Thursday, December 29, 2016

I'm a big fan of 'The Graham Norton Show'.

Like probably many of you, I have never been that big of a fan of late night talk shows. I have never understood what makes it so interesting to watch stiff hosts interviewing boring celebrities and telling weak jokes to their audience.

In most cases, when it comes to talks shows, we're dealing with a television format that isn't particularly enlightening or entertaining. This kind of format doesn't aim high and in most cases provides empty laughs that you'll forget quickly.

Fortunately, there's at least one big exception to this superficial genre. As weird as it is, Graham Norton's talk show on BBC has managed to entertaing me over the years and has provided me consistent laughs and joy.

One of the biggest reasons that the show works so well is because it doesn't follow the standard late night structure. This is not a show that is based on the host having endless monologues, stupid sketches and short, forced 'interviews' with the celebrities. 

Instead of the host spending the first twenty minutes on some weak jokes and skits, the Graham Norton show moves almost immediately to its guests. Mosts of the guests on the series are introduced almost right away.

Naturally, what this means is that the celebrities are the actual stars on the show. Unlike with the rest of the 'big' talks shows, Graham Norton as a host is just one of the people taking part in the discussion, instead of being the center of the attention.

Unlike with most of the shows, in a format like this there's a lot more time to actually get to know these celebrity guests. This way it feels as if these celebrities were real people who had relatable personalities and had actual talent.

For example, it wasn't that long ago when I saw Matt Damon as a guest on the show. I was genuinely impressed when he told us about what he thinks is important in life - and what in his opinion are the things that don't matter that much.

I also liked it very much when a couple of weeks ago Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt were guests. I was more than impressed when Pratt performed a story-based card trick that surprised everyone in the audience.

Of course, there have been other great moments on the series too. Guests like Hugh Grant, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Russel Crowe, Michael Mcintyre, Emma Stone and others have managed to bring laughs to our lives too.

Still, none of these things change the fact that when it comes to the series working so well, the biggest reason for this is its host Graham Norton. He is the one who manages to be a natural and a likable host who keeps things going. 

Unlike with so many others in the business, he doesn't make the show about him. Unlike most hosts, he just blends in and does his best to make sure that his guests feel comfortable and relaxed so that they could be funny.

In the end, when it comes to 'The Graham Norton Show' as a whole, it's a well made series that doesn't follow the standard late night formula. It's a show that manages to avoid the usual pitfalls that most talk shows tend to suffer from. 

The series works because the guests in it, more often than not, turn out to be surprisingly likable, relatable and entertaining. They, alongside with the show's wonderful host keep us smiling and laughing throughout the series.

In that sense, even if you weren't a fan of talk shows in the first place, you probably should give 'The Graham Norton Show' a chance. At least in my view, there's a pretty good chance that you'll like the show and that it will keep you entertained.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

'Star Wars: Rogue One' is an entertaining film.

Yesterday I managed to see 'Rogue One', the latest entry in the extremely popular and successful Star Wars franchise. I saw this much anticipated film after my friend gave me a free ticket so that I could watch it with him.
That I decided to go watch the new Star Wars film wasn't really a difficult decision. Not only had the critics in general given the movie positive reviews (84% fresh at rottentomatoes), but I had heard good things about it from others too.

In any case, now that I have seen the film, I have to say that the movie was more than a pleasant surprise. Unlike the underwhelming Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 'Rogue One' isn't just a cynical cash grab and a remake.

One of the reasons that the film works so well is because it manages to keep its audience entertained throughout the movie. There are very few moments in the film that don't work and that aren't well thought out.

At least in my view, there's a good balance between drama, action and humor in the film. The movie manages to be at the same time serious and also has some funny moments that lighten up the mood when it's needed.  

That the movie manages to work so well has a lot to do with its well written characters. I was more than pleasantly surprised that most of the characters in the film turned out to be so well drawn, relatable and likable. 

Not only are our protagonist characters professionally written and acted, the writers also managed to make the bad guys interesting. These antagonist characters helped to give the movie its much needed depth that made it work.

Naturally, since this is a Star Wars film, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there were a lot of special effects in the movie. There's a huge amount of technically demanding scenes that required tons of serious artwork.

Thankfully, very few things that we see on the big screen - unlike in the prequels - felt fake. Pretty much all the scenes, including the massive actions sequences, felt relatively natural, believable and convincing.

When it comes to the music in the film, I have to say that unlike with some of the fans,  I didn't have a problem with the musical score. Even though John Williams wasn't able to compose the soundtrack, I think Michael Giacchino did a good job with it.

Still, just because I said all these good things about the film, that doesn't mean that there weren't any problems with it. There certainly were some flaws with the script that were at least in my opinion fairly obvious and should have been avoided.

For example, one of the problems in the story was when the empire decided to test Death Star's weapon. I couldn't help but to cringe a bit when the movie awkwardly went back and forth between the empire and the rebels.

The other minor quibble I had with the story was when the rebels entered the empire's base to get the blueprints for the death star. This section was not only too convoluted and confusing, but the rebels also found their way out of harm's way too easily.

In the end, none of these small issues with the film meant that the movie as a whole was a disappointment. None of these flaws matter that much when you look at the big picture and how entertaining the movie turned out to be.

All in all, when you compare 'Rogue One' to the rest of the movies in the franchise, I think it's easily one of the best in the series. It's clearly better than any of the prequel movies and the episode VII: The Force Awakens that premiered last year. 

So if you want to be entertained and if you have nothing else to do, I'd suggest that you go watch it in theaters. At least in my opinion, there's a good chance that you'll like it, even if you weren't that big of a fan of the series.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Analytical writing vs. intuitive writing.

If there was one thing that I'd like to do better as a writer, it would likely have something to do with my ability to plan stuff. I would like to be better at planning my writing projects, so that my job as a scribe would be less difficult.

No matter what I'm writing and what the project is, it always helps if I have managed to come up with a design, plot, roadmap or a structure that can be followed. Any kind of a solid, semi-detailed plan will help significantly with the project.

For example, when it comes to writing articles on this site, the easiest tasks are the ones where I have managed to come up with a clear plan. Writing point by point critiques of games or tv shows are the least stressing and the easiest tasks to pull off.

In these mini-projects, I more or less know how things are going to go even before I start the actual writing process. I pretty much know what my main points in the article are going to be and that I have figured out the structure already.

Pretty much all I have to do is to check my cliff notes with some thought and start filling in the blanks. Writing the article doesn't require that much creativity and might even make me think that the task is too easy.

The worst thing that might happen is that I need to come up with a couple of extra points that will give the article a better flow. This is something that isn't really that difficult to pull off and can be done relatively quickly.

On the other hand, it's much more difficult to write when I'm dealing with articles where I don't have anything specific planned. In these cases I might just have managed to write the headline and the first two paragraphs, which isn't that much.

