way out.

They didn't give any credit to the audience and the whole season long story arc was resolved in like a minute with a total cheap-shot. After that they went back to those horrible pop culture references that shows like 'Community' are mostly known for.

In any case, if you haven't seen this episode yet and want to see a solid example on how not to write pop culture references into your show, watch 'White Christmas'. It could have been decent, but unfortunately, that's not how it went.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Modern Family's showrunner shows up.

It's usually been a pretty good thing when Modern Family's showrunner Steven Levitan has managed to write an episode for the show. In most cases I've been pleasantly surprised and have felt that the storylines and the jokes have worked well.

Over the last few years Levitan hasn't written that much for the show, so I was happy to see last week that he had managed to write another episode. I had every reason to think that this would be a pretty good one too.

So I watched S7E08, 'Clean Out Your Junk Drawer' and I have a bit mixed feelings about it. There were things that I liked about the episode - and yet there were also things that at least in my opinion didn't work well enough.

In my opinion, probably the best thing about it was that there were only two storylines. For a change, there were less characters in the episode - which also meant that there was more time to develop the storylines.

The first storyline was about our three couples, Jay & Gloria, Phil & Claire and Cam & Mitchell. They were spending time together in a therapy session after Gloria had managed to win them one from a charity auction.

What I liked about this storyline is that it had time to breathe a bit. The scenes were considerably longer than what were used to seeing on the show. It was great that they didn't need to cut right away to the other storyline(s).

I also liked that the characters talked about their flaws, like what are the things that they didn't like about their spouses. This made me feel that they were trying to be a bit more real and more down to earth this time.

What I didn't appreciate that much is that therapy storyline didn't hit all the right notes all the time. At least the 'comedic' stuff where Jay went to the bathroom to listen to a football game didn't feel authentic. It just didn't work.

At the same time, even though some of the reactions definitely weren't for my tastes - like Mitchell's clear over-reaction to that funny pogo stick stuff, I think the storyline was still somewhat solid and provided good laughs.

The second storyline was about Alex and Haley talking about their relationship situations. Alex was talking about her boy_friend Reuben and Haley was talking about her 'secret' ongoing relationship with the babysitter Andy.

This storyline was about how the girls tried to deal with the fact that they were still clinging to their guys and couldn't let go. Alex kept going out with Reuben because he made her feel better about herself, while Haley still had feelings for the now engaged Andy.

What I did like about this storyline is that there haven't been that many Alex & Haley episodes on Modern Family, despite the fact that these storylines almost always seem to make sense and work rather well on the show.

I liked the chemistry between these two and I liked their reactions. I liked how they managed to talk to each other now that they are both young adults. It was so good that we didn't get those usual one-dimensional exchanges.

At the same time, what I didn't like that much was that Haley is still dating a guy who's engaged. Clearly that's cheating and even though Andy's fianc├ę is supposed to be some sort of a psycho, that's still wrong and doesn't set a good example for us.

All in all, I have to say that as a whole I was a bit disappointed when it came to the quality of this episode. Some of the things clearly worked, but I felt that the script for the episode was just a bit too unpolished.

In my opinion, considering that 'Clean Out Your Junk Drawer' was written by its showrunner, it probably should have been a bit better. It wasn't as bad as some of the other reviewers have said, but I honestly did expect more from it.

Friday, December 4, 2015

We shouldn't take the audience for granted.

Some days ago I read a blog where some film business insider wrote that it doesn't matter that much whether the writers do their jobs well. As long as you have the audience flocking to see the movie, everything's just fine.

It's not like he was really against good stuff being released, but he wasn't really bothered by the lack of quality scripts that much. What matters is the bottom line, that they make as much money as possible, as fast as possible.

I was honestly pretty bothered and annoyed by what he had said. It wasn't fun to read stuff that was morally questionable at best. Whether the writers care or not, it seems that too many times they can take their audiences for granted.

So after that I felt pretty annoyed and decided to go to another (well known) site, where a film person was reviewing a freshly released feature film. It had gotten good reviews and he had apparently liked the movie quite a bit.

This seemed much better than what I had just managed to read. For a change we had some insider guy who actually appreciates movies and seems to demand quality stuff. It didn't look like he was going to commit those same sins as the guy before.

So things looked pretty good until I got to his last paragraph, where he too said something awful. He said - perhaps accidentally - that 'the best movies are the ones where the writers also care - and not just the audience'.

I mean - as unfortunate as it is - he too was implying that the audience members are going to pay for the tickets no matter what. They will show up and see these films and it doesn't matter much how good or bad they turn out to be.

But what's worse, he was also implying that as a writer you don't have to always care about your work.  Most of the time you can still be 'good enough' if you just phone it in. Apparently only the very best stuff requires that you actually care about your work.

I mean, maybe it's just me, but I have always thought that it's absolutely essential that writers care about their craft. It's super important that you always try your best so that you won't take your audience for granted.

As far as I'm concerned, if you don't care about your craft enough as a scribe and if you're not willing to make sure that your scripts are as good and as entertaining as possible, you really, really shouldn't be a screenwriter.

Friday, November 27, 2015

'The Man in The High Castle' is pretty good.

I haven't really watched that many drama shows over the last few years. There haven't been shows that had a premise that was interesting or compelling enough, so it was pretty easy not to get involved with any of them.

Fortunately last week I noticed that there's a science fiction series called 'The Man in The High Castle' out there. Since it was based on Philip K. Dick's novel and was about the victorious Nazis after the second World War, it was something that I had to check out.

So far I have managed to watch the first five episodes of the series, and I have to say that mostly I've been pleasantly surprised. As far as I'm concerned, 'The Man in The Castle' is a pretty well made show that has managed to keep me interested.

One of the biggest reasons why I've liked watching the series is that it poses the question 'what if the Nazis had won the second World War?'. What if they would have managed to produce the a-bomb in time that would have given them the victory?

As is usually the case with other shows in this genre, 'The Man in The High Castle' is also about the brave resistance members, that are now trying to fight the alliance between the Nazis and the Japanese in the occupied United States.

The show takes place during the sixties in the U.S, where our two main characters find themselves in a challenging situation - trying to figure out a secret that might help the resistance forces change the course of the history.

In this case we're talking about 'a man in the castle', a mysterious person who has managed to produce underground films, that are said to be so dangerous that in the right (or wrong) hands they could even destroy the Nazis and the Japanese.

The storylines on 'The Man in The High Castle' are derived from this premise. We have the brave resistance fighters, the nazis with their Obergruppenf├╝hrer and the Japanese with their military intelligence all trying to accomplish their goals.

