Thursday, May 17, 2012

D'oh! I forgot something.

Sorry this is not a proper post , but I just realized that I never announced my interview on the Paper Wings Podcast on this blog.  So many of you may have missed it. I did announce it on Twitter @BeeMacDee1950 a while back.

I will try to put up a new blog post soon.


Tom Dell'Aringa said...

Listened and loved it, Brian. I could listen to you talk story all day long. I just finished the Golden Theme, enjoyed that very much as well.

Quick question for you. A friend who I talk story with is always adamant that there should be a "reversal of fortune" in nearly every story. As I read through your books, I never read of any specific story "feature" like that (for lack of a better term.)

Yet I am struggling with this story and he thinks that is what it needs. Yet thinking on what you have written, I am thinking that it's not necessarily some story technique I need, but rather the whole thing needs to be looked at from start to end to see if am indeed telling something everyone can identify with, and work in that light.

Am I making sense? What do you think? I'm struggling a bit with this so I may not have explained it well.

Tom Dell'Aringa said...

I guess "plot device" was the term I was searching for. Sorry!

Chris Oatley said...

If I may chime in -

Brian's Paper Wings interview is face-meltingly inspiring and challenging.

Sooo... check it out. ...if your face hasn't already melted enough from reading his blog...

Brian McD said...


Glad you enjoyed the podcast. And thanks for reading The Golden Theme.

As for your question, it sounds like your friend has read Aristotle who talks about reversals in his book Poetics. But your friend’s solution seems like he is thinking about your story from the outside in rather than from the inside out. Meaning he doesn’t seem to be addressing the specific needs of your story.

My guess is that he is seeing that your story is static. Changes are that you are not raising the stakes. You have to up the ante for your character. If you are advancing plot, character and/or theme (armature) with each scene the reversals will fall into place where they are needed. They will happen organically, but you have to listen to the dictates of your story. Never force anything on your story – it will always read false of you do.

I hope that helps.

Tom Dell'Aringa said...

That does help. Thanks!

Mike said...

Hi Brian,

I'm not a tweeter, yet, and don't know how else to reach you. And I don't mind your other blog readers reading this, they might like it, too.

It was a great pleasure meeting you at Stewart's birthday party back in March. I came across this today and thought of you.

It is a letter Stewart wrote to James Dean's family after Dean's death shortly before the release of REBEL. What a remarkable bit of writing. That's all I can say. No fancy adverbs of mine can possibly do it justice. I just thought you might like to read it.

I hope our paths cross again.

Michael Culver

Mike said...

D'oh! You saw it already.

Brian McD said...

Hey Mike,

Thanks for letting me know, but yeah I had seen it. In fact, I have seen Stewart’s copy because I helped put the extras of the 50th Anniversary of Rebel without Cause DVD together so we went through a ton of Stewart’s old letters and things.

He’s got a ton of cool things.

The truth of the matter on the Rebel DVD is that the studio was not going to do anything for the 50th anniversary. I contacted them and suggested that they ask Stewart to do the DVD commentary since he was one of the few people left who had worked on the film. They said no.

Then a few months later they called and asked me if I knew Stewart Stern because they wanted to interview him for the DVD extras. They didn’t even mention that I had called them before – this was all their idea.

They decided for a sit down interview rather than commentary, but I told them that commentary would be better. They said no

Stewart told them that he would only do the interview if I was the interviewer. He insisted. He’s cool like that. They said yes, but that I could not be on camera.

Later they were so happy with the interview they decided that they wanted Stewart to do a commentary track. But he refused because he was tired of talking about the film by then.

Anyway, working on the DVD was cool and going through Stewart’s stuff is like being in that warehouse with the Ark of the Covenant.

... said...

Hi Brian,
Great interview !!, I'm a big fan of your previous books and I wanted to share my new film with you


KakiFlynn said...


In a few weeks I'm teaching a 2hr screenwrting workshop for kids for a film camp, using Invisible Ink as the armature for the class.


1st Half:
Tell them a myth in Inv. Ink format
Have them write/draw/grab a partner and talk out/ their own myth, new or established.

Briefly introduce concept of a treatment; show them a few cool ones.

2nd Half:
Show components of standard script, and have them plug the story they just made up into that format.

No stress on finishing whole script in class, just want them to get a page done.

I'm comfortable with teaching Golden Theme concept, but think I packed class super tight already.

Any thoughts on this would be awesome ..


Brian McD said...

Hello Kaki,

Nice to hear from you.

Good to know that you are going to be using my work to help you teach your class.

When you get into script format I might talk about telling stories with pictures. If is one of the least taught aspects of screenwriting. There is SO much talk about dialogue that the fact the film is a visual medium gets lost.

I hear all the time how "good" a given screenwriter is because of their use of dialogue, but never how good a screenwriter is at telling stories with pictures.

Have you read the book David Mamet on Directing Film:

Telling stories with pictures is the most overlooked aspect of screenwriting. Most screenwriter are writing radio not movies.

I'm sure you've seen this:

Good luck with your class! Let me know how it goes.

mchap said...

In your book and posts you explain clearly what an armature is, does, and how to locate one in other films.

Can you comment or post on how to create one of our own and how to prove this is what we want to say?

You started to get into it on the paper wings podcast but did not get a chance to finish.


print head said...

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KakiFlynn said...


Thanks for your help with the screenwriting class! Both teachers and students got a lot out of the "Invisible Ink Outline".

I ended up teaming up with the storyboard artist (Brett Waller) to do the presentation, which flowed really well.

(I had them come up with a myth that fit the Invisible Ink format, he then helped them storyboard one of the scenes).

The process is completely fascinating - and - as you know- extremely hard to sum up in a blog post response.

Definitely not all of the lessons, but a few are:

1. Everyone involved in film camp should be madly in love with making films. The teachers. The soda delivery guy. Everyone, everyone if you can do it.

2. Golden Theme
When the kids put established myths into the I.I. format, a truer theme came popping out. Spirited Away was one example - the kids initially said it was a movie about a girl sad she had to move, but after putting it in the II format, we agreed it was a movie about many of the characters personal struggle with

3. Q&A with Disney Director George Scribner
I knew, even from my brief time in LA spent on the far edges of filmmaking that the kids that were serious needed exposure to a higher level of professionalism in the industry.

So I found a Disney Film Director - George Scribner - that just happened to be from my hometown, to come and do a couple of workshops.

My students from film camp were my PA's for the Q&A.

It was awesome, and hella fun to be on stage with a Disney Director:

Random But Fun Story:
I was guiding a sea kayaking trip, and talking about Mamet to the group. Turns out one of the people I was guiding was Mamet's sister's roommate in college.



Brian McD said...

Hello Kaki,

Thanks for the update on your film camp. Sounds like it went really well. I’m happy to know that Invisible Ink helped you and the students.

Also nice to hear that The Golden Theme came out through the study of Invisible Ink.

It was cool that George Scribner was around and that you were able to have a Q&A with him. Plus the workshops. Very cool.

I’m sure there must be some jerks who are artists at Disney, but I have never met one. They have always been cool and generous people in my experience. I’m sure you had a lot of fun with George Scribner. And it was nice to see you interviewing him.

Thank you so much for letting me know how things went.