Category Archives: Filmmaking

L5 Pilot Released!

Back in December of 2010, my multi-talented brother Kaelan told me about a new Sci-Fi series he had a part in.

Having been a huge Sci-Fi fan since I was a kid, I was very excited to hear he was involved in such a project and got a chance to read the script and post a review.

Needless to say, when the pilot was released last week, I couldn’t wait to see it…


… and I wasn’t disappointed

I really enjoyed the amazing post-production effects coupled with an interesting premise and solid acting.  A storytelling technique I always like is when technical jargon is used that the viewer is not expected to understand, but makes sense to the characters.  L5’s fabric is woven with this (both in dialogue and visually) and gives the pilot a marvelously rich texture.

Well done, L5 Crew!  Here’s wishing you all the success you deserve!

Find out more…

New L5 Trailer and Release Date!

I was fortunate back in December 2010 to get to read the pilot script for the upcoming hard science fiction series L5 (see post here).  Since then, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the pilot episode.  Along with the very cool trailer below, they’ve also given us a release date:


Many of the updates on the L5 Production Blog have talked about the enormous amount of time they’ve spent on post-production.  After watching the trailer it’s easy to see the time, effort, and care that’s gone into this pilot episode!  Enjoy…



Find out more…

What motivates and inspires you?

While there’s an infinite amount of motivations for success, I suppose most of us aspiring screenwriters are driven, at least in part, to see our work on the screen; to be blessed to have our stories told; to make a living by doing what we love, etc.

Then, sometimes, there are those things that both motivate and inspire.

Once I’m in the chair, click the Final Draft icon, and get lost in the script, what carries me?  What tethers my soul to the story and, at the same time, keeps me accountable to change what I love in service of what is right for the story?  What gets me excited to read a fellow writer’s script and provide quality feedback?  What won’t let my mind stop attacking a logic problem for days on end?

Lots of reasons.  But one of them is…

I want my story to be worthy of a Thomas Newman Soundtrack.

Even when I’m not listening to music while writing, it’s subtle motivating inspirations like these that help me to stay true to the story.

What motivates and inspires you?

Story is Everywhere!

One of the fascinating things I’ve learned as I study story and mythic structure is that, as human beings, it seems how we assimilate story is actually part of our makeup and coded into our DNA.  So, it only makes sense that story structure is not limited to books and movies, but is actually part of our everyday lives and can be seen all around us in just about everything — from how a friend tells us an interesting story, to static magazine ads, to TV commercials.

The late-great Blake Snyder (who wrote the marvelous Save the Cat! screenwriting books) got an email from a reader about how he was able to use all of Blake’s 15 story beats in a :30 second TV commercial.  While there’s much more opportunity to tell stories in Branding ads (think Geico), Direct Response ads (price-based, get-the-phone-to-ring types) don’t typically get to tell stories quite as engaging.

As an example, here’s a TV commercial my company recently created for Four Seasons — one of Chicago’s oldest and well-respected heating and air conditioning companies:

Even in a simple, direct-response ad like this one, we can still find elements of story structure:

Opening Image/Set-Up:
The Thermostat.   The statement of the problem is that your hard-earned cash is being sucked into it.  The Set-Up also typically shows the world as it is before the necessary hero’s journey and contains what Blake and other authors describe as “Stasis=Death” — if things stay the same, the Hero will perish.  Here, if things stay the same, the homeowner’s money will perish… so they must take a journey!

What gets the story going?  Well, here comes the Four Seasons Truck!  This “vehicle” element is also a sign of the “Break Into Act 2” where, in story, the hero typically changes location to begin the journey.

Fun and Games:
This is sometimes described as the “promise of the premise.”  As I’m sure we’re all used to, that promise in a direct-response ad is usually “What are you selling?” and “How much money can I save?”  This section also moves us along the logical path toward resolution with the mention of Interest-Free financing.

Final Image:
The Thermostat again, but this time the cash is going the other way…  Yay!  Oftentimes in story, the hero returns home with a new perspective after taking the journey to solve the problem.  This leads us on to the peaceful title card and jingle, which could be the denouement: “the final outcome of the main dramatic complication in a literary work.”

Some of the branding-type concepts we’re currently developing with Four Seasons will allow us to use even more structural elements to tell a fuller, more entertaining story in just :30 seconds.

Are there any commercials you think are outstanding?  If so, please drop me a note so I can check them out and see what kind structural elements are used to tell the story.