The resistance fighters try to get back their country, the nazis aren't happy with their alliance with the Japanese, and the Japanese are aware that the Germans might double-cross them and use the bomb at any given minute.

In my opinion, 'The Man in The High Castle' does a very good job in creating a world that is both intriguing and believable. The show manages to keep the stakes high and makes me want to come back for more to see what happens next.

The production values of the series are pretty good too. At least in my opinion it's great to go back in time and look how things 'used' to be during the sixties. Clearly the people on the show paid a lot of attention to the details.

I also like most of the characters on the show. Even though there aren't necessarily any stand-out roles - D.J. Qualls likely being my favorite - as a whole I think the ensemble does a pretty good job and doesn't disappoint.

When it comes to the storylines, it's true that 'The Man in The High Castle' is a bit slow when it comes to its story progression. There are scenes here and there that aren't probably that crucial or that necessary.

Yet, despite some of these minor problems with storytelling, in my opinion these flaws don't weigh the series down too much. There's still lots of fascinating stuff for those who are interested in historical science fiction.

I suppose 'The Man in The High Castle' could have been even better than it is, but overall I feel that they did a pretty good job here. There aren't that many good science fiction dramas out there, but this series is one of them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The importance of publishing what you write.

For many writers one of the most difficult things about being a scribe is letting others read what you have written. Waiting for their response and their reaction can be a really grueling experience. What if they don't like what you just wrote?

As I've written before, there are undeniable benefits to sharing your writings with others. It's almost never a bad idea to let them read what you have written. In most cases they'll point out the problems and help you make your script better. 

At the same time, sharing what you have written so that you could make your scripts better is only one reason why you should publish them. There are other important reasons why you should make your writings available for others.

In my opinion, we as human beings have a moral responsibility to share and let others see what happens inside our minds. We have responsibilities when it comes to communicating with others and helping them with their problems.

Sharing our ideas and thoughts is what makes us human beings. It's something that helps us understand ourselves and makes us feel valuable and precious. Sharing things is perhaps the most important part of our lives. 

I myself didn't become a writer so that others wouldn't know how my mind works or what are the things that are important to me. I didn't become a writer so that I could just make up stuff and not reveal my true self.

Even though in many ways writing to me is about therapy and making me understand the world a bit better, it's also about me trying to help others so that we could appreciate those precious little things in life a bit more.

I write because I feel like there might sometimes be some value in what I'm doing. I write and publish because I believe that there's at least an outside chance that I could make us a bit better as human beings.

In my opinion, as long as you have something real to say,  you have a responsibility to speak out and let others know how you feel and think. It doesn't have to be the best thing that has ever been written, but it's something that deserves to be out there.

If you have a talent, you should use it. If you have written something valuable,  you should publish it. There aren't really that many things in life that matter - but good writing does and is always going to matter and make sense.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Too many things were revealed in Supergirl's pilot.

One of the most challenging things about being a writer is that you need to come up with a lot of storylines that make sense. This is something that is almost never easy to do. It pretty much always takes a lot of effort and work.

The best storylines are always the ones that are based on the premise of the show. These story ideas are the ones that make the show what it is. You should never take the premise for granted and think that it isn't crucial for the series.

I thought about this especially after I saw the pilot episode for CBS's new 'Supergirl' last week. I thought it was pretty clear that the producers of the series were not paying enough attention to its genre in general.

They thought that it didn't really matter what had worked before with those other super hero shows. They thought they could do whatever they wanted with Supergirl's premise and that it would still work like magic.

For example, one of the most - if not the most - important aspects of the superhero genre is that there are only a very few people who know the true identity of our super hero. This approach makes sense and makes it easier for it to work.

However, that's not how it went with Supergirl. In the pilot it's almost immediately revealed that there are quite a few people who know the identity of our hero. Unlike with those other shows, it seems that Supergirl isn't really concerned about that aspect of the genre.

For example, not only does Kara Danvers' character reveal to one of her co-workers that she is the Supergirl, the writers also introduce us to another character who right away recognizes and tells our Supergirl who she is.

In my opinion, this isn't how you're supposed to write and produce your pilot. You shouldn't create a show where almost everything is immediately revealed to everyone and only a few secrets remain. It makes no sense at all.

It's not interesting and it won't make the audiences happy. It will just make the series feel too rushed. More than likely they will run out of conflicts and organic storylines, which will get the show canceled pretty soon.

To be honest, I have to say that 'Supergirl' does get a bit better in its second episode. The show doesn't feel as rushed as it did based on the pilot. There are certain aspects of the series that seem to be working a bit better.

At the same time, it has to be said that the producers of 'Supergirl' were clearly playing fast and loose with the premise of the show. They revealed too many things too early, and that's never a good sign when it comes to entertainment.

Monday, November 2, 2015

'Capitalism: A Love Story' is a great movie.

It took me more than six years before I finally managed to watch Michael Moore's documentary film 'Capitalism: A love Story'. For some reason I hadn't thought about it much until I happened to stumble on it some days ago.

I mean, I had read somewhere that the film wasn't that good and that Moore had run out of things to say. Probably that had contributed to me not paying much attention to it.  I thought I had a reason not to watch the documentary.

Nevertheless, after seeing the film, it became obvious that I had been wrong. 'Capitalism: A Love Story', is a movie that not only manages to entertain us, it also makes us feel and makes us think about our society and its flaws.

One of the best things about the film is that the documentary doesn't shy away from making it personal. Just like in his other documentaries, in 'Capitalism: Love Affair', Moore puts himself in front of the cameras too.

Moore not hiding behind the scenes and behind the script is a crucial part of the film. It gives the document a much better narrative. At least in my opinion he's a genuinely likable character and has a great sense of humor.

In any case, there are a lot of things going on in this two hour documentary. Moore brings up a lot of outrageous things about unfettered capitalism. No rational person who has an open mind can disagree with much that the film has to say.

For example, there's stuff about how innocent kids are being thrown to jails so that private prisons could make profit - in the name of capitalism. The documentary brings out the notorious case of 'kids for cash' judge Mark Ciavarella.

Among other things, there's also stuff about how some airline pilots get paid so little that they have to rely on food stamps. This is almost too hard to believe but most companies in the U.S. don't care about their employees at all.

Yet, the main focus of the film is really about how in 2008 the big banks caused the biggest market crash in almost ninety years. It's about how none of the banks and the bankers were held liable for their criminally negligent actions.
 
