Werewolf-hunting heroine Rowan Morrigan faces her final battle in Age Of The Wolf: Wolfworld
, published 10 July in 2000 AD
#1840. This will be the concluding chapter in the urban fantasy saga, in which an ancient Nordic prophecy has brought about a werewolf apocalypse.Wolfworld
opens 35 years after the initial outbreak and the world is now ruled by a race of intelligent werewolves. Few human survivors remain, but among them is the series' heroine Rowan Morrigan – now in her fifties – a grizzled rune-witch dedicated to exterminating the lycanthropes and breaking the ‘moonspell’ that has destroyed her world and threatens the human race with extinction. The aging warrior must embark on another hunt, and perhaps make the ultimate sacrifice, when her surrogate daughter is captured by an ambitious werewolf Alpha determined to bring about their own day of reckoning.
The third and final chapter in the Age Of The Wolf series, Wolfworld will be a self-contained
adventure written for both seasoned fans and readers new to the series. It’s also currently in the nimble hands of fan-favourite artist and Age Of The Wolf co-creator Jon Davis-Hunt.
We’re going all out with this one, having created an entirely new world for the series, one that draws on elements of Norse myth, ‘70s sci-fi, and Leonardo Da Vinci. The idea was always to spin out an entirely new kind of story with each series of Age Of The Wolf, taking the initial premise in new directions rather than just dragging out the same set-up. The first series was a straight supernatural apocalypse story, the second – She Is Legend – a Mad Max-style actioner, and with Wolfworld we’re aiming to take the story in a completely new direction once again. I’ve certainly given Jon plenty of out-there designs to come up with. This is a world in which even the birds
and the trees have evolved into weird new forms as a result of living beneath the cursed moon.
As for Rowan, it’s been really satisfying to take her character from the innocent yet resourceful maiden she was in the first series, through to the ‘Little Red Robin Hood’ warrior she became in She Is Legend, and finally turning her into a grizzled Unforgiven-type predator in Wolfworld.
It’s a strange feeling having finally laid this beast of a series to rest and moved onto new projects. Age Of The Wolf has been exhilarating, frustrating and intensely personal, and I’m certainly not the same writer that I was when I started scripting this series three years ago. It’s always good to get better at what you do, but it also throws into harsh relief all your previous mistakes. So much so that I'm left with a hankering to write the whole thing all over again. So here's hoping there’s a producer out there who’ll pay me to adapt the movie version of Age Of The Wolf, although I ain’t writing anything unless they sign Karen Gillen as the lead!
If you want to find out more about Age Of The Wolf, check out the series’ homepage and ‘extras’ section. You can also read the first episode of series one for FREE in the 2000 AD bumper sample issue available from iTunes.
This week’s cover of 2000 AD
features Shelley - well, most of him anyway - the mighty mute co-star of Dandridge
. Head over to 2000 AD Covers Uncovered
for a few words from cover artist Nick Percival, along with a great rundown of his previous 2000 AD
artwork. As well as a terrific artist, Nick is also an accomplished writer! You can check out his website
, which includes details on his 2010 graphic novel Legends: The Enchanted
(which you can buy here
) and his forthcoming apocalyptic drama The Family
, which you can find out more about here
Back to 2000 AD
, and you can pick up this week’s issue at all good newsagents, comic shops or direct from the 2000 AD online store
where you can also buy a copy on digital download from the iTunes newsstand.
We’re on episode four now and Dandridge is hot on the trail of a stolen Faerie artefact and finding the world is not as he left it when he died almost 80 years ago. You can pick up the story from part one in 2000 AD
– and don’t worry, it’s not a continuity-heavy series, so you can pick it up straight away.
To find out more about the new series of Dandridge - The Copper Conspiracy - check out Dandridge Returns! Call the Pleece!, which contains a few nice words from folks new to the series and who enjoyed what they read so far.
I recently changed the way I lay out my comic scripts for 2000 AD
. Wanna see…?