If this happens, I mostly have to use my intuition instead of using the rational side of my brain. I'm forced to write with my gut and my intuition, even though I might not feel confident and comfortable about my abilities.

In these cases, it's pretty much a given that I'm going to make a lot of mistakes. All these logical mistakes that are going to happen are the kind of errors that simply can't be avoided and that I just need to get used to them.

The upside to this all, of course, is that if I do get lucky and if I manage to write good stuff without 'a plan', it's going to make me feel good inside. It might even make me feel that I know what I'm doing and that I have a talent.

In the end, none of these things change the fact that when it comes to writing projects, it's still good to use some time with planning. Especially when it comes to your time consuming projects, it's important that you plan your tasks well.

In my case, considering that I'm currently writing a movie screenplay, I just wish that I'd be better at using the analytical side of my brain. If only I would be better at planning the script so that I would have a clearer path to follow.

In that case, not only would it be considerably more enjoyable and considerably more fun to work with the screenplay, but it would also be a lot less time consuming to make the story work and to get the script finished.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The importance of having writing routines.

Without a doubt, one of the most important things about being a scribe is that you need to have writing routines. It's crucial that as a writer you keep practicing on a regular basis - even when you don't feel like doing that at all.

As a writer, you need to keep working on your craft so that you won't lose confidence in yourself. You need to practice so that you have a good grasp of what your abilities are and what you're capable of as a writer.

For example, when it comes to me, there are frequently moments when I don't feel like writing at all. I keep thinking that it's simply not worth the effort and that I am going to fail no matter how hard I am going to try.

In these cases, my inner critic keeps telling me that I shouldn't write because I'm not getting ideas that are good enough. According to my inner self, only the best ideas have potential and that if I'm not happy with what I came up with, I shouldn't write at all. 

Moments like these are when steady writing routines really come to play. These earlier experiences and routines should remind you that you have been going through those moments before and that you managed to overcome them.

For example, when it comes to those supposedly 'horrible' ideas, it's usually a lot more important to worry about the actual execution of your ideas. The way you handle your task counts a lot more than you might think at first.

Instead of being afraid about things that might go wrong, you should most of the time set your desperate thoughts aside. You should try to stop worrying and start asking questions and start finding answers to your problems.

Once you start doing this, the chances are that you'll forget that you had those worries in the first place. You are now much more interested and much more focused on your project, trying to make it as good as possible.

In the end, I'm not saying that having solid writing routines means that you're immune to having any kinds of problems in the future. I'm not implying that writing quality stuff is a process that you can control easily.

In reality, no matter how hard you're going to try, you're almost certainly going to have some doubts about your abilities and about the quality of your work. That's just the way the writing process is always going to work.

At the same time, you most certainly shouldn't forget that you managed to establish a writing routine in the first place. This routine, as whole, made you a better writer and is something that you should really be proud of.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

2016 was another horrible year for sitcoms.

When it comes to judging this year's television comedies, there's no way around the fact that 2016 turned out to be a bad year for sitcoms. Almost every show that has aired this year has been incredibly disappointing.

Not only have almost all of the existing award winning sitcoms have failed us (Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory), but those new freshman comedies that have premiered have been pretty massive failures too. 

For example, when it comes to those existing sitcoms that used to be good, Modern Family has finally, officially 'jumped the shark'. The writers on the show aren't even trying to come up with anything that would be watchable anymore. 

Instead of writing quality material, the showrunners are more interested in complaining about the presidential election. Apparently it's much more interesting to blame Bernie Sanders on twitter than it is to do their jobs.

Another long running sitcom that hasn't delivered in a long time, is of course The Big Bang Theory. This series about four nerds and their three female masters hasn't been watchable either, even though the show is still getting very high ratings.

As far as I'm concerned, it just isn't funny to watch these four geeks losing their mojos as characters. Even though the show has already reached its 10th season and is clearly running on fumes, the writers could still try at least a bit.

Naturally, dealing with the inevitable decline of these existing shows would be much easier if we could get some new shows to replace them. It would be much appreciated if we could get new sitcoms that would show at least some promise.

Instead, when it comes to those new comedies, I haven't heard any good things about any of them. Shows like 'Kevin Can Wait', 'The Great Indoors' or 'Man With a Plan' haven't gotten any good reviews from any serious people.

The only new series that was supposed to be even remotely watchable was Kristen Bell's and Ted Danson's 'The Good Place'. It had gotten some positive reviews, so I gave the series a chance, even though the trailer for it didn't impress me at all.

Not surprisingly, the show turned out to be a total abomination and didn't make me laugh even once. The first three episodes were so bad that I couldn't help but to think that the creators and the writers had to be at least a bit challenged mentally.

In any case, based on how much Hollywood has been patting itself on the back lately, should it even surprise anyone that the state of television comedies is so incredibly disappointing and depressing at the moment?

Especially when you keep in mind that the entertainment industry keeps giving their precious awards to horrible, disgusting and vulgar 'comedy' shows like HBO's 'Veep', the lack of good shows on tv shouldn't surprise anyone.

In the end, I'm obviously not saying that coming up with these new quality shows is easy or simple at all. It most certainly takes a lot of talent, dedication and luck to create a successful sitcom that works and keeps us entertained.

At the same time, the truth is that unless those in charge of the networks are willing to admit that we're currently not witnessing the 'golden age of sitcoms™', things are not going to get any better any time soon.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why do I like watching animated films so much?

Over the last few months I have managed to watch a lot of animated movies. I have checked many of those recently released animations whenever I have felt lonely and whenever I have felt that I needed to get myself on a better mood.

In most cases, watching these animations has helped to make myself feel a bit happier inside. Most of the time watching these cartoons has made me think that I shouldn't worry about things as much as I usually do.

So when it comes to me and others liking these animations, one of the biggest reasons for this is that these films make us less judgmental. Watching these cartoons lets us forget many of our problems and prejudices in real life.

For example, at least in my case, I'm pretty happy and relieved that I don't always have to watch 'real' people act. For me it's much more relaxing to watch animated characters instead of watching actual human beings all the time.

When I'm watching these films, I don't have to think about how this movie might be a vehicle for this particular actor. I don't have to think or worry about all those superficial things that might interfere with my viewing experience.

Instead, I get to fully pay attention to the characters and to the storylines in these movies. I get to pay attention to the ideas, hoping that the writers and the producers of these films would manage to come up with something good.

Fortunately, in most cases these animations work and are so watchable, because they are more uplifting and more idealistic than live action movies. These animated films are uplifiting, even though they are about things that matter in life.

These movies also work because writers in them try a bit harder than they do with most of the live action films. They try their hardest to make sure that the characters in these animations would be as relatable and as likable as possible.

Let's not forget that when it comes to labor intensive animated films, it simply isn't enough to just write average stuff and be happy with that. You have to try your best because those others working with the movie are also giving their everything.

