Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Reader

In a used-books store, I recently found Reading for a Living: How to be a Professional Story Analyst for Film & Television (Pacific Palisades: Blue Arrow Books) for only Php 45.

The author, who identifies himself as T. L. Katahn, begins with his own back story of landing the job of a reader. Then he points to what to look for in a submission, and to how to identify a beginner's script and a professional script.

So why do companies have a reader? Katahn says:

"Since these are the companies that shell out the money to make the films, they tend to be very picky about the ones they choose to produce. You may not always agree with their criteria, but it behooves you to be aware of their preferences."

Katahn demonstrates how to write a synopsis and how to break down a character. He also explains what a log line is, and what a reader should take note of in a plot line: continuity, complications, and the hook. On characters, it's motivation, flaws, and evolution.

After taking up writing the cover sheet, Katahn centers on how to get a job, formulating a job search plan and presenting the possibilities of where reading can lead. For example, he cites the rise of Sherry Lansing from story analyst to president of 20th Century Fox Studios. There is also practical advice on keeping books and producing sample coverages.

Additionally, Katahn throws in some things you might not know, as when you are in a library or an archive:

"You are not allowed to check scripts out or photocopy them, but you may read them and take notes on the premises."

In its appendices, the book offers a glossary, a list of proofreader's marks, sample scripts, and coverage.

Here's Katahn on how much money there is to make:

"You can expect to be paid about fifty to a hundred dollars for book coverages depending on how long or complex the manuscript is."

Because the book was published in 1990, some facts and figures have dated. For instance, this is Katahn on the tools of the trade:

"I'm writing this book on an IBM-compatible Tandy 4000 SX.... I use the FRAMEWORK word processing software by Ashton-Tate....Many writers swear by Microsoft WORD, however." (italics his)

In general, though, the book still captures the essence of a story analyst as it is still practiced today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PEN/ Faulkner Award 2010

Sherman Alexie was awarded the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction Tuesday for "War Dances," a collection of short stories.

The award, started in 1981, comes with a prize of $15,000.

Last year's winner was Joseph O'Neill for "Netherland."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

4th Asian Film Awards

The film Mother from South Korea copped the best picture prize at the fourth Asian Film Awards on Monday. It also grabbed the awards for best screenplay (Bong Joon-ho and Park Eun-kyo) and best actress (Kim Hye-ja).

Lu Chuan was named best director for City of Life and Death, and Wai Ying-hung was chosen best actress as well for At the End of Daybreak. Wang Xueqi clinched the best actor award and Nicholas Tse was honored best supporting actor, both for Bodyguards and Assassins.

The lifetime achievement award was given to 67-year-old Amitabh Bachchan of India, who received a standing ovation. He has made more than 180 movies in his career.

Director Zhang Yimou was cited for "outstanding contribution to Asian cinema," and John Woo was acknowledged as the top-grossing director last year for the second installment of Red Cliff. Its two parts together earned 570 million Chinese yuan ($83 million). Producer Terence Chang accepted the award for Woo.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Little Hurt

Here are the winners at the 82nd annual Academy Awards today:

best picture- The Hurt Locker

best director- Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker

best original screenplay: Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker

best adapted screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

best actor- Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart

best actress- Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side

best supporting actor- Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

best supporting actress: Mo'Nique in Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

best foreign language film- El Secreto de Sus Ojos from Argentina

best animated feature- Up

best cinematography- Avatar

best editing- The Hurt Locker

best art direction- Avatar

best costume- The Young Victoria

best makeup- Star Trek

best visual effects- Avatar

best sound mixing- The Hurt Locker

best sound editing- The Hurt Locker

best original score- Up (Michael Giacchino)

best original song- The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart) from Crazy Heart (Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett)

best documentary feature- The Cove

best documentary short- Music by Prudence

best live action short- The New Tenants

best animated short- Logorama

It's Sandra Bullock's to Lose

Here are the nominees for today's Oscars, starting from the ones I predict most likely to win:

best picture: The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, Up in the Air, District 9, The Blind Side, A Serious Man, An Education, Up

best director:

Kathryn Bigelow for
The Hurt Locker
James Cameron for
Lee Daniels for
Quentin Tarantino for
Inglourious Basterds
Jason Reitman for
Up in the Air

best original screenplay:

Inglourious Basterds
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
The Messenger

best adapted screenplay:

Up in the Air
An Education
In the Loop
District 9

best actor:

Jeff Bridges in
Crazy Heart
George Clooney in
Up in the Air
Jeremy Renner in
The Hurt Locker
Colin Firth in
A Single Man
Morgan Freeman in

best actress:

Sandra Bullock in
The Blind Side
Meryl Streep in
Julie & Julia
Gabourey Sidibe in
Carey Mulligan in
An Education
Helen Mirren in
The Last Station

best supporting actor:

Christoph Waltz in
Inglourious Basterds
Christopher Plummer in
The Last Station
Stanley Tucci in
The Lovely Bones
Woody Harrelson in
The Messenger
Matt Damon in

best supporting actress:

Mo'Nique in
Vera Farmiga in
Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick in
Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal in
Crazy Heart
Penelope Cruz in

best foreign language film:

The White Ribbon

best animated feature:


best cinematography:

The Hurt Locker

best editing:

The Hurt Locker

best art direction:


best costume design:


best makeup:

Star Trek

best visual effects:


best sound mixing:


best sound editing:

The Hurt Locker

best original score:


best original song:

The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart

best documentary feature:

Food, Inc.

best documentary short:

The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

best live action short:

The Door

best animated short:

A Matter of Loaf and Death

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Land of the Losers

The 30th Golden Raspberry Awards were presented earlier today.

worst picture: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
worst director: Michael Bay for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
worst screenplay: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

worst actor: the Jonas brothers (Kevin, Joe and Nick) in Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
worst actress: Sandra Bullock in All About Steve

worst supporting actor: Billy Ray Cyrus in Hannah Montana: The Movie
worst supporting actress: Sienna Miller in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

worst remake, rip-off or sequel: Land of the Lost

worst picture of the decade: Battlefield Earth
worst actor of the decade: Eddie Murphy
worst actress of the decade: Paris Hilton