Doug Snauffer’s Short Takes: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

by Douglas Snauffer

Saw WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES last weekend — and loved it.

Although, as I sat there watching the movie for 2 hours and 20 minutes, I had to doubt its appeal to today’s younger crowd (ages 18-25).

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is a writer’s delight in that it’s totally character-driven. Dialog matters in this film – a lot – while the action scenes this time around are extremely limited right up to and including the end.

In other words, it could be described as ‘slow-moving’ by young moviegoers more accustomed to the all-out CGI apocalypses so common in today’s tent pole extravaganzas. The kind of movie I love, but young moviegoers today simply love to avoid. The film’s current worldwide gross is around $100,000,000, with the U.S. gross just $56.5 million from 4,022 locations. In other words, as Variety says, WFTPOTA “is coming in on the low end of expectations….”

In addition to the fine script, Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson offer up wonderful performances. And the director is Matt Reeves, whom I consider one of the best young directors in the business, with credits that include 2014’s DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, the superb LET ME IN (2010) and CLOVERFIELD (2008).

I hope more moviegoers give this one a chance.


Doug Snauffer is TVWriter™ Contributing Editor.  His work has appeared in myriad publications and on SyFy Channel. He’s also the writer of several cult horror films and the books The Show Must Go On and Crime Television. Learn more about Doug HERE.

Indie Video: ‘The Trouble with Transporters’

by TVWriter™

Breathes there a soul so dead that s/he has never watched any version of Star Trek on any media and thought, “Waitaminnit! The transporter thingie can’t really work like that…can it?”

Hell, even Our Beloved Leader, LB, once pitched an episode about transporter problems to the producers of Star Trek: Voyager way back in the day.

But this TVWriter™ minion is pretty darn sure that nobody’s ever analyzed the transporter situation as well – and as entertainingly – as the folks who’ve brought us this:

by CGP Grey

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – July 24, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Update

Web Series: ‘Or Die Trying’

TV WRITING: Your First Years In The Writers Room

Web Series: ‘Stupid Idiots’

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Writing Contest

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Rules

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Enter

The Logline

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

Diana Vacc sees “The House”

Sorry, but this isn’t in the film. Not that even a scene like this could have saved THE HOUSE

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT–

Last weekend, The House, starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, opened in theaters all around the U.S.  This film follows Ferrell and Poehler as Scott and Kate Johansen, who find out that their daughter Alex has lost the town scholarship that has made it possible for her to pay for her college tuition.

Since Will and Amy can’t afford said tuition, they get to work raising the money.  Hijinks ensue as they decide to open an underground casino.

 

THE GOOD:

  • The concept is relevant to today.  The struggle to pay a college tuition and the hardship it can bring into a family’s life are are part of our current middleclass crisis.  Millions of Americans can and, unfortunately do, relate to it.

THE BAD:

  • Writer/Director Andrew Jay Cohen script can’t seem to pull off the laughs that we are used to from his previously work on Neighbors and Neighbors 2.  As I entered the multiplex I was expecting to find myself rolling on the floor laughing when the film bagan. However, as you can tell reading this review – and from the fact that you probably haven’t found many other reviews of this, um, well, a disaster is what The House is – I never fell down laughing. Not once. In fact, I didn’t laugh at all.
  • Probably the worst part of the whole thing was when Ferrell character Scott transforms into a butcher and cuts someone’s finger off… and then promptly chops off the arm of another character. The blood shoots everywhere, and while I would like to believe that was an attempt to establish that this is comedy and therefore fake and acceptable, you know what? It wasn’t, and isn’t acceptable. Not one bit.
  • I’ll spare you more details because I don’t want The House to ruin your day as much as it ruined mine.

THE REST:

If you want to enjoy a new film, The House is not for you. In fact, it isn’t for anybody, for any reason whatsoever. To put in the simplest of terms, this film is a redefinition of the word “awful.”  I definitely do not recommend it.


Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

What Makes ‘Game of Thrones’ So Damn Hot Anyway?

by Diana Black

Hint: It’s the theme of this particular article. And that is simply this:

“Compelling Characters Make a ‘Real’ World.”

By which I mean:

A great story idea, well-written script, skilful cast and crew with an intelligent Director and Showrunner at the helm – surely the recipe for a winning TV Series, but what ‘essential ingredient’ compels us to ‘tune in’ religiously?

