film, tech, photo, games, design...

Posts Tagged ‘Read’

May 5, 2011

After McKee’s Story Seminar – 15 To See/Read

I had the great pleasure of attending Robert McKee’s Story Seminar this past weekend – four super intensive days of lecture by story master Robert McKee. No joke, this man is a pro (you may remember him from as the role Brian Cox portrayed in Adaptation. The seminar wasn’t about how to sell your script in Hollywood or how to put this event on that page – it was about the fundamentals of story and why the audience feels emotions when certain events take place. I highly recommend anyone interested in screenwriting or any narrative art at the very least read his book and seriously consider taking his seminar if you get a chance.

Now, for the sake of my memory (and entertainment), here is my list of 15 movies to see or books to read coming out of the seminar:

1. Ju Dou – Gong Li stars in this 1990 film by Zhang Yimou that (for me) somehow slipped through the cracks. IMDB | Amazon

2. Week End – This hard to find 1967 offering by Godard is used by McKee to exemplify some odd characteristics of anti-plot. IMDB | Amazon

3. The Fisher King – I’m embarrassed to have never seen this 1991 Terry Gilliam classic that stars Jeff Bridges. IMDB | Amazon

4. The Big Chill – After landing his first job rewriting The Empire Strikes Back, Larry Kasdan went on to write Raiders of the Lost Ark, Body Heat and Return of the Jedi before penning this film widely considered his finest work. IMDB | Amazon

5. The Verdict – Paul Newman stars in this 1982 courtroom drama directed by Lumet and penned by Mamet. IMDB | Amazon

6. Tender Mercies – Horton Foote’s screenplay for this 1983 Robert Duvall starrer wins the award for most discussed script by McKee (after Casablanca). IMDB | Amazon

7. Carnal Knowledge – I had sadly never even heard of this 1971 Mike Nichols film starring Nick Nicholson that earned Ann-Margret a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nom. IMDB | Amazon

8. The Ragman’s Son – After penning this highly respected autobiography, Kirk Douglas turned to Robert McKee to give him the knowledge of story needed to continue his new career as a novelist… at age 73! Amazon

9. Leaving Las Vegas – The only film on the list I have previously seen, Mike Figgis’s 1995 masterpiece deserves a rewatch for the ways it uses characters around the protagonist to drive the story forward even though Cage’s character’s desires never change. IMDB | Amazon

10. Kramer vs. Kramer – Robert Benton’s 1979 Best Picture winner is used over and over by McKee to exemplify character motivation and story structure. IMDB | Amazon

11. Ordinary People – Robert Redford’s directorial debut was this 1980 film which McKee examines in great detail for its use of overlapping plots. IMDB | Amazon

12. The Art of Fiction – Henry James’s collected thoughts on writing. Amazon

13. The In-Laws – Peter Falk and Alan Arkin star in this 1979 action-comedy about two soon to be in-laws rushing off to Central America to save the International Financial System. IMDB | Amazon

14. Alice – This 2005 Portuguese film by Marco Martins comes highly recommended by McKee. IMDB | Amazon

15. Beat the Devil – John Huston’s 1953 film based on Truman Capote’s script stars Bogart in yet another towering performance. IMDB | Amazon

One final quick shout out for a book that has influenced me greatly (as many of you know). I’ll continue to read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art all through my life. McKee actually wrote the book’s forward and recommends it just as whole heartedly as I do. If you are looking for inspiration to put behind you all life’s distractions and focus on what you really want to do, read this book! Amazon

Posted by enderzero at 11:40am on May. 5, 2011    
Jun 4, 2009

Henry Jenkins and the Transmedia Project

Feed yer brain. Henry Jenkins is the co-dir of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program and leader in field of Transmedia Stroytelling. There is some overlap here with some of the subjects touched on by Clay Shirky in his book Here Comes Everybody. I find myself fascinated by books and media that explore this forefront of the changing media and information landscape. Let me know if you have read/seen/x-casted anything lately that addresses this sort of thing.

Good find Seth.

Posted by enderzero at 3:14pm on Jun. 4, 2009    
Mar 17, 2009

Explaining the Credit Crisis

There has been a slew of media recently explaining the current credit crisis in layman’s terms (if a bit late guys). A few highlights are the This American Life/NPR News episode from a few weeks ago (a follow up to their great Giant Pool of Money show that aired last year – not as late I suppose) and a couple of articles from this month’s Wired.

The video above is a pretty neato visualized explanation from LA designer Jonathan Jarvis that does a nice job of explaining things pretty quickly.

Posted by enderzero at 10:11am on Mar. 17, 2009    
Jul 18, 2008

Peanuts by Bukowski

Just happens I’ve been reading a bit of Bukowski lately. This made me chuckle.

When I was about halfway through the bottle, Schroeder came by and leaned with me. We sat there for a few minutes, not talking. I gave him a pull from the bottle. We passed it back and forth and watched the morning together.
“You’re a piece of work, Charlie Branaski,” Schroeder said.
“How do you mean?”
“Well, it’s always the same with you. You try to fly your kite, you play baseball, you drink all night and you’re lousy at all of it.”
I thought about it and took another swallow. “I guess someone needs to be lousy at everything. Otherwise you’d get no perspective.”
Schroeder laughed and sucked at the bottle. “I guess you’re right. I guess we need you after all.”
“We won’t be eight years old forever, you know. Good grief, these are the best years we’ve got.”
We went on drinking, celebrating the day. In a little while I’d go out again, try to fly that kite. Try to strike out the other team. Just keep trying, that’s all I can do.


Patty barged her way into the apartment. Charlie shut the door behind her and they sat down on a couple of chairs in the living room.
“Got anything to drink? I’m dying of thirst here, Chuck.”
“I’ve got whiskey.”
“Sure, Chuck. Whatever you’re drinking.”
Charlie poured a couple of tall drinks of whiskey. Patty knocked hers back in a single, prolonged swallow. “Jesus, but that hits the spot! You got any beer, Chuck? Nothing like a good cold beer. God o mighty, I’m thirsty!”
Charlie had some beer in the icebox. Patty pulled one out and started sucking at it. They went ahead and drank, it was as good a night as any. She was a real piece of work, all right. Everyone said she made it with the ladies, but Charlie didn’t care. She had this one dyke piece down at the factory named Marcie. Marcie and Charlie didn’t get along okay because Patty was sweet on Charlie as well.
Pretty soon Patty was drunk, and she was letting Charlie know she wanted it. “Look here, Chuck, I know you want to give me that thing.”
“Listen, Patty. It’s getting pretty late. I’ve got too much work to do.”
“Work! Work! You’re real dull, Chuck! Let’s screw!”
“Sorry, babe, but tonight’s not the best. Listen, I’m sick. I think you’d better go.”
Charlie stood up and went to the door and opened it.
“You’re an asshole, Chuck,” she said.

That’s about the best of it – but hey, here’s the rest.

Posted by enderzero at 11:15pm on Jul. 18, 2008