Newsletter #28 – October/November 2010


If the number at the top of this newsletter seems slightly random to you, don’t worry.

It does to me too.

Still, the last newsletter was #27 and since then enough has occurred to lose count.

Like, all the exciting stuff  that’s currently happening in Australian Film.

Looking at the Screen Australia Production Report I have a feeling that more films are being developed with an (existing) audience in mind. More genre films and more movies with a logline that make me want to see them. Some producers still need to learn the difference between a logline and a tag line, though. (I can recommend the Script Services, accessible from the top menu on this page :). A hint: one reveals a glimpse of a story, the other doesn’t.)

Great to see how some of the Australian funding agencies seem to have shifted their policy and are making it easier for writers to get access to worthwhile sources of development wisdom. I was excited to see some state and federal development managers present at the RomCom weekend in Sydney this past June and Syd Field will be here next month with four affordable lectures, courtesy of Screen Australia.


Aspiring Writers left In The Cold?

From a conversation with an agency representative, it appears that projects are expected to be developed to a level similar to the outcome of The Cave. This is frustrating to those who are applying for funding to pay for similar work and it shows an ongoing lack of courage to recognise strong (i.e. commercially viable) concepts. It is hardly realistic to expect individuals to finance this out of their own pockets. Self-funded development has historically been stretched-out, draining and ultimately incapable of keeping up with the market. Not sure if Hauge, Kaplan and Field can change this with their brief visits.

Promising again are recent changes at AFTRS, with a new team approaching screen culture from a mythological angle. Lecturers Mike Jones and Karen Pearlman have contributed to The Story Department and Allan Palmer is now also preaching the Hero’s Journey at the Entertainment Quarter.

In Cinemas: small change

At the cinema I saw Tomorrow – When The War Began, an experience I enjoyed less for the story than for the sheer reason here was an Australian film that clearly appealed to the audience. This had not happened since I watched Australia in a full theatre.

Recently I was disappointed but not surprised that The Waiting City didn’t work. Disappointed, because some friends were involved in the making and distributing of that film. Not surprised, as it seems a fundamental error was made in the structuring of that story, ironically the same error that I believe sank cult hit Blade Runner when it was first released in 1982. My students will know exactly what I mean.

Soon On A Web Page Near You

As a service to our readers, we would like to publish a list of Australian production companies, the type of material they are looking for and the way writers can submit their work. We’re hoping to bring you the results before the end of the year. Please let us know if you can help us in any way.

News from The Dept.

Recently I have had an avalanche of requests for internships and a team of no less than 4 is now volunteering in Sydney: Louise, Niels, Dave and Rodolfo.  After Sol completed her internship from New York and Rusty returned to Indiana, I have further support from two interstate volunteers: Chae and Vi. Applications are on hold but I still do welcome volunteers to help out with graphic design and IT (MySQL and PHP).

On the seminar front there’s one headline: The Hero’s Journey. In the course of 2 days I will teach my favourite topic and explain why George Lucas fell for Joseph Campbell and why this transformational model has continued to deliver blockbusters since long before Star Wars. In the Sydney Screenwriters MeetUp, I showed how The Hero’s Journey also works in arthouse film and in a short piece on The Story Department I share an experience that proved it works for short films, too.

Your Next Draft

Finally online: the Story Dept. online workshop The Next Draft, designed to improve your hero/protagonist, story structure, theme and screenplay execution. An online guide in 20 steps and more than 100 pages, to assist you in the writing of your first or next draft.

Thank you to the first students for their patience while all the pages are being drip-fed onto the site. An especially big thank you to Nina, Paul, Pat and Jeremy for their exceptional patience and kind feedback.

The Online Story

Those who have been following me since the launch of The Story Department have noticed that my online presence has increased exponentially, culminating in a 4th ranking for most influential on Twitter for screenwriting in the world. How hard this was? Well, about as hard as reaching a 50th spot for Sydney, right after Tony Abbott.

The Story Department closed 2009 with about 50,000 pageviews and this year we’ve had over 150,000 with three months left to go.

The Offline Story

To conclude, a quick overview of those opportunities where you can see me in the real world this month and next:

    This Saturday I’ll be discussing Being John Malkovich on concept, theme, point of view and structure. Admission is open to all members of the MeetUp. Membership is free and the sessions are $5 only.
  2. MON 18 OCT – NAFA CHOCTOPS ($10)
    After more than two and a half years, I’m back with the Nafa filmmakers for a night of learning and networking at the Clock Hotel in Surry Hills. Visit the web site for more information about the night.
  3. SUN 24 & 31 OCT – HERO’S JOURNEY ($198)
    By far my favourite seminar and the most important one if you are in any kind of storytelling, whether it be as a screenwriter, film producer or novelist. This fascinating two-day introduction is a must for everyone.
    If you’re in QLD, join me at the International Film College on the Gold Coast for one day on the nitty-gritty of screenwriting. Learn how to stand out from the crop and impress any reader with your script.
    I’m honoured to be a guest speaker at the first Gold Coast Film Festival. I will talk about what I learned as an international movie buyer in Europe and more recently from reading hundreds of Australian screenplays.

That’s all folks. Thank you for reading the advertisement on your way out and I hope to see you some time soon, on the road or online!

Read, and write.




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