Monday, September 29, 2008

Ok, Guys: What movie made you cry?

If you're a manly man, and I mean a real MANLY man like yours truly, then you don't cry at the movies. Oh, it's okay for a manly man to cry in some situations, such as when your favorite football team is the St. Louis Rams or when your arm is broken but you're too proud to tag out of the wrestling match. Or if you're eating a really, really hot chicken wing (I know those aren't real tears). I'd also accept a tear or two when you run our of beer during a Dirty Harry marathon. But crying during sad movies? Your beard was not invented to collect tears, son.

There is one exception to this rule. Manly Men are allowed one flier - each Man has one movie that hits them in their weak spot. (Not THAT weak spot.) Once in a lifetime there'll be a movie that just strikes a certain chord with a man. When it does, he'll be blubbering like a baby. Because these movies are usually Braveheart or one of the Godfather films, you can cry during them without losing any of your Man Cred.

This all stems from Film School Rejects' Mr. Hand posting a list of movies that made him cry. I'm not one to cast judgment, but, dude: Titanic? Moulin Rouge? You don't just admit that stuff.

So what movie makes your humble blogger, the manly (strong, handsome, not-afraid-to-die, etc) Zombie cry?

Let's get a big-ol' John Bonham drum roll, please.

Zombie's tearjerker movie is:

Transformers: The Movie (1986)

If you've seen it, you know the scene I'm talking about. The whole movie has a body count roughly equal to your average John Woo/Chow Yun Fat flick, but the one death that's the granddaddy of them all: the death of brave, badass Autobot leader, Optimus Prime. The Optimus Prime of the 1980s wasn't the watered-down version we got in the (pretty good) 2007 movie - the cartoon Prime was all kick-ass all the time.

I'm including a clip, in case you're uninitiated or just need a refresher course in awesome. I'm going to set it up, like they do on Late Night. In the movie, Autobot City is just getting their shit ruined in a surprise attack by the Decepticons. Optimus Prime arrives on the scene and just kills the hell out of about fifty of the bad guys without breaking a robo-sweat. Then he goes to stomp out Megatron (the Transformer equivalent of Shooter McGavin) and right before he's about to strike the killing blow, rookie dumbass Hot Rod gets in the way and Megatron gets in a nasty, unfair hit our hero just can't recover from.

What you're about to see here, folks, is the saddest, most gripping death scene ever filmed. Just watch and understand:

What the hell, really?? How is it okay for a kid to see that? A kid that probably went to the movie wearing an Optimus Prime t-shirt and holding his action figure? And when his lights go out and he turns all gray at the end?? What the hell?

I remember spending lots of afternoons crumpled into a fetal position on the couch, a crushed child mourning the loss of his robot hero. Some children first learned about death and mourning from Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street; I learned it from Optimus, Ironhide, Wheeljack and crew. That last shot of Daniel Witwicky crying before it fades to black? I was Daniel Witwicky. We all were Daniel Witwicky.

So now I'm throwing this all out to you on the World Wide Web: what movies made you tear up? Is it A Better Tomorrow? Maybe Rocky IV? Or possibly Terminator 2? This question goes out to all of the Manly Men and the lovely ladies in our audience.

On collaborating with other writers

Over at his blog, prolific novelist Dean Wesley Smith tackles a subject that I'm sure every writer (prose, screen, whatever) has pondered to some degree: collaborating with another writer on a project.

In addition to noting that collaboration can take many forms (on most assignments, Smith doesn't even interact directly with his co-writer), Smith also offers up some words of warning and advice:

Now some words of warning about collaborations Unless you can find a writer at your same level, who complements you perfectly in style and likes and dislikes, there is no logical reason on the planet to collaborate. None. Write the book yourself. It is easier.

And if I can’t stop you, then for heaven’s sake, have a contract between the two of you before either of you write word one. A very good contract that states who is responsible for final drafts, who gets do the work of marketing, who gets to do the work of proofs and copy edits if the book sells, and things like that. And how to split the money exactly. You will thank me later.

Now, how do I keep others out of my work when collaborating? Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes collaborations such as the book with David that I mentioned are original novels. With Jonathan Frakes, all I had was a cover and wrote a book around the cover. Other times, it’s not possible to keep the other writer out completely, such as the book I am working on now where the other author wrote the entire first half and then had an issue so I stepped in. The key is realizing how much exactly the other author will be involved when you go into a project. And know what you are capable of doing and not capable of doing in writing situations.

Check out the full post, which is fairly lengthy to read about Smith's other writing experiences, including co-writing a number of books with his wife. Pretty interesting stuff.

But, this post begs the question: Have you collaborated with another writer? How did that experience turn out? What ground rules would you suggest?

The Writing Week part 39 - Eat, Sleep, Breathe It

I’ve experienced a dramatic shift in my approach to screenwriting. I can’t quite explain why or what happened. Yet in the past two weeks, and very dramatically this past week, screenwriting has been, by far, the number one thing on my mind. I climb in bed and remain awake for hours thinking about a script I’m working on. I wake up on weekends and spend a solid few hours in my room rewriting my spec and researching industry happenings before I even make breakfast. After breakfast, I hit the computer for another couple of hours. And Zombie, who is unfortunate enough to live with me, can guarantee that he’ll have to listen to at least an hour and a half of screenwriting talk each day.

As I said, I don’t really know what brought about the change. Perhaps it’s the fact that I think my rewrites are going well. There are some changes that the League was hinting at (and outright telling me to do), which I finally saw in the golden light of necessity. It could be that all my recent research into management companies and script sales has lit a fire under me. Maybe I have this newfound (and much appreciated) drive because of the numerous talks we’ve all been having about this blog and our writing projects. Whatever the case may be, I actually stressed so much about a scene the other night that not only did I keep myself awake, I started to feel physically sick. (And you know what, I was happy when I woke up and that scene was the first thing on my mind again.)

Ok, that probably sounds a bit masochistic. The point is, though, that I think the desire to write and to make it as a screenwriter comes not only from writing. (The following is one of those really obvious facts that everyone tells you but you have to experience for yourself to really learn.) In order to really make it and break into the industry, you have to want it so badly that you’ll work 24/7 at it. I told Zombie that I’ve been spending much more time concentrating on screenwriting than work or anything else lately. In fact, I probably put in close to 10 hours a day – especially this weekend –writing, reading material, following sales and box office info, writing, researching, posting here, and writing.

I only wish the days were longer.