Here’s how I used to do them…
Click to enlarge
And here’s how I do them now…
Click to enlarge
Why the change? What’s the difference? Well here’s why and what, and prepare for some subatomic levels of pernicketiness…
I’m a real process nerd. I’m forever making notes on exactly how I came up with a pitch, put together an episode breakdown, wrote a script, or edited the finished piece. It often feels like I’m spending as much time writing notes as I am writing the scripts themselves, but it helps me figure out how to refine the entire process and avoid making the same time-consuming mistakes twice. I used to think I was wasting precious work-hours, but I’ve since learned it saves bags of time in the long run. So this change in formatting came about as part of an ongoing overhaul, a result of not only putting in place what works best for me, but also what works best for the artists and letterers, or so they tell me.
A comic script is ultimately a very hands-off way of writing a story – certainly when you’re writing ‘full script
’ as you do for 2000 AD
. I don’t get to tinker with the dialogue or sound effects down the line. Once the script is written, I invoice the thing and start writing something else. By the time the script sees print as the finished comic, I’m usually so immersed in another story that I’ve forgotten how the one that’s just been published actually ends!
Writing a comic in this way is a bit like directing a movie without ever being on set. Instead, you write a detailed memo to guide the cinematographer, actors and editor in your absence. For obvious reasons, I like to smooth the transition from person-to-person as much as possible, making sure everyone has everything they need from me in order to do a great job. How I learned to stop worrying and despise writers
Taking care with formatting also stems from me not wanting artists and letterers to hate my guts. Maybe this has something to do with personal insecurity or maybe the fact that I’ve worked for a long time as a subeditor. Having subbed various publications for various clients over the years, I know what it’s like to be last in line, racing against an insane deadline while struggling to make sense of copy that appears to have been written by someone suffering a concussion.
Seriously, kids, if you want to become a professional writer, you could do a lot worse than find a freelance gig as a subeditor for a magazine or newspaper. It helps sharpen your grammar and syntax, and your ability to condense (a vital skill when it comes to writing comics). It also erodes any fears you may have about committing words to the page. “500-word news piece by lunchtime? No worries, chief.”
Most importantly, working as a subeditor will trample out of you every ridiculous romantic notion you ever had about writing. After several weeks of wrestling with copy that you’re pretty sure the writer came up with by pressing their face into the keyboard for several seconds before clicking ‘send’ with an invoice attached, you’ll have developed a healthy loathing for lazy writers.
Comics are a collaborative medium, and if the writer can’t be arsed to do their job that means everyone else in the collaborative chain has to pick up the slack (and do so for the same paycheck). I don’t ever want artists or letterers to feel like jumping out of a window the minute they learn they’ve been saddled with me on a project. I know where my responsibilities lie, and within those boundaries I will take care to be approachable, adaptable and do my best to resolve any issues that might trouble the pencil monkeys and letter wranglers later down the line. Last in line
Formatting the script is actually the last thing I do before a final printout and proofread. Once I’ve broken down the action into pages and panels, I’ll open a new Word doc. and write placeholder panel descriptions, e.g. ‘3.) Estab shot interrogation room’, ‘4.) Cop shows photo to Ang’, ‘5.) Cop angry; we see dagger’. Then I’ll bullet the exposition (that is, exposition that I’ve been unable to communicate visually) beneath the panel in which it’s most likely to appear, e.g. ‘DD unlicensed; against law’, ‘Explain dagger’, ‘Faeries want it back’. Then I’ll turn all that exposition into nice juicy character-revealing dialogue. I won’t add the attributions just yet; I read somewhere that good dialogue is so rooted in character that you should be able to tell who’s saying what without the attributions. With the dialogue written, I’ll go back and rewrite the placeholder panel descriptions. This bit’s easy, like writing a bunch of emails. I usually do it during a commute to another job, which saves me an hour or two at the desk. Then – after a lot of rewriting, shuffling stuff about, and reading stuff aloud in funny voices – I’ll format the script.
