“Cursing in Movies”

I hear “fuck” so much in movies that it’s become cliche to me, just like “holy shit!”. “Holy shit”, I swear is a term invented by Hollywood. Actually, the use of “fuck” and “holy shit” are becoming major turn offs for me when watching movies. Yes, I think there is an unnatural amount of cursing in movie dialogue. I believe it is a way of expression that writers/ directors/producers believe emphasize points in movies. In other words, cursing is common is real life, but in movies, cursing plays into the fantasy, the “un-reality” of how real life is.

The core audience Hollywood focuses on is 16-25 year old males. This age group, perhaps, more than any other group, are into cursing. In order to write, sell, and get their screenplays produced, many screenwriters incorporate cursing into their screenplays in order to attract producers, i. e. one approach to attract the core audience.

If a screenwriter desires to succeed in the film business, then, they must always keep an eye and ear open to what kinds of films make Hollywood money, and what the content is in those movies. Cursing is a standard by which producers utilize to attract audiences, increase box office receipts, and earn some money for making their next film.

So, you have to make the call. The first issue a screenwriter should confront is who is their audience going to be? What kind of audience do you want to attract, to come see your movie? Look at what caused you to come up with this idea. Think about what you were doing at that time in your life, where you were, when the idea come up, and who helped trigger the idea. Honestly answering these questions should give you an idea about your passion for your movie idea. This passion, correctly identified, will then, become the main theme for your screenplay/movie. These answers, then will help you determine your core audience, which, in turn, should help you make the decisions you need to make with respect to cursing in your movie.

Donald L. Vasicek
Writing and Screenwriting
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net

“Anatomy of Page One of Screenplays That Get Produced”

by
Donald L. Vasicek
dvasicek@earthlink.net

When you watch a movie, what do you usually see in the first minute? A bunch of people jumping around? Or perhaps running? Or a headstone in a cemetery? A slinky woman’s naked cadaver silhouetted against a light? What about the one that skims you over a body of water with the skyline of a city ahead? Whatever you see, has meaning, at least in screenplays that get produced.

There are at least eight elements that should be on the first page of your screenplay if you want to hook your reader into your screenplay, enhance your chances of selling it and having it produced. Learned eyes look for these elements on page one of your screenplay. If they aren’t there, you’ve already got a strike against you in the mind of the reader. What are these elements and how can you write them into the first page of your screenplay?

If you first come up with a metaphor that describes the main theme of your screenplay, then the seven other elements will drop into place much easier. A metaphor that describes the main theme of your screenplay must be visual since film is a visual medium. You don’t want to bore your audience by unleashing talking heads to the audience unless you can pull it off like Billy Bob Thornton did in his Academy Award-winning screenplay, “Sling Blade” and some excellent acting by Billy Bob Thornton and J. T. Walsh.

For example, on page one in my screenplay, “The Crown”, which was produced, the main character, a gangly boy of 12 with a red kerchief as a headband cleans his mother’s headstone in a cemetery. The inscription on the headstone shows the years of her birth and death. A butterfly flutters about the headstone and main character. A shadow creeps over the main character. The butterfly flies away. The main character looks around. He sees a pretty woman. She frowns at him and says, “You have to let her go, Justin Freeman.”

The metaphor (element one)shows a butterfly flying (element two)(movement to draw your audience into the movie) away from a headstone. The metaphor shows the theme (element three) of the movie which is “letting go” which is also stated by the woman. The main character (element four) is introduced. The main character shows what his foremost problem in the movie is going to be by cleaning his mother’s headstone (he will not let go of her)(element five). The setting (element six) the main character is in is a cemetery. We have a sense of direction by knowing where “we’re” starting out in this movie. The time frame(element seven)of the movie is shown by the inscription on the headstone. Now, we have an idea about when this movie is taking place. The main character’s name is given (element eight)when the woman speaks to him. We know now who Justin Freeman is.

These eight elements, metaphor, movement, theme, main character, main character’s foremost problem, setting, time frame, and main character’s name defines “The Crown.” All of this takes place on page one of the screenplay. Translated into movie minutes, this means in the first minute of “The Crown”, eight elements are shown that hook us into the movie.

The first and second elements, the metaphor and movement, cause us unconsciously to wonder why the butterfly is present, is, then exits, means. Something to muse over. The third element, the theme, gives us a subconcious idea about what “The Crown” is going to be about because we see this butterfly hovering over a headstone and a boy, and then fly away as though the spirit of the body in the grave left the grave. Letting go is something the boy is going to have to do if he is to grow as a human being. The fourth element shows us who the main character is. What does the red kerchief wrapped around his head as a headband mean? Is it some kind of identity statement? Perhaps a social comment? We want to learn more about him. The fifth element shows the main character’s foremost problem, he’s into cleaning his mother’s headstone. We know it’s got to be something loving about his connection to someone in the grave. And we know that he can’t go on like this, he’s only a boy. The sixth element, the setting, a cemetery, also is metaphorical. A cemetery is a place where human beings bury human beings who have died. It is a final resting place for them, freed from the bonds of life. The seventh element, the dates on the headstone and name, give us some idea of the time frame of this movie and who is buried in the grave. Being made aware of that visually gives us a source of reference to the main character. The eighth element, the boy’s name, helps us put a name with the boy and link him to the person in the grave. The last name, “Freeman”, also gives a hint of the theme, letting go.

So, the next time you watch a movie, look for elements that hook you into the movie. Make notes. Analyze them the next day. You’ll be amazed at how subtle, but yet, how informative the first minute of well-written movies are. Write your screenplays with the same art and craft and you’ll increase your opportunity to sell and get your screenplays produced.

“Writing Sex, Violence and Hooking Your Audience”

by
Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films +, LLC
Writing/Filmmaking/Consulting
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net

You need simply to watch the first ten minutes of “The Sixth Sense”
to learn how to get your readers hooked. A supernatural thriller
that was one of the box office surprises of 1999 primarily because
of its appeal to a large demographic that spanned families to adult
viewers, shows sex and violence in the opening five minutes of the
movie.

I use “The Sixth Sense” as an example because it depicts well what
producers look for in screenplays, and editors look for in novels and
short stories. M. Night Shyamalan, the writer/director of “The Sixth Sense”, was
able to begin the movie with sex and violence and still attract kids,
parents, teens, couples, and marrieds with the storyline of a boy
who sees dead people. This approach to writing screenplays or
novels or short stories because of its wide audience appeal, and thus,
a better opportunity to sell tickets, books, etc.

If you’re serious about getting produced as a screenwriter, or
published as a fiction writer, you would serve yourself well if you
studied movies and books that do well at the box office and book
stores. Look for what happens in the first ten minutes of the movie,
or the first few lines of the novel or short story. Look for how sex
and violence is incorporated into the storyline and theme(s), particularly
for a wide audience, and how tastefully. Blend sex and violence with
the theme and you’re on your way to being successful.

See you next time. Be sure and bring a refreshment. A glass of
spring water, perhaps, some carrots, and a tuna sandwich. Experience
what that does for studying and reading how to successfully write.

Pax.