In the end, the biggest reason that I like watching animated films so much is because they make me feel that I'm a child again. Watching these films makes me feel that almost anything is possible if we just try hard enough and won't give up.

In that sense, I'm really looking forward to watching quality animations in the future too. Especially when it comes to companies like Pixar, I can't wait to see what kind of movies and stories they are going to come up with next.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

There was too much cursing in 'Sausage Party'.

A couple of weeks ago I managed to watch a raunchy animation called 'Sausage Party' with my friend. This was a movie written and voiced by Seth Rogen, who was known for writing movies that were filled with sex jokes and profanities.

Knowing this all, I got curious and wanted to see how well an r-rated animation that had tons of four letter words would work in practice. Could it actually work or would the end result be a total disaster instead?

In any case, after seeing the movie I have to say that the film was a bit smarter than I thought it would be. There were observations in 'Sausage Party' that made me smile and made me think that the writers were pretty clever.

By that I mean that the story about the sausages, buns and other groceries had more potential than I had thought at first. The premise about all these foods not knowing that they would get eaten by humans was actually somewhat solid.

At least in my opinion, the best thing about 'Sausage Party' was that it was a comedy about different races. Different types of groceries represented different kinds of cultures and religions, which made the film surprisingly relevant. 

The animation managed, in my opinion to equally poke fun at the religious, cultural and national stereotypes. Jews, arabs, nazis, african americans, mexicans and indians got all their fair share of ridicule in the film.

For example, who could not find it funny when the jewish bagel talked to the muslim lavash how he totally liked humus? That joke itself, at least in my opinion, made the film worth watching and put me on a good mood. 

In the film, I also liked like how the german sauer kraut wanted to get rid of all the 'juice' at the grocery store. This, again, was a pretty solid observation and I was pretty glad that the movie was able to notice that.

Having said that, there were far too many f-bombs and sex jokes in 'Sausage Party'. Most of them didn't work, even though the african american Mr. Grits repeatedly dropping the 'mothaf*cka' was admittedly hilarious,

For example, I didn't like how in the beginning of the film the f-bomb was being dropped too frequently for no good reason. This constant cursing and sex talk made it difficult to relate to the characters and wasn't really needed.

In the movie, I also didn't like how in the middle of it there was a scene where the villain - if I'm able to remember correctly - raped one of the characters. Clearly that was cringeworthy stuff that we could have lived without.

Furthermore, it certainly didn't help that there was a completely unnecessary group orgy & masturbation scene at the end. This had absolutely nothing to do with the actual story and could have been left out of the final product.  

At least in my opinion, all these examples took away from the movie as a whole and made the viewing experience less enjoyable. In my view, these unnecessary profanities hurt 'Sausage Party' as a film and gave you a reason to dislike it.

In the end, I just wish that the writers would have had more confidence in their story and their characters. If only they had felt that writing relatable characters would be enough and that they didn't have to try that hard.

In that case, not only would have Seth Rogen's 'Sausage Party' been a bit more meaningful and a bit more consistent animation as a whole, but at least in my case, as a film, it would have left a better taste in my mouth too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Angry Birds could have been a better movie.

Yesterday, after trying to find something to write about, I noticed that I could watch Rovio Studios' animation Angry Birds. Since the film was produced by Finns, I thought I should give it a chance and see if it was any good.

Even though I knew that the reviews for it hadn't been that enthusiastic, I decided to watch it. Film critics had given the animation a 43% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, so I knew that I might not like the film that much.

In any case, after seeing the movie last evening, I have to say that Angry Birds could have been a better film than it turned out to be. As a whole, there are too many problems and flaws with it that you simply can't overlook.

The biggest problem I had with the movie has to do with the story and how it wasn't interesting enough. There weren't enough captivating ideas in the film that could have kept us excited throughout the movie's length. 

That the story wasn't interesting is mostly because the characters in it unfortunately weren't interesting enough. Especially during the first 30 or 40 minutes it was genuinely difficult to feel anything for the main characters.

By that I mean that during the first half of Angry Birds, our main character (the red one) is simply too unlikable. He's 'angry' for the sake of being angry, which makes it very hard to relate to him and to pay attention to what is going on in the film.

For example, in one of the very first scenes that we get to see, our protagonist is such a selfish, 'angry' jerk that he even manages to ruin a birthday party. It's hard to think of a worse way to start a children's movie than this.

Later on in the first act, our protagonist continues with his bad behavior and is even forced to attend an anger management class. This is where we meet the rest of the main characters - who all happen to be more likable than he is.

All this unlikable stuff happens because the writers were too strict and too obsessed with the original concept. Since these characters were called 'angry birds', our main protagonist had to be angry, even if it didn't make any sense.

Having said this all, once we got past these obviously awful moments in the movie, during the second half the film gets better. This is when the bad piggies reveal their true nature, which gives the movie its much needed momentum.

So when the piggies steal the bird eggs, it's the first time in the film when our birds have an organic reason to get mad. This is when they have a right to become 'angry birds' and the title of the movie starts to make sense.

Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise that during the film's final 30 minutes, it actually works. Its final act almost makes you forget that earlier in film there were huge problems with the story and that the film had been too episodic and convoluted.

Yet, as a whole, it has to be said that Angry Birds is still a clear disappointment as an animated film. There are too many problems with the characters and the story, even though the film does admittedly look pretty good.

In that sense, I just wish that the writers and the producers would have paid more attention to the film's screenplay. In that case, Angry Birds could have been a pretty solid film and not just a cheap attempt to cash in.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Some reasons why 'Quantum Break' was so bad.

A couple of days ago, me and my friends managed to play through Quantum Break's story mode. After spending four evenings playing this much anticipated game about time travel gone bad, we managed to reach the finish line.

As a whole, we agreed that the game unfortunately wasn't that well made. The only really good thing about it was that graphics wise the game looked pretty solid and that the combat system was somewhat entertaining too.

In any case, in order to keep things simple, I'll try to list seven major reasons why Quantum Break's story didn't work at all. These are the things why the game failed and why most of the time its story felt so disappointing.

1) There's not much of a reason for the protagonist to exist.

Let's not forget the old adage about how plot is character and character is plot. This means that the better written and the more compelling your protagonist is, the better the story as a whole is going to be too.

Unfortunately, when the game started, it didn't take long before we noticed that a) our protagonist's presense in the beginning wasn't really needed and b) him instantly agreeing to participate in the experiment made no sense whatsoever.

Also, when the 'catalyst' phase happened in the story, the villain in the game had no compelling reason to invite our Jack Joyce. He could have found someone more trustworthy than a person that he had barely met before.

2) Our main character seems dumb and doesn't know what to do.

As the game progresses, it becomes apparent - although not stated - that our main character has no clue about science or about time travel. Nothing in the game suggests that he knows what the villain and his scientist brother were up to.
This means that he has no idea what to do or what his goals should be. All the actual 'decisions' in the game are made by other characters (some of them you get to play very briefly) who supposedly know what they're talking about.