By the way, please don’t get the impression from reading this that I actually know what I’m talking about. Don’t take anything that I say here as comics-writing gospel. Notice the title of this blog does NOT read ‘How to format your
comic script’. This is just how I
do it, based on what I’ve learned in the short time I’ve been writing comics professionally. I actually have a horrible feeling that a more seasoned pro will read this blog and proceed to laugh themselves into a coma.
Anyway, with all this in mind, and all the usual provisos that must accompany this sort of article now in place, I’ll go through each component of my script and explain why I’ve done what I’ve done for the benefit of anyone out there who may be interested in sexy stuff like font size and underlining, or who may be stuck for ideas about how to lay out their own scripts and/or present them professionally when submitting, say, a Future Shock
to 2000 AD
. Here goes…Software
It’s Microsoft Word for me. You can keep your £300-a-pop scriptwriting software. I know many writers use programs like Final Draft
and Movie Magic
, but I don’t know a whole lot about these and having to tap the indent key a few times really isn’t a big deal for me. Font, spacing, and language settings
I’ve taken a fancy to ‘Courier New’ at point size 11. I used to use ‘Verdana’ at point size 10 because it looked nice and readable, but it ended up looking weird in this new format. Plus, Courier is like what proper screenwriting types use and I like the way it makes me feel a bit like Robert Towne clattering out a draft of Chinatown
I set the spacing at 1.5, so anyone (including me) has space to scribble down any notes or corrections on a hard copy. Oh, and I set the spelling on UK English, of course, because 2000 AD
is a publication as British as petty crime, doomed optimism, and eating a bag of chips in the rain. Header and page numbers
A publishing standard, this, a traditional safeguard against the possibility of a butter-fingered editor clutching several printed manuscripts tripping over a subeditor who has finally assumed a foetal position, thus scattering your precious pages all over the office. This way, someone will at least be able to identify which submission is which, so the editor will know to whom they have to send the rejection letter.
Same goes for page numbers, guys. Writers who don’t number their pages are in league with Lucifer. Ask any subeditor - whose eyelid will probably start twitching, at which point you need to back away slowly.
I write ‘Series title: episode X of X’ in the header just to keep everyone on point (including me) as to how much more of this crap they’re expected to read.Name, email and phone number
The editor needs to know who wrote the script they are reading, if only so he or she knows who to yell at once they've finished. I always add basic contact details, so everyone else I’m working with knows where to find me. With this series of Dandridge
, I knew I’d be working with artist Warren Pleece
, but if the script is a new project or a done-in-one like a Tharg’s 3riller
or a Tale From The Black Museum
, chances are I won’t know who’ll be doing the artwork. In these cases, I always include a single-sentence to-whom-it-may-concern-type note to the lucky artist just below the contact details, telling them they are welcome to get in touch. And they usually do. If you’re submitting a script on spec (‘on speculation’, meaning material submitted at your own expense and which an editor is under no obligation to purchase) as you’d do with a Future Shock
submission, adding anything more than your name, email and contact phone number is going to look a bit presumptuous, cowboy. So no links to your website, blog or anything else that has nothing to do with the script you’re sending.
Title, episode number and page numbers
All capitalised and bold so they immediately stand out. (No need, of course, to add ‘EPISODE ONE’ if it’s a done-in-one story like a Future Shock.) These (and the panel numbers) are the only things in the script that are bold, so the artist and letterer can get their bearings at a glance.
As you can see from example one (above), I used to have a separate line and actually write ‘Panel 1.’ I like the new way (below) much better – 1.) – if only because it’s bloody obvious you’re referring to a panel! It also cuts down on a line and provides a nice sort of intro to the topic sentence of your panel description.
Ooooh, tricky. This probably needs a separate blog, which I may write some other time. For now, here’s a few rules I currently tell myself to stick to:
* Keep panel descriptions as short as possible; aim for a line or two. A panel description should sit in your head after a single read.