Many of the unsuspecting poor and the middle class people lost their homes when the housing bubble burst. Yet, the only ones that were bailed out were the big banks - that immediately paid massive bonuses to their executives.

The richest of the rich got away with the financial heist of the century, and yet nothing substantial has been done to prevent the housing bubble from happening again. The 1%:ers simply rigged the game in favor of them. 

This whole thing might seem depressing, but fortunately in 'Capitalism: A Love Story' Moore manages to stay optimistic. Even though the unregulated, rogue capitalism has almost managed to subvert the democratic process, there's still hope for us.

As he shows with his examples, people all across the country keep fighting for their rights. It takes a lot of determination and resilience, but it's possible to stand up to power. It's something that can still be done.

Taking back democracy from the special interests won't be easy, but Moore shows that the common folks still have rights in this country - like a right to vote in elections. This is what makes the movie so important.

In the end, at least in my opinion 'Capitalism: A Love Story' is a wonderful documentary film. From start to finish, it's full of soul, substance and entertainment. Throughout the film it manages to make you laugh and cry.

Especially considering that there's going to be an important presidential election next year, I think this is a movie that everyone should see. Clearly it's one of the best documentaries that I've seen in a really long time.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dance scenes that make tv shows & movies better.

Even though I'm a massive fan of figure skating, I'm not necessarily someone who likes to watch people dance in general. In most cases I don't think that dancing alone is visually that appealing, exciting or entertaining.

I mean, I get pretty easily bored if I try to watch modern dance or ballet. Most of the time I don't like musicals that much either and I have problems watching reality dancing programs where people try to show off their moves.

At the same time, I have nothing against dancing as long as it makes sense and there's a reason for it. If it happens when there's something else to it too, I'm usually fine with it. Then it can be something wonderful.

In my opinion, pretty much always the best dancing scenes are the ones that you don't see coming. You don't except to see them, and yet in hindsight they make a lot of sense. Scenes like these are rare and very difficult to pull off well.

In any case, here are some of my favorite dancing scenes from television and movies. At least in my opinion these scenes are fantastic. They fit in so well that you can't help but to wonder how the people in charge managed to come up with them.



1. It's pretty obvious that the dance scenes were one of the best things about David E. Kelley's 'Ally Mcbeal'. No wonder that so many people fell in the love with this show that was full of soul, substance and entertainment. 



2. John Hughes' 'Breakfast Club' is widely considered to be the best teen movie of all time. The film manages to be at the same time funny, dramatic and heart-breaking. It also has a wonderful dance scene that never seems to get old.



3. 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' (also by John Hughes) is a film that manages to entertain us and is still relevant almost after thirty years. Its dance scene is awesome, makes us happy and fits in perfectly with the rest of the movie.



4. Another classic from the first 'Naked Gun' film. Arguably the best scene in the movie, made even better by 'Leslie Nielsen's' hilarious dance moves. It's too bad that they don't make films like these anymore.



5. Hugh Grant's dance scene from 'Love Actually'. The prime minister dancing to a classic song and not losing his cool. An absolutely hilarious scene from an already classic movie. What could be better than this?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Learning from a bad episode of a quality show.

In my opinion, there's at least one good thing about seeing a bad episode of your favorite series. As a writer, you should figure out what went wrong and learn from the mistakes that the writers of the show made.

In this particular case we're talking about Modern Family's episode 7x04 "She Crazy" that unfortunately disappointed me. I tried to list some of the mistakes and things that are important when you're writing a script.

1) Try to come up with storylines that have substance.

In my opinion, pretty much none of the storylines in this episode had anything to say about anything. They weren't well thought out and didn't make sense. All of them were half-baked at best and gave me a feeling that the writers didn't care about what they were doing.

Probably the worst was the storyline with Cameron and the frat boys. There was no point to anything that happened. For some reason the forty-year-old Cam decided to steal a pet goat in order to appear cool. Where did that idea come from? 

2) Have a clear sense of your episode's time frame. 

One of the most important things to consider when you start writing your spec is to think about when those storylines actually happen. Does the episode happen during the course of a day or even during an afternoon?

In 'She Crazy', I don't think there was a clear idea about when it happened. In the middle of the episode it felt like the whole thing just jumped forward in time. There was no clear sense of time or place and it bothered me quite a bit

3) Don't let your characters overreact too much.

Just about everyone who saw the episode had problems with Gloria's storyline. It was about Gloria meeting her Telenovela idol who for some reason happened to be in town. Understandably, she wanted to meet her.

There's nothing wrong with that, except that when she did get the chance to meet the star, all Gloria was able to do was to appear like a complete idiot. It was not believable in the slightest and it made me feel pretty uncomfortable.

4) If a joke or a situation doesn't work, don't keep pushing it.

It's not the biggest crime to keep jokes in your script that we may have seen somewhere else before. You can't always come up with original stuff that completely makes sense. Every joke and scene doesn't have to be perfect.

At the same time, the 'misunderstanding' between Luke and Mitchell really didn't feel original or organic. What's worse, they kept repeating that exact same 'joke' in the subsequent scenes too, which made the whole thing look embarrassing.

5) Having too many scenes is not a good thing.

There are usually big problems with the script if there are multiple short scenes just for the sake of it. In almost every case they aren't needed because they don't have any meaning behind them - because they are too short.

Every 'Cam-with-new-guests' scene felt unnecessary and made me think that the writers were clueless. Just because it looked flashy doesn't mean that it made sense. In most cases you should stay away from scenes like these.

6) Don't build anything that isn't needed (sets etc.).

Finally, I have never been someone who likes to build stuff in my scripts. I try not to imagine things that aren't really needed.  In most cases, everything that is needed can be acquired easily and won't cost much, if anything at all.

Therefore, I honestly cannot understand why they built Phil's 'duck town'. Who would build that kind of a miniature set? It was just a waste of time and money and didn't make the end product any better.
Never, ever try to do that as a spec writer.

Friday, October 9, 2015

How to deal with bad writing days?

Last week I thought I would have one of the worst writing days of my life. To me it felt like everything was falling apart and that I had no clue what I was doing. Pretty much nothing that I wrote made sense anymore and I felt that I was going crazy.

At that moment I didn't know what to do. I wasn't really used to having bad writing days. Usually I'm somewhat confident that I can rewrite and fix things relatively easily. This experience was something that I felt was pretty new to me.

I didn't really feel like continuing writing, because I thought things would only get worse.  If I'd continue doing what I was doing, I was afraid I would hit the rock bottom. That could only lead to bad things happening to me.
 