So since our main character can't do anything intellectual in the game, he more or less resorts to shooting and killing the bad guys. This makes him a fairly uninteresting and bland character that you can't really root for.

3) Exposition in the game is simply horrible.

Easily the biggest problem with the game is how badly the parts where you get to play the game and how the live action sequences mesh together. This 'ambitious' aspect of the game doesn't work at all and warrants a lot of criticism.

The single worst moment in the game is when the first live action scene kicks in and we're introduced to a character that we haven't even seen in the actual game. This is such an awful way to tell a story that it needs to be seen in order to be believed.

When it comes to producing a game like this, you are allowed to take chances, but you also have to respect the basics of storytelling. There are some axiomatic rules about what you can and can't do that simply cannot be ignored. 
4) Those 20+ minute live action scenes are pointless.

I have no idea who's idea it was that we would follow the private lives of some tertiary characters in the story. This seems such an awful idea that you might even think that someone was sabotaging the game on purpose.

In these live action scenes we keep following (among other things) the private life of one of the villain's bodyguards. For some reason we're supposed to be interested in following this guy who happens to have a pregnant wife.

In my estimation, only like 10% of these videos are about the actual main characters & the villain. The rest of the videos are about these 'red shirts' who don't really matter and who go through meaningless events in the story.

5) The game has all kinds of continuity problems. 

Unfortunately, there's not that much immersion in the game or moments that keep you excited and entertained. Since the objective of the main character is fairly obscure throughout the game, it's hard to give a damn about the story.

I mean, there are certain moments when things are almost interesting and you're almost entertained. The sequence on the broken bridge was at least somewhat interesting and there was a fight scene about two thirds in that didn't wear me down.

However, both these exciting moments are shortlived and don't last long. That abrupt transition from the bridge to the homebase is extremely awkward and that cool fight that I mentioned ends with an awful cutaway scene.
6) The story already happened - so there's no reason to play.

That's right, for some reason every single thing that you experience in the game has already happened. Our protagonist is only retelling his story, which becomes clear when he talks to some woman inside some random interrogation room.

I have no clue what the writers were thinking when they decided to throw that curveball at us. The story in no way benefited from this pointless revelation and made playing the game even less interesting as a whole.

To be clear, this 'it already happened' can be okay as long as only certain parts of the game have already taken place. Uncharted for example did a pretty good job with it when Nathan Drake's story started with that train accident in Uncharted 2.

7) The ending, not surprisingly, doesn't make sense.

Finally, after finishing the game, one big problem we had with the ending was that one of the villains who already died apparently wasn't dead after all. He hadn't died even though he was shot in the head and clearly was a goner.

Yet, what was even more troubling about the finale was how our 'smart' protagonist wanted to go back in time again. He wanted to go back, because - surprise, surprise - he wanted to save one of the female characters that we briefly met in the game.

Considering that 'Quantum Break' was all about how we shouldn't mess with time travel technology, and how we should be aware of the risks that would be involved, that was probably the worst way to end the game. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Comedies shouldn't last more than 90 minutes.

Lately I've managed to watch a lot of comedies that in most cases have managed to entertain me and have managed to put me on a good mood. Almost every film that I have watched has been - if not great - at least okay qualitywise.

When it comes to these films, many of the movies that I have watched were comedies. Hotel Transylvania, Hotel Transylvania 2, Shaun The Sheep and The Nice Guys were mostly fairly solid films that I would recommend for others to see.

In any case, when it comes to me liking these movies, I liked most of them because they kept my attention and weren't too long as films. In most cases I didn't get too bored and didn't start to think about other things outside these movies.

When I thought about this a little bit more, I noticed that the shorter the comedies were, the more positive thoughts I had about them afterwards. It made a lot of difference whether the film was a 90 minute movie, or a 2 hour movie.

For example, Shaun The Sheep's running time without closing credits was only a bit over 75 minutes. Compared to some quality dramas like 'Bridge of Spies' (running time 2h 15 min), the movie about sheep was only half of that.

Yet, its short running time didn't hurt the movie at all, because everything in the film was so well thought out and felt perfectly natural. I felt that I got everything that I could have wanted from this wonderful little film.

Hotel Transylvania animations didn't have that lengthy running times either. Since both of these Sony's animations were close to 80 minute movies without end credits, they were only a bit longer than Shaun The Sheep.

When it comes to the quality of these vampire animations, I managed to like both films quite a bit. I liked them, even though film critics (45% and 54% respectively at rottentomatoes) hadn't liked these movies that much.

That is not to say that Hotel Transylvania 1 or 2 were masterpieces as animations, but they were good enough to entertain me. They had a premise that was plausible enough and had scenes, story beats and funny moments that made me happy.

On the other hand, when it comes to a comedy film that is clearly at least 20-30 minutes too long, is there a better example than Shane Black's movie 'The Nice Guys', that was recently released on dvd & blu-ray. 

When it comes to the movie as a whole, there are a lot of good things that you can say about the film. In theory, 'The Nice Guys' has all the elements to be a movie that you could even compare to some of the classics.

Yet, once the film had most of the things wrapped up and reached its climax at the 90 minute mark, it didn't end. It added another 20+ minute final act to its story, even though there was no real reason to do that.

At least in my view, you need to have exceptionally good reasons to keep your comedy going once you go past that 90 minute mark. There has to be something that absolutely has to be seen, or else you need to wrap things up quickly.

Considering that comedies are usually faster paced than dramas, have quicker cuts and use all kinds of storytelling tricks to keep us entertained, every single minute and moment counts a little bit more than in dramas.

Let's not forget that after a certain point, the longer the movie keeps going, the less excited and the less happy it makes us. Our attention spans get shorter and we care less about what is happening on screen.

In the case of 'The Nice Guys', since the last act didn't bring anything new to table, it made the film worse. Every single extra minute that kept the movie from ending made me more confused and made me like the film less.

In that sense, if only 'The Nice Guys' would have ended sooner like Hotel Transylvanias and Shaun The Sheep did. In that case, not only would it have been a shorter movie, but it would have been a better movie too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

'The Good Place' is not a good show to watch.

Now that the new tv season has started, half a dozen or so new comedy shows have premiered. These are the shows that have been rated highly by the test audiences and have been approved by the network executives. 

Many of these shows get a massive push in the media and get hyped through the roof. They get praise from the critics, regardless of whether they are any good or whether they have any potential to become successful. 

In any case, one of these new 'awesome' shows happens to be NBC's 'The Good Place', that premiered in September. It has received fairly enthusiastic reviews across the board, so you might think that this series would be the real deal. 

Yet, as is the case with almost every new series, this show that stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, is no exception to the rule. 'The Good Place', unfortunately, isn't any good and doesn't manage to entertain you in any meaningful way. 

The biggest problem with this single camera comedy is that its premise doesn't make sense. The show being about Bell's character going to heaven doesn't have universal appeal and (literally) doesn't have a connection to real life.