* Watch out for the word ‘and’ in panel descriptions; it's often a telltale sign that you’re trying to communicate more than one beat of action.
* Ambiguity has NO place in panel descriptions. Avoid metaphors and unusual similes. Give concrete details! If that means giving the exact height or width of something, do it!
* Describe a camera angle (close-up, establishing shot) only when the required impact or information would be lost without it. Otherwise, default to a standard (implied) full shot. Specific instructions constrict the artist.
* Where possible, describe each new element on a new line, so the information is presented to the artist clearly and in order of dominance.
I’ve seen some scripts where the writer capitalises the name of a character the first time they appear in the script; sometimes EVERY time the character appears. This practice originates from screenwriting, so crewmembers flipping through a copy of the shooting script can easily find the scene in which a character first appears. I tend not to do this when writing a comic script. I don’t like too many capitals in the panel descriptions as they can clash with the capped dialogue. Yes, I know in panel one of this sample I’ve written the magazine title ‘INTERVIEW’, but that’s only because that’s how I wanted it to appear in the panel.
Dialogue attributions and dialogue
My attributions are indented x4 and the dialogue x2 (see below), with the right-hand margin set at 11. I used to put tabs into the dialogue in order to make it all line up neatly (see above), but this can create problems for lettering droids, who may have to go through the entire script and take the tabs out before cutting and pasting.
Giving the attributions a line to themselves (as oppose to setting them before the dialogue – see above) also solves the problem I sometimes had of having to squeeze in bracketed dialogue directions – e.g. ‘(off)’ or ‘(shouts)’ – if the character had a long name. By the way, ‘off’ and ‘shouts’ are pretty much the only such directions I ever use.
A separate line for each speaker also means I can ditch the attribution ‘LINK’. One less attribution to get wrong, right? I put the dialogue in capitals ‘cos that’s how it appears on the finished comic. I’m also a lot more careful about my dialogue-to-panels ratio than I used to be, although ‘Good Cop’ seems to be waffling on a fair bit for a six-panel page. Ahem. A golden rule of dialogue (there are many): let your characters talk then edit the hell out of them.
I try and stick to five panels with two balloons per panel each containing 25 words (max!). I spell out numerals (‘twenty-three’ and not ‘23’), and underline any words that need vocal emphasis. I rely on my ear for this, and the less underlining the better. I would have bolded these emphasised words, as they would appear in the finished comic, but underlining looked better and created a clearer hierarchy among the script’s components.
I generally use an ellipsis (‘…’) for a pause in mid-speech (character takes breath, struggles for words, pauses for effect) and a double hyphen (‘--’) to denote an interruption, a longer pause or for establishing a connecting link when speech continues over several panels. (And I don’t leave a space between the hyphen and the last letter of the last word.) I also use double quotes when spoken dialogue either precedes or follows the panel in the form of a caption in a different scene.
When I started submitting Future Shocks back in 2007, the submissions editor advised me not to break panels and dialogue over two pages, as the artist or letterer might think the page stops there and miss what else your characters have to say. I solve this problem by shuffling the entire panel down onto the next page (or chiselling at the panel description until the thing fits), then adding a ‘[Contd…]’ or ‘[Page continues…]’ note at the bottom.
It turns out letterers do not share a comprehensive grimoire of sound effects containing the correct spelling for every sound from ‘slapped face’ to ‘a bowling ball landing in a bucket of eggs’. So I come up with these for myself, and attribute them in exactly the same way as I do dialogue, e.g. ‘SFX: KERSPLAT!’
I’m of the opinion that, as a general rule, SFX shouldn’t stand out, that they should be absorbed subliminally by the reader. Therefore, I’m usually happy with the universal language of ‘blam’ and ‘kaboom’ with a few more unusual effects like ‘fwommph’ (bursting into flame) to add variety. Sometimes the letterer will – quite rightly – omit a sound effect that I’ve included when the image clearly speaks for itself.
