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Old 04-25-2013, 02:08 AM   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trevanian
...

Then I read a really good interview with one of them and it was very clear that they had their own ideas, but all of that got submerged in favor of writing to order. And it certainly worked on the level it needed to ... producing blockbusters. The blockbuster mentality has only become more pronounced, and I guess Orci and the rest are an example of how to succeed financially working the system. Personally I think I'd be too ashamed and furious to cowtow, but then again how do I KNOW I wouldn't sell out?



The way I see it is, if I sell it, it's no longer 'my' story so I don't care much about the changes done afterward. If they ask me for specifics that need to be worked in on a rewrite, I'll argue if I think they're bad ideas, but if they can defend their position (or can't but stick with it anyway), I'll include their input because I'm being paid, and it's no longer 'my' story... it's the production's story. 'My' story will always be the one that was in my head while I was writing it. I keep that version and ownership of it. Anything down the line is another beast entirely.

If I didn't take this approach and divorce myself from the 'ownership' of the story, I'd never be able to write for a living and I'd cry every time I see the stuff on the screen.

Beyond that, producers have the money. Unless you're Kirsten Bell or Zach Braff, you'll be beholden to them.
 
Old 04-25-2013, 02:33 AM   #77
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I can believe writers would be compromised by having to serve a lot of masters and interests (including the US military in the case of Transformers), and working under studio deadlines they might not have had 20 years ago. Transformers sounds like an undesirable position for any writers.
And I suspect a lot of directors and writers would have turned it down without a second thought (if its true that the makers of Iron man had problems finding writers willing to work on the script because it wasnt considered famous enough I can only imagine what they thought about a toy movie) Perhaps if Kurtzman and Orci were not working on a big franchise film and left to their own devices they would make something more interesting to me. Hard to say. I notice they also went into producing.
However, I have watched enough Kurtzman and Orci films to see a pattern. Them talking about admiring Waiting for Godot at least reveals some understanding for their philosophy because I noticed absurdities in their work which, if are their contributions, seems consistent with that admiration. The pipe smoking scene in Legend of Zorro, the security guard bathroom distraction in Transformers 2, the rabbit's foot mystery in Mission Impossible and Tom Cruise's last moment "Wait, wait-------I love you" even though he was on a seriously limited time schedule. Red Matter in Star Trek.
In the latter two film cases it is like someone is saying: this doesnt matter. Its B movie prop BS anyway so let's not even try to make the audience buy into it. When Cruise says he works for the Impossible Mission force and she replies shut up. After all she has been through up to that point, you would think she might be more willing to believe him. lol


When I used to read Famous Monsters, Fangoria, or Starlog I never once saw anyone use the term "cheesy movie." Nowadays it appears to be a derogatory expression aimed at a lot of movies covered by such magazines. One where the story is imaginary and hard to believe, however they treat it professionally. The classic case would be Hammer's Cave man films where Shakespearean trained actors were asked to speak gibberish and behaved completely seriously. Nowadays it appears people cannot buy into that--they are too sophisticated (yeah, right). That's why I can admire Cannon's Masters of the Universe because with what little they had, I can see that they did about the best job they could have done. But it would be called a cheesy film for trying too hard to make people buy into the story (subplot about the parents dying in a plane crash etc).



I'll check out the westerns mentioned. Thanks for the suggestions. I have seen the Wild Bunch but wasn't fond of it.
The craziest western I have seen so far is A Thunder of Drums where a skinny George "Love At First Bite" Hamilton beats up Charles Bronson. Pure fantasy. However the dramatic storyline was treated seriously.
 
Old 04-25-2013, 02:56 AM   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kelgy
... I notice they also went into producing...



Most writers lean this way if they can. It gives you more control over the product, and the chance at a bigger piece of the production pie + potential revenues.

It's also a negotiating tactic on the part of the studios...
"Mr. Writer, I want to pay you less"
"Okay, Mr. Studio, make me a producer and I'll take a cut on my writing fees."
Mr. Studio thinks - he's gonna have to hire a producer anyway.
"Sure, you can be the producer."

The studio is off the hook for any potential revenue payment if the project doesn't make money, so it's no risk. If the project does make money, the producer fees are going to be spent anyway... it might as well be to the people who truly understand the story.

In the case of Orci and Kurtzman, they've got a ton of TV production behind them, so doing it for film was a natural progression.
 
Old 04-25-2013, 04:44 AM   #79
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Trevanian's story about what went on with STAR TREK: TNG was definitely the same vibe I got observing the development process on TRANSFORMERS.

Everybody had a "No.. that wouldn't happen" kinda comment.