Pretty much none of the stuff that happened in the pilot made sense or felt natural. I can't be alone in thinking that the writers and the producers of the show had no clue what they were supposed to do with their characters.

For example in the pilot, Bell's character's most frequent reaction to going to 'heaven' is a simple 'cool'. She thinks that it's 'cool' that she's there now, that it's 'cool' that she's one of the chosen ones and that it's 'cool' that she has a soulmate there.

The fact that she doesn't have problems and doesn't have issues with what's going on is not a good thing at all. That she doesn't have obstacles or goals to deal with means that the show doesn't have organic story ideas that it could build on.

Naturally, these problems and logical inconsistencies were not the only things about the pilot that didn't work. The pilot also happened to have many other problems with storytelling and with things that didn't make sense.

For instance, the 'revelation' in the middle of the pilot that Bell's main character wasn't actually a good person felt extremely artificial and unnecessary. It absolutely wasn't needed in any way and made the pilot feel even more constrained.

I also didn't like how her supposed 'soulmate' didn't speak english. I found it to be unnecessarily convoluted when the token black character simply 'revealed' that his french got automatically translated to english instead.

Yet, the single worst moment in the pilot was when Ted Danson's character out of nowhere decided to kick a dog. This kind of animal cruelty had no reason to be in the script and made me feel even more angry towards the writers of the show.

In the end, even if one was willing to overlook all these problems with the show, let's not forget that 'The Good Place' was supposed to be a comedy. It was supposed to be a series that made you laugh and made you feel better about yourself.

Unfortunately though, there's almost nothing good about the show's pilot. It's not well written, interesting or funny and the pilot doesn't have anything in it that would make you care about the characters and what happens to them.

In that sense, since the show doesn't really know what it's supposed to be about and since it doesn't make you laugh, 'The Good Place' as a series is probably not going to make it and is likely going to get cancelled fairly soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

South Park is the only relevant comedy on tv.

For some reason I hadn't been that excited about watching South Park's return to tv this season. I hadn't paid much attention to the show lately and had managed to see its new episodes only after I had first watched some other comedy shows.

Yet, after watching these new episodes that have aired, I'm really happy that I managed to see them. Almost certainly the best thing about this television season has been South Park's return to our tv screens.

In my view, there are certain reasons why the show is still the best comedy series out there. Even though the show has entered its 20th season already, it doesn't seem like it has lost its relevance as a television series.

At least in my opinion, the best thing about the new season is that the series has managed to be actual. The fact that the season has been about the ongoing presidential election has made the show so much more interesting to watch.

In any case, the season premiere, not that surprisingly, was about Colin Kaepernick (pictured above) and his silent protest during the national anthem. The town didn't seem to get enough of this totally overblown spectacle.

In the episode, I couldn't help but to like when the audience was only interested in the reactions of the players and left when the national anthem was finished. I loved how the sportscasters reacted to the national anthem as if it was an ongoing game.

I also liked how the episode was about rebooting the national anthem and how Mr. Garrison as Donald Trump was trying his best to lose the presidental election. He was convinced that he was incompetent and that he wasn't up to the job at all. 

The second episode switched to another storyline, where Cartman was suspected of being a world class troll who had made people quit social media. Cartman was allegedly the person who added photoshopped dick pics to get a reaction from social media users.

In this storyline, Stan and Kyle had had enough and thought that they should something about the phenomenom. They decided that together they would 'kill' Cartman and his trolling by destroying his laptop and his smart phone.

The only problem was that it wasn't actually Cartman who was behind the alias 'Skunkhunter42'. This mistake of the kids not finding out who the real culprit was made the situation worse and things started to get out of control.

In the third episode, we continued with this storyline and also got back to the presidential election. Here Mr. Garrison again tried his very best to lose the election, although nothing that he did was enough to turn the voters off.

When it came to the troll storyline, the actual troll happened to be Kyle's dad, who got himself in real trouble. One of his famous victims decided to end her life, which drove Gerald into panick mode and deep despair.

Not only did his trolling have grave consequences, some hackers also were able to track him down. This happened, even though he had tried his best to cover his tracks so that no one would figure out his real identity.

Aside from dealing with these storylines, the third episode also dealt with an idea that was briefly brought up in the first episode. Randy's storyline was about why most elections seem to be so close no matter what happens during the election season.

This 'memberberry' storyline, just like the Gerald the troll storyline is still ongoing and hasn't been resolved. We have to wait until we'll find out more about where this storyline is going and whether it's going to be finished soon.

All in all, based on these three episodes, I've been pleasantly surprised how well written the series has been this season. All these episodes in my opinion have been based on pretty solid ideas and have been entertaining.

As a whole, these episodes have been surprisingly thoughtful and meaningful. Especially those parts that dealt with social media and how we are obsessed with it are relevant and should give us some food for thought.

In the end, we can only hope that the show manages to keep its quality high in the upcoming episodes too. We can only hope that the writers keep up the good work, because at the moment, South Park is the only relevant comedy on tv.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The new Macgyver series just isn't good.

Earlier this year I managed to write about the upcoming new Macgyver series that would start airing this fall. I wrote about how I didn't like the trailer of the new series and that almost everything about it felt wrong.  

Simply said, I didn't like how the new series looked and how the characters 'acted' in the trailer. I didn't get good vibes from it and felt that there was no chance that the relaunch would turn into a success that the fans of the original would appreciate.

In any case, now that the new series has finally aired, what can be said about this relaunched series? Is the new Macgyver television show worth watching or did turn out be as bad as it looked like in the trailer?

Based on the first episode that has aired, the reimagined Macgyver series unfortunately wasn't that good. At least in my opinion, there's very little chance that this relaunch of a series is going to last very long.

The biggest problem with the show is that in almost every way, it manages to be about something else that the original series was about. It manages to forget almost all the good things that made us care about the original Macgyver.

For example, unlike Richard Dean Anderson's Macgyver, Lucas Till's Mac acts like an overconfident douche on the show. He doesn't seem like he's a down to earth person or someone that you would like to know in real life.

Unlike in the original Macgyver series, you don't really feel for any of the characters on the show. Even supporting characters like 'Jack Dalton' and 'Patricia Thornton' seem to be either unlikable or just way too bland and two dimensional.
When it comes to this new show's plotlines, these new storylines don't seem to be even remotely believable or plausible to me. There's no way that on the original show Mac would have broken into a casino to steal a biological weapon from some bad guys.

In the original show with Richard Dean Anderson, pretty much all the plotlines managed to be fairly plausible and based on real life. To me it felt like most of those storylines could have happened in our real world too. 

The fact that the new show is a disappointment unfortunately also extends to those 'macgyverisms' too. Those improvised gadgets in the original show were one of the biggest reasons that people looked up to Mac and to the show.