And that’s that. The points I’ve described above are merely guidelines. I’ll often tweak them depending on what needs communicating. The aim is to present the information as clearly and neatly as possible. Common sense rules.
To finish off, here’s the first three pages of the script followed by the first page of the finished comic. Enjoy.
Click to engorge
Click to make massive
Click to embiggen
Click to get all up in your grill
If you want further reference material on formatting, visit the Comic Book Script Archive, which contains a ton of published scripts for you to peruse. If you’re submitting a Future Shock to 2000 AD, then for the love of all that’s sacred read the comic’s submission guidelines.
You should also check out some other writerly stuff I’ve got on this blog, including Emma Coats’ 22 rules of storytelling, Pixar’s Andrew Stanton on great storytelling, Joss Whedon on writing, Kurt Vonnegut on writing short stories, and Phrases to avoid when writing dialogue.
Doctor Spartacus Dandridge returns to the pages of 2000 AD
this week! Or does he…? The gentleman ghost has pledged his services to his mysterious tailor in return for the shapeshifting jacket that gives him material form. However, upon receipt of his first assignment, the workshy dandy promptly fled to the continent!Angela (his enigmatic tailor) and Shelley (his mute manservant) are left to pick up the pieces when the soul-sucking dagger Dandridge was sent to retrieve falls into the hands of a sinister enemy. Dandridge will have to use his every ounce of charm, sword-skill and fashion-sense if he’s to foil the sinister conspiracy that now threatens to engulf England. But can Angela even convince him to put down his drink and come home…?
Dandridge: The Copper Conspiracy is an eight-part series beginning in 2000 AD #1824, on
sale 20 March from all good newsagents, comic shops or direct from the 2000 AD online store, where you can also buy a copy on digital download from the iTunes newsstand.
Click on the image to visit COMIC BOOK RESOURCES for a full preview of 2000 AD #1824, including JUDGE DREDD by Michael Carroll, Inaki Miranda and Eva Da La Cruz, THARG’S 3RILLERS by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby and Neil Googe, and STICKLEBACK by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli.
The series reunites the ghostly ghostbuster with original artist Warren Pleece. Doctor Dandridge himself says he is overwhelmed at the prospect of being reunited with the artist who drew his debut adventure back in Prog 1631.
“I was once again discussing the terms of my contract with Tharg the Mighty, the alien editor of 2000 AD,” reveals Dandridge. “I suggested several artists – Fuseli, Constable, Rossetti – any of whom would be qualified to render the sublime romantic spirit of my adventures. Mr Tharg responded rather abruptly,
telling me that if I ever called him again at 3:20 in the morning I would receive a ‘Rigellian Hotshot’ for my trouble.” He adds, “However, I am thrilled, delighted and – as it turns out – contractually obliged to have wotsisname back on board.”
2000 AD #1824. Out this week! (Cover image from 'Stickleback' by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli. Also awesome!)
has been drawing comics for over 20 years. He has worked on DC/Vertigo titles including Hellblazer
(with Paul Jenkins), The Invisibles
(with Grant Morrison), True Faith
(with Garth Ennis), and Deadenders
(with Ed Brubaker). He has also created two original graphic novels with his brother Gary: Montague Terrace
(published by Jonathan Cape) and The Great Unwashed
(published by Escape Books).
Warren’s weekly web-strip Alby Figgs
is published every Friday at albyfiggs.wordpress.com
You can also read the first episode of Warren’s previous Dandridge
series, Return Of The Chap
, in the free 2000 AD Bumper Sampler Issue
available for download with the 2000 AD reader on the iTunes Newsstand
I make it a rule never to read reviews, forums and stuff, but I usually end up falling off the wagon. This time round, I couldn’t help noticing this series of Dandridge
garnered some nice reviews from the guys at comic culture news blog The Beat
, whose reviewers had this to say:
Hannah Means-Shannon (new to 2000 AD
) wrote: “The Copper Conspiracy
didn’t talk down to the newbie reader, but jumped right into the premises of its universe while dropping instructional detail about Dandridge’s role as a ghost, the focus on magical objects, and the globe-trotting potential of the storyline. I particularly liked the over-the-top characterization of Dandridge, making him recognizable in any story context.”
