Herbie J Pilato: Why I Found SPY Offensive

miranda spyby Herbie J Pilato

Except for the overt, excessive, grotesque, and bloody violence that pervades and apparently has to be part of every movie-going experience today (drama or comedy, horror, adventure or otherwise), everything visual about SPY is beautiful, including it’s dynamic leading leading, Melissa McCarthy, and her co-stars Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Jason Strathram, Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Serafinowicz.

Unfortunately, their beauty gets lost each and every time one of them opens their mouths.

As a result, what could have been one of the most perfect adventure-secret agent feature films this side of the best of James Bond on the big-screen is instead disturbing.

“F-this,” “F-that,” “Mother-f this,” “Mother-f that.”

But for real?  Are they kidding?  Or should I say screenwriter/director Paul Feig…is he kidding?   How many millions is he making off of regurgitating common, street words?

Beyond the offensive and unnecessary barrage of f-bombs, however, the main characters frequently break-character as much as some of the dead extra characters break wind and die.

How many millions is Feig making off of presenting indistinguishable characters that speak lines that any other indistinguishable character on screen could speak?  Or how many millions is he making off of frequently and consistently sacrificing a character just for the sake of a joke?  Or to have one character blur into the other, appearing constipated at every turn?

I had a challenging day before I went to see this film, and I specifically chose a comedy to help brighten my night.

But that didn’t happen.

I laughed out-loud over a few scenes, but I didn’t laugh enough.  In fact, I found myself cringing.

The hardest part of viewing and listening to this movie?

Walking out of the theatre, and noticing three feet beside me a young father and his little son who could not have been more than nine-years-old.

They walked out in silence, neither knowing what to say to the other.

I was sadder leaving the theatre then when I first walked in.

Herbie J Pilato is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about him HERE.

Is the Copyright Monopoly Based on a Huge Lie?

Inasmuch as we seem to be featuring good ole timey values today, it seems appropriate to talk about a new value and its place in the pantheon of things. (Similar to the interweb of things except not.)

Stay with us now because this is cool:


by Rick Falkvinge

The copyright monopoly is based on the idea of an exchange. In exchange for exclusive rights, the copyright industry supplies culture and knowledge to the public. It turns out that the entire premise is a lie, as untethered creators are racing to provide culture and knowledge anyway.

The copyright monopoly was reinstated in Great Britain in 1710, after having lapsed in England in 1695. It was enacted because printers (not writers) insisted, that if they didn’t have exclusive rights to boost profitability, nothing would get printed.

(Do note the difference between books getting written on one hand, and getting printed and distributed on the other. It was printers, not writers and authors, that drove the reinstatement of the copyright monopoly through the so-called Statute of Anne.)

The Parliament of Great Britain accepted this premise, and thus, the social contract of the copyright monopoly was formed: “In return for providing the only service that can make culture come into being for the benefit of the public, the publishers and distributors are awarded with time-limited exclusive rights.”

Note the very important assumption here: if the exclusive rights – the copyright monopoly – don’t exist, there will not be any culture. This is the contract which governments have been acting on ever since: in exchange for providing a magic service that calls culture into being in the first place, the publishers have enjoyed exclusive rights that allow them to punish and withhold.

The social contract between the public and the copyright industry is, that in exchange for exclusive rights, the publishers will make culture available, being the only ones who can supply such availability of culture.

It turns out the entire premise is bullshit.

With the advent of the Internet, we see that people are creating despite these exclusive rights, this monopoly, instead of because of it. Millions of creators – millions! – have publicly renounced their already-awarded exclusive rights by publishing under a Creative Commons license.

Read it all at Torrent Freak



Variety purpose summit logo
image found at fbcontheweb.com

image found at fbcontheweb.com

By Kelly Jo Brick

Be authentic. That was a major theme of PURPOSE: The Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit presented by Variety, where industry leaders gathered to share their perspectives on family and faith-based entertainment. Speakers including Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, David Oyelowo and DeVon Franklin repeatedly focused on authentic storytelling and creating projects that resonate with viewers.

Faith has long been part of film and it’s no secret that there’s a large market for faith-based projects, in fact over 225 million Americans self-identify as Christians. These people are hungry for content and eager to engage through social media with those who are creating this content.

In a story-focused session, panelists further echoed that audiences don’t want to be preached to. People want to relate to what they see. Producer Cale Boyter (Same Kind of Different As Me, The SpongeBob Movie: The Sponge Out of Water) reminded attendees, “You gotta entertain people. You gotta take them on a ride. You can’t make them feel like they’re in Sunday school.”

Stories can move people in a positive direction without being heavy-handed and the overwhelming key to creating interest in a faith-based project is making sure your project is commercial. Fill your story with character, conflict, journey and triumph. Most importantly, be authentic and passionate as you do it.

David Oyelowo often found that the faith based projects coming his way often tended to be about a person who has it all together, preaching to someone who doesn’t. These stories didn’t really connect with him as a performer. Although Oyelowo did stress that, “These films work when there’s a conviction in storytelling.”

Oyelowo spoke of his upcoming thriller, Captive, as an example of how a faith-based film can, “Go to the mossy dark places where real people live, to find the light.”