I mean, who can forget how the original character managed to come up with quick solutions to different kinds of problems? You couldn't help but to have respect for his ability to get out of trouble and to get out of harm's way.

On the other hand, when it comes to this new Macgyver getting out of trouble, you can't help but to facepalm. Stopping bullets with an ordinary kitchen tray just isn't possible, no matter how much you're willing to suspend your disbelief.

In any case, when it comes to judging the series as a whole based on the first episode, things don't look good at all. The new Macgyver seems to be too dumb, too violent, too noisy, badly acted, and badly written too.

Especially when you consider that the producers of the show had the chance to completely rewrite and retool the series after the first pilot of the show had failed, you have to wonder what on earth they were thinking here.

All in all, as a massive fan of the original Macgyver, I can't help but to feel let down by the new series. This could have been a good show, but since the producers didn't follow the footsteps of the old Macgyver, this new series is a big disappointment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What to think of the U.S. presidential election?

Over the course of the last six months or so, I've spent a lot of time following the presidential election in the United States. Pretty much every day I've paid attention to what's going on and who's the favorite to win the election.

Like so many others, I started with the democratic presidential primary, where Bernie Sanders was running against Hillary Clinton. I hoped that Bernie would end up being the democratic nominee, since I did not trust Hillary at all.

Even though I'm a liberal, I also paid attention to the republican presidential primary, where Donald Trump was competing against a dozen republican candidates. I wanted to see who was the least bad of those candidates on the republican side.

As it happened, Bernie Sanders unfortunately did not prevail against Clinton's establishment machine. He lost, whereas Donald Trump managed to win over the rest over the field, that included crazies like Ted 'nukem all' Cruz.  

In any case, now that we're only six weeks away from the general election and there are only two 'major' candidates left, what should you do as a voter? Should you be voting for Trump, Hillary, or perhaps for someone else?

As a progressive Scandinavian, who has paid a lot of attention to what's going on this election cycle, I can say with relative high confidence, that of all the candidates, I would not vote for Hillary Clinton - under any circumstance.

I would not vote for her, because in my view, she's an unindicted criminal, who through her 'extreme carelessness' and 'negligence' during her tenure as a secretary of state, repeatedly violated the espionage act.

Working as secretary of state from 2009 until 2013, she mishandled classified information using her private server. She had hundreds of emails on her server containing top secret information and even information above that classification.

The fact that she wasn't and hasn't been prosecuted for these crimes just goes to show how well the Clintons are connected in the U.S. Any other person would already be either fired or in jail for her actions, as the FBI director James Comey himself stated.

This, of course is not the only reason why I wouldn't vote for her this election season. Besides of repeatedly violating the espionage act, there are multiple other crucial reasons why one shouldn't vote for her.

For instance, over the decades it has become obvious that she's a fraud as a person who only cares about herself. She doesn't have a moral compass and only will back things like gay marriage when it's politically expedient to do so.

When it comes to the economy, she took hundreds of millions in bribes from special interests and Wall Street. No wonder she's now diametrically opposed to regulating the big banks or having a single payer health care system in the U.S.

When it comes to military interventions, Hillary has been for every war there is and she's backed by all the prominent neoconservatives. There's very little doubt that 'madame secretary' would be a warmonger in the oval office too.

Even when it comes to simple things like telling truth about mundane things, she can't help but to make up stuff. Her preposterous claim of having been under sniper fire in Bosnia makes her a pathological liar that you cannot trust.

Also, let's not forget what happened during the democratic primaries earlier this year. Clinton and the disgraced former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz rigged the democratic primary, so that Bernie Sanders wouldn't stand a chance against her.

The DNC didn't stay neutral and instead kept pushing smears and false narratives about Bernie in the media. They even made sure that the televised debates were held when as few people as possible would be able to watch them.

So knowing this all, should it really surprise anyone that independents and people on the left are having problems supporting Hillary? It seems that only those inside the beltway bubble can't seem to understand that she's in trouble.

All in all, I'm obviously not saying that voting for Trump is an easy decision and that you should definitely vote for him. I'm not saying that he's even a remotely good candidate or that he would be able to 'make America great again'.

At the same time, Hillary Clinton is such a failure as a candidate and as a person, that even though this is an important presidential election, as a progressive, I just don't see how I would be able to vote for her.

At least in my view, since she hasn't reached out to liberals and independents this season and since she hasn't managed to explain why she's even running, she doesn't deserve to become the next president of the United States.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The difference between a good and a bad idea.

One of the things that I started thinking when I got my script idea is how important and precious good ideas and good premises are. You can't really overstate how important it is to come up with an idea that has potential to become a good screenplay.

If your premise isn't strong or clear enough, there's almost no chance that you're screenplay is going to be any good. In that case you're almost certainly just going to waste your time and your energy writing that script.

In order to give you a good example on a great movie idea and a pretty awful premise, let's look at two films that are 'roughly' the same. Both these films are about reality tv and about following an every-man protagonist around the clock. 

The first movie in question is Peter Weir's 'Truman Show' that stars Jim Carrey in it. This is a movie that was not only a pretty big success financially, but it also managed to get universal praise from the critics.

In any case, this is a film about a character called Truman Burbank, who lives a seemingly ordinary life in a peaceful city called Sea Haven. Everything in Truman's life seems so perfect and things always tend to work out for him. 

The only thing that he doesn't know about his 'perfect' life is that everything about it is fake. Truman is literally living inside a bubble where cameras are tracking his every move so that audiences at home could follow his every day life.

He simply doesn't know that he's the star of a reality television show and that nothing about his life is real. He doesn't know that he's being exploited mercilessly and that nothing important about his life is private.

When it comes to this film as a whole, the biggest reason that it works so well is because of its 'hook'. The premise of Truman not knowing what's going on and being an unsuspecting celebrity keeps us in the audience involved.

As an audience member, you can't wait for him to figure out that he's part of a huge reality show. You can't help but to root for him when he finally decides to escape from his prison and wants to start a life on his own.

The movie hits all the right notes when it critizices our current celebrity & consumerism culture. 'Truman Show' not only manages to be both funny and dramatic, but it also is a film that has a lot of say about our society in general. 

The second film in this reality genre is Ron Howard's EDtv. This was a movie that not only did not manage to garner universal praise from the critics, but it was also a movie that failed rather spectacularly at the box office.

In this case, our main protagonist is an every-man called Eddie Pekurny, who is played by Matthew McConaughey. Eddie works as a video store clerk and lives a fairly normal and uneventful life that isn't particularly interesting.

Unlike in Truman Show, Eddie's life changes when he knowingly invites cameras to follow his life 24/7.  He becomes a reality tv star because he thinks that it won't be that big of a deal and that it could even be a cool experience.

Not surprisingly, the biggest reason that the movie doesn't work is because the film isn't about anything meaningful. There's no actual 'hook' in the movie that would keep the audience interested in what is going on.

