March is Women’s History Month and since it is just about over, I would like to take a look one last look at the presence of women (or lack thereof) in the film industry. Inspired by an article and list of 250 feminist films over at Blacklist.com, I thought that this might be a good time to look at how women fare in this huge business. Since the original release of the list of feminist films, the good folks at Blacklist have reconsidered their original compilation and now added another 150 films to the 250 bringing the grand total to 410. This was done largely in response to the large number of blog followers, who complained about certain films being left off the list. And then a second revision was done to bring the grand total to 500.
When I first viewed the first 250, I noticed a few glaring omissions. Most of these were added in either the 2nd or 3rd round, but I still could not find one of my favorite films, The Swimming Pool, on the list does anybody agree with that?
Does Anybody Remember Lina Wertmuller?
Lina Wertmuller is an Italian director and filmmaker, who gained a lot of popularity with moviegoers in the 70s and 80s with such efforts as Swept Away and Seven Beauties. Her filmsusually included strong female leads, but she was often accused of always portrayed her characters, as a comical men-as-dogs/women-as-whores perspective. With this in mind it is no great surprise that none of her major films made the original list at Blacklist. However, at least two of her films, Seven Beauties and Swept Away, were added later, though I still harbor the opinion that they could have been left out.
I woke up this morning and was surprised to learn that last night was Oscar night. I don’t think I missed very much and it came as no surprise that this years awards had the least number viewers in six years. The 2015 awards have also been criticized as the “whitest” group of nominees since 1998. Also by the looks of things, the array of colorful gowns were probably the most conservative in quite a while. A sign of the changing times……..or perhaps just coincidence. My thoughts are that one year does not make a trend. Over the past decade black actors and actresses have been fairly well represented at the podium, while their Hispanic and Asian counterparts have been much less conspicuous. And Native American participants have been almost non-existent. It’s too soon to tell if this is a trend, but if this continues over the next few years, the people who put on the show may have to do some re-thinking.
Just from looking around the web on the morning after, the highlights can be described in one short sentence. Birdman won best picture and screenwriter, Graham Moore, gave an impassioned speech about his main subject, Alan Turing and the screenplay he wrote for the Imitation Game. Other than that the Oscars may have been more routine than usual.
Is There More Competition Out There
Naturally, the question arose in my mind about whether the increased presence of Indie films and online venues such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu is taking its toll on our much-cherished national institution. Just from what I’ve seen of Amazon Prime, I would say that there may be something to this argument. Especially, Amazon, which seems to be gearing up in a big way to possibly challenge the dominance of Hollywood……or at the very least providing a viable alternative in the way we are entertained.
Two Questionable Films
Fifty Shades of Grey is tearing up box office sales at the theater almost in the same that the story did, when it was first released in book form. However, at the Oscars, the film was kind of snubbed (though Dakota Johnson did get to present an award). Besides being snubbed the film has been attacked as being misogynistic and misguided. There have even been boycott efforts, but these appear to have little effect, as the film is still the number one grossing film in its second week at the box office. However, 50 Shades did receive support from one star, Julie Andrews, who said she didn’t mind a red room of pain. (really)
And the other source of controversy is the recently released action/thriller called The Kingsman, inwhich there is a scene, where the head of a black president explodes. Critics here point out that the resemblance to our current Commander-in-Chief is way too close even if it is, just a movie.
It seems to be that a close look at these two questionable films may be symptomatic as to why Hollywood may have a problem with the content and overall caliber of its product. Only time will tell.
Screenwriting is a well defined craft. There’s not a whole lot of room for flexibility…..at least not at first glance. In a script for a full length film, the text should come in at just under 120 pages. Font is a mandatory New Courier with even spaces between each letter. Your story is told from start to finish by the use of several basic written components. Most important, is the dialogue, spoken between characters. In between dialogue,there is action and setting, which isaptly noted by small blocks of description.
Then come the Sluglines, which give a quick heading to each scene. Rounding up the screenwriter’s toolbox are various commands directed towards the final composition of the film. These include such well-used prompts as fade in, fade out, superimpose, cut to and montage (of shots), just to name a few. In reality, this limited palette of writing tools just makes the writers job more challenging. Taglines and Loglines actually fall outside of writing the script and are in many ways much like the two mooring lines pictured above, for they anchor the main ship to the commercial doc. However in a screenplay, they do so in different ways.
Loglines identify movies, for each movie has one. By the time the film hits the big screen the logline is passe′, but during the development process, the logline is essential to promoting and eventually selling the script to producers and financial backers. Therefore it is essential that the screenwriter come with a catchy one or two sentence riff that defines the proposed movie in a nutshell.
Loglines of Successful Movies
1. “A man with no name and a man with a mission hunt a Mexican bandit for different reasons.”For a Few Dollars More
2. ” A college graduate, home for the summer, has an affair with the wife of his father’s business partner, then falls in love with her daughter.”The Graduate (Compare this with the tagline, which is much better)
3. “Naïve Joe Buck arrives in New York City to make his fortune as a hustler, but soon strikes up an unlikely friendship with the first scoundrel he falls prey to.” Midnight Cowboy
4. “An Iowa housewife, stuck in her routine, must choose between true romance and the needs of her family.”Bridges of Madison County
5. “Charlie Brown is finally invited to a Halloween party; Snoopy engages the Red Baron in a dogfight; and Linus waits patiently in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin.” It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
6. Only two men can save the world when Aliens attack and attempt to loot and destroy Earth on July 4th.”Independence Day
7. “Upon admittance to a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on an oppressive head nurse, a woman he views more as more dictator than nurse.”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
8. “A 17th century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where the roguish yet charming Jack Sparrow joins forces with the young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England’s daughter and reclaim his ship.” Pirates of the Caribbean
What Is a Tagline?