So I decided to do something else so that I could relax a bit.  I went out to get some fresh air because I had to get away from what I was trying to do. Even if the break would only last for like ten or fifteen minutes, it might help.

Fortunately that little break helped to clear my thoughts a bit and made me feel less anxious about what I was supposed to do. I didn't feel as overwhelmed about my task -  a task that wasn't really that complicated. I managed to get back to work again.

I thought about why the stuff that I wrote didn't work. I came to a realization that just because what I wrote had initially looked good, it didn't mean that it made sense in reality. It mostly made sense in my imagination.
 
I was willing to reconsider my thoughts and I was willing to adjust. No matter what it would take, I would make my stuff work again. Nothing would be off limits this time. After all, I wasn't married to my initial thoughts anymore.

I would take out things that didn't work. I would be willing to kill all my darlings that weren't as good as I thought they were. I'd also be willing to just write and I wouldn't set the bar too high for myself this time.  

So I tried again - and about two or three hours later I had managed to almost finish my task. I had fixed most of the problems that had made me feel desperate and hopeless just a few hours ago. What I had written made a lot more sense now.

It wasn't exactly the best thing that I had written, but the end result was probaly still good enough. I had managed to overcome my obstacles - and luckily enough, didn't have to suffer from having a really, really bad writing day.

Friday, October 2, 2015

I'm not someone who likes violent movies.


It's not a secret that I have a problem with movies that are violent for the sake of being violent.  Over the years I have had no desire to watch movies that I have found - based on the trailers - to be too graphic for my tastes. 

I don't think I would be able to stomach watching these movies from start to finish. Watching characters getting butchered for the sake of entertainment makes me sad and depressed. I don't understand why anyone would produce films like these.

So one might wonder why I decided to watch a movie called 'Kingsman'. After all, this film is not only super violent but also seems to be really unapologetic about it. Why would I voluntarily watch a movie like this then?

To be honest, I watched the film because I had no idea what I was about to see. All I knew was that it had Colin Firth in it, so I think I had a decent reason to watch it. He's awesome in just about everything that he's been in, so why not, I asked myself.

Besides, it wasn't obvious based on the trailers how violent the movie would be. I didn't find anything that  would have warned me about the level of violence in the film. The trailer for 'Kingsman' looked pretty good actually.

Yet, that's not how it went with the movie. Pretty much the first thing that happened in the film was that one of the characters got cut in half. This was just a massive turn-off that made me want to quit watching it. I did not see that coming at all.

It pretty much instantly made me feel bad inside. It reminded me about why I have a hard time watching movies that have purposeless violence in them.  It was just too much of an overkill and ruined the experience for me.

As a supposedly talented screenwriter, I don't think showing excessive violence is how you get the audience invested in the movie. It's not how you make us care about the characters, the story or about anything else concerning the film. It doesn't work that way.

I mean, even though there were some redeeming qualities with the movie, I couldn't help but to judge the film mostly based on the first five minutes. I had had enough and nothing could save the film, not even Colin Firth nor the great Michael Caine.

At least in my opinion, there are very few movies where the violence actually works in favor of the film. In the case of 'Kingsman', the excessive violence made the movie almost too difficult to sit through. It did not make the film any better.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Season Premieres for South Park, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.

The three most relevant sitcoms on television - in my opinion - are back so let's review their respective season premieres.

First, South Park (pictured above) had an episode about political correctness that I found to be relatively important. S19E01, 'Stunning and Brave' managed to make a lot of good points about how our society is becoming too "P.C", as they say.

In this episode, our South Park kids get a new principal who takes political correctness to an absolute extreme. Everyone who doesn't agree with his politically correct views gets abused and beaten up ("check your privilege!").

To be honest, when I saw it for the first time, "Stunning and Brave" wasn't an episode that I appreciated enough. I felt that it was too blunt and perhaps a bit too one sided. I didn't feel that the climax of the episode made enough sense either.

Yet, after taking another look at it, I think it became more obvious that the episode was much better written than I had thought at first. Even though there were some scenes that could have been better, as a whole South Park's season premiere managed to deliver.

The Big Bang Theory also had its season premiere. This episode started the show's ninth season, which is quite an achievement considering that this is a network show that is mainly supposed to be about nerds.

Nevertheless, I haven't found Big Bang Theory to be consistently funny in years. I feel that the show is past its prime and that the writers have run out of ideas. Despite the massive ratings, there's not much energy left.

Not surprisingly, the season premiere didn't manage to cheer me up. I've never been a fan of Leonard and Penny and I haven't really liked Amy and Sheldon together either. So when you have an episode that centers around these couples, one can't expect much.

It's pretty weird how lackluster the episode "Matrimonial Momentum" is considering that this was supposed to be the happiest day for Leonard and Penny. Yet, the episode is all about arguing and creating drama out of nowhere. It's no surprise that very few liked it.

The third show that had its season premiere is Modern Family, that last Sunday lost the best comedy series Emmy to HBO:s atrocious 'Veep'. (In reality category, 'Voice' winning over 'Amazing Race' was also mindboggling).

In my opinion the S7E01 "Summer Lovin'", was an okayish episode that had some genuine moments that made me feel for the characters. There were also some Phil moments that managed to land rather well.  

I liked how they took Haley's feelings towards Andy seriously. This was her 'last chance' before he would propose to another girl. I didn't have a problem with these two - and the same can also be said about the scenes between Alex and Sanjay.

At the same time, the usual problems with the show were also there too. The plotlines weren't elegant enough so there was too much stuff going on. I also didn't like how Andy 'overheard' about Haley's feelings. It's as if the writers took the easiest way out to solve the problem.

Yet, as a whole I'm pretty happy that Modern Family is back on tv. In my opinion, it's still likely the best comedy on television, even though in all honesty the show could be much, much better than it is right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How many 'experiences' do you need as a writer?


I've heard so many times from these so called educated writers (who have a degree in writing) that in order to become a great writer, you need to experience as many things as possible in life. In their opinion that is what counts the most.

If you haven't worked as many jobs as possible, if you haven't met as many people as possible and if you haven't studied writing, you're not going to become a great writer. You just haven't done enough to earn it or to deserve it.

This hypothesis, as popular it is, in my opinion, isn't true. Even though it is crucial for example to have a certain amount of knowledge about life, it's not needed to know 'everything'. It's not required that you know all those things about how our society 'works'.

It's not required that you have to be that interested in others. It's not necessary that you spend as much time as possible with people so that you could 'learn' from them. It's not really required - and it might not even be good for you.

