Tuesday, May 1

Hamlet with Lions, or How to Write a Screenplay

Victor Pineiro has not written an Oscar-winning screenplay, a summer blockbuster or the Great American Novel, but he does have a few things to say on "How to Write a Screenplay." Most of it is distilled knowledge from several sources (screenwriting books from Robert McKee and Syd Field, Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces), but he does supplement it with the experience of having written and produced the documentary Second Skin, which showed at SXSW, and was also a finalist at the Sundance Film Lab.

Pineiro understands the importance of having an idea--that it should be awesome and high concept--but that that idea must be supported by a solid story and plot. You know your idea is solid when you can boil it down to a single sentence, the log line: "A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again." (He doesn't include the "why", i.e. "until he realizes his need for true love." Or whatever Groundhog Day was about. More on that later.)

Pineiro also finds the "X meets Y" one sentence description useful. I liked "Pocahontas in Space" and "Hamlet with Lions." It also helps that there is a hero going after his needs and wants. Using Groundhog Day, Bill Murray's weatherman wants a future (tomorrow) but needs to appreciate the present (today).

 But most of all, I love that his last slide is this:

Which is one of my most favorite movies as a kid.

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