Traci Blackwell, SVP Current Programs for The CW also suggested that there’s a way to tell these stories that’s not on the nose. You can mesh a broad audience with a faith-based audience. Shows like Jane the Virgin and Supernatural both have faith-related elements within the stories they tell, but they’ve also been able to connect with a wide audience base. Blackwell believes that success, “All starts with what’s on the page, the words and the characters.”

With a concentration on developing authentic stories, creators can not only reach these enthusiastically supportive audiences, but they can also continue to bring other friends and circles into the viewing experience by telling good, compelling stories.

Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey were very encouraged about the current state of the faith-based entertainment marketplace, believing there are enormous opportunities for telling good stories. Burnett encouraged those in attendance to, “Go after things. Dream Big. Be Bold. Be willing to trip over.”

Kelly Jo Brick is a Contributing Editor at TVWriter™. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.

LB: TV Writer University July Update

by Larry Brody


The 150th TVWriter.Com Advanced Workshop ended last week, and next week we’ll start the 151st.lbwriterbigger

As things stand, I’ve got an amazing 3 places to fill. It’s very unusual to have this many openings, so I hope that you’ll take advantage of the opportunity. (Well, I’m hoping that 3 of you will anyway.)

If you’re a former Basic or Advanced Workshopper, or a writer who knows screenplay format, plotting, and characterization, and have a project you’re working on or about to begin, give me a holler ASAP and we’ll see if we can make something wonderful happen.

Similarly, the Summer-Fall edition of the Fundamentals of TV & Film Writing Workshop is scheduled to start Tuesday, August 18th, and it’s starting to fill up. Only 2 spaces remain, so get in touch and let’s close this educational deal.

As for my Master Class, looks like I’ll be having the next one in late July or early August and there may be an opening or two. If you’re a professional level writer working on the kind of spec that you want to make you rich and famous, you definitely should be investigating this particular learning experience.

More info about the Advanced Workshop is HERE

More info about the Fundamentals Workshop is HERE

More info about the Master Class is HERE

Feel free (within limits, that is) to email me HERE



Leesa Dean Answers Your Question, “Does size matter?”

Adventures in Digital Series Land #105
Does Size Matter?
by Leesa Dean

Ah, the age-old question: Does size matter?  Maybe not, according to the IAB.  And yes, I’m talking about online content. Specifically, how long episodes should be. This is a REALLY important consideration when you’re putting together a digital series.hmo-room-sizes-does-size-really-matter

For the past few years, the going practice was to have each episode be between 2-5 minutes long. Anything longer: a death knell.  And I kinda learned that the hard way.

When I started, I had absolutely no idea how long to make my episodes so each one ended up being between about 6-8 minutes. Or longer! My thinking was, it makes sense for vlogs to be shorter, but I wanted to show off my work. I was still thinking with a tv/cable mindset vs. a YouTube one.

On YouTube you can gauge viewer retention and see where people drop off. In fact, that’s the biggest way YouTube rates your videos. Episodes that have longer retention (and yes, huge views) are more searchable on the site. But retention trumps views in the YouTube world.

It makes sense to have shorter episodes, solely to keep eyeballs on your show. And to bulid up a fanbase. I believe shorter episodes lend themselves more to being shared. For a small indie series, my first time around, I didn’t get huge drop-off but I’m convinced that if my episodes were shorter, they would have been more shareable.

And while these new statistics show that people are are willing to watch longer episodes on mobile, I still don’t think it’s a great idea.  Especially if you’re a beginner.

This week my production partner and I had a strategy session with someone at a a major network.  He reinforced the smaller is better concept for digital but even he admitted some of this stuff is very hard to predict.

Either way, for the new series, I’m making the episodes shorter than I did the first time around. They’re all less than 5 minutes.The good things come in small packages model. Aside from trying to have something be funny and engaging, I’m hoping for more shareability this time around.

Why Midseason ‘Finales’ Are Bad for TV

Another compelling case against the TV status quo, propounded by a knowledgeable and talented writer – with whom, we hasten to add – we here atTVWriter™ thoroughly agree:

the-walking-deadby Nick Cannata-Bowman

We’ve all seen it: Our favorite show finally returns after months off the air as we eagerly tune in every week. Then as quickly as it came back, it disappears for another two months, only to return again to finish out the season. Here we have the odd new-ish trend of the “midseason finale,” taking over the most popular shows on virtually every major network. For the networks themselves, it’s a slam dunk. They get to drag out their most-watched properties, and then rebuild hype for a “midseason premiere.”

It’s a strange game of cat and mouse that has these shows dangled like a carrot in front of viewers for weeks at a time. Long hiatuses are generally designed to allow more time for production, but in the end, all they do is interrupt the flow for both viewers and the show. It creates a disjointed storytelling structure that makes it hard to get into anything that resembles a creative flow. Some series and networks are more guilty than others, but it would appear as though the days of running through a season in at least semi-consecutive weeks are long since over.

No show represents this trend better than Fox’s New Girl, having gone far beyond simply airing half its episodes in the fall and the other half two months later. Its fourth season that concluded in May of this year took four breaks that lasted two or more weeks, going so far as to take a half-month hiatus after returning for only two episodes following a one-month layoff. If your head is spinning trying to make heads or tails of this, know that you’re not alone. It’s become a whirlwind adventure trying to figure out whether or not this will be a week one of our favorite shows airs.

Read it all