Film & TV: February 2005 Archives

My Oscar Predictions

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Oscar producer Gil Cates has caused some controversy with his decision to save time by handing out some of the more minor awards right there in the audience, instead of letting the winners come up to the podium. He has caused further controversy by defining the minor awards as "those most likely to be won by somebody ugly." Overlooked in the furor is the fact that Cates will use the extra time to hand out several new and much-needed awards. Here is a brief look at the new trophies, as well as my predictions for the likely winners.

Best Supporting Performance by a Lead Actor: Jamie Foxx, who somehow managed to be classified as a supporting actor for Collateral, despite being onscreen for every single minute of the film. Next year, he will be following up his success with another supporting role in a film called Othello, starring Brad Pitt in the lead role of Iago, with Foxx playing his Moorish sidekick.

Oscar Riot

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I debated whether I should announce this, since a tragedy of this order might spark rioting in the streets, but I have decided that my obligations to factual reportage outweight my duties to public order. It is therefore with much regret, and no little trepidation, that I hereby inform the world: I won't be watching the Oscars live this year.

This is the first time in my adult memory that I've missed this important religious ceremony. Catching it has been trickier since I moved to Greenwich Mean Time, which is eight hours later than Pacific time, meaning that a broadcast which goes out over the airwaves at 5 PM in LA arrives in London at 1AM. We've therefore had a hard time getting Londoners to stay up with us--only our friend Courtney has been adventurous enough to camp out on our floor with us--but we've created virtual Oscar parties by connecting with our US-based friends via Internet chat, in a stirring union of film geekery and computer geekery.

That was back in the glorious multi-year period when the Oscars were broadcast on the publically-funded BBC. This year, they were outbid by pay-cable broadcaster Sky Movies--a channel we don't receive.

At 1AM this monday, if there is rioting in the streets of London (or, at least, the hallways of our flat), you will know why.

Screenwriting Template

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I was recently discussing the question of whether it makes sense to buy specialized screenwriting software like Final Draft. Most working writers will tell you that, at some point, you need to bite the bullet and buy Final Draft--but when you're starting out, there's no need to buy expensive scriptwriting software, and a good template for your word processor will do you just as well.

For anybody who is interested, here is the screenplay template I use. I downloaded it from somewhere years ago, and have modified it a bit since then. I'm embarrassed to admit that I no longer remember where I got it from in the first place, but I believe that distribution was encouraged, so help yourself.

You tell a producer about a script you've got. They absolutely love the idea, and want to see it immediately. You send it to them--and weeks go by with no response. Then months. Do they love it? Hate it? Not have time to look at it? You have no way of knowing.

It's an experience every screenwriter has had. But very few writers end up getting an apology like the following:

I have your letter of July 22 and after due investigation hasten my apologies for the discourteous treatment you received at the hands of two of our presumably responsible persons. Words cannot express how deeply I feel the great wrong committed against you... The two parties who committed this deplorable breech of courtesy have been dealt with in a manner commensurate with their acts.