There's no defining idea or premise in EDtv that would help create momentum for the film. There's no real drama, no genuine comedy or actual entertainment in this movie that would keep us on the edge of our seats. 

The film just keeps dragging itself to the finish line and seems to almost glorify reality television. The fact that it doesn't take a stand against this kind of reality television is what should bother anyone who cares about our society. 

In the end, when it comes to EDtv, the writers and the producers of it probably thought that it wouldn't matter that much whether they would pay enough attention to the premise and to the idea of their movie.

They falsely thought that an average (bad) premise and an average (bad) idea could still be turned into a quality screenplay and into a quality movie. They thought that they would come out smelling like roses no matter what they did.

Unfortunately for them, of these two films, Truman Show is the one that turned out to be a wonderful movie. EDtv, on the other hand, is so disappointing and has so little to say about anything, that you have to wonder why it was made in the first place.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Coming up with an idea for a screenplay.

I think it was two weeks ago, when I managed to come up with a pretty decent idea for a movie screenplay. I felt that this idea was exciting, might have a lot of potential and that it might get me back to writing again.

At least in my opinion, this was an idea that would likely play to my strengths and would allow me to write about things that matter. It would perhaps allow me to write about stuff that could make people feel better about their lives.

Yet, just because I managed to come up with an 'idea' doesn't mean that I'm even close to having solved this writing project. Having an idea for a screenplay at best means that you're off to a promising start and that you have a lot of things to do.

In any case, now that I've managed to come up with an idea and a theme, the most important thing to do next is to come up with a main character. I need to come up with a character that is consistent with the theme of the story. 

In this case, it's absolutely crucial that the main character is likable and that you can relate to her. It's crucial that the protagonist has a personality, qualities and aspirations that the audience can respond positively to.

When it comes to the story, I need a main character that is going to run into obstacles over the course of the script. These obstacles need to revolve around the theme and need to be obstacles that push the story forward.

In order to make the story any good, I need to have an overarching 'main' problem that will also work as a catalyst in the script. This will guarantee that the story and our character is actually going somewhere and has a goal.

This is not to say that we don't need any smaller problems or goals in the movie. In order to make the script entertaining, we need tons of little obstacles or opportunities that our main character and other characters will run into.

When it comes to the script as a whole, it's crucial that I know how the story and the structure works. It helps immensely if I'm aware of the basics and that I know when and where 'story beats' like 'all is lost' are supposed to be.

That doesn't, however, mean that it's okay to strictly pay attention to and rigidly follow the standard structure and think that it's going to be enough. Following the beat sheet without making sure that things actually make sense won't cut it.

So I need to respect the structure, but I also need to be creative enough to understand that cookie cutter solutions won't make the script good. I need to write my butt off and come up with solutions that will work.

In any case, these are only some of the things that I need to worry about in the process of writing a script. It most certainly won't be easy and is a big challenge for a writer like me who isn't used to writing movie scripts.

All in all, when it comes to getting further with this project, certain sacrifices have to be made. If I want to succeed, I need to work really hard, use all my talents and probably get a bit lucky in the process too.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What's wrong with those superhero movies?

One of the things that has bothered me lately is the lack of quality films when it comes to comic book movies. Many of the anticipated films have turned out to be less than stellar when they have been finally released. 

For example, the latest movie to disappoint is the film 'Suicide Squad', that despite its massive box office earnings didn't really manage to win critical praise. Its rottentomatoes rating, 26% fresh, is one of the worst of the year. 

Another movie that premiered before Suicide Squad, Batman vs. Superman, also turned out to be a critical failure. Even though the caped crusader was a big hit at the box office, it also managed to gather a disappointing 27% fresh rating from the critics.

Let's not forget that even before these two films premiered, we also had the god awful and completely unnecessary remakes of the Spiderman movies. These two films were pretty big artistical failures and were produced for no real reason at all. 

Now don't get me wrong, I haven't managed to see any of these new comic book movies yet. I haven't watched them, because at least in these cases I've been smart enough to trust the opinions of the film critics. 

In my view, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that these new super hero films aren't well made or to be more precise, well written. It's fairly evident that not enough effort or writing talent is invested in these franchises. 

In general, the biggest problem with the comic book films is with the screenplays and how they're written. It simply isn't possible to produce 1-2 quality super hero movies every year, when you consider that there aren't enough talented writers out there.

Let's keep in mind that in this current environment, it's very difficult to even make these movies compelling. Especially when you consider that studios won't allow any of their 'profitable' characters die, any writer is going to be in a tough spot. 

I mean, storywise there simply isn't enough drama, substance or entertainment in these movies. Since nothing of real consequence is going to happen to any of these characters, there aren't any real stakes in these films.

In any case, even though it's obvious that studios and their greedy bosses have gotten us into this current situation, it's not only their fault. It isn't fair to blame only these head honchos that superhero movies haven't been good lately.

At least in my opinion, some blame also has to be placed on those paying customers in the audience. Since they are willing pony up the dough no matter what, it's no wonder that studios keep producing 6-7 super hero movies every year.

In the end, none of this changes the fact that it's still very difficult to make good movies about these comic book characters. None of us should think that it's easy to make these superhero films entertaining and enjoyable.

In reality, when it comes to making movies, it's always going to take certain amount of luck before things are going to work. Every single thing simply cannot be controlled and you need to get lucky in the process too.

At the same time, the truth is that as long as the studios are not able to hire the very best writers out there, and are not willing to let them do what they want with these characters, things are not going to get any better.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How to deal with your shyness as a writer?

One of the things that most of the talented writers don't want to talk about that much is how vulnerable and how shy they are. It's not fun to talk about how fragile you are as a person and that you're not always in charge of yourself.

In reality, no matter how fearless your favorite writer might be, there's a pretty good chance that they're actually really shy. Being shy and sensitive is what gives them the edge over the rest of us mortal writers. 

In any case, here are five important things that you should keep in mind if you happen to be shy as a person. These are the things that at least in my opinion will help you and will make your life at least a little bit better:

1) Try to appreciate your strengths.

Even though it's understandable that you're sometimes going to stress about your shyness, worrying about it too much isn't good or healthy either. You shouldn't think too much about the 'restrictions' that come with being a sensitive person.

Instead, try to pay more attention to your strengths than to your weaknesses. Try pay attention to the fact that you're someone who understands how the world works and who knows what makes us human beings tick.

Try to find comfort in the fact that you're better at observing things than the average person and that you're able to figure out many of those precious little things that matter. These are the qualities that should define you as a person and as a writer.

2) Keep yourself busy as a writer.

Very likely the best thing that you can ever do as a writer is to keep yourself immersed in what you're doing. When you have ongoing projects or steady writing routines, you might forget that you have your 'limititations'.

As long as you'll keep yourself busy with your writing habits and routines, pretty quickly you'll manage to notice certain changes. These new routines will make you more confident and will make you feel better about yourself as a writer.