The perspective usually is that "you don't need meddling"... But I think the STRONGEST process (one that gets to the end) is the one that already "incorporates meddling" for all the motivations of everybody.

I'm not saying that Orci and Kurtzman always do stellar work.. But I saw how they did backflips with the writing to really hedge everything in.... It was admirable in the sense that you saw that it wasn't some tack-on careless job. It does look that way sometimes on the screen (and I do get the personal impression complacency set in after the first film was a hit but that's a different story)....But there was method to madness.

My personal rule (here we go again!) is "We can change EVERYTHING in the story beyond this Inner Core. The inner core... that's what it's about.. everything else I don't really cry about."

There are other "rules" I use... but I found that one and the Spielberg rule to be particularly helpful which is: "The story has to say something you believe to be true or to ask a question you genuinely want answers for."

On the subject of Westerns, I watched quite a few and my stand-out all-time favorite Western is "3:10 to Yuma".
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 04-25-2013 at 04:57 AM.
 
Old 04-25-2013, 06:21 AM   #80
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I dont see any questions or answers in Transformers except maybe "Should I buy GM trucks?--yes it may be a giant robot friend in disguise" or "What should I do with myself? Join the army and you might fight a robot." The inner core in Transformers would be robots coming to earth disguised as vehicles and fighting, and there is an element of that (I didnt care for how it was presented due to Bay's constant camera movements), but the rest of it is pretty banal. The device that creates robot life was neat but just a dead end prop that had little meaning in the story. The worst story issue was probably the lack of a real threat posed by the Decepticons. They werent shown as really dangerous and were easily destroyed.
Then the numerous human characters.

In Small Soldiers there's the kid who is some kind of prankster and has a troubled reputation and has a strained relationship with his parents (trivial but at least its something). Unlike Transformers, the girl has some personality. The teen romance is tacked on and Phil Hartman is sadly wasted, but there's a coherence to the film that Transformers lacks.
I base this on watching the film, not on whatever transpires behind the scenes or in interviews. Its the final product that counts.

By contrast I would have assumed the Mask of Zorro had the smoothest path to screen possible, and only after watching it again did I learn what a troubled mess of a production it was. Kind of like Superman the movie, if one thing had been different it could have greatly altered the film.


I found there was some minor improvement in how the robots were portrayed in the Transformers sequel, and the visuals in Egypt had merit (Optimus Prime standing by the Sphinx) but the human story was the same kind of antics and dead ends. I havent dared to experience Transformers 3 yet.
Perhaps it could be re-edited in a way to remove the parents and make it more palatable.


I dont have a favorite western.
Once Upon A Time in the West was the best cinematic experience I have had in ages but there are well regarded ones I have yet to see like Django and The Great Silence.
Against majority opinion, I like For a Few Dollars More better than the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly but I havent seen the shorter version of the latter.

Last edited by kelgy : 04-25-2013 at 06:26 AM.
 
Old 04-25-2013, 07:18 AM   #81
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The public has gotten used to massive scenes and all kinds of special effects. Every film tries to top the last one in size of CGI spectacle in an ever increasing arms race to the eventual downfall (whether good or bad).

CGI has moved from "enhancing existing elements" to the main feature of a film in most cases, and I don't know if this is a good development. Especially for films that want to have spectacle but don't really have the money to back it up.

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Old 04-25-2013, 05:53 PM   #82
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I would say depending more on VFX and less on story shortens the shelf-life of any film.
I will still buy a great film from twenty+ years ago that had an 'awesome amount of both'.

Its funny the discussion here about the story writing of the Transformers.
Thats a film I saw once and don't remember the story 'details' and therefore
the VFX at all. And i can't be bothered with the other two.
But very little at stake for me anyway-its just a 'toy's film' after all...
 
Old 04-25-2013, 08:16 PM   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by circusboy
...its just a 'toy's film' after all...



Transformers is a fantastic 2-hour toy commercial marred by Shia LeBeouf.
 
Old 04-25-2013, 11:43 PM   #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan
Trevanian's story about what went on with STAR TREK: TNG was definitely the same vibe I got observing the development process on TRANSFORMERS.

Everybody had a "No.. that wouldn't happen" kinda comment.
[snip]
On the subject of Westerns, I watched quite a few and my stand-out all-time favorite Western is "3:10 to Yuma".


Original or remake? (I like both of them a whole lot more than I expected, just idle curiosity.)

Adjunct to the TNG pitch thing is that one of my pitches was had two versions, but both were essentially variations on HENRY IV pt 2 (Falstaff is my fave character by far) and I've always thought Stewart would be a great Henry IV in the Gielgud vein, playing opposite Brian Blessed as a Falstaff type (my two versions had either Wesley or Dr Crusher caught between these two different types.)

