Contact: russell310@mac.com Call Peter: 310 774 1276

Peter Russell Script Doctor

24

Mar'14

The Essential Beats of Story

Learning the beats of a movie are like learning the steps to a dance.  Once you know the steps, the beat and the turns, you don’t have to think about it. You can embellish and make the dance original and completely yours. There’s a rhythm to the way a movie works.  Before you get into the creation of your own screenplay, step back and watch the moments of a movie. To illustrate the Beats of Story we are using Jason Reitman’s movie, “Up in the Air.”  It’s a drama with comedic elements with an Academy Award winning screenplay.  To get the most out of the lecture it’s best to see the movie ahead of time. ** A note about the strange editing:  The movies are is divided up this way because we had a lot of problems with the synching of the clips.  We had to record the clips separately from the keynote presentations otherwise we had a unintelligible mess.  Hence some extra clicking on your part.   Act One 1.  The Big Open. (Pages 1-3) 2. Welcome to the World! You’ve Got Problems.  (Pages 1 − 18) 3. Other People Have Problems too! (1-18)  

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21

Mar'14

How to Write an Action Movie

This Sunday, March 23, 10 AM – 1 PM,  you can learn everything you need to know to write a thrilling action flick. Come to:  Neon Venus,  7023 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038   Online event registration for How to Write an Action Movie powered by Eventbrite   Are you ready to make a big impact on the big screen?  Or do you want to create thrills in your webisode? In this three hour seminar, you’ll get everything you need to write the next high adrenaline movie. Here’s what you’ll learn: •  The difference between super heroes, transformation heroes and anti-heroes • Five other character types that make it easy to write your action movie • See the TWO things that every action movie MUST have • Tools and tricks for creating suspense any time in your movie – no matter what’s happening • The classic action plot devices • How to create a villain people love to hate • How to create and/or sharpen your premise line to make the most of your premise • How these movies grab and audience and keep them at the edge of their seat. • How use the tricks of the trade to make each scene deliver • How masters of action: James Cameron, J.J. Abrams and others make simple scenes exciting • How to create characters that deliver emotion the audience craves • To the the most out of this lecture, see the following movies:  300, Dark Knight, Fast and Furious, and Iron Man. You’ll leave feeling inspired and ready to write! Class is $5 for the first hour or $25 for 3 hours and access to the video of the class for 1 month.

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28

Oct'13

TV Pilot Scripts You MUST Read: Homeland, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey & Good Wife

If you want to write, you have to READ! Reading scripts is so important to understanding how a story is told on the page. Read the these pilots and you’ll see the big story questions, the character arcs, and the themes that will resonate for years within the first ten pages of the script. That’s great writing.  We’ll show you how to do exactly that. We breakdown these TV shows as well as several comedy shows like Modern Family others. Come to our Secrets of TV Class and learn how to write like these masterful writers. For more info, click here. In the meantime, read these: 1. Homeland * 2. Breaking Bad * 3. Downton Abbey * 4. The Good Wife * *  Sorry!  These are no longer available.  But you will get the scripts if you take the class.

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20

Oct'13

6 Things to Know If You Want to Write the Next Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls or Entourage

1. Even though it seems like the show is about “nothing” it’s about relationships. I know you have annoying friends. I’ll bet you have an eccentric sibling or spouse. Conflict between annoying and eccentric people whom we also love, creates great television. Small incidents become big deals. Gossip leads to incident. Burgeoning phobias can make for high stakes interactions. A trip to the dry cleaners can be fraught with enough drama that four friends can explore their phobias, quirks, and emotions that we’ll tune in every week. 2. There are always a conflict that has consequences. There are always story drivers no matter how small the world. Will the relationship last? Will the big job come through? Will they keep the apartment, the dog, the car, the friend, the lover, the lucky key chain? Can she get out of an obligation? Can he stop looking at her hair? No matter how ridiculous the stakes or the question at hand, the problem has consequences.  Those consequences create the drama of the show. 3. The world of the show resonates in a way that’s bigger than the show. There are discrete worlds all around us. The world of preschool moms. The world of furniture salesmen. The world of late night hotel employees. The challenge is to find a way to reveal that world so the rest of us see a big truth about life. All in the Family gave us a world that showed us our bigotry and small mindedness.  Sex in the City opened the door for us to see single women looking for love and sex but not at the same time, which both emulated life but gave permission for women to find their inner Samantha without judgement.  Entourage pulled back the curtain on Hollywood insiders’ lives so we lived the pages of the tabloids and suddenly understood the stakes.  Even Seinfeld made us focus on the little absurdities of life, the neighborhood wacko, the boss with the annoying habit, the girl with the funny teeth, or the soup Nazi. When the world you create reveals a truth about life that we’ve never seen before, you know you’ve got a winner. 4. Love always matters. Love between partners, friends and lovers is always at risk and at play.  Without love, you’ve got no show. 5. Work only works if its entertaining. In our real lives, work matters a lot. If you make …