Speaking from my own experience, it genuinely helps when you write articles on a blog on a weekly basis. When you manage to press the publish button more than two hundred times, it's bound to make you at least a little bit less shy.

3) Have a support group that lets you write.

It's always a good thing if you have the chance and the time to concentrate on writing and that you don't have to worry too much about other things. It's an ideal situation if you don't have to do things that you're not good at.

The very best television writers use almost all of their energy and concentration on writing scripts. Their only job is to write quality material because they have an advantage over the rest of the field out there.

For example, South Park's Trey Parker is known for being a very shy person. He's not known for being good at arguing with the suits or with handling confrontations, so he leaves those aspects of the show business for others (Matt Stone) to handle.

4) Take care of yourself and your health.

Many of the shy and sensitive people in show business abuse drugs and don't take enough care of themselves. They have problems but don't try to fix their issues the right way and instead end up trying some bad things.

If you need help with your problems, it's better to get professional help instead of using illegal drugs to alleviate your symptoms. It's much better to be in therapy and take SSRI:s than it's to treat problems with alcohol, coke, or marijuana.

In my case, I try to do moderate to heavy one hour exercises at least five times a week. I also try to eat relatively healthy stuff, I try to sleep well and I take a small dose of an antidepressant to keep my mind as balanced as it can be.

5) Don't give up too easily. 

Finally, setbacks and failures are especially difficult and painful for shy people to handle. It's not fun when things don't go your way, even though you tried your best and actually managed to take (yikes) chances.

Yet, as far as I'm concerned, you shouldn't give up too easily as a writer. You should keep going, because there's really not that much quality stuff out there and because most people in the show business simply don't have what it takes to entertain us.

So instead of getting too depressed about what happened, try to keep in mind that you can try your luck in the future too. It's not over and there's a good chance that next time things are going to get better for you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

You really should be 'making sacrifices' as a writer.

I don't know about you, but at least in my opinion most of the stuff that we see on television isn't really good at all. Most of the so called 'entertainment' that airs on tv deeply disrespects our intelligence as human beings. 

One of the biggest reasons for the lack of quality stuff on television is that writers in Hollywood simply don't try hard enough. They don't really think it's their job to give their all and to push themselves to the edge. 

One of the best - or worst - examples of this kind of behavior comes from a successful writer named Danny Zuker. This person happens to be one of the executive producers and writers on ABC's popular sitcom 'Modern Family'.

As unfortunate as it is, based on his tweet sent on August 1st, he doesn't seem to believe that writers need to try their hardest. He thinks that it's okay to write these half-assed scripts and that you can still be proud of yourself.

As can be seen in the picture above, Zuker attempts to make his joke by saying that just like Trump, he's going to make his 'sacrifice' (wink) too. He's going to faux sacrifice himself by writing a sitcom script that day. 

The problem with this attempt at comedy is that his tweet is a total failure. It's genuinely bad not only because it assumes certainties about Trump, but also because it's completely wrong about how 'easy' it is to write well.

Unlike what Zuker's saying here, writing good stuff really is about making sacrifices in your life. It's genuinely about pushing yourself to the limit and giving your everything when you're trying to write quality material.

Absolutely no one in this world writes good stuff unless they'll take their tasks super seriously. Even the best writers like Trey Parker, David Kelley and Aaron Sorkin need to bring their very best if they want to write something worthwhile.

Yet, for some reason Zuker thinks that writing a script is really 'no biggie' at all. He thinks that you can casually joke about it being a faux sacrifice (haa haa) and think that you're still going to end up smelling like roses.

In the end, this was simply a genuinely horrible tweet from him. There's no way I would have dared to run my mouth like that, especially considering how Modern Family's quality has plummeted over the years.

At least when it comes to me, there's absolutely nothing funny about making jokes about other people's 'sacrifices', especially when you consider that Zuker's own dereliction of duty as a writer couldn't be more obvious.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The importance of having patience as a writer.

Over the years I've learned that one of the most important qualities of being a writer is that you need to have a lot of patience. Whenever you're writing, you can't give up too easily, even though things might not immediately go your way. 

In order to show you why patience is so important, let's look at these examples about the writing process. Whenever you're trying to come up with good stuff, you should consider these important things that are required.

1) You need patience to come up with an idea that is good enough.

It's always a pretty good feeling when you have been lucky enough to come up with a decent idea as a writer. Solid ideas and premises have the most amount of potential to turn into quality scripts, storylines or articles. 

At the same time, there are moments when you don't feel comfortable enough with your idea. Your intuition, gut or whatever tells you that you should think of something else to go with, even though you might be about to start writing. 

In these cases, most of the time it's probably a good idea to step back and think a bit. Even though you might feel impatient and think that coming up with another idea won't be easy, you should likely put your thinking cap on again.  

2) You need patience to spend enough time to get the story right.

Now that you came up with an idea that you think is good enough, you need to get your basics right. This means that you delve into the structure of your story and try to make sure that you are going to write something worthwhile.

This is likely the hardest part of the process and you'll usually spend hours after hours trying to come up with solid ideas. It's crucial that you'll come up with good ideas that make sense and that you know what you're writing about.

At least in my case, I will almost certainly get super frustrated because most of the time I don't get things to work right away. I have to struggle a lot before it feels like I have solved most of the problems with my story / task.

3) You need patience to rewrite over and over again.

Once you have gotten your structure right, you have likely solved at least 80% of your problems. This is the moment that usually gives you the first real sense of having accomplished something and that you're going to make it.

Nevertheless, just because you're not staring at a blank screen anymore, you still need to rewrite and in many cases create new content. This leads to you to adding and removing stuff in the hopes that your script would finally make enough sense as a whole. 

This takes time and effort and you might still notice some fairly obvious problems that need to be fixed. These are problems that you know you can fix as long as you're willing to work hard enough and won't give up.

4) You need patience to not publish what you've written too soon. 

Having now fixed 95% to 99% of the stuff, it's time to take a break from your thoughts. You should always let your brain relax a bit and wait at least a day before you publish or let others see what you've written.

Taking this break will almost certainly help you find certain - likely relatively small - mistakes that need to be fixed and that you hadn't noticed before. These are the last things that you need to take care of before your task is finished.

No matter how difficult taking a break might seem to you, you need to get your thoughts off from writing and do something else for a while. It will almost certainly be the right decision and will make you a better writer in the long run.
5) You also need patience when you're not rewarded immediately.

Finally, once you have managed to complete your precious task, you should be happy that you managed to get the job done. It wasn't easy and you spent so much time trying to give your best and making your story as good as possible.

However, don't get too upset if people don't immediately pat you on the back for your efforts. No matter how smart, talented or insightful you are as a writer, in most cases the world still doesn't revolve around you.

Instead, appreciate the fact that you had the chance to go through the process and that you managed to reach the finish line. At least in my opinion, that's what really counts and what should make us happy as writers.