It's also not required that you have to study drama or writing at a university level. It's a pretty big misconception that you need to study like hell in order to become better at understanding what drama is about.

In my opinion, when it comes to having the abilities, it's much more about having a god given talent than it's about having special experiences in life, meeting all those people that you haven't met or having studied this supposedly mysterious craft.

After all, most of us who have made it through the difficult years of growing up have 'experienced' enough things already. We've had our successes and victories, and we've had also those brutal failures, humiliations and disappointments too.

The truth is that if you didn't learn enough about human nature while you grew up, the chances are likely that you never will. In most cases that's when the really good and the really awful 'experiences' already happened.

So if and when you think about becoming a writer, don't get fooled when people say that you need to learn more about life. Don't believe when they say that you need to meet more people or that you need to study because otherwise you won't write well.

Instead, believe in yourself, since that's what's really required. Know what's important and what's not. Recognize that not everything is worth your time, because in the end, not that many things in this life matter or make sense.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Who could trust those crazy critics?


One of things that has been bothering me lately is how critics can be so wrong about certain shows and certain movies that they've been reviewing. It's as if they have somehow lost their minds and have gone off the deep end.

They keep giving perfect or very high scores to movies that I was barely able to even finish. They keep telling us that this and that installment is awesome even though it's obvious to anyone who has a clue that this just isn't the case. 

Here are three examples based on the films and tv shows that I've reviewed recently. Notice how critics absolutely loved an awful movie and an awful show and had a luke warm at best reaction to a quality film that actually made sense. 

1. Trainwreck (pictured above).

Here's a movie that on metacritic has a metascore of 75% and on rottentomatoes.com an 85% fresh rating. Based on this, you'd expect that it would be a pretty funny movie. After all, only 1 critic out of 45 gave it a negative review.

Yet, I wasn't even able to finish the film because it was so unbelievably bad. It went nowhere and had no momentum whatsoever. Clearly the movie was written by someone who had all the connections but not much talent.

When you look at what the general audience had to say about this 'raunchy' movie, they weren't happy either. 40% of the audience gave it a negative review compared to a single professional reviewer who agreed with them. That's pretty amazing.

2. Difficult People.














You wouldn't believe the raves for this Hulu series. Almost 90% of the critics thought that this show is somewhere between good to awesome. One major critic even wrote that the writing on Difficult People is 'hilariously great'.

In reality though, when I watched this series for the first time, I had to give up after six or so minutes because the show was completely unbearable. Unlike what another critic wrote, these characters most certainly weren't 'inherently likable'.

When it comes to people like you and me reviewing the series, it has a negative 70% rating. That should pretty much say it all, because people aren't usually that negative unless there'a a really good reason. In this case, there most certainly is.

3. The Intouchables.  

Here's a French movie that I found to be totally awesome. It made me laugh and cry and it didn't bore me, not once. The film was superbly written, acted and directed. It's easily one of the best movies that I've seen in a long time.

The general audience loved it too. If you go to metacritic.com. there's not a single negative review from any of the users. Nobody thought that this was a bad movie - which is nothing sort of a miracle. This happens so rarely.

Yet, the U.S critics did not like this movie. Almost half of the reviews ranged from mixed to negative on metacritic. It has a twenty points lower average score than the horrendous 'Trainwreck' - which in my opinion is simply outrageous.

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In conclusion, I know I might have a bit small sample size here, but examples like these tend to show that a lot of the critics are out of touch with reality. I'd like to trust them, but in too many cases I don't think I can do that at all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It was too difficult to watch 'Difficult People'.


I originally had decided to review 'Difficult People' based on the first six minutes of the pilot. That was all I was able to take before I had to stop watching. I had seen enough to know that this was a really bad show.

Yet, when I started writing this article, I came to the conclusion that I simply didn't know enough about the series. Even though I knew that 'Difficult People' wasn't going to be any good, I had to go back and finish at least two or three episodes.

So I managed to take another look at it and not surprisingly I still can't recommend 'Difficult People' to anyone. As sad as it might be, it's difficult to find a single good thing to say about this show. It's as if there are no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Probably the biggest problem I have with the series is that pretty much all the characters on it are completely unrelatable. There are no reasons why anyone would find them likable or anything. These people are just unbearable.

As the title of the show suggests, the characters are indeed difficult. But they are not difficult because they are talented or hard working. They are difficult just for the sake of being difficult. Unlike what the poster suggests, they do not mean well.

They don't have goals that would make you root for them. They don't have problems that would make you feel for them either. All they have are 'Hollywood' problems that would make most people feel sick in their stomach.

Who really gives a damn about their 'goals' that involve trying to get access to some celebrity stuffed events? Who in all honesty feels for them when the main character's 'problem' is someone in Twitter not appreciating him enough?

Watching this kind of stuff is just painful for anyone who understands drama or comedy at all. That is because there aren't any decent characters, there aren't any plots and there aren't any funny moments either. There's only massive amount of pandering that is just sad.

A series like this simply makes me angry. That is that 'Difficult People' is a superficial show that celebrates the worst aspects of show business. What these characters do and what they want doesn't contribute to our society in any way.

The same unfortunately applies to those in charge of the show too. What were the executives thinking when they greenlit the series? What were they creators thinking when they wrote the script for the pilot? My guess is, probably not much.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

'The Intouchables' is a wonderful movie.


It took me some time before I finally managed to watch this movie called 'Intouchables' that my friend had recommended to me. I had hesitated because I didn't think that a French film could be something that would interest me.

Nevertheless, I finally managed to watch it this week and I have to say the movie really took me by a surprise. Not only did 'Intouchables' work as a drama, it's also one of the funniest movies that I've seen in a long time.

In any case, the film is about a quadriplegic person (Francois Cluzet) and his unlikely, reluctant caregiver (Omar Sy). It's about how these two people with vastly different backgrounds learn to like and respect each other.

At face value the idea of the film isn't necessarily something that one would find that easy to buy or sell. After all, making a movie about the daily life of a seriously handicapped person isn't an easy subject matter at all. 

It's not easy to make an uplifting movie about a person whose life is that difficult, restricted and so full of emotional pain. It's hard to think that it could result in a movie that would make you feel good about life.

Yet this film manages to do exactly that. It manages to respect its characters and its audience. It pays attention to things and dares to care. It makes some really good observations about us and our society's flaws and absurdities.

All the characters in the film are relatable and likable. Not one character in the movie is someone that you would dislike. All of them serve a purpose and almost all of them change for the better - which is what the film is about.