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14

Oct'13

5 Lessons About Story From the Movie Gravity

1.   Create an experience. Storytelling isn’t about telling a plot.  It’s about giving an audience an experience.  The best filmmakers deliver us into emotional, visual, and interpersonal worlds we have never had access to.  We get to imagine ourselves in the dizzying, disorienting weightlessness of space (especially in 3-D) with enormous detail.  Dr. Ryan Stone’s isolation and panic in space sparks our imaginations as we think about facing the same questions she faces.   When an audience starts asking themselves, “Would I be like that?” and “I wonder if that’s what it’s really like?” the experience is immersive.  We’re hooked. 2. Deliver on the promise of the premise. Lots of movies spend time getting ready to get to the ending.  Not Gravity.  From the first frame until the last, the delight of space, the beauty of space travel, the issue of weightlessness, the problems and challenges of isolation in a weightless, airless environment are explored.  From beginning to end, we’re dazzled. 3.  Give us a theme. Theme is like the vitamins in chocolate milk.  We like to have fun while downing something good for us.  Gravity delivers a simple, clear an powerful theme about the power of letting go and embracing new possibilities in life while alternating between awestruck moments and scaring the shit out of you. 4.  Don’t let us figure it out before she does. There’s nothing worse than a movie with a lousy villain. If an audience can figure out the movie before the hero does, we’re annoyed.  In Gravity, the villain is regular onslaught of satellite debris, added to the already antagonistic space environment.  Add them up and Gravity gives Dr. Stone a satisfying badass fight for survival.  Personally, I always love inanimate villains since they are so emotionless and relentless.  There’s no reasoning with a piece of debris coming at you at 20,000 miles an hour.  5.  Keep it simple. We go to the movies to sit in a dark room and be soaked in a emotionally charged mind-body-spirt bath designed to make us forget the world outside the flickering lights on the screen.  One simple strong problem set in a beautiful world where the details of a life and death struggle unfold in surprising ways is enough to propel us away from our ordinary lives into the glorious impossible.  And that’s entertainment. Our StoryMaker 101: Master 9 Genres + Write Your Outline Class …

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09

Oct'13

The Logline Trick

Here’s how to use a loglne to write your story. Now, a logline in this context is not a pitch. You won’t be using this logline to corner a producer in an elevator. This is different. This is meant to help you write your story, especially when all you have is some thin shreds of ideas. Our definition: Loglines tell the whole story from the point of view of the hero using the construction, “When….then…” The beauty of this kind of logline is its power in helping you figure out where to point your creative brain. It’s like turning on the secret X-ray detector to be able to see what needs to be fixed or added. Putting your logline into a “When…then” construction does one big thing: it forces you to look at the events as a consequence of each other, and it begs you to wonder about a resolution to the consequence. Look at these examples: “When a poor kid finds a lucky penny, he’s discovers a magical world of banks, money and gold.” What happens to the kid? Does he turn greedy? Does his save his poor family? “When a heartbroken woman divorces her cheating husband, she starts a dancing school for women who have been cheated on.” What happens to the woman? Does she find love? Or does dancing heal her heart? Now, here’s the fun realization: First act: When Second act: Then Third act: The result: What happens after the “then.” Do you see that? The “When” of the logline is your first act of your screenplay. The “Then” part is the second act. The “What happens” part is the third act. Your whole story gets told in a sentence. Let’s try another one. First Act “When an asteroid nearly hits the earth, a disabled but brilliant scientist tries to stop the imminent disaster.” What’s the problem with this logline? A few things. In our little formula, the hero’s point of view is missing. The logline has to be told from the perspective of the hero. Notice in the first two examples, the hero is ACTIVE. The hero does something that leads us into the new world. The kid FINDS. The woman DIVORCES and STARTS. Both heroes are doing something. In order to get this logline to work, we need to have the hero do something. “When a disabled by brilliant scientist discovers an asteroid is …

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About Peter Russell Movie&TV Script Doctor

Think of me as a writer, teacher and story consultant with over 15 years experience working with studios. From this experience, I have developed a great class list that focuses on many areas in the business. Peter Russell Script Doctor offers a large variety of classes, so be sure to check back often to see if there is an offering for you. Find Out More...

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