In short, a Tagline is an abbreviated version of a logline. It is the catchy little slogan that helps sell your movie to the right people and then it may be used a second time to make a favorable impression on the general public.
Great Movies and Their Corresponding Taglines
1. “The longer you wait, the harder it gets.” The Forty-year Old Virgin
2. “The bitch is back.” Alien 3
3. “They had a date with fate in Casablanca.”Casablanca
4. “The nearer they get to their treasure, the farther they get from the law.”The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
5. “The movie too HOT for words!”Some like It Hot
6. “It’s all about women…and their men!”All About Eve
7. “This is Benjamin. He’s a little worried about his future.”The Graduate
8. “Pray for Rosemary’s Baby.”Rosemary’s Baby
9. “On every street in every city, there’s a nobody who dreams of being a somebody.”Taxi Driver
10. “M*A*S*H Gives a D*A*M*N.”M.A.S.H.
11. “How far does a girl have to go to untangle her tingle?”Deep Throat
12. “The snobs against the slobs!”Caddyshack
13. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”The Shining
14. “Can two friends sleep together and still love each other in the morning?”When Harry Met Sally
15. “And you thought Earth girls were easy…”Bad Girls from Mars
16. “What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew was the only someone for you?”Sleepless in Seattle
17. “This Ain’t No Chick Flick!” AND “Escape or Die Frying.”Chicken Run
18. “They have a plan…but not a clue.”O Brother, Where Art Thou?
19. “EARTH – take a good look. Today could be your last.”Independence Day
20. “The Toys are back in town.”Toy Story 2
Get the Picture
There is a distinct difference between a logline and a tagline. While the logline attempts to follow good sentence and grammatical structure, the tagline, more often than not, breaks free from the restraints of good grammar into the realm of slick sloganisms and making the English language do the boogie-woogie. And this my friends is the basic essence of taglines and loglines.
Recently, I have discovered screenwriting blogs and among this grouping, one particular site that I frequently visit is Screenwriting From Iowa. Just recently the site owner Scott W. Smith touched on a very timely subject, the effects of the movies on the American public. This seems to be a very apropos subject, especially considering recent events in Aurora, Colorado, where a mass shooter displayed a strong identity with the Batman character, “The Joker”, right after he unloaded several automatic weapons into a crowded movie theater. Strangely enough, the film was the new version of the Batman series, called The Dark Knight Rises. The article is definitely worth checking out…..maybe the movie is too. I did see The Dark Knight in the theaters and enjoyed the film very much, despite its long length.
Sideways, Red Wine and Wine Sales
“I’m not drinking any f___ing Merlot!” line from Sideways, spoken by Paul Giamatti.
On a more humorous note, Smith touches on the subject of the movie, Sideways, and the sale of red wine. I also saw Sideways, but did not remember the line about Merlot. Nonetheless, I find it fascinating that the resulting drop in Merlot wine sales may be related to those six words. Do movies really exert that much influence over our life? I hope not but the evidence appears to pointing in the opposite way. This article (also referenced in Smith’s post) indicates that wine sales were probably affected by the movie. And if only half of what was said in the InsideNapaValley story is true, then we have a lot to think about.
Are Our Movies Too Real
Maybe what we need is a return to the ethics of the old movies made in the 30s and 40s before war engulfed the whole world. Well, not an actual remake, but maybe a change in direction might be beneficial. I’m not talking so much about how we make the movie or how much sex or violence we portray, but I am suggesting that maybe the way we tell the story makes a difference. In other words, a hard look at the messages from the directors of the black and white era might be beneficial to Hollywood.
The Dark Knight
When I originally saw The Dark Knight, I was very impressed with how the film explored the emotional and psychological complexities of both the antagonist and protagonist. At the time I thought that the story line and dialogue between Batman and the Joker were a positive development in moviemaking. Even in lieu of last week horrific events in California, my thoughts on the movie have not changed. Though I think it may be a while before I view the latest Batman offering.
With growing movie rights and expanding book sales the Millennium trilology, a series of three crime novels written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson is generating a huge world wide interest that has traveled far beyond his native home of Sweden. Now that the new year has arrived, sales from this popular literary series continue to climb, but unfortunately the crime writer, who died of a heart attack six years ago was never able to see the fruits of his workaholic writing habit, which now surpasses 20 million (that’s in pounds). Besides the money there are the numerous awards that have been bestowed upon the popular writer, as well as a host of film and TV versions, including a Hollywood offering, which has yet to select its cast. The Swedish version has already played all across Europe.
However, the story that has been making the rounds lately, and especially since we have entered a new year, is the human drama that surrounds the vast profits., Since Larsson died in 2oo4 and he never made out a will, all the money (that’s 20 million and still growing) has gone to his brother and father.
Currently written reports have been surfacing about the fate of Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson’s longtime partner, who never married Stieg, reportedly because of the dangerous nature of Larsson’s journalistic work. Check out Stieg Larsson: Losing the plot over his cash an article published late last year by London’s Times Online and written by Helen Rumbelow.
Just recently another article published by another British online biggie, The Mail, has also delved into the peculiar financial situation that is evolving around the rather large sum of profits that the trilogy has generated and will continue to do so long into the future. This article, entitled The Girl Who Didn’t Inherit A Fortune by Antonia Hoyle was just published online a few days ago and has been generating lots of interest on the web.
And finally, for those readers and movie fans, who would like to help out Ms. Gabrielsson in her legal battle for a portion of the sales, here is a site, where you can do just that, plus keep tabs on the developing situation, for their are even rumors of a fourth unfinished novel.