Intouchables teaches us to appreciate all those little things in life. It reminds us that just because things aren't going our way doesn't mean that they can't change for the better. There's always hope and we don't always know when those changes might happen.

As a whole, this is a great film because it's well written, well acted and well directed. It looks good, sounds good and gives you a good feeling inside. 'Intouchables' is the best film that I've seen in years and I'm so lucky that I have finally managed to see it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The importance of spending time in the nature.

Lately I have been watching a lot of so called 'entertainment' that hasn't made me happy at all. Most of it has made think that people in the industry are pretty crazy and that I don't want to have anything to do with them.

When I watched these awful shows and movies, I couldn't help but to think that these people have lost it. They don't seem to know what is important and what matters in life. They keep living inside their bubbles where they are vain, self-important and superficial.

Whenever I experience frustrating moments like these, I feel like I have to do something else. I need to get away from what these people represent. I need to get in touch with myself so that I won't lose what's precious about me.

Very likely the best way to get back in touch with myself is to go out and enjoy the nature. Almost nothing relaxes me more than taking a walk in the forest where people won't bother me. This is when I feel like I'm at home.

I love the chance of getting some fresh air. I love looking at the trees and all those different plants. I love listening to all the soothing sounds that the forest has to offer. I love it when I'm in the nature and can feel that I'm part of something bigger.

If I manage to see some birds, I'm happy. If I see some bunnies or squirrels, even better. If I manage to see a fox or a deer, I couldn't be more grateful. Even if I don't get to see any wild animals, I'm still feeling great.

Spending time in the nature gives me perspective about things in life. It confirms my thoughts and beliefs that I'm not supposed to spend all my time with others. It's not really needed and won't do much good for me - or anyone.

As a writer, I think the most important thing is to be able to connect with yourself. If you can't connect with your inner self, you can't really be an artist. It's something that we should keep in mind and shouldn't forget.

That is why it's important every once in a while to take a break and enjoy some time away from others. Spend an hour in the nature, get some fresh perspective about life. You might even get an idea or two sometimes. What could be better than that?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I'm not the biggest fan of those 'sex jokes'.

It seems that in today's entertainment world the easiest way to get recognized is to write about sex. For some reason people both in the industry and the media think that the more vulgar you get, the more unique you are.

When it comes to them, it doesn't matter whether the stuff that you write is any good or not. As long as you are supposedly 'pushing the envelope', you are a special talent who has a voice that everyone should be envious of.

In reality though, in most cases being vulgar for the sake of it isn't a good thing at all. Too many times it just shows that you're coming up with this 'raunchy' material because you don't have anything else to say.

For example, lately I have been trying to watch Comedy Central's 'Inside Amy Schumer'. It's supposed to be this sort of an edgy sketch show that a lot of people are currently talking about. It's getting a lot of favorable press.

However, the problem with the show is that it just isn't funny. Not only is the show not funny, but based on the sketches I've seen, it seems that 99% of its material revolves around dick & vagina jokes. It's pretty much the weakest stuff that I've seen in some time.

What's supposedly original about it - but really isn't - is that this time it's a female comedian Amy Schumer who is regurgitating these tired old tropes. Considering that the stuff is also a bit dirtier than what we're used to doesn't make it any better either.

It also doesn't help that Schumer herself isn't much of a performer. She doesn't have enough range and can't express herself well. If you have watched her stand-up specials, it's quite obvious that her delivery is pretty bad (for example, all those 'ums').

Based on all this, I think it's rather weird that people would say that this kind of comedy (somewhat like Key & Peele's) is somehow subversive or groundbreaking in any way. I'm not sure what all the buzz is really based on.

Let's not forget that comedy like this doesn't even work very often. It's really difficult to be low-brow and smart at the same time. Pretty much the only people who have managed to pull that off consistently have been South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

In any case, at least when it comes to me, I can't stand when someone on purpose sets the bar this low. I think we already have enough of that lowest common denominator material out there and we don't need any more of that.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The current state of television is not that good.

One of the things that might have kept me from writing scripts lately is that I haven't felt that there's much that I could do with the current shows. I haven't had the feeling that I could write much better scripts than I've already written.

Unfortunately there are no David Kelley shows on tv at the moment. The Big Bang Theory hasn't been funny or relevant in years. Modern Family's writers are not giving their all when it comes to writing stuff, so it's no wonder that I lack motivation a bit.

If I had to become a writer based on the content that is currently on television, I don't think there's much of a chance that I would become one. Most of the stuff on tv doesn't inspire or challenge you to become a better human being.

When you don't have shows on television that are of great quality, it's really difficult to get interested in writing. It's difficult to say that you'd like to be like those writer guys on tv when pretty much none of them are delivering the goods.

This current situation unfortunately isn't good at all. Most of the shows are either completely unwatchable, or at the very least disappointing or underperforming. It's hard to find writers and shows that you could look up to. 

It also doesn't help that the industry and the media keeps hyping up shows that have very little to do with entertaining us or making us smile. They keep giving praise to shows that don't deserve that adulation.

For example, a series called 'Transparent' is now some kind of a front-runner in the comedy series category, even though the series has nothing to do with comedy. There are no jokes, there are no funny moments and yet it is supposed to be a comedy show.

How is any talented person supposed to get interested in writing when things are like this? A show is not a comedy (neither is Orange Is The New Black) just because people say it is one. This is so wrong on so many levels.

Is it too much as to ask that we could have at least some standards when it comes to figuring out what is funny and what is not? It's not supposed to be rocket science, but it seems that some people have completely lost their minds.

In the end, we deserve so much more than what we're currently getting. I don't think we are supposed to settle with shows and writers that aren't good and won't provide us the entertainment that we deserve. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Spy" - the importance of being an underdog.

Last week I managed to see the movie 'Spy' that stars Melissa McCarthy. I had heard good things about the film, so I thought that there's no way that I would be disappointed. At the very least, I would be mildly entertained by it.

One of the reasons that I had good vibes about the movie is because it was obvious that Melissa McCarthy's character was going to be likable. Looking like that (the picture above), very few would think that she's a totally awful and unrelatable character.

I also looked forward to watching  the movie because Melissa McCarthy is a talented actress. She's one of the very few current actors in the business who has the chops to be both dramatic and funny when it's required. She's a true comedienne, if you ask me.

Nevertheless, in 'Spy' McCarthy plays a desk agent who's work consists of helping 'real' agents on their dangerous missions. She's an overweight, overworking, underappreciated single woman, without whom things would fall apart at the agency. 

