Launching the crowdfunding campaign for a short film very soon. Stay tuned!
Author Archives: Mark Strauss
I’m so grateful for the team who helped put this trailer together!
Praised by a Hollywood reader as “MYSTIC RIVER on the ROAD TO PERDITION with a splash of WATCHMEN and THE SIXTH SENSE,” SAWBUCK is the story of a 10-year-old boy joins the hunt for a bizarre serial killer to save himself and a missing child.
Other industry feedback includes:
“Great Structure, characters, dialogue, and conflict. This guy’s good.”
– Tom Verica (RED DRAGON, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, SCANDAL)
“Great ride! Several twists and turns. Keeps you guessing all the way. I’d love to be in it!”
– Richard McGonagle (500 DAYS OF SUMMER, STAR TREK: VOYAGER, JAG, THE PRACTICE)
“It’s rare when a script comes along with this many entertaining set pieces and audiences will undoubtedly be constantly asking ‘what’s next?’ There will be a terrific film here, and could very well attract the eye of a great director and/or actor for the lead role.“
– Hollywood Story Analyst
Click here to request a copy of Sawbuck for review.
A bunch of us were out to dinner and the conversation turned to movies, and eventually to story structure. I asked someone to pick their favorite movie and we went through all the story beats. At that point, my friend Lana said,
“You should do a Pecha Kucha!”
No, it’s not a dance or whatever else you might be thinking — it’s about telling stories…
Pecha Kucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images. Originally developed in Tokyo in response to architects administering “death by PowerPoint,” this succinct presentation format evolved in to informal gatherings all over the world covering a wide range of topics.
Much like screenwriting, it’s a distilled storytelling format. I spent lots of time with Lana’s help crafting this 6.6 minute presentation.
The 2015 BlueCat Screenplay Competition Semi-Finalists were announced earlier this week and SAWBUCK is among the chosen scripts. It’s a tremendous honor to make it this far in such a prestigious screenwriting contest (top 2% out of 4,494 feature-length entries).
A key ingredient of the excitement is something so simple I don’t always see it: people sat down, opened to page #1 and joined a 10-year-old boy on his hunt for a bizarre serial killer to save a missing child — and they enjoyed the journey!
While this announcement is only a step toward the goal of getting SAWBUCK produced, the following excerpts from the contest reader notes reminded me of my early struggle to embrace story structure:
“It’s the thoughtful and thoroughly justified weaving of these various story-lines that prompts such a decisive, deliberate build in the story structure. Even if the motives and desires of these characters are less than morally sound, their traits are precise and justifiable.”
“There’s an intricacy to the various motivations – and thereby frictions – that pass between the supporting characters.
“The epilogue proving <The Hero>‘s complete transformation — which began when he pointed the water gun at… <snip> — resolves all last subplots, and gives him the opportunity to conclusively solve the central dilemma of the script.”
And to think… I wanted nothing to do with story structure when I started writing.
Like some new writers, I looked at story structure as training wheels. So I just dismissed it and wrote.
After creating bloated, one-dimensional, meandering stories and finding myself trapped by plot dead ends, I grudgingly accepted structure as a necessary evil — Fine. I’ll use it. Whatever… I guess I’ll pack my unique ideas inside your stupid little structure boxes and watch my creative brilliance suffocate a cookie-cutter death. Then it happened…
I saw the light!
Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! was my first exposure to beats and structure. My understanding grew through Robert McKee’s Story and many other books and blogs that showed me that story structure is not just for films and books, but is how humans have assimilated story for thousands of years.
One of my favorite moments of clarity was when one author likened story structure to musical notes explaining how a seemingly infinite amount of music is created from just 12 musical notes.
Today, I find building a story’s structure to be as creative as any other part of the screenwriting process; it’s the wire frame to sculpt a story around rather than a constricting necessity I once thought it was.
Congratulations and good luck to all of my fellow Semi-Finalist Writers!