Lulu: “Honey, so sorry, can’t make it tonight… no, it’s not my, ‘I’m washing my hair’ night … I’m  just busy…. No, you’re wonderful but…”

Is it the hooks and plot twists, the lighting, sound, mis-en-scene? What makes the fantasy drama, Game of Thrones (David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, HBO 201 –) now going into its 7th Season apparently SOOO interesting and compelling to watch?  And this is across the board – no longer the purview of adolescent, voyeuristic nerds.

Well, according to A.G. Walton – a contributor to Forbes, who in turn is commenting on the findings of Josue’ Cardona of “GeekTherapy.com”,  it’s a range of elements that include the following attributes: intellectually challenging and multiple plots; unpredictable twists;; an intricate and elaborate story world, and dramatic events that border on the visceral.

But what of character?  In this epic panoply of political manipulation; one which would be right up there with Rome under Caesar, it is according to Walton, the creation, destruction and resurrection of archetypes. So what is an archetype and why, having been ‘done to death’ long before Shakespeare took up a quill, are they still so useful?

Aspiring screenwriters of teleplays may think long and hard before referencing them – the Queen, the Trickster, disgruntled Prince, foul-mouthed washerwoman etc.  But they work, precisely because they’re ‘character’ in a neat package. We instantly ‘get’ them. They come into ‘our space’ with their over-night bag stuffed with accoutrements that we instantly recognize – greedy, debauched, vile, manipulative, pure, sweet etc.

Is that it, then? All there is to the Game of Thrones characters?  Are they merely just a bunch of one-dimensional archetypes? No – in our jaded world of hardened, cynical ‘little box watchers’– it requires more than that; as the revolving door of short-lived TV shows attest.

The secrets to these guys is that they not only shamelessly embrace their archetypal nature – to the hilt, they each have a level of complexity that make them seem real AND accordingly hated, feared, loved, reviled etc. We’re left seriously wondering what word or deed they’re going to express next.  ‘Warts and all’ they reflect us mere mortals – who will no doubt have to deal with the same, albeit modern-day equivalent conundrums, issues and angst, tomorrow or next week, come Tuesday.

And the moral of the story is….drum roll…invest like hell in your character/s if you expect your actors to lift them off the page. As an actor, the quickest, surest path to having those words and deeds appear perfectly natural and justified is to get under the skin of the character; to become that character – for better or worse. The old adage still and will forever apply, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”


Diana Black is an Australian actress and writer currently taking Larry Brody’s Master Class.

Web Series: ‘Or Die Trying’

by Team TVWriter™ Press Service

Or Die Trying is a web series about women in film, by women in film. The show’s creators, like its characters, are creative females living and working in various aspects of showbiz in Los Angeles. Here’s a taste of how that works:

Written by Myah Hollis, who along with Sarah Hawkins also is an executive producer, and directed by Camila Martins, Or Die Trying takes a slice of life approach to the unique highs and lows, failures and successes, of being young millennial women working in the L.A. film industry. In a concentrated effort to systematically change the statistics on gender inequality within the film industry, the producers of OR DIE TRYING have committed to hiring 85% or more of their team to be filled by women.

This TVWriter™ minion enjoyed the show thoroughly, and after the trailer the lighthearted sitcom music pretty much vanished and the constant hitting of empowered women!!! talking points faded into the background, allowing the show to become what Hawkins says has been what it intended to be all along:

“At its core, this show is about people. It’s about figuring out what you want in life, going after it, and learning to deal with your personal obstacles along the way,” says Hollis, the show’s creator/writer. “I hope that people take what they need from our series. Whether it be inspiration to create their own work and tell their own stories, or just the reassurance that it’s okay to be imperfect and to not have everything figured out.”

For example:

It ain’t GLOW, but then it isn’t trying to be. Or Die Trying works its butt off to be itself, and thanks to its authenticity it definitely shines.
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Check out the series’ episodes at: odtseries.com/episodes and youtube.com/ordietrying.

Enjoy behind the scenes content at odtseries.com.

TVWriter™’s Herbie J Pilato Makes News

So tell us, Herbster, which is more fun? Conducting the interview? Or being the interviewee?

“The Founder of Classic TV Preservation Society Herbie J Pilato joins Tim and Mary on CCN Sunrise to discuss the power of classic TV and self esteem seminars.”

That’s our boy!