In My Queue 2
It’s the last hot and hazy week of summer. Big things are about to happen this coming crisp and cool fall. And I can’t wait!
I’ve got the launch of the new book and updated Cat! software coming up in October. I have a whole round of interviews, travel plans, and speeches to attend to. And then of course there are all those scripts I’ve been consulting on — and having a ball with! (There is nothing I love more than working with writers on their scripts! I love story, and I love the storytellers!)
So what movies am I watching in my spare time?
Here is the list of films I’ve been screening that will tell you where my brain is these days. And those great folks at Netflix (how do they DO it!) have been providing me with their usual fast and friendly mail service, firing those DVDs at me like tracer bullets.
The first category of film I’ve been enjoying is subtitled. Yup. I have been watching and in some cases re-watching some classic French films lately, enjoying the onscreen smoking of Gauloise and the free-wheelin’ use of the word “merda” even in 1948.
Bob Le Flambeur
Pepe le Moko
Shoot the Piano Player
Touchez Pas au Grisbi
What is the explanation for this foreign film jag? Is it the recent warming of Franco-American relations, the skyrocketing sales of Save the Cat! in France? The love of rich sauces? Well, partly.
Actually my screenwriting pal, Mike Cheda, and I are looking at these French gangster pictures for inspiration. We have just finished our re-write on Ringers, our very cool heist film (for Vital Pictures’ producers Chris Lemos and Luis Guerrero, who gave us great notes and as a result is now probably the best script either Mike or I have ever written), and one of the inspirations for that script was the heist film, Riffifi.
So essentially we’re going back to the well to see if there isn’t some other black-and-white foreign film that can inspire us again.
All of the above are just that. From the Truffaut classic, Shoot the Piano Player, to the moody-cool Bob, we’re seeing why structure, or the lack thereof, is important.
And all are ripe for re-interpretation.
Also in my cue is a whole raft of documentaries. I have been toying with the idea of writing a book that applies the BS2 to non-fiction – and trust me it does. From the “save the cat” moment to the “all is lost” beat (including the “whiff of death”), successful documentaries also follow the BS2. If you don’t believe me, here is my queue on that:
What the Bleep Do We Know?
The Fog of War
In each case we follow a “hero” and like all stories, these too are about “transformation.”In this case, in addition to the hero, we are the ones transformed by new information, and our “all is lost” moment, the “whiff of death,” is the death of an old idea.
The essence of all communication can be found in the BS2, and the basics of storytelling are the same, no matter what language we use to tell it, and no matter what form.
The struggle to get our stories out is the same whatever canvas we use. Tell me a story. I love to find it, and understand it, and play with it, in every area of communication!
Enjoy Labor Day everybody! And Vive Le France!
- Mike Rinaldi
My Date with Drew is another non-fiction example I would add.
It’s not a heist movie of course, but I love Les Diaboliques — my favorite French film.
- Terence Kenneth
If you haven’t already, check out Santosh Sivan’s “The Terrorist” to be followed by Sean Ellis’ “Cashback”. Just my 2cents.
Just a little hi, from a french reader and user of stc !
Been using the bs2 for my last 2 screenplays, one is in early production at a big french production company, they loved the “rythme” of the script ;)
Just finished “Save the Cat.” Of course, I plan on reading it, again. Enjoy it very much. Lots of juicy nuggets in there that I hope to incorporate in future scripts.
All the best,
(Writer – Reinvented, Tapout)
Richie Whalen, lead singer of the hairmetal band, Wailin’, gets signed to a record deal in the early 1990’s, at the same time that the Seattle grunge sound is about to take over the music world. Richie thinks he’s gonna be a big rock star, but the opposite happens. The band’s album tanks. The tour flops. They’re dropped from the label and Richie ends up so broke that he has to move back in with his parents. After some humbling experiences living life as a “regular guy,” Richie decides to take another crack at music. He writes some great songs, which reflect his new perspective on life, and cuts a demo, but labels won’t touch him because of his past. So, in order get a record deal, Richie REINVENTS himself by changing his name and appearance.
Steven Hardwick is all set to start law school and follow in the footsteps of his father, a very successful attorney, and author. While Steven is an extremely gifted student, he lacks the passion for the legal profession and finds himself going through the motions at law school. Following a chance meeting with a Brazilian martial arts instructor, Steven is introduced to the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and No-holds-barred fighting and discovers that he has natural aptitude and love for the sport. Much to the chagrin of his family, Steven drops out of law school to pursue his dream of winning the no-holds-barred fighting championship, by defeating the toughest man ever to hold the belt.
- Nick Contopoulos
Bob Le Flambeur, Touchez Pas Au Grisbi, and Riffifi are three of my favorite all-time movies ever, especially TPAG! You’ve picked some great ones for inspiration. What I love the most about foreign films of that period is their ability to tell a story without much dialogue. Riffifi and Le Cercle Rouge (another great one) both show their story’s heist sequence without dialogue and music, while still creating riveting suspense and action! And you can’t beat Jean Gabin in TPAG and Pepe le Moko!
I think Blake doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s the “real” McLovin…
- Brett Slater
Here’s a good “Save the Cat” example:
Rocky goes down to the docks to collect from Bob, who’s late with a payment to Rocky’s boss, Gazo. Rocky has orders to break Bob’s thumb, but, in a show of compassion, doesn’t do so.
Had Rocky broken Bob’s thumb, we would’ve wanted to see Rocky get his block knocked off by Apollo Creed.
touchÃ© mon ami
- Troy DeRego
Two more greats from Jean-Pierre Melville,
Le Cercle Rouge
They are so stylish and cool, like Nick says above, you don’t even need the subtitles to enjoy. I guess the later proves your point as Melville borrows character traits from a Japanese warrior for his French gangster.
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I recently took a 400 level Documentary class at my university this last term, and found it very interesting some of the techniques that these documentary film makes have been using, which main stream Hollywood has taken notice to. For instance, it would be hard to dispute the effect Triumph of the Will made on many films. Obviously since we are looking at films from a story writing perspective we will look at the stories from a structure standpoint rather than a aesthetic one, but George Lucas when writing Star Wars had a lot of inspiration from many documentary films (among other things).