Todd Allen (2000 AD
veteran) wrote: “I thought Dandridge
was the pick of the litter with a clear, whimsical attitude to the strip.”
Henry Barajas (new to 2000 AD
) wrote: “The story that sold the book for me is Dandridge
. I really enjoyed the set-up and introduction to the outlandish British super spy. My only complaint is that the story wasn’t long enough. – With witty dialogue, Alec Worley told a good joke and Warren Pleece’s smooth panel-to-panel transitions executed the punchline. Dandridge
’s a jolly good time, and made good enough bait to hook me for the next issue.”
Steve Morris (knows who Judge Dredd is) wrote: “Out of the four stories, three of them require a little explanation for new readers. The creative teams all handle this easily, though, with Dandridge
especially well set up – keeping the main character absent until the end means he can be extravagantly hyped before new readers actually get to see him, but also acts as a great joke for fans already aware of the character. With each strip only moving five/six pages at a time, Dandridge
does a rather fantastic job of using those pages well.”
You can read the collective review right here
magazine blogger Alasdair Stuart, wrote: “Alec Worley’s return to newly corporeal Dandridge initially seems to be the sort of pseudo-’70s retro nostalgia that 2000 AD
seemed to produce for almost five straight years in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Thankfully there’s a lot more going on here than there first seems to be and Worley has a very keen eye for detail. Dandridge’s bizarre rock and roll exploits are fun, but it’s the little details that stay with you: the idea of an angelic tailor; the fact that Dandridge has a skill called ‘Savoir fu’; and so on.
“This is a pun-heavy riff on Jason King
, Department S
and the like but is has its own voice and I’m looking forward to seeing where Worley goes with it. If it involves the phrase, ‘Ding DONG!’ I for one won’t be disappointed. The story’s helped immensely by the fact Warren Pleece, whose rounded, slightly burly style has been a favourite of mine for years, is on art duties. It complements the knowing tone of Worley’s script to create a story which has just as much of a sparkle in its toothy, slightly gin-soaked grin as its hero.”
You can read Alasdair's full review right here
Cheers, guys. Glad you liked.
To find out more about Dandridge, visit the Dandridge homepage, which includes character biographies and a series guide. We’ve also got a page of Dandridge Extras, which contains an interview, blogs, a sample of the Doctor’s latest novel and other nonsense.
If you want to find out more about Warren’s work, check out Let Alby Figgs have a word in your shell-like, or, if you wanna learn more about 2000 AD in general, take a look at I wanna read 2000 AD, but where do I start…?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a special effects guy. This was after it had finally sunk in that being an archaeologist did not mean I’d get to watch a Tyrannosaurus fight a Triceratops. So, ‘special effects guy’ it would be. And if I couldn’t be Ray Harryhausen, then I’d settle for being one of those guys with a beard and sneakers tinkering with cool stuff in a cavernous workshop out in the suburbs. I’d seen them at it on those behind-the-scenes documentaries they used to air on bank holiday weekends and always seemed to open with some dashing American voiceover that intoned, ‘WE TAKE YOU BEHIND THE MAGIC…’ But alas, it turned out special effects guys needed to know loads of boring practical stuff like carpentry, electronics, mathematics and wotnot. (I’m pretty sure that my perception of a career in special effects before then was that it might involve test-driving an X-Wing or running around dressed as Predator.) But special effects continue to fascinate me, especially how certain creations seem to generate an eerie post-movie life of their own.