I went to a convention about six weeks after the pitch session ... Stewart was in attendance ... turns out HENRY IV pt2 is Patrick Stewart's favorite play! Man, I really wish I'd pitched to somebody else that day.!)
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Old 04-26-2013, 12:09 AM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kelgy
I dont see any questions or answers in Transformers except maybe "Should I buy GM trucks?--yes it may be a giant robot friend in disguise" or "What should I do with myself? Join the army and you might fight a robot." The inner core in Transformers would be robots coming to earth disguised as vehicles and fighting, and there is an element of that (I didnt care for how it was presented due to Bay's constant camera movements), but the rest of it is pretty banal. The device that creates robot life was neat but just a dead end prop that had little meaning in the story. The worst story issue was probably the lack of a real threat posed by the Decepticons. They werent shown as really dangerous and were easily destroyed.


Like I said... when you see the result onscreen you do get a sense that "Well some guys really got careless here." One of the things I can do is to walk into a movie (even one I made) and just FORGET everything I knew walking in. And if you do that with Transformers, it just feels "OK" and there's this minor thing about "No Sacrifice, No Victory" but it's all kinda sidetracked by this and that - it's not very tight... Mikaela never seemed attracted to Sam at all.

"No Sacrifice, No Victory" was supposed to be the motto of everybody on the film: Prime, Megatron, the Marines, Sam Witwicky.... but it felt like "Yeah, I get it now... LOOK! TRUCK TURNING INTO ROBOT!"

On the inside line, you just weren't there when the idea was for the robots to all talk in alien languages or not speak at all..... I also had a chuckle watching the cube "fold into itself" to become smaller. That was how they thought Soundwave was going to go from 40 feet tall to the size of a little musical device.

They told us the effect looked ridiculous.. well it's up there shrinking the most important thing in the movie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by trevanian
Original or remake? (I like both of them a whole lot more than I expected, just idle curiosity.)

Adjunct to the TNG pitch thing is that one of my pitches was had two versions, but both were essentially variations on HENRY IV pt 2 (Falstaff is my fave character by far) and I've always thought Stewart would be a great Henry IV in the Gielgud vein, playing opposite Brian Blessed as a Falstaff type (my two versions had either Wesley or Dr Crusher caught between these two different types.)

I went to a convention about six weeks after the pitch session ... Stewart was in attendance ... turns out HENRY IV pt2 is Patrick Stewart's favorite play! Man, I really wish I'd pitched to somebody else that day.!)


I only saw the Christian Bale, Russell Crowe version. I never realized it was a remake. I was harping to everyone about how fantastic and ORIGINAL "3:10 to Yuma" was! Hahaha.

On pitches.. yes.. the SUBJECTIVE taste of the person you're talking do does seem to make a LOT of difference. Once "one person on the inside" is on your side? You take that person to the After-Pitch and it always goes easier because one of them has bought into the concept.
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Old 04-26-2013, 12:23 AM   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trevanian
Brian Blessed


He made a very memorable Prince Vultan!

...Come to think of it, I did watch a fair bit of American tv westerns.
The Rifleman, Have Gun, Will Travel, Maverick, Alias Smith and Jones, Kung Fu...but I never got into the movies except the Valley of Gwangi and maybe Billy the Kid meets Dracula (though I havent seen it in decades and probably wouldnt like it now).

Last edited by kelgy : 04-26-2013 at 02:35 AM.
 
Old 04-26-2013, 11:35 PM   #87
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I just look forward to the day when studios finally stop using live action scenes in CG animated films to cut costs. There is always a jarring disconnect between highly kinetic CG scenes with unrestricted camera movement and the less interesting scenes impractically filmed with physical cameras. Who wouldn't have liked Michael Bay's Transformers movies better if the pace of those films didn't constantly sputter to a stop to accommodate the flesh-and-blood cast? Just when the movies would begin to seem credible the focus has to shift from the more interesting robots to the completely unbelievable human actors.

But nothing will change as long as the studios insist on shoehorning a well known celebrity or fresh young face into every production whether it needs it or not.
 
Old 04-29-2013, 03:57 PM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moogaloonie
I just look forward to the day when studios finally stop using live action scenes in CG animated films to cut costs.

Quite a funny joke or the comment makes no sense.
I can't see casting multi-million dollar a-list movie stars into films to 'save' money on production.
 
Old 04-29-2013, 07:05 PM   #89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by circusboy
Quite a funny joke or the comment makes no sense.
I can't see casting multi-million dollar a-list movie stars into films to 'save' money on production.


Probably true, but then it also seems like any movie can get made if it has the right star attached.
 
Old 04-29-2013, 07:05 PM   #90
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