Based on those qualities, it's hard not to like her. She doesn't complain, she doesn't act like a bitch, she doesn't constantly drop f-bombs everywhere and she doesn't think she's better than others. She's pretty much the perfect character.

In any case, the film gets going (inciting incident) when the agency's best spy - her partner and her crush - dies.  She sees the death through the agent's body-cam - which makes the moment genuinely heartbreaking. Now she's even more of a relatable character.

Right after that it turns out that the agent's killer has the list of all the field agents and that the agency needs some fresh blood quickly. Naturally she feels that its her job to step up to the plate. Nobody else could be hired on a short notice like that. 

This is when the movie is at its best. Seeing how she is prepared for her role and when some others in the agency are doubting her. It's good stuff when she bonds with her female side-kick desk worker (another underdog in the film).

Then she's assigned for her first ever on-location job in Europe - nothing that is supposed to be too difficult for her. She's only allowed to track the bad guy and not to engage in anything more than that. She's not qualified to be a 'real' agent.

This is relatable stuff, but it gets even better when she manages to save the life of a gung-ho agent (Jason Statham) who thinks that McCarthy's agent is nothing more than a hindrance. This is when I was thinking about recommending this movie to all my friends.

Unfortunately, what happens shortly after is when things start to go wrong with the movie. For some reason - I think we had reached the 45-50 minute mark - the writers thought that our underdog hero didn't have to be a likable underdog anymore.

So what happens next is that McCarthy's personality pretty much does a whole 180° turn. Instead of being a person that you were able to root for, her character becomes a motor mouthed killer machine (!)  that can't stop dropping f-bombs.

This was such an awful turn for the movie. That is that for the rest of the movie, the original premise of the film is pretty much dropped and all we get is action, contrived situations and more foul language that doesn't make sense.

This was something that I did not expect to happen at all. Why did they do that? Considering that the movie was so highly rated by most of the critics and that it was directed by Paul Feig (Freaks & Geeks), I couldn't believe my eyes.

What was so wrong with the character being inherently likable? What was wrong with someone being an underdog? What were the writers of the movie thinking? I suppose they just ran out of good ideas or something.

The fact that the film as a whole turned out to be a disappointment is so unfortunate. That is especially because the first half of the movie was really well made. It made you feel for the characters and it had a good amount of funny moments too.

At the same time, the second half is what sinks it. The writers forgot what made the characters likable. They ran out of creativity and took the easy way out. It's a shame, because 'Spy' had the ingredients to be a good film, but it just isn't one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pixar's 'Inside Out' - better than I thought it would be.

When I saw the trailer for Pixar's 'Inside Out' for the first time, I was pretty sure that it couldn't be any good. My gut instincts told me that the concept of the movie was just too complex and that the film would likely be a pretty big mess.

I mean, the idea that we had emotions as characters inside animated characters didn't seem plausible or interesting at all. I felt that it was a relatively childish idea and that Pixar had run out of ideas. My hopes for the film were not high at all.

Nevertheless, I saw the movie a couple of days ago and it turned out that 'Inside Out' was better than I thought it would be. Even though - in my opinion - it's not one of Pixar's best animations, it's still rather watchable as a whole.

For starters, there's no denying that in just about every imaginable way, 'Inside Out' looks and sounds really good. The characters look wonderful and the voice acting, as usual, is top notch in the film too. One couldn't ask for much more.

I was also pleasantly surprised when it came to the storyline (in general) and the themes in the film. I thought it was a pretty good decision to try to make the movie as simplistic as possible. Otherwise I don't think the movie would have worked at all.

In any case, the film is about an eleven year old girl who moves with her family from a cold Midwest state to a warm California. It's about how her five basic emotions inside her react to the changes in her living environment.

It's hard to make a story any simpler than that, which is why every story moment in the film's script has to be extremely well thought out. Every crucial moment in the script has to make sense or else the movie doesn't work as well as it should.

Pixar apparently took their task really seriously. They took it so seriously that they reportedly had close to twenty writers working on the script. They knew that this would perhaps be their most ambitious screenplay, so they tried their best.

Yet, if you have seen the movie, it's pretty obvious that they weren't able to fix all the problems they had with the screenplay. There are certain mistakes in the movie that will keep me from thinking that 'Inside Out' is a great film.

Probably the biggest weakness in 'Inside Out' has to do with its 'inciting incident'. This crucial moment is not only way too weak, but it also comes out of nowhere and isn't plausible. The writers weren't able to sync what happened outside and inside, which is a huge problem.

The other big flaw in the movie is how they used exposition. It's difficult to think that using a voice-over was the only way to introduce us to those 'core memories' and different islands that memories were made of. That was just way too much for us to digest.

These are some of the reasons why some people couldn't get into the film. It made it look confusing and made it look like the characters weren't relatable or interesting. It made the movie look like it was a boring educational video instead of entertainment.

But if one was able to get past these problems that were in the film's first act, I think the movie was able to reward the viewer. There's some genuinely good stuff about how we emotionally grow as human beings - which felt pretty important and touching too.

As a whole I have to say that watching 'Inside Out' was a rather weird experience. That is that it's obvious that the producers and the writers of the film tried really hard and that some really talented people were involved with making the film what it is.

At the same time, the flaws in the movie are pretty obvious too. In many ways I can't help but to think that they should have worked on the script more. In my opinion 'Inside Out' could and should have been better than it turned out to be.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I have tried to watch 'Game of Thrones'.

For me it's pretty difficult to write negatively about a show that almost everybody - critics and the general public - seems to like. Instead, I'd like to rave about it and write how well made and how entertaining and full of substance it is.

In this case we're talking about 'Game of Thrones', a series that I started watching a couple of weeks ago. For some reason I had waited for years before I finally took the first step and decided to check how good it was.

Unfortunately, I haven't enjoyed 'Game of Thrones'. In many ways the show has been a big disappointment. As a writer, it's been disheartening to see that the series isn't well written. When it comes to its scripts, Game of Thrones has been genuinely lacking.

One of the biggest problems I have had with the series has to do with its characters. I haven't been able to relate to them on the show. Pretty much all of them are one dimensional and don't seem to have qualities that would make you care.

Not only are the characters relatively bland, there are too many of them. At least when it comes to me, it has been really difficult to pay attention to what's going on. It seems that there's no focus on any of the characters. They can't all be equally important.

It's also doesn't help that even though the show is supposed to be a fantasy, it's not about good vs. evil. On the contrary, Game of Thrones looks like it's a show about bad people and really bad people. It's hard to relate to that kind of stuff.

