Very good list of must-see episodes from my very first TV obsession.
Great list. Was hoping to see one of my favorite episodes, the Scully centric (directed and written by Gillian Anderson too!) “all things”.
Pixar story artist Emma Coats tweeted a list of guidelines she learned from her colleagues on how to create appealing stories:
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
6 Filmmaking Tips from David Fincher
That thing about looking at each setup with one eye at a time kind of blew my mind. I can’t wait to try that. And totally agree about what you learn on your first movie.
1) “What you learn from that first [film] - and I don’t call it ‘trial by fire’; I call it ‘baptism by fire’ - is that you are going to have to take all of the responsibility, because basically when it gets right down to it, you are going to get all of the blame, so you might as well have made all of the decisions that led to people either liking it or disliking it. There’s nothing worse than hearing somebody say, ‘Oh, you made that movie? I thought that movie sucked,’ and you have to agree with them, you know?”
2) “I never fall in love with anything. I really don’t, I am not joking. ‘Do the best you can, try to live it down,’ that’s my motto. Just literally give it everything you got, and then know that it’s never going to turn out the way you want it to, and let it go, and hope that it doesn’t return. Because you want it to be better than it can ever turn out. Absolutely, 1000 percent, I believe this: Whenever a director friend of mine says, ‘Man, the dailies look amazing!’ … I actually believe that anybody, who thinks that their dailies look amazing doesn’t understand the power of cinema; doesn’t understand what cinema is capable of.”
3) “A friend of mine once, he was directing his first film and he called me and said, ‘How many takes can I ask for?’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Well I’m working with this actress and she said that she’s only going to give me six takes.’ And I said, ‘As far as I’m concerned, you ask for whatever it is you need.’ I’ve never understood… It’s not about an actor presenting their work to forty people around them. It’s about, you know, it’s the boom operator, it’s the camera operator, it’s can you tweak the light better, can the person hit their mark better, can they be in focus. There’s so many aspects, it’s not just about the actor. That’s the focus of what you’re trying to get, but it’s a ballet between so many different people. And to me that’s the thing, to make it all coalesce, to make it look effortless.”
4) In the commentary track for Se7en, Fincher explains that when he was working at ILM, he was taught that a director should look at each scene’s set up with each eye individually. Left eye for composition (because it’s connected to the creative right side of the brain). Right eye for focus and technical specs (because it’s connected to the mathematical left side of the brain).
5) “A movie is made for an audience and a film is made for both the audience and the filmmakers. I think that The Game is a movie and I think Fight Club’s a film. I think that Fight Club is more than the sum of its parts, whereas Panic Room is the sum of its parts. I didn’t look at Panic Room and think: Wow, this is gonna set the world on fire. These are footnote movies, guilty pleasure movies. Thrillers. Woman-trapped-in-a-house movies. They’re not particularly important.”
6) “You can’t take everything on. That’s why when people ask how does this film fit into my oeuvre. I say ‘I don’t know. I don’t think in those terms’. If I did, I might become incapacitated by fear … How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time. How do you shoot a 150-day movie? You shoot it one day at a time.”
Martin Scorsese's Film School: The 85 Films You Need To See To Know Anything About Film | Co.Create: Creativity \ Culture \ Commerce
SCORSESE! (Everyone take a shot!)