Years ago, I had my heart quietly broken during a visit to a Ray Harryhausen exhibition at the now-defunct Museum of the Moving Image. I got to see the stop-motion models that had played some of my favourite movie monsters, the grinning skeleton warriors from Jason And The Argonauts, and six-armed Kali– the animated statue from Golden Voyage Of Sinbad. But it turned out even monsters of legend suffer the pangs of mortality. Their joints were cracked, their limbs crumbled, patches of latex flesh had decayed entirely revealing the metal armatures beneath. I recall the gorilla model Harryhausen used for 1949’s Mighty Joe Young had crumbled into an unrecognisable green stump. It was like watching faerie gold turn to rocks upon contact with the real world.
Now here’s where life as a retired special effect gets a little ‘Toy Story’. If you’re lucky, someone may devote time and money to restoring you. Check out the kind of four-star facelift received by the Skeksis – the vulture-like villains of Jim Henson’s soulful epic fantasy The Dark Crystal…
Or maybe some nostalgic old buff will put you on display in his basement museum. Just look at where ‘Oscar’ – the eponymous lycanthrope from An American Werewolf In London – ended up…
But the fate of such creations is usually far more ignominious. Once the movie’s in the can most special effects can expect to be either cannibalised for spare parts or ruthlessly tossed into a skip. Then again, they may end up decorating a California junkyard, like ‘Bruce’, the famously obstinate mechanical shark from Jaws…
“Jaws terrified me so much as a kid that one important fact didn't immediately occur to me: The shark was fake.
Then I found a photo of Bruce being built, a workman leaning harmlessly into its mouth. That was my Heart of Darkness moment. At 10 years old, I decided that (a) I had to see Bruce for myself and (b) I had
to touch it. Why? Simple: How dangerous is a shark you can touch?”
In Hunting Bruce, or, on the trail of the Jaws shark
, an article for radio syndicate NPR
, journalist Cory Turner describes how his lifelong fascination with the movie’s special effects star led him to the heartbreaking discovery that the three Bruces used in the picture had been left
to rot in the Universal backlot. Or had they…
This article illuminates that weird intersection between screen fantasy and special effects reality much better than this rambling blog post, so check it out.
Weirdly, my discovery of this article and my current nostalgic funk for special effects coincides with the depressing news that major VFX house Rhythm & Hues filed for bankruptcy a week before it won an Oscar for its dazzling work on Life Of Pi
. Prompted by Rhythm & Hues going bust, many VFX artists protested outside the Oscars venue, trying to draw attention to the fact that their industry currently labours under a unfavourable business model.
Here’s a news piece by Variety
that highlights some of the key issues.
For more "BEHIND THE MAGIC" special effects stuff, check out Steve Johnson reveals FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) FX tricks, Sculpting JURASSIC PARK’s T-Rex at Stan Winston Studios, and Building a PREDATOR at Stan Winston Studio.
Caught a preview screening of new horror film Mama. Here’s the trailer, followed by a quick review...
started life as a deliciously creepy, award-winning short film by Spanish director Andy Muschietti
. It’s only three-and-a-half minutes long. Have a quick watch...
This deservedly caught the eye of Guillermo Del Toro, who executive produces the feature-length version I saw last night. Sadly, Mama
the movie turns out to be a bit heavy-handed – surprisingly so considering the off-key subtlety of the short film. It goes instead for ghost-train gothic that eventually derails into silly sentimentality. For reasons that don’t make a whole lot of sense other than to set up the premise, two little girls end up stranded in a cabin in the woods. They’re discovered five years later, having gone completely feral, scuttling about the place like hyperactive tarantulas.