When it comes to drama, there doesn't seem to be much, because everything is so fragmented. That's one of the reasons why there's really no tension on the show. There's no build up to anything, so things just seem to happen - if they happen.

Furthermore, I have found Game of Thrones to be too violent. In almost all cases it seems that the show is violent just for the sake of being violent. There doesn't seem to be any purpose behind any of it. It as if they're trying to distract us from those other flaws.

The same in my opinion applies to the nudity on the show. There's plenty of naked women in just about every episode. Even though I certainly prefer nudity over violence, I don't think that makes the show any better either.

All these flaws are especially disappointing when you consider those other positive aspects of the show. That is that the production values are pretty high and there's a lot of heavy-weight acting talent involved with the show too.

Yet, it's not enough  - at least for me  - that Game of Thrones looks good. It's not just about the production values that matter. As unfortunate as it is, the show really fails when it comes to its characters and its storylines.

As a whole, Game of Thrones could have been a pretty good show, but I don't think it really is. There are simply too many flaws that keep me from enjoying the series. It's just not my cup of tea, even though it probably should be.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Some reasons why I like tv more than movies.

["Don't you ever, EVER talk that way about television again" - Homer Simpson (I married Marge, S3E12)]

So even though I do have a problem with most television shows, I still like watching tv much more than I like watching movies. Here are some of the reasons why - at least in my opinion - you should like television more than you should like movies:

1. Watching tv shows in most cases is free.

One of the biggest reasons why I like tv is because watching it is pretty much free. I don't have to buy a ticket before I get to watch the latest episode of South Park or the latest episode of Modern Family for example.

Now, It is true that in order to be able to watch these shows live, in most cases you have to watch commercials. Yet, at least in my opinion - and let's be clear that I'm not a fan of commercials - that's still a relatively small price to pay.

I mean, even though networks are for profit corporations, it almost feels as if they in many cases are working for us. Very rarely have I thought that these guys are thinking about the bottom line  (even though they are). They give us stuff for free after all!

2. Television is much more down to earth.

One of the reasons why television feels so cozy and comfortable is that every season your favorite series is going to air multiple episodes. You might even get 24 episodes per season, which means that you'll see a new episode roughly every two weeks.

On the other hand, when it comes to films, it takes usually at least 2-3 years before you'll see the next installment in the series. That is of course if the film in question is successful enough at the box office to warrant a sequel.

For me it's so much about connecting with the series in question. It becomes almost an every day thingy and part of the weekly routine. Checking the boards, writing about the show and stuff  - waiting for the next episode to air.

3. Television shows are more likely to be good.

It's not a secret that the longer than the script is, the harder it is to keep the audience interested. It's almost impossible to write a movie script that is even remotely good. Unfortunately, almost none of the movies that are released are worth your time.

The reason that it's so difficult to write movies is that in most cases you have to start from scratch. You have to create new characters and you have to come up with a 120 minute story that doesn't feel completely manufactured.

On the other hand, when it comes to television, you're dealing with either 21 min or 42 minute episodes that have characters that we are already familiar with. It makes the whole thing so much easier and potentially so much more enjoyable.

4. Television writers have more control over the product.

As a writer I'm much more interested in being a television writer because when it comes to tv, writers and showrunners have more power over the final product. In many cases they are artistically in charge of the product that is going to air.

Television is a great place for prolific writers like David Kelley and Aaron Sorkin who can churn out scripts every three days. If they know what they're doing, there's a good chance that the audience is going to enjoy the stuff that is going to air.

When it comes to movies, writers don't have that much control over the product. This is mostly because movie scripts are that difficult to write. If the first draft isn't great, there will be multiple rewrites by multiple writers and the movie will likely suck big time.

5. Best television shows win the awards that they deserve.

Finally, when it comes to television and Emmy awards, usually critics know which shows are going to win. As usual, Modern Family will likely receive the top prize and it's going to win it relatively deservedly. The right shows seem to win much more consistently.

On the other hand, when it comes to the Academy Awards, this isn't really the case. Nowadays anything can happen every year. Even jingoistic pro-war movies like The Hurt Lucker and Argo have managed to win the top prize.

As unfortunate as it is - with winners like these movies - Oscars are becoming more and more irrelevant every passing year. It's a shame and I don't see that things are going to get any better in the near future.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Some reasons why one becomes a writer.

So what are the reasons why someone should think of becoming a writer? I'm trying to post here some of the reasons that - at least in my opinion - made me become a writer. I hope that these are somewhat good reasons to become a scribe:

1) There's a good chance that you're better than most writers.

This is one of the best reasons that one should become a writer. It's not a secret that most - even working - writers are not that good. So if you're much, much better than your average professional, you probably should think of becoming a writer yourself.

Notice however that this is only a 'reason' to become a writer. It's another thing to get motivated and to have a compelling need to start writing, which usually takes a bit more effort and luck. Not surprisingly, I myself didn't start writing right away.

2) Even your hero writers are going to retire / pass away some day.

This is one of the things that you shouldn't forget. As far as I know, even my personal hero David Kelley isn't going to live forever. One day he is going to retire and then someone else needs to step up to the plate and deliver the goods.

In my case I believed pretty strongly that there weren't that many guys on the planet who were capable of replacing him and that I was probably one of them. So I had an even bigger reason to start writing and stop postponing.

3) "At some point you'll go crazy if you don't start writing".

I don't know about you, but at least in my case, depression, anxiety and panic attacks pretty much forced me to start writing. I had to give it a chance, otherwise I would have gone totally crazy. I had no choice but to write.

Although, to be honest, it did help a lot that I was being encouraged by others who told me that I should try writing  It really helps when people believe in you and actually care. I'm grateful that I wasn't completely alone.

4) Finishing a screenplay / book / blog post etc. makes you feel good.

There's a reason why mental health professionals recommend that people with psychological issues should write stuff (like for example keep a diary). Writing really helps and gives us a chance to connect with our inner child.

As far as I know, finishing a script gives you one of the best feelings there is. It makes you feel that you have created something genuine and real. It gives you a sense of eternity that no amount of money can buy.

5) There's a chance that you can make others happy too.

I'm not saying that writing stuff doesn't have anything to do with trying to make a living. At the same time, it's not all about the money or being competitive or trying to win awards. Those shouldn't be the sole reasons why one wants to become a writer.

At least when it comes to me, writing is about trying to make sense out of the chaos that is around us. It's about trying to connect with others and giving them hope, that we're in this together and that things are going to be okay.