Brought to live with their uncle (Game Of Thrones
’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his begrudging rock chick girlfriend (Zero Dark Thirty
’s Jessica Chastain), the girls soon make it clear that they weren’t alone in that cabin. The problem with the movie is that it’s way too eager to show us exactly what: namely, ‘Mama’, a spindly, creaky, broken-backed banshee who bursts out of walls, lurks in closets, and gurns at people, all for reasons that remain pretty arbitrary for the duration of the picture. The movie makes that classic ghost story mistake of not treating its spook as a character (albeit a dead one). The meandering pace isn’t helped by the random dreams and visions (and an overly helpful librarian) upon which the movie relies to drive the plot.
But is it scary? Now and then, I guess, but it’s mostly cheap jack-in-the-box jolts, a ploy the movie overplays pretty early on. It’s a shame because Muschietti (here making his feature debut) has a flair for ghoulish surrealism (hemorrhaging walls, moth-ridden corpses) and creepy one-liners (“There’s a lady outside... She’s not touching the ground.”) For a movie that carries a great deal of menace in simple scenes involving vacant doorways and empty corners, it’s a shame Mama
didn’t dial down its terrors.
Running time: 100 mins. Certificate: 15. UK release: 22 February
Visit the official website
For more Spanish spookiness, check out the animated short Alma
The Stan Winston School has posted a new FX video, this time looking back at the making of the monster suit for Predator 2.
And while we’re at it, let’s check out the trailer for the 1990 movie itself (if memory serves, the first 18-rated movie I snuck into before I was old enough)…
For more cool monster-making, check out Steve Johnson reveals FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) FX tricks and Sculpting JURASSIC PARK’s T-Rex at Stan Winston Studios.
A while back, I posted a link to a fascinating profile by The New Yorker
of stage pickpocket Apollo Robbins (see Interview with a tealeaf
Here’s another neat video in which Mr Robbins flummoxes the hosts of NBC’s Today Show
For more on this sort of thing, check out Magic: three psychological principles
Just found a beautiful retro-style animated short from Disney, playing in theatres before Wreck-It Ralph...
For more animated awesomeness, check out Alma, and for animation-related writing advice read Pixar's Andrew Stanton on great storytelling and Emma Coats' 22 rules of storytelling.
A while back, screenwriting blog Mystery Man on Film
uncovered something special: a transcript of a 1978 story conference between director Steven Spielberg, producer George Lucas and writer Lawrence Kasdan discussing how best to tell the story of a movie they released three years later called Raiders Of The Lost Ark
If you’re a fan of the movie – or better still a writer who’s a fan of the movie – this is just fascinating stuff...
Lucas: “The first sequence is in the jungle and you see him in action. You see him going through the whole thing. And the next sequence after that you see him back in Washington or New York, back in the museum. Where he's in a totally academic thing, turning over this thing that he's got. Then in the rest of the movie you see him back in his bullwhip mode. You understand that there's more to him. Plus, it justifies later things that he... the fact that he's sort of an intelligent guy. Peter Falk is one way of looking at him, a Humphrey Bogart character. The fact that he's sort of scruffy and, not the right image, but...”
Spielberg: “Peter's too scruffy.”
Lucas: “Yes. We'll figure a way of laying that out in his personality so it's easily identifiable.”
Spielberg: “Remember the movie Soldier Of Fortune with Clark Gable? There was a good deal of Rhett Butler in that character. The devil-may-care kind of guy who can handle situations. He's so damn glib he bluffs everybody around. People think that he's a pushover. He's challenged, and he always appears like a pushover. But in fact he's not. He likes to set himself up in these subordinate roles from time to time to get his way.”
Mystery Man compiled a quick breakdown of the key points, which you can read right here: The Raiders Story Conference
. The post includes a download link for the entire 125-page transcript.
I found this just recently via a great screenwriting blog/podcast called Scriptnotes
hosted by screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin, specifically episode 73
in which they dissect the movie itself from a writer’s point of view.And here's a video of the original theatrical trailer
, just because I feel like it...
For more behind-the-scenes stuff on favourite movies, check out Steve Johnson reveals FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) FX tricks and Sculpting JURASSIC PARK’s T-Rex at Stan Winston Studio.